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Old February 18, 2012, 02:42 PM   #1
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Developing accurate rifle loads

What techniques do you use to develop the most accurate load for a given caliber, same powder type and bullet weight?

I usually load of 5 cartridges with the same powder charge, same bullet weight. I try 3 different powder weights about .5 gr apart and shoot 3, 5 shot groups. Then I pick the best of the three. Then I repeat with various powder weights .2 gr apart around the best of the original 3.

Curious to know what technique you use.
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Old February 18, 2012, 02:59 PM   #2
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That's pretty much what I do except I generally move in steps of .3 or .5 grs and leave it at that when I find a good load. .2 generally isn't a big enough step to make a difference in the cartridges I shoot but there are times when it works. I also experiment with different seating depths, bullets, powders and primers. Thousands of possible combinations for any given cartridge and good record-keeping is a must. Labeling is important as well. I identify my "try" loads by using a Sharpie pen on a sandwich bag. I also ID the target with load # so I can study it later.
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Old February 18, 2012, 04:06 PM   #3
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I pretty much do what the OP does. However I do a confirmation run when I've found a potential good load.

I take 10 pieces of brass that I have set aside; they're the worst ones I can find in the batch I use. Half of them are badly underweight and the other half are badly overweight. I then load them, but weigh the charges 0.3grs light in the light cases and 0.3grs heavy in the heavy cases. I shoot all ten into one target at 200yds. If it all falls apart and won't hold about a minute of angle, I move on and find another load.

I don't like weighing charges and fussing about brass; this technique lets me know the absolute worst performance I can expect out of a load. After that I know I can just pull the crank. I shoot them in Highpower competition.
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Old February 18, 2012, 06:42 PM   #4
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I read on the internet about the 1" 5 shot group at 100 yards throughout the 90s.
I went to all kinds of ranges, and no one ever got one.
Then in 1999 I saw two guys do it.
One at Issaquah with a .223 Coyote Win M70.
One at Tacoma Sportsman in Puyallup with a Mosin Nagant.
Meanwhile everyone on the internet did it every day.

The internet is a lousy place to learn accuracy, but may be the only place.
Lousy, because of all the benchrest red herrings.

I have come up with schpeal to help guys not spend years like me.

1) Test rifles in 6 mph or less wind or test at 50 yards.
2) Use a 10X or more expensive scope or a 14X or more cheap scope.
3) Spend two hours and ruin several bronze brushes getting the Copper out. The brush does no good if the bristles measure less than the groove diameter. Brushes can wear out in 10 strokes and become hand me downs to smaller calibers. You may only get 10 shots before you are Copper fouled again, and the first shot is a fouling shot. So have the rifle sighted in when you clean it. Look into the muzzle at a 45 degree angle, and rotate the rifle. You should be able to see the last 1/4" of lands and grooves. The Copper may appear a Gold color or a red color. You must scrub until all Copper is gone.
4) Most rifles get the best group at 50y or 100y with a reduced load with faster powder and light weight Vmax bullets seated long.
5) Don't use an expander ball. If a piece of brass has been resized and used an expander ball in the same step, it is now bent. The best way to get the neck straight again is to fire the brass again. We don't like bent necks because that makes the rear end of the bullet not concentric with the bore.
6) Seat the bullet long. Half way between touching the lands and getting stuck in the lands. If the front end of the bullet is jammed into the lands, at least ONE end of the bullet is concentric with the bore.
7) Practice dry firing on the bench until the cross hairs stay on the bullseye. Adjust bags, benchrest, posture, or whatever it takes.
8) Float the barrel. Use a dollar bill to check that the barrel does not touch the stock from the end of the stock all the way back to within and inch of the receiver. Anything touches the barrel, sand, chisel, drill, or file it out of there.
9) Make sure the scope mounts [or bases as Brownells calls them] are tight to the receiver. Those screws commonly get loose. The ring screws never get loose. But very often bad groups are caused by loose scope mount screws.
10) Make sure the action screws are tight. Hold the rifle with one hand on the rifle wrist and with the other palm, punch the barrel. The barrel and stock vibrating like a tuning fork sound should be a bongggggg. Not a buzzz. Not a bump. The under damped exponential decay of a sinusoid indicates a stiff connection. We need it stiff to make the stock count as part of and a consistent part of the recoil reaction before bullet escapement.

Let me try again, in more of a comic book version:

Big effect on accuracy
1) shoot when there is no wind
2) get a high power scope
3) practice dry firing and keeping cross hairs on bullseye
4) clean out Copper fouling in bore
5) good bullets
6) No expander ball use
7) jam bullet into lands
8) heavy gun and light bullet
9) float the barrel
10) keep barrel cool
11) expensive bull barrels
12) make sure scope mounts are tight to receiver

Little or no effect on accuracy
1) True the action face
2) true the inner C ring
3) lap the lugs
4) true the bolt face
5) chase the threads
6) speed up the lock time
7) glass bed the action
8) pillar bed the action
9) get a 1 ounce trigger
10) turn the case necks
11) weigh the brass
12) de burr the flash holes
13) weigh each powder charge
14) try different powders
15) use benchrest primers
16) lap the scope rings.
17) Dial in bore when chambering
18) re crown the muzzle
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Old February 18, 2012, 06:50 PM   #5
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Well...what do you consider an accurate load?

Mine would be maybe a 3/8 in group at 300 yards from my rifle..

Some consider being able to hit an 8 in. paper plate at 100 yards...
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Old February 18, 2012, 07:13 PM   #6
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Geez Clark, you never sat at the bench next to me. Truth is, for me anyway, is that I do believe that I can take my 220 or my 223 out of the safe and shoot groups somewhere under 3/4 inch. All that would be with handloads. I don't think I'll ever get there with my 260 and that real skinny barrel. I think I can shoot 1 inch or less with my 270, but before I'd ever bet any money on it I'd go shoot it again to check. I've shot great groups with the 260 and the 270, but won't make the shaky claim that I can do it any time and all the time, and certainly not under all conditions.

I sort of think that everyone bragging on groups tends to remember and talk about the best ones. I know that I do. It's pretty easy for a person to convince himself that a great group was due to him, but a less good group that had a flier was due to that one piece of bad brass that he should have tossed.

Back to the OP's question, I used to shoot 5 shot groups, but now with certain rifles I'll shoot 3 shot groups. That skinny barrel 260 gets hot pretty fast. And I'll clean after 12 or 15 shots, just so the next groups get shot with the same degree of bore fouling. After I think I've found the right load, I'll usually shoot 3 rounds the next day, when the barrel is as cold as it'll be when I go to the woods. If they hit where they are supposed to, I've got my new load.
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Old February 18, 2012, 07:22 PM   #7
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Diito to the OP,But step 3 mess with the COL to tweek everything, If you want to get more anal,Start messing with case length also.My 308 is 2.00 and my 223 is 1.753. Lot's will say makes no difference,but it does .

Case prep is a given,
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Old February 18, 2012, 07:46 PM   #8
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What I normally do is run 1/2 gr increments start to max if it's something that 80gr powder I may use 1gr increments between start and max. If I use more than one powder I'll clean between powders and I normally take another rifle or two along that way I give the barrel time to cool off and gives me something to do.

here is two targets one is from my 243AI and the other one is from new 300Wby I was working loads up. I had two 4 shot loads groups pretty close just over 1/2" next load 1gr more first shot to the right too far out not worth trying again.

I hate to posting pictures but I'll invite Clark to come out and shoot with me and I'll load him one of those rifles he doesn't think too highly of.
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Old February 18, 2012, 07:57 PM   #9
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Do the same as the Op but with .5 gr increments.
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Old February 18, 2012, 08:43 PM   #10
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OLD ROPER----Thats some dame good shooting there....real see what that 243 will do at 300...I been thinking of building me one of them...A lot better than that new 243 short mag or whatever they call that piece of crap....
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