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Thread: Lower End Loads, feel like I'm wasting powder/bullets, etc ??

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Lower End Loads, feel like I'm wasting powder/bullets, etc ??

    I've been working on some .243 bullets lately that has accentuated an issue for me,
    that is wearing me out a bit, as it seems to be true for nearly everything I load
    wondering if any of you guys are taking shortcuts on your first load-up with a new bullet,...or not

    It is just becoming, "a given," that the lower end grains of the book recommended loads are either,
    So slow, that even if good accuracy is found,
    I never try them again when compared to the higher grain loads or,

    Accuracy is sufficiently spread out, that it feels like a waste of time to start at the bottom of the recommendations anyway

    Does this ring true with any of you guys ??

    I'm tempted to eliminate the bottom 20 or 25 percent of experimenting, to eliminate the wasted bullets, powder, and time/effort
    as I look back in my manual,
    I never settle for one of those low end loads anyway, the bottom 25percent I mean

    Always end up settling on a midrange to topend grain load out of the book numbers, so can I get more efficient ??
    I have plenty of new untested bullets to work on, don't need to be blowin stuff down range ,
    just to make noise, doin' all the numbers (?)

    What Do Ya Think?
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member .338-06's Avatar
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    Yes! I agree! I usually start somewhere in between the top and bottom loads.
    I may be slow, but I get where I'm going!

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    Sponsor ADfields's Avatar
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    Yes, if its a round Im familiar with I tend to start at book data that shows the velocity I think I want then start about 3% or maybe 1g under that to allow for powder, primer, bullet, and gun variations and check pressure signs . Not not that good a trick for a guy that has just started reloading or for a round you never loaded before but it saves time getting to where I know I want to be anyway. You been at it for what, 2 years? Id say you have the knowledge to round off the corners a bit now and still be safe, just be cautious as always and dont round the corners off too far.
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    I usually, decide on a powder charge that is a bit lower than the max, then drop down a cupla notches, and work up, to the one I wanted. After that, if they're not accurate, I may try different charges, up and down from there, to tune the load.

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    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    That I use manuals as a guideline is a truism, but there are caveats aplenty. There are simply to many variables to say "I always do one thing..." As a rule, I do not start at the bottom and work up, but that's due to the fact that I'm very familiar with the propellants I generally use and I understand what to expect.

    Depending on the propellant in question, I'll pick a charge "I know" to be safe and move up quickly from there. Once I find the ceiling I'll work my way back down to where I'm most pleased; without a ceiling it's all guess work. Do this often enough and "knowing" where to start gets a lot easier. The key to all of these decisions is experience, and IMO there is simply no substitute. I've never thought of pulling the trigger as a waste of time, if I'm testing I have other variables covered so as to make each shot count. I've long kept a range log and never do any load development or testing without a chronograph. The low velocity loads are teaching me, just like higher velocity loads, and that's how I know some of what I know now.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    I kinda go the other way, but for me lower end loads are a destination rather than a stepping stone. I do a whole lot of practice shooting from field positions, especially offhand. So lower range loads save me a whole bunch on components. I don't care if I'm getting 2" or 3" groups at 100 yards, because I'll just shoot small targets at 50 with such loads. A good example is the practice load for my wife's 250 Savage- 30 grains of 3031 under an 87 grain spitzer for around 2700 fps. Heck no, she doesn't hunt with it, but she shoots 500-1000 of those in the months leading up to a deer hunt. Try that with Partitions and a case full of 4350!

    If all a guy is doing is working up max accuracy loads and popping a few feel-good groups at 100 yards before a hunt, the loads getting there aren't that big of a cost anyway, in the overall scheme of guns and hunts.

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    Just use the ladder method and save your self time and money. It gives you everything you need in load development. Once you try it you will be very thankful and wished you had started with this technique from the git go

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    For me it depends.

    If I am inside SAAMI spec in every dimension I'll probably start 2.0 grains below max and go looking for a sweet spot somewhere above that.

    Outside SAAMI, I start at the bottom. I have a rifle now, the SAAMI COAL gives me 0.110" of jump between the ogive point of the seated bullet in the chamber and the rifling in the barrel.

    There is room in the rifle's magazine to load longer, I want to shoot it further than I currently can, so I have been loading for it with .020" of jump; but that puts my COAL outside the written SAAMI spec for the cartridge. So I started with the minimum charge on this one...

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    Hey AL... Keep that lower end in shape and get regular checkups!


    that said... when i make hunting rounds i pick the one or two below book max and run with it... accuracy i will play with.. but most the stuff the kids blast away are all book spec.. COL the works.. and i know they could be so much more..

    love the H 380 for my 243 btw... got a whole bunch of 90gn BT and 100 gn spoints.. nice combos!
    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies, the forums have sure been a great place to "Just Ask Somebody who's been at it Longer than you,..."


    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I've never thought of pulling the trigger as a waste of time, if I'm testing I have other variables covered so as to make each shot count. I've long kept a range log and never do any load development or testing without a chronograph. The low velocity loads are teaching me, just like higher velocity loads, and that's how I know some of what I know now.
    So, yes, I Chrono and Log everything with extensive detail, and feel I am learning from nearly every round, until I get to the point I am talking about in this question,
    So, can I ask, how and maybe what, are the low velocity loads teaching you?

    My thinking is that if i am shooting loads that I am fairly confident "Will Not" be tightly grouped, no matter how I do at the trigger,...
    and if they are flying more than 100fps or so slower than what I will settle with eventually, what should I be learning?
    Hope that doesn't sound anything more than an honest question, as I wonder about it
    I agree no shots are wasted if you are learning better shootin techniques, etc. but that's where I am thinking the stats/results are not really good to learn from, if I know they are not close to what I'm looking for eventually,..make sense?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrownBear View Post
    I kinda go the other way, but for me lower end loads are a destination rather than a stepping stone. I do a whole lot of practice shooting from field positions, especially offhand. So lower range loads save me a whole bunch on components. I don't care if I'm getting 2" or 3" groups at 100 yards, because I'll just shoot small targets at 50 with such loads. A good example is the practice load for my wife's 250 Savage- 30 grains of 3031 under an 87 grain spitzer for around 2700 fps. Heck no, she doesn't hunt with it, but she shoots 500-1000 of those in the months leading up to a deer hunt. Try that with Partitions and a case full of 4350!

    If all a guy is doing is working up max accuracy loads and popping a few feel-good groups at 100 yards before a hunt, the loads getting there aren't that big of a cost anyway, in the overall scheme of guns and hunts.
    and yeah, this makes good sense also, I am currently just asking about the work up to a final hunting load, the process, but I appreciate the concept, need to do more of what you are talking about here

    I should clarify that by "wasting time" I am only referring to the fact that I have limited weather and "off-time," to get to the range, so when I get down there I want that couple hours, maybe twice a week, to be "Efficient" toward the development of a good load with any certain bullet
    Then, to load up lighter loads, for more practice offhand, etc. is a whole different opportunity

    Is interesting to see that over time, I always come up with an extremely accurate load within the lowest grain numbers, but then it gets much tighter and faster as I go up,
    So I am always tempted to work more on the low end, for that accuracy load,
    Still learning all about the reasons for velocity I guess
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  11. #11

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    It reflects a lot about how I prefer to hunt, too. I am capable of long shooting when needed, but much prefer to stalk close and do my shooting inside 100 yards. My much beloved 7 mag is sighted in 4" high at 100 with 160 Partitions at around 3100, striking about 6 low at 400. With that same sighting, I've developed a load with 175 grain Hornady RNs at 2200 that's dead on at 100. Call it a mild 7x57 load, but it smacks game out of all proportion with its numbers. I keep it stoked with the 175's, but carry a few 160's in my pocket in case the ranges stretch. With no change in sights I can go from a close shooter to a long shooter merely by swapping ammo.

    I don't have a comparable arrangement for an 06 because I don't have one right now. But I love hunting with a 30-40 Krag and 220 grain Hornadys or Remingtons at around 1900. Talk about a game swatter inside 100 yards! First thing I do when I get an 06 again is start working on a "Krag" load for it.

    I probably fire 100 rounds offhand for every one from the bench, or 50:1 kneeling and 25:1 prone. If I fire over 2000 rounds this year like most years, something well under 50 will be from the bench unless I'm developing loads. Best of all, those 'zact bullets are the ones you can find on discount or bulk sales, and it takes comparatively little powder to launch them at those velocities. For me, load testing is interesting and entertaining, but only to a point. The point of it for me is to get loads that do what I want, then move away from the bench and never go back till next time I need to sight in.

  12. #12
    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kodiakrain View Post
    So, yes, I Chrono and Log everything with extensive detail, and feel I am learning from nearly every round, until I get to the point I am talking about in this question,
    So, can I ask, how and maybe what, are the low velocity loads teaching you?

    My thinking is that if i am shooting loads that I am fairly confident "Will Not" be tightly grouped, no matter how I do at the trigger,...
    and if they are flying more than 100fps or so slower than what I will settle with eventually, what should I be learning?
    Hope that doesn't sound anything more than an honest question, as I wonder about it
    I agree no shots are wasted if you are learning better shootin techniques, etc. but that's where I am thinking the stats/results are not really good to learn from, if I know they are not close to what I'm looking for eventually,..make sense?
    Makes perfect sense. For my part low velocity rounds give a clear indication of pressure and that is what I'm seeking, knowledge concerning pressure. I do not want or need many of the slower rounds, but setting a base curve is helpful IMO. I do not need 20 of the slower rounds to see what the pressure relationship is.

    FWIW, I do not mess around with loads that I'm confident will not group well and I hate guessing what may or may not produce top results. I've used many methods for developing handloads, but they fall into three categories more or less. I use to load 3-5 rounds of a particular powder charge and compare group size between 4 or 5 of such lots. I've used ladder testing for accuracy and thought at one time it was the best means for obtaining the most accuracy. While both approaches work, I've jettisoned these approaches and go at a little differently now than I did 25 years ago. I pick a bullet for a particular application, select a suitable powder for the cartridge and decide upon a starting load. I then make incremental adjustments to the powder charge (anywhere from 0.5 to 2.0 grains depending upon the cartridge) one round at a time. Firing perhaps 3-6 rounds to find the maximum powder charge for a particular combination. Once the maximum charge is known, then I might adjust OAL and maybe tweak the loads (neck tension/primer swap/etc.) to wring out the utmost in accuracy if that is called for in that application. I'm normally pushing whatever I'm shooting to its velocity threshold; if I want more or less velocity I'll choose a different cartridge. I've not found that suitable propellants require loads at lower velocity for best accuracy, nor do I want a cartridge underachieving so I am not interested in loading 10 or 20 rounds of something that is a guess or will produce less velocity than I desire in that rifle/cartridge combination. I figure if I can't make a rifle shoot in 10-20 rounds of development then its probably not going to be a real shooter and I don't have a lot of patience with finicky stuff.
    Foolishness is a moral category, not an intellectual one.

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    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Wow, those last two, are some, "informative" posts,
    Really Appreciate all that you guys

    as I'm relatively new to the game, 2yrs or so, 2000 rds loaded I am getting to, "just the beginnings of familiar," with particular powders,
    then I change rifle/caliber, and it's somewhat start over(?) and am just starting on this .243,
    I am aiming for having developed,
    at least three different size bullets, to the point of satisfactory hunting load numbers and performance

    so, I'm primarily at the bench at this point

    and I've tried a few different methods for working up a bullet load, and for some reason,
    the ladder method just didn't click with me, I couldn't wrap my head around it,

    and I like at least 3shot groups to see something, so far,....but I Cor, that is just some great stuff to think through,...

    (are you finding the maximum powder charge, solely by velocity, or by pressure signs,...?)

    I'm laughing at myself on this one, as I like to buy bullets that come in boxes of 100,...
    Cause I am using 80 (!!!) to get a load dialed in,... then like to load up a box of the 20 remaining, stick 'em on the shelf
    so much for efficiency, eh? har har,...
    but that's what I figured out somehow, taking out sets of twenty at a time, gradually fine tuning it all

    Sure havin' fun tho,...

    and I have got some Mean Ammo on my shelves for a .270wsm, and .30-06,
    so far like 5 or more different "dialed in" boxes, for each,... heh heh

    What a great hobby (?) addiction(?) oh, Passion, that's the word
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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