How Many Exceed Max Loads Regularly?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by guns_and_labs, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. guns_and_labs

    guns_and_labs Well-Known Member

    Jan 6, 2005
    So, I picked up a .300 WinMag from a known and trusted seller, along with quite a few handloaded cartridges. Excellent accuracy, good components... so I asked him for the recipe to make up some more. The recipe he provides is well beyond Max Load, about 2 gr higher. No signs of pressure, no warning from him, all very normal-sounding.

    Which brings me to my question, for reloaders... do you exceed Max Load for a pet load, on a regular basis?

    When you're working up loads, do you keep going through the Max Load until you see signs of pressure? And if you find a load beyond Max Load that performs really well, do you keep loading rounds at that level for your normal use in the field?
  2. AJ Peacock

    AJ Peacock Well-Known Member

    Oct 7, 2005
    I do, however although I keep an eye open for pressure signs, I watch my chronograph with BOTH eyes. I will exceed the load, but I rarely exceed the velocities of the listed maximum load by much. Of course the newer manuals are WAY lighter than the older ones I've had for years, I regularly exceed the velocity of the current load data with my rifles.

    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009

  3. Jamie6.5

    Jamie6.5 Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2009
    MY .270 has a deeeep throat that lets me seat them way out, freeing up case space. So yes I do, and reach velocity levels not achievable with published COALs.

    Not endorsing his, but it works for me.
    Keep an eye on the primers and watch for sticky bolt lift.
  4. Auto-X Fil

    Auto-X Fil Active Member

    Aug 4, 2009
    Is it possible you got your data from different sources? Hodgdon says I can use 46gr of Varget to push a Nosler 150gr BT from my .308, while Nosler says to throw a magnum primer and 48.5gr behind it and gain 100fps. It looks to me like the difference is COAL, but Hodgdon also shows only 49k psi. Cautious company? Brass choice? Throat in the test barrel? Who knows - but at 48gr they group well with no pressure signs and velocities below those listed.

    I also load beyond .223 loads for my NATO chambered AR-15, but that's kind of an exception.
  5. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2006
    I do, but like others I work up and know what to look for.

    One of the problems is that the data itself is conflicting. For example for 180 gr bullets in the 300 win mag

    Swift - 180 gr bullets max load RL22 76.5 gr
    Barnes - 180 gr bullets max load RL22 75.5 gr
    Alliant - 180 gr bullets max load RL22 76 gr
    Speer - 180 gr bullets max load RL22 77 gr
    Sierra - 180 gr bullet max load RL22 77.3 gr
    Nosler - 180 gr bullet max load RL22 75.5 gr
    Hornady - 180 gr bullets max load RL22 76 gr

    so the load data for max goes from 75.5 gr to 77.3 gr. There are probably worse examples and this is in no way unique.
  6. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2005
    I'll have to raise my hand. Most printed load data is published purposefully on the conservative side. After all, what does a large company have to gain by publishing powder charge data that includes even the slightest risk of personal injury. Sounds like a liability lawsuit in the making.

    I've consistently found I am able to exceed published maximum load data and still keep my fingers intact. Published maximum load data can usually be exceeded without any worse-for-wear to casings, firearm, or shooter.

    Like others have expressed, it's not wise to jump in with an initial powder charge that exceeds maximum published. But by methodically increasing powder charge and watching for pressure signs, one will find that maximum charge published loads from any of the powder manufacturing companies, or bullet manufacturing companies, can usually be exceeded.

    Now don't take a maximum load that's been posted by one of the Forum members here and convince yourself that that load will be a safe starting load in your rifle. They may have already worked up a maximum load for their own rifle that will blow a primer in yours.
  7. foreign

    foreign Well-Known Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    i usually work out my own max loads for each bullet powder brass primer combo by shooting a ladder style in incremental loads and watching for pressure signs to give my self a top end. have found that the max loads for most load manuals is conservative...
  8. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

    Jan 20, 2004
    I'll stick my hand up there also!

    As said above the 'books' are a bit conservative. Since the advent of the chrono, RSI Shooting Lab and years of loading, when ambient temp gets above 75 and my bolt doesn't get just a little sticky there's more to be gained. This is for my winter rifle.

    When I reload and seat a new primer if I tap the case hand firmly on the bench and the primer doesn't fall completely out, she's good for another shot. After about 5 rounds I start losing about 50% of the cases for this reason.

    Also there is no "book' for my better cartridges.
  9. bigbuck

    bigbuck Well-Known Member

    Jun 20, 2009
    I don't faster,faster is not always better!
  10. RDM416

    RDM416 Well-Known Member

    Jan 31, 2005
    As most of the guys who have responded, I also exceed max load on a regular basis. With that said here are a few things to remember.

    Every rifle is different! I have two rifles that are the same caliber, built by the same gunsmith using the same reamer. (the smith is a good one very popular on this site) My max load in one rifle is 2 grains less of the same powder than the other.

    Components are different, especially brass. Different brands of brass can have significantly different case capacities which can have a big effect on pressures. Some brass is harder, some softer which will give different pressure signs. A bright spot on the case head from the ejector pin hole with soft brass may not be a problem, with some brands that use harder brass that could be a serious issue. Watch the primers for flattening.....but different primer brands are harder and thicker as well. On sign for sure is if you have a stiff bolt lift when ejecting an empty, back off and back off now! Don't just go ahead and shoot the rest of what you have loaded!

    Bullets, be careful switching bullets. A 180 grain Barnes TSX will not be the same as say, a 180 SMK or Hornady A-Max. Different bullets may have more or less bearing surface, may be from a softer/harder material, etc.

    One of the other guys mentioned watching your velocities. If you don't have a chrono, get one they are not that expensive. Just remember, higher velocities generally mean higher pressures. If your velocities are much higher than max load data velocities you may have a problem.

    Many of us spend a lot time working with different powders trying to find one that gives us the best burn rate / velocity in our particular rifle. Often you can increase velocities by going to slower burning powder to give a more consistent burn rate and lower pressures while increasing velocities, as a result many of us are shooting loads that are not found in any manual.

    Just watch for pressure signs and work loads up slowly and you should be fine.
  11. royinidaho

    royinidaho Writers Guild

    Jan 20, 2004

    Ah gee wizz talk about rainin' on my parade:)

    Ya gotta have faster along with accuracy and consistency. All three when working in concert make those long shots much more satisfying. Definition: Long Shot: 875 - 1250 yards.
  12. Varmint Hunter

    Varmint Hunter Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2001
    I'm kind of surprised by the number of guys who "Exceed Max Loads Regularely". I do just the opposite. I look for an accurate load that is within 100 ft/sec of the max listed load. If I want more than my 7mm mag can give then I'll just go with a 7 RUM or STW.

    I have been reloading all my life and never had a problem. Part of that is because I stay within my comfort zone. That zone (for me) can be found in the current reloading manuals.

    Listed loads are easier on the brass and rifle then loads that exceed them. With the cost of quality brass and match barrels; I'd rather go easy on them.:D
  13. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    "... do you exceed Max Load for a pet load, on a regular basis? "

    I never have. But I define "max load" as a max safe load, not what some book says. Rifles vary and the books clearly state that, then they caution us not to go straight to what was their max load but to start low and work up, etc.

    The book makers obviously can't say, "Your rifle is different from ours so if you have no reason to stop at any point it can be safe to go up IF you knows what you're doing", can they?

    I never try to exceed the velocity obtained by the books or factory ammo, that would be silly, IMHO. But, I do try to match it, WITH A PROPER BURN RATE POWDER!
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2009
  14. 3006savage

    3006savage Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2008
    I load my 06 2-3 grains over max with most loads. I have a long OAL and the SAMMI pressure limit is only 60,000 psi. I would not do this with cases already at 65,000 psi. My personal limit is 65K in a bolt action. I am normally above the published velocities with my 22" barrel by 50-100 fps.