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Old October 20, 2001, 10:33 AM   #1
Bill Daniel
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Join Date: February 10, 2000
Location: Bowling Green, KY.
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Accuracy testing for reloads

As a novice Bullseye competitor I have a problem. I would like to develop the "perfect" reload for competition but I find three elements influence my accuracy tests: #1 ME #2 my reload #3 my gun. I shoot a Kimber Gold Match from sand bag rests at 25 yards and get groups from 4 to 5 inches. At 47 years of age though I can ethier see clear sights with a blurry target or a clear target with blurry sights.
I understand from "TFLers" that every gun wants its own favorite load but how can you find it with so many variables- OAL, bullet, powder(type and charge) complicated by the most important ME factor.
How can the novice with out a Ransom rest work up the most accurate load for his pistol?
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Old October 20, 2001, 06:00 PM   #2
kurt IA.
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Bill, The Me part, is the main part. Here are a few things you can try. 1 find a stanse that is coumfee for you and you can mantain for long enought to fire your string. 2 Never bring your head, or eye to the gun, look at the target and bring the gun up to were your looking. 3 dry fire at a spot on the wall, watch your sights, they should not move, practice till they stay still, place a coin on the front sight, if it fall, need more practice. As for fuzzie sight picture, Merit use to make a adjustable aperture that fit to your glasses, it helps. when shooting targets, for working up loads, don't chase the bull, let the group form where it wants, just mantain the same sight picture, and aim point. You can adjust later. I like to have the group form high of my aim point, so I don't shoot it out. This is Just my way, and it works for me. I know I didn't answer all your ? I'll let the rest to someone else, and one thing at a time.
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Old October 20, 2001, 06:31 PM   #3
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Bill, my old eyes have the same problem, i use
a bright green paint on front sight, helps me.

As for reloading i load in groups of 5 if it
shoots good I will then load ten to test,I
always shoot test loads from a sitting position.

Once I have a load I like i will load no more then
50 to start, it just does not pay to load up 500
and find they arent all that good.

After much testing my present fun load and very
accurate is 4.1grs of titegroup with a 200swc.
This load from a rest in my springfield loaded
will shoot 1.5inch groups at 25 yds., it is a lite load not much recoil, I find lite loads are more accurate.

I also use red dot,W231 and bullseye powder, but
have excellent results with titegroup and I
always use 200gr swc in lead or plated.

One of the best help with old eyes is cheap reading glasses in low power it helps to clear
front sight and target,i have not had any luck
with bi-focals.Good luck and keep trying the Kimber should get 1-2inch groups with correct
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Old October 20, 2001, 09:13 PM   #4
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Try different variations with components your using now.

Load your powder to several different levels. Try a couple clips of each. See if speeding up or slowing down the bullet makes a difference.

Check your powder charges. Are they all the same? Shooting bullseye, the powder charges are light. A 1/10th of a grain can make a big difference.

Is all your brass the same make? This will affect you greatly.

Try different components as last resort.

Try different primers (buy just 100 to try). It can make a big difference.

Try a different bullet weight. This can make a big difference in some guns. Sighted in a rifle next to a guy who was grouping 6" @ 100 yards with a 30-06 and 150 gr. bullets. I gave him 5 - 180 gr. rounds and he shot a 1-1/2" group.

Try a different powder. You didn't say what your using. My preference is with 231 for bullseye and target practice.

As far as shooting, I'd move up to 50 feet and shoot from a solid bench while sitting. Use a target with a small bullseye. The smaller the target, the smaller the group. I simply put 1" circles on paper for sighting in and grouping loads.

Hold your pistol exactly the same way everytime, just like bulleye competition.

Do your groups tend to be side to side, up and down or all over the place? This will give a better indication of what your problem is.

Or, it could be that dog gone Kimber, in which case you should just give that sucker to me. Heck, I need an excuse for not hitting the broad side of a barn....
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Old October 21, 2001, 09:09 AM   #5
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Factors effecting Accuracy

There is an excellent book entitled "Cast Bullets" by E.H.Harrison in which there is an article, "Making Accurate .38 Handloads". Harrison breaks down the various factors in reloads by Minute of Angle (MOA). The book was published by the NRA and it is probably out of print but when I was shooting National Match, it was my bible. I,m sure it can help you. Quantrill
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Old October 21, 2001, 07:25 PM   #6
Freedom in theSkies
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How can the novice with out a Ransom rest work up the most accurate load for his pistol?
I use an MTM pistol Rest when working up loads for accuracy. At 12-15 bucks, it is a great tool.
You can try different components, loaded to different velocities and settle on the combination that works for you and your gun.
Best o' luck
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Old October 22, 2001, 12:49 PM   #7
Jack Straw
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Yeah there are a lot of variables that can affect the quality of your reloads. I think the key is to control your variables. By that I mean that you must only change one thing at a time. I start with the powder charge, increasing in small increments until I find what works best. Then, keeping everything else the same, I experiment with primers. Next I change o.a.l., then the amount of crimp etc... It is a step by step process and it can take a bit of experimenting sometimes, but the more you shoot (even less than perfect loads) the better you'll get and the more you will learn about your gun and what it likes. As Dogjaw said, use what components you have. When I started reloading, I wanted to keep changing powders, but I learned that the powders I already had (as long as the powder was suitable for the job) would have worked just fine as long as my testing process wasn't haphazard.

As for not being able to focus on both the sights and target at the same time...take heart, that isn't an age thing, it is a human thing. The human eye can't focus on two things at the same time. My advice for that: front sight! front sight! front sight! With your focus on your sights you will see the target (fuzzy though it will be) behind your sights. Avoid the temptation to switch your focus back and forth from sights to target to sights to target...

I have used the MTM rest the Freedom mentioned and it works great for a low price. I sometimes use a couple of sandbags. One supports my wrists and another cradles the frame (ahead of the trigger guard) of the gun.

Good luck,

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Old October 22, 2001, 07:53 PM   #8
Peter M. Eick
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I read the comments and have only one other to add. I have found that for me, the true test of the accuracy of a load is more like 50 rnds per target.

I want to get at least 4 to 8 mag changes, 1st round vs. the rest of the rnds, fatigue of recoil, and enough rounds to test consistency, etc etc etc before I decide on a load. I have been surprised at how many loads look good right off the bat with a few 5 rnd groups, but put 50 rnds into one target and see how they spread out.

Look at it this way, if you are happy with a 50 rnd group, the odds are very much in your favor that you will be happy with a 5 rnd group. BUT, visa versa is not ALWAYS true.
10mm and 357sig, the best things to come along since the 38 super!
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Old October 23, 2001, 12:33 AM   #9
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Welcome to the world of shooting and reloading... where nothing is easy

I been shooting and reloading for few years now (15 yrs) and have learned some things about both. In my opinion, most quality handguns like your Kimber are usually a lot more accurate than 95% of shooters are able to shoot. The handgun's accuracy is usually the last thing I worry about.

To set a baseline accuracy goal for a particular pistol I shoot few different factory ammos which are known for their accuracy. For me, in 45ACP, this means 230gr Gold Dot, 230gr Hydrashok and 185gr Federal Target ammo. With each ammo I shoot 10 groups of 5 rounds each at 25 yards using sandbags as rest on a stable table. Use several different size sandbags and support your whole hand and always hold the pistol consistantly for each shot. I then calculate the accuracy for each ammo by deleting the best and the worst group in each ammo and averaging the size of 8 groups. The ammo with best groups size become the goal to beat with my reload.

When reloading the most important thing to remember is consistancy. I usually load about 100 rounds of new load to test and everything is done exactly same way loading these 100 rounds. This means I do not adjust the dies or powder drop and use same components for all rounds. I usually shoot about 25 rounds to make sure they function in my gun then shoot another 25 rounds in a informal target shooting. If everything looks good at this point I'll shoot 10 groups of 5 rounds each at 25 yards. Sometimes the reload will be accurate and sometimes... not so accurate.

As you gain experience reloading you'll see that there are some patters to accurate loads. Personally I find that my 45ACP pistols are usually most accurate with 200-230gr cast bullets or 230gr FMJ bullets (yes, there are exceptions). Also, velocity should be kept around 750-800fps with cast bullets while FMJ bullets will work better slightly faster. When loading these cast bullets faster buring powders such as Bullseye or Win231 will usually give better accuracy than slower burning powders such as Unique. Finally, I have yet to find a particular brand of brass, powder, primer, bullet, press, etc that will give consistantly better accuracy than another. They all will give good accuracy at times when used in a particular combination. This all will just come with time and experience.

In past 5 years my eyesight has been getting worse very quickly and now I have a lot of trouble shooting 25 yards with iron sight. One thing that has helped me to improve my group was to change the target from the standard "circle/bullseye" to what I call "inverted T" type. Basically I draw a horizontal line across the middle of paper and then another line is drawn vertically above this horizontal line. The vertical line should be wide enough to just fill accross the front sight at 25 yards while the horizontal line should be just thick enough to line accross the top of your front sight.

Here is a pic of the target I use

I hope this helps a little in your search for the "ultimate" reload for your Kimber.

btw Kimber rocks.
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Old October 23, 2001, 01:30 AM   #10
Bill Adair
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You've asked the question I've often thought of asking. The answer is that you can't eliminate the human variable, but you can minimize it to some degree.

For me, the answer is sight enhancement for load checking.

There are several approaches, some of them very inexpensive.

1. Check out the clip on variable aperture disks, sold at most gun shops.

A simple device that takes some getting used to, but improves depth of focus (your problem) with a very small investment. They clip on your glasses, and you can dial in the size of the aperture that best clears up your sight picture. They are no good for competition where time is a factor, but are great for load development. Mine were $15 from Brownell's, and the label says "FARRSIGHT OPTICAL DISK".

2. An optical enhancement, such as a scope, or red dot sight.

Mounts are available for a wide variety of guns, and some of these are rugged enough to mount on the slide of a 45 auto. More expensive, but worth the money to me. By removing the mount and sight together (before competition), you can pretty much maintain the sight setting for the next batch of ammo testing.

3. A chronograph.

Not a sight enhancement tool, but it helps me find loads with small velocity spreads. The chrono sees consistency, where my groups may not! When standard deviations and extreme velocity spreads are small, I know the ammo has potential.

Of course, take all this with a grain of salt. I'm an armchair expert, and only aware of what has helped my shooting.

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Old October 23, 2001, 09:03 AM   #11
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first thing first

first i use a gun i know im good with just to make sure its not me,like a ruger redhawk or a sig p229.if you can only get 4 inch groups with a tack driver then you dont stand a chance with one that is less of a gun
It's not just a gun it's the symbol of freedom
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