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Old May 4, 2008, 07:34 PM   #1
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Working up a load

As I've stated in other posts, I'm pretty new to reloading. When working up a load I know you should reload 5 rounds of a certain grainage then another 5 at a higher grainage til you start to see signs of high pressure or accuracy goes away. Well now to my question, what should the difference be between those 5 rounds be powder wise? Like should I go a whole grain or just a few 1/10ths of a grain. Please correct me if anything I've said doesn't sound right.
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Old May 4, 2008, 07:47 PM   #2
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I try to work up in increments of .2 for pistol, .4 for rifle.
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Old May 4, 2008, 08:34 PM   #3
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I tend to go around 0.3 for pistol rounds and 0.5 for rifle rounds.

In pistol, I tend to make up 15 rounds in a given powder weight, and none less. That gives me 1-5 rounds to fire simply to check brass and look for signs of high pressure and proper function and feed of the pistol, then 10 more rounds to see if they have half a chance at showing some consistency.
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Old May 4, 2008, 11:41 PM   #4
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If you're not running max loads, watch for accuracy changes with as little as .5 grain difference in loads.

I like to use five cartridges as test rounds in a marked batch incrementally increasing in powder charge in the ammo box as you watch for accuracy variations and inconsistancies.

In a 50 round ammo box, the first five rounds will be the weakest, the last five in the box the 'hottest'

Does that make any sense? It's getting late. LoL
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Old May 5, 2008, 12:16 AM   #5
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I work up four rounds for new rifle loads--starting point, ending point and two quarter points in between.

For handgun loads, I usually work up around 20 rounds per powder change--but I don't have a set "formula" for how I change up the load. With some smaller loads (.380, 9mm, .38 spcl), there's not a lot of room to play with, grain-wise.

But with larger magnum loads, there can be quite a bit of room to work with.

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Old May 5, 2008, 12:24 AM   #6
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Working up a load??

It has been my experience that Case preparation and seating depth is more important than slight changes in powder charges. I first try to get a powder charge that fills the case as much as possible, while checking for pressure problems. Once I find signs of slight pressure problems I normally back off 1/2 or 1 grain of powder, then I start to concern myself with accuracy.

I have found over my reloading life time that most rifles shoot their best right at the pressure limit. Not always, but generally this is the case.

Once I determine that limit I take my time with case preparation, seating depth, and runout concerns. Proper case preparaton is mandatory for accurate results. And case preparation is pretty much standard stuff. Seating depth then becomes my main concern. But I will admit that when accuracy is my main concern I do not worry about whether the ammo will fit the magazine, I normally shoot single shot only.

If I can not find an accurate load this way then I will try changing bullets, or then I will experiment more with powder charges. I know some people who do not even weigh their powder charges. They consider slight powder charge variances as "no big thing". Tom.
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Old May 5, 2008, 12:38 AM   #7
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For handgun my charge increments vary with the cartridge and powder, for example, with .38spl and Bullseye where a start charge may be 2.7gr w/a 148gr HBWC I will load in 1/10 gr increments. For .357 mag. with a slow burning powder my steps are 3/10 of a grain. Sometimes my increments are father apart as to zero in and then I fine tune with with smaller steps.
For rifle I will load one bullet at a starting charge and up the charge by .5gr for each additional bullet I write the load on the case with a maker, I wind up with about 10 rounds that have the same bullet with different charges. I flag each hit on the target and make note of the load, the holes that are closest together tell me where to start the fine tuning process.
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Old May 5, 2008, 06:14 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the help, I really appreciate it. After reading all the posts I went to my shop and loaded 20 rounds, starting with what my book calls the starting load I loaded 5 rounds and worked up in .5 grain increments. Hopefully I'll find what the gun likes and then maybe I'll play with seating depths. Thanks again for the help
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Old May 5, 2008, 06:58 AM   #9
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Do a google search for ladder test. It walks you through the process and it works but you need a 200 yard range to get the best data.
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Old May 5, 2008, 08:15 AM   #10
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You didn't mention what cartridge you are loading, so you got replies for big rifle cartridges and small psitol cartidges.

The idea of splitting the difference between the start load and max load into 4 parts, giving 5 different test loads (start, start + 1/4 difference, start + 1/2 difference, start +3/4 difference, and max) is about right to get an initial feel for how things are progressing with a new powder. But, with a big rifle case, that may still be a 2 grain difference between test loads, and smaller changes can make a difference in an accurate rifle. So, once you find the most accurate load in the first batch of 5 different charge weights, you can try smaller differences centered around that initial best charge. Obviously, you don't have the equipment to get down to less than 0.1 grain difference between charges, and you won't have to do that for a rifle, because something between the big (maybe 2 grain) difference and 0.1 grain will start showing that the results for all the charges look about the same.

For small pistol cases, even 0.1 grain can make big differences in accuracy and pressure, expecially with fast powders.

You also got recommendations on test ranges (distances) that presumed you were shooting an accurate rifle. Actually, test your loads at the ranges you intend to shoot them. There is not much sense in testing a 45 ACP at 200yards, especially if you are only making a light shooting bullseye pistol target load. Those targets are only going to be 50 yards away, so test at that range. On the other hand, if you are working up a huntng load for the prairie, but doing the load development at an 100 yard urban shooting range, you might be surprised that a load that shoots just fine at 100 yards does not just open up groups to twice as big at 200 yards and 3 times as big at 300 yards -- they can actually open up a LOT more if the bullets do not stabilize correctly.

So, make sure you test at the ranges that you intend to use the ammo you are working up.

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Old May 5, 2008, 02:52 PM   #11
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I've been reloading for my .22-250, and today I think I found the load. I started at 37.0grs and worked up to 40.0grs in .5gr increments. I shot them all today, and found the gun really likes 38.5grs of H380!!! I shot five rounds at 100yds and put all five in a .258 hole!!! So tonight the press will be real busy!! Thanks for the imput guys!! This is the best forum I've been to for handloading.
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Old May 6, 2008, 08:47 AM   #12
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I try to develop 4 or 5 loads between the starting load and the maximum load. In small case cartridges the amount of change between loads is smaller. In big magnum cases the difference between the loads will be larger. Two or three tenths of a grain are quite a percentage change in the 22 Hornet, but two or three tenths of a grain do not amount to a significant percentage change in, say, a 7mm Rem Mag.

Good luck.
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