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Old May 11, 2013, 06:53 AM   #1
Nathan
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Question for All the Ammo/Reloading Experts

So, a company like Hodgdon develops a load recipe usually in a test barrel. My understanding of these is that they are usually a bolt action rail gun with a normal barrel length attached...like 5" for 45 ACP. There are pressure sensors attached for determining pressure.

That is really the ultimate containment vessel for 45 ACP, since it is shot out of much more loosely supported semi's with the case head exposed.

As reloaders, we work up a load using published data modified slightly for our gun and worked up to confirm pressure signs and accuracy.

To be blunt, 80% of the time best accuracy comes at the max load. Pretty good accuracy comes at the min load. Bad accuracy is usually bullet related.

Now, factory's tend to make one load, which by recoil feels like a max load. It is proven safe in a test barrel which is nothing like a real gun in terms of pressure support.

So why do we spend all this time working up pistol loads? Are we over thinking this?

I keep doing it just in case it is different for some reason, but it never is.

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Old May 11, 2013, 07:32 AM   #2
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I can't answer your question with facts, but I think of it in terms of risk ver reward. I risk health (fingers, eyes, life) for the reward of saving a little money (bullets, powder, primers) and possibly a little time.
Again I know this doesn't answer your question but thought I would offer to anyway.
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Old May 11, 2013, 07:36 AM   #3
Rifleman1776
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Quote:
So why do we spend all this time working up pistol loads? Are we over thinking this?
No. You are over thinking the (non)issue.
Reloaders work up load for both safety and performance reasons.
If you read the reloading manuals they will tell you loads perform different in different gun and that the test results are only for safety and a general guide to performance.
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Old May 11, 2013, 08:24 AM   #4
Nathan
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If you read the reloading manuals they will tell you loads perform different in different gun and that the test results are only for safety and a general guide to performance.
And this is my point. A test barrel used for ammo development is not very similar to a real pistol in 45 ACP, right? Yet, the guy at Federal making factory ammo is doing the load development is mostly due to using a large lot of non-canister grade powder. Then he tries it in a selection of std manufacturer 45 ACP's and it is proclaimed good and safe. . . .but it wasn't developed for your gun, or mine either. Let me be clear, I have way over simplified the ammo makers process which I know little about.

I'm just surprised that for pistol ammo that we do not have single charge weight recipes like we do for shotgun.

BTW, the results of this thread will likely not affect my load development procedures. . . .but I would like to save trips to the range. It is really not about the components for me.
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Old May 11, 2013, 08:47 AM   #5
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The test barrels usualy have a way of testing the pressure generated by the round. If they test a powder and bullet combonation that gives a reading of 5K PSI, or CUP over pressure then they know it without having to blow up, or damage a gun. The universal reciever tells of pressure issues that just using a test gun would not until it blew apart.
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Old May 11, 2013, 09:08 AM   #6
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I can work up a load in a strong rifle until I reach the threshold of long brass life or the primer pierces, and then back off a safety margin.
I can work up a load in a strong semi auto pistol until the case bulges, the primer pierces, or recoil is too much for the recoil spring so the slide hammers the frame. Then I can back off a margin.
I can work up in strong revolver until the brass is sticky and then back off a safety margin.
But how do I know which guns are stronger than the brass?
The gun manufacturers do not tell the truth about this.
The load books do not tell the truth about this.
And when the brass fails, which guns shoot gun pieces at you from gas cutting?
The answer is that you would have to be able to think.
There are no safety guarantee in climbing mountains or handling poisonous snakes or racing motorcycles.
You just have to be smart enough to figure it out, or otherwise you had better follow procedures.
In public politics polarization the most important variable is individualism vs collectivism.
It is my opinion that inside of engineering organizations the most important polarizing dimension is "do it per procedures" vs "get 'r done".
My engineering model, I think, is of some use in understanding handloading work ups.
I have seen published accounts of three levels of loads for 45/70, 32-20, and 45 Colt.
How do you feel about me posting my three levels of 30-30 for three levels of 30-30 rifles?
Your reaction will place you somewhere on the spectrum of "do it per proceedures" vs "Get 'r done".

What does it all mean?
If you know which guns will blow up in a work up, working up does not do any good in those guns.
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Old May 11, 2013, 09:31 AM   #7
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I've started at minimum load levels and observed max load velocities (using a chronograph) in one of my guns leading me to conclude that pressure was near max. Every gun is different, so start slow.
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Old May 11, 2013, 10:20 AM   #8
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I worked up loads on my .30-06 way back when there was only a few types of factory ammo to be had. Tried a bunch of bullet designs, weights, manufacturers. Same with the powder, until we found the most accurate load that still had the velocity I wanted for hunting.

I work down loads in my 44mag because an afternoon of shooting doesn't have to end with hurting palms.

I reload because it is cheaper for me to shoot said 44mag as well as 357mag.

I reload because it is hard to find .38sp wc loads.

I reload because I enjoy it )

To answer the OP question. Just because a single factory load at or near Max PSSR might be the most accurate load out of a test barrel, doesn't mean it will be the most accurate of my gun, which was made by a different manufacturer. I need to test and make sure.
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Old May 11, 2013, 10:32 AM   #9
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I would disagree that best accuracy is obtained from max. loads. I have been reloading .38 Special for almost 40 years and assorted other handgun cartridges for 30 (.44 Special and Mag, 357 Magnum, 9mm, and 45 ACP). All "most accurate" loads seem to be nearer the minimum listed loads than maximum loads, having tested quite a bit of reloaded ammo in my 5, .44 Magnums.

I would think that a "universal receiver" as used in laboratory settings, is more of a convenience, rather the "optimum"; one receiver can be used with 50 barrels, rather than 50 different guns, or "rail guns".

Reloading data isn't absolute, "do not vary from formulae". As you noted, manuals often state "your results may vary", which isn't a cop out, but the techs/test personnel cannot control the variations in the user's guns. I choose to view reloading manuals as strong suggestions, based on safe pressures obtained from different powder/bullet combinations, as they relate to SAAMI standards, which is safe in all modern guns of good/decent condition...
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Old May 11, 2013, 10:46 AM   #10
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"Work up loads" I adhere to in rifle cartridges. Handgun loads are a whole other less tempermental breed.

Like I've always said,.......Reloading data is merely a guide, it is not a Bible.
The max loadings in every one of them vary, some very much so.
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Old May 11, 2013, 03:47 PM   #11
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Universal receivers are used to develop loads for two reasons.

First, they are hard fixed in place and the barrel does not move back in recoil which would otherwise end up with lower velocity through the chronograph screens. Both shoulder fired rifles and hand held handguns always shoot bullets slower than if they are hard mounted. It's common for several people shooting the same rifle and ammo to have a 100 fps spread in average velocity they put bullets through the same chronograph. With handguns, the spread's about 50 fps across those several people.

Second, pressure measuring things are more easily fastend to barrels fitted to a fixed receiver. Especially if copper units of pressure is the method and all that hardware on the outside of a test barrel requires a lot of manipulation every time the copper disk is moved in and out of its pressure cylinder.
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Old May 11, 2013, 04:09 PM   #12
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I don't fuss with handgun loads....or try to customize them to each of my guns in that caliber.../ partly because I have too many guns in each caliber and it would drive me crazy.

I have a couple of handguns - where accuracy is a big deal to me / like a single action revolver ...but my eyes have gotten so bad, that the best I can do with open sights on that gun is a 3" bullseye at 25yds anyway...and my everyday load ( 158gr .357 mag ) is very accurate for that gun when I've fired it from a rest. Fussing with that load - and keeping a box or two separarate ...just for bulls eye shooting ....isn't worth the effort to me / and I'm not sure it would really make any difference.
-----------
I used to fuss with my shotgun loads...and pattern them for + 10 fps, up and down in the range from the min and max ranges ( for loads where they list recipes at 1150 fps, 1200 fps, 1250 fps and 1300 fps...) so in effect I had a min and max range to work within. Lots of paper wasted - looking at patterns, and in the end it really didn't matter - all of the patterns were effective. In the end I've settled on one load for a 12ga - 1oz of 8's at 1225 fps ....and I shoot it, in 12ga, for Skeet, 5 Stand, Sporting Clays and in Trap singles and Trap Continental and Trap Doubles. I used to load some 9's and some 8 1/2's and some 7 1/2's....and I've given all that up too.
-----------
Now, if I was into rifles ....and long range competition shooting or long range bulls eye shooting ....then it probably makes sense to tweak every load for every barrel ..to get it just right for that gun !

But I can't be bothered to do it for handguns or shotguns...

I do tailor my handgun loads for recoil management ..especially for young shooters in my family ...( like softer 9mm, or .38 spl ....vs whatever I like to shoot myself ).
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Old May 11, 2013, 04:16 PM   #13
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To be blunt, 80% of the time best accuracy comes at the max load.
This sounds more like your opinion, not fact - please provide the source for your 80% data. IME, with MY guns shooting MY loads - shotgun, rifle and pistol, the best accuracy has NEVER come from a max load, but from loads in the mid to upper mid range
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Old May 11, 2013, 04:42 PM   #14
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Re: Question for All the Ammo/Reloding Experts

Agreed. I have one load that is .1gr below Max.

The rest are usually right in the middle....or below min.
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Old May 11, 2013, 05:04 PM   #15
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One other thing I've observed.

Depending on how folks test a given load in a given rifle, any one of several recipies will be claimed as most accurate. But it may not be in reality.

I mention this after seeing a dozen or so folks shoot the same rifle and ammo for 5 shots from a bench at 100 yards and all those dozen or so 5-shot groups ranged from about 1/2 inch to almost 2 inches. Yet that same rifle and ammo tested by its owner would shoot no worse than 1/3 MOA at 100 yards.

=========================

Note that a given recipe that someone reduces by a 1/10th grain or a few more may not be below the stated "maximum" in the firearm they use it in. Such comparisons should only be made when peak pressures are the same as verified by quality pressure measuring equipment.

Rarely, if ever, does the same conditions exist for both the referenced load's development tools and techniques and the reloader who's using it in their firearm. Component lot differences as well as the rifle barrel differences can easily make several thousand pounds difference in peak pressure levels as well as several dozen fps difference in velocity. Just because one uses the exact same powder type and charge weight, case, primer and bullet does not mean the results in their rifle will equal what the load developement rifle produced. Such reasoning is one of the great mistakes reloaders make. Another is using visible signs of pressure on the cartridge case to claim pressure levels.
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Old May 12, 2013, 09:01 AM   #16
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I guess I load very similar to what was mentioned on how the factory loads. I pick a bullet weight I like or want to use that is usually in the middle or higher end weight for caliber. Then I will work up a good accurate load using a powder that is in the middle to slower end of the listed powders for that particular caliber. Once there I usually KEEP that load and go on happily about my business. Later on I might try out a couple of other powders and may even switch to something else if it seems to be an improvement.

As for my revolver and pistol loads, pretty much the same. I don't do much if any plinking so to speak, as I feel I should use the same loads I use 95% of the time to practice with. It does me no good to practice with a 800fps wad cutter load and then use a 1350fps SWC or HP load for hunting. I get just as much practice as I need with the higher velocity loads as none really efect me to the point of discomfort. I usually don't load to the very top end with most loads anyway, I simply load until I get into a velocity range I want with a particular bullet I want to use. Most of them are between 1000, and 1400fps with revolvers and with my 45 ACP I stick to around 850. With the 10mm it is dialed in to a standard load using a 180gr JHP and enough #9 to hit 1350 from the 7" barrel. This is simply my all around hunting and SD load if needed as such. I know first hand how well it does to critters with 4 leggs and have no doubt in my mind that a 2 legged one would put up more of a fight.

That said I DID run close to 100 rounds of some top end 260gr JHP's out of my 454 one Saturday afternoon. That evening I felt a little of it, but the next three days I was miserable. The counter torque of the big Raging Bull revolver with the 8.375" long barrel really worked on some muscles I don't use a lot. I knew where every one of them was in my arm and shoulder over the course of the following week. Even so, I still don't mind shooting up to 50 or even 100 of them now, I just don't do it sitting down from a bench rested type position where I cannot dispurse the full load.

With other revolvers and pistols I am always trying out new this, that, and the other bullets and powders. It is a hoot, but I still have my standard loads in mid to heavy for caliber weights that I fall back on when I hit the woods.

What differs in our loads verses the factory loads is that ours only have to fit and function in our own firearms. The factory have to fit and function in what ever firearm someone else might have. Their loads are usually NOT the top end they could be with the components they are using. THey might be 80% or so, but they DO leave some room for error. They are using blended powders to get within a certain load range for the bullet weights they are loading. Once they have what they are looking for they will load who knows how many until they reach a production goal for that particular round. THey might even use the same powder for several bullet weights in a particular caliber where one might be perceived as a hot load compared to a hand loaded ropund but might still be well below the safe pressure limits for the actual powder and bullet combination. .
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Old May 12, 2013, 09:47 AM   #17
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Quote:
This sounds more like your opinion, not fact
That is my opinion. . . .or fact based on all of the data I have collected. I'll let you decide which it is. I was just what people have experienced.

I know 45 ACP and some similar pressure rounds don't give great pressure info, but they do give some before you are at 30000psi, if you look. In reality, most 25,000 psi 45 ACP rounds would be inaccurate enough to raise the flag. So, to me accuracy is a good marker.

I'm greatly interested in those of you who have mid range accuracy loadings. What powders? What guns? Cast or Jacketed? Frankly, I have never seen this, but my load development is often not extensive.
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Old May 12, 2013, 10:26 AM   #18
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You can go to manuals like Sierra and they use real world guns.

they list what gun and barrel length.

In the case of 223 they have a bolt action section and a semi auto and list which ones are used.

Doesn't matter why you do it, do it safety (though some of my practices others don't like or use as versa visa)

enjoy the re-loading
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Old May 12, 2013, 01:22 PM   #19
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I have very good accuracy with mid range loads - and from a rest the guns shoot very well with these loads ( off hand, I can't shoot them this well ) but that's me, and my eyes, not the gun ). All of these guns have open sights - no optics or red dot sights:

In 9mm.....
Hodgdon Universal
Montana Gold 115 FMJ bullet
CCI primers
Wilson Combat 1911, 5", in 9mm...( the gun can shoot 1" groups at 25 yds with this round ....and its fine in a Les Baer 1911 5" / Sig 226...

In .40 S&W
Hodgdon Universal
Montana Gold 180gr FMJ
My most accurate is in a Sig X-Five L-1 model...1" groups at 25 yds...

In .45 acp
Hodgdon Universal
Montana Gold 230gr FMJ
Wilson Combat 1911, 5", in .45 acp...( 1" at 25 yds)

In .357 Mag
Hodgdon Universal
Montana Gold 158gr JHP
Freedom Arms, single action revolver, 4 3/4" barrel.....easily a 1" group at 25yds...( best I can do off hand is about 3" at 25 yds ).

About the best I can do with any of my handguns offhand is about a 3" 5 shot group at 25 yds....but that's me, not the ammo.
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Old May 12, 2013, 05:03 PM   #20
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RC20, yes, Sierra uses real guns for developing load data. But they do not list the hole in the barrel's dimensions; a critical issue for accuracy as well as peak pressure.

For example, the .308 Win. loads. Why did they not mention that across all the barrels on this planet chambered for that cartridge, bore diameters range from .2980" to .3010" and groove diameters range from .3068" up to .3090"; sometimes even more?

Nor did they mention the bore and groove diameters for their load development barrel. Why?

To say nothing of all the other caliber barrels' bore and groove diameter for load data development.
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Old May 13, 2013, 08:01 AM   #21
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Quote:
80% of the time best accuracy comes at the max load
I don't agree with that one bit, to the contrary, I find the opposite to be true.

308: The Army discovered a long time ago that 2200 FPS seems to be the most accurate. My 40 years of shooting High Power with the 308 bears that out. Although I jumped up to about 2250 because it works the action of the M14/M1A.

I've shot tons of 45 when I was shooting for the Guard. The slower WC rounds proved to be more accurate then the Ball Match loads.

I've found the best load for my Colt's to be 3.8 gr. of Bullseye pushing a 225 Cast RN bullet. A rather light load that is below the suggested loads in most manuals. It works at 50 & 25 yards in Bullseye Matches and I've never hit a piece of steel that didn't fall to this load.

All guns are different, but I haven't found any of my rifles that like max loads more then moderate loads.

Sure, the max, faster loads may shoot flatter then moderate loads.....so what, that's why we have elevation knobs on our sights.
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Old May 13, 2013, 08:16 AM   #22
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Quote:
80% of the time best accuracy comes at the max load

I don't agree with that one bit, to the contrary, I find the opposite to be true.

308: The Army discovered a long time ago that 2200 FPS seems to be the most accurate. My 40 years of shooting High Power with the 308 bears that out. Although I jumped up to about 2250 because it works the action of the M14/M1A.
2200 fps MIGHT be the most accurate load, but if I only wanted 2200 fps I'll buy a 30-30 instead of a 308. There are more important things than shrinking goups by an extra .001". I expect my bullets to shoot flat over extended distances and hit with a little power out to 300-400 yards.

I've also found my best accuracy right at, or just under max loads. If that doesn't happen with powder "A", then I change to another powder until I get the results I want.

These are the results I get with a max load of Varget and 150's from a 308. About 650 fps faster than the military load. I've gotten similar results from all of the chamberings I load for.

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Old May 13, 2013, 11:44 AM   #23
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I've only had one rifle that shot best with a max load. In my youth I loaded my .30-06 hot and I never had any problems with that but the truth is, it was always more gun than I needed for what I was hunting. These days I tend to load all my rifles for the sweet spot and that's usually some where between the starting and medium load. If I need more power, I go to the next rifle up in my safe...

Also I've found that light cast bullet loads in my rifles are way more fun than beating myself up with full power loads and I get a lot more shooting for my dollar...

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Old May 13, 2013, 01:51 PM   #24
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Kraig says the Army discovered a long time ago that 2200 FPS seems to be the most accurate. From what I remember talking about this with Lones Wigger (Int'l smallbore and free rifle champ) and Dr. Henry Cross (former Executive Director of the United States Shooting Team) some years ago, the muzzle velocity was a bit faster; 2300 to 2400 fps. Here’s the full story of that.

Sierra Bullets introduced their 30 caliber 168-gr. International Match bullet in late 1958 or early 1959. It was suggested by the Army in 1958 to make such a bullet for use in international free rifle competition. They thought it would be a better performer in a .308 Win. case than the 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser or 7.62x54 Russian round which were the dominant ones used at the time. Hence, the bullet’s name included “International.”

During that era, the US Army marksmanship unit at Fort Benning started testing that bullet for use in free rifles designed for 300 metre international matches. They wanted minimal recoil, excellent accuracy and the .308 Win. case was a prime candidate as demonstrated by the great performance of Western Cartridge Company’s 200-gr. FMJBT loads made in 1958 as well as their 197-gr. BTHP ones made in 1960 for the US Army international teams. While Sierra had proved the new bullets accuracy with maximum loads in the .308 Win. case with 2600 fps from a 1:12 twist barrel, the Army’s AMU knew that with reduced loads, it needed a 1:11 twist with muzzle velocities at about 2300 fps minimum to spin the 168 at the right rpm speed for best accuracy. Their tests proved that twist with reduced loads shot the Sierra 168 more accurate than any other 30 caliber case-bullet combination.

Gary Anderson proved himself a top competitor in 1959 with free rifles in 300 meter matches using reduced loads in a 1:11 twist barrel shooting 168's in his .308 Win. free rifle winning almost everything in sight for the next several years. Check out:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_An...(sport_shooter)

In 1963 when the .308 Win started being used by high power match rifle competitors at 200 and 300 yards, they also learned that Sierra’s 168's with reduced loads gave pristine accuracy going out at 2300 to 2400 fps with 40 to 41 grains of IMR4064. Nothing was as accurate at 300 yards. And that same 1:11 barrel/twist with 190's loaded with 42 grains of IMR4064 leaving at 2550 to 2600 fps shot more accurate than 168's did at any muzzle velocity and twist. I don’t think 168's have ever shot as accurate at 600 yards as Sierra 190's have.

Too bad the 30 caliber 168 Match King, as it was later renamed, did not fare well past 600 yards. Its short boattail didn’t keep it supersonic through 1000 yards when shot with most .308 Win. rifles. Sierra’s 180, 190, 200, 220 and 240/250 grain Match Kings easily did so from .308 Win. Cases. In the early 1980's, the US Army replaced their 1920's FMJBT 172-gr. Bullet in M118 7.62 NATO match ammo with Sierra's short-tailed 168, the M852 load and it also had subsonic transition issues before it reached 1000 yards. Then the Army asked Sierra to make a new bullet of 175 grains but with the original long boattail of its heavier Match King siblings and that solved the problem.

Then Sierra changed their 180-gr. Match King’s boattail to that of the 168 in a cost cutting scheme only to have them go subsonic at about 900 yards when fired in the .308 Win. or 7.62 NATO case. And the US Army’s AMU had fits; no longer did Sierra’s 180 grain Match King shoot so well at long range in their M14NM tack drivers. So, the AMU contracted Sierra to start making 180 HPMK”s with the original boattail and all was well for them again. But not for civilians as that old style bullet was never offered commercially. The new one did very well up to 600 yards, just like its 168-grain little brother.

And the 30 caliber Match Kings introduced in 1991 and later were the 155-gr. Palma bullets followed by the 135-gr. HPMK for .30 BR benchrest use.

All of Sierra's 30 caliber Matchkings 155 through 180 grains shoot into 1/4 MOA from .308 Win. cases in their 200 yard indoor range when a really good lot of bullets is being made; 1/3 MOA when things are almost perfect. Heavier 30 caliber Match Kings are tested with .300 Win Mag barrels and shoot just as well.
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Old May 13, 2013, 05:28 PM   #25
arch308
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I must admit I don't work up pistol loads and I don't care for target loads. I tend to take a published max load, subtract 2 or 3 tenths of a grain and go. I don't own any really old or questionable handguns and don't fear having pressure problems. I've been doing this for 20+ years with no problems. If the poop hits the fan I don't need to worry about grabbing the right ammo. It's all full power.
Now hunting loads are a different story. I tended to start with medium loads and work up til either pressure signs started to appear or accuracy started to decline. Again, 20+ years without incident. YMMV I haven't actually developed any loads for years because I'm happy with what I have and haven't tried any of the new fangled super duper short mags.
I tend to stay with the tried and true.
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