Load Developement

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by rmpoole, Aug 3, 2013.

  1. rmpoole

    rmpoole Member

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    I am new to reloading and I have all my components ready to go but Im not sure where to go from here so I would like to see what you guys have done successfully to get a good load. I need to know the process such as when is the ladder test done? Do I need to find my powder charge prior to finding the best seating depth? Do I even need to do a ladder test? How many rounds should I load and what is the best starting point and what is a good measure to increase by.

    Then assuming I have my loads all ready to go to the range what process should I follow? Obviously Im setting up my Chrono but then what, ladder test, three shot groups or something I dont know about?

    So I know that is a lot of questions but I want to be efficient and not blow through rounds.

    Im shooting 300 win mag with 230 grain Berger Hybrids with H1000. Thank You for your help.
     
  2. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

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    I always pick a seating depth, then go from there. But there's really no 1 right or wrong way of doing things, and everyone will have a different method.

    Most of time, if I pick a seating depth for a repeater, it will be about 0.005" shy of the magazine length so I can load more than one shell in it and hunt with it. For range toys, alot of them I load longer than mag length so I have to shoot them 1 at a time.

    I'm sure others will chime in soon.

    for the ladder test, I go up in 0.5gr incriments.
     

  3. rmpoole

    rmpoole Member

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    I have my starting seating depth for .020 off the lands just until I get the load set then start playing with jump and jamb. I dont really see a ladder test being that practical so as a substitute could I do 3 shot groups at 100 and go with the tightest?
     
  4. Korhil78

    Korhil78 Well-Known Member

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    First..what bullet and powder combo are you using? How far out are you going to be shooting game with this set up?

    I did a ladder test and I didn't find it to be any more useful than shooting three shot groups and going from there because you will always want to reverify your load for consistency.

    If you are keeping your shots under 500 yards then 3 shot groups at 100 yards is fine. If you plan on shooting further than that then I would suggest load testing at 200 or 300 yards. Try to pick a calm day to test as wind can mess up your groups.

    I seat my loads .015" off the rifling to start out. Once I find the most accurate powder charge with that seating depth, I will test different seating depths.
     
  5. rmpoole

    rmpoole Member

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    Im shooting 300 Win Mag 230 gr Berger hybrids using H1000. I will be shooting mostly at 500 but my range is expanding to 1000 and eventually Id like to see if I can hit a target at 1 mile.
     
  6. Korhil78

    Korhil78 Well-Known Member

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    My apologies...I failed to read the bottom part of your first post where it said what you are using.

    With my 338 Lapua, I did my load testing at 300 yards. I tested my best load out at 500 yards for reverification. Then I started at 1000 and verified my drops there. Then I took it out to 1200, 1300 and tried a mile but I still have some work to do there haha.

    If you are wanting to shoot that far out, you might as well do load testing at 300-400 yards. That win mag with a 230 gr Berger will reach out there a long ways. I just like to make sure that its on a non-windy day. And this is just my opinion and what has worked for me.
     
  7. johnnyk

    johnnyk Well-Known Member

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    rmpoole,
    Welcome to LRH and the "addiction". Once I decide on a bullet, powder and primer I then decide what loads I will use. For example, if I determine through research that 75.5gn is max then I will load 3 rounds at 74.5, 75.0 and 75.5gn (3 shot groups at 100yds and go with the tightest) .
    Sometimes I set up my chronograph, sometimes I don't. Either way, if one of these loads is a show stopper, load development is over with. If none of these loads meet my accuracy criteria (.3" or < for .30, .25" or < for .284 - .243), I will try a different primer with the same three loads.
    If I find a good load this time, load develpment is over, if not I move on to another powder (usually close to the same burn rate as the first), choose my primer, loads and start over.

    Depending on the bullet selected and granted the rifle is capable of 1/2" accuracy at 100yds, the process usually doesn't take that long. The bullet determines alot in this mix. If the bullet has a Tangent ogive (Nosler Ballistic Tip, Accubond or Sierra MathKing), I have always loaded them .010" off the lands and grooves. These bullet usually shoot rather well and are "easy" to find a good load with.
    The Secant ogive bullets (Hornady SST's, A-Max's, V-max's and Berger VLD's, etc.) are a bit more picky with their seating depth. I usually start them out at .010" also and hope for the best. I usually try to find a load that get's close to my accuracy criteria and then adjust the seating depth. Sometimes I get lucky with the first seating depth and other times it seems to take months, but once a good load is found with these bullets, usually it's one ragged hole. There is a good article here on LRH about loading the Bergers.

    As for chosing the loads, I usually have a pre-conceived notion about the velocity I need to get the desired trajectory from a bullet. This dictates where I'm going to start and I let the reloading manuals and common sense be my guide for a stopping point.

    Once I find a good load, if I haven't chrono'd it, I will.

    I don't do the ladder method. JohnnyK.
     
  8. rmpoole

    rmpoole Member

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    Thank you all for your responses. I feel a lot better about going to the range now. This seems like it just comes down to a lot of meticulous trial and error so thats my plan. All the while getting better at shooting so by the time Im ready to start knocking down steel at 1 mile at least Ill know my equipment can do it.
     
  9. roninflag

    roninflag Well-Known Member

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    RM- what rifle??
     
  10. RMulhern

    RMulhern Well-Known Member

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    Buy the Sierra Handbook of Reloading and use it! It will tell you what you need to do.lightbulblightbulb
     
  11. rmpoole

    rmpoole Member

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    Savage Long Range Hunter. I have taken the factory muzzle brake off and put on a Little Jimmy muzzle brake from American Precision Arms.
     
  12. benchracer

    benchracer Well-Known Member

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    Start with this:

    http://www.longrangehunting.com/for...accuracy-berger-vld-bullets-your-rifle-40204/

    Then do this:

    OCW Overview - Dan Newberry's OCW Load Development System

    You will find the best load that a given combination will produce in your rifle in 50 rounds or less. Once you find your load, shoot it at distance to validate its accuracy.

    Keep in mind, however, that increasing distances will magnify the effects of shooter error, wind, and mirage. Anyone can shoot 1/2 MOA at 100 yards. Doing the same at 600 or 1000 yards requires solid shooting technique and the ability to read and compensate for environmental conditions.

    More important than following the above steps, is to find a methodology that works for you and makes sense to you. Then follow that methodology every time. Consistency and repeatability are the name of the game. That's not to say that you can't or shouldn't be on the lookout for new techniques to try. Just be sure that you understand what you are doing and why.

    You don't really need a chrono for load development. Once you have settled on your final load, shooting it over the chrono can provide the data you need if you are using a ballistics program. That data will get you in the ballpark, but you will still need to fine tune it based on actual POI at distance.

    One final note: Don't let people tell you what your load has to be. Some will say that you can't get an accurate load unless you use a certain primer or certain brass. Others will insist that you won't achieve top accuracy unless you seat your bullet close to or jammed into the lands. Everybody has their little voodoo dance that they insist is the secret to accuracy. Let your rifle tell you what it likes. The rest is just hot air, well intentioned hot air perhaps, but hot air all the same.
     
  13. LDHunter

    LDHunter Well-Known Member

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    After using and believing in the ladder method for several years I started doubting it and started picking my loads by using nothing but max or nearly max loads with Hodgdon Extreme powder that have almost no velocity variation as temperatures fluctuate and by using almost all medium burning powders such as Varget for all my loading in all but "super mags".

    That GREATLY simplified my life, increased my enjoyment of shooting and, probably due to my increasing proficiency with shooting, shrunk my group sizes and gave me better one shot hit ratios.

    The ladder method may still be somewhat relevant with skinny barrels that aren't properly bedded due to barrel whip and nodes and other such magic that I don't think I'll ever fully understand but I choose to bed all barreled actions these days and right after I did that a LOT of my shooting eccentricities and head scratching seemed to melt away. LOL

    Hope my addled babbling helped or saved you some time.... ;)

    $bob$
     
  14. Nimrod

    Nimrod Well-Known Member

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    This !

    I see a lot of folks recommending other things but the best policy IMHO is to start with starting loads and work up. Just recently I ran into a situation that, had I started with a max load would likely have damaged a rifle if not worse. In over 40 years of loading this is the second time I have encountered this but the first time taught me a valuable lesson. Every rifle is different!

    Bob