Proper steps to work up a new load?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by huntoregon, Aug 26, 2015.

  1. huntoregon

    huntoregon Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering if you guys would be willing to help educate me on the process to most efficiently work up a load.

    I am completely new to reloading so any and all help would be great.

    Do you guys just pick a bullet you want to try and try multiple powders and stick with the one that seems to be most accurate?

    Then I would assume once you have a chosen powder you would play with powder charge to gain more accuracy and then you could play with bullet seating depths to fine tune it?


    How many of each load do you guys test to get a baseline?
     
  2. HARPERC

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

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    I generally start in the manuals, plural, I find the cartridge I'm loading for, and see what bullets are available, and pick one from the pack that looks like it will perform whatever task I have in mind (these days a real world check for availability), then search some reliable sources for first hand experience. Other questions like what twist is my barrel, do I need to function from the magazine become relevant.

    Back to the manuals, list the 3 top performers (generally velocity, and load density) for the weight bullet I wish to use, and see which show up in more than one source. Currently I subscribe to loaddata.com, and it has compiled a lot of Handloader tables.

    Get or prep the best brass you can.

    Primers I use mostly Federal 215's even in non magnums, as I've had very good luck with them going bang in every type of climate.

    Then you have to ask yourself how much accuracy do I need? A lot of good reasons to chase ultimate accuracy in a particular rifle, but not every application demands the effort to play around much, but if it gets you putting rounds down range, it's all good.

    The above is from mostly a hunting view point, and assumes you have quality reloading equipment already.
     
  3. huntoregon

    huntoregon Well-Known Member

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    Yes it would be for hunting, and I have access to a friends reloading equipment. Thanks for the response.
     
  4. g0rd0

    g0rd0 Well-Known Member

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    Same as above plus
    Lets say that 2 manuals list 61.0 grn start to 67.5grn max for x bullet at 3.5 inch oal. The listed powder is a in stock so I load 3 at start and add 0.5 grn load 3 more and continue untill I get to the max load. Keep each set of 3 clearly labeled.
    At the range I use a fresh target at 100 yards for each set of 3. Starting with the lowest fire the group, look at the brass and primers for preasure, splits or dings. There are no issues there so I place then into a loading block 2 primers up, 1 primer down. Go get the target and put up another, write down on the target the load data and date. Now fire the next set, inspect them and place them in the block along side the first set. Retreve your 2nd target, record the data and repeat till you have reached the max load (check for signs of high preasure and stop at any time that you feel uncomfortable).
    Now lets say that at 66.5grn you notice that the group has oppened or that you see high preasure signs stop go no further.
    From the targets you will see wich load is best. Lets say that it is 66.0 grn from there I would try 3 at 65.8, 3 at 66.2 just to see if things improve. If not then 66.0 grn is your load.
    You can also add and subtract by 10 thou an inch to the oal.
    Now is the time to use your bullet puller (to dismantle the 2 sets of 3 that you did not fire).
     
  5. huntoregon

    huntoregon Well-Known Member

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    How many different powders do you guys typically try?
     
  6. bob4

    bob4 Well-Known Member

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    I usually search to find the "go to powder" that most people seem to prefer for cartridge"X". I can usually get decent hunting groups from that. If I want better for any reason I'll look into a different powder. I'm starting to think that having 2 powder choices for any 1 cartridge isn't a bad idea just n case supplies vanish again. Example: For my 270 I have 2 powders that will work with my 130 gn bullets.
     
  7. rcoody

    rcoody Well-Known Member

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    different bullets require different procedures my method is a little lazier than the one above.

    I have a log book. I will go through the loading manuals and get on the internet and see what is working for people. Powders and charges. I usually try three different powders and try them on different range trips. When I find that charge range for that powder that I want to use I write all my loads down in the book. I like 5 round groups. 3 round groups work well but I am just a 5 round guy. I charge my brass according to my log book in a loading block and then seat bullets and put them in order in a cartridge case.

    now its a trip to the range to find out what they do! I use the 5 target sight in targets and shoot my rounds in order so I know which target has which load. I score them with Ontarget when I get home and write down the results in my logbook. You will be glad you did if in a year or two you want to repeat that load. Log everything. COL loads results comments weather everything.

    after I have found the best load from all the different powders I might start messing with the COL. Some bullets it makes a difference some don't.

    after I really know my best load out of everything then I load up 50 of them. If it is a bolt gun then the brass is only neck sized. Then I check them all for runout. Over 0.002 they go in the cull pile.

    At this point I go back to the range with one of those 5 target on one sheet sight-in targets and I shoot 5 five shot groups. If you are happy with that you have a winner.
     
  8. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    I will use LRH and other forums to help me decide which 2 or 3 powders will work best for the bullet I want to shoot (usually the heaviest Berger, Sierra, Nosler I can find). I will make notes on where everybody seems to be maxing out - and then double check those numbers against several reloading manuals and on-line web pages from the powder companies. Due to liability exposure, I have found that a true max load is usually somewhere around to 2-4 grains above the published data, but you need to work up to that load to verify for yourself. I will then start about 2-3 grains under max published load in the manuals & on-line and load up in one grain increments (half grain increments for smaller, non-magnum cartridges) until about 4-5 grains over max.

    I then go to the range and chrono all shots - looking at overall velocity and consistency in the increase of velocity. After each shot I will look for signs of excess pressure such as flattening primers, sticky bolt lift, erratic increases in velocity, etc. I may not shoot every round that I load up. I record my powder charge and velocity in a notebook dedicated to that rifle. After I am done, I will usually pick the powder that produces the highest velocity. I do not deal with any powders that are temp sensitive. Period.

    Once I have an idea where the upper end of my load will be (wherever I stopped due to signs of pressure), I will back off one full grain and start loading down from there in half grain increments for an OCW (optimum charge weight) test.

    Once the OCW test reveals where my node is, I will select a charge in the middle of that node and load up close to 20 rounds and begin to experiment with seating depth. Once I find the seating depth that provides the best group - I am done. Everything is recorded in the notebook for future reference.
     
  9. Three44s

    Three44s Well-Known Member

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    Loading over max?

    I have been loading for 40 years this fall and never made a practice of doing that.

    Once in a while, very seldom though I end up over most lines but ......... very seldom and never as I was learning.

    The OP started this thread with this: "I am completely new to reloading so any and all help would be great."



    What I find with my rifles is that published load data is pretty accurate ........ particularily if you gather a good cross section of it from varied reputable sources.

    Many of my guns settle down in their best groups about 1 gr. under max on regular sized cartridges ...... less on the wee ones and a little more on the bigger ones.

    One class of cartridges breaks the above with individual rifles ........ the STW and it's variants and the RUM's and ilk.

    You have to remember that as competitive as powder companies are ......... they are scolded by lawyers but the bottom line and a desire to sell powder still is in the equation. If they under promote their powder, it's going to sit and collect dust.

    .................. and that won't pay the lawyers ........

    Shoot safe!

    Three 44s
     
  10. jsthntn247

    jsthntn247 Well-Known Member

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    Pick a powder and start 3 grains below book max
    Start with bullets .010 in the lands
    load a ocw in 1% increments to 1 grain over book max
    shoot ocw checking each round for pressure(if you see pressure don't go higher)
    find a node in ocw test then do a seating depth test from .010 in to .025 off
    After seating and powder nodes are found try different neck tensions and shoot over a chrony to see which one produces lowest ES and tightest groups.

    Work a load up like this at 100 yards and it will shoot good till it goes subsonic.
     
  11. huntoregon

    huntoregon Well-Known Member

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    The problem I think I am going to run into is using the factory mag box which is going to limit the OAL I can run. I have a feeling I would end up with bullets way off the lands.
     
  12. MTBULLET

    MTBULLET Well-Known Member

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    easiest way is to go to SIERRA "accuracy" load for bullet weight you want.
    start there and work up or down to suit your needs.
     
  13. jsthntn247

    jsthntn247 Well-Known Member

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    Sierra accuracy load was developed in a test barrel with a different chamber, free bore, different twist....etc. Best way is to work a load up properly. If you are limited to mag box length. Start at the max length, do a powder charge test, then do a seating depth test starting at max length and going backwards like previously stated.
     
  14. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    The OP also asked what we do to find our best load.

    The max loads that are often listed in a reloading manual for different powders may or may not be the max load for his particular rifle. Even the manuals from all the major bullet makers don't agree on what a max load is using the same powder.

    Each rifle tolerates pressure differently. If you want to find out what the max load for your rifle is with a specific powder/bullet combination - I only know of one way to find out. Start below max and work up until you start seeing pressure signs. I then back off one whole grain - and that becomes the max load for that rifle with that powder.

    Anytime a respected company publishes a 'max' anything, they are opening themselves up to liability claims if they cannot back up their data. Whether it is tensile strength of steel in a building, max load of an airplane wing or max powder charge in a piece of brass- it becomes a line in the sand that company may have to defend in court. Therefore, they often use the lowest common denominator when coming up with their 'max' recommendation. Judges and juries find it difficult to hold companies liable when they can demonstrate their 'max' was ultra conservative, but are much less forgiving when they find a company either pushing or right at the envelope.

    I always keep an eye on the published max, but I rely on the data my rifle is giving me more than an conservative average in a published book. I believe in being safe. But I also want to wring max performance out of my caliber & rifle. You can't do that by simply relying on a book designed with the principal "one size fits all".