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  • Load Testing - How many rounds?

    I'm developing new hunting loads for several firearms this Spring. My quandary is in how many rounds of each load constitutes an adequate test.

    For instance - would shooting three groups of each powder load work?

    How many levels in the load ladder is sufficient? Do you use 1 grain increments or 1/2 grain increments?

    What about 3-round vs 5-round groups?

    I'm curious to find out the best practices from you hand-loaders in this forum. Thanks in advance!
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Anymore, pighunter, considering the cost of powder and bullets, I'd see what I could accomplish with 3 loads.
    I don't know how far you are from the range, mine is out the back door.
    I build three and try them. If they look good I'll fine tune a little.
    If they're disappointing, it's a 1 grain jump or a different powder, depending on how I feel.
    Fine tune is one-tenth (.10) grain up or down.
    Back in the day of $4 powder and $5 bullets, I tried no less than 5.

    (edit): I'm not into benchrest shooting, so just a nicely accurate round, +/-.75"/100 yards. Cloverleafs are nice, but not my goal.

    Comment


    • #3
      PH, I have a lot of loading manuals and make a spread sheet of the various powders I am thinking of trying. Also I listen to people more experienced than me with a particular caliber to see what 'the ' powder is. My 22-250 powder came to me that way and it is a winner. Some powders are made specifically for a particular caliber - for instance Ball-C-2 was made for the .223/5.56, H4895 was surplus WW II powder used specifically for the 30-06 in the M-1 Grand. Too fast burning powder bends the operating rod on the M-1 so attention to reloading is important.
      So, I take a powder and plot the min- max load on the sheet and look for manuals suggested 'best' powders and sometimes optimum loads. Next I determine the top load in my gun. We talked about pressures recently. I don't go past a little cratering but that is just me. My gunsmith keeps going until the primer is completely flat - each to his own.
      I increase by .1gr for smaller cases and maybe .5 or even 1gr increments for the large cases and fire 2 rounds each load. Be sure to take apart the over max loads when you get home.
      Once I get max, I back down 1 to 1.5gr and fire 2 or 3 shots looking for consistent groups. My 180gr .300Wby could go about 3200fps but I back down to 3050fps - why push the limit, nothing I shoot needs the extra 150fps. That's it, that is all I do. P.S. once you get a good load, keep it and don't mess with other loads - if you do it will drive you crazy and wear out the adjustments knobs on your scope. People have said a man with one rifle will be an expert with it and I extend that to say a rifle with one load will be the perfect rig. Hope that gives you some ideas.

      Comment


      • #4
        PH, I have a lot of loading manuals and make a spread sheet of the various powders I am thinking of trying. Also I listen to people more experienced than me with a particular caliber to see what 'the ' powder is. My 22-250 powder came to me that way and it is a winner. Some powders are made specifically for a particular caliber - for instance Ball-C-2 was made for the .223/5.56, H4895 was surplus WW II powder used specifically for the 30-06 in the M-1 Grand. Too fast burning powder bends the operating rod on the M-1 so attention to reloading is important.
        So, I take a powder and plot the min- max load on the sheet and look for manuals suggested 'best' powders and sometimes optimum loads. Next I determine the top load in my gun. We talked about pressures recently. I don't go past a little cratering but that is just me. My gunsmith keeps going until the primer is completely flat - each to his own.
        I increase by .1gr for smaller cases and maybe .5 or even 1gr increments for the large cases and fire 2 rounds each load. Be sure to take apart the over max loads when you get home.
        Once I get max, I back down 1 to 1.5gr and fire 2 or 3 shots looking for consistent groups. My 180gr .300Wby could go about 3200fps but I back down to 3050fps - why push the limit, nothing I shoot needs the extra 150fps. That's it, that is all I do. P.S. once you get a good load, keep it and don't mess with other loads - if you do it will drive you crazy and wear out the adjustments knobs on your scope. People have said a man with one rifle will be an expert with it and I extend that to say a rifle with one load will be the perfect rig. Hope that gives you some ideas.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post
          Anymore, pighunter, considering the cost of powder and bullets, I'd see what I could accomplish with 3 loads.
          I don't know how far you are from the range, mine is out the back door.
          I build three and try them. If they look good I'll fine tune a little.
          If they're disappointing, it's a 1 grain jump or a different powder, depending on how I feel.
          Fine tune is one-tenth (.10) grain up or down.
          Back in the day of $4 powder and $5 bullets, I tried no less than 5.

          (edit): I'm not into benchrest shooting, so just a nicely accurate round, +/-.75"/100 yards. Cloverleafs are nice, but not my goal.
          Thanks for the advice. My range is a short drive so distance is not a problem, but finding the time can be. PigHuntress and I are planning to spend Friday afternoon shooting :-D

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
            PH, I have a lot of loading manuals and make a spread sheet of the various powders I am thinking of trying. Also I listen to people more experienced than me with a particular caliber to see what 'the ' powder is. My 22-250 powder came to me that way and it is a winner. Some powders are made specifically for a particular caliber - for instance Ball-C-2 was made for the .223/5.56, H4895 was surplus WW II powder used specifically for the 30-06 in the M-1 Grand. Too fast burning powder bends the operating rod on the M-1 so attention to reloading is important.
            So, I take a powder and plot the min- max load on the sheet and look for manuals suggested 'best' powders and sometimes optimum loads. Next I determine the top load in my gun. We talked about pressures recently. I don't go past a little cratering but that is just me. My gunsmith keeps going until the primer is completely flat - each to his own.
            I increase by .1gr for smaller cases and maybe .5 or even 1gr increments for the large cases and fire 2 rounds each load. Be sure to take apart the over max loads when you get home.
            Once I get max, I back down 1 to 1.5gr and fire 2 or 3 shots looking for consistent groups. My 180gr .300Wby could go about 3200fps but I back down to 3050fps - why push the limit, nothing I shoot needs the extra 150fps. That's it, that is all I do. P.S. once you get a good load, keep it and don't mess with other loads - if you do it will drive you crazy and wear out the adjustments knobs on your scope. People have said a man with one rifle will be an expert with it and I extend that to say a rifle with one load will be the perfect rig. Hope that gives you some ideas.
            Now that is indeed a different approach. I've never tried to find the maximum first and then work downward. (But I've accidently built overpressure .40 S&W loads that flattened the heck out of the primers!) I like what you said about not needing to push the limits on hunting loads. Thanks for the feedback!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
              PH, I have a lot of loading manuals and make a spread sheet of the various powders I am thinking of trying. Also I listen to people more experienced than me with a particular caliber to see what 'the ' powder is. My 22-250 powder came to me that way and it is a winner. Some powders are made specifically for a particular caliber - for instance Ball-C-2 was made for the .223/5.56, H4895 was surplus WW II powder used specifically for the 30-06 in the M-1 Grand. Too fast burning powder bends the operating rod on the M-1 so attention to reloading is important.
              So, I take a powder and plot the min- max load on the sheet and look for manuals suggested 'best' powders and sometimes optimum loads. Next I determine the top load in my gun. We talked about pressures recently. I don't go past a little cratering but that is just me. My gunsmith keeps going until the primer is completely flat - each to his own.
              I increase by .1gr for smaller cases and maybe .5 or even 1gr increments for the large cases and fire 2 rounds each load. Be sure to take apart the over max loads when you get home.
              Once I get max, I back down 1 to 1.5gr and fire 2 or 3 shots looking for consistent groups. My 180gr .300Wby could go about 3200fps but I back down to 3050fps - why push the limit, nothing I shoot needs the extra 150fps. That's it, that is all I do. P.S. once you get a good load, keep it and don't mess with other loads - if you do it will drive you crazy and wear out the adjustments knobs on your scope. People have said a man with one rifle will be an expert with it and I extend that to say a rifle with one load will be the perfect rig. Hope that gives you some ideas.
              Now that is indeed a different approach. I've never tried to find the maximum first and then work downward. (But I've accidently built overpressure .40 S&W loads that flattened the heck out of the primers!) I like what you said about not needing to push the limits on hunting loads. Thanks for the feedback!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
                PH, I have a lot of loading manuals and make a spread sheet of the various powders I am thinking of trying. Also I listen to people more experienced than me with a particular caliber to see what 'the ' powder is. My 22-250 powder came to me that way and it is a winner. Some powders are made specifically for a particular caliber - for instance Ball-C-2 was made for the .223/5.56, H4895 was surplus WW II powder used specifically for the 30-06 in the M-1 Grand. Too fast burning powder bends the operating rod on the M-1 so attention to reloading is important.
                So, I take a powder and plot the min- max load on the sheet and look for manuals suggested 'best' powders and sometimes optimum loads. Next I determine the top load in my gun. We talked about pressures recently. I don't go past a little cratering but that is just me. My gunsmith keeps going until the primer is completely flat - each to his own.
                I increase by .1gr for smaller cases and maybe .5 or even 1gr increments for the large cases and fire 2 rounds each load. Be sure to take apart the over max loads when you get home.
                Once I get max, I back down 1 to 1.5gr and fire 2 or 3 shots looking for consistent groups. My 180gr .300Wby could go about 3200fps but I back down to 3050fps - why push the limit, nothing I shoot needs the extra 150fps. That's it, that is all I do. P.S. once you get a good load, keep it and don't mess with other loads - if you do it will drive you crazy and wear out the adjustments knobs on your scope. People have said a man with one rifle will be an expert with it and I extend that to say a rifle with one load will be the perfect rig. Hope that gives you some ideas.
                If you have a .40 case rupture and go into the magazine well and wreck the trigger assembly you will trash the firearm. The operating pressure of the .40S&W is the highest of all common handguns that is why reloaders have to be very careful.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I prefer to have 9 rounds, for 3 3 shot groups. This is usually how I decide which load I want. Then I take enough with me that if I stick with that load I can sight my gun in that day.

                  Comment

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