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Load development: leadsled or bipod?

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Unread 07-13-2011, 10:26 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 13
Re: Load development: leadsled or bipod?

When using heavy recoiling calibers I think it useless to develop loads if you are going to flinch enough to affect the impact point. I personally use a light vice and a shoulder pad, but would not advise against a lead sled if the recoil is going to affect your ability to accurately evaluate the loads. To check scope alignment before hunting by all means use normal field set up, but if you plan on shooting 50-60 heavy recoiling shots.....don't kid yourself and use the crutch to have data worth using. IMHO.
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Unread 07-13-2011, 11:51 AM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Allen, TX
Posts: 2,608
Re: Load development: leadsled or bipod?

Originally Posted by USMCSSGT View Post
Looking to develop a load range load for hunting.
Tikka T3, 300WSM
using RE17 and berger 168 & 185 VLD hunting.
last night shot 3 shot groups with 61, 62, 63, 64, 64.5, 65, & 65.5 grns powder. 5 minutes between shots (barrel felt slightly warm).

Started last night using my bipod & rear bag. First time shooting with either. Best group so far was just under 1". Unsure if it may be affected by my novice status on the pod & bag. Thinking I should borrow my buddies leadsled for development, and use the bipod for my practice after I find my load.

What size bipod are you guys using? I have the 6-9 swivel Harris, and I sure feel contorted trying to get on the scope while prone.
After re-reading your post, it seems that you lack confidence in your setup due to several variables. Hence, you need to eliminate those variables.

Use the sled to see what the rifle's capable of. Once you've developed confidence in your skill and the rifle, then go back to the bipod for practice and/or load development.

I use the 6-9 swivel Harris also and it works fine for me I can consistently get 1/2 MOA from a good rifle/load and sometimes better. A good rear bag and proper fitting stock make a difference as does having the scope positioned for shooting prone comfortably.

A lot of factory rifles are not well stress relieved and require cooling between shots. But, even a hunting rifle should be good for a 3 shot group. If you determine that cooling is required for your rifle and you plan to do much long range shooting, you may want to invest in a custom barrel. You can get in a lot more practice when you're able to squeeze off a 15-20 shot string without having your POI shift all over the place.

-- richard
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Unread 07-13-2011, 06:12 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Central AZ
Posts: 1,148
Re: Load development: leadsled or bipod?

I have always used the lead sled for my load development. It tends to remove more of the human element from the equation. When trying different loads, I don't want to discard something good because of an erroneous reading I made when shooting off the bipod. Just too many variables to account for. I want to remove as many outside variables as possible.

The trick is to get off the sled and onto the bipod (or front rest that you will use in the field) once your load is developed. We human shooters love to see small groups from our rifles - so when going to the range, we tend to bring the sled along to reproduce those same small groups for ourselves (and anyone else who is watching). Problem is, there are no lead sleds close at hand when hunting in the field. That is why practicing in the field with what you will be using becomes so critical.

So use the sled - then use some discipline and lock it away. Don't ever go back to it for that rifle unless it is to develop a new load.
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Unread 07-13-2011, 08:11 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Washington
Posts: 87
Re: Load development: leadsled or bipod?

Thanks for all the advice!

Had not heard of the "ladder test". Reading up, it looks like something I need to try.

My buddy owns the sled. I'll borrow it for development only. Marksmanship is learned with practice (no sled).

My range has 200, 300, 500, & 600 yards. Which would be best for the ladder test? It has a target pit, so an observer can watch bullet placement.

I can see from my last range session with the bipod that I need to move the scope forward.

Do most use the 6-9 bipod, or the 9-13? It really feels too low to me. But if I use the larger one, my LRS bean bag will be too small.
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Unread 07-13-2011, 08:24 PM
Platinum Member
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Central AZ
Posts: 1,148
Re: Load development: leadsled or bipod?

I use a 6"-9" Harris bipod with the podlock. I use this mostly when I am in a postion higher than the quarry and shooting downhill. You will find that the heighth of the ground vegetation will dictate when and how often the bipod can be used.

More often than not, my shots are taken off a pack & clothing (padding) thrown over a log or boulder. Occassionally, I will use sticks - if I have them along.

Once you get off the sled and out into the field, you will quickly find out what works (and which products are impractical) most of the time. I was mildly surprised to learn that the bipod was only good about 25%-35% of the time on the shots I was trying to make prone.

The field is where your learning will take palce. After a while, you will naturally start gravitating to those rests that have worked for you in the past - such as a bipod when making a shot on a downhill slope, or a rock/stump when shooting flat or uphill. Sometimes a tree works best.

But the learning curve can only begin when you start making the real shots out in the field under different circumstances.
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Unread 07-14-2011, 10:11 PM
Silver Member
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Northeast MS
Posts: 388
Re: Load development: leadsled or bipod?

In your situation, I would definitely recommend the lead sled for load development. From reading your post you have little experience and confidence shooting from a bipod. Load development is not the time to be experimenting with a new shooting position. Do your load development on the lead sled, then switch over to the bipod with the confidence that you have the most accurate load for your rifle and practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more! Good luck.
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Unread 07-15-2011, 02:26 PM
Gold Member
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Nevada
Posts: 835
Re: Load development: leadsled or bipod?

I am pro Led Sled for all lighter caliber guns. like anything less than 30 cal super mags. They cut down dial in time. I bought a new 243 rem 700 Varminter. I spent chrono time to dial in my loads Then I went to the range with cement tables and my led sled with 40 pound fly wheel and two 25 pound bags of steel shot. I started out at 50 yards and did a rough center. I moved out to 200 yards and with my 1/8 inch clicks walked it in.

When you are moving around you tend to chase the last shot and make corrections. The led sled takes the human error out. So when you get it down to one inch ish 10 shot groups. Get rid of the led sled and work on how you use it in the field...

I have the harris 13.5 - 27. It is hard to see prone. But I'm very good at popping the legs out to 27 inches and sitting down and being on a target very fast. Like jack Rabbits. They run for a distance and then stop and look back to see what you are up to. When they stop maybe 20 yards out you have to be ready. They are not going to wait around for you to fiddle.
.270 Ackley improved 29 inch 1.250 dia. target barrel 7mm STW 28 inch 1.250 target barrel. I also love my .458 mag for varmints and the biggest game in the world.
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