perhaps I should have posted over here
I posted a bit of a question over in the "shooting" forum.
I think it should have been asked here.
It has to do with the order of building "accuracy loads" and the variables.
Sort of a "chicken or the egg, which comes first kind of thing."
I know that some of you are the real deal when it comes to building up loads.
I'm not asking for your secret recipe, no, I'm asking, "how did you approach your method."
Where, and when do you change such things as, powder weight, seating depth, and the like.
In the past I've always looked for the highest velocities with "hunting accuracy."
BUT NOW, I'd like to tighten up. How, what is your "Method."
You have asked a mouthful.
There is no "secret recipe" except the secret your gun keeps (sometimes even from its owner).
Originally Posted by 358wsm
Keep a good log of all components used.
Don't mix components. (Standard or magnum primers, different headstamps of brass)
Make sure your barrel is straight and true, and smooth. Straight is self-explanatory. Observe, however, that as a barrel heats up, it may exhibit some spontaneous bending. Especially if the bedding of the barrel is uneven. The bore should be smooth, with the rifling uniformly sharp its whole length and the diameter of the bore should be perfecly the same throughout its whole length, no bulges or narrow parts.
As far as the cartridges, uniformity is essential for control of the variables that affect accuracy.
Some folks even go so far as to weigh each empty case and/or measure the volume of each case and keep all those of similar volume together in a single batch. I cannot speak to the efficacy of going to such extremes.
Primers of the same manufacturer and strength (magnum or standard) must be used wnhen developing loads and if switched, know that big differences in velocity and accuracy may occur.
One of the things that makes for good (or bad) groupings is barrel harmonics. When a round goes off, the barrel will "whip". That whipping motion is governed by how stiff the barrel is, its weight and its bedding in the stock. If the bullet's transit time makes for an exit when the muzzle of the barrel is moving its slowest, your groups will be minimized.
Go to Google or Netscape or Lycos and do a search for "Internal Ballistics" and "Barrel Harmonics" to get started.
One source (Other than here) I have found good advisors on is "AccurateReloading.com". Another is "TheFiringLine.com". As always,
Remember, only believe half of what you see and one quarter of what you hear. That goes double for what you get from the internet. Even this post. Do your own independent, confirming research when ANYONE gives you new facts on the web. Also remember, even the idiotic stuff might have a kernel of truth buried in there somewhere.
Good luck, good shooting and don't pinch your fingers in your press.
Read all you can
I agree with Lost Sheep. To build an accurate rifle or to make accurate handloads means that you must focus on consistency. He is leading you down the right path. I would add another website that is full of information:
Read everything you can get your hands upon, magazines, reloading manuals, books i.e. The Accurate Rifle, Book of the Rifle, and the like. The more you can learn about the sport will pay you dividends as you really invest yourself in the process.
Set reasonable, but difficult goals. Do not think you are going to buy an off the shelf rifle with a little work and starting shooting .25 MOA groups. It doesn't work that way, if it did you would not see benchrest shooters spend more money on their barrels than the average sportsman does his rifle. You mentioned you have good hunting accuracy, taking that into good varmint accuracy may be possible (maybe not) but it might be a reasonable goal. However, don't think just because you make near perfect handloads your can make your rifle do things it (or you) is simply not capable of doing. Remember also that accuracy is repeatable, not one tiny group or even five good groups out of ten. It is what you expect the rifle to produce every time you sit behind it. I love competing; pitting yourself against other shooters is one of the best ways to become more proficient as a marksman and a handloader. It will also clearly display your progress. Finding a couple of buddies and holding some informal competitions is a great way to start. Check out the info on the web for eggshoots, I prefer this kind of competition, cause the first shot is the only one that counts.
Let me share a few things I do to produce accurate ammo that I skip for dedicated hunting rifles. I think brass preparation is the most important step in precision handloading. I buy the most consistent brass I can find for the caliber I am choosing, no news to anyone, but if Lapua makes brass or I can form my case from their brass that's what I use, period. I then weigh every case and separate the batch into various lots. On large cases I normally end up with three lots. I then debur the flash hole and uniform the primer pocket. I trim to length and turn the neck, even on factory chambers I turn the neck of my cases. I do not turn them to a uniform diameter, that would remove too much brass, I just remove the high spots for factory chambers. Do not cut more than 25-40% of the brass on the neck. It's not perfect but it's a huge improvement.
Hope this is kind of what you are hoping to find.
I've got a pretty good handle on the mechanics of a rifle. I have some that shoot best fully bedded, and others that prefer to be fully floated. I'm carful on the bench as to where my rifle is resting, and how much pressure I put on any part of the gun with my hands and cheek...consistantly every time.
Four out of six of my rifles will shoot less than 3/4" groups with handloads... every time .
Of the other two, one is a 300 savage that averages 1.300" groups with handloads, the other is a 35 Whelen that is showing great potential.
My question has more to do with changing one of the variables while keeping all other things the same.
Say I'm getting 1.500" 5 shot groups, but I "think" there is potential for 1.00"
What would be the first variable to change?
1. Seating depth?
2. Add or drop 1/2 grain powder?
Fellas, thank you for reinforcing the basics. I appreciate the reminder.
Yet, when pracricing all these, and still wanting to wring out just a bit more, What, amoung the variables, should be changed... refer to "example."
Thanks again, Scott
Should have read your post more carefully I guess. Since you are getting 3/4 inch groups all of the time, that's very good accuracy. In fact it may be very difficult to average much better than that in a sporter weight rifle. Folks pay craftsmen thousands of dollars to get rifles that will shoot that straight.
Remember that every step in accuracy improvement is not the same. I have had rifles that averaged close to 2.5 inches at 100 yards with factory ammo and was able with a few tweaks and some select loads to cut their groups in half, but once you get to a certain accuracy level it is very difficult to make improvements. Let me say that again that without brass prep for fine accuracy you are not going to get precision handloads. Some good groups, sure you can, but not fine accuracy any day and every day. Now that I have said that again what else do I do.
First I am careful with powder selection and bullet selection. If you want the most in accuracy do not hobble yourself with the mindset that you must use one bullet or one kind of powder. You may get very good accuracy, but until you try many different setups you cannot be certain you are getting the best accuracy in your rifle.
Depending on what caliber you are shooting bullet seating may have a lot or practically no effect on accuracy. Some cartridges are cut with parallel throats and seating depth while important is not nearly as critical, but if you are using a 308 Win for example I measure the maximum overall length (bolt face to the lands) with the particular bullet and begin handloads at a depth of .050 and decrease until accuracy deteriorates or pressure signs show up. If you are really searching for the utmost in accuracy some rifles are going to shoot best with the bullet in the lands. Loaded this way the rounds may not fit in the magazine, but hey you knew there would be trade offs. A competition seating die (I am fond of the Redding die) is very helpful in this process and gives you more control and more repeatability next time you are loading. Cartridge and bullet concentricity is important as well. I always check bullet run out when I am trying to break those eggs at 300 yards.
Once seating depth is established I next try a couple different primers. I have several rifles that display why match quality primers cost more. If you are not using them and you can find some I recommend trying CCI and Federal match primers. You can even flip back and forth between magnum and standard, of course be cautious with pressures as you switch primers start at 5% less and work back to your preferred charge weight. At the accuracy level you are experiencing changing primers will make a difference, but it may be a small difference so measure your groups with a dial caliper as you go. A 3/4 inch group is very good so you may need to be more precise to realize your 1/8 inch improvement.
As far as powder goes there are a lot of different views on this. I adjust powder charges 1 grain at a time and in large cases (i.e. 7mm STW or 300 Win Mag) I even do two grains at a time. This way I come to an understanding of the effects of the powder very quickly. Don't forget to try other similar powders once you determine what seems to work best in your rifle. The particular powder will make as much difference as the actual charge weight in all probability. I am not saying charge weight should not be uniform, but it is not as important as other things in chasing accuracy. So you will see this for yourself once you hit on the right powder you should load ten cartridges incrementally a half grain under to a half grain over your preferred load (so long as it is a safe charge weight). Fire them randomly from your rifle and I bet they fire into the same group. I have shown this to guys again and again. A lot of people spend too much time on dropping powder.
A couple other things to consider, always test in the best conditions possible; temperature, humidity and WIND will dictate the outcome of the best handloads. If you are seeking the ultimate in accuracy you may need to change optics. No brand loyalty on my part but to shoot better than .5 inch groups, any day & every day, you need excellent resolution. Also you should become religious in your cleaning practices. A super clean may not be necessary, but I would guess that a fouled bore will not give the best accuracy. Do you compare groups through a clean bore with groups through a bore that has 20-30-40 rounds through it? Remember there are other ways to measure group size than on paper targets. A chronograph measuring the mean velocity and tracking standard deviation is a great help. A smaller standard deviation will make more difference at a thousand yards than a few decimal places on the 100 yard target. Just my .02$
Browning B 78
Forgot 'bout that one, guess I've got seven rifles not six.
The Browning B 78 in 45-70 puts speer 400 grainers into 1.100 avg for 3 shots without even sweatin'.
I would agree, that every single one of your rifles show excellent groups as is. Very few manufacturers will guarantee an accuracy (ie sub moa) I called Kimber the other day, mentioning that my Montana had feeding issues, and that it only shot 2" moa out of the box. I was told to send it back in for the chambering issue, but 2" moa was acceptable.
That being said, I like you are a stickler for tinkering and getting the best accuracy possible. Right now, given the powder/primer shortage, I bought a few pounds of one type (AA2495) and 2000 Rem BR primers, and am working to get the best load I can with those components. I am first absolutely METICULOUS with my brass. I use relatively decent quality lake city match brass for my .223. Then, I trim using a Redding 2400 case trimmer to the nearest .001. Then, I uniform the primer pocket and flash hole, then separate into lots (pretty much like 1Cor, except a neck turner is on the shopping list). I start at a medium load, with the SAAMI COAL. I then work up the seating depth, until I get the best groups (sometimes, like 1Cor said, it doesn't make much difference). In my AR's it is usually about .020 off the lands. Then, I start working the powder charge up until either pressure signs come up, or accuracy fails.
Once I have all that worked out, I'll rinse, wash, repeat with another bullet. In my .223 case, I started out with Nosler Custom comp 77 gr, then Sierra MK 77 gr moly, and finally Hornady A-max 75 gr- which seems to be the best @ 300 yds with a 2.75" group (as long as I do my part).
When more components become available, I'll start dinking around with different primers/ powder, and brass, etc.