Load development sequence - Help

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by Joe Marella, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. Joe Marella

    Joe Marella

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2015
    Messages:
    13
    Given that there are many variables that factor into an optimum load such as:
    Bullet manufacturer
    Bullet weight
    Powder type
    Powder weight
    Primer type
    Seating depth

    Can someone suggest a sequence to go about establishing the optimum load considering these variables. Which variable do you establish first, second and so on... Also are there interactions between these variables. For example if you determine a certain bullet weight to be best is that likely to change if you use a different powder.

    I'm struggling with where to begin.

    The gun in question is a Howa M1500 in .223 Rem with a 1:9 twist
     
  2. LHSmith

    LHSmith

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2008
    Messages:
    4,292
    After determining what the max bullet weight that your rifle twist can handle (see Berger Stability Charts), select a bullet of that max. weight or lighter that will meet your specific needs, consult load manual(s) for suitable powder choices. Select a powder that gives +90% fill ratio. Initially load to book listed COAL. Use standard or match primers unless manual denotes magnum. Note Rem. 7-1/2 primers were developed specifically for the .222 class cartridges. Proceed as outlined in the loading manuals...start low and work up. Use wind indicators ( flagging tape), in order to get the most reliable results.
     
    hunter243sgk likes this.
  3. Dan Boone

    Dan Boone

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Messages:
    56
    Above is all good advice. I might add that (although I take load recipes from the internet with a grain of salt and a lot of caution) there are some calibers that have "known" choices. Your .223 for example is known to perform well with Benchmark and H335 powders as well as a few others. The barrel twist rate will also give you some insight as to where to start with bullet weights. Yours should perform well with 68 and under. Bullet design will depend on what the intended use is. It ain't rocket science and a bit of reading from seasoned reloaders will get you started in most cases.
     
  4. BoydAllen

    BoydAllen

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    7,209
    What will the load be used for? The answer to that question will help you pick a bullet, and that choice a powder. From there I use my experience to select a starting seating depth, usually some amount longer than touching. Then I do an investigation aimed at discovering a good charge weight. To do meaningful work shooting, you need to tie down some important variables, like action bedding, trigger weight, scope mounting and adjustment, rifle support system, bench quality, and having some way to look at what the wind is doing. With those attended to, I would do a test run with charges .3 gr. apart, starting low, but not so low as to be unsafe, and working up all the way to a tight bolt, or other pressure signs that tell you to stop. If I am confident in my shooting ability and the rifle, each test will only be 2-3 shots. With a factory rifle, I would have done some kind of break in on the barrel to get it to an acceptable stable condition. New shooters will have to learn how to properly clean a barrel. That should get you started. Too often I see evidence that shooters skip important steps and try to tune up a load with a rifle that has serious issues that need to be resolved before any serious inquiry is begun. Good luck. Let us know how you are progressing.
     
  5. Dan Boone

    Dan Boone

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2014
    Messages:
    56
    Just to be clear ........ Didn't you mean SHORTER than touching? ;) Or am I misreading you?
     
  6. waldo1979

    waldo1979

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Messages:
    361
    Start with the bullet. Twist rate and barrel length will limit how heavy a bullet you can use (stabilize). Bullet weight and ballistic coefficient are two major factors in effective distance. For your 1:9 I wouldn't go above 69gr EXCEPT the Hornady 75gr which shoots amazing all around for that twist rate.

    For shorter distances (100 yards) you'll want a lighter flat base bullet. 50-55 grain bullets shoot great at these distances. My favorite is the 50gr Horandy Z-max. For lighter bullets use a faster powder like Benchmark or H335 as mentioned above.

    For 300yards+, you'll be maxing out your twist. 69gr SMK should shoot well or the Hornady 75gr. Choose a slower burn rate powders for these bullets like Varget, H4895, N135, N140, RE15, CFE223, AA2230... just depends on what you can get. Extrude powders like Varget and H4895 are more temperate stable and won't need adjusting based in the seasons. Spherical powders such as AA2230 or CFE223 will meter better (particularly from powder drops). CFE223 and RE15 tend to have more carbon fowling that some of the others.

    If your hunting, you'll want a bullet specifically designed for optimal expansion. For varmint hunting the 50gr Z-Max should work well (I've never actually tested this).

    Your optimal cartridge over all length (C.O.A.L.) will be determined by the type of bullet your using. Elongated bullets (tangent) such as VLD bullets prefer to be "jammed" into the lands. Stubby (secant) bullets like to be "jumped" into the lands.

    Since you're just starting off, stick to the recommended book values for overall length. These tend to be magazine length values. FYI, the Hornady 75gr and Z-max shoot well jumped.

    A good starting point for optimizing jump of secant bullets is 0.025" from the lands. A Sinclair overall length gauge is the best way I've found to measure your distance to the lands. Take care when optimizing length as pressure can spike rapidly as you approach the lands.

    VLD bullets, such as the Berger VLD or Hornady A-max, require C.O.A.L. tuning to get them to shoot the best. They like anywhere from 0.005" jump (off the lands) to 0.010" jam (into the lands). Or they might even like to be jumped.

    For primer types, just stick to what you can find. Federal GMM, CCI BR4, Wolf/Tula and Winchester 7 1/2 are all good options. Sometimes people have problems piercing primer cups and need a thicker cup, mostly in semi-auto guns. FGMM and wolf non-magnum primers tend to be thinner. My go to primes are Tula and BR4 primers.

    When I started loading my friend told me "it takes a while to be able to make accurate ammo, for now just focus on just my blowing up your gun". Never a truer statement could be made.

    For load development, make sure you're keeping a journal or log. Record your component types, COAL and lot numbers. You'll being kicking yourself in the ass if you forget your load data. I recommend reading Eric Cortina's 1000 yard development at 100 yards thread. Also, Google OCW load development.

    Your book values will determine your starting and maximum loads. Always start with 10% below your max load. Software such as Quickload can be used in lieu of manuals and when used correctly can help you find the true maximum load / accuracy node. I work up in 0.5gr loads which allows me to easily see the amount of "group vertical offset". The ideal charge weight (accuracy nodes) will have the least amount of vertical change between its neighboring charges.

    I shoot 3 or 5 shot groups depending on how bad the weather is. I use 1 MOA dots or a Sinclair practice target. To measure my groups i use OnTarget. I put all my data into an excel file and then plot the verticals offsets into a chart. Assuming minimal shooter error Accuracy nodes will be blatantly clear by looking at the target.

    If you're unsure which charge weight is the best, post your target picture here and people will help you out.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
    halo68 likes this.
  7. /VH

    /VH Hillary ain't in jail, so leave me to hell alone! Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2009
    Messages:
    540
    "for now just focus on just my blowing up your gun". Never a truer statement could be made."

    I'm thinking that might be right.
     
  8. eric32

    eric32 Shooting when I can Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    1,043

    The part about the VLD being jammed is a older school of thought. BERGER has put out a test to specfically that VLD bullet can be jumped up to .130 off the lands in increments of .030.

    http://www.bergerbullets.com/vld-making-shoot/

    Also you have reversed the type of bullets

    VLD=secant
    older SMKs= tangent

    New TMK's are Secant
     
    barefooter56 likes this.
  9. ZenArchery

    ZenArchery

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2016
    Messages:
    74
    This...

    But my order of selection
    A). Objective - Hunt or target or cross objective
    B). Brand - I favor 2 brands just because of their communication to me and research development they put into their bullets
    C). Weight - Depends on objective
    D). Depth - Depends on objective (CBOT or mag length)
    E). Powder - I try to find a common powder that I can use in multiple calibers (Varget for my .223, .300BLK, .308, .30-06)
    F). Powder Weight - I ladder load not group shoot find node.
    G). Primer - what is available. Some are sticklers. I prefer Federal. But I've had no problem with CCI and other primers.
     
  10. waldo1979

    waldo1979

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Messages:
    361
    Whoops! good catch.

    I know other bullets like 80gr SMK and Hornady Amax prefer to jam.
     
  11. eric32

    eric32 Shooting when I can Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2011
    Messages:
    1,043
    Amax = Secant

    SMK = Tangent

    for the Amax's I would try the berger VLD seating depth test. They might shoot better for you.
     
  12. BoydAllen

    BoydAllen

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2005
    Messages:
    7,209
    I asked a tech. at Berger if the method works for other types of bullets. He said that it does.
     

Share This Page