How does anyone ever achieve the perfect load?

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by clunker, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. clunker

    clunker Gold $$ Contributor

    Jun 15, 2018
    The title says it all. With all the variables involved, how does anyone ever develop the perfect load for their rifle before the barrel is toast? Let's just assume (as a novice) that I want to load for my .223 bolt, and I have done my research. I'm looking at H335 or CFE223 powder. Either Norma or Lapua brass. Confirmed CCI BR4 primers. At least 4 different bullets to see what the rifle likes.

    Before I even consider seating depth, powder charge, or compatibility between dies and rifle chamber, let's do the math. I already have 16 different combinations of components, and I feel that I was fairly conservative in number of options. Assuming that my reloading skill is up to the task, I want at least 5 of each specific load, so I can compare velocity and accuracy. That brings us to a total of 80 rounds at the range.

    Finally, adding into the equation both seating depth and powder charge at 5 points each so I can plot a curve, I end up with 2000 rounds at the range. God help me if I happen to choose dies that don't accurately model my chamber. It seems that the most likely scenario is that I might still have 50% of barrel life left before I have to buy a new barrel and start the whole process over again. Am I just chasing my tail with reloading?
  2. expiper


    Nov 23, 2004
    the perfect load on a 80* day will not be the perfect load for a 60* day,,,and if your rifle is a factory gun it prolly wont shoot good enuff to tell you when it is right ,,,hahaha,,,,,,load them near max and jump bullets ~.020" and have fun,,,its a guessing game at best,,,Roger

    OBTW,,,you should try Berger bullets of appropriate wt for your bbl,,,Benchmark for under 60 gr and Rx-15 for bigger bullets,,,,just sayin,,,
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
    Clancy, rardoin, LRPV and 1 other person like this.
  3. Homerange


    Sep 11, 2015
    You're over thinking it !
    Dies, well get custom a Redding sizing one made or use a LCD.
    For the rest of it, consult manuals for their 'accuracy' loads and work from there.

    A 223 shooting normal weight pills is pretty easy to get good results from.
  4. R.Morehouse

    R.Morehouse Gold $$ Contributor

    Nov 24, 2012
    There is no perfect load...o_O...At some point you just have to shoot the damn thing...( note to self )
    jackson1, Rushty, Clancy and 9 others like this.
  5. joshb

    joshb Gold $$ Contributor

    Oct 5, 2014
    Add in eight or nine more new guns and you’ll really be pulling your hair out! Welcome to my world!:eek:
    In all seriousness, I read and research this site. There’s a mountain of information here. I use it to narrow down the choices and speed the process. I’m more importantly picking up tricks in the methodology of finding a load faster. Here’s one:
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
  6. clunker

    clunker Gold $$ Contributor

    Jun 15, 2018
    That's what I figured!

    Already looking at a Coax press and Redding dies. The .223 is just the guinea pig, so I can learn the skill before tackling my 6.5CM. I might have a little too much science in my blood to just accept that I settled for "good enough." Did I just admit that I have joined a support group for gun addicts? :oops:
    LGKLAS likes this.
  7. nmkid

    nmkid Gold $$ Contributor

    Dec 31, 2014
    I have been loading since the early 70's. Thinking back, there have been 2 rifles that made me go giggly every time I went to the range. I won't discuss the countless others!
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
    Drop Port and 370bc like this.
  8. Lefty Trigger

    Lefty Trigger Gold $$ Contributor

    Nov 15, 2017
    Been there, done that, still doing it... finding the perfect load is like finding gold in your back yard. I can tell you from what I have done is to pick your brass, and bullet you want to shoot then search the internet to find others shooting the bullet you have and powder you want to try. Get an idea of their loads but watch out for the maximum velocity chasers as they shoot everything at or above max. Compare you finds to load manuals or data from your bullet maker over your powder maker. Regardless of "their" load I always start at factory length and adjust from there. So far in my findings Sierra (my bullet choice) has pretty spot on data.
  9. Mark204


    Mar 11, 2017
    I can add another variable that you can throw into the mix, that may or may not do the exact same thing each time..............The guy pulling the trigger.

    Ask me how I know......................

    LGKLAS, dgeesaman, 370bc and 2 others like this.
  10. daniel brothers

    daniel brothers

    Feb 6, 2013
    A few key points that I always consider when starting out with a new caliber workup load is...

    1. I use my 32 power scope.
    2. I use a super steady bench and rest system.
    3. I make sure the barrel is floated.
    4. I then waste a lot of powder and bullets looking for that perfect load.
    5. I pull out a lot of hair and bite my nails to the bone.
    6. I hope this helps.
    7. Ps... i always try to do my part...LOL.
    Nick Caprinolo, 370bc and joshb like this.
  11. Dave Berg

    Dave Berg What doesn't kill us make us bitter. Silver $$ Contributor

    Mar 6, 2005
    It takes a great deal of time, effort and materials to find "the perfect load". However, with a cartridge as widely used and well documented as the .223 it's a fairly simple task to come up with a load that shoots as well as most rifles are capable of. Once you've done that, if you want to keep looking, there will be other combinations of bullets, powder and primers that will shoot just as well but probably not better.

    When all this is put into practice it doesn't take long to realize that eventually the shooter becomes the limiting factor. When someone shoots an 8 or opens a group or misses a prairie dog it's because the gun was pointed in the wrong direction.
    LGKLAS, hpshooter and pacificman like this.
  12. pacificman


    Feb 14, 2013
    Yes it's possible to burn a barrel up finding the perfect load...and then it might not be perfect...LOL:p:D.
    I usually pick a bullet and powder I want to try then do a OCW test...usually I will find something I like.
    If not i will try another powder and/or bullet and all will be well. I don't have to get as fussy as I used to as my accuracy
    does not have to be "all bullets in the same hole". You can chase your tail if you want to but normally it doesn't take
    too many rounds to find a good accuracy load with plenty of barrel life left for shooting fun. As mentioned don't over think it. ;):)
    LGKLAS, RedfootRanch and 370bc like this.
  13. JMayo


    Nov 28, 2014
    Throw more money at It !
    Custom action, barrel, stock, rest, bag, press, arbor, dies, bullets, rods, measuring equipment galore !
    I'm trying to understand how to change with the rifle as shot count grows.
    I did ok for a new guy. Middle of the pack some good score/group mixed in.
    New barrel on the way, burnt up the first one pretty good.
    Did I say throw more money at It ? !
    jimmymac and JimSC like this.
  14. msinc


    May 14, 2011
    Sometimes you get a rifle that is finicky...but we all hope we don't. I have been playing with getting varmint and hunting rifles to shoot as best as they can for a long time. I do all my own gunsmithing, reloading, load development and shooting. The real question is, "how do you know or how can you tell when you really are overthinking it???"
    I have spent a lot of time and money "picking gnat schitt out of pepper" with guns, reloading and shooting, so to speak. There were many times I thought {and/or it really seemed like} I was onto something. You will know when you get a rifle that really shoots. I mean really is a hummer that hits everything you aim it at. I had a few and without exception regretted every one I sold.
    When you do get that hummer and start to work backwards to "check" just how effective all those little things we try to make it better really are that is when I started to see and separate the wheat from the chaff.
    If...big word here...if you have a barrel that is a real accurate tack driving hummer, a stock that is bedded right and fits you, a light crisp trigger and a no B.S. scope with a reticle that you can absolutely see when you are back exactly dead zero on the spot you are aiming at then you start to realize that a whole lot of the little things which we hope will add up to accuracy don't always pan out and many of them might not have helped much.
    The scope is a big deal and so is the barrel. When I get the right two together the first shots out of the bore are just as accurate as what is to follow and it's a funny thing...this rifle shoots most loads and ammo just fine. There are many known good shooting loads and components out there. If I am trying a new rifle and my first groups are 1 1/2" to 2" I know this barrel is not one I am going to spend too much more time on. I'll try a few tricks, but second trip to the range, everything felt good and the bullets are still not touching I am done.
    I should clarify that I am not talking about out of reach, latest design benchrest, unobtainium actions and such that make highly specialized rifles you can only shoot on certain days at a certain bench with a certain rest and then you have to clean it with gold dust each shot and only during the correct moon phase if you have wind flags every 6 inches to the target. I'm talking about a rifle you can put 5 bullets in the same ragged hole and then go shoot a woodchuck or a deer with and have fun doing it.
    Guys that have been there and done that know exactly what I am talking about. There is one bad thing about when you finally get your hands on a rifle like know how dead on balls accurate it is, so you also know it wasn't the rifle when you miss!!
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  15. SSL

    SSL Gold $$ Contributor

    Apr 13, 2017
    And that perfect load, once found, lasts about as long as it takes for a cup of coffee. Besides, there is always that nagging question "What if I try ...?"
    dgeesaman, JMayo, Nature Boy and 3 others like this.
  16. SPJ

    SPJ Yo ' pimpin ain't easy Gold $$ Contributor

    Feb 17, 2018
    I'm sure several people have found the perfect load. Just nobody on this thread;)

    I figure I'll be close in another 1000 rounds or so!!
  17. joshb

    joshb Gold $$ Contributor

    Oct 5, 2014
    Like others have mentioned, it’s a hobby. Stupid me finds a great load for a rifle. I shoot it a couple times and get bored with it hitting anything I point it at. I put it in the rack and grab another gun to find the “perfect load” for!:eek:

    On your 223: Buy 100 Lapua brass. Go with H335. Start at 20 grains and go up to book max with a quality 52-70 grain bullet in .3 grain increments. Load 3 shots per at “touch”. Pick the best performer . Let’s say it’s 22.5 grains. Then do a seating depth test with charges .2 grains above and below 22.5. .01 longer than touch, .04; .08 and .12 shorter. Basically the Berger test. See what you get.;)
    SPJ likes this.
  18. NorCalMikie

    NorCalMikie Gold $$ Contributor

    Dec 2, 2005
    Forget the .223. Go with a 6BR, 8 twist 28" 3 groove barrel , 50 grain bullets, jammed .010 into the lands, close to 30 grains of AA 2230 and get bored to death.
    You don't need a Chrony to tell you how fast it's going. They're all going in the same hole so why bother. The accuracy of your starting loads will be hard to believe.:D
    Always bring an extra rifle cause the 6BR will shoot bug holes. You'll need something to keep your mind off that BR rifle".:cool:
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2018
    daniel brothers, joshb and #40Fan like this.
  19. Ned Ludd

    Ned Ludd Gold $$ Contributor

    May 28, 2012
    You're WAY over-thinking it. Pick the single highest BC bullet that will suit your needs, MAYBE two. Pick a single powder...and IMO, it's neither one of the two you listed, but maybe that's just me. Pick a single brand of brass...of your listed choices, I'd use the Lapua. Then go out and do a careful and rigorous load development procedure using nice small increments so as not to leave any large stones un-turned. Betcha money you find a great load in far fewer rounds than you're predicting. You really don't need to introduce nearly as many variables as you described above, it's gross overkill (i.e. two powders, two brands of brass, 4+ different bullets).
    Evlshnngns, boltfluter and joshb like this.
  20. SAP


    Nov 29, 2016
    I don’t know if you can ever attain a perfect load. Some guns may have shot really good loads, but the way I look at it we the shooter makes more errors than what we know. What could have been a perfect load could have been thrown out due to human error shooting. So yes you can chase your tail. Think of all aspects in creating a perfect load where human error can happen. Between every thing we touch in Reloading to our shooting disciplines.
    LGKLAS and msinc like this.

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