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Old June 23, 2011, 08:11 AM   #1
jason russ
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Join Date: May 11, 2011
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Test Firing Your New Loads

So I'm still very new to all of this but I've been doing as much as I can to learn. I've read Modern Reloading and the ABC's of Reloading and I've spent countless hours sifting through these forums but I really feel like I get more out of asking questions and getting responses. If there have already been posts about this I apologize for the repitition but when I searched it I came up empty.

So last night I completed my final product for the first time:

.40 S&W
Remington Brass
CCI Primers
Alliant Power Pistol
155 Grain RNFP Lead Bullets

Now that I've finally reached the end of the reloading process I plan to make 15 rounds of every different variation of amounts of powder and then test fire them all to see which works best for me. I was just wondering what would be the most effective way to test fire my rounds to get the most out of it and have an easier time deciding which to go with?
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Old June 23, 2011, 08:52 AM   #2
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I shoot 5 rounds of each load from a table with a rest at 15 yards. compare groups and take notes.

whatever you do just use the same setup every time
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Old June 23, 2011, 09:21 AM   #3
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One thing about the .40 S&W is the pressure is warm and the case is small, so it's easy for something like seating a little deep to screw you up by raising pressure. So, watch that your bullet seating depth is no greater than was used by whatever source of load data you used.

Seating Depth = case length + bullet length - COL

Start with a small load and work up toward the maximum while watching for pressure signs. I maintain a list of pressure signs, here. Richard Lee's rule of thumb to from the starting load to the final load in five steps seems to work well for handgun loads that start 10% below maximum.

For the shooting itself, if the handgun is one I've never fired or sighted in before, I'll check sights on a 25 foot target. I'll continue at 25 feet with a 2" or shorter gun, but move to 50 feet for two and a half and 3 inch guns, and the rest get 25 yards.

I use a large white posterboard with a piece of typing paper taped or stapled over the center. I aim by centering the front sight post to have equal size strips of white on either side of it and half the height of the page above it. This is partly a psychological ploy in that it avoids you worrying about score. At first, all you should worry about is group size. That blank page seems to absolve one of any temptation to "ambush the ten ring" by yanking on the trigger, too.

Start with the light loads. I shoot 10 to get a group that has better statistical significance, but have used five if the gun tended to give me touching holes, and six with a revolver. Label the center page with the load and replace it and go up to the next load up.

After you've got all 50 rounds down range (assuming you didn't have to stop because of pressure signs) see which group is smallest among the loads that functioned the gun properly (we hope they all did). Go with that one. Take the best measure you can of the group center location for that target and use that for fine sight adjustment. If you take a picture of the target center or scan it later, you can use the free On Target software to help you with that. Just use a ruler to add a point right at the center of the page to identify the center of aim, which the program will ask you to pick. Also, draw a measured 6" line through it so the program's measured length calibration feature can be applied.

The program will give you the location of your group center as well as its size. With those two pieces of information you can select the best load (if it wasn't obvious) and fine tune the sights.
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Old June 23, 2011, 09:25 AM   #4
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In my .40S&W I loaded my first rounds ever a few weeks back and did 30 of 4.2gr, 4.4gr, 4.6gr, and 10 of 4.7gr which was the max for the powder I used. I didn't want to load a small amount because of the chance of user error. I know I can be off a bit and with only 5 or 10 rounds that may sway my decision as to what is working and what’s not. After the first range trip I noticed the 4.4gr and 4.6gr worked great. So my second round I loaded 25 each of 4.4gr, 4.5gr, and 4.6gr and from there I will pick which is best. I'm going to shoot those this weekend and my guess is it will be 4.5gr. Even better is every now and then my dispenser is off by .1gr so I don't have to worry about seeing a mass difference in performance if it isn't exactly right. Hope this helps.
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Old June 23, 2011, 11:06 AM   #5
serf 'rett
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Unclenick - thanks for the lead for the On Target software.

I’ve been testing pistol ammo shooting off a rest with targets set at 50 feet. I generally use plain white paper, either 11x17 or 13x18. I find it easier to have a small point of aim of around 1" diameter when I'm shooting open sights, so I mostly use little adhesive target dots. The aim point is 6:00, the bottom of the dot. I'll put two dots on each sheet of paper, so I don't need to change targets as often.

Make sure you label the targets!

I use 7 to 10 rounds per specific configuration of components, but if you are going to load 15 rounds you may want to consider testing as follows:
1. Shoot ten rounds or more before starting testing. I find it helps me to get in the “groove” before starting testing. Even after years of shooting, I still get a rush when I first start pulling the trigger. Maybe, it’s just me.
2. Starting a lowest powder charge, shoot 8 rounds, checking for pressure signs, pistol operation, etc. Label target and replace with new target.
3. Shoot 8 rounds from the next lowest powder charge, checking everything, change targets and continue this process through your whole series.
4. You should have 7 rounds of each specific powder charge left.
5. Place a fresh target and shoot the 7 rounds of your highest powder charge. Work your way back down to the bottom.

Following this method will give you two targets for each load. I find that I get fatigued after shooting for a while (hauling my big bohunkus down range and back, bearing down on pistol grip, etc.), so this method of proceeding up, then back down through the specific charges helps me to balance out the effects of fatigue.

Let us know your results.
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Old June 23, 2011, 04:55 PM   #6
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If you have access to a bench use a rest that will help you steady your shots and be mindful of your trigger pull and watch what is going on at your front sight. You will know when you had a good hold on your target.
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Old June 23, 2011, 05:15 PM   #7
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I point the gun down range and slowly squeeze the trigger with my eyes closed holding the gun as far away from my face as possible. If it goes bang, the bullet doesnt jam, and my gun is untouched then I consider that a successful load

Or Option B. Hey bud. Try out my gun. Oh no its ok use my ammo

I kid I kid. I guess it all depends on the round. With 45acp I have tried some variations with Unique and Bullseye. I could not tell accuracy differences between any of them but then again I am not a seasoned shooter like some. At my skill level I call it good if I can hit a clay sized target at 15-20 yards. For 223 I like to keep my load as light as possible so I am not stretching my case necks out too much. I have noticed that military rounds I have purchased require more trimming hence shorting the life of the brass. I call it good if I can shoot an actual clay at 100 yards.

With all that said right now I am just trying to become more efficient with my weapon systems and not shooting for long range accuracy. Most of my loads are for paper/clays at 20-100 yards.
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Old June 25, 2011, 12:36 AM   #8
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slowly squeeze the trigger with my eyes closed holding the gun as far away from my face as possible
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