Would love some help developing my Elk load.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Stake, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. Stake

    Stake Member

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    Hey guys. Been lurking for a long time, and finally got around to joining. This will be a fairly long first post, so hopefully you’ll see that I’ve put some research into this, and not just jumping in and asking questions I could have easily searched on the boards. I’ve got a couple questions for those of you who are certainly more knowledgeable than I (which, I assume, is just about everyone). I’m fairly new at the precision rifle/long range game, so please forgive my obvious past mistakes and new-guy questions.

    A little background… Last year I had my first precision rifle built in 30.06: Bell and Carlson stock, Rem 700 action, Krieger #6 heavy bull barrel (1 in 10), custom trigger, etc, and topped it w/a FFP Vortex Viper PST 4-16x. I had it painted in MarPat digital. My intent with this project was to use it for the enjoyment of range days at long-range targets, and elk/deer hunting here in CO. So… After 6 months of trying to find the parts, waiting for the work to be done, etc, I finally picked it up. Overall a beautiful job by a great gunsmith. A few trips to the range and very quickly learned I was out of my league. The factory 180 gr Hornady SST superformance rounds I started with would go stupid out of the barrel. After researching more about ballistics, I knew I needed to learn how to hand-load. So, while trying to get used to my new baby, I started the process of teaching myself reloading (and thanks for all the help you have unknowingly given me along the way). After recommendations from friends I settled on Nosler Accubond in 180gr for my elk load. The final recipe produced a round travelling 2630 fps and (with me behind the rifle) just under .4 MOA at 300yds. I was able to get first round hits on target out to about 620yds, which is as far as my local range goes.

    Fast forward to my first elk hunt… after 3 days of trekking around up at 11k ft, hearing them calling, smelling them, but not seeing them, I finally got my chance. A bull and 2 cows out grazing at 1100yds. I was able to stalk as close as 830yds with a clear shot. They were right across a valley at the same altitude, no wind, quartering away. I set up, sighted in, and had the perfect shot. Bang! Miss. It was the only shot I got. I literally spent months agonizing over why that shot missed.

    Since then I’ve learned quite a bit more. At the time I had my load data set to the G7 profile, with the advertised BC of .507 plugged in. At 620 yards this worked fine, so I didn’t know to look for a problem. As I researched more I realized that BC number was way too high. I called Nosler and spoke with one of their tech reps. He informed me that the Accubond is actually closest to a G5 profile, and for marketing reasons they advertise the G1 BC on the box because, as we all know, higher BCs sell more bullets. I asked what the correct G5 BC and he told me he didn’t know- to just go out and verify at different distances. Great. Eventually I found the JBM converter, and looking at the new data, it appears I was off by over 30 inches when I took my shot.

    So, needless to say I’m pissed at myself for not doing more research, and fairly pissed at Nosler for their less-than-truthful advertising. I spent a whole lot of time, money, and effort to get in position for that shot, and while the whole trip was a great experience, I really would have like to fill my tag. Now that my draw application is in and I’m starting to think about next season, I want to get this load down before I head out.

    This was a very long-winded way of getting to my questions, so any insight ya’ll have on the following would be appreciated:

    1) Would shooting a lighter round (165-8gr vs. 180gr) at higher speeds produce better accuracy at longer ranges?
    2) Would switching to a slower burning powder in a heavy barrel produce better results (currently using IMR 4007 SSC)?
    3) Does anyone have any experience with purpose-built long-range bullets, or are these just marketing ploys too? (Any thoughts on specific bullets would be welcome)

    Thanks!
     
  2. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter Well-Known Member

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    Your accuracy if fine. .4 min will take you to 1000 yards. You just need to verify your drops out to 1000 yards. The other thing to consider is your bullet. What minimum velocity will that AB open up at? Great bullet out to 400 yards or so at your velocities. My guess is that bullet will pencil through at lower velocities. Keep them for closer shots and load up some Berger's for longer range work. Maybe try the 190 grainers.
    If you change anything it might be to try a different powder to increase your velocity. Your starting rather slow so you have a lot of drop. Good luck. Bruce
     

  3. Stake

    Stake Member

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    Thanks for the input. I originally did start out shooting higher velocities, but was having accuracy issues. When I grouped the AB's, the 2630fps seemed to be their sweet spot. Any faster and the groups would start to open up. I was under the impression that the heavier the bullet is, the slower it would need to go to maintain accuracy, which is why I was thinking a lighter bullet at faster speeds.

    Can I assume that the 190gr Bergers can be shot at higher velocities than the AB, and still maintain accuracy?
     
  4. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    I use a 30-06 and the 190gr Berger with Lapua brass. My current load is 53gr RL 17 @ 2706 proven. This load will shoot 1 MOA to 800 yards. If you use the BC G7 @ 0.291 that bullet with this load is good out to 700 yards then it drops below the 1800fps required by Berger for proper expansion. The energy at 700 yards is about 1387ft lbs. In my rifle RL 17 maxes out right around 2750 with the 190gr.

    I just ordered some 215gr Berger's for my 300 WM and am going to try them in the 06 and just see. Quick Load shows with 50.5gr, RL17, 215gr Berger, BC G7 0.356 and a velocity of around 2600fps. That gets me out to 780 yards with a energy of around 1550 ft lbs. That is pretty impressive for the 06 and in my opinion worth trying. The RL 17 might be a little fast as it is 100% burned out at about 17 inches of barrel travel with a bullet this heavy.


    All of the above is with a 25.75 #5 Brux barrel 1:10.
     
  5. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter Well-Known Member

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    The Berger's May or may not maintain their accuracy at higher velocities. Depends on your barrel. Just have to try it to see. The biggest advantage is that the Burger will expand reliably at a lower velocity (distance) than the AB's. For long range hunting that is important. Bruce
     
  6. HARPERC

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

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    Simplify where possible.
    1) The color your rifle was painted didn't effect the shot.
    2) Yes you have to verify your system at the ranges you intend to shoot, and by shooting no matter whose overhyped bullet you use.
    3) Yes there is likely a more effective load for your rifle, but it's likely a heavier bullet, and a different powder.
    4) Are you measuring inputs, or guessing? Changing just elevation from 5000 to 11,000 feet gave a 12" difference when I ran the numbers. The variables accumulate.
    5) A lot of it is trial and error, and there isn't a substitute for stumbling through it.

    I'd try the Berger bullets, and the 190 Accubond LR. The Accubond LR is new and not a lot is known just yet. It's likely the low velocity expansion thresh hold is optimistic, and the BC isn't what's advertised, but that doesn't mean it won't be better than the standard Accubond.

    The velocity your getting with 180's isn't all that hard to achieve with 190, and 200 grain bullets in 30-06.
     
  7. Kennibear

    Kennibear Well-Known Member

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    I find 2630 fps quite slow in that length barrel and 180grs in a 30/06. My load is a Sierra 180gr SpBT GMK, 56.5 grains of IMR 4350 and a Remington 9 1/2 LRMag primer in WW cases. In a E.R. Shaw 27" barrel it goes 2930fps and is a maximum load.

    You are giving up a lot of velocity with that load and mine is 1/2" @ 100yds every shot, 3 - 50, doesn't matter. As HarperC and kcebcj pointed out, higher velocity up front keeps the minimum velocity you need to expand the bullet to a longer range.

    215gr Berger is worth a try as it consistently performs in most guns and can be driven at reasonable velocity from a 30/06. I've always used the Sierra 180 GMK with very good performance on game but Berger's reputation is excellent. My son is switching to the 210 gr VLD Hunting in his 300 WinMag.

    Don't shoot at game further than you have shot on paper with a hunting load. Computers can only predict. We must verify.

    KB
     
  8. Stake

    Stake Member

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    The color of my rifle didn't affect the shot? G-ddamit!

    Yes, I'm measuring the inputs.

    Thanks for all the info/advice. Plenty to think about and try- it's very much appreciated. Off to buy a bunch of different bullets...
     
  9. Sully2

    Sully2 Well-Known Member

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    Learn to stalk in closer..!
     
  10. Timber338

    Timber338 Well-Known Member

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    Generally speaking, if you are primarily going to hunt elk, I would recommend shooting a heavier bullet in the 180 - 210 range. Elk are big critters and shooting them a long ways off needs a bullet that still retains energy at lower velocities.

    Here are my thoughts to your 3 questions at the end of your 1st post:
    1.) lighter vs heavier bullets: It sounds like you have a very nice rifle. I would guess that you will be able to shoot any weight bullet with accuracy, although, some rifles do prefer one weight over any other. Your trajectory will be flatter with the lighter/faster bullet, but you will have larger wind drift. Likewise, the heavier/slower (higher b.c.) bullet will drift less with the wind, but will have a more curved trajectory. The thought is that using a rangefinder is very accurate, while reading the wind is not an exact science. More error comes from wind drift than trajectory... that's why so many people like shooting high b.c. bullets.

    2.) powder burn rate: I try and find a powder that comes as close to 100% case capacity for a particular bullet and seating combination. I think others here with extensive experience with the 30-06 will be able to give you some of the go-to powders for this cartridge.

    3.) There are lots of guys here who have posted quite a bit about high VLD bullets for hunting, and have had great success out to very long range. Definitely not hype, but the hunting specific performance of any bullet is a hot topic ... VLD long range bullets can have a reputation to explode at closer ranges, while the more durable bullets (barnes, partition, accubond) often times do not have the desired expansion at longer distances or below 1800 fps. You may find that it is very hard right now to find anything in stock (powder/bullets/primers). You may have to play the waiting game to find any particular bullet/powder, so you are on the right track by asking around here to see what the most popular long range bullet/powder combo is for the 30-06.
     
  11. trueblue

    trueblue Well-Known Member

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    Stake
    Try not to take this the wrong way, but if you had only practiced to 620 yards, the length of your local range, you really had no business taking a shot at an animal at over 800+ yards.
    If you are wanting to shot long range, go with the Berger's. Verify your drops at the distances you plan to hunt. I have in the past went out west a day early to verify my dope. A good range finder is a must. I used the G7 BR2 Last year to take a mule deer at 841yards, and the dope it gave me was spot on.
    Can't help you much for load data and the 30-06, as I don't shot one.
     
  12. Stake

    Stake Member

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    Agree. It's a mistake I won't make again.
     
  13. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    The best way to learn is to get hooked up with another forum member than has solid long range experience, if were to fill out at least the state your in on your profile you'd be amazed how many guys are willing to give you some help!!

    I applaud you for recognizing a change is needed and your getting help, I'll bet the next bull that stands there will be in serious trouble!!
     
  14. trueblue

    trueblue Well-Known Member

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    Stake
    You live in a great state for longrangehunting hunters.
    I am sure you can find someone with experience to go shooting with.
    It is even tougher for us flat landers to learn the game.