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Old September 24, 2011, 01:55 PM   #1
tws92E05
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New reloader powder question?

I am new to reloading and after reading several books suggested here on TFL forum I am finally going to take the plunge.

I am going to start out reloading 204 Ruger and move on to 243 Win and 270 Win. I want to keep things simple and am looking for a powder that can be used in all three of those cartridges. I am down to Varget and IMR-4895 since the loading manuals I have list these powders for all three. Is one any better than the other, any easier to work with? Any comments or suggestions?

I searched old threads and found that alot of folks suggested both of those powders for other calibers but the wild card was the 204 Ruger. No one has seemed to have used either of those powders for that round. I have never reloaded before so I have no idea what characteristics these powders have or how well they would work.

Thanks in advance for any comments or suggestions.
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Old September 24, 2011, 07:18 PM   #2
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There are no unique methods needed for any powder or any cartridge. Follow what the book says and develop your loads the way the book says; that is, start low and work up slowly while observing for signs of excessive pressure.

Powder is a small part of intitial start-up costs. If you're sure you want to reload for all of your cartridges it's a false economy to try working with a single powder. Using the most effective powder (highest velocity) for each case and bullet weight will give you better results than any compromise 'make do' choice and you will eventually have to buy more powder anyway. Varget is a very good and quite flexible powder and it may work fine for you. But eventually you will want the best choice, knowing you will use it all up anyway.
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Old September 24, 2011, 08:40 PM   #3
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Varget is prety versitle. use it in .221 Rem Fireball, and .223 Rem with constant results.
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Old September 24, 2011, 10:10 PM   #4
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Only one powder?

Perish the thought! Reloading is for experimenting.
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Old September 24, 2011, 10:59 PM   #5
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The problem you will have with using a single powder is that it will not maximize the abilities of all three cartridges. Varget, for instance, would work, but your max loads will leave you 200 fps slower than you could be in the 204. That's why you'll not find many people using it in the 204.

You can certainly do as you please, but having more than one powder is not very expensive (order from Powder Valley, BTW) and you will find that you are able to wring the best performance from all your cartridges.

If I were really bent on those 2 choices, I guess I'd go with the IMR4895, since it appears at first glance to come closest to maximizing all three cartridges.

However, you may well find that one of your guns doesn't like that powder and you'll be off looking for something else anyway.
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Old September 25, 2011, 08:28 AM   #6
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Thanks for the responses.

Since I am a beginner at this I was trying to keep things very simple until I learned a little more. I get what you are telling me now after looking at all the data in the manual. I would like to reload all three but I think I will consentrate on the 204 since that is what I seem to be shooting most right now. After gaining a little experience and confidence I will start branching out.

Thanks everyone for the help.
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Old September 25, 2011, 11:37 AM   #7
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Don't get all spun up "maximizing" an individual cartridge. Work on maximizing accuracy. A miss at 3000 fps isn't as good as a hit at 2800 fps.

There are a couple powders that are listed for the three cartridges you mentioned. IMR 4895, IMR 4064, Varget. It doesn't really matter which powder you pick as you will be able to make accurate ammo for all three. Don't get hung up on velocity.

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Old September 25, 2011, 02:51 PM   #8
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Maximize both. There's not much point in losing 15-20% of your cartridges potential KE for the sake of using one powder.

Don't maximize velocity at the expense of accuracy. Don't maximize accuracy at the expense of velocity. Find the right powder and get both.

I didn't start handloading so I could make slower, more accurate loads. I want as close as possible to maximum accuracy AND velocity.
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Old September 25, 2011, 07:36 PM   #9
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Forget what the forum snobs tell you...

You don't need a different powder for every bullet weight in every cartridge.

You don't need 10, 15, 20 or whatever number of powders the wanna-be experts tell you that you need to have to be a "real" reloader.

Not counting powders I am experimenting with, after over 30 years reloading I have "standardized" on just 3 handgun powders for 11 cartridges. For rifles I've "standardized" on just 6 powders for 13 cartridges. Two of these 6 powders are used in a single cartridge each, the other 11 cartridges are loaded with the 4 remaining powders.

Being new to reloading, START with just one cartridge, just one primer and just one pound of just one powder. A pound of powder will only last for a few hundred rounds anyway.

Reloading is a learning experience, not just a way to load to maximum.

As "Jimro" said, "Don't get all spun up "maximizing" an individual cartridge. Work on maximizing accuracy. A miss at 3000 fps isn't as good as a hit at 2800 fps."

Learn how to reload first safely, then accurately and only after you have these 2 things worry about supposedly maximizing the cartridge.

T.
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Old September 25, 2011, 08:03 PM   #10
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No one ever so much as implied that you need a different powder for every bullet weight.

2 powders would most likely be fine for those three cartridges. One is not.

You've got a very high speed, very light bullet fired from a small, low capacity case, versus two, much more typical cartridges, with much heavier bullets, more typical velocities and much greater case capacities.

Reloading three cartridges with one powder is no easier or harder than loading with two or three powders. Except that having two or three allows the loader to maximize the capabilities of each cartridge. The only benefit of a single powder is saving the $20 a extra can costs. $20 which you'll probably spend on bullets trying to find the best load with a powder that's not good for the cartridge.
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Old September 25, 2011, 08:17 PM   #11
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IMR 8208-XBR

or Reloader-15
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Old September 25, 2011, 08:51 PM   #12
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OK, now you opened a can of worms.

Quote:
I didn't start handloading so I could make slower, more accurate loads. I want as close as possible to maximum accuracy AND velocity.
Yaa, Peetza want's it all, that would be nice if physics would allow it, it doesn't. You need to chose one or the other.

The reason I said you opened a can of worms, is because it is going to depend on the rate of twist on your rifling, the length of your barrel, the weight and length of your bullet, if you are seating the bullet off the lands or right on the lands, the length of the throat of your chamber, the harmonics of your barrel (how hard or soft is the steel of your barrel, is it stainless, is it a bull barrel, etc...), if it is beded or free floated, the distance you are shooting to, are you shooting open sights or with a scope, the target you are shooting at (animal or paper), the amount of cross wind, the time of day and the tempature in which you will be firing your gun (cold or hot).

Each of these factors has an effect on which powder you will be using, Peetza want the speed so when he hunts, the bullet will expand properly and kill whatever he is shooting at, me I only shoot at paper targets and it does not matter if I kill the paper at 2,600 fps or 2,900 fps, I only want tight little groups with the bullet holes touching. It is not so much that I am downloading the charge of powder, but bring it up from min to the point that my groups are as accurate as possible and do not go beyond that point. (speed is not a concern for me accuracy is at a predetermined distance).

And here you thought you were just asking what powder to use. You first need to decide what type of shooting you are going to do (hunting or target), then at what range and then with what type of rifle and then with what bullet.

Let us know and ask the question again.
Jim
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Old September 25, 2011, 09:01 PM   #13
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I don't know, Jim. I have both. My .204 and 7-08 both shoot as fast (or faster) than factory ammo and more accurately that any factory ammo I ever tried.

I also load for 22-250, 10mm and 357sig. The 22-250 shoots 1/2 MOA and hits 4,435fps with a 35gr Nosler BT. The handgun rounds are more accurate that I am and meet or exceed factory velocities.

With one powder, you're right, you can't have it all. That's why there are what? 100, 150 powder choices?

Like I said, spend an extra $20 and get the best your cartridges can do. Don't settle for velocity over accuracy or accuracy over velocity.

Sure, I'd give up some speed for a reasonable accuracy improvement, but not 15+% of the potential JUST for the sake of sticking with a single powder. There IS another powder that will give you most of that speed and most/all of the accuracy.

I'll grant you, if I was punching paper, at closer ranges, velocity would be completely irrelevant. But, if you're shooting long range, wind matters and velocity matters in the wind. Plus, I'd be VERY surprised if one powder would provide the most accurate load among all those cartridges. Beyond surprised. I'd need substantial evidence.

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Old September 25, 2011, 09:17 PM   #14
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Im in the try to maximize accuracy and velocity camp.

Look at the data, find the powder that gives good velocity and case fill, go buy the powder and start experimenting.

We are hangloaders. We load for maximizing accuracy and velocity. If we didn't, why not just buy factory stuff?
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Old September 25, 2011, 09:17 PM   #15
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Peetza, I don't load for 204, give him a powder to use.

Thanks
Jim


Quote:
If we didn't, why not just buy factory stuff?

No, no not that. (LOL)
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Old September 25, 2011, 09:41 PM   #16
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Not sure what an internet snob is, may even be one. I think the point is that for any given cartridge/bullet/weapon combo there is one, maybe a half-dozen powders that will give optimal performance in velocity and accuracy. Sometimes we never seem to find it but we can usually come close. I'm just looking for one, and if it happens to work well in another cartridge/bullet/weapon combo it does this ol' tightwad's heart good. For the cartridges I load I have a few powders that do double or triple duty but some cartridges like one powder for one bullet, one for another. I even have to keep two types of BP on the shelf for different charcoal-burners, considering a third!
Concentrating on one cartridge is a good plan. Find the powder that works best for it. If you try one and it doesn't work maybe someday you'll find it's perfect for another cartridge or even another bullet in your .204. I don't try to get the absolute max velocity from a given cartridge but have learned that the powders listed as giving max velocity are often a good choice for accuracy even if I don't make it to the maximim velocity. Some cartridges I've loaded for, namely the 22-250 and the 44 mag, seem to be very accurate with max loads.
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Old September 25, 2011, 09:58 PM   #17
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Exclusively for .204, I find Benchmark to be excellent. It meets factory velocities (real, not published) of about 4,050 fps with a 32gr bullet from a 24" barrel and shoots 1/2-3/4 MOA in my gun, at the Hodgdon max load of 28.0gr.

QuickLoad predicts Win748 could reach true .204 speeds of 4,200 fps, but I have yet to try it. Win748 is what gives me 1/2 MOA and 4,435fps with the 35gr Nosler in 22-250. Someday I'll get around to it, but not before next summer. Problem with 748 in .204 is that I'm not aware of any published data and would be relying on QuickLoad, which I don't have available at the moment.

Benchmark would also seem appropriate (just guessing from published numbers) for bullets in the 70gr area in 243. Choose Benchmark for 204 and 243, look for something else in 270.

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Old September 26, 2011, 02:24 AM   #18
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Quote:
Like I said, spend an extra $20 and get the best your cartridges can do. Don't settle for velocity over accuracy or accuracy over velocity.

Sure, I'd give up some speed for a reasonable accuracy improvement, but not 15+% of the potential JUST for the sake of sticking with a single powder. There IS another powder that will give you most of that speed and most/all of the accuracy.

I'll grant you, if I was punching paper, at closer ranges, velocity would be completely irrelevant. But, if you're shooting long range, wind matters and velocity matters in the wind. Plus, I'd be VERY surprised if one powder would provide the most accurate load among all those cartridges. Beyond surprised. I'd need substantial evidence.
Huh, you know those guys who shoot service AR-15s at 600 yards and keep it in the X ring? Accuracy wins matches, not velocity. Sierras accuracy load is never the max velocity load. Velocity does make the wind matter a little less, but it doesn't replace knowing how to read the wind.

There is no bullet so fast that it can replace skill.

So yes, you can follow peetzakillas method of reloading and end up with dedicated primers and powder for each load you make and make ammo that is faster and more accurate than factory ammo. However I think the approach of reloading for accuracy with a versatile powder makes a lot of sense for someone who wants to maximize accuracy, economy, and simplicity.

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Old September 26, 2011, 08:31 AM   #19
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"Forget what the forum snobs tell you...You don't need a different powder for every bullet weight in every cartridge."

Absolutely correct. But no one said that.

And, point of fact, we really don't NEED to reload anyway; factory ammo shoots quite well and is a whole lot less trouble. However, if we want to gain the full benefits handloading offers we WILL want to find the optimum powder and bullet combination that works best in each of our rifles; that's a simple fact and there's nothing snobbish about it. On the other hand, it's cheap to buy whatever inexpensive components and powders we can find to reload some plinking ammo to serve that purpose. It's our choice to decide which way we want to go.

If I can't get the accuarcy I want at top velocities I try another powder until I do. I can easily get good accuracy out of .308 loaded to modest speeds but then I'd basically be shooting a bolt action .30-30 and that doesn't appeal to me. When a .30-30 is needed, that's what I use but I want my hotter rifles to go faster. ??
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Old September 26, 2011, 08:48 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimro View Post
Huh, you know those guys who shoot service AR-15s at 600 yards and keep it in the X ring? Accuracy wins matches, not velocity. Sierras accuracy load is never the max velocity load. Velocity does make the wind matter a little less, but it doesn't replace knowing how to read the wind.

There is no bullet so fast that it can replace skill.

So yes, you can follow peetzakillas method of reloading and end up with dedicated primers and powder for each load you make and make ammo that is faster and more accurate than factory ammo. However I think the approach of reloading for accuracy with a versatile powder makes a lot of sense for someone who wants to maximize accuracy, economy, and simplicity.

Jimro
Sometimes I wonder where you guys come up with this nonsense.

First, I supposedly said that you need a different powder for every bullet.

Now, I'm supposedly suggesting that you have dedicated powders AND primers for every load. No body even MENTIONED primers until now.

In reality, I have not said, suggested or implied anything even close to either of those things.

It's a simple reality. A small capacity case, firing a light-weight, very high-speed bullet does not have the same powder requirements as a much larger case with a heavier, slower bullet. Add in yet another, even larger case, with a heavier, even slower bullet, and the ideal powder changes yet again.

Yes, one powder will make them all go bang... That's not the point.

All that matters is accuracy, eh? Does anybody really believe that the OP will get BEST accuracy from all three of those cartridges from ONE powder? I'll love to see that.

Since you gents obviously have the Holy Grail of powder that you're keeping secret, tell me, what is this one powder that will produce best accuracy in 3 different cartridges, with enough confidence that you're willing to tell the OP that this ONE powder fits all his needs?

Makes me wonder why there would be so many powders if this one will do the whole job? Maybe it's like the 100mpg carburetor and the cure for cancer that "they" are keeping secret so they can keep making money.
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Old September 26, 2011, 09:45 AM   #21
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Quote:
Yes, one powder will make them all go bang... That's not the point.
Actually, that kinda is the point, I refer you to the original post...

Quote:
All that matters is accuracy, eh? Does anybody really believe that the OP will get BEST accuracy from all three of those cartridges from ONE powder? I'll love to see that.

Since you gents obviously have the Holy Grail of powder that you're keeping secret, tell me, what is this one powder that will produce best accuracy in 3 different cartridges, with enough confidence that you're willing to tell the OP that this ONE powder fits all his needs?

Makes me wonder why there would be so many powders if this one will do the whole job? Maybe it's like the 100mpg carburetor and the cure for cancer that "they" are keeping secret so they can keep making money.
peetzakilla, this ain't benchrest. There is a time to go on the quest for "one ragged hole" and there is another time to say, "Yes, you can get started in reloading with just one powder" and be safe doing it. So yes, ONE powder WILL meet his needs. He doesn't need perfectly optimized ammunition that is faster and more accurate than factory (and if you say he does then that is your problem not his). He wants to get into reloading in a safe and economical manner, and has chosen a powder that allows that.

I happen to do the bulk of my rifle reloading with just one powder, IMR 4064. I use it in 223, 270 Win, 308 Win, 30-06, 8x57, and 9.3x62. Are my loads "optimized" by any stretch of the imagination? No, but they all stay sub MOA with one powder.

There are plenty of powders in the IMR 4895 to IMR 4064 burn range and they are all very versatile, Varget and Reloader15 are very popular because they product outstanding accuracy in a number of cartridges. A few years back there was a thread about "the most accurate powder" based on accuracy loads for multiple rounds in multiple reloading manuals. I can't remember if it was Varget or N-140 that won.... My standby IMR4064 wasn't even in the top ten.

Do you know how many powders have been used to load M118LR sniper ammunition? I can think of three off the top of my head. The accuracy standard for M118LR can be met with multiple powders. Talking about which one is "best" is futile.

Your opinion has been noted. However, when you find yourself the odd man out, maybe you need to re-examine your position. The world will not end because someone somewhere is reloading "sub-optimized" rounds. As long as the reloads are safe and accurate, what do YOU really care?

Jimro
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Old September 26, 2011, 09:59 AM   #22
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The time to give up is not when you're outnumbered, it's when your arguments are ignored or the goal posts keep moving to counter them. First it was all about accuracy with you guys, now it's just ok if it goes bang, so, yeah, you win.

Varget will do fine. Anything with load data will do fine.

Oh, and that thread about the most often listed accuracy powder? It was my thread...

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=407817
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Old September 26, 2011, 12:18 PM   #23
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If Varget will work Ok in all three, then 4064 should also work in all three. Between the two, I prefer IMR 4064.
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Old September 26, 2011, 12:37 PM   #24
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Peetzakilla,

Your arguments haven't been ignored, hence the large number of responses. I think however we have hit on a fundamental difference in reloading schools of thought.

You are talking about optimizing, getting the very last bit of performance you can out of your reloads. That is fine, but it might be better to save your advice for someone who is looking to wring every little last bit of performance from a given rifle/round combination.

The way I see it I'm happy to crank out 3/4 MOA ammo all day long and not worry about neck turning, meplat uniforming, or sorting by runout. It doesn't shoot the tightest, but it is plenty capable of keeping me happy behind the trigger.

Heck, they make 22 lr conversion kits for AR's and Pistols for guys like me who like to shoot a lot on the cheap. I think your answer would be "If I wanted to shoot a 22 I would have bought a 22!" and that is a perfectly fine answer for you.

And if I have offended you I would like to apologize for that and hope you will forgive me. None of the advice you have given has been either unsafe or ill advised for someone getting into reloading.

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Old September 26, 2011, 05:59 PM   #25
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Let me enter this fray. I've been reloading for 35 years now and what I'm about to say will give our new entrant a possible view into his future. My goal has always been to get the most accurate load at the highest possible safe velocity. A faster bullet gets there faster, should thus be less influenced by the wind, and, at least in the varmint category, no one argues that speed doesn't kill. Over the years, probably due to my science background, I've enjoyed experimenting, and this has taken me to a current inventory of 30 powders for the 18 handgun and rifle calibers that I play with. When I started, of course, safety was a prime concern, but every now and then experimenting and need for experience locked horns. I learned first-hand what excess pressure was when I used H4895 in my .270 with a 150gr bullet and locked the bolt. Another was when I loaded a cast 77 grains .270 that someone gave me which I thought would be great for groundhogs. The first round hit the dirt 30 yards in front of me at an angle of about 30 degrees to the left. I didn't fire a second round and I didn't really learn why that happened until I was into this game a number of years later. I still have those 77gr bullets but I've not reloaded them. We all know, and our newbee will eventually discover, there's a lot to learn. If he wants to keep things simple right now and save some money, playing with one powder is a start. My approach, one I found the Hodgdon manual, was to look for a powder that delivered the highest velocity at the lowest reported pressure (shown in CUP [copper units of pressure]. I figured I'd keep the recoil down at least. And that's basically how I ended up with 30 powders for 18 calibers over the years. Now let me bring in a new problem: what happens when you buy a new edition of your old manual and they differ? Example: for 25-06,Hodgdon's No 26 lists H1000 for a 120gr bullet (note they don't care which bullet you use) as starting with 53gr at 45,000CUP and maxing at 57gr with 51,700 CUP. Two of other 3 powders listed (H870 and H4831) give higher velocity with lower pressure and 3 of the 4 powders deliver over 3000fps.

Move to Manual No 27. Now we're starting at H1000 52 gr (44,900CUP) and a max of 55.5gr (CUP 50,600). WHAT? I should not keep shooting my 57gr load??? H4831 is maxed at 51.5gr (CUP51,200) with a velocity of 2856 while manual No 26 said 51.0 (49,400 CUP) was max at a velocity of 3040! In fact, in manual #27, no load goes over 3000fps!

What to do if you're just starting and don't have the benefit of some help with a place like this! You start LOW with any powder, primer and bullet combination and move up slowly, looking for that magical spot where accuracy and speed are maximized in your rifle.

By the way, in Pa shots at deer at 100 yards or more are not often presented, so sometimes speed is NOT the goal, and accuracy is. Given that thought, I use just 50gr of H1000 in my 25-06 because as I worked up my load I got a 0.6 inch group of 5 shots at 100 yards. If I go out west I'll probably shift to my .270, .30 WSM or 7mm Rem Mag unless I get real nostalgic about the 25-06. But I'll have to re-work my loads.
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