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Help with my long range shooting

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Old 01-04-2012, 11:07 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Eastern Montana
Posts: 269
Help with my long range shooting

I have been shooting and reloading for 15+ years with the last 3 being devoted to long range shooting. I would guess that I shoot 6-700 rounds a year. I started with a 300 Win Mag that I still have. Since then, I have moved up to a 338 Lapua that I have been shooting for the past year. The farthest group I have ever shot was at 775 yards with the 300 Win Mag. It shot a 3 shot group that was a little over 2Ē and I was amazed to say the least. With my 338 Lapua, I shot a group at 400 yards that was a tad under 2Ē so I figured that load to be good as well. My ES for both loads is right around 12 fps.

Here is my issue. At 1000 yards out to 1650 yards (the farthest I have shot) my groups really seem to open up. They appear to be over MOA (like 1.5 or more) but really canít be measured since I just shoot at rocks at that distance. This shooting usually happens on nice calm days as well. I shoot with an Appleseed instructor who seems to think my technique is quite good but I have not thrown that issue out just yet. I donít believe recoil to be an issue since both guns are heavy and have breaks. I have quality glass on them (New IOR 6-24x56 and S&B PMII 5-25x56) as well as quality bases and rings. Both guns were professionally built and bedded.

When hand-loading, I donít do anything special like weight sort brass, bullets, etc. I shoot 208 A-maxes and 300 SMKís. I donít turn necks either. I just weigh each charge and seat the bullet and am done.

Am I missing a major reloading step that is causing my long range accuracy to fall off so noticeably at extended distances or do I need more practice?

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Old 01-04-2012, 11:20 AM
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Location: 44į22′44″N 108į2′35″W
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Re: Help with my long range shooting

Well the first thing you need to do is shoot paper at those distances and see what you are actually getting. Secondly I would anneal your brass, when you got an ES of 12 fps was that with new or nearly new brass? as your brass work hardens your neck tension will start to vary and your spread will probably increase. Also are you positive you are adjusting ALL of the parallax out of your scope? those are the first things I would check/do. You will loose a degree of accuracy once you become sub sonic. Also the wind variable at that distance could be to blame. as you probably know the wind does a lot of crazy things in 1000-1650 yards and the slower your bullet gets the more the wind affects it.

Anything less than overkill is underachievement!

" Real elk guns start with the number 3 or bigger and blow two holes, one in and one out." - My Dad
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Old 01-04-2012, 11:36 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Bedford PA
Posts: 286
Re: Help with my long range shooting

+1 on all the above from Mike
I'll also add, that the MOA rule is usually good while the bullet is supersonic, once it goes subsonic the bc no longer holds true and wind wreaks havoc on the ballistics. I remember being in the pits pulling targets at 1000yds and seeing bullets smack the paper side ways as they were tumbling. The groups you shot were great but extend the distance and the simple math no longer holds true.

I'll admit it would be nice if it worked out in the field like it does on paper but once a bullet is subsonic it is no longer stable.
My final authority in all matters of faith and practice is the King James Bible. It's still the monarch of books!!
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Old 01-04-2012, 01:54 PM
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Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
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Re: Help with my long range shooting

Both the above posts offer great info/insight. Just to reinforce what they are saying:

At 1650 yards, I suspect you are getting close to or are at the transonic zone. The 208 has most likely gone to or past it. Your accuracy/stability will suffer. To what degree? Its hard to say. There are so many variables it isnt even funny. Most the variables in this context we are not even aware of.

That said, my two best 3 shot groups at a full 1000 yards (3.5" and 4.5"), all bullets keyholed the target. They all went nose first but at sizeable oblique angles. The funny thing is that from 100-600 yards this load grouped a consistent 1MOA and yet tightend up over distance. There are no hard and fast rules here except that the transonic zone WILL affect all bullets to a degree. Some bullet/twist/velocity combos will react differently. Some will survive and others will tumble. Either way, accuracy will be affected.

Is 1.5 MOA really that bad at 1650 yards? I see plenty of guys at the range that cant keep 2 MOA at 100 yards. I know plenty than can do better than 1.5 at that distance and more that cannot. If youre getting a consistent .5 MOA on a good day and 1 MOA or less at 1K on a bad day, you should be happy.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (where the shot goes, how big the group is, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
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Old 01-04-2012, 06:57 PM
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Location: Three Rivers, MI
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Re: Help with my long range shooting

One thing that I would add is since your shooting at rocks you don't have anything constant to aim at. If your aim point veriest a 1/2-1" at those distances your groups will very. But I would definatly shoot some paper and give yourself a solid aim point to see what your really doing.
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Old 01-05-2012, 02:11 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Halfway between Lubbock and Dallas
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Re: Help with my long range shooting

Good explanations above. I'll add to it however in that the very long VLD bullets are going to begin destabilizing at transonic speeds and the non VLD's with the shorter profile are going to suffer less destabilization at sub sonic speeds but give up accuracy while at super sonic speed vs the VLD designs.

Unfortunately no one has found a bullet that can reshape itself to perform at peak levels at both plus and sub sonic speeds.

A sub MOA weapon and load should be sub MOA at any range as long as the bullet remains super sonic, but after than it's going to open up.
Without the First and Second Amendments the rest of The Constitution is Meaningless.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:19 AM
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Eastern Montana
Posts: 269
Re: Help with my long range shooting

I anneal every third firing so I don't think the brass is too hard. Thanks for the input so far. I think I will try to hang some targets at 1000 to see what happens.

How much effect does excessive runout have at long range? I've never checked for it.

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