Help beginner improve his reloading.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by fishwater, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. fishwater

    fishwater Well-Known Member

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    A little background info:

    I have been reloading for about a year, which has lead me to this sight, which has taught me that there is still a lot I need to learn about it.

    I reload for 3 Weatherby rifles. A Vanguard .22-250, a Vanguard .270WIN, and a MarkV .30-378, I also have friends come over to reload for some other calibers on occasion.

    My setup is pretty basic (all RCBS), I have a Rockchukar press, a chargemaster 1500 scale, (I dispense powder by hand, but do it very accurately.) A manual case trimmer, a hand priming tool, and a pair of Cabelas digital calipers, (the nicer ones.) I use the basic RCBS die sets. I also have a Chrony Alpha that I use, and I usually get my loads all within 50FPS of one another, but sometimes it is as much as 100FPS.

    I Chamfer and de-burr the necks with a cheapo hand tool, and also have a cheap primer pocket brush that I use every time.

    Things I have never done: Neck turning, primer pocket uniforming or flash hole deburring, weight sorting my brass, checking concintricity/runout, or case tumbling/cleaning... (I blow them out with my air compressor really good every time.)

    What I want to do is produce a better handload, without having to buy all new dies. I am pretty much an MOA shooter right now, but I would really like to start getting some smaller groups. I just learned about runout and want to know if neck uniforming/trimming or maybe one of the RCBS 3 way chamfer/deburring trimmer attachments would help. Also, I just learned about the Hornady concentricity gauge yesterday, but after a little research it seems that is not really an ideal solution and the Sinclair concentricity gauge is a lot better, even though it does not make "corrections."

    All my rifles have good triggers, and there are Zeiss scopes on the Vanguards. I just bought a Nightforce NXS 5.5-22X56 for the .30-378 but it's not even mounted yet! I have Medalist stocks for all 3 of them on order from Stockey's.

    What can I do, that I am not already, to produce a better handload?
    What is really important and what is just a bunch of hype? There seems to be mixed opinions about some of this stuff, and I am a little confused!


    I know this was a pretty long post. Thank you for taking the time to read it.
     
  2. paphil

    paphil Well-Known Member

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    Start by sorting your brass by weight into lots of +/- 2 grains. 245, 247 , 249 ect. That alone will do alot to reduce your extreme spread. Also, when resizing brass that was fired only in your gun, try neck sizing only. This is done by backing your resizing die up till a pennie will fit above the shell holder with the handle all the way down. You will get alot of advice on the amount of clearance but a pennie up to a nickle works for me. This loaded ammo will only work in your gun because it is fire formed to exactly fit your chamber. Load a couple and try them for fit before you do all of them. They should close easily .If they close tight, go back to full length sizing. Those two things don't cost anything and may help quite a bit!
     

  3. diriel

    diriel Well-Known Member

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    Wow, where to start. Ok I wills start by putting on my Nomex suit!

    Alrighty then:

    -- Case Sorting:
    - a) Start by full length resizing your cases. Now Trim them all to the same length. I will usually do minimum trim to the very first time, but it does not have to be minimum, as long as it is not longer than max. Next you need to use a chamfer tool and hit both the outside, and inside of the neck.

    - b) If the cases are of the correct headstamp (not formed from some other case), you probably do not need to inside ream to remove the "doughnut". Instead, you can get a outside neck turning tool and approximately 70% turn the necks. You may be suprised to see how Un-Uniform the thickness is. Some folks say to do a 100%, and this too is fine really, but I have found that about 70% seems to do pretty good for me.

    - c) !!! *COMPARITIVE INTERNAL CASE VOLUME* !!! <-- before you flame me READ THIS !!!
    Okay? Cool lets continue: Get some 91% rubbing alcohol. Now, prime the cases with spent primers. lightbulb Be sure you have blown out your cases of course. Also check to make sure the flash holes do not have any obvious burrs, if they do you should remove those burrs *VERY* Carefully. One of the biggest things people too do screw up a perfectly good case is to "debur" the flashole and get over zealous about it. A little tiny tiny bit goes a DAMN long ways when you mess with your flashole! Now grab a case and fill it to the top with the 91% rubbing alcohol and weight it. Dump the alcohol and give it a minute or two to dry ( you can even use a hair dryer to speed up this process) and re-weigh the case and write down its comparative weight diff, set it aside in the other reloading block and make sure you keep track of that case. Now, move on to the next and next and ... so on. You want your COMPARITIVE INTERNAL CASE VOLUME'S to be very close to one another!

    This is usually about as wild as I get with my cases, and I usually can get into single digit ES by doing this.

    Have a good one,
    Gary
     
  4. KRP

    KRP Well-Known Member

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    I would simply go back and fine tune loads before anything else mentioned.
     
  5. fishwater

    fishwater Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far guys!

    Well, it sounds like some sort brass sorting is in order... I will try both methods, and see what I come up with.

    I will also look into getting a case neck trimmer. I just measured my neck wall thickness on some of my .270 brass for the first time yesterday. I just used my calipers and spun the brass around and measured at different spots around the neck. There was 0.002" - 0.003" of variance on average.

    Stupid question because I am too lazy to look it up, Resize then neck turn? Or vice versa?
     
  6. diriel

    diriel Well-Known Member

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    resize first
     
  7. KRP

    KRP Well-Known Member

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    You can't accurately measure neck thickness with calipers. I really think you are being overwhelmed and distracted by information on the internet and should go back to the basics first.
     
  8. diriel

    diriel Well-Known Member

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    @KRP,

    Perhaps post up the basics for him then sir? I am not trying to be an ass, but it seems as though he mostly has the basics down.

    @fishwater,

    You do know about ladder vs ocw? OCW Overview - Dan Newberry's OCW Load Development System
    Believe me, this can be very helpful.

    Gary
     
  9. fishwater

    fishwater Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I realize that it is not the proper way to measure, but I was doing what I could with the tools I have on hand. It is very possible that I am being overwhelmed like you said, but I do not have any reloading experts at my disposal to teach me the finer points. What I know is self taught, and while I feel I am doing a good job, I know there must be something, somewhere, that I can improve upon. I am not wanting to set a world record with a production rifle here, I just want some basic pointers on what steps I can take to reload a better round.

    Thanks for your input, I do value it.

    I just stumbled onto that article the other day actually! I will read it again.

    I have done ladder testing in the past but will likely be using the "round robin" technique on my next range trip.

    Thanks!
     
  10. dig

    dig Well-Known Member

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    I would recommend case cleaning. This is inexpensive and simple using either stainless media or ultrasonic. I suggest 1) deprimming (Lee or Redding Decaping Die). 2) Cleaning in ultrasonic or stainless.

    • Clean brass helps with visual inspections
    • Sizing dies will not get scratched with clean brass
    • Necks are cleaned (aiding in measuring and true neck thickness)
    • Primer pockets are spotless with stainless or ultrasonic (this helps)
    • Inside of cases are clean helping with volume and weight sorting
    I rarely neck turn, and have not noticed a difference unless the rifle is set up for neck turned brass. Concentricity is important, buy a good tool not the Hornady, Sinclair/NEC/H & H Industries are good. Set up your dies correctly, a rubber "O" ring helps with concentricity giving the die a little play to set into the threads, keep shell holder clean with stiff brush.

    To me the process starts with good clean brass that is consistent, I don't get as crazy about weight but throw out those way out say +/- 5 grains. Sorting is easy and simple and other great posts here mention systems.
     
  11. KRP

    KRP Well-Known Member

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    Powder charge, seating depth, shooting form, etc....? He's got 50-100FPS velocity spread and is a self proclaimed MOA shooter. It just sounds to me like he is a getting hung up in things that he doesn't need to worry about at this point.
     
  12. diriel

    diriel Well-Known Member

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    As for the basics:

    -- Start with reasonably clean brass. +1 to what Dig has to say on this subject.

    --- lightbulb For basic reloading :
    -- A) Inspect and prep your brass:
    -- 1) look for split or damaged necks.
    -- 2) full length re-size.
    -- 3) Trim all your brass to the same length, even if it is brand new.
    -- 4) use your chamfer tool to outside and inside chamfer the case mouth.
    -- 5) Inspect the flash hole. Is it centered? Does the flash hole have any burrs? If it does have a burr or is not perfectly round, you can get a flash hole tool to de-burr / uniform it (you Must have all your brass full length resized and trimmed all to the same length in order to properly de-burr / uniform a primer hole).
    -- 6) Inspect and clean the primer pocket. Some folks say to use a swager to uniform the pocket. For me this step is mostly optional. Though I admit I DO have a pocket swage tool, and have used it more than a few times.
    -- 7) wipe off any excess case lube, and make sure there is no excess lube in the neck area as it can contaminate your powder charge.
    -- 8) Every 3rd firing you should look into Annealing your Necks. That is a WHOLE-nother ball of wax I will not get into here and now :)

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -- B) Make sure your primers are seated flush. If they will not seat flush, make sure to use that primer pocket swage tool to uniform them.
    -- 1) for the most part when loading for a rifle you can use regular Large Rifle non-magnum primers as long as your powder charge is less than approximately 80 grains or so. Ball powders can be harder to ignite, and it can be beneficial to use a magnum primer with them at about the 70 grain charge weight, especially if you know you will be shooting in very cold weather.
    -- 2) Different brands of primer can change the down range dynamic of a load considerably. As well, the difference between a Standard and Magnum primer can be markedly different, (it is worth noting that a Magnum primer can cause more pressure than a standard primer).
    -- My favorite primers are Federal 210M, Winchester LR, and Wolf LR.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -- C) Powder types: Ball Vs. Extruded
    -- 1) Ball powders usually measure Very Well!! They make reloading faster. They also tend to be more sensative to ambient conditions such as Temperature. If you have a fully progressive reloading setup such as a Dillon, then a good ball powder can make for a heck of a lot of ammo for plinking and practice!
    -- 2) Extruded powders tend to take a good bit more time to measure to + / - a tenth of a grain or less. I prefer to keep my loads to a grand total of .1 variance. I admit I have heard many folks say that .2 is more than fine, it is up to you how far to take it. Extruded powders such as Hodgdon's Extreme series tend to be considerably less sensative to ambient conditions such as temperature, and thus will tend to allow you to shoot one load in conditions such as 30 deg. F. up to 95+ deg. F. and have only minor variance in point of impact and terminal ballistics. Safety can also be an issue if you developed Ball Powder loads in cool weather and ran them to Max Pressure, when the ambient is suddenly +60 Deg. F. warmer those Safe-in-cool-weather-BallPowder-loads can suddenly become unsafe. Even when using an "Extreme" powder this *CAN* become an issue, but it is much less likely than using a ball powder.

    -- Some of the newest ball powders are actually getting better with handling ambient temperature swings. CFE223, and Power Pro 2000 MR come to mind.
    -- Pick a load that is lower middle of the reloading charts to start out with. Some folks will say start at minimum and work up, which is fine too. For small cases go up in increments of about .3 grains, for medium cases .5 grains, for large cases .6 - .7 or there abouts to find a rough aproximation of where to begin Fine Tuning A Load.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    -- D) Bullets, and bullet types / styles:
    -- 1) 150 grains of bullet weight is not always equal when it comes to how it generates pressure! A solid copper bullet of 150 grains will tend to generate more pressure than a Copper / Lead type bullet. Other factors apply as well.
    -- 2) I usually like to start my loads with the bullet just barely touching the lands. Some bullets need to be Jammed into the lands ( this can generate high pressure so be careful), other bullets will want to "Jump". **(some folks will sensibly tell you to jam the bullets about 10 thousandths into the lands to begin, by doing so you will avoid having to potentially back off on powder charges later. I prefer NEVER to jam a hunting bullet into the lands as it can some times remain in the lands when you decide to unload the weapon. If this happens you will likely have a LOT of powder in your action..)**
    -- 3) So, starting just "kissing" the lands you start with the lowest powder charge and work up carefully till you are nearing max pressure. Be careful to remain below max loads, they are rarely the most accurate and they can cause you real head aches when out in the field if your rifle james due to excessive pressure etc. Now pick the loading that is the most accurate and safest and see the next step below.
    -- 4) Now it is time to begin playing with Seating Depth of the bullet. This assumes you still have not got that ultimate load yet. Begin seating your bullets progressively 5 thousandths deeper ( away from the lands ) and re-testing your "favorite" powder charge. It may surprise you how much difference this will make. You might find a magic load, then again you may end up scratching your head and pissed off too. If you end up about 40 thousandths off of the lands and you STILL Have Not Found your load... it may be time to change to a different powder and begin anew from start. Or possibly different primers, or possibly different bullets, or possibly different brass.... :)

    -- Aint reloadin' grand? hahaha. I used to shoot in order to go back and reload more so I could tinker.... These days I reload so I can go practice my shooting skills, period!

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    One of the better ways to "look" for over pressure is to measure expansion at the web just ahead of the rim area. Don't get me wrong, a sticky bolt is a VERY sure sign you are over max pressure. Ejector Swipe on the end of the brass is another sure sign. Firing pin cratering on the primer / pierced primers are yet another way. The thing is, these latter methods usually only tell you when you are *REALLY* over pressure. Get a good reloading manual and look up measuring the web to check for pressure. You will be glad you did.

    Have a good one,
    Gary
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  13. fishwater

    fishwater Well-Known Member

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    Wow, Thanks deriel [​IMG]

    Here is a little more background info:


    I am near max load on my .30-378. (117.5gr of Hodgdons US 869) but I am showing no pressure signs. I am running the new 200gr Barnes LRX's and they shoot pretty well. 3175 FPS AVG, and right around 1 moa (2" group at 200 3" group at 300, 4" at 400, give or take a little.....) But, with my new scope I am planning on shooting some longer ranges. I just wanted to make sure I am feeding it the best ammo I can make. The COAL on these rounds is currently 3.725". Using the cleaning rod measuring technique, they are .4" off the lands. Good thing these bullets are supposed to like a little jump, ha ha.. I was pretty happy with that in the past so have not experimented with seating depth on that rifle very much. And this seemed to be a good "middle of the road" distance off the lands for the Wby, and the bullets still fit in the magazine at that length.
    I also shoot Barnes 130gr TSX's in the .270win. (54.5gr H4350.)

    I would really like to get solid 100 Yd sub 1" groups out of the MarkV (and my Vanguards,) and I appreciate the importance of load development. I just want to make sure I am doing everything I can while reloading to produce the best bullet I can, regardless of the specific reloading specs.

    I have experimented with the bulled seating depth on my .22-250 a little. So far it has shot better at the suggested COAL of 2.350" then did at 2.490", which was just off the lands. I shoot 55gr Nosler BT Varmints in this one. Yes, it has a 1 in 14 twist but I called Nosler (right here in Oregon) and was told they should stabilize OK... (I just got this gun and have not shot it very much.)

    I will definitely start to sort my brass, and will be getting a primer pocket deburring tool as well, (and maybe even a case cleaner.)

    I have learned from this thread already and I appreciate all the comments guys!

    Brandon.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2012
  14. diriel

    diriel Well-Known Member

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    With that 30-378 I would be tempted to play with H50BMG and Federal 215M primers. Don't be afraid to play with seating depth, but with the 30-378 I might be tempted to stay at least 10 thousandths off of the lands at a minimum. Then again H50BMG you should be mostly safe pressure wise. I will say however, to get your ES / SD down to single digit or at least below 20 ES you may very well need to follow the directions in my first post on brass sorting. Getting really low ES and tiny groups with a round like this is a little tougher. :)

    With your 270 the 130s, IMR7828ssc powder, with Win LR primers and Win brass is usually a real strong combination. Some folks say the powder is a bit slow, but this is one of those "secret" goto recipes.

    The 22-250 IMR4064 and IMR4320 with either a CCI BR or Remington 9 1/2 are a couple of loads a good friend of mine swears by. He reloads at my house, I brought him over to the Dark Side ... :) Now, I must confess the Tinkerer in me keeps wanting to see someone pipe up about CFE223 or Power Pro 2000MR in this round! I would probably use either a Wolf LR or Win LR primer and Remington or Lapua Match brass. It is hard to over state Lapua Match Brass gun) || expensive, but in this case well worth it!

    Have a good one,
    Gary