Precision Hand Loading For Long Range-Chapter Two: Bullet Prep
Precision Hand Loading For Long Range - Chapter Two: Bullet Prep
By Tres MonCeret
So we got our cases prepped and primed in Chapter 1. Now let's look at our bullets.
In our chase for consistency obviously our bullets have to all be IDENTICAL if they are going to launch and fly the same, shot to shot. I have said and will continue to say this a lot: We’re chasing consistency, in EVERYTHING.
Before I get going...let me say this: If you ever, might, possibly, once-in-a-life- time shoot past 600 yards and you shoot .308" diameter bullets, do not waste your time, money and barrel life on working up loads with 168 grain bullets! Instead, start with 175's or heavier. If you like, experiment with 155’s, but SKIP 168’s. Thanks, now I feel better. The 168 grain bullet is to beginner .308 shooters what the 9x19mm Parabellum pistol round is to Hollywood. You'd think it would kill a polar bear instantly if he were to be shot in the paw with it. But it's a cliche; it’s lore. It's not the best long range bullet. In fact, it may be the LOWEST on the list!
So according to our cartridge and advice given we have picked a bullet or two to try in our long range weapon. So let's learn a few basic generalized bullet terms:
Meplat - the point(ed end of the bullet)
Ogive ["oh jive"] - the curved radius leading from the bearing surface to the meplat.
Bearing Surface - the actual main diameter of the bullet that actually engages/touches the barrel on its journey to the muzzle and beyond.
Base - the butt or base of the bullet, opposite the meplat.
So let’s get out our box of 100 bullets, or even better our 500+ bulk box.
Our bullets need to be as microscopically identical to each other as possible. So we are going to discuss the various measurements and inspections to ensure this, as well as how we can tune up our bullets a little bit.
The first two steps are generally spot on in high quality match grade bullets. So believe it or not we’re gonna give a little room for assumption in these first two measurements. We’ll do a quick check and give our bullets the nod if a few look on the up and up.
Let’s measure the diameter of about a dozen randomly picked bullets. If you do not have a micrometer, just skip right over this first step. Some people will surely chuckle at my suggesting to measure the diameter. I’m not suggesting that the bullets will be so far out of spec as to be dangerous, etc. But in the theme that “1000 yards is BRUTAL” we want to rule out any and everything that may cause Inconsistency. Also, I’m a machinist and accustomed to measuring things in extremely fine graduations. I have had to work contracts in the past that required measurements in the fifty-millionths of one inch. 99% of guys will grab something and measure its diameter in one place. But a true diameter measurement is done several places along the length, along its axis (“Axially”) as well as several places around it (“Radially”) (measure it, rotate it a little measure again)
No, I have never had a problem with Green or Yellow box bullets varying in diameter, but I have had a certain popular color box of bullets be egg shaped! Measuring radially will let you know if the part is really round or not. For the record I doubt if a bullet being egg shaped by .0001” or .0002” (two ten-thousandths of 1 inch) will affect accuracy as the bullet will engrave to the barrel and is in a plastic state while it’s in the tube so the barrel will reform the bullet to a more round state. But I personally am anal about all this stuff and err on the side of overkill. Egg shaped bullets do not instill confidence! But again if you do not have a good micrometer, don’t sweat this first test. I have NEVER found diameter problems with ANY bullet that came out of a Green or Yellow box.