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Old January 30, 2001, 11:16 AM   #1
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With the endless combination of powders, bullets, primers, and cases on the market, how does one find that "right" load that works best?

Is there a better method than just "hit and miss" combinations from the reloading books?
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Old January 30, 2001, 01:05 PM   #2
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Start with the reloading manuals, talk to your peers, put it together and EXPERIMENT. Quantrill
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Old January 30, 2001, 08:28 PM   #3
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Is there a better method than just "hit and miss" combinations from the reloading books?
Yes there is young grasshopper! These combinations are a result of the fact that most manuals are the result of a powder or projectile manufacturer providing us with a wealth of information trying to persuade us to use their products. If possible, you should review as many manuals as you can find and, with a specific caliber and projectile weight, wade through them. You will notice that many manuals will list a most accurate load and you should note the powder or projectile used in !!!THAT!!! particular load. Make note of the favorites and you should start to see some pieces falling into place. If four powder companys say X projectile in the weight and caliber you are looking at is great make note! If bullet makers say X powder is great in the caliber and weight you are studying, make note!

As long as you understand the basics the above should serve you some good. Get as much data, on paper, from proven sources in front of you and you will find direction in your search.
Best Regards
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Old January 30, 2001, 09:54 PM   #4
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Some powders tend to work well in some calibers. Like 4064 and Varget in 308Win. 4831 and Reloader 22 in 30 cal magnums. The most valuable thing I've done in the past is testing them at their maximum intended range of use. I have a 300 Winchester match rifle that shoots H1000 in one little hole 5 shot groups at 200 yards. When I take it out to 1000 yards, it opens up to around 10 to 12 inches. That may not sound too bad, but the barrel on this rifle is 1.255 inches at the muzzle and averages around 7.5 inch groups at that range. The same rifle shoots 1 inch groups at 200 using H4831, but at 1000, the same load rarely shoots above 8 inches. It's been under 5 inches several times. I seems to be about barrel harmonics and when the bullet stablizes. Pick a powder and bullet combo that seems to work reasonably well, and take the charge up and down in very small amounts. Usually about a .3 grains or so. Watch the groups at the desired range to see if the move to the point where the group becomes somewhat round. That seems to be the sweet spot for most loads with vertical or horizontal representing a load that is too hot or too cold. The next thing to try is changing the seating depth. That sometimes can make a big difference as well. Best of luck.
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Old January 31, 2001, 09:24 AM   #5
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One method I've used over the years is to start at
the low end of loading manuals for a given powder
and then load only 5 rounds,if these fire good, bad
I will make notes and increase powder, again loading
only 5 rounds, once I have "hit" a combination I will
load 50 rounds and try them. I never buy in large
quantity until I have settled on powder/bullet/primer
comb. Many companies give or sell sample packs of
bullets.It is time consuming but it works.Many new
people start out by loading 200 -300 rounds and if
they are bad they will be discouraged.
Go slow.!!!!
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Old January 31, 2001, 11:58 AM   #6
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Finding the best load.

Your first step in that direction is to purchase a chronograph. With it you will find the "best" load before you send multitudes of rounds downrange. Shot to shot variations in velocity is one of the best indications of an accurate load all other things being equal. The chrono will give you this.
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Old February 1, 2001, 07:54 AM   #7
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After considerable custom-ammo-manufacturing experience I'm sad to say that trial-and-error is still the ONLY WAY to get the most from YOUR SPECIFIC GUN.

What works best in one may not work for -CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED--CENSORED- in an identical matching one-serial-number-away twin.

Oh, if only it were that easy (of course, I'd be out of business LOL!)
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old February 1, 2001, 03:52 PM   #8
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We need this stuff in a FAQ...

The "benchrest" way:

Buy a buncha powder that you know is a proven performer in your calibre (i.e., H380 in a .22-250, H322 in the 6PPC, IMR4198 in the .22PPC, IMR4895 in the .308, etc.).

Prep a few rounds of brass. Load a bunch up for starters with your "starting" load. These are foulers.

Put a bunch of wind flags between you and a target that is preferably at least 200 yards away. Use a solid bench. If you don't have a front rest and rear bag, improvise something. DO NOT put the rifle on something solid. Don't even bother trying it you've got a lot of headwind or tailwind.

Now, clean the rifle, fire two-three foulers, and start firing three shot groups, starting at the minimum charge, and working up about 3/10 grain at a time. Load the bullets to just touch the lands or to max OAL. Fire only when the flags show a consistent condition. Your rifle's groups should progressively show vertical, closing up to the optimum groups. Don't fire more than 20 shots a time without cleaning. When the groups tighten up, you've got a sweet spot with that load. After they tighten, if you keep adding powder, they'll open up, and may or may not tighten again before you run out of pressure leeway.

The chronograph doesn't matter - Only your vertical. Horizontal is generally operator error in disregarding what the flags say.

When you think you've found a sweet spot, double check with a couple of five-shot groups.

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Old February 3, 2001, 01:48 AM   #9
Michael Priddy
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Pet Laods

Ken Waters has done all the work for me. I start with his loads and adjust seating depths until I find the "sweet spot". I think Pet Loads has saved me a lot of time and powder over the years. I would love to have a dollar for every pound of powder he has burned..Mike
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Old February 3, 2001, 12:34 PM   #10
Art Eatman
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My experience has been that changing brands of primers has the least effect on accuracy in my rifles. Brand of bullet doesn't seem to matter, particularly.

I strongly agree with the idea of learning what others have already found out about "which powder(s) for which cartridge". The nice thing about the Internet and TFL is that a whole bunch of people are happy to pass along what they've learned "the hard way".

I've always subscribed to the three- or five-shot groups with test loads, working up toward maximum data-book pressures. That way, I don't waste time and powder. I try to find the best compromise between group size and muzzle velocity--but my primary interest is hunting accuracy, not benchrest.

So, there are ways to minimize the "cut and try", but you just cannot eliminate it.

Regards, Art
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