Load development: leadsled or bipod?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by USMCSSGT, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. USMCSSGT

    USMCSSGT Well-Known Member

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    Looking to develop a load range load for hunting.
    Tikka T3, 300WSM
    using RE17 and berger 168 & 185 VLD hunting.
    last night shot 3 shot groups with 61, 62, 63, 64, 64.5, 65, & 65.5 grns powder. 5 minutes between shots (barrel felt slightly warm).

    Started last night using my bipod & rear bag. First time shooting with either. Best group so far was just under 1". Unsure if it may be affected by my novice status on the pod & bag. Thinking I should borrow my buddies leadsled for development, and use the bipod for my practice after I find my load.

    What size bipod are you guys using? I have the 6-9 swivel Harris, and I sure feel contorted trying to get on the scope while prone.
     
  2. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    I advise against the lead sled, i hear they are hard on stocks and scopes and you should take all the practice you can get shooting like you do in the field. or from a bench/across your hood. its the only way to go in my experience.
     

  3. Dr. Vette

    Dr. Vette Well-Known Member

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    And, for a different view, I'd do the same as you propose and use the Lead Sled for development and then finalize shooting in the same configuration you're going to use in the field. While a 300WSM isn't bad, continually shooting that sure can wear you out. I do not suspect that a Lead Sled can harm a contemporary synthetic stock. An old wood one with a big caiber is a different story.

    For myself I use a Lead Sled if I'm doing a lot of shooting and then finalize with bags.
     
  4. djtjr

    djtjr Well-Known Member

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    Do load development like you will shoot in the field. And not likely on the led sled as it will handle the recoil of the gun differently than your shoulder and prob not show similar results. If you are relatively new I prob wouldn't shoot off a bipod as form will dictate how well it will shoot. With perfect form and alignment trigger control ets a bipod can be extremely accurate but I would recommend a conventional front rest with rear bags as the most forgiving and the best practice method to get started.
     
  5. Tikkamike

    Tikkamike Well-Known Member

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    very well said.
     
  6. 3fingervic

    3fingervic Well-Known Member

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    +1 on the bipod and rear bag. On an other note, did you consider doing a ladder test to find the accuracy node first, to narrow it down to a few grains. Then try groups between a few grains every .3 grains, or so.
     
  7. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

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    A good bipod is quick and easy to setup. ...and a very accurate front rest.

    You probably don't want one for benchrest competition. But, they're great for anything from load development to hunting.

    Your groups for load development may suffer by .010-.020" @ 100yds compared to the lead sled. But, does that really matter?

    There's nothing wrong with a lead sled, or my preference, Caldwell Fire Control. But, they are a hassle to drag around and won't really promote practice. So, use one for load development if it doesn't slow you down too much. And, don't feel handicapped doing load development from a bipod.

    Either way, go practice long range with your bipod or whatever setup(s) you'll be hunting with.

    Have fun and don't overthink it!
    -- Richard
     
  8. befus

    befus Member

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    When using heavy recoiling calibers I think it useless to develop loads if you are going to flinch enough to affect the impact point. I personally use a light vice and a shoulder pad, but would not advise against a lead sled if the recoil is going to affect your ability to accurately evaluate the loads. To check scope alignment before hunting by all means use normal field set up, but if you plan on shooting 50-60 heavy recoiling shots.....don't kid yourself and use the crutch to have data worth using. IMHO.
     
  9. rscott5028

    rscott5028 Well-Known Member

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    After re-reading your post, it seems that you lack confidence in your setup due to several variables. Hence, you need to eliminate those variables.

    Use the sled to see what the rifle's capable of. Once you've developed confidence in your skill and the rifle, then go back to the bipod for practice and/or load development.

    I use the 6-9 swivel Harris also and it works fine for me I can consistently get 1/2 MOA from a good rifle/load and sometimes better. A good rear bag and proper fitting stock make a difference as does having the scope positioned for shooting prone comfortably.

    A lot of factory rifles are not well stress relieved and require cooling between shots. But, even a hunting rifle should be good for a 3 shot group. If you determine that cooling is required for your rifle and you plan to do much long range shooting, you may want to invest in a custom barrel. You can get in a lot more practice when you're able to squeeze off a 15-20 shot string without having your POI shift all over the place.

    -- richard
     
  10. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    I have always used the lead sled for my load development. It tends to remove more of the human element from the equation. When trying different loads, I don't want to discard something good because of an erroneous reading I made when shooting off the bipod. Just too many variables to account for. I want to remove as many outside variables as possible.

    The trick is to get off the sled and onto the bipod (or front rest that you will use in the field) once your load is developed. We human shooters love to see small groups from our rifles - so when going to the range, we tend to bring the sled along to reproduce those same small groups for ourselves (and anyone else who is watching). Problem is, there are no lead sleds close at hand when hunting in the field. That is why practicing in the field with what you will be using becomes so critical.

    So use the sled - then use some discipline and lock it away. Don't ever go back to it for that rifle unless it is to develop a new load.
     
  11. USMCSSGT

    USMCSSGT Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the advice!

    Had not heard of the "ladder test". Reading up, it looks like something I need to try.

    My buddy owns the sled. I'll borrow it for development only. Marksmanship is learned with practice (no sled).

    My range has 200, 300, 500, & 600 yards. Which would be best for the ladder test? It has a target pit, so an observer can watch bullet placement.

    I can see from my last range session with the bipod that I need to move the scope forward.

    Do most use the 6-9 bipod, or the 9-13? It really feels too low to me. But if I use the larger one, my LRS bean bag will be too small.
     
  12. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    I use a 6"-9" Harris bipod with the podlock. I use this mostly when I am in a postion higher than the quarry and shooting downhill. You will find that the heighth of the ground vegetation will dictate when and how often the bipod can be used.

    More often than not, my shots are taken off a pack & clothing (padding) thrown over a log or boulder. Occassionally, I will use sticks - if I have them along.

    Once you get off the sled and out into the field, you will quickly find out what works (and which products are impractical) most of the time. I was mildly surprised to learn that the bipod was only good about 25%-35% of the time on the shots I was trying to make prone.

    The field is where your learning will take palce. After a while, you will naturally start gravitating to those rests that have worked for you in the past - such as a bipod when making a shot on a downhill slope, or a rock/stump when shooting flat or uphill. Sometimes a tree works best.

    But the learning curve can only begin when you start making the real shots out in the field under different circumstances.
     
  13. MSLRHunter

    MSLRHunter Well-Known Member

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    In your situation, I would definitely recommend the lead sled for load development. From reading your post you have little experience and confidence shooting from a bipod. Load development is not the time to be experimenting with a new shooting position. Do your load development on the lead sled, then switch over to the bipod with the confidence that you have the most accurate load for your rifle and practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more! Good luck.
     
  14. budlight

    budlight Well-Known Member

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    I am pro Led Sled for all lighter caliber guns. like anything less than 30 cal super mags. They cut down dial in time. I bought a new 243 rem 700 Varminter. I spent chrono time to dial in my loads Then I went to the range with cement tables and my led sled with 40 pound fly wheel and two 25 pound bags of steel shot. I started out at 50 yards and did a rough center. I moved out to 200 yards and with my 1/8 inch clicks walked it in.

    When you are moving around you tend to chase the last shot and make corrections. The led sled takes the human error out. So when you get it down to one inch ish 10 shot groups. Get rid of the led sled and work on how you use it in the field...

    I have the harris 13.5 - 27. It is hard to see prone. But I'm very good at popping the legs out to 27 inches and sitting down and being on a target very fast. Like jack Rabbits. They run for a distance and then stop and look back to see what you are up to. When they stop maybe 20 yards out you have to be ready. They are not going to wait around for you to fiddle.