New rifle load development

thaught

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I wanted to pick your guys brain on what is the most efficient way to develop a load on a new rifle? Do you start with a breaking in procedure and then go to a ladder test or do you make the ladder test part of your breaking procedure?
 

QuietTexan

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I do minimum 100 rounds through the barrel before I do anything serious. Normally I use a marginal powder or something new just to see how it does - typically 5-10 rounds to move up to 93-97% of book max charge, and 90-95 all made the same to see the barrel speed up. But I use the real brass I'm going to develop with to get at least one firing on all of them.

You can get good accuracy during this part of the process, more than sufficient to get scope dialed in without needing factory ammo, maybe even basic tracking/ reticle alignment if it's a new scope also. I got 9.9fps SD over 10-rounds using virgin Lapua brass/ Barnes Match Burners last week even using a ball powder in 90*+ weather. Made a 1k hit with the "break in" ammo also.
 

vancewalker007

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One thing you can do if you want to do a barrel break-in procedure, ie. shoot and clean type, you can monitor the powder load versus velocity so you have a record to track when your barrel settles into a steady velocity. Some barrels will settle around 100 rounds some will take more. My latest barrel took 254 rounds before the velocity settled in. Usually the velocity will jump up some. So for example maybe 60gr of H1000 with 150gr bullet was giving 2900fps suddenly that same load will give 2945 and will settle around that range. Ladder testing is still valid to try as those results are more related to pressure jump points, it will just be the case that the same pressure will give a little more velocity at some point in the barrel's young life where it settles.
 

Painless300

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I should have my new rifle in the next month or so and will be starting load work up. In today’s lack of reloading supplies I will be using a lesser performing powder and a different bullet that I have laying around to save what I plan on using during actual load work up. I usually go through 100 rounds just to fire form my brass, get the scope dialed in and let the barrel calmed down. Then run a pressure test using the actual powder and bullet that hope to use. After 120 rounds or so I’ll start my load development and can usually settle in on a good load with low ES.
 

Painless300

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I typically shoot the big magnums so the barrel usually calms down in that 100-120 round range. From talking with guys that shoot smaller rounds it may take 200 plus. I just confirm everything with a chrono one load development is complete. If it’s shooting <1/2” and the speed is good, and my ES is less than 15 I’m happy. One other thing I wanted to mention is I space my shots out and never over heat the barrel. Usually 1-2 mins between shots.
 

BrentM

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Satterlee Velocity ladder is all I do now. It's been way more effective than anything else ive done over the years. Modified Ladder, ladder, OCW, book optimum charges, ql optimum. I just use the satterlee method and usually am done within 30 rounds for initial. Once in a while I have to tweak once the barrel settles in.
 

TheLongRanger83702

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I wanted to pick your guys brain on what is the most efficient way to develop a load on a new rifle? Do you start with a breaking in procedure and then go to a ladder test or do you make the ladder test part of your breaking procedure?
If it's a crappy barrel breaking it in is a for sure. If the barrel has been professionally lapped i would say start your ladder testing.
 

MLN1963

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What is the intended use for the gun? What accuracy is required? A gun you plan on using that will take a 600 yard plus shots has different needs than one that will be used for minute of deer at 100 yards. Also, a hunting rifle is not likely to need a 100 plus rounds before serious load work needs to be done like a competition gun. A hunting rifle may take a few years to get to that number.
 

thaught

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What is the intended use for the gun? What accuracy is required? A gun you plan on using that will take a 600 yard plus shots has different needs than one that will be used for minute of deer at 100 yards. Also, a hunting rifle is not likely to need a 100 plus rounds before serious load work needs to be done like a competition gun. A hunting rifle may take a few years to get to that number.
It’s a hunting rifle. Deviant action and a proof barrel chambered in 30 Nosler
 

Tiny Tim

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Use the break in period to fire form brass and find seating depth for your bullet. Enjoy the process and start load development when your barrel settles in.
 

BrentM

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I have found velocity ladders remain a similar ladder regardless of the barrel settling in. Yes, they tend to speed up but the node usually remains the same. So, doing a ladder, I find a node that appears stabile for velocity at say 2900 with low sd, it might speed up to 2950 but the SD is still low.
 

MLN1963

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It’s a hunting rifle. Deviant action and a proof barrel chambered in 30 Nosler
You know what they say about opinions right? 😎 Well here’s mine.

Big cartridge and you probably aren’t going to be shooting many hundreds of rounds for hunting. Proof barrels are good barrels and hand lapped so you don’t really need a break in per say. They are cut rifled and take forever to settle in on my comp guns. For that reason I have favored button rifled lately in this component shortage. The only part that will break in is the lead where the reamed cut 90° to the lapped barrel. That will only take a few rounds. Shoot a few and clean and repeat should be sufficient IMO. The Proofs I’ve used have always had nice machine work.

You can do a Saterlee type ladder to go up and find pressure. The test itself hasn’t been very impressive in my experience. I can repeat the test three times on three different days and get three different results. There are sometimes trends, but not always. To me the most useful part of it is finding pressure and what the speed is associated with that pressure. YMMV

I think if you use quality brass and sound reloading practices and a powder that isn’t real temperature sensitive you will find an acceptable load pretty quickly whether that be Saterlee, OCW or whatever you choose. Are you going to use a muzzle brake?
 
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