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Old February 7, 2012, 03:17 PM   #1
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Reloading for .30-06

I'm considering reloading for .30-06 to save some money, and I had a few questions regarding bullets and equipment. First off, my rifle has a 22" barrel (idk if that matters...) and a 1:10 twist rate.

I read that the optimal .308 bullet weight for this twist is somewhere between 170-195 grains. I have been using 150gr bullets for price reasons mostly. My groupings are never all that good, but I certainly can't blame the bullets or the rifle for that I was wondering, however, if having 175gr bullets mights help remove one of the factors of inconsistency. I have been looking at Sierra 175gr MatchKing bullets as they had the highest ballistic coefficient of anything I could find in a relatively close weight range (within about 10gr of 175). I have no experience with this whatsoever, so I would heavily research any other suggestions you might have. Would this be a fairly good bullet for accuracy from 100-600 yards?

My next question is about brass. I also read that for handloading 175gr MatchKing bullets Federal Premium is the suggested brass. Will this make a significant difference in the round and/or the accuracy? And if I recycle old brass (winchester, remington, and some federal american eagle) will I have noticeable differences in shooting rounds with different brass manufacturers?

Last question (for now). Does anyone have experience with the Lee hand press reloading tool? And if so, is it as effective as a turret press or will it leave too much room for human error?
Time is not a major factor for me, so if the hand press will still produce accurate enough loads that's what I care most about.

Thanks for your time, and sorry for the barrage of questions and my poor knowledge on the subject.

EDIT: There is a 180gr sierra GameKing with a slightly higher ballistic coefficient, would this be a better choice or should I focus less on the BC and start looking at speed?

Last edited by bpeezer; February 7, 2012 at 03:25 PM.
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Old February 7, 2012, 03:53 PM   #2
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I don't have advice for bullet choice but brass will give better results if it's all the same in a batch. If you load 10 Federal 3 Winchester and 7 Remington these won't likely be as consistant as just Loading 20 of the same type.

I have not heard anyone refer to Federals rifle brass as a best choice although I'm sure it works fine. Lapua would be one of the better but also more expensive. Winchester and Remington work just fine too. Some also really like Prvi Partisan brass. But then it just becomes Chevy vs Ford etc.
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Old February 7, 2012, 04:02 PM   #3
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Thanks for your help! I listed Federal brass because the sierra 5th edition reloading manual suggests federal case and federal primer as part of the "accuracy load" for their 175gr bullets.
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Old February 7, 2012, 10:09 PM   #4
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You didn't mention what game you will be hunting, if deer is your animal of choice I see no need to go with anything heavier than 165gr soft points. My personal deer load is matched R-P brass 165gr Nosler solid base SP with 48.1--49.3 gr of IMR4064 with either a Federal or CCI LR standard primer. This is well below a maximum load, this combination works well in several rifles. Good luck!! William

Last edited by William T. Watts; February 7, 2012 at 10:15 PM.
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Old February 7, 2012, 11:54 PM   #5
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Bpeezer I really want to offer my opinions to your bullet question but I would like some additional information. What type rifle and ammunition are you using? And you say that we can’t blame the rifle or bullets for groupings that "are never all that good", so why are you blaming the bullet weight?

As for brass, when reloading try to at least stay with the same brand. Using the same lot of brass is the best way to go. Work up a load with that brand/lot and then stick with it for both accuracy and safety sake. Different brands of brass may well have the same outside dimensions but the inside dimensions well not be the same and that changes how much powder is safe to use in it. As hk33 states, Lapua is one of the better brands, as is Nosler and Norma, but they are expensive compared to Winchester and Remington. Winchester and Remington take more work on your part, separating by weight and deburring flash holes, but the cost savings is sometimes worth it.

I do not have any experience with the Lee Hand Press.
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Old February 8, 2012, 12:10 AM   #6
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I would believe that the Lee Hand Press might be OK for pistol cartridges, as the force required just isn't that large.

However, after you have full-length resized .30-06 for a while, I believe you will be experiencing some very tired hands with that press. The leverage just isn't there in that design.

Any bench-mount press would be better.

If you are just unable to swallow the price of a new one, I'd look for a used press on eBay long before I'd seriously consider the Hand Press.

Full disclosure - I've never used a Hand Press. I got started with the Lee "Whack-A-Mole" loaders, and eventually moved to a bench-mounted press.
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Old February 8, 2012, 12:26 AM   #7
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I have a Lee Hand Press, Lee Loader (hammer type) and Lee and other bench mounted single and turret/Proressive presses.

The Hand press is handy for the range/field. But if you want to reload more than a few shells a year I think any of the bench mounted models are much handier. The Breech Lock Challenger from Lee Factory Sales is only $46 compared to the hand press at $25. You can always mount it to a board and clamp that to a table or bench when you need to use it if you don't have a work area it can stay permanently.

The Lee 50th Anniversary Kit or Classic Turret Kit are probably their best values.
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Old February 8, 2012, 09:11 AM   #8
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You are over complicating and over thinking the issue.
The beauty of the 30-06 is it's versatility.
Load the 150 gr. bullets if you want to, they will be very accurate. A 170 gr. MatchKing might win the 200 yard bench match but you won't be far behind.
For each type of shooting, keep your brass sorted by brand. Argue about brand difference if you want to but there isn't much difference. Personally, I prefer Winchester for heavy loads because it is a bit thinner and I can squeeze in a couple more grains. For all-purpose use military brass can't be beat. Thick and reloadable many-many times.
You will hate the hand press, get a bench press.
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Old February 8, 2012, 09:25 AM   #9
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I think you might be approaching this too analytically.
I can't fault you on that because I did the same thing when I got started reloading.

Turns out that your analysis might be exactly correct until you put your particular rifle barrel, trigger, and stock into the equation.

I shot factory loads in my new CZ 550 in .30-06 and noticed that it didn't like 150 grain grain ammo as much as 165-168. It didn't seem to like 180 grain as much either. It shot just about at 1 MOA with factory ammo.

Then I started to reload for it and tried 150 and 168 grain SMKs without much improvement using factory velocities and normal depth seating.

When I switched to 175 SMKs the rifle came into its own, especially when I experimented with velocity and depth. When I found the right velocity and depth combination for each weight bullet, I managed to get it to shoot several loads under 0.7 inches with 150s, 168s, and 180s and about 8 different loads to shoot under 0.7 with 175s. One particular 175 SMK load shoots under 0.6 inches at 100 yards.

I found that velocity and seating depth made the most difference and that none of the factory ammos matched the velocity or depth that made my particular rifle preform best.

I also agree on the bench press over the hand press.
Get the best bench press you can afford because you will be use it a lot.

I have loaded just about 9000 rounds of center fire for 5 calibers in the last 18 months.
I can't imagine doing that it with a hand press.
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Old February 8, 2012, 11:27 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the input, and the rifle won't be used for hunting, I'm just a paper puncher until I can get my girlfriend on board with killing our furry neighbors

I'm not necessarily blaming the bullet weight for inconsistent groupings, I know for a fact that I am the inaccurate part of the system. I agree that I am being perhaps a bit too analytical, but that comes naturally to me with an engineering background and a propensity for efficiency analysis. My reason for preferring match grade bullets is simply removing one variable from the equation. If I use high quality ammo made to the same tolerances every time I can expect to have slightly better consistency.

I am lucky to shoot 1 MOA, but if handloading makes my average group go from 1.2" to 1.0" that's a significant percentage improvement and it's worth it to me. The main rifle I will be loading for is a remington 770 (I know, I know) and I will likely load some for a remington 700 ADL with the same twist rate and a 24" barrel.

I especially appreciate the unanimous response regarding the hand press, I doubt I'll be loading and shooting 500 rounds a month but I'll look for an alternative solution. Also, would you suggest using a lead sled to test the loads? I feel like if I'm going to make a greater investment I should be able to test and compare my results.

Thanks again for all the help!
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Old February 8, 2012, 11:32 AM   #11
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To AllenJ...

I am using a remington 770 and the factory loads I have been using are remington core-lokt, winchester super X, and American Eagle FMJ. (all have been 150gr bullets, since that is usually either the cheapest available or the ONLY thing available in my local store). The American Eagle was most accurate with the Winchester not far behind.
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Old February 8, 2012, 11:39 AM   #12
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Lee turret press, Lee collet neck die, Redding body die when needed (rarely), Norma or Lapua (if they make it) brass, mild primers (Wolf KVB-7s), good bullets...

pick a powder that mostly fills the case at max loads and you're Golden.

(Few other accessories not listed. Some assembly required. Void where prohibited. No warranty Expressed or Implied.)
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Old February 8, 2012, 01:32 PM   #13
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Welcome to the reloading obsession Bpeezer. I've never found reloading to save me any money ... I just get to shoot a whole lot more for the same dollar by reloading.

Believe it or not, I started out using the Lee Loader when in Jr. High. I now use the Lee press with a decapping die to deprime all of my fired cases in order to keep all the hard carbon residue out of my primary press. It should provide you with workman like performance with the 30/06.

Any time you can shoot MOA with a hunting rifle, you are spot on.

As previously posted above, the 1 in 10 twist rate (about standard for 30/06s) is versitile in the extreme. The 1903 Springfield originally used the 220 grain FMJ roundnose projectile of the previous 30/40 Krag rifle. The Ordnance Dpt stayed with the 1-10 twist rate that worked with the 220 grain bullet even after they adopted the 30/06 cartridge with a lighter spitzer bullet in 1906. It has remained the go to twist rate for the 30/06 ever since.

I've had the best long range accuracy in the 30/06 with the 190 grain Sierra MK, but the 168 and the 175 are also very good choices. For hunting with the Ought 6 I've always liked the 165 grain spitzers by Hornady, but that's just me.

The 30/06 is versitile with powders but seems to perform best with medium burning rate powders. I've burned a lot of IMR 4895, 4064 and also H 414 over the years in my Ought 6 using standard primers from CCI and Remington. With the heavier bullets, you might also try one of the 4350 powders. They (AA-Hogdon-IMR) are a bit slower buring than the previously noted powders.

As for cases, any of the better brands will do good work for you. Just try to keep your loads segregated by case brand and lot if possible. I use mostly GI Lake City brass for all of my Ought 6 loading with good results. They do take a few extra prep steps like swaging the primer pocket crimp out before reloading. Cases also need to be trimmed to length now and then with a trimming tool, both GI and commercial.

Overal length can be important for accuracy. With the long match bullets, it is tempting to seat them way out, but they should not crowd the rifling as that can cause spikes in pressure. If you can, seating the bullets just shy of the rifling can often increase accuracy. For hunting where you may need repeat or follow up shots in your 770, the magazine will usually determine your maximum length.

With any change in compenents, work back up to your maximum loads. Keep a record of those changes as you will often find a sweet spot that shoots balls of fire for you. I use a chrongraph when doing so and I keep graphs that chart the ammount of powder, velocity, standard deviations and accuracy of my loads. The powder-velocity graph is very illuminating and you will quickly see when you've reached the best charge-velocity load for any given bullet or powder. When that graph coincides with your best accuracy and low standard deviation, you've reached nirvana.

Do buy a good reloading manual! It will cover everying thing that all of us have posted as well as giving you good data on powders, bullets and primers for getting your 770 into that magic 1 MOA group.
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Last edited by Scharfschuetzer; February 8, 2012 at 06:27 PM.
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Old February 8, 2012, 02:12 PM   #14
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Thanks for the information bpeezer. 1.2" groups using cheap (if you can call it that anymore) factory ammo out of a sporter rifle is really good, it sounds like you have a very accurate rifle. There is no doubt in my mind that with good reloads taylored to your gun you should gain that quarter inch you desire, and probably more. Since you are only punching paper the Sierra Match Hollow Points are a great place to start, they are very accurate or at least have been for me and very affordable.

For a bench rest the Lead Sled is good choice IMHO. I use a rest when working up a new load to try and reduce my mistakes as much as possible.

And +1 for Scharfschuetzer advice to get a good reloading manual.
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Old February 8, 2012, 02:28 PM   #15
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The opportunity for human error doesn't change much just due to the press type, we have to be careful no matter what press we use.

I have a Lee Handpress for bullet seating experiments at the range, it will work for loading at home too but I sure wouldn't want to do much of that. ANY common reloading press will work fine for a VERY long time unless the user abuses or neglects keeping it moderately clean and lightly oiled.

Either Lee's Challenger or Classic Cast press will be excellant and the prices are modest too. But don't bother with the 'breech lock" die mount system, it's a great solution to a non-existant problem, IMHO. I can easily swap normally screwed in dies in maybe 40 seconds and 'saving' about 1 minute in a loading session isn't much to get excited about.

Your rifle is fine.
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Old February 8, 2012, 06:24 PM   #16
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All of your help has been very informative and thought provoking, I just ordered the ABC's of Reloading so I'll be doing some more research this weekend to help piece together all of your advice. I really can't thank you enough for being so helpful and quick to respond. Hopefully I'll be a more frequent poster in the Handloading area in the near future.
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Old February 8, 2012, 07:32 PM   #17
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I'm only going to comment on the Lee Hand press. My first one broke after 20 years of use. I had a severly stuck 6.5x55 that I tired to clear and broke a handle. that same stuck brass was a serious PIA to unstick with a RCBS Rockchucker II without adding mechanical advantage. I even bought a replacement for that press.

In 20 years, not counting pistol rounds and 30 carb., I have reloaded thousands of 223's, 6.5x55, 308's, 30-06, 300 Win Mag., 45-70's, and 375 R.U.M.'s. combined. When I say thousands, I mean north of 10k as it was my only press for the first 15 years. It isn't the fastest but it works. My first 200 rounds of 375 Remington Ultra Magnum came off of the hand press; this is NOT a small round. So for those of you who say it doesn't have the leverage to do the job, you either haven't used one or are weaker than my little 5'4" self.

If you are seriously space limited, this press may be a reasonable option for you. If you want to take your press to the range to do some load development, this is a better option for you.
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Old February 8, 2012, 09:28 PM   #18
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At 150 grains you are on the light side of the border of between hunting and target bullets. In the .30-06 the discussion of this this border becomes volatile due to the fact that the cartridge is Ameica's favorite for hunting and aslo for target shooting in applications like the limited service rifle competitions. There are actually people (I know five) who will tell you that there is NO target match that counts for anything unless it is a match between 1903 springfiedls or between m1a1 Garrands. The fact that the AR-15 and its clones regularly wipe up the floor with them is of no account--these are rifles shot by mickey mouse sissies who cannot stand a little recoil.

That being said......................

I read through all the answers to your post and I thought that most of them were well considered and accurate as far as they went. However the person who told you that bullet weight was not more important vs. brass was a blithering idiot. You will be well advised to do some more independent research as concerns bullet weight (length) and barrel twist rates. Here is one place to start--and a recognized authotrity---

A 150 grain bullet is on the verge of being over-rotated in a 1/10" twist barrel of any length.

The ideal is to get a rotation that stabilizes the bullet without allowing too many rotations of the bullet--especially hunting bullets which are not necessarily the most concentrically layered pellets available. Imperfections in the jacket and core result in loss of accuracy which is more pronounced in a hunting bullet which is built for terminal performance -- than in a target bullet which is built with accuracy in mind. The weight or alloy composition of the brass used in loading the ammo is a very minor consideration as long as you do not load wildly varying weights/alloys in the same batch. A good rule of thumb for brass--and of any component-- is to cull anything that varies more than 5% from the average of your stock of components. That's a pretty wide variation.

I sometimes shoot my old Winchester model 70 which has a 1/10 twist. After 20+ years of futzing with the rifle I have found that it shoots quite well with Berger 168 gr. bullets using N-540 powder. This is not what you would expect from that barrel and bullet and powder. This goes to show you that you really must work out the best load for your rifle. Still, my rifle, and everyone else I know, and I talk to a lot of the guys at the old codgers--oops--- I mean old soldiers --at matches shooting .30--06 rifles--which they also hunt with don't see any difference when changing brass within the parameters mentioned earlier--in fact--BR shooters like Jack Neary or Tony Boyer do not even bother to weigh the brass which with they will compete all season long--and win with.

At some point, I think any shooter who handloads, realizes that buying cheap or standard brass for rifle cartridges is a false economy and will begin buying the good stuff--and not posting idiocy like what we saw above.
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Last edited by amamnn; February 8, 2012 at 10:00 PM.
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Old February 8, 2012, 10:34 PM   #19
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amamnn wrote:

However the person who told you that bullet weight was not more important vs. brass was a blithering idiot
Which post said that?

It is one thing to offer your opinion on something which very well may shed some light on the op's question and may even correct someone who is mistakenly given a wrong opinion, but to start insulting someone is totally another.
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Old February 11, 2012, 02:31 PM   #20
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Yeah maybe he's reading something and thinking another. I couldn't find anybodies remark on that order either.
Maybe he misread a certain reply that told the op he would be better off using brass with the same brand headstamp!!!

and I'm the only blithering idiot, get it right!!
Thanks for coming!
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Old February 11, 2012, 04:46 PM   #21
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"A 150 grain bullet is on the verge of being over-rotated in a 1/10" twist barrel of any length."

Yeah just like a 30-06 with a 1 in 12" twist won't stabilize 220 gr. bullets.

My point is I disagree and I've been playing with the 30-06 since at least 1956.
I have several rifles in 30-06 including a custom based on an FN Mauser that has a 1 in 12" barrel. The last time I shot it with 220 gr. Sierra round noise bullets at 200 yards the group was 1.25" and none of the holes showed signs of tipping. The rifle has generally shot at 1 MOA or less with everything I've run though it.
However, there is a reason the factories have stayed with the 1 in 10" twist. It works. I have no argument with someone who is a dedicated target shooter who feels one twist rate or another better suits their purpose. i've probably shot more 150 gr. bullets in the 06 that anything else although I did give up on them for hunting because of too my damaged eating meat.
Frankly, I prefer 165 gr. bullets in the .308 Win. and 180 gr. bullets in the 30-06.

"Thanks for all the input, and the rifle won't be used for hunting, I'm just a paper puncher until I can get my girlfriend on board with killing our furry neighbors."

I don't want to take this off thread but get hold of a coiple of good venison steaks, cook them for you and the GF but do not tell her what it is. I had a girl friend that wasn't keen on hunting and I did just that. Took a bunch of steaks to a friend's house and we did them up on the barbie without a lot ot sauce. Just a little salt, pepper garlic and onion powder in melted butter. One the way home she commented on how good the steaks were and I told her it was venison from one of my deer hunts. I married her and she goes hunting with me now. No gaurantee but it worked for me.
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Old February 11, 2012, 06:44 PM   #22
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I have 1:9 twist barrel and it shows a definite preference for heavier bullets. 180s give much better accuracy than 150s.
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Old February 11, 2012, 06:52 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by dmazur
I would believe that the Lee Hand Press might be OK for pistol cartridges, as the force required just isn't that large.
When I was reloading in an apartment, I routinely FL sized 7mm mag brass with a Lee hand press. That thing generates a lot more leverage than people give it credit for.
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Old February 13, 2012, 11:50 PM   #24
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Thanks for the hint for the girlfriend Paul

I guess I should realize that I just can't get it right the first time, and that experimenting with different bullet weights and brass and loadings will be a real learning process. By the way, the ABC's of Reloading came in and I've read most of it, very useful stuff.

Thanks for the thoughts on the hand press PawPaw, that might just be the way for me to go for now. I'm a boxer/wrestler/martial artist so grip strength and fatigue aren't quite as big of an issue for me, plus I'm only 20 so I can afford to use the extra energy
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Old February 14, 2012, 01:37 PM   #25
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The fact that the AR-15 and its clones regularly wipe up the floor with them is of no account--these are rifles shot by mickey mouse sissies who cannot stand a little recoil.
Abrasive, yet funny........
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