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I usually find my load with just a few trip to the range, with very minimal effort and waste of components.
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That's kind of the point I was trying to make in my original post. My initial trip to the range includes the 36 rounds required by my powder/charge weight load test method and a couple of rounds to use as foulers after a cleaning following each powder change... so 40 rounds or so.
After that the second trip requires about an equal # to establish the most accurate seating depth. This method has never failed to produce an accurate load with maximum velocity.
I'd still like to hear some other methods of load development too... anyone else do something totally different?
Dirty Dogs... Down Dirt Cheap!!!
Actually, the Oehler 35 is accurate up to a couple fps on a 4 foot pole up to a certain velocity and that error gets even more accurate on an 8 foot rod although carting around an 8' pole is not very practical!
Most bullet companies do use Oehlers for this reason in their own testing.
This past fall, I took delivery of my old Rem 700 with my new 26" stainless Lilja barrel in 30-06 Ackley Imp, a cartridge I had zero experience reloading. A gentleman over on Accuratereloading.com suggested a propellant/bullet combination of which I had the bullets in my inventory and the propellant (Rel 25) was readily available.
Twenty-two ladder shots (8.3 gr propellant range), 30 group (ten, 3-shot groups) verfication shots and 18 (six, 3-shot groups) seating depth test shots latter, I've got a load which is giving me a 3/4" MOA load, 3050 fps with the Nosler 180 BT; 70 shots! A bit much? Not when you figure that the final load used has been verified at 300 yds with multiple 3/4" MOA groups.
Alright, I lack the experience of many on this board. I learned how to conduct a ladder test by more informed members.
A ladder test, properly conducted, is an EXTREMELY efficient and accurate load development technique. I use it exclusively and usually find "the" load for my components in under 15 shots. More shots to confirm of course, but not too many. The ladder test HAS NOT let me down yet, I have tested it against the other load 10 at this, load 10 more at + .2 grs.... I have gotten symmetrical results.
I think the problem most have with the ladder test is not eliminating enough variables. People can do whatever method they prefer for load development, but please don't put down the ladder test because it does work for many, many precision reloaders
~Pray to God...but swim toward shore~
That is very impressive. The group that is. Your method of discovering a load is intriguing as well. I believe you did a plausable job of describing how to do it. Do I detect a bit of scarcasim towards me or Ladders in general?
To be absolutely fair, I used more shots for my ladder than necessary. My original 22 shots for the ladder was almost twice the needed number of shots since I ran it over such a large powder weight range. It's just that having zero experience with this cartridge, I didn't want to leave any stones unturned. Then, their were two nodes and instead of working with the upper, faster, node first, I worked both the upper and lower nodes, simultaneously, thus the reason for so many verifiction groups.
The seating depth test went in 3-shot groups starting at my original .005" into the land and coming out .005" at . It took me getting to .015" off the lands before I hit paydirt.
Again, to be fair, take 8 ladder shots off and 1/2 the verification groups (15) totalling 23; 47 shots to get where I am in a 7 lb 4 oz rifle that has the skinniest barrel (.542" at the 26" muzzle) I've ever seen in 30 cal.