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.300 Varminter and QuickLoad Observations

 
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  #1  
Old 07-07-2009, 10:19 PM
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.300 Varminter and QuickLoad Observations

This is a very long post, but I think it will be worth your time.

I was interested in the .300 Varminter and noticed there is substantial controversy on this forum concerning it. After reading quite a few posts, I broke out QuickLoad and decided to see if it was even close for a .300 WSM to drive the 125gr Nosler BT to 4000fps. At first glance it seems it is not, at least with reasonable pressures.

However, QuickLoad is just a model. Professionally I am an engineer and I have done quite a bit of modeling/simulations and analysis across many different fields; I still have much to learn. One of the things that is often forgotten is that most of the equations we have from physics and we engineers use are simplifications, models. They only work under a given set of assumptions. Should be common sense, but if I had a nickel for every time someone refused to believe what they were seeing because the model said it couldn’t happen…

It is also important to build the right kind of model. Too often engineers get caught up in our models and want to model/simulate everything, even when there are other more accurate/reliable solutions. A wise, old engineer/physicists told me a story once about how a particular government program wanted to build a simulation. It was going to take a significant amount of money and time to build the simulation and test it. Then even more money and time to actually run the simulation and get statistically valid results. This older engineer pointed out that a simulation was pointless because there was an analytic solution and you usually use the analytics to validate the simulation. So he got some paper and solved it analytically in a day.

The moral of the story is only build a model/simulation when you need too and only trust it when it agrees with the analytics and the real world. Now that that bit of modeling philosophy is out of the way, let’s take a look at the .300 Varminter claims.

It seems some of the .300 Varminters critics like to cite the Hodgdon reloading data. Unfortunately, the Hodgdon data does not specify barrel lengths nor twist rates. To evaluate this data I used QuickLoad, the Hodgdon reloading data for the 125gr Nosler BT in .300WSM, and the Modern Reloading Second Edition by Richard Lee.

The data for the .300WSM and a 125gr jacked bullet (page 459) is identical to the Hodgdon data. Unfortunately, no barrel or twist rate is given. Using QuickLoad, I played with the barrel length until I was able to minimize the error in pressure and velocity on all of the Nosler 125gr BT loads from Hodgdon (both Min/Max loads):

QuickLoad Data
Bullet 125gr Nosler BT
Starting Pressure (PSI) 3626

Barrel Length (in) 24.5

COL 2.81


Starting
Powder Grs FPS Delta PSI Delta
H4350 69 3343 11 51354 -4,446
H414 68 3303 -15 51392 92
760 68 3257 -61 47857 -3,443
IMR 4007 65.8 3247 4 52047 2,347
H380 68 3426 80 59274 4,174
Varget 61 3203 -109 48827 -5,873
H4895 58 3078 -236 42420 -14,180

Max
Powder Grs FPS Delta PSI Delta
H4350 73 3548 67 62426 -574
H414 72 3500 -40 61918 -1,382
760 72 3457 -83 57877 -5,423
IMR 4007 70 3454 -33 63457 657
H380 71 3572 79 68403 5,803
Varget 65 3390 -88 58648 -4,452
H4895 61 3215 -216 48808 -14,192

Everything is default QL except the COL and barrel length. I tested other cartridges with the Nosler 125gr BT and the starting pressure seems correct for this bullet and QL (data presented further on). It appears that the Hodgdon data is from a 24.5” barrel (+- 0.5”). Interestingly, Varget and H4895 both have substantial differences in pressure/velocity between QL and Hodgdon/Lee.

Returning to the QL defaults (COL 2.860” vice 2.810”) and a barrel length of 24.5” I get 3371fps, 53314psi for 70gr of N550. This is Richard Franklin’s suggested starting load. However, his .300 Varminters are built on 30” barrels yielding: 3579fps, 53314psi, for 70gr of N550 in QL. A far cry from 4000fps, but still not close to max pressure either.

Richard’s 4000fps load is supposed to be 75gr of N550. QL results are: 3610fps, 67226psi for a 24.5” barrel and 3773fps, 67226psi for a 30” barrel. Still 250fps shy of 4k and already approx. 3000psi over CIP MAP. If we stopped here it would be easy to say someone is a liar or the loads are easily over 70k psi. I decided to push onward and check some base assumptions and things get interesting.

I decided to pull up Lapua/Vihtavuori reload data. At least in theory, their data should be spot on for their powders. Fortunately, Lapua specifies barrel length and twist rate. It should be noted that the twist rate for the .300 WSM test barrel (1:10) is tighter than optimal for the 125gr Nosler BT and much tighter than the 1:15 Richard uses. I compared the Lapua data for N550 (Richards recommended powder) against QL:

Test Barrel: 24.5” 1:10 twist
COL: 2.709”
Otherwise QL defaults

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 123gr FMJ 62.7 3117
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 62.7 3016 -101 37565

Lapua 123gr FMJ 67.7 3468
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 67.7 3258 -210 47283


Interestingly, QL is giving 101fps lower for the starting load and 210fps lower for the max loading. Just for fun I wanted to see what the max load was under QL was: 74.4gr of N550 for 3580fps in a 24.5” barrel. About the same as what I got for the Nosler.

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 167gr Scenar 54.9 2730
Lapua 167gr Scenar - QL 54.9 2600 -130 36007

Lapua 167gr Scenar 61.3 3025
Lapua 167gr Scenar - QL 61.3 2882 -143 48907

Again, QL gives data that is much slower then Lapua’s N550. Max loading in QL was: 67.1gr for 3130fps in a 24.5” barrel.

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 185gr Mega 52.6 2572
Lapua 185gr Mega - QL 52.6 2454 -118 35031

Lapua 185gr Mega 59.1 2844
Lapua 185gr Mega - QL 59.1 2727 -117 47836

QL is still 100fps lower in the .300 WSM than the Lapua factory data. It does seem the heavier bullets give less error in velocity than the lighter bullets. It is also possible Lapua’s data is junk (not likely). It should be noted that Lapua wasn’t specifying pressures, so I have no idea if the QL number above are even close. Nearly every Lapua factory load I tested during this inquiry QL calculated the pressure right at MAP – 25%.

To test the quality of QL predictions with Vihtavuori powder and the .300 WSM I tried comparing some more loadings.

Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 24.5" 1:10
COL 2.709"
Powder N150

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 123gr FMJ 59 3159
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 59 2943 -216 37252

Lapua 123gr FMJ 63.3 3386
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 63.3 3142 -244 45618


Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 24.5" 1:10
COL 2.709"
Powder N160

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 123gr FMJ 66.1 3127
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 66.1 2871 -256 35891

Lapua 123gr FMJ 72.5 3428
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 72.5 3174 -254 47990

This is only two other factory Lapua loadings, but both are showing similar results to N550, 200+fps low in QL. It doesn’t seem to be a problem with the 5 series of powder, but most comparisons are needed.
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2009, 10:38 PM
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Posts: 31
Re: .300 Varminter and QuickLoad Observations

Here is the more:

I was growing tired of the .300 WSM data not matching, so I tried an old workhorse, the .308Win. Lapua data vs. QL:

Cartridge 308 Win
Test Barrel 24" 1:12
COL 2.756"
Powder N130

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 37 2684
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 37 2666 -18 37042

Nosler 125gr BT 43 3068
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 43 3020 -48 56027

Cartridge 308 Win
Test Barrel 24" 1:12
COL 2.756"

Powder N133

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 40.1 2721
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 40.1 2761 40 40733
Nosler 125gr BT 46.3 3120
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 46.3 3121 1 62462

Cartridge 308 Win
Test Barrel 24" 1:12
COL 2.756"
Powder N135

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 41.6 2732
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 41.6 2717 -15 35298

Nosler 125gr BT 48.9 3143
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 48.9 3163 20 59860

Cartridge 308 Win
Test Barrel 24" 1:12
COL 2.756"
Powder N140

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 44.1 2739
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 44.1 2703 -36 37168
Nosler 125gr BT 49.8 3071
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 49.8 3055 -16 54943

Fantastic data! The .308Win results are extremely close and this is the factory data for the Nosler 125gr BT. The starting pressure was set to the QL default of 3626psi. As I stated before, the QL default starting pressure for the Nosler seems to be correct. The interesting thing is that these are Vihtavuori powders again, but the data is spot on. Granted these are faster burning powders, so more analysis is required.

How does the .300WM compare?

Cartridge 300 WM
Test Barrel 24.5" 1:10
COL 3.224"
Powder N150

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 123gr FMJ 61.6 3094
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 61.6 2890 -204 34695
Lapua 123gr FMJ 69.9 3383
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 69.9 3241 -142 49216

Cartridge 300 WM
Test Barrel 24.5" 1:10
COL 3.224"
Powder N550

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 123gr FMJ 65.7 3110
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 65.7 2971 -139 35459
Lapua 123gr FMJ 72.8 3448
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 72.8 3286 -162 47501

Cartridge 300 WM
Test Barrel 24.5" 1:10
COL 3.224"
Powder N160

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 123gr FMJ 69 3081
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 69 2816 -265 32960
Lapua 123gr FMJ 77.9 3409
Lapua 123gr FMJ - QL 77.9 3199 -210 47341

The QL data for the .300WM seems to match slightly better than the .300WSM data does for N550, but there is still about 150 fps differences. The other Vihtavuori powders also seem to be off by substantial amounts too. So far anything with Mag in the name seems to be way far off with light bullets.

How about one of my favorites .338LM?

Cartridge 338 LM
Test Barrel 27.5: 1:10
COL 3.681"
Powder N560

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Lapua 250gr Scenar 74.5 2630
Lapua 250gr Scenar - QL 74.5 2534 -96 37980
Lapua 250gr Scenar 82.2 2841
Lapua 250gr Scenar - QL 82.2 2791 -50 50857

Not too bad, but still off by a lot more than the .308Win was. However, note that this is a heavy bullet, 250gr, and the .300WSM was showing an error of only 120fps with 185gr bullets.

How about 30-06?
Cartridge 30-06
Test Barrel 24.5" 1:10
COL 3.307"
Powder N550

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 57.1 2936
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 57.1 2955 19 40045
Nosler 125gr BT 60.3 3117
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 60.3 3130 13 47807

Dead on; even with the light Nosler bullet. How about another Mag?

Cartridge 300 WbyMag
Test Barrel 26" 1:10
COL 3.543"
Powder N160

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 80.2 3430
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 80.2 3215 -215 44962
Nosler 125gr BT 85.2 3623
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 85.2 3422 -201 54389

Huge errors again! Either Lapua magnum data is junk or QL is having an issue with magnum velocities and Vihtavuori powders. To see if this problem is a QL and magnum issue or if Vihtavuori powders are part of the issue I pulled up some other factory load data.

How does Nosler’s own data for their 125gr BT sound? I used the QL defaults for COL, etc., but played with the barrel length as Nosler didn’t specify it. To match the velocities IMR4064 needed a 32” barrel and RL-15/Varget needed 29” barrels. It is unlikely that Nosler tested these lengths, but we don’t really know. I put the barrel length back to 24.5” because I thought that was reasonable and probably closer to what they tested. Only max loads shown:


Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 24.5"
COL 2.86"
Powder IMR4064

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 64.5 3602
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 64.5 3393 -209 58835

Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 24.5"
COL 2.86"
Powder RL-15

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 66 3580
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 66 3441 -139 58747

Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 24.5"
COL 2.86"
Powder Varget

Bullet Grs FPS Delta PSI
Nosler 125gr BT 66 3542
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 66 3416 -126 59872

Again the .300WSM data in QL is much slower than the factory data. I don’t think QL pressures are that far off as all of these Nosler factory loads are right at MAP – 10%. Let’s take RL-15 (because it is in the middle of velocity loss and I like this powder) and put a 30” barrel on the gun (like Richard’s 300 Varminters). Also, according to QL 68gr of RL-15 is the max before breaking the MAP.

Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 30"
COL 2.86"
Powder RL-15

Bullet Grs FPS PSI
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 66 3600 58747
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 68 3691 64357

Add the 150fps or so that the RL-15 seems to be off in QL and you get approx. 3750fps and 3850fps. All without breaking MAP. Now for N550.

Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 30"
COL 2.86"
Powder N550

Bullet Grs FPS PSI +200fps +250fps
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 70 3538 53304 3738 3788
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 74.1 3731 64455 3931 3981
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 75 3773 67212 3973 4023
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 75.4 3791 68477 3991 4041

70gr of N550 is the starting charge; it reaches mid 3700s when corrected. 74.1gr is right under the CIP MAP; it is good for mid 3900s corrected. 75gr is Richard’s hot loading; it is good for 4000ish. 75.4gr is the MAP that Norma brass is suppose to handle safely (I heard this from people. I have no insider knowledge and it could be completely wrong); it is good for just over 4000fps. However, if the Norma brass MAP is correct than it would explain why Richard’s 300 Varminters were not seeing pressure signs with 75gr N550 and BAT actions.

Last edited by gunderwood; 07-07-2009 at 10:46 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-07-2009, 10:41 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 31
Re: .300 Varminter and QuickLoad Observations

Given this data I think QL is under calculating the velocity for magnum cartridges with light bullets. I think it is clear that to get 4000fps hot loads must be used, but Richard said he was seeing around 3800fps with 70-72gr of N550. The corrected velocities seem to be real close to 3800 with 70gr. Without going over MAP and with corrected velocities it seems 3900+fps is achievable with some assumptions.

First, even if the QL velocity correct is accurate, the correction for velocity would have to be constant, it won’t be. Richard is throating these guns for these bullets, he is also using high quality SS barrels which factory data probably isn’t. A slightly longer COL? Any of these things can change the pressure/velocity significantly. Etc. Etc.

E.g.
Cartridge 300 WSM
Test Barrel 30"
COL 2.91"
Powder N550

Bullet Grs FPS PSI +200fps +250fps
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 70 3518 52003 3718 3768
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 74.1 3709 62722 3909 3959
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 75 3750 65366 3950 4000
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 75.4 3769 66578 3969 4019
Nosler 125gr BT - QL 76 3796 68441 3996 4046

Last edited by gunderwood; 07-07-2009 at 10:49 PM.
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2009, 11:09 PM
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Posts: 31
Summary

If you don't want to read and analyze all of that, here is the short story.

Richard Franklin's .300 Varminter should be able push the 125gr Nosler BT to 3800fps easy and probably 3900fps without breaking CIP MAP according to my QL analysis. This is because QL seems to be under calculating the velocity of all magnum cartridges with light weight bullets when compared to factory data. 3900fps takes the pressure right to max. To reach 4000+fps the QL analysis suggests that CIP MAP must be exceeded, but it will still be within wildcat cartridges MAP range of 68k psi.
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  #5  
Old 07-08-2009, 03:46 AM
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Posts: 31
Re: .300 Varminter and QuickLoad Observations

How about Sierra 5th Ed. data for the 125gr SPT?

QL numbers vs Sierra's, COL 2.76":
H4895 -239fps 49,042PSI
IMR4350 +98fps 67,232PSI
RL-19 +64fps 62,192PSI
IMR4831 +169fps 70,318PSI

So 4895 shows similar results as the Lapua data, slower by 200+fps, but everything else is faster. 4831 is much faster (169fps vs. Sierra), but the pressure of RL-19 and 4831 are well over CIP MAP of 64, 542PSI. Think QL is a little off on the PSI? Or is Sierra publishing 70k+ PSI loads as "safe?"

QL is a great tool, but it seems to fail on these .300WSM loads. Always check your models against measured data or analytics to verify they are producing good results.
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Old 07-08-2009, 08:58 PM
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Posts: 1,172
Re: .300 Varminter and QuickLoad Observations

Interesting stuff. Anybody know if Richard has ever put a strain gauge on one of his rifles and shot it over a chronograph? That would shed more light and would seem to be more concrete evidence one way or another (anecdotal as it would be though, if done with just one rifle).
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  #7  
Old 07-08-2009, 10:19 PM
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Posts: 1,302
Re: .300 Varminter and QuickLoad Observations

I remember some of his hot loads were said to only be safe in custom action. FYI
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