First let me say I'm not a target shooter so I don't look for the perfection that those fellas do. My interest is hunting from 100 out to 1000 yards so here is what I do right or wrong.
Pick a bullet and an appropriate powder and a primer for the caliber then about 3 grains below the books max I load at .5 gr increments up to what Quick Load (ballistic software) recommends for a safe load. When doing this I shoot through a chrono and check the brass and primers for pressure signs and also pay attention to how the rifle recoils (no brake). For me this has always been iffy but have learned a few things along the way and watch for them. When doing this part I'm looking for the velocity that Quick Load shows at a given powder load (the reason I picked it)and I will go somewhat above the recommended safe load using caution if the velocity is not there. Chronographs (CED M2
) are not the most accurate tool so use it as a guide when comparing loads along with good judgment and am familiar with its oddities.
All of this is done with the bullet seated just deep enough to fit the magazine. Once I am happy with the velocity and am confident it is a safe max load for the rifle and load I work back down from there in half grain increments five shot groups to a point where a group is lookin good or the velocity goes away. If the velocity goes away then I try another powder and the above process starts again. If I find a group that is tight I will load it again with two additional sets of 3 grains each side and take it out to 330 yards.
330 yards is just where there was a clearing in the timber and that's where the target ended up on the hill side that I could see from my bench.
I take the best group at 330 yards and start seating the bullet deeper by .020 down to about .130 off. Make sure you know how far off you are to fit the magazine before you start. I shoot 3 shots at each load and see what I got then make a judgment. One word of caution if you are working with the max load as you set the bullet deeper the pressure increases and can go up 2 to 4 thousand psi in a .100 movement so understand what you are doing. I use Berger bullets a lot and have noticed that in my hunting rifles the Berger's perform better .090-.130 off. Also the botail bullets will lie to you at a 100 yards so in my opinion botails should be tested at 200 yards and farther out.
Once I have a load that suits my needs I then prove the load and find it's true velocity and save the data out to 1000 yards in Quick Load then load it in Shooter. I have always used drop charts in the past but moved up to Shooter on a iPhone this last season. Using Shooter is slower but more accurate and this year did not need either as I took a 5 point bull trotting down a hill side at 300 yards.
Hope you can use some of the info.