When does everyone stop load development?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by MSLRHunter, Jul 23, 2010.

  1. MSLRHunter

    MSLRHunter Well-Known Member

    Oct 3, 2009
    All of the discussion in my last thread about belted magnum headspace has made me wonder when all of the handloaders here stop load development for a particular rifle. So, just out of curiosity, what category does everyone fall into?
    1. Set a goal for a load in a particular rifle, and stop development when you reach that goal? Example: set a goal of 0.5 moa and stop when you get there.

    2. Always tinkering with your best load, always trying something to squeeze that last bit out of a load? Example: sorting bullets by weight, etc.

    3. Other

    I realize that competitive shooters probably fall into the 2nd category. I am not a competitive shooter, I hunt with my rifles and enjoy shooting targets and game at longer and longer ranges. So, at least for now, I fall into category 1. I set a goal for my LR rifles of 0.5moa out to a certain range and keep working until I get there. Then I concentrate on shooting that load as much as possible, because I need all the practice I can get!
  2. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    I can't stop tinkering, that is the reason I can't shoot consistently!!!
  3. royinidaho

    royinidaho Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2004
    I used to be a #2 type.

    I am now a #1 type.

    I like to shoot (practice for different position conditions, wind, etc) but starting a short while ago I don't use my goto rifles for this kind of practice.

    I seem to have gotten to be a better shooter quicker by making fewer more intensive shots.
  4. justgoto

    justgoto Well-Known Member

    Apr 11, 2009
    I'm always buying the cheapest bullets so I am always tinkering. I am pretty good at load development now so it usually only takes me 10 cartridges to get around .5moa... I did have a time with the Hornady 180gr SPs though. Today I got .5moa with the 180gr SPBTs that were on sale, in 10 cartridges.

    Next time there is a bullet sale, I'll be developing.
  5. baldhunter

    baldhunter Well-Known Member

    Jun 18, 2008
    When I run out of bullets,primers and powder!!!!!!!
  6. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    I try to find out what the potential of the rifle is and work in that area.

    Accuracy has to be under 1/2 MOA and normally depending on the type of rifle (Light weight
    hunter, heaver long range hunting rifle or heavy target) there is a point of diminishing returns
    and extra effort will not do much for you.

    The point at which I am satisfied with almost any rifle is under 1/10 MOA (Mainly because I can't
    consistently shoot much better than that).

    I also try to get the Standard deviations down to single digits (1 to 9 ft/sec).

    When making any change I recomend changing only one thing at a time. If more than one thing
    in your load is changed you may cover up a major improvement and never find it again.

    I never settle for just a 1/2 MOA but some rifles are not capable of much better and as soon
    as I realize that sub 1/2 MOA is the best it will do I look for other ways of improving it and
    if all the avenues have been covered I decide whether to use it for it's intended use or not.

    The main thing is that if "You" are happy with the performance and it will do the job you want
    it to then then you are there.

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2010
  7. Gunpoor

    Gunpoor Well-Known Member

    Apr 28, 2007
    I have loaded for many different cartridges and each one of them was/is it's own persona. For a short time I had a Mossberg 100ATR in 270Win that I hand lapped the bore, free floated the barrel and fussed over until it would shoot MOA any day anytime. On the other other hand I have a Savage 111 in 270Win with custom laminated stock and Timney trigger that will shoot into one slightly ragged hole at 100 yds on a good day. I wouldn't require the same degree of accuracy from these two rifles and the same goes for every rifle I own. I will say however I want them to shoot with the very best accuracy they can within reason deliver. I usually just get a gut hunch when I have squeezed out the best they have to give.
  8. kweidner

    kweidner Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    If I get to a CONSISTENT .25 MOA with any rifle I stop. I will accept a consistent 3/4 MOA on some but I will tinker to try to get it less. It took me 4 years to find a load for my hornet that was .25 MOA. I would work it for a while, it would sit in the safe for a while, I would break it out and try something completely new. EUREKA I found it. I actually shot a .11 with it a week ago @100. Time to move on to another that is hovering around .75 MOA and try to get it down.
  9. Fitch

    Fitch Well-Known Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I usually buy a rifle for a particular hunting mission. Most of the time I've picked the bullet before I buy the rifle - when I get the bullet to shoot well enough to carry out the hunting mission, I stop.

    I bought my .17 Remington to shoot the 20g V-Max in rocky pastures and clover fields. It took about 36 rounds to have a confirmed good hunting load for that bullet in that rifle. Now it only get's fired to confirm the zero, fouling shots on the way to go hunting, or at game.

    My 7mm MAG will be treated the same way once load development is completed.

    I used to keep tinkering and shooting lots of different bullets and powders - and I still do some of that with cartridges that have an expected barrel life up over 2,500 rounds. Most barrels have a limited useful life - every shot gets subtracted from the number of accurate rounds left. That being the case I try to minimize the shots so I get the benfit of hunting with a rifle that is still accurate.

  10. Longshot38

    Longshot38 Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2008
    A little of both. I'm always looking to try new bullets and powder. But I make sure that to keep a good supply of my rifles current accuracy load on hand. If I happen to try something new that I/my rifle likes better then I burn up my current stock and ammunition and load up a batch of the new load. But that is sort of the point of hand loading. Getting the most out of your weapon through load development.
  11. phorwath

    phorwath Well-Known Member

    Apr 4, 2005
    You may want to edit the (.01 to 0.09 ft/sec) to (1 to 9 ft/sec), just to prevent confusion related to reasonable goals for reduction of Standard Deviation (SD). Your keyboard skipped two orders of magnitude.

    How much time I spend depends on how many rifles I have and how much time I can afford. I invest time in the most pertinent rifles first until I'm reasonably content. Then I may go back and tinker some more. I do believe it's possible to get a feel for a rifle's general potential. A rifle that shoots many loads and bullets well, versus a rifle that requires a lot of work and soul searching to shoot well. I'll run/hunt with the rifle that seems to handle many different loads well as soon as I zero in on a favorite combination. I may then go back and tinker some more as time allows. The more difficult rifles - I'll play with longer. I've found that a rifle that doesn't readily shoot well may shoot a golden load pretty well. But those rifles seem more finicky. Anything changes a little bit and they don't seem to provide the consistency I desire or need to have confidence. I may not give up on them, but it takes a longer time to develop confidence that the load / rifle combo will consistently and reliably provide acceptable results.

    If I find I have extra spare time, I'm not against tinkering, but like other's have stated, I'd rather tinker on a cartridge with longer barrel life so that by the time I'm done tinkering, the barrel still has useful hunting life left in it.

    Assuming the rifle is assembled properly, I select bullets first and foremost. Then powders and power charges. Then primers & seating depths when I'm trying to reduce ES and SD. I shoot virtually all load development loads over a set of chronographs run in tandem and use the chrono information pretty extensively to toss out high ES/SD powders and/or powder charges if the load is truly for long range use. When I'm getting good groups and low ES/SD, it's time to smile.:)
  12. flashhole

    flashhole Well-Known Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    I stop when I can do this with one shot using a cold clean barrel at 200 yards.

    7mm Rem Mag


    Look closely and you will see two different diameter holes, .243 and .257. This won me quite a bit of beer that day.


    This one is my Marlin Guide Gun at 100 yards using a 4 power scope.

  13. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

    Aug 10, 2003
    On a given rifle, I go the same order as Phorath, Ladder, validation grouping, keeping Oehler chrono printouts.
    Then I settle in for the long haul ->Cold barrel load developement..
    This takes months atleast, and it seems like I never really stop.

    My END goal is unrelated to grouping. I don't care if I can pull off 1/8moa hot grouping regular.
    If the gun will not place a distant shot within 1/2moa -from center of mark -with the first cold barrel shot, -it needs more work. Sometimes alot of work.
  14. kweidner

    kweidner Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2005
    good point Mikecr. I agree totally on the cold bore argument. Thankfully my go to rig has no significant difference in cold clean bore. I actually had to determine the best load with the crony. I took the one with the smallest spread. I believe it is one of the few guns in my possession that will shoot anything great and most things outstanding. Such a rarity I practice with my others to keep the tube life as long as I can.