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A Reloading Testing Process

A Reloading Testing Process

By Matthew Cameron

The reloading process we call load development, in my opinion, consists of two distinct phases that may be described as the research and development phase and secondly the shooting phase. In the first instance we choose the cartridge and projectile to suit the task we have set out to achieve followed by the choice of powder and primer. Conversely we may attempt to adapt a rifle we already own by changing the type of bullet and/or its weight. The type of game we intend to hunt will have a huge influence on these decisions.

We should keep an open mind when researching and remember that everything you will read is the singular opinion of a particular author that may be balanced by actual use of stated components. By researching over the widest possible field you should be able to arrive at a reasonable viewpoint. However you should be aware that the reloading shooting press is not always 100 % correct in its opinions.

Reloading And The Internet

The greatest asset available to reloaders today is the internet. The amount of free reloading data available is simply staggering. No matter what the cartridge it will have appeared on the internet somewhere.

Simply typing in the cartridge name on a search engine will provide initial information that you might require and probably lead to other useful sites. This does not include specific sites dealing with reloading and associated subjects.

The second, shooting phase will be influenced by the selection and quality of reloading components we have made in phase one. If we make incorrect or questionable choices initially, how will this affect the accuracy of what we might achieve in phase two? What do we need to do to ensure some consistent results? Even if phase one is totally accurate where is the logical set routine or process to shoot the loads we have to test? If one exists the author is yet to read about it. Whilst there are industry specifications relating to chamber dimensions and maximum ammunition pressures there is nothing that I can find about the actual shooting.

Are there in fact any reloading standards that the average reloader can aim for (no pun intended!) to ensure some consistent results? In my opinion such standards do not exist. What we have is a large volume of opinion and generally accepted practice but nothing that is spelt out in detail. Further, ammunition & powder companies tend to use universal receivers for testing reloading components. How do the results obtained relate to factory production rifles?

If different companies did the same initial reloading development I do not think that they would shoot and clean the barrel in the same manner. Surely this would affect the results obtained. In addition where such a rifle was shot would also have some bearing on the final outcome.

A reloader on the coast would have different figures from a reloader who lives three thousand feet above sea level in a different geographic location. Where are the computer programs to reduce all such figures to a common data base at standard atmospheric pressure and temperature? However the same problems must be encountered by the powder and bullet manufacturers who develop multiple loads for each cartridge type. Is this one reason why there is such a wide variation in the loads listed in the various reloading manuals?

Yes, I am well aware that all rifles and barrels are individuals, and this causes enormous problems when trying to come up with acceptable reloading standards. The starting point has to be a chamber and barrel cut to industry specifications. Somewhere in my files I have the results of a gunsmith’s test on two identical rifles whose chambers were cut one after another with the same reamer.

The third successive cut was a set of in line reloading dies. Load development in the first rifle was normal and expected.

The second rifle blew primers when the same upper loads were fired. The gunsmith checked all the dimensions, perfect; he couldn’t work it out either.

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