Reloading Question

JFK

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A question to experienced rifle reloaders. When working an initial load and working up closer to max, how many of each charge weight do you load up? In other words, if a guy is starting at min charge and going up in .5 grain increments, how many of each is appropriate to determine over pressure and potential accuracy. Thanks.
 

Jim n cali

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There is No secret answer. Every rifle and cartridge are different. Start at mid level and go from there as long as you don’t go over MAX don’t worry about pressures. Seating depth to the lands is your friend for good accuracy.
 

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I always load a box of each load up and if it works great if not I use a bullet puller and change the rounds to the load my rifle likes the best.
 

el Toro

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When working up, I load in 5 round increments. I do that because I feel like it takes 5 rounds to test for groups to see what gives best accuracy.

A word to the wise if you are new at reloading, especially here in CA... Copper or other monolithic bullets act much differently than lead. DO NOT use max data for comparable weight lead bullets when loading copper! Also, DO NOT seat to the lands. You want to be at least .040" off the lands and likely more. Copper bullets are longer and generate more pressure. They also generally like more jump. Barnes recommends .040 - .060 jump to start. I have various guns that like a jump with copper anywhere from .045 - .085" out. Even more is common.

If you can find it, use data specifically for the copper bullet you plan on using and work up slowly. Once you get near max (within 1-2 gr), work up in .25 gr increments and watch carefully for pressure signs.

If you can't find data for the specific mono bullet you want to use, use lead bullet data for a lead bullet that is significantly heavier. For example, if you want to load a 120 gr copper/mono bullet and can't find load data for that specific bullet, use data for a 140 gr lead bullet, starting at minimum load and always working up slowly. That is the key. Be patient and don't skip steps.
 
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DennisV

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I used 5 each through the chrony to check standard deviation of velocity and group size. Then switched to 1/10 grain increments and did the same.
 

Garrison

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When working up, I load in 5 round increments. I do that because I feel like it takes 5 rounds to test for groups to see what gives best accuracy.

A word to the wise if you are new at reloading, especially here in CA... Copper or other monolithic bullets act much differently than lead. DO NOT use max data for comparable weight lead bullets when loading copper! Also, DO NOT seat to the lands. You want to be at least .040" off the lands and likely more. Copper bullets are longer and generate more pressure. They also generally like more jump. Barnes recommends .040 - .060 jump to start. I have various guns that like a jump with copper anywhere from .045 - .085" out. Even more is common.

If you can find it, use data specifically for the copper bullet you plan on using and work up slowly. Once you get near max (within 1-2 gr), work up in .25 gr increments and watch carefully for pressure signs.

If you can't find data for the specific mono bullet you want to use, use lead bullet data for a lead bullet that is significantly heavier. For example, if you want to load a 120 gr copper/mono bullet and can't find load data for that specific bullet, use data for a 140 gr lead bullet, starting at minimum load and always working up slowly. That is the key. Be patient and don't skip steps.

Good post! You can work up a pretty good hunting load with published info, but if you want to start connecting dots there are a whole bunch of variables to iron out for each and every rifle.
 

DennisV

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Regarding max loads.

Of the 11 rifles I worked up loads for, not a single one shot it's best groups at Max loading. They all shot better at something less than Max.

Something to consider if you are just starting out at this.
 

Aggro

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I start below max with published data and load 3 rounds each and don't even bother with a sight. I chrono and look at pressure signs. I will shoot into dirt at short range. Once I get into where it starts to look like some pressure signs I start shooting for accuracy and go down about a 1/2 grain to start. This is different for each gun. This is for modern firearms.
 
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ShadowX

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A question to experienced rifle reloaders. When working an initial load and working up closer to max, how many of each charge weight do you load up? In other words, if a guy is starting at min charge and going up in .5 grain increments, how many of each is appropriate to determine over pressure and potential accuracy. Thanks.
Are you adjusting the cartridge OAL also? If you are aiming to increase your accuracy, some guns are less sensitive to the powder load at smaller grain increments. The gap between the bullet and the lands throat area can have a greater impact on the consistency on the pressure that builds up. I suggest you also choose one power load in the middle of the range and adjust the COAL slightly to compare. Build at least 5 rounds with each COAL value. At least this way, you can see what the powder load changes does to the accuracy and also the bullet seating depth adjustments.

If you have a runout gauge, at least take some measurements to make sure your cartridges are consistent. Trim all the brass so they are consistent if you are not doing that. Some people measure bullet runout and even the weight but I don't think that is as important at this stage as long as you are using good quality bullets that are consistent. The key word is consistency. You might be wrong, but you're consistently wrong. LOL.
 

JFK

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Thanks for the advice. I’ll be using load data from the Barnes manual. Have 100 pieces of new Hornady brass that has been FL sized, trimmed to the same length within .001. uniformed flash holes, chamfered/deburred.

Bullets are 110gr TTSX out of a 270win. Powder on hand is H4350 (suggested by Barnes for this load) and I also have some Hybrid 100.

Well aware of the importance of jump with copper bullets. I have a bullet comparator to help with this. One interesting thing is that the factory loaded Barnes ammo has a shorter COAL than what their manual says to load them to.

Most people who have loaded these 110gr TTSX for a 270 say they are finding best accuracy at or near max. I will certainly work up slowly and cautiously, but my goal is to push these bullets fast.
 

Garrison

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Why do you want to shoot 110gr bullet out of a .270? It’s pretty well documented the 270 shines with a 130gr projectile. If you work up a load for the 130gr ttsx or the 129gr lrx for a little better coefficient. See what groups better and get your distances dialed in for your scope you can shoot anything with four legs.

Another thing I have found shooting different types of coppers is some don’t play well together, shoot only one brand at a time and start with some foul shots out of a clean barrel before you run your ladder. You can get some very different results between a fresh barrel and a fouled barrel with the same load, especially if the fouling is from a different alloy.

And I agree with what was stated before, dialing in the bullet jump will result in much better results than powder charges.
 

bobby7321

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I have also noticed that my best loads with TSX or TTSX seem to be near or at max load. I would start a little below max and work your way up as long as you are looking at barnes load data.
 

JFK

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Why do you want to shoot 110gr bullet out of a .270? It’s pretty well documented the 270 shines with a 130gr projectile. If you work up a load for the 130gr ttsx or the 129gr lrx for a little better coefficient. See what groups better and get your distances dialed in for your scope you can shoot anything with four legs.

Another thing I have found shooting different types of coppers is some don’t play well together, shoot only one brand at a time and start with some foul shots out of a clean barrel before you run your ladder. You can get some very different results between a fresh barrel and a fouled barrel with the same load, especially if the fouling is from a different alloy.

And I agree with what was stated before, dialing in the bullet jump will result in much better results than powder charges.
I want to shoot a 110gr TTSX for a couple reasons. The biggest one is that a Barnes tech told me that it’s the best all around 270 bullet they make for most hunting situations. Basically he explained it this way....the 130gr sells because it’s what guys shoot in lead bullets out of a 270, and people get stuck in their ways about dropping to a lighter weight bullet for a given caliber. I’ve shot the factory Barnes 130gr vortx ammo for a about 5 years now and killed 9 pigs with it. It does it’s job for sure and I would gladly use it again. The Barnes tech said though that because copper is less dense than lead, your 130gr copper bullet is actually a bigger bullet than a 130gr lead bullet....longer, more bearing surface, etc. I don’t really give a rats ass about ballistics most of the time but the ballistics on the 110gr bullet are better inside of 300-400 yds. Not A better BC, and I don’t care about that because I don’t shoot that far, but inside of 300 or so yards the 110gr bullet is a better bullet out of the 270. Flatter, and faster with basically zero holdover, less recoil and because it’s leaving the muzzle at somewhere between 3200-3400 FPS it’s going to open up very well. I’m hoping to draw an antelope tag this year and the idea of a super flat shooting round interests me.

I guess I’m also interested in loading something that can’t be bought off the shelf too, so I feel like the effort is worthwhile. Otherwise I could just go buy 130gr at a local shop and skip all this hassle. The factory Barnes ammo is crazy accurate out of my rifle so I have a high bar to beat in hand loading.

I’m only going to shoot Barnes for the time being. Down the road I might load up some Hammer bullets but my plan is to find a load this rifle likes either 110’s and then load a bunch of them. I agree on a few fouling shots after cleaning. I always do this and see dramatic improvements in accuracy after 1-2 shots.
 

Garrison

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I want to shoot a 110gr TTSX for a couple reasons. The biggest one is that a Barnes tech told me that it’s the best all around 270 bullet they make for most hunting situations. Basically he explained it this way....the 130gr sells because it’s what guys shoot in lead bullets out of a 270, and people get stuck in their ways about dropping to a lighter weight bullet for a given caliber. I’ve shot the factory Barnes 130gr vortx ammo for a about 5 years now and killed 9 pigs with it. It does it’s job for sure and I would gladly use it again. The Barnes tech said though that because copper is less dense than lead, your 130gr copper bullet is actually a bigger bullet than a 130gr lead bullet....longer, more bearing surface, etc. I don’t really give a rats ass about ballistics most of the time but the ballistics on the 110gr bullet are better inside of 300-400 yds. Not A better BC, and I don’t care about that because I don’t shoot that far, but inside of 300 or so yards the 110gr bullet is a better bullet out of the 270. Flatter, and faster with basically zero holdover, less recoil and because it’s leaving the muzzle at somewhere between 3200-3400 FPS it’s going to open up very well. I’m hoping to draw an antelope tag this year and the idea of a super flat shooting round interests me.

I guess I’m also interested in loading something that can’t be bought off the shelf too, so I feel like the effort is worthwhile. Otherwise I could just go buy 130gr at a local shop and skip all this hassle. The factory Barnes ammo is crazy accurate out of my rifle so I have a high bar to beat in hand loading.

I’m only going to shoot Barnes for the time being. Down the road I might load up some Hammer bullets but my plan is to find a load this rifle likes either 110’s and then load a bunch of them. I agree on a few fouling shots after cleaning. I always do this and see dramatic improvements in accuracy after 1-2 shots.

Sounds like you got a plan together.

I went the other direction with it when I loaded rounds for the .270, I was more worried about what happened after 300 yards, especially where wind is a concern in mule deer and antelope country. I settled on the LRX and got a custom turret made to take all the guess work out of drop. 300 feet a second more in speed didn’t seem like something I wanted to take for almost a whole point drop in BC. I have heard people say that Barnes bullets like to go fast and it’s ok to drop down in weight, but everything that we have shot with them have always been pass throughs with a nice size exit at all ranges. They work!

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el Toro

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Yep, that LRX is a game changer. It’s designed to open more rapidly, even at lower speeds. Conventional wisdom was to size down when going to copper for better speed and thus expansion, but methinks the LRX changes all that now.
 

JFK

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Last night I loaded up about half the cartridges I’ll need for load testing.

Min charge in Barnes manual is 53gr. Max is 58.9gr.

I loaded 1 round each from 53-55gr to cover my bases as far as pressure goes but don’t plan on using these light charges. From 55gr to 57.5 I’m loading up in .5gr increments and loading 5 rounds each. From 57.5gr up I’m loading in .25gr increments, 5 rounds each and will probably stop at 58.5... .4gr short of max. Most info I can find is saying 57.5-58 is the sweet spot for speed and accuracy. I trickled all charges so they were dead on down to .1 of a grain using H4350.

Load data OAL is 3.250. Factory Barnes 130gr are shorter at 3.200-3.210 and have the same ogive dimensions. I loaded these to 3.220 and will change seating depth after I get my charge weight dialed in. Yes, I know changing seating depth changes pressures but I was thinking about it and loading a bunch of different charges with different seating depths just seems like it will be hard to narrow down what works. I’d like to eliminate one variable at a time. Federal used to load the 110gr TTSX in factory ammo and 3.220 is the OAL they used. Knowing my rifle likes the shorter (3.210) 130gr ammo with same ogive as the 110gr makes me think that’s a good place to start and will still have plenty of jump.

Does this seem like a sound plan? Loading a whole separate batch of cartridges with different OAL repeating the charges with 5 shot groups would have me loading up close to 100 rounds, which seems excessive. The rifle is not picky and likes almost all factory ammo I’ve fed it.
 

Cast Gold

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When you use Excel to chart your velocity (Y axis) vs charge weight (X axis), you will see that velocity will increase, but you might find that the relation between velocity and charge is not linear. If you see the velocity change very little across a range of charge weights, that will be an accuracy node. Going up in charge weight may uncover another accuracy node. You'd need small increments to see these nodes, like 0.2 gr, which would be more reliably recorded with very careful weighing, uniform neck tension, uniform case volume, uniform chamber temperature, good primers, uniform seating depth, etc.
 

el Toro

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I think you are on the right track. But what Barnes loads as factory coal is of little use. They load factory ammo short so they can be loaded in a multitude of chambers and mags. If you want to start with powder first, before tweaking seating depth. I’d use a Hornady dummy round tool thingy (I forget what this gadget is called but google it if you don’t have one) to measure where that bullet hits the lands in YOUR rifle. If you need a starting point, choose .050 -.060 off the lands, provided that fits in your magazine and feeds well. Then tweak seating from there. Factory is meaningless.
 

JFK

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I think you are on the right track. But what Barnes loads as factory coal is of little use. They load factory ammo short so they can be loaded in a multitude of chambers and mags. If you want to start with powder first, before tweaking seating depth. I’d use a Hornady dummy round tool thingy (I forget what this gadget is called but google it if you don’t have one) to measure where that bullet hits the lands in YOUR rifle. If you need a starting point, choose .050 -.060 off the lands, provided that fits in your magazine and feeds well. Then tweak seating from there. Factory is meaningless.
Copy that. I think I’ll just need to realize this will take a few range sessions. Was hoping to get it done in one and not burn up a bunch of the bullets I have in hand, but don’t think that will be the the case.

I’ll take the current cartridges loaded with ascending charges and all same OAL and get my charge figured out. Then return with another series with consistent charges and different OALs from .050 to .100 jump to see where the accuracy is.
 

el Toro

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It’s almost certainly gonna take you a few range sessions. But also question your ultimate goal. You can spend a lot of time, effort and money chasing perfection and optimal accuracy. That’s great if it blows your skirt up, but for me, there’s a point where I’m gonna call it good enough. If I get a group that’s sub MOA, that’s good enough to kill out to any reasonable range. I’ll call it good. That’s just me. I’m a hunter, not a bench rest nerd.
 
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JFK

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Same here. Just looking for a reasonably accurate load to hunt with. This rifle will shoot MOA with most factory ammo so if I can match or beat that by a little bit I’ll be happy. I shoot off sticks, a pack or trees hunting and you don’t get bench rest accuracy like that anyhow. A big part of why I want to reload is to not have to deal with stores never having good ammo in stock, background checks for a stupid box of bullets, etc.

Thank you for all the advice.
 

Aggro

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Bench rest or long range is a whole nother animal. These guys have mega buck rigs, use new brass and get very detailed. It makes sense for that but not for hunting. Rarely will a 1/2 inch make a difference killing a game animal.


Today's published data is safe to use but always hit multiple sites and average the load data. Smart move going lighter with copper though. That 110 will be scorching out of .270. I've dropped down in weight with everything too. 168 for win mag, 150 for .308 and 100 grainers for Grendel.
 

JFK

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Just wanted to follow up on this thread since I made it to the range this morning with my first batch of ammo. Needles to say I’m very pleased with what I’ve got so far.

Last week I realized 5 shot groups for initial load workout from min to max was going to be overkill and a waste of bullets, powder and my time. I kept the one round each at the very low end, then pulled two bullets each with a collet puller. This gave me three rounds each in the load range I wanted to be in, which was 57gr up to max.

I had not yet purchased a tool to find distance to lands, and I stead settled on a safe 3.220. Slightly shorter than Barnes book COL and slightly longer than their factory 270 ammo.

From the first round to the last I was impressed. Accuracy improved greatly from 1moa to .5moa at around 57gr. At 57.5gr I put three shots through one hole at 100yds. From there up to 58.7gr I didn’t see any pressure signs, though groups opened slightly to around 1-1.25”depending on charge weight. 58.7 is .2gr away from max with the H4350 I’m using and shot a 1moa group.

I might return to the range with some of the 58.7gr loads with slightly longer COL, or I might not. Either way I want to pick 2 of these loads and shoot some 10 round groups, then be done with it. Honestly for my first attempt at this I would have been happy with ammo that went bang and didn’t blow my face off. I’ve never shot any factory ammo that came close to this.

Thanks all for pointing me in the right direction.
 

el Toro

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I personally love it when a rifle finds it’s happy spot somewhere around 1 gr under max. I hunt in a lot of different conditions so I don’t like to push max and potentially run into a pressure issue in hot weather. I’ll take that 1 gr ish margin of safety.
 

JFK

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I personally love it when a rifle finds it’s happy spot somewhere around 1 gr under max. I hunt in a lot of different conditions so I don’t like to push max and potentially run into a pressure issue in hot weather. I’ll take that 1 gr ish margin of safety.
That’s kinda what I’m thinking. I went into this believing I wanted to be right at max, and chase speed. But I was shooting in 50 degree weather yesterday. I hunt for pigs in hot weather a decent amount. 1-1.5gr below max is where I saw the tightest groups. Might just settle on that one knowing I’m not pushing it in hot weather and call it good.
 

el Toro

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You’re doing it right!
 

aeon

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Reloading for presision is a deep dive in a vast ocean. Do you need it? I duno. Does it make you more accurate, yup.

I reload for 1k yard fclass matches. The level of stupid is crazy trying hit a 5" circle at that distance

Few tricks for you. First is the length of the loaded cartridge is not important other than fitting in the magazine. The important distance is to the ogive on the bullet. This will also be how you measure to the lands. For that try the wheeler method. Google it. No crazy tools needed and it's accurate. You must have the ogive measuring adapter on your micrometer.

Chambers get cut deep or shallow in factory guns. The COL listed in load data is useless. Custom fit for just your chamber.

In a hunting gun don't jam the bullets into the lands. To much and unloading your rifle can unseat a bullet and make a mess.
 

okie man

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Ok, many will call bullshit on this but you can get real close to finding that optimal load in 15 shots. First look up recommended loads in at least one manual! Pick a powder know for low temp sensitivity. Hodgdon makes some of the best but imr and Alliant both have added similar qualities to there product lines.
So now that you have data, powder bullets and primers, how do you find a load in 15 shots?
First step is finding your max cartridge length. It can be what length fits the magazine and functions well without jamming the bullet into the lands for a hunting rifle or a length that just kisses the lands in a single shot bolt gun for target shooting.
once you find that length, load 5 cartridges with a mild load of powder, usually half way between starting and max charge weight. seat a bullet to max length. Adjust your die to seat the next bullet .20 deeper into the case. Adjust the die to seat the next bullet .20” deeper than second case and repeat until you have 5 rounds loaded , each with the bullet deeper than the previous one.
I use colored sharpies to mark each case head and to color the tip of the bullet and note the oal length of each colored round. Now the fun part. The farther you can get your target from your gun the better. 400-600 yards works really well if you can shot accurately at that range. So what you do is load and shoot each round at the target. Same aiming point. You’ll find that as you shoot either the group will open up or tighten up. Note the depth (color)that seamed to tighten the group most. That’s your optimal seating depth. The point where the bullets happiest meeting the rifling in the chamber!
Now go back to powder charge . Load 5 more rounds but this time your gonna adjust powder charge up .5 grains per case for large centerfire cartridges, .3 grains for smaller cartridges. Until you get to max load . Mark them again and go back and shoot them. Again you are looking for the charge that tightens up the group up. This is called a node. It’s what your looking for. It’s where the bullet is leaving the barrel in time with when the barrel is in a static position.
Now you can load 5 more with the optimal powder charge, optimal seating depth and shoot them through a chronograph . Now you looking for the least amount of speed difference between rounds! Anything under 20 FPS for the 5 shots is good, single digits is even better.
Most hunters can stop there if your getting sub moa groups. If you are like me, and you want more accuracy you can take that load and tweak it more. Adjust bullet depth up and down in .05 increments either way to tighten group even more or change primer type to get better es(extreme spread) of velocity.
Here’s a few other tips on loading for consistency, consistency is most important to gaining accuracy! Pick a powder that give the most velocity with less pressure. Also one that has a greater start and max charge difference. Some vld style bullets are very sensitive to seating depth changes (Berger’s are known for this). If you are not going to be shooting extreme distances (500+yards) stick with more traditional style bullets because the typically are more user friendly.
 
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