Hammers in 308

SuperBruce

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So Tac and 8208 seem to be the preferred powders. Where do I start? Do I run a ladder with each and see what works best? I want to load the 124 and 137 hammer hunters. I have Lapua brass and CCI 200 primers (all I can find these days). Or should I start with one bullet and focus on that until it is dialed in?
Everyone is different, but I would run them in parallel if you already have both in hand. At least for the initial step of looking for speed and pressure since it's only about a dozen bullets per ladder and that's if you use 2 shot groups. If you have a range in your back yard it's a different story. Hammers are notorious for being easy to group so chances are you'll end up with a good load in both weights, the only question is whether you're getting the speed you want at the accuracy node.
 

ButterBean

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Everyone is different, but I would run them in parallel if you already have both in hand. At least for the initial step of looking for speed and pressure since it's only about a dozen bullets per ladder and that's if you use 2 shot groups. If you have a range in your back yard it's a different story. Hammers are notorious for being easy to group so chances are you'll end up with a good load in both weights, the only question is whether you're getting the speed you want at the accuracy node.
You don't work Hammer Loads up in that fashion
 

SuperBruce

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You don't work Hammer Loads up in that fashion
Yes I do and it works great. Perhaps you do something superior but this way has worked really well for me. If doing parallel ladders is your contention then maybe I just value my time and fuel for the trip to the range differently than you.
 

SuperBruce

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I'm glad it works for you but how about we not confuse a new Hammer loader and stick to what we all know works, No offense intended
Please feel empowered to add some more detail since I'm apparently not initiated in the "we" group myself.

I'm also interested to know why you think hammers are special wrt load workup, in my minds eye they need the same things all other bullets need: consistent powder ignition/burn and satisfactory groups (which is notoriously easy with hammers, you very often find the last step is a no-op).
 

ButterBean

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Please feel empowered to add some more detail since I'm apparently not initiated in the "we" group myself.

I'm also interested to know why you think hammers are special wrt load workup, in my minds eye they need the same things all other bullets need: consistent powder ignition/burn and satisfactory groups (which is notoriously easy with hammers, you very often find the last step is a no-op).
Really.gif
 

SuperBruce

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I was serious about adding some detail, that would be helpful for both the OP, me, and perhaps others that follow. Even a link would be nice.

Presuming you have it, I consider the "why" just as important as the "how" so principles can be applied to other scenarios instead of a specific bullet + powder + primer + brass + your-specific-rifle.
 

ButterBean

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1,Clear you mind of everything you know about reloading any other bullet and concentrate on this
2, .0035-.004 neck interference ( pull your expander ball and put it away, There is a video on YouTube )
3, Put as much bullet in the neck as possible, I load to the last PDR Groove ( Do not worry about COAL )
4, LEE FCD is not a must but will help everything tremendously if used correctly ( There is a video on YouTube )
5, Powder choices and charge weights will scare most folks to death and bring out the Naysayers
6, Load in 1 grain increments until you see you first pressure signs ( Sicky bolt or ejector mark)
7, Disregard all you know about looking at primers and don't worry about what they look like
8, Load to 90%-95% of case capacity, if you have a slightly compressed load and no signs of pressure you need a faster powder
9, Varget and H4350 ( or similar burn rates will cover 90% of the Hammers until you get to where we are in this thread
10, Hammers are twist rate critical , If it says 1.8 it means 1.8
11, I think everyone here knows how to get ahold of me but if not here you are

Lee Brockmeier
6780 West Whitesell Ave
West Terre Haute In 47885
812-264-6183
 

SuperBruce

Member
Joined
Nov 4, 2021
Messages
24
Location
Utah
1,Clear you mind of everything you know about reloading any other bullet and concentrate on this
2, .0035-.004 neck interference ( pull your expander ball and put it away, There is a video on YouTube )
3, Put as much bullet in the neck as possible, I load to the last PDR Groove ( Do not worry about COAL )
4, LEE FCD is not a must but will help everything tremendously if used correctly ( There is a video on YouTube )
5, Powder choices and charge weights will scare most folks to death and bring out the Naysayers
6, Load in 1 grain increments until you see you first pressure signs ( Sicky bolt or ejector mark)
7, Disregard all you know about looking at primers and don't worry about what they look like
8, Load to 90%-95% of case capacity, if you have a slightly compressed load and no signs of pressure you need a faster powder
9, Varget and H4350 ( or similar burn rates will cover 90% of the Hammers until you get to where we are in this thread
10, Hammers are twist rate critical , If it says 1.8 it means 1.8
11, I think everyone here knows how to get ahold of me but if not here you are

Lee Brockmeier
6780 West Whitesell Ave
West Terre Haute In 47885
812-264-6183
Thank you, that is some good advice. Other than how we find max charge I don't think we actually disagree. I prefer to start shoot groups of 2 in the charge range I think will be productive to get a preview of burn consistency (velocity extreme spread, ES) and group sizes (which more often than not correlates with ES) but that's because it takes some doin for me to get to the range so another $5 of hammers to accelerate the process is worth it to me, but at a bit over a $1 per bullet the calculus will work out different depending on circumstances.

I haven't messed with point 2 myself, have stuck with the 0.002 neck tension my HDY dies leave and so far it's worked just fine, but I can believe that it may help with the relieve grooves to have more tension to start. I'll keep that in mind if I run into burn consistency issues in the future.

Point 3 is interesting but makes sense for hammers: hammers have been ultra jump-insensitive in my experience. I have loaded to mag length because the 15X weight 308's get full engagement of the neck but shorter bullets may not so definitely keep this in mind. Is it safe to say this correlates with your focus on neck tension (from points 2 and 4 as well)? Not using the whole neck surface would certainly reduce tension.

Point 5 is definitely true: I've found hammers to be happy with much more/faster powder than what you'd normally think but good advice is to not be the first one to find out otherwise the hard way so work up to it looking for ejector marks, sticky bolts, or other less common signs of excessive as discussed in point 6.

I'm curious about point 7: I use CCI 200's so I rarely see flattening but why would this be different for hammers than anything else? Or is this an indictment of reading to much into primer shape altogether (which I would agree with)?
 

SuperBruce

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Messages
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Location
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@ButterBean, I'm also curious what you do after your initial ladder for finding pressure. What is the workflow after that?

My whole process goes like this, and it's basically the same for all bullets:
  1. Get my cases prepped and get a target COL identified. As ButterBean noted, monolithic bullets, and certainly hammers, are different in this regard so things like neck tension and seating depth will not be the same as lead core bullets. For example, I'm not aware of a monolithic bullet that prefers to be seated to the lands, or even close for that matter.
  2. Identify a powder and charge range I'm interested in based on user data from this or the hammer time forum and from say Barnes or Nosler for comparable bullets, and lay out a ladder. For absolute hammers this is way different and I think Steve has posted about his general approach to it before.
    • I tend to do a logarithmic system: my starting charge will be way low but I use big jumps of about 1gr to just make sure using 1 round each (usually 1 or 2 jumps) and then shorten the interval as I get close to my ladders max.
    • For 308 and cartridges of comparable case volume, my range of interest is usually 2 to 2.5 grains wide and I do 2 round jumps in increments of 0.5 for a round or two and 0.3 until the top. Magnums would justify larger jumps, 223 maybe smaller jumps.
  3. From a stable position, shoot the rounds over a chrono at a redfield target.
    1. Pay attention to the velocity, the velocity consistency if more than one round (ES), group tightness, and group POI on the target when aiming at the center of each of those corner diamonds (holding center of target consistently is important, hitting the center is meaningless at this stage).
      • Two rounds does not a trend guarantee but it does help eliminate charges: if a group sucks with 2 rounds it will likely only get worse with more shots.
  4. Look at my ladder data for the following:
    1. I want a range of at least a half grain where each group in that range had good ES
      • I want to reach out to 600 yards so an ES of 50fps results in about a 5" vertical shift. You can model this with a BC calculator for the shots you take to see what ES you should be willing to accept.
    2. I want the POI on the redfield target to not be erratic in that range, basically a POI shift of more than 3/4 of an inch among all charges in the range isn't good enough for me. I don't want it jumping wildly around the target with small changes in charge because if the weather changes and my velocity changes slightly that means your POI might change more than you'd like.
    3. Tight (enough) groups.
      • With hammers, which are extremely jump-insensitive, this will most often fall in line with the two points above: if the ES is low and the POI change between groups is low the groups will almost always be a good 2 round group.
      • For jump sensitive bullets like Berger VLD's you may need to play with seating depths to tighten up the group but the ES shouldn't change a ton with changing seating depths.
  5. If I've found a range or two in step 4 that is looking promising, I load 5 rounds and fire them over the chrono. Make sure the groups hold and the ES stays in an acceptable range. They usually both grow in this step, but if it's a good load it wont grow much and that's the common case.
  6. If 5 looks good, load up a few more and take them out to distance.
    • make sure the BC data is correct and if not, find out what it really is.
    • Get my zero set correct so as to line up the notches in my BDC reticle for 400, 500, and 600 yard impacts.
Pros
  • With a jump-forgiving bullet like hammers I can usually find a 600+ yard capable load in two range trips and roughly 20ish rounds.
Cons
  • If you're not going to be shooting past 300 or 400 yards, which a lot of (most?) people limit themselves to either because of ethical reasons or they just doing get opportunities further out due to terrain, some of this is not necessary. A ES of even 100 fps will make little difference within 300 yards.
    • If that's the case for you, you can skip step 6 and just zero for a MPBR. A 1 round ladder for step 2 becomes much more viable: just pick a range where your POI doesn't change much and chances are you're set.
  • Even for a 600+ yard load, I could perhaps save a couple bullets by only doing 1 shot groups for the whole initial ladder and trying to infer group size by POI, but the extra couple rounds are worth it to me in order to perhaps eliminate a trip to the range and needing to send more bullets. Basically it's insurance.
 

ButterBean

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Joined
Feb 5, 2012
Messages
5,866
Location
West Terre Haute Indiana
@ButterBean, I'm also curious what you do after your initial ladder for finding pressure. What is the workflow after that?

My whole process goes like this, and it's basically the same for all bullets:
  1. Get my cases prepped and get a target COL identified. As ButterBean noted, monolithic bullets, and certainly hammers, are different in this regard so things like neck tension and seating depth will not be the same as lead core bullets. For example, I'm not aware of a monolithic bullet that prefers to be seated to the lands, or even close for that matter.
  2. Identify a powder and charge range I'm interested in based on user data from this or the hammer time forum and from say Barnes or Nosler for comparable bullets, and lay out a ladder. For absolute hammers this is way different and I think Steve has posted about his general approach to it before.
    • I tend to do a logarithmic system: my starting charge will be way low but I use big jumps of about 1gr to just make sure using 1 round each (usually 1 or 2 jumps) and then shorten the interval as I get close to my ladders max.
    • For 308 and cartridges of comparable case volume, my range of interest is usually 2 to 2.5 grains wide and I do 2 round jumps in increments of 0.5 for a round or two and 0.3 until the top. Magnums would justify larger jumps, 223 maybe smaller jumps.
  3. From a stable position, shoot the rounds over a chrono at a redfield target.
    1. Pay attention to the velocity, the velocity consistency if more than one round (ES), group tightness, and group POI on the target when aiming at the center of each of those corner diamonds (holding center of target consistently is important, hitting the center is meaningless at this stage).
      • Two rounds does not a trend guarantee but it does help eliminate charges: if a group sucks with 2 rounds it will likely only get worse with more shots.
  4. Look at my ladder data for the following:
    1. I want a range of at least a half grain where each group in that range had good ES
      • I want to reach out to 600 yards so an ES of 50fps results in about a 5" vertical shift. You can model this with a BC calculator for the shots you take to see what ES you should be willing to accept.
    2. I want the POI on the redfield target to not be erratic in that range, basically a POI shift of more than 3/4 of an inch among all charges in the range isn't good enough for me. I don't want it jumping wildly around the target with small changes in charge because if the weather changes and my velocity changes slightly that means your POI might change more than you'd like.
    3. Tight (enough) groups.
      • With hammers, which are extremely jump-insensitive, this will most often fall in line with the two points above: if the ES is low and the POI change between groups is low the groups will almost always be a good 2 round group.
      • For jump sensitive bullets like Berger VLD's you may need to play with seating depths to tighten up the group but the ES shouldn't change a ton with changing seating depths.
  5. If I've found a range or two in step 4 that is looking promising, I load 5 rounds and fire them over the chrono. Make sure the groups hold and the ES stays in an acceptable range. They usually both grow in this step, but if it's a good load it wont grow much and that's the common case.
  6. If 5 looks good, load up a few more and take them out to distance.
    • make sure the BC data is correct and if not, find out what it really is.
    • Get my zero set correct so as to line up the notches in my BDC reticle for 400, 500, and 600 yard impacts.
Pros
  • With a jump-forgiving bullet like hammers I can usually find a 600+ yard capable load in two range trips and roughly 20ish rounds.
Cons
  • If you're not going to be shooting past 300 or 400 yards, which a lot of (most?) people limit themselves to either because of ethical reasons or they just doing get opportunities further out due to terrain, some of this is not necessary. A ES of even 100 fps will make little difference within 300 yards.
    • If that's the case for you, you can skip step 6 and just zero for a MPBR. A 1 round ladder for step 2 becomes much more viable: just pick a range where your POI doesn't change much and chances are you're set.
  • Even for a 600+ yard load, I could perhaps save a couple bullets by only doing 1 shot groups for the whole initial ladder and trying to infer group size by POI, but the extra couple rounds are worth it to me in order to perhaps eliminate a trip to the range and needing to send more bullets. Basically it's insurance.
Neighbor that's awesome and if it works for you I'm tickled but most of are doing what you just described in 15-20 minutes with 5-8 bullets, The search bar is your friend here, Hundreds of pages on Hammers and loading them
 

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