How far do you go to develop a Dangerous Game load?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Whiterabbit, Mar 10, 2017.

  1. Whiterabbit

    Whiterabbit New Member

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    Hi Guys,

    When you get a new big bore rifle, how accurate do you accept for load development? They are not rifles that lend themselves to shooting 500 rounds to nail down a good load, and I assume most of us are not shooting them very far either.
     

  2. Brandon.Gleason

    Brandon.Gleason AH Veteran

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    For bolt rifles, I picked a bullet and two powders, loaded three rounds in half grain intervals through a 3-5gr range and shot 3 shot groups at 100 and picked the tightest. Then zeroed the scope and fired a five shot group to verify a minimum of MOA still. After that I fire not a single round off the bench. Everything from sticks and offhand.

    For my double, I honestly lucked out. I chose a bullet and two different loads from one powder. I fired them off the sticks at 25 yards then 50 yards, 4 rounds of each at each range. The higher charge load shot best and that's what I stuck with. That rifle has never seen a bench.
     

  3. IvW

    IvW AH Elite

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    Depends on what caliber you are talking about. Scoped or un-scoped rifle.

    Generally when loading for large bore DG rifles it is not as tricky as for longer range lighter calibers. Even for my 375 H&H for example I spent more time loading the rounds to achieve the velocity I wanted rather than waste time trying to "tweek" the loads as for longer range shooting. When loading heavy for caliber bullets I have found that they generally shoot good enough groupings and are not nearly as complicated to get to shoot acceptable groups especially with heavier for caliber bullets. I only use heavy for caliber bullets in DG applications. 375 H&H(350-2300fps and 380 grains@ 2200 fps) and 500 Jeff(570 grains@2300fps).

    For my 500 Jeff, which is strictly an open site rifle, I worked up a load with 570 Grain bullets to the velocity I wanted, which in this case is 2300 Fps and luckily I did not need to make any adjustments to the iron sights, as it is on target at 50 meters.

    As for doubles, unless you have the original ammunition it was regulated for it can become a tricky situation to get the load right so both barrels shoot a reasonable group.
     

  4. PHOENIX PHIL

    PHOENIX PHIL AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    I've approached my big bores just as I have any other. I like the accuracy to be in three shot 1" group range. Necessary for a DG rifle? Hardly I'm sure. But if it will do this consistently I can approach hunting with the rifle with more confidence.

    But I get that you don't want to extend load development more than you have to. My .375H&H was my first DG rifle and honestly only the fourth rifle I developed loads for. While recoil wasn't too big of an issue, I was growing tired of sending money down range. That's when I discovered the internet to be a good source for researching loads. I got a great tip here on AH and quickly had a 300gr A-Frame load there after.

    The next big bore was a .416 Rigby. I did some research before loading up the first round and found that H4831 was working well for a lot of guys with this caliber. So I gave it a go and once again had a load quite quickly.

    After that it was my .458B&M, but there was lots of info for that caliber available. Load development was done before I owned the rifle. Still I had to build the loads and confirm they would work in my rifle.

    Again I get not wanting to pull and excessive amount of shots from the bench, but you still need to do some work and should not settle too quickly in my opinion. When working from the bench, get and use a PAST pad for your shoulder. I also put a sling on the rifle and more/less use the military style of putting my non-shooting hand elbow into the sling as well as wrapping my forearm around it. This greatly reduces muzzle jump and felt recoil.

    I'm also meticulous about how I'm setup on the bench. The range I shoot at has various height stools to allow for people of various height to shoot from the benches that are all at the same height. When I setup I don't want to be too far leaned over when I shoot. Rather I want to be more upright so that I'm more squared up to the rifle. This puts the butt pad more on the front of my shoulder spreading out the recoil versus more on top of my shoulder concentrating the recoil into a smaller spot.

    Do your development slowly. Limit the shots at the range so you don't get fatigued. This will build your recoil tolerance up to the point that it becomes no big deal, especially when you move to the sticks.
     
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  5. Rob404

    Rob404 AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Never gave it much thought,I do some research on possible loads and work up 20 rds of each powder head to the range and match groups against velocity(Chrono) and pick the best of both worlds. When I did my 404jeff the two loads were very close in velocity but one group was tighter so that what I went with. My 375HH is another story maybe I just like shooting that SOB but I'm always screwing with it and now that I've decided to stick with 250gr bullets I start again once Summer comes back to Minnesota,,this June
     

  6. Buckdog

    Buckdog AH Enthusiast

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    I am a anal retentive accuracy nut so I want them to group the same with swift a frames and barnes solids i.e. same POI. I use a lead sled 25lbds lead shot on it and work the swift a frame loads first to sub 1'' at 100yds but that's with custom scoped bolt guns capable of that or I would have sent them back wence they came to be fixed. them when satisfied I start loading the solids. Normally with the same powder as the aframes just less of it as the solids are longer and get to max pressure and velocity with less powder. I also crono the loads as I work them up to get the velocity I want without excess pressure. Then I put the guns right out in the sun the hottest day I can find fully loaded and cook them up good and hot like Africa will and test fire so I know all works and don't get stuck cases etc from the heat. So yes I am very particular PIA sorry but when my ass is on the line I want the best ammo I can make in that chamber period and I chamber every round and work it thru the gun to know it works fine then reload it in the gun and a hunting I go(n) never hunt DG with rds you haven't run thru the gun!
     
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  7. ChrisG

    ChrisG BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    I have realized, as I got older and more experienced at hunting, that Minute of Angle accuracy doesn't amount to anything for the type of hunting I do. If one were to be hunting Dall Sheep at 500 yards (a shot I wouldn't feel comfortable taking anyway) I would think it is more important. What I am more concerned about is getting the velocity I want and a group that is acceptable. I want to make sure that my bullets will expand anywhere inside 300 yards so that I have a lot of leeway when hunting.

    For my .416 I settled on 2,300 fps with a 400 grain bullet and 2,500fps with a 350. Thats what I was conerned about. The rifle shoots them all within about an inch and a half. I will usually put about 8 .416 rounds down range off a bench at any one time. .375 H&H I could shoot all day it seems. I will settle for a round that prints 1.5" at 100 yards as that is wayyy more accurate than I would probably shoot off sticks or any field position. Add to that the fact that most of my shots are less than 100 yards with a majority being stalked to within 50-75 yards, and you realize that straining for every last MOA isn't worth it. There's theory and then there are the practical realities of hunting. The only rifle I strain to get a good load for is my varmint rifle. It's a .223 and even at that I am happy with a 1" group at 100 yards. I think stalking close is 1000% more fun that just shooting from longer range. So I spend my time shooting from any available position and not sitting at a bench working on my target technique or worrying if another 50fps would have tightened my group.

    When speaking of dangerous game rifles.... As I believe Peter Capstick put it: "Dangerous game is only dangerous when you are close.. any fool can pop a jumbo from across two football fields." Dangerous game rifles need to be able to balance and point quickly, shoot heavy, well made, larger bore bullets at their prescribed velocity, and be accurate enough to hit a buffalo or lions shoulder at 40-100 yards. You can shoot a lion from 500 yards and kill him dead... but don't go telling people you are a dangerous game hunter. I would say for a heavy large bore rifle, >.40 caliber, It just needs to be accurate enough to hit the kill zone from a relatively close range, but it needs to hit it hard and have the bullet stay together and penetrate. 0.5 MOA is not high on a Dangerous Game Rifle's list of things it needs to accomplish.

    I am sure there are people who strain to get their .458 to print all it's shots on top of each other. All I can say is, its their shoulder, they can do what they wish with it. At the end of the day, if they get a shot at an animal within 150 yards and miss, they would be able to even blame a 2-3 MOA rifle or load for it. It was their fault.
     

  8. rnovi

    rnovi AH Enthusiast

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    IMO, Chris nailed it above. "For my .416 I settled on 2,300 fps with a 400 grain bullet and 2,500fps with a 350."

    Ok, so there it is. Decide the velocity and bullet that you want and what you consider acceptable accuracy and that's it. No need to pursue it more.

    For me: My Montana 1999 20" .375 H&H. 300 gr. bullet, preferably either a Partition or TSX, 2,450 fps or better (*remember, I do have a 20" bbl).

    A quick search on the web said that a classic load of 75.0 gr of H4350 should get it done. Sure enough...75.0 gr. of H4350 under a 300gr. TSX gave me 2,420 fps and 1" groups with (relatively) mild recoil.

    I did screw around a bit moving up to 81.0 gr of H4350 (Sierra 300 GK load) and damned if that wasn't a smoking load at 2,550 fps. Recoil was decently pronounced as was muzzle report. Accuracy was again in the 1.25" range.

    I've rather backed off to the 75.0 load because it's really just so nice to shoot.

    So, start with Bullet and Velocity with Accuracy. When you hit it, just stop and enjoy. (*unless, of course, you like slinging big lead downrange in which case, go for it!)
     
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  9. Eddie P

    Eddie P AH Veteran

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    My plan with my .375rug is to shoot some SGK 300 gn rounds to find something that is as fast as I can get and a decent accuracy from, then replace with a-frames and shoot a group of 3 to check that they still shoot OK.

    As above velocity is the main aim and something that shoots a reasonable group. If I can get an inch I'll be chuffed, 1.5 inches will be fine.
     

  10. Bert the Turtle

    Bert the Turtle AH Fanatic

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    Somewhere along the line, an inch group at 100 yards seems to have been anointed as the Holy Requirement. If your rifle puts a bullet within 2 inches of where you aim it (that's a 4 inch group!) and you aim it properly, you can hit the vitals of a steenbok at 100 yards. What do you need for a buffalo?

    As it so happens, my 404 is more accurate than my 30-06, but I'm not using either to shoot groundhogs at 400 yards. The only time game is dangerous is at close range therefore I am more concerned with shooting to point of aim at close distance than I am with small groups at long distance. Assuming a reasonable group at a reasonable distance (100, maybe 125yards max), I'd spend whatever time it takes ensuring the rifle shoots the bullet of your choice at the velocity you want to point of aim at fairly close range and spend the rest of my efforts practicing practical shooting rather than developing loads.

    One thing that is worth spending some time on is developing a reduced load that shoots well for you. I've got a re-sized 0.429 XTP 300g bullet that I shoot at about 1700fps out of my 404. Cheap and easy to shoot means more practice which means better gun handling. I suspect that barring completely absurd equipment (for example the rifle I borrowed in Argentina that unknown to me at the time changed elevation zero by over 12 inches at 100 yards in the the course of 2 days), far more game is lost and more hunters are hurt due to poor gun handling and/or shooting than due to inaccurate rifles.

    Even with that piece of crap, I was able to connect on my second shot because my PH called the first shot and I held over accordingly. I in no way advocate using such a weapon but the point of the story is that good practical results do not require a target grade rifle. Reliability, good handling qualities, and appropriate choice of cartridge and projectile are all more important for a dangerous game rifle than is the ultimate in precision.
     
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  11. petrusg

    petrusg AH Elite

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    It all depends on what calibre you are referring to. I know i spent allot of time to get my .375 H&H to a 1/2" grouping at 100m but it was comfortable enough to shoot it out of the bench. With my .450 N.E i settled for a 1 1/2" group at 50m as it was killing me but every now and then i play around with the loads to see if i can get it more accurate, bare in mind this is my backup rifle and most shots will be taken at less than 25m so does it really need to group better..... i don't think so but we all want that perfect rifle
     

  12. Eddie P

    Eddie P AH Veteran

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    I'm aiming for a tightish group because I need to put rounds down to get used to the rifle anyway and to run the action in, so I may as well be productive.
     

  13. ChrisG

    ChrisG BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Fanatic

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    As per the original post, I guess it would depend on what someone considers "Large Bore". To me, a .375 is a medium bore in any of its configurations. Large-medium would be anything in the .400-.423 category and large bore would be anything over .45 caliber. I will add the caveat that a medium-large and large bore in my mind throws a bullet between 400 and 600 grains with more than 4,000 ft-lbs... thus ruling out rifles in the .405-45/70 group... just my personal opinion though.

    In the 1890's the .577 and the .600 were thought by the older black powder shooters to be "small bore." I guess it's all just a matter of perspective.
     

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