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Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

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Unread 01-29-2012, 12:46 AM
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Re: Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

Actually the first powder looked a lot like Aliant RL15. The only difference I could was that the RL15 grains were .004" larger in diameter. In the attached photo the unknown powder is in the powder scale pan and the RL15 is in the green powder measure lid.
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Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?-2012-01-28_20-55-07_805-1.jpg  
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Unread 01-29-2012, 01:12 AM
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Re: Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

With that pic, its a little better, if was a betting man i'd drop my money on H4895 which is an excellent 308 powder for 155-168grn pills. You should not have a problem duplicating that, RE15 will but will likely take 1-1.5grns more as it is much slower than H4895.
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Unread 01-29-2012, 08:16 AM
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Re: Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

Those photos explain a lot as I have seen differences in Federal Match ammo over the years and it's why I went to exclusively reloading that cartridge. I have noticed changes in several cartridges and components over the past ten years not only from Federal, but other manufacturers as well. The claim is that the extended war in the Middle East has strained supply, and given priority to the military demand. Federal likely does what most manufacturers do and set a minimum performance spec that has to be met. The issue is that, as we well know, every rifle is different when components, particularly powders are changed. I have three Mil Spec 700's that have almost identical chamber/throat dimensions and the same load will perform differently in each rifle.

"Let us speak courteously, deal fairly, and keep ourselves armed and ready"-T. Roosevelt
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Unread 01-30-2012, 08:27 PM
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Re: Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

Federal originally used IMR4895 in their .308 match ammo. That's according to a Federal Rep. at the National Matches I was at some years ago. They also metered the powder to 3/10ths grain spread which was plenty good enough for no worse than 2/3 MOA accuracy at 600 yards in well built rifles.

The US Army and Marine Corps Rifle Teams handloaded thousands of rounds of .308 Win. ammo with 44 grains of IMR4064 under Sierra 168's. But they weighed each charge and it was more accurate than Federal factory match ammo. IMR4064 doesn't meter to uniformly for accuracy in high speed machines; either Col's. Hatcher or Townsend who proved this at an arsenal in the 1940's with the .30-06 round so they continued using IMR4895.

I wouldn't be surprised if Federal used Varget or some other extruded powder on some later lots of Fed. GM Match .308 ammo. I doubt they ever used any ball powder; nobody winning high power matches and setting records along the way would either.

It's normal that a few factory rifles of the same make and model all shoot a given load differently. Even if their chamber dimensions are identical. Here's only a few reasons why; bore/groove diameters, bolt face squareness with chamber axis, locking lug mating, bedding, firing pin spring strength, firing pin protrusion from the bolt face.....to name a few.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 03:52 AM
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Re: Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

While I don't know exactly what Federal is using today on their recipe, ( I suspect 42.5gr of IMR 4895) I do know what some organizations were using in the past and testing some in my 308 Win, it grouped 0.5 MOA- 44gr of Varget- grouped in less than that with better case fill.

Here are some specs I have from a 1990's publication stating what the Military recipe standard was for "match grade".

Now, here is the specs broken down on some well known Reloading Software.

Sierra 165gr HPBT Gamekings with 44gr of Varget work for me. It is a tad hotter, but well within spec factors and excellent case fill of 98.8% at 50,821 PSI and rated around 2650FPS in a 24" barrel. That is more along the original "Match Grade" specs for pressure and fill zone- $30 per 100 bullets- made for hunting in mind.

44gr of Varget is rated at 100% case fill for the 168gr HPBT's, 52,834 PSI, at 2650fps. I don't shoot this load spec. I go with what I consider a little better recipe below.

I shoot 165 Sierra HPBT Gamekings. They are dead accurate- one hole and I can go hunting with them with their harder jacket and lead to penetrate deeper by design. They do have a poorer BC - , but they group in one hole and perform for the ranges I want to shoot at. Lapua brass is more heavy duty to take pressure over 50,000+ PSI better than other softer brass. They last longer and are a more quality brass than Federal or Winchester. My load specs give a 98.8 case fill and when seated the powder is not compressed in any manor.

Hornady 168gr Amax's do have higher BC's of 0.475 - and with 42gr of IMR- 4895 project a 2650fps at 50,218 PSI, 98.3% case fill and data reading. They also they group very well in my Rifle (already tested them). I still like the Gamekings- Match grade accurate- in an old school Lethal design.

Others have stated the facts on this topic. Load development and finding the right recipe for your rifle trumps a generic "magic" load. Unless that magic load shoots extremely well- then I can understand why you want to reverse engineer it off some older spec sheets- that are open source of course. This was current as of 1994. Since then, a lot has changed.

Primer: Federal’s Gold Medal Match Primer was selected

Why I posted the the M852 168gr specs:

Army tests noted a 36% improvement in accuracy with the M852 at 300 meters, and a 32% improvement at 600 yds; Marine Corps figures were twenty-eight percent accuracy improvement at 300 m, and 20% at 600yds. The National Guard determined that the M852 provided better bullet groups at 200 and 600 yards under all conditions than did the M118 series of bullet by actual field testing and side by side comparison.

The 168-grain MatchKing was designed in the late 1950's for 300 m. shooting in international rifle matches. In its competitive debut, it was used by the 1st place winner at the 1959 Pan American Games. In the same caliber but in its various bullet lengths, the MatchKing has set a number of international records. To a range of 600 m., the superiority of the accuracy of the M852 cannot be matched, and led to the decision by U.S. military marksmanship training units to use the M852 in competition. It is the gold standard in accuracy out of a .308 Win Rifle who's design has stood the test of time.

I am sure that by some factory standards today- charges are measured to the thousandth of a grain for very low max spreads and consistency off of technical production lines so I am including a detailed solution on powder weighing solutions vs the old standard RCBS / etc generic scale that measures 0.1 tenthish accuracy- fast but larger FPS spread deviations in reloading when chronographed- since you have the above recipe for the M852 round.

The power today's consumer has using the tools of the trade to personalize their load - tweaking it to find it's sweet spot with their rifle and doing the range time required for this is part of the magic for the 308 Win. A good barrel can last thousands of rounds with proper maintenance. It is a very forgiving and great platform to work with. My Rifle shoots 0.5 MOA and less at 100yds. The greatest error factor - is me- not the ammo, optic, or rifle. It is far more accurate than I am.

On a side note, some of these scales that measure by the hundredths to thousandths of a gain are out there in cost from $150 to $1000. If you mix this with a $65 2 speed Dandy Omega Power Trickler, you have a win win setup for powder distribution and measuring. (this Trickler can be refined to speed load and precision load on it's user controls vs time consuming per granule method). Case prep is an art all by itself. This will get those velocity spreads down by proper powder measuring to where it should be.

Dandy Products Omega 2 Speed Electric Powder Trickler

Gempro 250 $150 scale measures to 0.02 grain ( 1 granule of Varget)

Gempro250 diamond scale Balance - Precision Weighing Balances

Sartorius GD503 Class II Balance around $1000 measures to 0.005 grain or half a granule of Varget accuracy

Sartorius GD503 Class II Balance Balance - Precision Weighing Balances

So loading to a single granule of Varget powder (0.02 g) is possible in today's consumer market. And doing it with an automated powder trickler you control on the scale to boot!!! Never before have we had it so good with so many precision pieces of equipment to reload "match grade" ammo quality at the consumer level for consistency and precision.


Last edited by Diamondback; 12-28-2012 at 06:50 AM.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 09:25 AM
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Re: Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

Diamondback, here's some "food" for thought:

First, here's some excellent info on accurate ammo for the .308 Win. as well as 7.62 NATO ammo:

The Rifleman's Journal: Cartridges: 7.62 NATO Long Range Match Cartridges - Part 1

The Rifleman's Journal: Cartridges: 7.62 NATO Long Range Match Cartridges - Part 2

The Rifleman's Journal: History: US National Match Ammunition - Ray Meketa

The Rifleman's Journal: History: National Match Ammunition

Note the section in the National Match Ammo sites on M852 ammo. Having shot a few thousand rounds of M852 and a few more thousand rounds of its predecessor, M118, all in serious competition, I can attest with certainty that over all, the best lots of M118 were more accurate than those of M852. Others on military rifle teams I shot with tend to agree. Nothing with 168's compared to the M118 ammo produced in the mid 1960's.

Second, the specs picture has some errors in it:

The M852 round length of 2.83" was set as that's the longest they could be for reliable feeding from M14 magazines; it had nothing to do with accuracy. Besides, as a barrel's leade grows in length as it erodes away, bullets need to be seated longer every few hundred rounds to maintain the same jump distance to the rifling.

The arsenal set peak pressure specs for M852 ammo to the same level as M118; 50,000 cup (copper units of pressure as measured by crusher gauges). That equates to about 59,000 psi ()pounds per square inch as measured by piezo or strain gauges). Barrel length has no effect on peak pressure; just velocity. Those velocity and pressure numbers at the bottom of the graphics are way off from reality for some reason; 2650 fps with either 49,142 psi or 52,850 psi equate to pressures measured by copper crusher gauges down in the 44,000 range. Do you understand the difference between cup and psi numbers and why they are so often mixed up, especially in printed military specs?

Arsenals measured muzzle velocity for small arms at 78 feet; 26 yards. Why has never been well understood or known. So while a bullet may be traveling that fast 26 yards down range, it's around 50 to 60 fps faster at the muzzle.

Muzzle velocity is effected by four physical dimensions of the barrel; chamber leade dimensions, groove diameter, bore diameter and the bore's cross sectional area determined by the width of the lands and grooves. For example, SAAMI specs for the .308 Win. has bore area at .0736 square inches, 47.483 square millimeters.

Charge weights Lake City uses are set so muzzle velocity is in a +/- 30 fps range so it'll have the same trajectory for all lots of M852 (M118, too) making sight settings on M1 and M14 rifles repeatable. The charge weight also has to have peak pressure within specs about 50,000 cup. And it has to produce accuracy at 600 yards from test barrels getting no more 3.5 inch mean radius; that's about 10 inches. 1.67 MOA. Ammo I've weighed charges from has had a 2 grain or more spread.

Regarding why you posted the the M852 168gr specs, they don't match all of the actual history and preferences of competitive shooters. Military and civilian rifle competitors winning the matches and setting the records preferred heavier bullets in the 7.62 NATO for ranges 600 yards and further when allowed by match rules. Sierra's 180's and 190's were preferred by folks shooting M1 or M14 match grade rifles; they shot more accurate than anything produced by the arsenals (check the above links on match ammo). Sierra's 190's and 200's as well as Lapua's 185's were preferred by those shooting as well with bolt action match rifles. The military got tired of their M852 ammo producing poor accuracy from bullets tumbling starting at 600 yards in somewhat worn out barrels in cooler weather and at most anytime at 800 yards and further; the 168's shape was not optimal to keep the bullet supersonic through 1000 yards. Sierra's 175-gr. HPMK eventually replaced it.

The best accuracy both M118 and M852 ever had was about 6 inches at 600 yards in the best of their National Match lots. Commercial .308 Win. match ammo (Federal?) easily shot about 4 inches at 600 from the best M1 and M14 match grade service rifles; no arsenal ammo ever came close. M852 ammo has never been the "gold standard" of .308/7.62 ammo as Federal's and Black Hills' match ammo has out performed M852 for decades. If M852 was really the standard, the military teams would never have bought millions of rounds of Federal or Remington .308 Win. commercial match ammo to use when it was allowed.
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Unread 12-28-2012, 09:42 AM
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Re: Federal 308 Gold Medal Match Powder?

Well thank you Bart B. You are a Senior Shooter in regards to your solid knowledge base and BTDT background. Thank you for your insight and educational points.

I don't consider the M852 a long range round. For accuracy testing and grouping - it can do that fine.

For medium Hunting- a 308 Win can do that just fine for me. For long range hunting? NO- not ethical to me.

For a long range round in a 308 Win? I don't consider the 308 Win a long range system. I consider it a hunting system.

Also, in the last 10 years, there have been issues enough to warrant some changes concerning M118LR ammo rather than to stick with it.

The MK316 mod 0 is it's replacement.

Simple answer:

Federal Gold Medal Match
Projectile: .308 168gr Sierra Match King HPBT
Case: Federal Gold Medal Match
Primer: Federal Gold Medal Match 210
Powder: IMR-4064 (42gr)
COL: 2.800"
MV: 2650fps

M852 Match (Military Version)
Projectile: .308 168gr Sierra Match King HPBT
Case: Lake City Match
Primer: Federal Match
Powder: IMR-4895 (42gr)
COL: 2.800" ----- Manual says 2.830" in bullet diagram

MV: 2550fps

MK316 Mod 0
Projectile: .308 175gr Sierra Match King HPBT
Case: Federal Gold Medal Match
Primer: Federal Gold Medal Match 210
Powder: IMR-4064 (41.8gr)
COL: 2.800"
MV: 2600fps*

Overview brief about this round and accuracy testing criteria :

U.S. Navy Small Arms Ammunition Advancements UNCLASSIFIED Brief PDF MK316 Mod 0


Last edited by Diamondback; 12-28-2012 at 11:12 AM.
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