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First time doing a ladder test...

 
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  #1  
Old 04-27-2014, 07:56 PM
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Location: Hesperus, CO
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First time doing a ladder test...

Gonna be starting load development for my 264WM, and have decided to give ladder testing a try since I have never done so. I've done a little research and got the gist of the process. I know to aim at the same POI for each shot and look for a close vertical grouping to determine the sweet spot. Once I have that narrowed down, I can begin fine tuning a load. I just have a few questions about the process. Hoping you guys can give me some pointers.

1) I have some rounds loaded to use as 'fouler' shots as I am starting with a clean barrel. From what I understand, I should fire a couple rounds to dirty/warm up the barrel, correct?

2) This sort of relates to #1. Should I clean the barrel in between each shot of different powder charge? Since each round is of different powder charge, do I want to 'wipe the slate clean' so to speak, fire a fouler, and then the actual test round onto the ladder test paper?

3) How long should I wait between shots? 1 minute? 5 minutes? As long as it takes to clean the bore (if that is something I should be doing)?

4) I was planning on shooting at 400 yards. I was thinking this would be enough to get separation/nodes, without being too affected by the spring time Colorado wind. Obviously, I will pick a day to shoot that has as little wind as possible to keep the shots on the paper, even thought I am mainly concerned with the vertical patterning. Is 400 yards enough to get separation? I know the 264WM is a rather flat shooting round, so perhaps 5 or 600 yards would be better?
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Old 04-27-2014, 08:27 PM
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Re: First time doing a ladder test...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHardWay View Post
Gonna be starting load development for my 264WM, and have decided to give ladder testing a try since I have never done so. I've done a little research and got the gist of the process. I know to aim at the same POI for each shot and look for a close vertical grouping to determine the sweet spot. Once I have that narrowed down, I can begin fine tuning a load. I just have a few questions about the process. Hoping you guys can give me some pointers.

1) I have some rounds loaded to use as 'fouler' shots as I am starting with a clean barrel. From what I understand, I should fire a couple rounds to dirty/warm up the barrel, correct?

2) This sort of relates to #1. Should I clean the barrel in between each shot of different powder charge? Since each round is of different powder charge, do I want to 'wipe the slate clean' so to speak, fire a fouler, and then the actual test round onto the ladder test paper?

3) How long should I wait between shots? 1 minute? 5 minutes? As long as it takes to clean the bore (if that is something I should be doing)?

4) I was planning on shooting at 400 yards. I was thinking this would be enough to get separation/nodes, without being too affected by the spring time Colorado wind. Obviously, I will pick a day to shoot that has as little wind as possible to keep the shots on the paper, even thought I am mainly concerned with the vertical patterning. Is 400 yards enough to get separation? I know the 264WM is a rather flat shooting round, so perhaps 5 or 600 yards would be better?
1) Fouler/sight-in shots are always a good idea to get you to a good initial point where you're on paper.

2) I never clean anything inbetween...Sometimes not even inbetween range trips. Most of the time I don't clean a gun until it starts throwing shots.

3) I shoot all of each string, then let it cool completely inbetween shot strings. For standard calibers based on '-06 case, 5 shots max. For magnums, 3 shots max. For .308.....I've shot over 25 in a row, and the barrel was pretty dang hot, but a .308 can handle the abuse.

4) I'd start at 100, then once you find good nodes, test at further distances. Just my thoughts on that.
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Old 04-27-2014, 08:49 PM
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Re: First time doing a ladder test...

Thanks for the reply.
It was my thinking to stretch the yardage out a bit to make it easier to see where the groupings fall.
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Old 04-27-2014, 10:05 PM
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Re: First time doing a ladder test...

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHardWay View Post
Thanks for the reply.
It was my thinking to stretch the yardage out a bit to make it easier to see where the groupings fall.
If you feel comfortable shooting the ladder test at 400 yds then go for it. I have never found much benefit ladder testing at 100 yds.
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Old 04-27-2014, 11:58 PM
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Re: First time doing a ladder test...

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Originally Posted by cowboy View Post
If you feel comfortable shooting the ladder test at 400 yds then go for it. I have never found much benefit ladder testing at 100 yds.
Yeah - I'd agree with that. I typically run ladder tests at 300 yards. 100 yards doesn't provide enough information to be useful in ladder testing. I fire fouler shots (2 or 3) off target so as not to confuse my test results. I shoot my first test set, allow the rifle to cool down (a good chance to walk out to the target, mark the shots and walk back to the bench) but I don't clean the rifle between sets. I do, however, clean the rifle after a day of shooting. Moisture can collect in and under the residue in the rifle barrel/chamber over time and cause damage. My final step in cleaning is a patch with Kroil or some other quality penetrating oil (e.g. Marvel Mystery Oil).
I also use a good rest (even sand bags if that's all that's available) so that the set up for each shot is as close as possible to the others.
Ladder testing is also a technique that deserves very careful attention to consistency in hold on the target and handling of the rifle at the bench. Carelessness at the bench will give you bogus data - that frustrates the process.
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  #6  
Old 04-28-2014, 01:29 AM
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Re: First time doing a ladder test...

All very good advice. As to barrel temp:

Two methods I have adopted:

1) Tape a type "K" thermocouple to the barrel with a small piece of aluminum HVAC tape- the kind that is like tinfoil with glue on it and a peel and stick paper backing. Sears sold one of their Digital Multi Meters with a temp function for less than $20 and the thermocouple looked like a wire with a drop of solder on the end. Shoot when the meter says the barrel is the same temp as you started, or pick a narrow range (10-15 degrees) to stay within.

2) Use one of the new infrared point and shoot temp gauges. This works great! Point the laser at the same place on the chamber every time.

I have a small battery powered blower that sits under the shooting bench and I stuff a hose into the chamber and blow cold air out the muzzle. You can watch the temp drop on the temp monitor as it blows. <90 seconds and a 300 WinMag or 375 Ruger is back down to temp after a shot.

Just me but I believe you should shoot as far as you can. It just pushes thing apart so differences show up more pronounced. If 300 yards is your limit available, shoot 300 yards.

KB
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  #7  
Old 04-28-2014, 03:43 AM
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Re: First time doing a ladder test...

I wait 3 min between shots on cooler days (<60 degrees) and closer to 5 min on warmer days. This keeps the barrel cool enough to keep it from "walking" when it gets warm. As my first shot on game is generally a cold barrel I like to keep close to that condition when testing. Sure it takes time when you're only shooting once every few minutes, but I often take a second rifle to play with and shoot that from a different bench on the range.

I usually plan on a nice, relaxing, slow time alone at the range when I ladder test.
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