Re: Load Developement
Welcome to LRH and the "addiction". Once I decide on a bullet, powder and primer I then decide what loads I will use. For example, if I determine through research that 75.5gn is max then I will load 3 rounds at 74.5, 75.0 and 75.5gn (3 shot groups at 100yds and go with the tightest) .
Sometimes I set up my chronograph, sometimes I don't. Either way, if one of these loads is a show stopper, load development is over with. If none of these loads meet my accuracy criteria (.3" or < for .30, .25" or < for .284 - .243), I will try a different primer with the same three loads.
If I find a good load this time, load develpment is over, if not I move on to another powder (usually close to the same burn rate as the first), choose my primer, loads and start over.
Depending on the bullet selected and granted the rifle is capable of 1/2" accuracy at 100yds, the process usually doesn't take that long. The bullet determines alot in this mix. If the bullet has a Tangent ogive (Nosler Ballistic Tip, Accubond or Sierra MathKing), I have always loaded them .010" off the lands and grooves. These bullet usually shoot rather well and are "easy" to find a good load with.
The Secant ogive bullets (Hornady SST's, A-Max's, V-max's and Berger VLD's, etc.) are a bit more picky with their seating depth. I usually start them out at .010" also and hope for the best. I usually try to find a load that get's close to my accuracy criteria and then adjust the seating depth. Sometimes I get lucky with the first seating depth and other times it seems to take months, but once a good load is found with these bullets, usually it's one ragged hole. There is a good article here on LRH about loading the Bergers.
As for chosing the loads, I usually have a pre-conceived notion about the velocity I need to get the desired trajectory from a bullet. This dictates where I'm going to start and I let the reloading manuals and common sense be my guide for a stopping point.
Once I find a good load, if I haven't chrono'd it, I will.
I don't do the ladder method. JohnnyK.
"The pleasure you get from life is equal to the attitude you put into it."