The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Skunkworks > Handloading, Reloading, and Bullet Casting

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old August 2, 2012, 09:32 PM   #1
ATPBULLETS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 31, 2012
Location: Land between the Lakes
Posts: 194
What 3 reloading factors most affect accuracy...?

As stated in title.....

i am brand new to the firing line forum... been observing for a while and reloading for about a year and i load for 3-4 rifle calibers, and 2-3 pistol
calibers....

What 3 reloading factors most affect accuracy...??
what do i need to "dial in" and keep dialed in for good "hunitng accuracy"
Rifle vs pistol ...... if your factors are different...

Thanks for the replies...
ATPBULLETS is offline  
Old August 2, 2012, 09:45 PM   #2
m&p45acp10+1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 3, 2009
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 3,310
The single greatest factor I can think of at this time is the shooter being familiar with thier weapon. As long as your loads are consistant practice more with them. One of the secrets of hand loaders is not just the loads. We tend to shoot more often, and know the weapon, and its performance well.

Other than that I say budget, and time are the other two.
__________________
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
m&p45acp10+1 is offline  
Old August 2, 2012, 09:53 PM   #3
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,043
Bullet stability is one that is nearly guaranteed to be left out.

The relationship between rate of twist, bullet velocity and bullet weight/length affect bullet stability in flight. If a load causes identical bullets to leave an absolutely perfect barrel at exactly the same velocity every time, if the bullet yaws because the spin rate does not stabilize it, you will never get good groups.

Another overlooked factor is case volume. If you have one case with more brass in it, there is less free volume for the powder and combustion, so pressure will be higher. Seating a bullet deeper (or less deep) affects that volume. Depending on your charge, powder and fill ratio this COULD introduce more variation than varying the charge weight.

With a low fill ratio, the position of the powder inside the case can introduce a significant change in pressure. I read a first-hand account of blowing up a Thompson-Contender that is certainly attributable to powder position. It was while fire-forming with very light loads of a fast powder, but a pressure spike destroyed the gun (no injuries, thankfully). I myself have seen 10% velocity variations with light loads of Trail Boss in a 500 S&W (around 800 fps) depending on the powder position.

Crimp strength will affect the shape of the pressure/time curve. This in turn affects muzzle velocity and the length of time the bullet takes to reach the muzzle. Barrel whip, (bullet leaving the muzzle at a node or away from a node) will certainly affect accuracy.

I don't really have enough experience to say if these are greater than other factors, but those are my nominees at the moment.

Lost Sheep

p.s. Post #2 came in while I was composing. It reminded me. Consistency is paramount. Consistency in all and any factors.

I assumed from the beginning that the shooter would be "ideal" and we were talking only about the relationship between the gun and the ammunition. Loose (or lousy) sights would be high on the list otherwise.
Lost Sheep is offline  
Old August 2, 2012, 10:17 PM   #4
noylj
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 21, 2007
Location: Between CA and NM
Posts: 501
1) The shooter
2) The gun
3) The bullet

If you mean in terms of reloading steps,
A) Bullet seating to optimum COL
B) Bullet seating to be co-axial to bore
C) Case expansion to aid in (B)--which requires more than simply flaring the case mouth...
noylj is offline  
Old August 2, 2012, 10:18 PM   #5
frumious
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 13, 2009
Location: Carrollton TX
Posts: 521
I think I have read the answer to this as: "barrel, bullet, powder". With barrel being most important.

-cls
frumious is offline  
Old August 2, 2012, 10:33 PM   #6
mrawesome22
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 9, 2005
Location: Ohio, Appalachia's foothills.
Posts: 3,779
Consistency. Times three.

sudo apt-get update
mrawesome22 is offline  
Old August 2, 2012, 11:48 PM   #7
Edward429451
Junior member
 
Join Date: November 12, 2000
Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
Posts: 9,494
Brass prep. (consistency/uniformity)
Bullet. (consistency) Good bullets are a lot better than cheap bullets.
Bullet seating. I take great care in seating bullets so it doesn't start into the case cockeyed or shave lead.
Edward429451 is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 06:25 AM   #8
ATPBULLETS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 31, 2012
Location: Land between the Lakes
Posts: 194
awesome answers.....yes, the question is just "reloading variables"....not the gun, shooter, etc.....just variables on the bench...while reloading....thanks.
ATPBULLETS is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 07:02 AM   #9
Nathan
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 1, 2001
Posts: 2,012
Bullet selection - always a guess, but try to match to gun and purpose.

Case sizing - Fit to chamber has a big effect on rifle accuracy.

Powder charge - for a given set of load parameters, I need to try 4 or more charge weights to know I'm the best I can be .

All else will have less than a 10% group size effect, is managed well.
Nathan is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 08:20 AM   #10
PawPaw
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 24, 2010
Location: Central Louisiana
Posts: 3,115
Quote:
what do i need to "dial in" and keep dialed in for good "hunitng accuracy"
Consistency is the key to good reloading practices. I note that you put "hunting" in quotes, so let's talk about that for a minute. I'm a hunter and an informal shooter. I make no pretense at pretending I'm a benchrest guy, or a competitor, nor even a sniper. I'm simply a guy who likes to shoot informally, and likes to bring venison home. I don't need a benchrest rifle for my purposes, nor do I own any heavy rifles. My heaviest rifle weighs in at less than 9 pounds with ammo, scope, and sling.

Consistency, again. Good brass, good bullets, weighed powder charges, it all makes a difference. We can learn a lot from the precision shooters because they've all made the same mistakes and they've learned from those mistakes. The guys who can shoot a half-inch group consistently know what they're talking about. Learn from them and apply what you've learned.

I know that I'm a 1.5 inch/100 yard shooter. I can make a shot at 100 yards from nearly any position with my rifle and it will fall within 1.5 inches of my aiming point. I'm NOT talking about the bench, but from field shooting positions. Now, lots of guys would scoff at that level of accuracy, but that's my level of expertise, day-in, day-out. I've flirted with tighter groups, and I've shot some magnificently small groups, but those were statistical anomalies. Knowing that about myself, I strive for the best ammo I can obtain. I buy good bullets, process my brass consistently, try to do all the things to give me good, consistent ammunition and blame the results on myself.

Probably the most important part of the equation is shooting the ammo you reload. I believe that the guy who shoots 1000 rounds per year, and learns from each session will be a better shot than the guy who shoots 20 rounds per year. Once I've settled on a load, I quit obsessing about it, strive for consistency on the bench, then take the rifle out and shoot it. I shoot spring, summer, fall and try to keep my level of competence. Practice makes perfect. Get out and shoot.
__________________
Dennis Dezendorf

http://pawpawshouse.blogspot.com
PawPaw is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 08:40 AM   #11
sundog
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 22, 1999
Location: Green Country, OK
Posts: 730
ALL (yes, all) other things being equal, case prep. This is assuming everything is good quality to begin with.

Secrets of the Houston Warehouse

Read the whole thing, all the way to the end.
__________________
safety first
sundog is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 08:48 AM   #12
rgrundy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 29, 2012
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 188
If "The Land Between the Lakes" is very cold in the winter I would surely check to see how any of your loads shoot in sub zero temps. Over the years I've had to switch to magnum primers or just change powders to get best results in extreme cold weather. Right now I shoot a 300 win mag for all big game and have a load that does not vary from 115 degrees here in the desert at near sea level to 10 below zero at 9000 feet elevation. I remember Red Dot being a problem in light loadings in cold weather especially in my shotguns.
rgrundy is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 08:58 AM   #13
AllenJ
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 11, 2009
Location: Northern California
Posts: 1,352
Quote:
What 3 reloading factors most affect accuracy...??
Each stage of reloading is important to accuracy, I don't think you can narrow it to just 3. As stated above consistency throughout the entire process is key.

Quote:
what do i need to "dial in" and keep dialed in for good "hunitng accuracy"
Time and money! Most of my guns have been accurate enough for hunting with pretty much any bullet/powder combination I run in them. The problem is I keep trying different combinations to sqeeze a little more out of them
AllenJ is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 11:30 AM   #14
Bart B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 15, 2009
Posts: 5,219
In my opinion for a hunting rifle. . . . . .

First off, forget the barrel. What ever's in the rifle you have is what you'll use. Most of the USA commercial rifle barrels are more than capable of shooting 1 MOA at a hundred with a few bullet weights and load recipies. It helps if the barrel's groove diameter's a bit smaller than the bullet by a few ten thousandths, but it ain't critical.

The next three apply directly to the reloading process:

Second, forget weighing charges. If commercial centerfire match ammo with metered charges with a 3/10ths grain spread can shoot under 1/3 inch all day long at 100 yards in a good barrel, why weigh charges?

Third, forget prepping cases. Brand spanking new ones are used in the above mentioned ammo.

Fourth, for the longest case life as well as accuracy as good as it gets, use a full length sizing die with a bushing sized correctly for your case neck. Bushing diameter should be 3 thousandths smaller than a loaded round's neck diameter when the ammo's used for hunting. Use an RCBS Precision Mic to measure your cases so the die can be set in the press to bump fired case shoulders back no more than 2 thousandths.

This last one applies to testing your reloads:

Fifth, and probably the most important, test your reloads properly. Shoot at least 10 shots per test group and 15 to 20 is a whole lot better. Evaluate your reloaded ammo's accuracy by remembering what the largest group is that it shoots with the load under test. That's the worst you can count on all the time and gives you an idea as to what the furthest distance you'll miss your point of aim is. If they show you'll miss point of aim more than you want, try another load. Forget the small groups; they only happen the smallest percentage of the time and you may wear your barrel out trying to get one smaller than one you already have.

Last edited by Bart B.; August 3, 2012 at 11:52 AM.
Bart B. is online now  
Old August 3, 2012, 03:48 PM   #15
m&p45acp10+1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 3, 2009
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 3,310
Just remeber the first shot is probably the only one you will get when hunting.

I care more about where the first shot goes than any of the others. My testing of hunting loads is to make sure they are not over pressured.

My go to 30-06 I to this day have never shot the same target twice with it. I have killed over 60 deer in 28 years with it.
__________________
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
m&p45acp10+1 is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 04:00 PM   #16
FrankenMauser
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 25, 2008
Location: 1B ID
Posts: 6,926
Quote:
yes, the question is just "reloading variables"....not the gun, shooter, etc.....just variables on the bench...while reloading
Consistency
Consistency
Consistency

From component, to process, to storage; consistency is the most important variable.
__________________
"Such is the strange way that man works -- first he virtually destroys a species and then does everything in his power to restore it."
FrankenMauser is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 07:54 PM   #17
noylj
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 21, 2007
Location: Between CA and NM
Posts: 501
Consistency in all things?

mrawesome22 wrote:
Consistency. Times three.

Consistency is ONLY important if what you do is consistently good. Many people trim their 9x19, .40S&W, and .45Auto brass, to be consistent. However, all they are doing is increasing head space and making consistently inaccurate ammo.
Most rifle shooters have heard of performing a "ladder test" at 200-300 yds and finding the charge weight range where all the bullets group into one group. Thus, they KNOW that a range of charge weights will still place the bullet into a moderately small group out to 400 yds. Thus, sweating consistency by measuring your charge weight to 0.1gn (or as some say, 0.02gn), when most rounds will have a random number of grains of powder that will be unburned, is NOT really gaining anything.
I doubt there has ever been a single round go off where ALL powder has burned. Chemical reactions are not 100%.
It would be nice if people all did their own tests on what factors really need to be consistent and published the results.
noylj is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 09:27 PM   #18
ATPBULLETS
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 31, 2012
Location: Land between the Lakes
Posts: 194
ALL (yes, all) other things being equal, case prep. This is assuming everything is good quality to begin with.

"Secrets of the Houston Warehouse"

Read the whole thing, all the way to the end.
__________________


WOW.....
ATPBULLETS is offline  
Old August 3, 2012, 09:33 PM   #19
Jimro
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2006
Posts: 5,664
Consistent ignition, this is how the primer lights off the powder.

Consistent pressure profile, this is how the hot gasses push the bullet down the bore. The consistency of bullet to bore fit is key here.

Clean and consistent exit at the muzzle. Not only does the muzzle need to be concentric, but the bullet needs to exit at the same point of muzzle whip.

Changing any single component (primer, powder, brass, bullet) affects all three pieces required for accuracy.

Jimro
__________________
"Gorsh" said Goofy as secondary explosions racked the beaten zone, "Did I do that?"

http://randomthoughtsandguns.blogspot.com/
Jimro is offline  
Old August 4, 2012, 11:03 PM   #20
FrankenMauser
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 25, 2008
Location: 1B ID
Posts: 6,926
Quote:
Consistency is ONLY important if what you do is consistently good. Many people trim their 9x19, .40S&W, and .45Auto brass, to be consistent. However, all they are doing is increasing head space and making consistently inaccurate ammo.
Most rifle shooters have heard of performing a "ladder test" at 200-300 yds and finding the charge weight range where all the bullets group into one group. Thus, they KNOW that a range of charge weights will still place the bullet into a moderately small group out to 400 yds. Thus, sweating consistency by measuring your charge weight to 0.1gn (or as some say, 0.02gn), when most rounds will have a random number of grains of powder that will be unburned, is NOT really gaining anything.
So... you're saying that absolute randomness is the most important factor in reloading?


While I understand that you're trying to point out that there are some variables that reloaders cannot eliminate; your argument is not clear and really does seem to be saying that you can just randomly toss a bunch of crap together, because consistency at the reloading bench will be outweighed by uncontrollable random factors.

Quote:
It would be nice if people all did their own tests on what factors really need to be consistent and published the results.
Come take a look at my reloading notes, one of these days. I do perform my own testing, and I do publish my results ...in my notebook.

But... there are many resources available today, that allow reloaders to get a good idea of whether or not they need to care about any given variable. From online forums, to professional articles, to YouTube videos, to blogs, to e-Magazines... there's a ton of information online, detailing the tests other reloaders have performed. And there are, of course, the classic magazine articles. One of my favorites, Handloader, is not only a great resource, but unbiased. More than 50% of the articles are written by freelancers ... guys like you and me, just sharing our knowledge.


One of the biggest reasons many of use reload, is because we want nearly perfect ammunition. In order to achieve that, we often have to weed out the undesirable loads, as well.
Don't dwell on the "failures" or variables you have no control over. Take anything you can from any test you perform, and apply that knowledge to future endeavors. Don't chase frustration. Move on, and pursue a load that will make you happy.
__________________
"Such is the strange way that man works -- first he virtually destroys a species and then does everything in his power to restore it."
FrankenMauser is offline  
Old August 5, 2012, 11:36 AM   #21
Lost Sheep
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 24, 2009
Location: Anchorage Alaska
Posts: 3,043
Not what he said

Frankenmauser, I think you mis-read noylj's post (#17).

Your post (#20) said "consistency at the reloading bench will be outweighed by uncontrollable random factors". I did not see that expressed or implied in noylj's post. Rather, he stated that once a range of charge weights that produce accuracy is found, any charge weight that is within that range is good. For example, if a charge weight of 25.3 to 24.7 grains all group well, there is no point in pouring a lot of effort into staying between 24.9 and 25.0 grains.

Respectfully submitting that you may want to read the post from the author's point of view.

Lost Sheep
Lost Sheep is offline  
Old August 5, 2012, 12:55 PM   #22
tkglazie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 3, 2011
Posts: 558
Quote:
he stated that once a range of charge weights that produce accuracy is found, any charge weight that is within that range is good. For example, if a charge weight of 25.3 to 24.7 grains all group well, there is no point in pouring a lot of effort into staying between 24.9 and 25.0 grains.
I was pleasantly surprised to click on this thread and find that dropping an "exact charge" was not one of the 3 reloading factors that affect accuracy the most. I will not pretend to be an expert, but speaking from my own experiences and from reading and discussing the experiences of others I am of the belief that a lot of reloaders are spending a lot more of their time/financial resources on this aspect of reloading than is necessary. Keeping your charges consistently within whatever charge range is most accurate for your gun/load is essential. Dropping the same charge time after time is not, in my opinion.

My inexpensive digital scale measures to .02grains time after time, day after day as confirmed by my beam scale and check weights. When I trickle a new charge for rifle reloading, sure I hold the charge to .02grains. It is as easy to trickle one charge as it is another. More often than not though, when I switch to production mode and use volumetric powder dispenser to throw the charge the results on paper are just as good as my "exact" trickled loads, even though the charge may vary by +/-.1 to .3grains.
tkglazie is offline  
Old August 7, 2012, 09:05 PM   #23
30Cal
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 3, 2002
Posts: 1,106
My buddy ran a 400rd Design of Experiments through his f-class rifle. Brass prep was statistically insignificant--anything involving a cutter--was no better or no worse than the other brass that just came straight out of the Winchester bag. He was plotting individual shots; 400 data points (rather than measuring group diameters and having far less data to work with). Even if it was subtly better, it would have stood out; but it didn't.



Some stuff matters; some very little. I've found that a good bullet and powder/charge/primer combination matter. Seating depth sometimes matters. Everything else I've found to be subtle at best.
30Cal is offline  
Old August 8, 2012, 08:10 AM   #24
Bart B.
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 15, 2009
Posts: 5,219
Another example of excellent accuracy from ammo with big variables in components happened in 1991. Sierra Bullets sent a few thousand prototype's of their then new 30 caliber 155-gr. Palma bullets to some Palma team members to develop loads for them. They were to be used in the 1992 World Palma Matches in New Mexico. We had to use new, unprepped .308 Win. cases weighing about 170 grains but with mouths uniformed in diameter, Fed. 210M primers and metered (not weighed) charges of powders of our choice then seat bullets to a 2.800 inch average OAL. All sorts of medium speed powders were used, Re-15, AA2520, WW 748, IMR4895, IMR3031 and others I now forget.

Accuracy tests consisted of 20-shot strings at 1000 yards. And some lab did pressure and velocity tests on the loads that were the most accurate. AA2520 ball powder produced the lowest spreads in both charge weight and muzzle velocity, but it was the worst for accuracy. We settled on IMR4895 metered to a 3/10ths grain spread in charge weight. Ammo was loaded on two Dillon 1050 progressives; one seating primers and uniforming case mouths and the other metering powder and seating bullets in the cases supplied by Winchester. Bullet runout was up to about 3/1000ths. Muzzle velocity spread was around 20 to 25 fps.

At a big long range match later in 1991, several top long range shooters from around the world said it shot no worse than about 3 inches at 600 yards; that's with several different chamber, bore and groove dimensions. A fall 1991 issue of Handloader Magazine had a story on that ammo showing a test group fired from a machine-rested Palma rifle (with a short throated SAAMI spec chamber) at 600 yards. 20 rounds picked at random shot into 2.7 inches as shown in the article's picture of it.

Last edited by Bart B.; August 8, 2012 at 10:48 AM.
Bart B. is online now  
Old August 8, 2012, 12:26 PM   #25
Sevens
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
Posts: 9,103
A few things that I believe:

What makes for accuracy at the bench differs in rifle than in pistol, and I'm almost entirely a handgun guy. Though I do a bit of handloading for rifles, I pretty much stick to handguns and I currently reload for more than a dozen handgun calibers.

If you want my opinion of the top 3 things to shoot for in making quality, accurate HANDGUN ammo, my list will look like this:

1) Bullet. Pick a quality, consistent bullet, and the more surface area you have that is being gripped by the barrel, the better off you'll be. The bullets should be extremely close to each other in weight and their construction makes a difference in how well you can group them together on a target.

2) Brass. Use quality brass and sort them by headstamp. This is not foolproof because some brass with the same headstamp can come from wildly different lots and in some cases -- even come from different facilities in different places. Even still, sorting your brass gives you the best chance, IMO, at using the most similar brass you can use. What you are looking to avoid is having differing case capacities and varying levels of case thickness which affects the grip the brass case has on the bullet.

3) Powder charge. In handgun especially, where charge weights are low, having a consistent powder charge is essential to producing similar results. This becomes more difficult when you use SOME powders with SOME equipment, and the smaller the charge weight, the more difficult this is to remain consistent.

3) Technique at the bench. If you work single stage and you tool up to do 50 pieces of brass in each of the stages to finish with 50 loaded rounds -- you have probably made 50 fairly consistent rounds. However, those 50 rounds may not be quite as similar to the next 50 rounds you make as they would have been had you worked in larger batches and made 500 of them. Every time you change out a flare or seat/crimp die, you are making small adjustments.

I listed two number 3's because I couldn't decide between the two.
I still believe bullet selection is the number one key to making accurate ammo in handguns.
__________________
Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
Sevens is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:18 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.14309 seconds with 7 queries