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Old May 7, 2013, 01:57 PM   #1
FLChinook
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Priority of Rifle Reloading Factors

Here's a partial list of parameters involved with rifle cartridge reloading:

1. Accuracy of powder charge (to tenth of a gr.)
2. Brand of primer
3. Use of same primer in a given load
4. Consistency of bullet weight (weigh each bullet and sort)
5. Case length
6. Deburring of flash hole
7. Case cleaning

The question: What is the order of importance for these items? In other words, where should the reloader put the most effort? Where should the most money be spent on equipment? Any items that can be ignored?

This thread was prompted by my recent thread regarding need for flash hole deburring and most responders said it was not necessary. I got to thinking, of all the processes I go through, which have the most impact on accuracy.

I am neglecting all the accuracy affects of the rifle and the effect of different powders, etc. Let's just assume we have the perfect rifle and the perfect powder and load...

I have the list in my order. I would put case cleanliness much higher because I love a shiny case but I don't think it affects accuracy that much...
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:28 PM   #2
LE-28
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You said this is for rifle re-loading, you don't say what you are loading it for.

Are you hunting or long range target shooting. Different bullets so different reasoning.

If you are long range target shooting I would put #4 at #2 of the list.
If you are hunting @ 200yds or less, it can go further down the list.

#1 would be case length and case re-sized to fit my chamber,#2 bullet weight, (their almost lateral), then powder charge consistency, Primer, and then the rest.

Your #3 isn't in my equation. It's already a given to use all the same primers for the same batch no-matter what reason your reloading for.
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:47 PM   #3
thump_rrr
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You forgot consistency of case weight and case volume (water weight).
Primer pocket uniformity.
Neck tension
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Old May 7, 2013, 03:53 PM   #4
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Quote:
You forgot consistency of case weight and case volume (water weight).
Primer pocket uniformity.
Neck tension
Where would you put these in the list?
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Old May 7, 2013, 04:31 PM   #5
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Concentric bullet seating is an important factor.
Individual components each from the same lot is important

I don't understand #3?


...bug
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Old May 7, 2013, 04:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
I don't understand #3?
Sorry, I meant mixing Federal and Winchester primers in the same batch... clearly a no-no but where does this rank in the list..?
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Old May 7, 2013, 04:45 PM   #7
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I say that 1 (always), 6 (almost always) and 7 (always) are not relevant. 5 is only relevant as it effects neck tension, otherwise it too is irrelevant.
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Old May 7, 2013, 11:02 PM   #8
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Quote:
I say that 1 (always), 6 (almost always) and 7 (always) are not relevant.
Thanks for prioritizing but I'm not sure how to read this. Is "1" always NOT relevant. I would think accuracy of the powder measure should be the most important parameter to accuracy.

I rarely weigh my bullets (although I'm going to start now) and spend lots of time ensuring my powder charge is accurate to a single granule...

Am I wrong in this?
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Old May 7, 2013, 11:09 PM   #9
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Assuming you are talking about "accuracy" you left out two highly critical points.

Case Prep, turning necks, uniform flash holes, etc.

And bullet seating, highly important, getting the bullet straight while seating.

Google, "The Secrets of the Huston Warehouse". They go into this in detail.
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Old May 7, 2013, 11:28 PM   #10
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Where 1 is most important & higher is less important & assuming the following to start:
  • Powder out of same can.
  • Primers out of same box.
  • Bullets out of same box.
  • Cases same brand from same lot.
  1. Sizing & bullet seating most important. Concentric ammo a must.
  2. With high quality bullets with consistent ogives, sorting & weighing is not necessary. Use Sierras, Noslers & Bergers for out-of-box accuracy.
  3. If powder charge is below 35grs weigh every charge. Above that, set measure to throw +/- .1 gr.
  4. Case length, deburred flash holes & polishing are good workmanship, but add little or nothing to accuracy potential.

JIMHO...

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Old May 7, 2013, 11:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
bullet seating most important
If the neck of the cartridge is straight, how can the bullet seat anyway but straight? Ohhhh, I'm pretty sure I'll regret asking that question...

I know Redding makes a special, bullet-seating die that uses a micrometer to set depth. But I just use the normal die. Are there steps I need to take regarding the neck besides my full-length resizing die?
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Old May 8, 2013, 03:24 AM   #12
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what about bullet seating depth ? Distance from the lands ?
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Old May 8, 2013, 06:25 AM   #13
Sure Shot Mc Gee
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Quote:
Consistency of bullet weight (weigh each bullet and sort)
Why? Are you shooting 600 meter or 1000 yards in competition? If not. That procedure (quote) is a bit beyond what is required.
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Old May 8, 2013, 07:14 AM   #14
Brian Pfleuger
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Priority of Rifle Reloading Factors

Quote:
Originally Posted by FLChinook View Post
Thanks for prioritizing but I'm not sure how to read this. Is "1" always NOT relevant. I would think accuracy of the powder measure should be the most important parameter to accuracy.

I rarely weigh my bullets (although I'm going to start now) and spend lots of time ensuring my powder charge is accurate to a single granule...

Am I wrong in this?
Yes. 1 is always irrelevant. Competition shooters to not weigh charges to within 1/10th gr. They virtually all use volumetric dispensers. Good loads are not sensitive to minor charge weight variations, of 3 times that much or even more.
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Old May 8, 2013, 07:21 AM   #15
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The most important thing is the total formula. The specific case + specific powder + specific bullet.

You can't do a good enough job within process steps to correct an improper choice of any given component.

Process comes after design and proper design creates forgiving processes.
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Old May 8, 2013, 07:57 AM   #16
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Ok...you are going about this wrong.

Accuracy comes from the bullet leaving the muzzle at the same velocity, at the same position of muzzle whip, without being unduly disturbed by the following escaping gasses. That is it for what makes accurate ammo.

Now that you know what you are trying to achieve you have to think backwards on how to achieve it.

Pressure curve comes from two things, assuming brass and bullet seating is uniform, the powder and primer.

You get that by finding a powder charge range that provides consistent velocity with low SD. You don't need a chronograph to do this, you can use Dan Newberry's OCW method, a Ladder method, or even trial and error.

Since we don't have access to the equipment needed to measure primer strike to powder ignition times, finding the primer that works best for you can be a matter of trial and error. This is why hotter primers are recommended for hard to ignite powders even though hotter primers generally increase velocity SD due to initial pressure differences.

As far as uniforming flash holes, I don't bother. Once I get a load MOA or less I'm happy with it and I've never needed to uniform primer pockets or flash holes to get there. If you are shooting benchrest, then my loads are in no way competitive so flash hole uniforming is a really good idea.

Now, getting on to uniform brass and bullet seating.

Brass volume is a huge factor in determining pressure curves, the more consistent the volume the more uniform the pressure curves produced by your powder charges. I sort brass by brand, this is normally good enough for MOA or tighter ammo.

Bullet seating has already been explained, but you really do want that bullet to go into the bore true to the axis so that it doesn't get smooshed out of true.

Hope this helps,
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Old May 8, 2013, 07:59 AM   #17
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This report of what transpired at the Houston warehouse is appropriate to the discussion. It's worth reading the entire article.

Any rifle capable of fine accuracy is worthy of being fed the best ammo. Then, the shooter has to be up to the task.
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Old May 8, 2013, 08:22 AM   #18
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Quote:
If the neck of the cartridge is straight, how can the bullet seat anyway but straight? Ohhhh, I'm pretty sure I'll regret asking that question..
No sir, its a legit question and deserves an answer.

Regardless of the neck of the brass, if the seating die isn't lined up perfectly the bullet can be set cock-eyed. Hard to tell but if you spend the loaded round under a dial indicator you can see it.

I have a report somewhere about Lake City having accuracy problems with there 5.56 ammo, causing it to fail the Army's standard.

The army uses a Mann Accuracy device to test their ammo. They issue these devices to ammo suppliers. When LC failed the standards they blamed the Mann Device. The Army tested the device and determined it was accurate.

The Army made up some special hand loads and tried them in several Mann's and they, including Lake City's, pretty much shot the same groups.

Further investigation found that the machines seating the bullets were worn and out of alignment causing the bullet to go in cock-eyed, again this couldn't be detected by the human eye, but spinning under a dial indicator does show the alignment. It doesn't take much. If the bullet starts down the barrel while wobbling, its not going to be accurate.

As a side note, the CMP sells these Mann Devices. I got one in 5.56 and I could see a big difference in loading my ammo when I ran them through the Mann.

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Old May 8, 2013, 08:54 AM   #19
Dave P
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"I ... spend lots of time ensuring my powder charge is accurate to a single granule...

Am I wrong in this? "


maybe not wrong, but you are wasting your time on this step.


And be sure you don't let the bullet get "smooshed out of true."!!
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Old May 8, 2013, 03:01 PM   #20
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What is the best die for bullet seating?

Quote:
And be sure you don't let the bullet get "smooshed out of true."!!
This should be a new thread but I'll raise the question here as it's germane...

Is the normal bullet-seating die that comes with RCBS, Redding, Hornady 2-die sets not recommended here? What is the best bullet seating die? And is it worth the money for the added accuracy?
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Old May 8, 2013, 03:13 PM   #21
Jimro
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Having a perfect seating die doesn't matter if the sizing die doesn't size the case neck true.

But, assuming that the brass has been properly sized, go read Unclenick's post in this thread: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=523848

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Old May 8, 2013, 03:35 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FLChinook
Is the normal bullet-seating die that comes with RCBS, Redding, Hornady 2-die sets not recommended here? What is the best bullet seating die? And is it worth the money for the added accuracy?
All of the seating dies you named are capable of creating first rate, straight ammunition - if setup properly. You need the correct bullet seating stem too. If you shoot a lot of different profile bullets, may need multiple seating stems to match the bullets you are using. The die comes with a generic stem that works pretty good 80% of the time. The seating die rings are critical also since they hold the die square to your press. Perhaps the Lee rings with the rubber washer lets the die self-center better, I don't know about that(?)

My standard RCBS .22-250 seating die has loaded some extremely accurate ammo. But when I tried to load some very pointed 60gr FMJ bullets for turkeys, you could roll the loaded cartridges across the table & watch the bullet tips wobble!!

FWIW...

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Old May 8, 2013, 09:48 PM   #23
FLChinook
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Thanks Jimro, for that referral; it was very interesting. This was a test of several bullet seating dies where all other variables were removed (as much as possible). The Redding die got the best unfired result and its bullets shot a very good target. The RCBS, which seemed to do a respectable job in keeping the bullets concentric, shot the worst target.

At $165/die, the Redding Competition Bullet seating die is pricey so I would probably get one to try.

I shoot two rifles the most; .257 Weatherby Mag and .300 Win Mag. I can say that full-length resizing of the .257 is almost like pushing hot steel into butter; very easy. The .300 takes lots more force; both to size the case and then to pull the sizing plug through the neck. Of the two cases, the .257 has a very long slender neck whilst the .300 has a very short stubby neck. Of these two, it seems to me the .300 would be more likely to have bullet-seating issues (the neck experiences greater forces during sizing and the shorter neck is less able to hold a bullet straight). Hence, it would benefit most from the Redding die.

What think ye?
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Old May 9, 2013, 06:54 AM   #24
Jimro
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You are asking to compare apples and turkeys. Two different calibers, two different cases, two different chambers.

Neck length isn't a huge issue in accuracy in my experience, as long as there is enough of it to hold the bullet. I mean is there really a significant accuracy difference between the 243 Win and the 6mm Rem?

Before I pontificate on which cartridge should get a premium seating die, why don't you experiment with your rifles, and see if you can figure out which chamber is more tolerant of runout?

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Old May 9, 2013, 10:30 PM   #25
FLChinook
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Quote:
Before I pontificate on which cartridge should get a premium seating die, why don't you experiment with your rifles, and see if you can figure out which chamber is more tolerant of runout?
Both are Weatherby Mark Vs, 26" SS barrels and very long throats (as with all Weatherby's, I'm told).

I'm a structural engineer by trade (retired) and I'm trying to view this process from the standpoint of mechanics. To date, I've only used standard 2-die sets (Redding-257Whby; Hornady-300WinM). I've naively assumed these dies, being orders of magnitude stronger than either of the two brass cases, must not have any role in final accuracy. I now question that premise. In fact, it now seems to me the most important thing I could do would be to get bushing-type neck resizers for both. That should provide the best chance for concentric necks and based on what I'm getting from this thread, concentric necks is very important to accuracy.

As said before, the 257 has a very long and slender neck (call it "dainty") and it therefore seems susceptible to non-concentric forming in a standard die. The .300 win mag is a much "stouter" neck but it's also short and so any non-concentricity would have an exaggerated effect when the bullet is seated.

Perhaps cartridges such as the 30-06 with a robust yet more balanced neck might do OK with standard resizing dies...
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