Author Topic: How do you build up a load?  (Read 6059 times)

Offline KC8SON

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How do you build up a load?
« on: February 07, 2010, 03:34:12 PM »
Hi Everyone,

I used to reload a million years ago - mainly to save cost.  I shoot 9mm and .308. 

Let me focus on .308 for now.  I have a bolt-action and an AR in .308.  How do I figure out which load for these two rifles?  Bullet weights range anywhere from 100 grain soft point up to 200 grain soft points.  I am looking primarily for a hunting round, but I also want the best accuracy I can craft.  In addition the 27 different bullets for .308 in my manual, each has a dozen powders listed.  Keep in mind that I am not a beginner to reloading, I'm just curious about the best way to start building my ideal round.

Also - I am assuming that the bolt action and the AR will have different optimal loads.  Is it just a matter of loading up a bunch and trying them out?  Is it really just a matter of running through all the combinations?

It looks like there are a lot of 168 grain match grade bullets out there.  Would those be the most accurate?  Would they be effective for hunting?  Do I just have to buy a box of all 27 bullets?

I have a press and dies and know how to do the actual reloading, I just need advice on how to pick the best bullet and powder.

Thanks,

Joe - KC8SON

Offline OJ

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2010, 08:54:28 PM »
Match grade bullets are designed for in-flight ballistic perfection, NOT terminal ballistics (what the bullet does when it GETS THERE).

So, you're starting out with a compromise right there.

With that in mind, here's what I do:

- pick a powder, typically one that allows for a wide range of velocity without getting too crazy with the pressure at the top end.  Stick with that one powder.

- pick a bullet.  I'm a cheapskate, so for .308, I like 150 grain.  They still make match bullets AND hunting bullets in that weight, so I'm good.

- work up test loads around the velocity of the "accuracy load" in the Sierra manual, with that (theoretical) velocity right in the center, and two loads on either side.  I usually go for a 0.4 grain difference to start with, making sure to stay within the min/max margins.  I load 6 rounds of each test load, labeling the box appropriately - usually using file folder labels on the INSIDE of a 50-rd plastic box.

- set up 2 target pages with 5 targets on each.  Fire 3 rounds from each test load at the first set of target(s), then repeat on the second set.

- examine the targets and see if one load produced the tightest group.  If it DID, that's the center load in my next test batch, in which I will reduce the difference between loads to 0.2 grains.

- lather/rinse/repeat with 0.1 grains difference.  Tightest group is the grand champion.  Repeat final test with hunting bullets to be sure.

I wouldn't get TOO accuracy-crazed with the HUNTING bullets.....unless you're planning on getting headshots on jackrabbits in Big Sky country....

Offline pac1911

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2010, 09:17:00 PM »
Match grade bullets are designed for in-flight ballistic perfection, NOT terminal ballistics (what the bullet does when it GETS THERE).

So, you're starting out with a compromise right there.

With that in mind, here's what I do:

- pick a powder, typically one that allows for a wide range of velocity without getting too crazy with the pressure at the top end.  Stick with that one powder.

- pick a bullet.  I'm a cheapskate, so for .308, I like 150 grain.  They still make match bullets AND hunting bullets in that weight, so I'm good.

- work up test loads around the velocity of the "accuracy load" in the Sierra manual, with that (theoretical) velocity right in the center, and two loads on either side.  I usually go for a 0.4 grain difference to start with, making sure to stay within the min/max margins.  I load 6 rounds of each test load, labeling the box appropriately - usually using file folder labels on the INSIDE of a 50-rd plastic box.

- set up 2 target pages with 5 targets on each.  Fire 3 rounds from each test load at the first set of target(s), then repeat on the second set.

- examine the targets and see if one load produced the tightest group.  If it DID, that's the center load in my next test batch, in which I will reduce the difference between loads to 0.2 grains.

- lather/rinse/repeat with 0.1 grains difference.  Tightest group is the grand champion.  Repeat final test with hunting bullets to be sure.

I wouldn't get TOO accuracy-crazed with the HUNTING bullets.....unless you're planning on getting headshots on jackrabbits in Big Sky country....

Cant add much to that.I too start with the pwder that produced the most accurateload in the maual..

As far as how the bullets do in your two rifles, some of that will depend on the rate of twist of your barrels.  I'm not familiar with ar10 barrels, butifthe twit rateis the same that will allow you to usethe same bullet. Ifthe twist rateis different, the area of overlap in bullet weight will be smaller..

pc

Offline OJ

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2010, 10:40:48 PM »
Actualy, Pac1911, I don't put too much stock in the exact POWDER that yielded their "accuracy load", but rather in the VELOCITY listed for it.

Sometimes, it happens to be a powder I have, or want to try.

Other times, I use a different powder that's listed, and consult the chart to see how much of THAT powder will (theoretically) yield that same velocity.

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2010, 02:38:19 AM »
OJ has give very good advice so far, so I won't reinvent his wheel (I use a VERY similar method in my load development)

The only difference is that I choose bullet first to accomplish my desired terminal ballistic rather than powder.

What I would like to address here is that very start of your loading process:  The questions

1. What do I want to accomplish?
2. Are these realistic goals that I can actually accomplish with what I have on hand?
3. With what materials?  How much am I willing to spend?
4. How will I be able to tell when I reach my goals?

So, What are you looking to do?   Hunting, Counter Sniper, Paper Punching for smallest group .... ? How likely and often are you going to face these tasks?

Are your firearms stock out of the box?

If so, there are several mods a gunsmith can do for you to help accuracy: Pillar Bedding, Float the barrel, Lap the Barrel, tune the action & true up the boltface.....  ad-infinum.

I have a Weatherby Mk V in 300 Weatherby that does about 3/4 MOA off the bench with my chosen hunting bullet.  

Off the bench If I do my part, I can hit a tennis ball at 300 Yards every time...

OK, time to get down out of the ozone.... While it is true off the bench, there is no way I can hold within a 3" circle at 300 yards in the field.  So in this case, the added accuracy is useless to me.

I also have a rebuilt Springfield, that also goes 3/4MOA with the right loads.... For my use its fine.

The only animals that I have killed over 200 yards are varmints.

So, What level of accuracy will you accept?  What levels of accuracy are really necessary to accomplish your needs?

Also, you probably remember that the most accurate loads are usually the upper mid-range.  

Keep us posted as to how your development is going

Steve




Offline hillclimber

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2010, 12:42:24 PM »
All great infor so far, and I agree with all of it.
The only thing I'll add is to say that I've really tried to go with the most universal stuff that I can.
I use alot of 4320, 4895, and 4350 in my rifle loads. So far, I've been able to work up a good load for every rifle I own using one of the three powders. I do the same thing with my pistol loads.
I use alot of Red Dot and Unique, but I do keep some H110 and 2400 around for my magnums.

Offline keepitlow

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2010, 04:44:41 PM »
Lots to consider. For auto pistols, A good rule of thumb is the optimum distance brass ejects from the gun. Some loads dribble out, other loads eject brass across the room. Sometimes spring changes are in order.

Brass distortion, cracking, primer pooping and failure to cycle also must be considered. In the end some loads are more accurate than others and those are what you 'shoot' for.

Offline hillclimber

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2010, 05:45:33 PM »
True enough.
I've got around 300rnds of 45acp that ran great in my old 1911, but will not cycle my XD Compact at all.
I've got some shooting to do....one round at a time :-\

Offline OJ

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2010, 05:18:30 AM »
True enough.
I've got around 300rnds of 45acp that ran great in my old 1911, but will not cycle my XD Compact at all.
I've got some shooting to do....one round at a time :-\

At what point in the cycle do they fail, and what bullet profile are you using?

I just LOVE 200gr LSWC for my 1911, but they just WILL NOT feed in my XD Tactical.  LRN works just fine, though, in either 200gr or 230gr.

Offline hillclimber

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2010, 05:14:08 PM »
Sounds alot like the problem that I'm having.
I've been having trouble with my 200gr SWC target loads, but they weren't loaded very hot to begin with..
After bumping up the powder charge just a little it runs just fine.
I just hate the thought of pulling all those bullets :-\

Offline Steve Cover

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2010, 05:44:48 PM »
True enough.
I've got around 300rnds of 45acp that ran great in my old 1911, but will not cycle my XD Compact at all.
I've got some shooting to do....one round at a time :-\
Most 1911 Colts set up for target use a lighter spring. Cast 45 SWC bullets seem to perform best at 600-700 FPS.

I believe that the standard Recoil Spring of the GVT 45 is 18#.

Back in the 1950's Bo Clark was making target only modifications to the Colt 1911's.

To reduce recoil fatigue, he built is guns with a 16# spring for use with lighter loads.

You may want to invest in a lighter spring for your target loads, and still be able to use the full force spring when serious ammunition is carried.

It is a simple process with the Colt 1911A1 to develope an accurate load, and then match a recoil spring to that load for best performance.

My springs are form Wolf MFG.

My 2 Cents,

Steve

Offline Drezden

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2011, 01:04:40 PM »
I don't know what the rules are for linking to other boards, but over at Snipers Hide they have a hand loading section that has a pinned couple of FAQ's on how to work of a good hand load. It might be useful.

Offline TANK

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2011, 02:17:37 PM »
What I used to do when I first started to reload, I would look at the ammunition manufactor calolog find the factory load balistics, look in the reloading manual and find the same balistics start my reload 10% less than the reloading manual stated. load up 6 and try them out. I don't do that anymore as I have my load worked up. I use 4064 for .308. 3031 for 223, unique for 9mm, 38 spec, and 45 acp. 2400 for 357 mag and 44 mag. all good loads, the unique is a little dirty but I can live with it.

Offline hillclimber

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2011, 01:35:31 PM »
My situation is more a case of the spring in the XDcompact being just to strong for my target loads. The 1911 is a 1942USP marked Colt, so It's about as broken in as you can get ;D

OldManSchmidt

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Re: How do you build up a load?
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 08:21:09 PM »
It's been a while since I have worked up a new load for anything, but I used to cheat.  I'd find a factory round that approximated what I wanted and then would load to that standard.  Once I got the "standard load" down, I would begin fine tuning the load by 0.1 gr at a time in either direction until I got something I was happy with.  Basically what OJ does only I start with duplicating a commercially available bullet.  I will admit also that I tend to favor heavy bullets and tend to sacrifice a little to stay with a heavier bullet.