Best methods to create low ES and SD hand loads with the easiest and simplest reloading work up.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Wachsmann, Oct 16, 2019.

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  1. Wachsmann

    Wachsmann Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2008
    We all like to talk about our groups and how well a rifle may shoot or how small our groups may be but what about all the work it takes to get there. So what I'm looking at is ES under 20 and a SD of 10 or better.
    For me this can be hard to get to the above standards with just standard reloading. I would like to hear what people have found that make a game changer in there reloading. Was it annealing the case necks every time, was it using bushing dies, was it trimming the outer neck diameter thickness, was it sorting brass, primers, bullet weight, bullet ogive length and the list goes on.

    For me I like to buy Bergers bullets even though I will admit I have been shooting a lot of Hornady lately. I think Bergers are the most consistent (just my opinion). I don't sort anything.
    I clean my cases in a nut shell media, I FL size bumping back the shoulder length about 1 to 2 thousands. I seat or try to seat the bullets to a consistent Ogive length. I don't have a good annealer but I try and anneal cases about every 3 firings. I weigh each powder charge on and RCBS charge master and then over to a balance beam to always double check my powder loads. I only use Federal match 210, or 215 primers, or BR2s. I use a VLD neck case reamer before seating bullets and I also will take the bur out of the primer pocket (I forget the term). It's a process which i did not put in order but everyone get the ideal. Not a whole lot of work but I still find it hard for a 10 shot string to keep in that 20 ES and 10 SD. Lately I've been backing off the powder charge thinking that speed is not everything. I usually push my loads and I shoot for sub MOA at 200 yards. I like to see .5MOA or better at 100 yards. But this brings me back to my reloading I still will see higher ES over a 10 shot string. I know there are other factors that can contribute to this like outside environment, soaking a round in a hot chamber, dirty barrel, etc, etc. But lets here some of the game changers you have found that really helped deliver those excellent numbers.
    SealTeam4 likes this.
  2. Bigeclipse

    Bigeclipse Well-Known Member

    Aug 10, 2012
    You say 10 shot string but do not define barrel thickness or if you are cooling any time between shots. A 10 shot string on a sporter contour barrel....I doubt you would be able to keep your ES and SD low because the barrel would heat up so much unless you are allowing a decent amount of time between shots.
    Ron Paul and Alibiiv like this.
  3. Wachsmann

    Wachsmann Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2008
    I agree with everything you said and I have to let some of my rifles cool for quite some time to to recheck between shot. I guess I looking at more about the putting together the load what gives the most consistent ES and SD and has there every been anything that dropped the ES very significant. I reload the same method every time with the exception of annealing because I just haven't broke down and bought an annealer yet.
    Here are my steps...
    1. I de-prime. ( just a de-priming die no sizing).
    2. I clean in dry tumbler walnut red stuff. ( usually a few hours)
    3. Remove and clean primer pockets with a wire brush.
    4. I full length size bumping the shoulder back about .002 for easier cambering.(all hunting riffle).
    5. Clean again to remove any sizing compound. ( about 2 hours).
    6. Measure and trim cases to correct length.
    7. VLD inside of case mouth an debur
    8. Prime all case with RCBS hand primer. I seat them as far as the had primer seats them.
    9. Weigh each charge ( first thrown on the RCBS charge master and then double checked on balance beam).
    10. Seat bullets to a specific Ogive length.

    I build consistent loads but I still see some ES that are spiking up in the 30 fps range and few I've seen in the 40 fps range. I have suspected its generally something to do with the brass and how the neck tension may be effecting the round. I don't count the first shot on a completely cleaned bore. It's always produced different results. My best method is to shoot, allow to cool, shoot, allow to cool,shoot, allow to cool, and then I run a bore snake through the barrel 3 times. I repeat this till I get 10 shots or 9. I find if I run the bore snake every 3 shots it seem to keep about the same fouling for about 25 or so shots and I can usually group consistently. This was the way I set up my 300 rum which allowed me to take a buck at 761 yards. I felt very good that I could take the shot with good confidence, and I practice a lot out to 1000 yards.

    So I guess what does it take to get over that hump, It might be a better barrel, (mine are all factory barrels) if its sorting all the brass, bullets (weight and ogive), is it neck turning to a controlled thickness, is it annealing every time. Is it all these things to achieve the top up most ES, SD, and accuracy. I know this takes a lot more time but if its worth it then it might a process to consider. One more thing to add I generally always uses temp stable powder.

    Please chime in. A lot of us would like to know from the experts.
    lgwatson likes this.
  4. Plinker147

    Plinker147 Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2015
    The biggest improvements for me came from learning how to do better loads.
    1) Being able to measure loads to be XXX off lands. Loading with using comparitor
    2) ladder loads to find nodes.
    These 2 I think are huge for consistent loads.
    3) I have also switched to using the more expensive quality brass which solves the brass sorting and neck turning issues to an extent.

    I don't turn necks or get match chambers (yet)
    MNbogboy, lgwatson, Don Titus and 2 others like this.
  5. BallisticsGuy

    BallisticsGuy Well-Known Member

    May 8, 2016
    A full case, but not too full, helps. Best I can do for you and it doesn't work all of the time.

    There's not a magic thing or set of things. Everything else, all the little tricks and doohickies, is like ingredients in a salad. You can keep adding more things until it's just a mess and you hate it or you can add totally the wrong things together and hate it or you can find the exact right combination of things based on good old experimentation, useful sample sizes and good record keeping. It helps if you start with a case that doesn't have any room for unnecessary air after the bullet's been seated.
  6. stljc2

    stljc2 Well-Known Member

    Jun 12, 2016
    100 yd 3 shot group( I know not that far but developing load) es.9 sd.6 2688 ft/s 260 rem5r Gen ll Factory M700 Rem. 24" barrel...Just keep experimenting. Off set was on purpose to keep bull from getting obscured with holes and aiming dot.
    GonzoK34 and Lonehunter like this.
  7. Varmint Hunter

    Varmint Hunter Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2001
    IME - heavy for caliber bullets tend to generate lower SDs. Just something I noticed.

    BTW - I often record single digit SDs and have even seen a few 1s and a zero. Intersting thing is that I have never annealed a case. I use Lapua cases whenever possible and neck turn most others.
    PNWdude67 likes this.
  8. Jud96

    Jud96 Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2013
    The biggest factor is finding a powder node in my opinion. If you’re not in a node you can have crazy high ES and SD numbers even if you have the most accurate and tedious loading techniques. I also use a Bald Eagle scale that measures to the hundredths place and load every round to +-0.02 of a grain. My Dad uses a standard RCBS 10-10 scale and double checks his charges on the Bald Eagle. He also gets very good ES and SDs, but he also is loading in the middle of nodes. You have to zero and calibrate your scale(s), keep them clean, and stay away from air drifts. If I’m loading a big batch of ammo, I use a Redding BR3 powder measure and throw charges 0.5gr or so under my desired load, then put it on the scale and trickle up to my load and double check it.

    I use Federal primers, either standard or Gold Metal Match, I don’t think there’s a big difference but I never interchange the two unless I retest or develop a new load. I’ve also achieved good ES and SD with Winchester, Remington, Wolf, and CCI primers. I think if you develop your powder around the primer you’re using, you can achieve consistency. I think some primers are better than others, but not leaps and bounds better in my opinion.

    I also use high load density charges and tend to use the slowest powder I can without compressing the powder a ton. I only use stick powders and use mainly temp stable powders. I do use RL26, it’s not extremely stable, but it’s much better than older Reloder powders and other non stable powders. I believe stable powders keep you in the node throughout the year and will stay consistent and not so temperamental.

    For brass, I prep every piece of brass I load. I currently only use standard dies and have never had any accuracy issues or problems to warrant the use of bushing dies. I’ll eventually get some, but I do not feel handicapped at all with standard dies. I size my brass, trim them, deburr inside and outside the case mouths, uniform the primer pockets, uniform and deburr the flash holes, I also neck turn if necessary for the chamber I’m using. I don’t anneal or weight sort my brass. I would like to get a nice annealing machine one day and begin doing that because I know it can help. I also don’t waste time sorting bullets or primers. I don’t think uniforming the primer pockets and deburring the flash holes makes a huge difference, but this is how I was taught and how I’ve always prepped my brass.

    One thing I do when seating bullets, is I seat the bullet halfway, rotate the case, then finish seating the bullet. Again, this is what my Dad taught me when I was little and he loaded thousands of rounds for the Army Marksmanship Unit, so I have always followed this advice. I have heard from him and others, that it makes a difference and can improve bullet runout. It’s a very simple step, and once you start doing it, it’s second nature to me now and is just a standard part of my technique.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2019
    Weaselthis, stx, Frog4aday and 4 others like this.
  9. aushunter1

    aushunter1 Well-Known Member

    Nov 16, 2012
    Personally I don't see to much you aren't thinking about or doing to reduce the number but as you said in your last post 'suspect it might have something to do with neck tension' is definitely one thing to look at.
    This can be attributed to a couple of things imo, case hardening of the neck(BR shooters will anneal every firing) & also not neck turning plus if you look at what a lot of BR shooters do they remove the standard expander to reduce run out & then neck up with a specific diameter expander like a K&M to give either 1 or 2 thousands neck tension.

    The other thing is the powder dispenser/scale & beam scale your referring to have a variance range of +-.1gr!
    If you want to get these numbers down near single digits then again something to look at would be getting some scientific or more precise scales.

    I have a CMC, try this to show what I am talking about, dispense say exactly 50gr of any powder, then with your finger start adding 1 individual grain of powder at a time until you see the charge jump by .1gr, with some powders I can drop in 5 or 6 individual grains before it goes up!!

    In the end if your getting .5moa then not sure what all the fuss is about or why you need to go to further extremes just for some numbers ??
  10. Tralle

    Tralle New Member

    Jan 19, 2013
    What chronograph are you using?

    1% deviation is 25 fps for a round going 2500.

    Unless you have one that measures consistent you will be chasing your tail.
    Kiwi Greg likes this.
  11. Wachsmann

    Wachsmann Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2008
    The powder thing after doing this a while I should have written it down but you start noticing how many little small sticks it takes to equal .1 grains and yes I have done the small little tweezers dropping one single kernel at a time to get the powder charge correct.
    For as keeping the loads at the low ES/SD numbers I just hate seeing the ones that are over the norm. I also just recently upgraded to a magneto speed so my old chrono may have been a little cause of some of the high or low numbers in a string. It was a
    Competition Electronics ProChrono. I know its not the best but it got me really close a lot of times. I would have to verify the loads at long ranges and then adjust the dope. I know its something that we always have to do to check out our loads but consistency is the name of the game. I hoping the magneto speed will be a lot more precise. I see your point about the 1% thing.
    Neck turning and annealing. I will probably get an annealer next and start doing this after every firing. Looking at the annealeez for doing the brass. I tried building my own but it needs some refining. Not sure if I wont to try and refine it since Christmas is coming up.:D.
  12. GoosePilot

    GoosePilot Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2018
    Im just getting started. Norma brass, fire formed, then trued the base with le wilson trimmer. FL size and bump shoulder .002, then expand neck to .015 neck tension, trim case to length, clean and size primer pocket, chargemaster for charge, seat bullet, turn 180 and seat again. Check bto, contricity. Keep everything to +/-.001

    I loaded 5 each and then shot them round robin.

    5 just fl size and bump, nothing else. Got 20 es and <10 sd.
    5 fl size and bump, trim to length. Got 21 es and <10 ad
    5 fl size and bump, true base and trim to length. 10 es and <4 sd.

    This was eol 195 over 68.3g h1000 f215 at 2850 from 24" 7mm blaser mag improved. All 3 grouped about .5 moa at 500 yds. In a node

    Not a huge test and only did it once so far. But truing base seems to help. Have an amp annealer and plan to anneal each time from here on out.
  13. Pointman

    Pointman Active Member

    Aug 12, 2017
  14. Pointman

    Pointman Active Member

    Aug 12, 2017
    I agree with you on the bullet seating concept you mention. After all of the work brass prep, primer seating and powder weighing, it doesn't make sense to just "jam" the bullet into the case. I use my "old" 70's vintage RCBS chucker to o all of the sizing deprime work. I am really fussy about brass prep, cleaning etc. I did recently add a M.E.C metalic press, the one with a "floating" shell holder. I used to have to "adjust: the runout on most of the M.E.C.
    Jud96 likes this.