Noreen .338 Lapua (semi-auto) Reloading Questions

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by BobTWB, Mar 24, 2018.


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  1. BobTWB

    BobTWB Member

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    Mar 20, 2018
    I have accepted the task of developing a load for a friend's Noreen Bad News .338 Lapua. This is an AR-styled semi-automatic for those not familiar with the gun in question. As I was reading about the caliber and collecting my supplies, I ended up winning an auction for a Savage 112 single shot in .338 Lapua so I now have my own gun in this caliber to work on as well.

    I bought some pulled 250 grain Speer Grand Slam bullets just to get started with a relatively cheap projectile. I did my first load at 3.510" using new Lapua and Norma brass, Federal 215 primers and 84.8, 86.9 and 88.9 grains of H1000 powder. Distance to rifling is about 0.020 in the Noreen and 0.070 in the Savage. I calculated these to be well below max pressure loads using multiple manuals and in QuickLoad with their standard volume of 108 grains of water. The rounds all fired fine without incident and with no pressure signs. I wasn't working on accuracy, I was mostly doing this to check for signs of excess pressure and to measure fired case volumes for QuickLoad.

    I measured volumes after firing and got the following measurements for the two chambers - Savage: 116.1 Norma, 115.4 Lapua, Noreen: 115.7 Norma, 115 Lapua.

    Using a Wilson case gage, I measure the new brass at 0.002" under maximum length. The Savage cases were only 0.003" longer, i.e. only needed to be bumped back 0.001" to get to fit flush in the gage. The Noreen cases had grown 0.016" and needed to be bumped back 0.014" to get to fit flush.

    I've always full length sized back to standard dimensions when using auto loading cartridges. My first question is do others feel that the Noreen case growth is an indication of excess headspace or is it just a quirk of an auto-loading rifle's extraction under pressure? I had adjusted the gas block all the way in, but the Noreen still cycled, tossing the cases out fairly weakly at 3 o'clock.

    I've written Noreen for help, but they take the stance that they don't recommend reloads and won't give any advice. Since my friend wants me to use Rocky Mountain bullets for his hunting round and he's had unsatisfactory accuracy with factory bullets, "no reloads" won't get him the solution he's wanting. Thanks for any help.

    Bob
     
  2. g0rd0

    g0rd0 Well-Known Member

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    First thing is to be sure that your measurements are accurate, if they are then get a no go gauge and have that chamber checked.
    If the gauge says it is good to go (belted magnums gauge on the belt) and it is a new rifle I would use a dedicated size die set up so that it bumps back the shoulders just enough to cycle relyably. This of course will mean that the reloads will be truly custom and for that rifle only. But, that is no big deal after all isn't that why we do this
     
  3. BobTWB

    BobTWB Member

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    Mar 20, 2018
    Thanks for your reply. I do have a belted magnum gun (7mm Rem) that stretches the cases a lot with the first firing and I size on the shoulder after that, so I understand what you are saying. This caliber is not belted if that changes your recommendations. I have checked my measurements and I’m sure they are accurate. The cases fired in the Noreen are much longer to the shoulder than those fired in the Savage bolt gun.

    I think I’ll bump the fired case’s shoulder back in 1-2 thousandths increments and see how the cases chamber for starters. I’m not sure if I want to buy gages for a gun that isn’t even mine. I do have go/no-so gages in .22 LR, .22 WMR and 5.56 NATO since I install barrels in those calibers, but I have no concerns about my Savage, just the Noreen.

    If the Noreen chambers a no-go gage, would you still reload for it, just with longer cartridges, or would you deem it unsafe and send it back to the manufacturer at that point?

    Thanks again

    Bob

     
  4. g0rd0

    g0rd0 Well-Known Member

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    now tat's a question. If it where my gun (new out of the box) I would be contacting the maker. After all it should have been done right before it left the factory.
    But, in the 80's I was a proud owner of a K98 in 8mm that was gifted to me, the head space was off a no go would chamber, But since I was reloading I neck sized for it and never had an issue. When I sold it the dies went with and the person who I sold it to new about it's history.
    But, the question is (I think), knowing that the head space is beyond .014 would I reload for my friend? No, not until he gets the head space issue fixed. Because, if anything should happen you know whos fault it will be.
     
  5. BobTWB

    BobTWB Member

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    Good advice, thanks again.

    Bob

     
  6. BobTWB

    BobTWB Member

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    I decided I’d better finish the story in case someone else runs into the same problems I had. I ended up buying a no-go gage and the bolt closed on it, even without removing the ejector. Noreen then had me send in the gun. They ended up replacing the barrel, the barrel extension, gas block, bolt, extractor and ejector.

    After the gun was returned, the new chamber (correctly) didn’t close on the no-go gage. I was also able to turn the new gas block off, so I could just manually extract the brass, which was great, since the brass was previously getting quite banged up on ejection.

    Rocky Mountain bullets has been continuously out of the 300 grain aluminum tip projectile my friend wanted me to use, so I tried various alternatives, settling on the 280 grain Barnes LRX. Fired Norma brass in the new chamber had a volume of 116.8 grains of water.

    I loaded the Barnes LRX at .050 off the lands which was a COAL of 3.715”. I found a load of Retumbo which was 0.8 grains over Barnes’ max, but below max pressure adjusting QuickLoad for the case volume and longer cartridge length. It shot a 100 yard 0.8 inch 3 shot group at about 2775 FPS from the 26 inch barrel.

    At that point, I ran out of time with the gun and sent it back to the owner along with samples of the same load at COAL’s .030 and .070 off the lands. He’s going to shoot the test loads then I’ll make him a bunch of which ever shoots best.

    Overall, Noreen did the right thing and the gun is shooting pretty well now. It was an interesting and educational exercise for me as well.