280AI question

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Tex_Hunter, Mar 2, 2011.

  1. Tex_Hunter

    Tex_Hunter Member

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    Im going to immediately disclaim myself as a complete newcomer and am really looking for answers here but may come across as dumb in my question process. Im in the process of building a new rifle for no other reason than I just want to try something new. I chose a savage as my base because I want to do most of the work myself. I had originally thought 270 WSM or 7mm WSM which is still probably the road I will take, but recently stumbled across the 280AI and am now considering possibly building that instead, mostly because it is unique and yet very powerful. but this isnt about discussing why I should do one or the other but more to address my questions about reloading for the 280AI. Currently there is one supplier of 280AI brass, Nosler, which from searches I have found is quite good, and also really expensive and almost always backordered at Midway, amongst my searches I also found that you can chamber and fire standard 280rem factory rounds to make AI cases, now for my real question. I can get a box of cheap Remington blasting ammo in 280rem for $28 at midway so heres my thought, can I use this to fire form my cases for the 280AI build while breaking in the barrel and then reload em with the good stuff for hunting and targets? If so what is gonna be my expected case life/ success rate fire forming this stuff? Is Remington brass of decent quality? Or should I bite the bullet and buy some Norma cases for the 280Rem and fire form those? I have also heard of monkeying with Lapua 30-06 brass but among other problems doubles or triples the work. What in the long run will be the best solution? This is just a thought experiment, I may still go with the WSM especially just for availability of components but thought this was a really cool alternative. Like I said, Im new to this so please dont be too hard on me.
     
  2. gr8whyt

    gr8whyt Well-Known Member

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    That's one of the beauties of Ackley Improved cartridges. Cases can be formed directly from the parent case. I personally think the .280 AI is one of the best. Assuming that the chamber is properly reamed, just load a parent cartridge and shoot. It is often surprising that even when fireforming, those loads are very accurate. And usually, velocity is just a bit lower than the normal velocity of the parent cartridge, because the pressure does not get quite as high, because there is additional volume in the chamber.

    Handloading new brass before fireforming is fairly straightforward also. With the .280 AI, resizing new .30-06 brass works pretty good. A person can just partial neck size down leaving about .020 of the original neck at the neck-shoulder junction unsized. This will leave a bump that will make chambering the round a little firm. But the case will be secure and the firing pin strike will make good firm contact and the fireforming will be very positive.

    Nearly all cases will come out very well formed. You might not lose any to the process. Good luck in whatever you decide.

    -- gr8whyt
     

  3. Tex_Hunter

    Tex_Hunter Member

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    forming the 30-06 would be nice because then I could get large quantities of Lapua brass which seems to be a good brand especially for toasty reloads, but Ive heard you sacrifice neck length because the 280AI case length is longer than the 30-06. This true?

    So here I stand, a poll if you will, which is the best route in terms of least headaches for overall quality brass?

    option 1: buy a few boxes of bottom shelf remington or federal loaded ammo in 280rem to fireform while breaking in the barrel

    option 2: buy desired quantity of Norma or other high quality brand brass for 280rem, work up some budget reloads for fireforming and break in

    option 3: buy desired amount of Lapua 30-06 brass and necksize/ fireform for 280AI

    option 4: take the easy road wait for the Nosler 280AI brass to be in stock and buy desired amount even if it is something like 2x as expensive

    thanks in advance
     
  4. TomYoung

    TomYoung Active Member

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    Eddybo built me a semi-custom long range hunting rifle in 280 AI. He gave me my options on brass which included most of those you listed. I settled on new Nosler brass which I believe I ordered from the Noslers site. I was looking at a Precision Reloaders catalog today which listed it.

    Tom:)
     
  5. gr8whyt

    gr8whyt Well-Known Member

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    You're right, my bad. .280 AI is longer by .031. And the shoulder is quite a bit farther forward. So reforming would be a tricky business. It could be done, but to get the false shoulder in the right place will take some careful figuring and trial. I would opt for starting with .280 brass.

    So for you're poll, I guess I'd vote #2.

    -- gr8whyt
     
  6. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    I vote for buying regular 280 rem cases and fireforming. As gr8twhyt said, they can be quite accurate as long as you don't try to form a false shoulder

    [​IMG]

    I have loaded a lot with the Nosler 280AI brass also but oddly enough I get do-nuts with it but not with the 280 rem brass and do-nuts will make a difference

    [​IMG]

    The 280AI can rival a 7mag (work up to this load in your rifle)

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Tex_Hunter

    Tex_Hunter Member

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    wow woods... that may be just what I needed to convince me to go this direction.

    A couple more questions on your writeup, should I go for full loads with standard weight bullets or perhaps a cheaper reload with fast powder and light bullets for fireforming? With the accuracy you were getting on some of your 280Rem loads in the AI chamber suggest you could probably do some pretty good load development even while fire forming.

    Also, here I go showing how much of a newbie I am, but whats this do-nut you mentioned?
     
  8. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    Do-nuts occur at the junction of the neck/shoulder and are caused by brass flowing along the shoulder and causing a ridge that won't let the bullet pass by in a fired unsized case

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    the only way to get rid of them is with an inside neck reamer. But they only occur in a tight necked custom reamed chamber.

    The way you tell is to take a bullet and try to insert into a fired unsized case and if it hits an obstruction at the neck/shoulder then you have a problem. Essentially they act like a rear crimp.

    I wouldn't say you can do load development for the first firing of a 280 rem case. The internal capacity is different enough to cause differences in the subsequent loads. However you could just use them for hunting or trigger time.

    My 280AI is my pivot gun in that I take it hunting whether Elk, Antelope or Whitetail along with another gun more appropriate to the game. For example going Elk hunting I will take the 280AI and a 338RUM or for Whitetail the 280AI and my 6.5 rem mag will go. IOW I feel confident it will get the job done from small game to Elk with the 160 gr Accubond at 3000 fps.

    Personally I don't like a short action because of possible feeding problems and less magazine capacity. My 280AI will hold 6 down in the mag and feeds slick. I have seen problems with the Wissum's in those short actions and then have seen others that will feed just fine. Even if you don't have feeding problems you will probably have the problem of a longer bullet having to be seated so deep it intrudes on powder capacity. I have dies for and have reloaded for 270 WSM and 300 WSM's and personally will probably never own one.

    Besides, there is still a lot of class to walk into deer camp with a 280 Ackley, IMO

    YMMV
     
  9. Tex_Hunter

    Tex_Hunter Member

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    Thanks for clearing that up for me
    Im not ashamed to admit thats pretty much the only reason I strayed from the typical choices for this rifle build. The cool factor aside, I had begun to look at other options to the WSM because for building a WSM in a savage you need a large shank receiver which are almost impossible to come by, that and the WSM is CRF making an action for one of those nearly impossible to find without buying the whole gun.

    Thanks for all the help, this project will be awhile in coming but slowly and surely
     
  10. IDbound

    IDbound Well-Known Member

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    I too am interested in a 280 AI. I guess there are two options. The 280 AI version or the Nosler SAMMI version. Here is a posting from Gunsmith Talk:

    280 Ackley Improved Alert

    A few years back Nosler decided to bring the 280 Ackley Improved into their list of custom brass and rifles. In order to do this they wanted to take the 280 AI to SAAMI and have it standardized.
    Part of the process of standardizing the cartridge was for Nosler to see if other manufacturers had worked with it. They found that Remington had been chambering the 280 in their custom shop. Now here is where the alert comes in. Remington’s Custom Shop chose to shorten the headspace on the venerable design by .014″. When Nosler sent drawings to SAAMI they picked up that number as well.
    So by a vote of the members of SAAMI the commercial established specifications for the 280 Ackley were changed from the original design. The reason reported for this change is that Remington believed it was necessary in order for factory 280 Remington ammunition to be fireformed safely in an Ackley chamber. Apparently they did not know that Ackley was the single most successful wildcatter of the 20th century. While he was not the first guy to create and “improved” design, he was the first to standardize the idea and create a safe method of fireforming factory ammo in improved chambers.
    Ackley’s method was simple, he simply used a headspace gauge .004″ shorter than the factory case. This shorter headspace assured that the cartridge would be held tight between the bolt face and the junction of the neck and shoulder of the chamber during fire forming. Ackley’s method worked fine for more than 50 years before these alterations to his design were made.
    Bottom line for anyone who now works with the 280 Ackley Improved you must decide which version of the chamber you will use; the SAAMI or the Ackley; you cannot safely use the Nosler brass in a traditional Ackley chamber, although it would still be safe to fire form factory ammo in a SAAMI/Nosler chamber.


    My question then, people seem to be using Nosler brass in their older 280AI guns and not mentioning any problems. Yet, the article above says it "cannot be safely done". I am confused!!!!!!!
     
  11. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    Now that is interesting and may be instrumental in helping to connect the dots for me. For instance I have flattened primers if I use Nosler 280AI brass in addition to the do-nuts.

    That sucks, why would they do that! That definitely turns the page for me and I will use 280 rem brass in my 280AI from now on.

    My 280AI was chambered by Hart about 3 years ago and I'll bet I have an Ackley chamber.

    One question, if they shortened the headspace by .014" then wouldn't that make it harder to chamber a 280 rem loaded brass of 280 rem factory load?

    Would also explain why I have .017" headspace on my 280AI; measured with Stoney Point Headspace Gauge on Nosler 280AI brass - new cases 2.135", fully fire formed 2.152"
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2011
  12. IDbound

    IDbound Well-Known Member

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    "That sucks, why would they do that"

    I am sorry to hear about your issues but glad to hear from someone that is actually having issues with the Nosler brass. Let's see if others chime in.
     
  13. skywalker

    skywalker Well-Known Member

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    I am currently in the load development stage of a 280ai I had built for me this past fall. I am using .280 remington brass that I fireformed during my barrel break in process (2 birds/1 stone so to speak). I am only neck sizing and hope to increase my brass life in doing so. So far, 59 gr of R19 with a Barnes TTSX .140 gr seems to be the 'go to' load. I do not have a chrono but believe I am over 3000fps if not over 3100 fps........love the cartridge!!!!
     
  14. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    Hey ID, I started stirring things up with threads on 24HCF and AccurateReloading, we'll see if this is well known

    280AI info, correct? - 24hourcampfire
    280AI info, correct? - Topic

    Do you have a link to Gunsmith Talk where you got this?

    Again thanks for the info and this needs to be spread around.