Reloading for accuracy

fourfive8

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Currently I have no "target" rifles- the herd has been thinned to serious hunting rifles only. Not even a rattle battle in the closet- they went down the sale chute long ago. My recreational and hobby shooting/loading now with high-power smokeless is all about 100% reliable hunting ammo with bullets I know will work and are acceptably accurate. My other shooting passion is black powder original muzzleloaders- but that's for a different thread. :)

My accuracy standard for hunting ammo/rifles is about 1" or less @ 100 yds across the board. I shoot once in a while at 300 yards but will not shoot at animals any farther than that even though a couple of my rifles are fully capable of it. Simple- animal sniping for bragging rights has become a trendy thing that I will not participate in. At one time I had a couple of 308s, a 6 and a 6.5 that were scary accurate. Actually it got old and tiring trying to squeeze the last .01-.05”
of accuracy out of them each time out. I don't miss them nor the challenge of that game... the education was not cheap but hopefully I learned a few things along the way.

Using those lessons over the past 50 years of reloading and shooting and putting rifles together, I feel comfortable in the field for any game at my chosen time and distance and condition to shoot. I also have come to realize that if a rifle is basically accurate, you should be able to tell pretty quickly. Fighting a basically inaccurate rifle can be frustrating and wasteful of time. There is no magic load for those rifles. Always best to recognize that and nip that issue in the bud early on!!!

I enjoy working up loads, not for velocity but for the goal of 100% reliably and cleanly killing big game. All my rifles are either bedded in quality synthetic stocks or pillar and full length bedded in wood. Nothing fancy- but 100 % practical and functional with the wood being factory standard grade walnut by Winchester and the synthetics by HS Precision. The barrels are mixture of factory, Krieger and Lilja. Some rifles are factory and some are put together with good barrels and custom chamber reamers. The put together actions have been trued as much as can easily be done with a CRF Winchester or Mauser design.

Here's an example of targets from one of them- Pic of two targets shot with 450 Watts @ 50 yds off bench with a couple of different loads. Hunting type ammo, Lee FCD crimped. FXII Ultralight 2.5x20 Leupold scope. Shot 4 1/2 years apart. One target with TSX the other with GS Custom Flat Nose Solid. The three most accurate, premium big game bullets I've shot in all rifles are all banded monolithic copper... the TSX, the North Fork Flat Point and Cup Point Solids and the GS Flat Nose Solid. Rifle and scope were untouched in the 4 1/2 years between shoots. Obviously more accurate than required, but fun to do once in a while with a big gun :) My 375 HH and 416 Rem Mags in Win 70s will almost do this well. Matter of fact my 375 HH shot a hunting load group last week of about .6" at 100 yds. My 270 Win and 338-06 both in Win 70 usually will.
450 Watts group 1.jpg


450 Watts target 10-19.JPG
 
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bruce moulds

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in line with picking the lowest apples first, we come back to powder charge and seating depth as the main tools in achieving accuracy.
giving that function and reliability are actually more important than accuracy, being only behind safety,
jumping the bullet is preferable to jamming it.
so obviously you need to establish a coal where the bullet just touches the rifling, then give it some jump.
the easiest way to do this is with a hornady coal measuring tool.
it uses a fireformed case screwed onto the tool, and you chamber this, push the bullet up to the rifling, lock it, and after withdrawing it , measure the coal.
the best way to measure is on the ogive rather than the point of the bullet, as points vary from bullet to bullet.
you can get an ogive measuring thing to screw onto your vernier.
i like to start at 0.030" jump.
of course you will need to verify that such rounds fit the mag length, as this might decide your max coal.
after that you can start experimenting with increasing powder charges. while shooting groups, as long as the barrel is run in.
the other tool you must have is a case trimmer.
not so much for accuracy, but for safety, as when cases grow they can jam into the chamber transition raising pressures dangerously.
forget neck sizing in hunting rifles.
eventually you will have to fls the cases, and you need different loads for fls and neck sized.
a fls bushing die will allow adjusting neck tension and rounds will always chamber freely.
properly adjusted, these dies barely reduce case life over neck sizing only.
point blank benchresters and fclass shooters are now almost exclusively fl sizing.
velocity standard deviation is not that important out to 300 yds.
at 100 and 200 it can be totally discounted.
at 400 it might start to matter on fox sized targets.
so what do you really need to get started?
a press and a set of dies, a case trimmer, an means of measuring coal, and decent powder scales.
balance scales will do.
by the time you have rung out the gun and ammo with this setup, if you need something more you will know what it is.
i have shot ammo in newly formed brass to fireform it with 0.008" runout, and it has shot better than moa consistently.
pursuing this is picking a higher apple.
reducing s.d. has most gains in bullet release, and this is helped by deburring case necks cleanly, and can be helped by lubing inside the necks with graphite.
reducing runout is largely helped by setting up dies properly.
the use of shims between the shell holder and bottom of die will aid in the die being locked in its threads straight.
and you won't have good accuracy potential with poor cleaning regimes.
bruce.
 

CBH Australia

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Thanks Bruce,
I do have the Hornady COAL too, an old Ohaus 10/10 scale still working.
I need to replace a case trimmer or replace the shell holder end on an old Redding trimmer.
I do not own a chronograph. It could be in my future.
I will be starting with new Nosler cases to suit the .280ai and spend more time on case prep in future.
I’ve loaded thousands of .223 and .308 with acceptable accuracy but I’m looking to improve my knowledge and on a time lest one rifle start out right from the start and try get good hunting accuracy.
 

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Annealing is another part of the equation.
Annealing is something I have been aware of for years but I wanna under the impression it is more to do with case life etc. I have some .308 cases starting to work harden at the case neck and these have been shelved.
I did read a good article on annealling and will red some more.
 

bruce moulds

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chris,
you are ready to get 99% of the accuracy potential of that rifle.
spending money does not equate to not doing the work of basics.
those old ohaus 10/10 scales were good.
as someone said, a quality barrel well fitted will be you friend in this.
bruce.
 

bruce moulds

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Annealing is something I have been aware of for years but I wanna under the impression it is more to do with case life etc. I have some .308 cases starting to work harden at the case neck and these have been shelved.
I did read a good article on annealling and will red some more.
bushing dies will reduce the need to anneal. as they work the brass less.
bruce.
 

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bushing dies will reduce the need to anneal. as they work the brass less.
bruce.
Bruce, I would qualify that with the chamber neck diameter versus the loaded round diameter. By necessity, factory rifles generally have sloppy chambers and are more prone to work hardening brass.
Having said that, for customs, best to determine neck diameter of a loaded round then specify reamer neck size.
 

fourfive8

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That case length issue can sneak up and bite!! Pressure squeezes so hard on the case walls when the round is under full pressure that brass will flow the only direction it can- forward. If ignored, the result can be a case long enough to crimp the bullet in place when chambered- when fired, do not underestimate this effect and make no mistake- pressures can skyrocket!! as Bruce pointed out. The only time I ever had to beat the bolt open was after firing a 30-06 that I had failed to trim. That was 51 years ago. Haven’t had an overpressure load since... for any reason- the lesson stuck and both the rifle and I escaped without damage. I know when a bullet has been dodged :)
 

shootist~

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Best real or perceived accuracy aids for me:

Quality brass. Lapua, Norma/Nosler, then Remington are my favs.
Accurate powder drops (I shoot for exact target weight to ~.04 grains over -
-scale reads to .02 gr).
Finding the best COL.
Finding and tweaking the powder accuracy node.
Trimming and deburring inside/outside every loading (love my Girard trimmer).
Adjusting Cartridge Headspace to ~.001 to .002". (I FL resize for reliability.)
Annealing. I anneal every loading, starting with twice fired brass.
 

bruce moulds

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annealing can actually cause inaccuracy.
some shooters report accuracy going away for a few loadings after annealing.
then we find out how they do it, which involves lack of consistency.
consistency in all things.
point blank bench resters mostly shoot thrown charges, and even some 1000 yd bench shooters do too.
+/- 1/10 gn will do the job better than that and is sufficient for shooting palma match.
bruce.
 

bruce moulds

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Bruce, I would qualify that with the chamber neck diameter versus the loaded round diameter. By necessity, factory rifles generally have sloppy chambers and are more prone to work hardening brass.
Having said that, for customs, best to determine neck diameter of a loaded round then specify reamer neck size.
here we come to a better rifle having more to offer.
and also more forgiveness.
bruce.
 

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I was never able to get within 0.1 grain powder drops using a powder measure - especially with extruded powders. Doesn't mean it can't be done, of course.
 

bruce moulds

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I was never able to get within 0.1 grain powder drops using a powder measure - especially with extruded powders. Doesn't mean it can't be done, of course.
nor can i.
nor can br shooters.
it just shows that at closer ranges charge wt consistency is not a big issue within reason.
it also shows that you don't have to spend $2000.00 0n fancy electronic scales.
beam scales can do better than that, especially if you sharpen the edges a little.
bruce.
 

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IMHO life is just too short to weigh every charge on a beam scale, but YMMV.

FWIW, I paid around $150 for my GemPro 250 and $329 or so for my RCBS Chargemaster. If +/- 0.1 grains is your goal, the Chargemaster will get you there, (based on my sample of one).

A good balance beam could certainly be used to test the accuracy on the Chargemaster, but If getting closer than 0.1 grains on every charge is your goal, a second electronic scale is almost mandatory.

The GemPro series of scales do not appear to be available at present, at least on this side of the pond. Probably because the service was non existent and some could be twitchy out of the box.
 
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