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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I reloaded some 150 gr Winchester PPFN bullets today. Using Win 748 I loaded up 10 at 34 gr, 10 at 35 gr, 10 at 36 gr, 10 at 37 gr and 10 at 38 gr based on info in the Hornady Handbook. This filled up my 50 cartridge box and now I'm ready to head to the range for testing. My main goal is accurracy, so I'll see which load shoots best. Is this an acceptable procedure? Should I load and test more than 10 of each? How do you guys go about testing loads?
 

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It makes sense to me to do it that way. It's about the way I do it. You chose a bullet and a powder...gotta start somewhere.

I usually only load 5 per charge weight, so I think ten is plenty. I would shoot one 3- or 5-shot group per load and save the others on my first trip to the range. Do you have a chrony?

If your set-up allows, you can chrony for MV and shoot groups at the same time. Or maybe you want to find the most accurate load before you worry about the exact MV.

I'd say you are on the right track. Let us know how it comes out.
 

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I usually start a few grains below the max load and work up 1/2 grain at a time. I would cut it down to 3 cartridges per load. It it doesnt group well in 3 shots in sure isnt going to do it in 10. All you are doing is wasting powder and bullets, that you could be testing with. Then I figure out which loads seemed to shoot the best and shoot those loads again. I narrow it down to the most accurate load and go with that. Once I have the load I'm going to shoot I run it over the chrono for my data.
 

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at what distances do you shoot your three/five for groupings?? 25 yrds 50 yds, 100 yds?? Do you use the scope settings from your factory load shots and not change them? I generally start at 25 yds. or 50 yds to keep things on the paper. If using three groupings, I shoot without cooling the barrel after each shot. If I use five for groupings I cool the barrel after three rounds...

I use 3 loads at 1/2 steps....sometimes the spread can significant between min and max loads and chrony all shots.
 

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I have tried using several at one grain intervals, 1/2 grain intervals and one set at .3 grn intervals. They found if using 1 grn when I found what shot better I would do a bunch around in in .1 grn or .2 grn depending on what I was trying to do. I generally use 5 in each category.
 

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Big med,

Is three enough? When I reloaded I would load up 6 for two three shot groups, cooling the barrel between each shot. Just an allowance for my own error.

I guess whatever works...

SS
 

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Another element that I have to remind myself about is the actual shooting of the groups. The human element is a real consideration. It can cancel out any actual differences between the various loads.

To really test the ammo I have to be as focused and consistent in my technique as possible. It takes some practice to really get your benchrest shooting technique "perfected." Furthermore, I can only maintain the necessary concentration for a limited number of groups during any particular range session.

At times I failed to learn what I needed to know about my loads by doing a half-a$$ed job of firing the groups.
 

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Sidespin said:
Big med,

Is three enough? When I reloaded I would load up 6 for two three shot groups, cooling the barrel between each shot. Just an allowance for my own error.

I guess whatever works...

SS
For the first go around that is all I do. If they don't group in 3 I dont bother with that load anymore, unless I pull a shot. for instance, if I have a 3 shot group with 2 in one hole or two shots touching and I pull a shot I make a note of that and will recheck that load. But if I'm getting 2 inch plus groups that I know I had a good hold on the target I dont mess with that load again.

After I shoot the initial groups I look at the groups and figure out which ones I want to recheck and keep narrowing it down to the most accurate load. Then I finally run them over the chrono. It is a major PITA to mess with the chrono and shoot evey load over it. I loaded for years with out a chrono and never really needed one, but it is nice to get the velocity of the load that I settled on so that I can figure out my bullet drops.


I usually try several different powders and you can go through a lot of bullets esp if you are shooting 5-10 per load. I can check 33 different loads per box of bullets by using only 3 shots per load checked. Sometimes I get lucky and get one of those outstanding accurate loads on the first try :wink:
 

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4eyes said:
I reloaded some 150 gr Winchester PPFN bullets today. Using Win 748 I loaded up 10 at 34 gr, 10 at 35 gr, 10 at 36 gr, 10 at 37 gr and 10 at 38 gr based on info in the Hornady Handbook. This filled up my 50 cartridge box and now I'm ready to head to the range for testing. My main goal is accurracy, so I'll see which load shoots best. Is this an acceptable procedure? Should I load and test more than 10 of each? How do you guys go about testing loads?
Just what others say, but I know guys who actually increase by .3 gr. rather than .5.

I normally go 10% down from the "do not exceed" load and work my way up by groups of 3 or 5 sometimes. Depending on how much I want to shoot at the range. And I increase my loads by .5 gr.

Cheers,
Mad
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I appreciate the responses. Great info. For some reason I thought you guys were going to tell me that 10 of each wasn't enough! I'm going to change my procedure to 5 of each load and work up in .5 gr increments. Because I'm using open sights (didn't think you were allowed to scope a lever action :lol: ) I generally shoot at 50 yards with a couple 100 yd shots for good measure. I don't adjust the sights much as I'm mostly interested in grouping.
 

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When shooting for groups I never adjust the sights, all that matters is what the group looks like. Each group fired with a different powder ect may impact at a different point on the target with the same hold. I adjust my sights when I'm done working up a load and have picked the final load.
 

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I look for loads from shooters using the same gun. Usually one or two powders keep coming up. Then I cross check it with the bullet/powder manufacture, along with “handloaders” web sights. Drop down one grain below “max”, then I/2 grain less for each load of 5 rounds. Usually take 4 to 6 loads to the range. Then I compare groups, take the two tightest, load another 5 for both and 5rds midway between the two.

I don't worry about bulls-eyes, as long as I'm on paper @ 50yds for pistol loads or 75 for rifle. That can be adjusted later.
 

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My focus is to find a good load with the fewest shots possible.

First I pick a bullet that I want to shoot in the rifle for the given purpose, which is usually deer hunting. I like to practice with my hunting load but sometimes substitue a less-costly bullet for practice. For example, in the 45-70 I will practice with Remington 300 grain HP bullets but hunt with Speer 300 grain Uni-Cor bullets. These usually have very similar points of impact and trajectory.

Next I scour the loading manuals for a powder that produces a good balance of high velocity, accuracy, and economy with my selected bullet. I pay attention to the notes in the manual that state the developers had excellent results with a particular powder or powders.

The very first round loaded is used to determine the maximum loaded length for my rifle. Limiting factors can be chamber throat length, magazine length, bullet construction, or a combination of these factors. Once the maximum length is determined, I lock the seating die at that length and leave it there until/unless minor tweeking is needed or a different bullet is used.

Next I find my rifle's maximum load. With leverguns this is easy - it is the top load listed in my reloading resource of choice - a reloading manual from a major bullet or powder manufacturer.

With bolt-actions and other rifles that run at higher pressures than leverguns, I find my max load by starting with one round loaded below book max in once-fired brass. The head of this round is measured before and after firing to determine head expansion. If no head expansion is evident, I load one more round with about 0.5% more powder, measure the head, fire it, and measure the head again. This continues until a round exhibits any case head expansion at all. My max load is the one fired just before the round that showed head expansion. These rounds are fired into the ground just outside my garage, being careful not to shoot around the well or underground plumbing.

Once the max load (or desired load) is determined, I load about 6 rounds and go out behind the house to my range. I set the rifle in my Outers varminter rest 25 yards from the target and remove the bolt. I bore-sight the gun by alternately looking through the bore and the scope and adjusting the scope so the crosshair is in the bull when the bull is centered in the bore. This puts the first bullet on the paper. Then I fire the first round on target from 25 yards. Then I adjust the scope so the next bullet will theoretically strike the center, and back up to 50 yards and fire the second round on target. Then I adjust the scope so the next round will theoretically strike the center, and back up to 100 yards and fire the third round on target. I can usually put the third round on an 8-1/2 X 11 inch sheet of paper from 100 yards using this method. If the hole is anywhere near the center of the paper, I will fire two more rounds to complete the 3-shot group at 100 yards. By this time I have only fired 5 rounds on target and am hitting paper at 100 yards. If my range were closer to the house I would fire the rounds used to find max load at the target to get on paper at 25 or 50 yards and save a couple more bullets in the process.

If this first 3-shot, 100-yard group shows promise, I will load 6 more of the same and shoot 2 more 3-shot, 100-yard groups, allowing the barrel to cool between groups. I tweek the scope between these groups to group about 2 inches high at 100 yards. If these groups are satisfactory, my load development is done. If I plan to sight-in the gun at 100 yards, I am completely done and the rifle is ready to hunt. If I plan to sight-in at a further distance, I load more rounds and proceed to shoot at longer distances. I can shoot up to 300 yards on my property. I like to sight-in '06-class calibers dead on at 200 yards, but I also like to know where the bullets land at 300 yards.

Now, the anomalies:

If the first bullet of choice does not group tolerably well the first time, I switch to a different bullet. If a bullet is going to shoot well from a rifle, it usually will shot tolerably well on the first try. I have no use for wasting good powder, primers, and time shooting bullets my rifle doesn't shoot well. I have quite a few boxes of bullets with all but about 12 left in the box that I should get around to selling on ebay or something because they didn't shoot well in my rifle. I know you have read that you should try a bunch of different brands of powder, primers, and brass, and different bulletseating depths to find a load your rifle "likes", but I do not approach it that way because I cannot afford it and I do not have the time. In my experience, different powders, primers, brass, and bulletseating depths make only small differences in group size when compared to different bullet weights and styles. I go for the big improvements first, then tweek things a bit to find the small improvements if needed.

If a rifle shows promise with at least one bullet, but the groups are still not what I like them to be, then it is time to start fiddling with the rifle. This can include break-in procedures, returning the rifle to the factory, bedding adjustments, trigger adjustments, a different scope, or trading the rifle. I am not interested in rifles that do not shoot accurately. Keep in mind that modifying a new rifle will usually void the manufacturers warranty.

I case you're interested, for deer hunting I consider my maximum range to be the range at which I and my rifle will consistently shoot 4-inch 3-shot groups to the same POI. In my experience with many deer rifles and deer kills, groups of more than 3 shots are purely a waste of time and money. Now, if I were going to perch near a prairie dog town and bang away at the buggers all day long, then I would want a gun that would more than 3 shots to the same POI. But deer hunting seldom gives us chances for more than 3 shots. In fact, I usually only take one. :D

Live well
 
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