SPS 308 load development


Well-Known Member
Mar 16, 2012
Eastern Panhandle,WV
Ok just got my new sps 308 and am dying to get it to the range. I'm not new to shooting by any means but am as far as reloading goes. I was curious how you guys go about finding a load that "works" Recently i have been loading up 3 loads of various powders,bullets but have yet to really fine tune the art dialing in my loads for the group i want. Whats the simplest way to go about finding the perfect load? I'm sure this has been discussed thousands of times on here just looking for a simple cost effective way to enjoy reloading. The range i go to only has a 100 yard capacity. Kinda sucks as i would enjoy shooting more long range targets. Any help i sure appreciate.
Personally, I have my own routine on load development, as everyone probably does... a quick version of mine goes as such:

1- load 3 rounds of test round starting load, 3 rounds +.5gr., 3 rounds +.5gr., etc, until I reach maximum published charge... if I have already settled on a charge weight, and am testing for a certain bullet's accuracy in relation to freebore, I load 3 rounds at normal C.O.L., 3 rounds at +.05", etc. until I reach the length that gently kisses the lands.

2- Set up your chronograph (a VITAL tool for accurate load development), and fire the first set. Check the velocity and examine cases for overpressure signs (leaking or blown primers, split cases, expanded caseheads; a good quick way to check for casehead expansion is to bring your shellholder along... if the fired case is hard to get in the shellholder, it has expanded and is too hot). Do this for all test groups and record all data (velocity, group size, personal notes such as recoil, muzzle blast, wind, etc.)

3- Take the data for the best grouping loads that exceed the velocity you need, and load 10 - 20 more rounds of those. Final test on those rounds to decide on one using 10 shot groups minimum, giving plenty of time for the barrel to cool in between groups, a at least 20 seconds between shots.

I do this same process whether I am testing for the best charge on a particular powder, or testing to see what C.O.L. shoots best for a certain bullet, testing cases, primers, pretty much anything. Just remember, if you are testing for powder, make sure to keep ALL other components the same (case, primer, etc), and the same goes for testing for bullets, keep all other components identical, so the only variable is the item being tested.

I have a Remington 700 SPS Varmint in .308 w/ 26" heavy barrel, with a Jewell trigger (2 lbs), Bell&Carlson A5 stock (best stock for the money out there), with a Bushnell Elite 4200 4-16x50 SF mounted on it. The loads I found out that worked best for my rifle were:
For Target shooting:
168gr. Sierra Matchking
44.8gr. RL-15
F-C. cases, CCI BR2 primers
C.O.L. - 2.83" (to fit magazine, well off the lands), no crimp,
I am getting .4 MOA @ 2630 FPS, ES@8

For hunting:
165gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip (deer>250 yds) or 165gr. Hornady SST (deer<250 yds)
45.4gr. RL-15
F-C cases, CCI BR2 primers
C.O.L. - 2.80", light crimp on SST's, no crimp on Nosler BTs,
Getting .7 MOA @ 2700 FPS, ES@11

These loads a little hot, and were worked up in my rifle. Always start low and work up.
The .308 is among the easiest rounds to load for. Theres a ton of great powders available: RL-15, Varget, N140, N540, IMR 4064, 3031, H-4895, Win 748, H-BL-C(2), and H-4320 just to name a few.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!
Last edited:
Great advice. I have heard of different ways of measuring max COL what do you find that works best. Ive seen people remove firing pin and finding the sweet spot with bolt drop. Whats your thoughts? I definatly need a chrono maybe santa will read this.....
Prep cases true primer pockets, cut flashholes on the inside and slight cut to flashholes,
resize necks with bushing dies.
Varget and Rl-15 have been my choices in powders for 155-168 gr and RL-17 for the 180gr
Do a work up at .5 gr loads using three bullets to find the best group then work each side
to refine the sweet spot.
Final is to start with bullet length from max lenght to 20-40 thousands generally 3-10 thousands
off the lands ihas been the norm.......
To find c.o.l., i take thebullet i am using, drop it down the chamber, it will stop when the ogive contacts the lands. Stick a rod down the muzzle, carefully, until it touches the bullet tip... u may have to use a pen or something to hold bullet in chamber, then mark the rod. Remove bullet, install the bolt, reinstall rod till it touches bolt face, mark rod again. Now, remove rod, use calipers to measure the distance between them... this is you max length using that specific bullet, loading at that length means bullet willbe contacting lands. Be careful, seating into lands causes pressure to increase... i usually back off 0.01" from this point, and load a few sets of 5, variating 0.03" - 0.05" between groups. Use the length with tightest group. I usually get the best results between 0.1" - 0.07" off the lands... only one rifle of mine benefits from seating into the lands, and even then, only when shooting Berger VLDs.
Hope this helps! Remember, after u find an "area" where groups tighten, start using 5 or 10 rd groups to ensure consistency, and start varying powder charges to only 0.1 - 0.25 gr instead of 0.5gr.
I have to drive 30 miles to the nearest range so going and testing loads -then go back and test the best of the last go-round -then go back and test seating depth --you see where i'm going w/ this.
Now I have a pair of Lee hand presses I take them to the range along w/ powder measure / scale etc. -I do have all the brass sized/primed and ready to go.
Myself I start a couple of grains below a book max charge and load rounds in 3/10gr increments .This advice is based on 308 & '06 cases NOT big magnums -meaning don't start a couple of grains below book max w/a RUM...
I shoot the first round then draw a picture on notebook paper where the round landed -shoot second round -document where it lands on target and marked as shot #2 -right on up -watching for signs of pressure until I have worked my way up to max load.
If you get lucky you will have to shoot at more than one target dot because the bullets are hitting in the same holes.
Marking and numbering each shot will allow you to see which powder charges shoot together on the target and you checked the pressure on the way up to max load.
Now use whatever regimen you want to -loading up a few of the rounds of each powder charge and see which charge level out performs the other .Load rounds that are close to one another in charge weight - say max load is 44.1gr -you start at 42gr then four shots later load 43.2 lands near 42gr load DON'T load 42gr and 43.2gr to compare performance --only compare shots with powder charges in sequence -example or 43.5gr and 43.8gr loads- bullets land very close together -then load some of those two charges and compare performance . Better yet 43.5 -43.8 and 44.1gr all land close together.
Once you have settled on that start working on seating depth --say you started 20K off the lands -try some groups w/bullets at 10K then 30K off the lands to see if the barrel has a preference.
I have worked up great loads in one day using the Lee hand press at the range where it use to take me three or four range days -a reloading set-up that can be taken to the range will pay for itself in gas and tires several times over.
Also leaving the range w/a good baseline load and a rifle that is sighted in and ready to rock is a good feeling -now it's time to stretch her legs and get started working on a long range drop sheet .

P.S. If you have a powder/bullet combo that is shooting 4" groups at 100yds. and two shots happen to land together -don't waste your time with a group like this -if a barrel likes a powder/bullet combo it will shoot pretty good with all the charge weights - tempermental grouping is trouble -time to try a new powder/bullet.

Good luck -Mike
You're method is very similar to mine, however I fire groups of a certain charge, not one at a time... What happens if you're best load happens to be 43.3 gr., and after the 43.0 shot; you accidentally pull it a little? You'd think it didn't work well - firing at least 2 shots, so you'll know the rounds really are impacting there... You mentioned a valuable step in your method that I forgot to mention in mine - marking your points of impact in your data book - invaluable reference material.
Also, don't forget to chrono those loads! Loading in the dark ain't fun :) Just because your aren't seeing pressure signs, you might just have a very well-built rifle that has a tight bolt and lockup, and isn't allowing as much head-expansion or leaking primers as usual... A chrono is the best way to see when you're approaching the maximum threshold.. I loaded for a few years without a chrono, and after I used one once - I'll never develop another load without it!
Warning! This thread is more than 12 years ago old.
It's likely that no further discussion is required, in which case we recommend starting a new thread. If however you feel your response is required you can still do so.