Re: First batch of handloads
Welcome fellow beginner. I am still new to this and I have been doing it pretty steady for 5 years. Loaded about 1000 rounds and man I am still learning.
First, understand that this all gets a lot easier if you have a gun that inherently shoots very well. I myself shoot off the shelf Sako and Tikka, so they are good, but 1/2 moa comes only when things are just right and in there you will find the frustration. Do not be surprised to find loads that shoot multiple sub moa groups one day and then moa or even multiple moa the next. When this happens you will be frustrated by posts here that would lead you to believe finding the solution is simple.
As you were told focus on one variable at a time, but make sure you keep track of all the variables and there are a bunch. The obvious ones are powder, primer, bullet, weight, charge, seating depth, etc. The not as obvious are bullet runout, neck runout, neck thickness, head spacing, velocity spikes due to seating depth, changes in lots of components, barrel fouling, and of course equipment failures. There are many more and many I'm sure I don't know of yet. My point is to try and understand the various/many variables and account for them.
After some time you will start to literally get a feel for some things. What I mean is, for example I love my Sako/Tikka rifles, for one because unlike some actions they don't require a lot of pressure to close the bolt and so I can really feel when my shoulder or anything starts to not seat into the chamber properly. In my shop, I can now tell when my primer pockets start to loosen, or I have too little lube on cases, which cause too much friction.
If you are looking for accuracy and you don't have one of those lucky or expensive guns that just shoots really straight, you will need to control the variables and it simply takes a reasonable amount of good equipment to measure them. I mean guages. Like you need a chrono to know your speeed and when things spike, you also need to know how big your cases are, when they change, how much they change, and most importantly how straight they are if for no other reason than to know when they all of a sudden are not longer straight! I can't not imagine not having my RCBS runout gauge or my Stoney Point seating/shoulder gauges.
It takes time and money and this weekend I explained to a friend I think it is a lot like golf, the infatuation with the frustration. But there is nothing better for me than sitting in my shop early in the AM on the weekend, listening to Hank, Jr and building bullets that are within .001" of where I want them. Well maybe shooting a half dozen milk jugs at 600 yards with 8 shots, pretending they are 190" muleys.
PS I load for a friends 300 weatherby. His shot factory weatherby ammo with 180 partitions under moa consistently. We tried a half dozen powders to try and duplicate that 3240fps, with NO luck. Nothing shot better than 1.5-2.0 moa. Then we matched matched IMR 7828 with Fed215 primers, waalaa. We found our velocity and then our groups sank. Good thing because at $90/box that ammo is SPENDY!