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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all.

New to the forum, and I just test fired my first hand loads and wanted to get some opinions. I took my 444 to the range about a month ago and sighted it in at 110 yd with Hornady 265gr Superformance ammo. Since then, I put together a batch of ammo using Hornady 240gr XTP, the minimum starting charge of Hodgdon Benchmark, and CCI 200 primers. My hand loads grouped very tight, but 9" lower than the Superformance at 110 yd. These rounds were much softer to shoot than the Superformance rounds, and if I had to guess I would say the velocity is give or take 1800-1900 fps (based on Hodgdon load data and my barrel being 2" shorter than their test barrel). The rifle is a 1975 444s with a 22" barrel.

Would the decreased muzzle velocity really account for such a drastic drop in the point of impact, or am I missing something here? My next step is to up the powder charge in .5gr increments and see what happens.

-Matt
 

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millertime,
Looks as though your velocity is a bit low. Even 44 magnum rifles will be in the vicinity of 1650-1700 fps out of a 20 inch barrel using the 240 XTPs.
I don't have any experience with Benchmark but your idea of small incremental change is wise IMO. A chrony might help as well.
I would really like to have a .444 since I load .44 Mag Jackies and Cast already. Looks like you are gonna have some fun. GOOD LUCK!
 

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when I'm working up a new load I will load 3 to 5 shells with each powder charge starting with the lowest and adding 1/2 grain until getting to maximum published charge. keep shells organized and or write the charge on side of shell with sharpie then take them out to the range and see what's what. this is just how I do it, it might work for you too. i've learned over the years that it makes sense to write everything down cuz my memory aint so hot sometimes.
 

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strongly suggest getting a chrony, especially for a looping bullet like a 444 Marlin.

what I've experienced with small, incremental powder changes on heavy, slower bullets is you don't get a lot of change in MV. For example, with my 6.5x55 SE, a .3 gr powder increase might give me another 25 fps in MV. A .3 gr increase in powder charge for 405 gr (and heavier) bullets out of my 45-70 might give me an 8-10 fps improvement. And when any given load has a +/- on the MV of 15 fps, it become impossible to really know what your velocity is. The takeway is, for heavy slow bullets, I've learned to increase powder charge in 1.0 gr increments, and i've never gotten to max charge before I find an acceptable load.

In case I've not conveyed that clearly, we'll look at some of my data

Bullet: .459 cast lead, 405 gr Missouri Bullet Company Buffalo #1
Powder: RL7
Primer: WLR
Rifle: 1895 GBL

Powder charge | MV (5-shot avg) | Hi/Lo
39 gr | 1550 | +/- 15 (so MV between 1535 and 1565)
39.5 gr | 1565 | +/- 12 (so MV between 1553 and 1577)
40 gr | 1585 | +/- 17 (so MV between 1568 and 1602)

there's so much overlap, and a somewhat uneven distribution of MV, even within each 5-shot string, it's really difficult to tell what is what.

keep in mind that for 444, like 45-70, while terrific accuracy is certainly possible, 1.5 - 2 MOA is absolutely acceptable. if you get 5 inside an inch at 50 yards, that's your load, even if it's a bit slower than you were hoping. blazing fast MV is not necessary for heavy bullets. and even if you could get a like group at 150 fps faster, the improvement to the ballistic arc is so small as to confer no advantage
 

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Discussion Starter #10
when I'm working up a new load I will load 3 to 5 shells with each powder charge starting with the lowest and adding 1/2 grain until getting to maximum published charge. keep shells organized and or write the charge on side of shell with sharpie then take them out to the range and see what's what. this is just how I do it, it might work for you too. i've learned over the years that it makes sense to write everything down cuz my memory aint so hot sometimes.

That’s exactly what the RSO recommended as well. Since this was my first attempt at reloading, I just tried to put together a safe and consistent load while getting comfortable with the process. I kept notes at the reloading bench as well as the range. Looking forward to making batches with increasing amounts of powder and seeing the results!
 

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G'day Matt. A lot of the time heavier bullets will impact higher. Recoil , barrel harmonics and a heap of other factors come into play. Find the bullet and load it likes best and run with it.
correct. heavier bullets can hit higher. its called "hang time".
 
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Interesting... I'll have to experiment with a heavier bullet soon and see the results. For right now, I'm very happy with the consistency of this load. They grouped roughly 1.5" at 110yd, and probably would be a tiny bit better with optics. Not sure if it's the propellant or the cumulative 5+ hours of work it took me to reload 20 rounds. I felt like I was pulling out the dial calipers every 10 seconds...
 

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Yeah? Wait till you have a micrometer. If your groups are an inch and a half at 110 yards your doing something right. This is not a race and you have time to go at a pace you are comfortable with. You might just end up like some of us who really enjoy this stuff. Sounds like you have a good start.
 

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Seems like you are well on your way and doing things right. You will find that operating the press at a consistent speed will give you more consistent results when it comes to the COL of each round.
 

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Don't worry about where different loads hit as long as they group well. I have a 30-30 that will shoot Hornady 160gr. gummy points a full 9" higher at a 100yds than my 150 grn loads even though the velocities are very close. They both will group very well.
 

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correct. heavier bullets can hit higher. its called "hang time".
Actually, the heavier bullets tend to sometimes impact higher because the rifle is going into recoil before the bullet exits the barrel, hence shooting "high". See it all the time in black powder shooting.
 
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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
strongly suggest getting a chrony, especially for a looping bullet like a 444 Marlin.

what I've experienced with small, incremental powder changes on heavy, slower bullets is you don't get a lot of change in MV. For example, with my 6.5x55 SE, a .3 gr powder increase might give me another 25 fps in MV. A .3 gr increase in powder charge for 405 gr (and heavier) bullets out of my 45-70 might give me an 8-10 fps improvement. And when any given load has a +/- on the MV of 15 fps, it become impossible to really know what your velocity is. The takeway is, for heavy slow bullets, I've learned to increase powder charge in 1.0 gr increments, and i've never gotten to max charge before I find an acceptable load.

In case I've not conveyed that clearly, we'll look at some of my data

Bullet: .459 cast lead, 405 gr Missouri Bullet Company Buffalo #1
Powder: RL7
Primer: WLR
Rifle: 1895 GBL

Powder charge | MV (5-shot avg) | Hi/Lo
39 gr | 1550 | +/- 15 (so MV between 1535 and 1565)
39.5 gr | 1565 | +/- 12 (so MV between 1553 and 1577)
40 gr | 1585 | +/- 17 (so MV between 1568 and 1602)

there's so much overlap, and a somewhat uneven distribution of MV, even within each 5-shot string, it's really difficult to tell what is what.

keep in mind that for 444, like 45-70, while terrific accuracy is certainly possible, 1.5 - 2 MOA is absolutely acceptable. if you get 5 inside an inch at 50 yards, that's your load, even if it's a bit slower than you were hoping. blazing fast MV is not necessary for heavy bullets. and even if you could get a like group at 150 fps faster, the improvement to the ballistic arc is so small as to confer no advantage
Well, I took most of this advice and hit the range again today. All of the ammo was the same except that I started with 52 grains and upped the powder charge in .5 grain increments. Whether it was the ammo or my own crappy shooting (probably the second one), the groups were pretty lackluster until I got to 53.5 and 54 grains. 53.5 grouped a hair under 2”, and 54 cut a ragged hole with three shots. The groups opened back up with 54.5 grains, which is.5 below the published maximum. I’m going to load up a few with 53.7 and see what happens...

On a side note, it was interesting to feel the increase in recoil throughout the process. 52 grains was “meh, not bad” while 54 grains was “ok, you have my attention now.”
 

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Barrel time, harmonics, recoil, shotstart pressure, number of rounds in the magazine, neck tension, nose shape, bullet weight, rifling configuration or twist, the way you hold your tongue at the corner of your mouth, primer, temperature, altitude, and barometric pressure all contribute to point of impact moving. Find a load that shoots best with the desired projectile, and stick with it.

I have developed a load in the past that walked the hits diagonally lower left to upper right as powder charge was increased. Sometimes you just get surprised. Internal ballistics is a very complicated science, and it's part luck combined with the black arts.
 

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42gr. of H4198 and a 300gr. hornady XTPHP and life is good,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
 

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Barrel time, harmonics, recoil, shotstart pressure, number of rounds in the magazine, neck tension, nose shape, bullet weight, rifling configuration or twist, the way you hold your tongue at the corner of your mouth, primer, temperature, altitude, and barometric pressure all contribute to point of impact moving. Find a load that shoots best with the desired projectile, and stick with it.

I have developed a load in the past that walked the hits diagonally lower left to upper right as powder charge was increased. Sometimes you just get surprised. Internal ballistics is a very complicated science, and it's part luck combined with the black arts.
I've found that sometimes it helps to howl at the moon, pass gas and have a sacrificial mashed finger in the press to get the reloading deities to help make the very best ammo. :D
 
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