First batch of handloads

Discussion in 'The Basics, Starting Out' started by rtabor, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. rtabor

    rtabor Well-Known Member

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    Well, after 30 years or so of hunting, plinking and what-not, I have just now finished my first batch of handloads. I have had mixed success with factory loads in the two rifles I enjoy shooting, and I sure hope I can learn to perfect some loads for them. I should be able to see what they can do on paper in the next few days. It's funny the sense of accomplishment I already have from loading my own ammo. Anyways, I've got a long way to go to get to where I can hit little bitty things way out yonder, but I plan on getting there eventually. Any words of wisdom before I go shoot my innaugural batch of handloads is appreciated.

    Russell Tabor
    craftsman-construction.com

    I love animals.....they're delicious.
     
  2. trebark

    trebark Well-Known Member

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    Congrats on starting to handload. Be prepared for frustration, exultation and a bunch of money to pour out of your wallet.

    When you go out to shoot, be sure to take a chronograph with you. To shoot without one is like shooting with your eyes closed.

    Also, if you do not get the results you want or if you want to tweak a load in an effort to make it better, be sure to change only one variable at a time. That way you can measure the effect of the change.
     

  3. rtabor

    rtabor Well-Known Member

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    Thanks. Sounds like good advice. I did shoot that first batch, and I definately have some tweaking to do.
     
  4. roninflag

    roninflag Well-Known Member

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    RTA- what caliber? what gun? what scope?
     
  5. rtabor

    rtabor Well-Known Member

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    300 Wby, Vanguard, synthetic stock, VX III 4.5-14 X 40
     
  6. bkondeff

    bkondeff Well-Known Member

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    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!
     
  7. bkondeff

    bkondeff Well-Known Member

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    Oops, double post...I'll just delete this!