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Old December 8, 2018, 08:21 AM   #1
Road_Clam
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"Testing" vs. "practice shooting" saga

Like many handloaders I have a deep passion for consistency and precision. I am constantly in the hunt for that specific gun's "magical combo". I load 18 different calibers and thus far have 966 loads tested and documented. I keep saying to myself "I need to spend more time practicing than testing" Yet seems most of my range trips is spent testing a "new combo". I think I have about 11 combos in queue I need to test. It just never ends. A perfect example of the ongoing saga is my M1 Garand, I spend a lot of time testing 155-175's looking for a precise load, found a great load with 168's and 4064. Now as of late just randomly browsing the CMP board I read of a potentially precise load using 100-110 gr flat base bullets from some highly credible sources ?? So following the passion I gotta' try this ! More fun "practice shooting" range trips bumped in favor of testing. No wonder i'm stuck being just an amateur shooter, but at least i'm a poor shot with consistent loads, so no excuses ! Am I not alone ?
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Old December 8, 2018, 08:47 AM   #2
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I shoot in order to be able to reload
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Old December 8, 2018, 09:28 AM   #3
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If your testing involves your human error in holding and trigger pull etc, your testing is practice.

If not, testing should be pretty quick and you can get back to practicing.

If you have a platform that is stable enough you just fire to the target and measure the results.

Like the one hole 3 shot group at the last 4 seconds of this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PG13s1bj-jw
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Old December 8, 2018, 10:00 AM   #4
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Road Clam:
I am like you, but I also feel that I am "practicing" while testing. There are only so many ways to make shooting at paper interesting. Since injuring my knee, I haven't been able to do any action shooting. One has to do things to make shooting interesting. I find it satisfying when I retrieve my target with a tight group which tells me that I was focused on that front sight, had a good trigger pull and found a good load. I say keep on testing, reloading and enjoy yourself. If you need more reinforcement, just think about what the shopping malls are like right now.
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Old December 8, 2018, 02:35 PM   #5
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No you are not alone. I have yet to figure out if its me or my loads wander as I sometimes get really good ones and then they go off. More me I think but....

I reload to shoot. My testing records are pretty poor and I keep trying to work out how to get it down. Lately its just start over and log the results better.

I don't mine reloading but I live to shoot. How I would feel if there was low cost accurate ammo? Not sure, there is not so not to worry.

I finally think I have the range of what affects things though I have yet to do some of those things (or get the equipment)

I am doing 3 calibers and 30-06 has too many guns. Right now I am focusing on real accurate.

I need to get back to Mil Surplus and see what I can do there.

It never ends, good thing.
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Old December 8, 2018, 05:36 PM   #6
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My testing is practice. At every test session I give my dead level best to hold the cross hairs on a specific point on the target each and every shot, squeeze the trigger and call my shots. Without the knowledge that each shot taken is as close to the last as possible, I have no confidence in the results of the test.
I get a lot of practice because I too never seem to stop testing. That my be due to the fact that I haven't found the load I'm looking for.
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Old December 8, 2018, 08:39 PM   #7
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I haven't reloaded a single round for 2 years. I was spending time reloading that could have been put to better use and I had more reloaded ammo than I could possibly use.
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Old December 8, 2018, 08:43 PM   #8
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I guess I should have explained in better description. I was speaking from handload testing taking away from other enjoyed disciplines, in particular IDPA type action shooting or rifle action engaging multiple targets, shotgun trap / skeet and so on...
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Old December 8, 2018, 10:45 PM   #9
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I shoot in order to be able to reload.
That resonates with me^.

I only load for pistol. I can only imagine the quagmire rifle loaders can find themselves swimming in.

I have a way of finding myself knee deep in load development that lasts all through the warm months. Last summer it was 45 ACP load work ups. Next summer, it'll be something else, I'm sure. My range is oriented relative to the sun where winter chronographing can be a bit tricky - so it's only a practical thing to do from March - October. I like range time - any range time. But after a while, setting up the chrono and recording every shot can start to feel a bit like work.

Two days ago, I took my 38 Special "fun gun" (S&W M67 - has no other duty but recreation) out for a shoot. Just a shoot. No experimenting. No tests. Just shoot and have fun. 244 rounds. It was nice. It was also rare. Too rare.
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Old December 9, 2018, 08:31 AM   #10
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Up here in NH i've developed a good winter reloading task regiment so as to allow minimal "redundant" tasks during prime shooting season. I do the majority of my brass cleaning and match brass sizing during the cold winter. This winter's top to-do is converting 223 into 300 BLK . Also want to practice more casting of heavy 540 gr 45-70 bullets for my Sharps . I'm really struggling getting "perfect" casted bullets.
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Old December 9, 2018, 09:06 AM   #11
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I am the opposite and I'm really happy some of you guys can't stop testing loads.
My goals are meat on the table and dead predators. Your testing puts me in the pasture without taking the time to reinvent any wheels.
Thanks guys and I just hope you keep it up and continue to share.
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Old December 9, 2018, 09:22 AM   #12
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I quickly develop a pet load for each rifle and stay with it. I have learned over the years which powders are easy to find accurate loads with and which ones will fight you every step of the way. Win 760 is a powder I avoid like the plague. It is capable of excellent accuracy, but it has always taken me way too many rounds loaded to find it. Imr 4350 is the opposite end of the spectrum. It seems to group at any reasonable charge.
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Old December 9, 2018, 09:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
I guess I should have explained in better description. I was speaking from handload testing taking away from other enjoyed disciplines, in particular IDPA type action shooting or rifle action engaging multiple targets, shotgun trap / skeet and so on...
You just need an efficient way to test. Working up loads for a half dozen bullets, using a have dozen powders, to make power factor can take more than a month loading a few and taking them to the range to test, then go back and load a few more.

Take your gear to where you shoot and you will be done in a few hours.

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Old December 9, 2018, 10:02 AM   #14
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Take your gear to where you shoot and you will be done in a few hours.
A lot of folks do this at my range^.

They make their loading equip mobile. Usually, they C-clamp their press to their tailgate, or the benches behind the firing line. Due to the scale, I believe calm days are a must. At any rate, it's not an uncommon sight at my range.

Me? I live only three miles away, so I find it unnecessary.
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Old December 9, 2018, 02:33 PM   #15
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Taking my gear to the range for testing would be ok as long as the wind is calm , my 200 meter range is frequently a wind vortex. No way could I handload on windy days.
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Old December 9, 2018, 02:52 PM   #16
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Even if I could I would not reload at the range.

Worst case I pull rounds that are in poor nodes (or none!)

I just load up whatever the goal is, 10 are seated at my initial test depth the rest are loaded long. I see how they do and then tweak the depth with a RCBS junior I have clamped to a bench (range has deemed I need to treat it like a muzzle loader and its acualy better spot)

Almost always have the 3 x 30 caliber and if I think I will run out of entertainment (err loads) then I have the CZ452 with me and fill in with that.

That said, anyone that re-loads for any reason is good in my book.
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Old December 9, 2018, 07:59 PM   #17
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I took the range to my reloading equipment. I have a 200 yard range at my basement door.
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Old December 9, 2018, 09:22 PM   #18
jmorris
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Taking my gear to the range for testing would be ok as long as the wind is calm , my 200 meter range is frequently a wind vortex. No way could I handload on windy days.
Why? If it’s because you can’t test on a windy day, I might understand but you can load, test, practice, under lots of conditions.

If you want drama for testing vs practice what better conditions than a windy anyway?

If you notice that powder scale in the photo above is sitting in a cake pan lid, that’s what covers it from the wind. You just have to adapt to the conditions you are in.
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Old December 10, 2018, 07:42 AM   #19
Road_Clam
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmorris
Why? If it’s because you can’t test on a windy day, I might understand but you can load, test, practice, under lots of conditions.

If you want drama for testing vs practice what better conditions than a windy anyway?

If you notice that powder scale in the photo above is sitting in a cake pan lid, that’s what covers it from the wind. You just have to adapt to the conditions you are in
Let me clarify further. "no way would I attempt to HANDLOAD at my range on a windy day". I have NO problem with live fire test in the wind. If I chose to not shoot on a windy day I would never get anything accomplished. Like I stated my 200 meter range which is where I do most all my precision rifle testing is frequently windy.
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Old December 10, 2018, 11:57 AM   #20
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OP I am the opposite. I am very much a "good enough" handloader. Once I get the ballpark velocity I am seeking, I look for the best accuracy node I can find in that area. Once I find it, that's my load. I tend to have just a few go-to powders that have broad ranges of applications.

I do plan to start casting for mil-surp rifles this coming year, though. I suspect that will open up my testing world a great deal, and introduce me to H4895 as a staple powder from what research I've done.
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Old December 10, 2018, 12:12 PM   #21
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I think I get it. I buy a gun, like last time my dan Wesson PM-9. I did some testing to find out what it likes and does not. I loaded a few powders and different bullets. Found out real fast it does not shoot lead well, or plated. I also found out it likes max loads.

After a bunch of loading and testing from a bench, I was getting tired of all the bull and just want to practice shooting bullseye. I also shoot steel pins with that gun. Different load, or more like a good place to get rid of the oddball extras that I did not need to pursue testing. I finally settled on 4 loads that all shoot just over an inch for 5 shots at 25 yards.

Love it, now zero it and shoot.

Then I bought a Dan Wesson Valor in 45. Starting over again. Its kind of cold here to be screwing with the crony, but in the end I will have some good loads and am NOT buying another gun for a while so I can just enjoy these.

Load development is not practice to me. I have refined my bench shooting techniques with pistol.

Once I have what I am looking for I load up 500 to 3,000 to keep me supplied for hopefully a year.

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Old December 10, 2018, 09:10 PM   #22
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I used to do a lot of testing. Now I do mostly shooting (for fun, no interest in competition). I found loads that shoot well in my revolvers in a variety of powders. I have my everyday 'goto' powders, but have many 'fall-back' choices if for some reason my goto powder is not available. Works for me. That said, occasionally a powder will perk my interest and I'll buy a pound for testing. But nothing 'hard-core'. In fact this year I don't think I tested at all that I can recall!
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Old December 11, 2018, 07:44 AM   #23
Road_Clam
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I need to stop buying new guns. New guns is the devil ! New gun = more handload testing = missed opportunity for just "fun" shooting.
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Old December 13, 2018, 08:36 PM   #24
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Like 5whiskey I'm a "good enough" reloader. I determine the velocity I want to achieve and the accuracy level. Once I find a load that consistently meets that standard I load however many I need and transition to shooting that load in field positions.

This may bring groans of dismay but if a load for a deer rifle will group into 1.5 MOA for me, I'm satisfied. That will easily bag a deer at 300 yards. Further fine tuning for me is a waste of components that I could be using for practical practice that will pay off in the field.

For those who enjoy pursuing greater precision or just experimenting, that is justification enough. We all win in our own way.
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Old December 13, 2018, 09:04 PM   #25
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Quote:
Like many handloaders I have a deep passion for consistency and precision. I am constantly in the hunt for that specific gun's "magical combo". I load 18 different calibers and thus far have 966 loads tested and documented. I keep saying to myself "I need to spend more time practicing than testing" Yet seems most of my range trips is spent testing a "new combo".
See it with several friends. They want to shoot to get better at shooting, but then get into reloading so that they can shoot more and then shooting turns out to be a way not to get better as a shooter, but better as a reloader. It might have been fine if folks could manage to find something that works and just run with it, but it seems that once most start, they just need to keep tweaking and it becomes a never ending addiction, LOL.
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