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Old November 17, 2017, 12:30 PM   #1
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Accuracy load workup. How do YOU do it?

I have been selecting my desired bullet, looking at what powder was the most accurate according to Nosler's book. Load a minimum charge load with 5 bullets starting at .035" off the lands and grooves progressing in .005" increments. I then test at 100 yards. Whichever length proves best I test again in .002" increments. For example if I shot best at .010" off the L&G I test at .006, .008, .010, .012, and .014". Best out of this is my optimum length for that bullet, and I move on to adjusting my powder charge in .5g increments, then in .2g increments to finalize my load.

If I am not happy with the powder I use the length that I already determined and start over with a different powder.

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Old November 17, 2017, 12:44 PM   #2
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Perhaps my method isn't very popular as I don't use any "formula" and am in no hurry. I like reloading. I'll start with the manual starting load and load up mebbe 10 (or two cylinders full for my revolver, two clips full for my Garand, two magazines full for my bolt gun and semi-autos). I'll shoot and record the results, and sometimes I'll repeat a load just because. I use the bullet manufacturer's recommendation for OAL and bullet seating depth is the last item on my list for searching for accuracy. I won't use small runs/samples because I wanna know what my reloads are doing, not how well I can shoot 3 or 5 rounds. For me this works quite well and I get to reload more and I get a better idea of what the reloads are doing...
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Old November 17, 2017, 01:07 PM   #3
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If its all new, I start at the low end, .020 off the lands and work up through a progression of at least to mid level. Usually 1/2 grain but sometimes a full grains.

Usually 10.

If I find a good looking group with 5, I will adjust the COAL of that group in .010 to see if it makes a difference. Note that.

If it did make a difference, then I will set the next group at that COAL.

Keep in mind I take a small press to the range with me so I am not restricted by loads.

I can adjust a COAL whenever I want. Other than the first at .020, the rest are in the lands and will need adjustment. It may be the .020 or it may be closer or further if another group is good and further away is better.

I have all the tools with me for that.
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Old November 17, 2017, 02:17 PM   #4
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When I was shooting in 1,000 yard F Class Competition, I had a hard and fast rule: unless intentionally loading them long so as to soft seat the bullets into the lands when chambering, never seat the bullets so the ogive-to-lands measurement is less than .010". Why? Ogive location on even the Sierra MatchKing bullets will vary by .010" since they are coming off different machines at Sierra, and you don't want some bullets into the lands and some not. That doesn't do a heck of a lot for good ES and SD numbers.

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Old November 17, 2017, 02:48 PM   #5
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For a rifle, I usually start about half way to max. I shoot at long range and don't really have any use for real light loads.
I fully match prep my cases.
I usually load 5 of each charge and go up 3/10s of a grain to max.
I seat the bullets 10 thousandths off the lands.
I chrono all the shots. I usually take the load that exhibits the lowest standard of deviation and play with seating depth, different primers and what-not until I decide that is my load.
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Old November 17, 2017, 03:42 PM   #6
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Mine has certainly evolved over the years.
I start @ .02 jump. I’ll ladder load in 5 shot groups looking at the average speeds of that group, in increments of .1gr looking for a flat, velocity node. Once I find the highest one across .3-.5 grs I’ll ladder load across that node for groups. If I can’t get anything to group then I’ll start playing with seating depth, but that’s only happened a few times. Usually the velocity nodes are a good indicator of the tightest groups.

My method takes more shots than most I read about, but it almost always results in a load I’m confident is tuned to the rifle.
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Old November 17, 2017, 04:00 PM   #7
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I can't remember a time I did any different than I do now! I back off max about 2 1/2 grs and load three rounds at a time working up to max. For seating depth, either just off the lands, no idea how far, or if the magazine won't allow it, to just under the length of the magazine or, to the base of the neck. If one won't work at the base of the neck, I generally drop a weight in bullet and start again. Or, one caliber depth. The throat on my 6.5x55 is simply to long for even 140gr bullet's so it get's seated one caliber depth. I can generally make any decent rifle shoot right at an inch or less. I don't shoot competatively, I hunt! The line drawn for accuracy always favors accuracy over performance but, a hunting rifle that sacrifices performance for accuracy give's up the reason for using that cartridge in the first place. If your shooting a 300 mag and want the most accurate load you can get, you could end up at 308 velocities and use more powder to get it. Just get a 308 to start with! Recoil should be nice though.
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Old November 17, 2017, 05:04 PM   #8
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I can only shoot out to 800 and do not hunt so I avoid maximum loads as a general rule. Like RC20 I prefer to do my loading for development at the range

I look at the minimum and maximum loads for a powder/bullet and choose a spot in the middle. At 200 yards I start at the minimum and shoot a ladder of individual loads going up in .5 and .3 increments seated .025 off the lands until I am just north of the middle of that load. That is just to make sure there are no pressure issues. Then I back off that middle load about a half grain and start shooting 5 shot groups going up .2 each load. If I don't see anything promising I will do some more single loads up to max load and follow with more 5 shot groups.

When I see something promising I go out to 600 to see if it holds together bring out the chrono, go .1 on either side and tweak seating depth both in and out over the next few range sessions
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Old November 17, 2017, 05:26 PM   #9
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The way I work a new load for a new gun is different than a new load in a gun I have already made other loads for. With a new gun I take the start load and subtract it from the maximum load. That gives me the number of grains that I have to use in my load workup. I divide that number by 10 and make five of each step. At this point I am looking for two loads that produce the best groups. Not that they will be acceptable groups but it will give me a new range of powder charges to narrow down for the tightest groups. I continue the process until I get to 0.1 grain increments and I select the three that make the tightest groups and then test them over a couple of months to make sure they are consistently accurate. The best selection for me is the load right in the middle of the three or more accurate load. This has provided me with the most consistently accurate loads.
Here is the form I use in my workup and keep for my records:
Attached Files
File Type: pdf WorkupTemp.pdf (27.8 KB, 52 views)

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Old November 17, 2017, 06:52 PM   #10
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I select about 3 or 4 different bullets that I would be willing to use for the application. They are usually the same weight, or at least close.

I'll typically load all with the same powder and primer and seat them about .030” off the lands. The powder is usually one commonly used for the caliber/bullet weight. I'll use the starting load published in the manual for the bullet (if available), but will not bother reducing more than 10% below max.

After shooting at least two five shot groups with each load I'll narrow down to the bullet that produces the best groups. If one bullet is not clearly better, I'll choose the two best and repeat with those two bullets.

After choosing the bullet, I will proceed to adjust powder charge and possibly seating depth if the previous groups were reasonably good. If the groups weren't all that great, I'll probably try another powder before messing with powder charge or seating depth.

May not the be the best way to go about it, but that's what I typically do. I find the bullet choice to be the biggest contributor to accuracy so I start with that as outlined above. There are usually a number of powders that do well in most cartridges so I don't spend much time trying to fine tune that choice if I get reasonably good results with one.

Most of my load development is for large game hunting so when I get something that works reasonably well, I don't try to fine tune it much. Instead, I'll spend more time practicing from various field positions. However, I will spend more time fine tuning groundhog or prairie dog loads where I'll often be shooting from some sort of rest at the small and likely distant target.
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Old November 17, 2017, 08:03 PM   #11
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Like many others on here, I have different techniques for New guns vs ones I already have a few loads for.

Then it is different for pistols, vs bolt action rifles, vs semi-auto rifles.

With pistols I don't monkey around with seating depth much at all, and from there it depends upon the purpose. Hunting vs self defense practice vs just plinking.

With semi-auto rifles I seat to within 1/100th of max mag length usually and work around that with different powder charges.

With hunting bolt action rifles mag length is again a factor and I have no use for powder puff hunting loads....if it won't shoot near max I change bullet or powder.

With my F-CLASS loads I do a bunch of different things.

The step by step though for anyone of them would be too long and boring to post here.
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Old November 17, 2017, 08:21 PM   #12
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I use something a bit more scientific...

Magic Load Calculator
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Old November 17, 2017, 08:52 PM   #13
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Thanks guys. Lots to think about!

Ben_Snow, my mechanic friend has one of those that sits on his desk, I get a kick out of it. When someone that will never bring their car in wants a diagnosis over the phone its tempting to pick up that Magic 8 ball!
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Old November 17, 2017, 09:11 PM   #14
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I looked around online and noted what worked best for others. All of my best loads were "borrowed" from others. Chances are that if you see lots of people getting good results with X amount of Y powder under Z bullet a load pretty close will work for me. The exact load that worked best for me may not be the exact load that others used, but it is pretty close. I load rounds to just fit the magazine and still chamber without jamming into the lands. I can't go any longer if I wanted to, but can experiment with going shorter, but I have never found a load that didn't shoot best as long as possible.

Very unscientific, and I might be able to shave a few 1/1000s' off my group size with more effort. But I've always found a sub MOA load fairly quickly. Under field conditions any more accuracy can't be utilized anyway.
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Old November 18, 2017, 11:17 AM   #15
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Same here as JMR40 but I always start low and work up to it. That usually gets me to an accurate load fairly quickly. The one time it hasn't worked is with 6.5 Creedmoor. I'm getting decent groups but I know the cartridge is capable of great groups which keeps pushing me to find a better recipe.
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Old November 18, 2017, 11:27 AM   #16
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Seating depth is the last thing that I adjust.....If a certain powder and bullet combination won't shoot to a certain level seated at the recommended depth with my choice of components then there's no sense in messing with depth of the bullet.

I received a couple Sierra reloading DVD's when I subscribed to Handloader magazine.....In one of the segments the gentleman says that seating depth has little to do with accuracy for most shooters.....for whatever that's worth.
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Old November 18, 2017, 01:40 PM   #17
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Agreed, if you shoot 1 inch or more, depth is not a factor.

Under 3/4 it is for sure. But that takes a good setup and rested shooting.

Not often but test loads can vary over 1 inch even with that setup.
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Old November 18, 2017, 03:31 PM   #18
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Sierra loading book and Lyman book is a good start!
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Old November 18, 2017, 03:38 PM   #19
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I start with the bullet I want to use, I then check manualbto see their most accurate powder and load.
I usually start in the middle of the powder weights, and use that weight to test BTO preferences once Ive become happy with the length, I add more powder until groups widen a little the move back...usually takes less than ten rnds and done.
But SOMETIMES the dang mess wont cooperate and I have to switch powders....
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Old November 18, 2017, 04:53 PM   #20
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20 thousandsths from my lands and grooves...

I am a newbie, so take that into consideration...

I don't mean to sound ignorant,...but,

All the methods to determine the COAL for YOUR specific weapon, all the gadgets, wing nuts, bells and whistles....

Why can I not just take a fire formed brass from my rifle, trim, chamfer, debur, tighten the neck a hair with my collet die, leave the primer out, place whatever bullet I am going to use LIGHTLY in the case mouth, with WAY to MUCH hanging out and chamber it it the rifle.

When I extract the cartridge, the bullet has been "pushed" back to the lands and grooves leaving trace markings on my "pristine" bullet.

Is not this my COAL?

Don't I just "pull back" .020 from here?

Thank you.
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Old November 19, 2017, 11:19 AM   #21
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Hornady's OAL gauge is easier and may be more accurate and repeatable...

I use the OAL gauge with Hornady's Bullet Comparator kit.

Last edited by ed308; November 19, 2017 at 11:41 AM.
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Old November 23, 2017, 01:24 AM   #22
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I understand that, that is one of the "gadgets" that I am refering to.

However, that does not really answer my question.
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Old November 23, 2017, 05:38 AM   #23
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I use essentially the same method you describe. I typically don't chamfer and de-burr the neck, and I don't have a collet die. I just put a small flat on the mouth by pressing the case mouth against the bench top. That gives the tension needed to hold the bullet. Repeat a few times to verify and you're done. Cheap and effective.

For repeaters, I also make sure the length is suitable for magazine loading and feeding. I use a case with sized neck for that so the bullet stays at the test length.
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Old November 23, 2017, 08:37 AM   #24
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Arbrn Rngr,

I do the same but be aware that the rifling can "grab" the bullet and pull it out of the case giving you a false reading. I do it several times to make sure.
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Old November 23, 2017, 09:14 AM   #25
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Arbrn rngr and Joe-ker, if you're in the mood to compare your method to this one, have at it: No speciall equipment needed.

Drop your bullet into the chamber and lightly tap it with a cleaning rod so it stays in place but is not jammed into the rifling. Put the cleaning rod (cannot be a coated rod) into the muzzle and gently lower it until it contacts the bullet. Make a line on the rod with a fine tip "magic marker" that is half-way around the rod. Knock the bullet out. Take your dummy cartridge that you made in the way you described, chamber it, insert the rod and make another line completely around the rod.

If you only see one line around the rod, both bullets are touching the rifling at an equal position. If your dummy round produced a line that is below the half-line, your round is jammed further into the rifling rather than just touching. If your goal is to seat that bullet 0.02" away, in this circumstance it is really closer than that.

The problem is you may end up with a round that is into the rifling (due to manufacturing variation as described by USSR above) and pressure increases.
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