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Thread: Working up a load?

  1. #1
    Member Valley Trash's Avatar
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    Default Working up a load?

    Last June I started a thread called "First timer in handloading forum", in which I asked some basic questions about cost and equipment for a newbie to start handloading. Many of you regulars to this forum gave some good advice, thanks.

    Since then, I've accumulated most of the equipment I need and read through the Nosler and Speer reloading manuals as well as other sources. I know a heck-of-a lot more now then I did 6 moths ago and I think I'm about ready to start planning out my first load.

    I understand the basic concept and reasoning behind "working up a load", to check for signs of over preasure while you increase your charges and to find the most accurate for your gun. I guess where I've been scratching my noggin is just how many rounds I should make up of the lower charges; the charges in which I'm only using for safety, not looking for accuracy. Here's an example.

    According to the reloading manual for the bullet I plan to use, the start charge for the .280-Rem 140-grain bullet using RL-19 is 53.0 gr. The max charge is 57.0 gr. I probably will not reach my velocity goal for this rifle/bullet until I'm at around 55-gr, according to the manual data. Therefore, the loads I make up from 53.0-gr to 55.0 grains while "working up" will only be used for safety, not checking for accuracy. So the basic question I have is, how many of those lower charges do I need to make? If there is going to be over-pressure, how many rounds does it take for there to be signs? Will I see it the first time fired, or sometimes can it take several before it's obvious and I should load several to make sure? Safety first, but component conservation in today's economy is important also!

    Sorry it took 4 paragraphs to ask how many firings does it take to determine if you have an un-safe load. Any discussion on "working up a load" for the newbie would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the world of handloading.

    I don't think one shot tells us much, I would load three of each charge weight, 53.0, 54.0, 55.0 and shoot those carefuly. When I do this I use five rounds of each and shoot through a chronograph. If you have a chrony, load five of each. Also I think on that size of case that one full grain steps are good. If at 56.0 grains you get pressure signs but 55.0 was good, you might try 55.5 grains.

    If you were loading without any data for an unknown or wildcat cartridge a one shot test would establish some starting point after an educated guess. But for any cartridge with loading data, just an unknown gun, I'd use as above.
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  3. #3

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    You can check for accuracy as you work up your load if you shoot groups as Murphy suggested. Make sure you let your barrel cool between shots. Your most accurate load in your rifle may be closer to your starting load than your max load. When you find your most accurate load charge, you can check a half grain either way to see if that improves your accuracy. You can also adjust the seating depth of your bullet to see if that affects your accuracy. If you seat your bullet closer to the lands it can increase your pressure so you need to be careful doing that. I usually start with my bullets seated close to the lands. Some bullets like a jump to the lands an some shoot better seated into the lands. You'll get the hang of it soon enough.

    Cheers,

    Mark

  4. #4
    Member Valley Trash's Avatar
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    Thanks, good info there from both of you. I'll go with a minimum of three rounds of the lower charges, and then five of each once I meet my minimum velocity goal for the load. Following up with additional five shot groups to confirm accuracy and/or make 1/2 grain changes.

    If poor accuracy is found in all charges, is changing the seating depth the first thing you would change, or try another powder? I can see how you could go through a box of bullets pretty fast! The load mentioned will be Accubonds in a T/C Encore, so I expect excellent accuracy. I will not be as demanding when I load 180-grain Partitions in my .300-mag.

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