Long range load development at 100 yards.

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by Erik Cortina, May 5, 2013.

  1. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    I found this target, and I think it's a perfect example of how some people might choose the wrong load because they fell in love with a group without reading the groups properly. This target was shot with my 6.5x47 Lapua and 139 gr. Lapua Scenars with VV N550 powder.

    At plain sight, 38.5 gr. appears to be the best group, but if you look at the groups next to it they don't hit the target on the same place vertically in relation to the bull's eye. The load is not stable and this load would cause problems when moving further out because it is not inside the accuracy node.

    However, loads 39.5, 40.0, and 40.5 are vertically in the same place in relation to the bull's eye. This is the accuracy node for powder charge, my next step would be to load 40.0 gr. and adjust seating depth and bring the group in and done, I now have a load that would shoot out to 1,000 yards. Also, when the groups line up vertically, the speed also varies very little over the chronograph for the loads that line up on target, it appears that the speed flat lines for a while before it starts to jump up again, this is where you want to be.

    Update: 9/17/14
    Some of you have asked for more detailed instructions on how I do this. Here they are:
    1. Find Jam by seating a bullet long on a dummy piece of brass (no primer nor powder) and apply die wax to the bullet ogive and record it's base to ogive length.
    2. Chamber the round and close the bolt.
    3. Snap the bolt open and measure the base to ogive measurement. If it is shorter than previous measurement, this is your jam. Do it a few times with different cases to make sure.
    4. Load a known powder/primer/bullet combination. I load 4 of each powder charge in 0.5 gr. increments and seat bullets at jam - .020". I use one shot of each to get barrel fouled up and also keep an eye for max pressure at the same time. You can also use these rounds to break in a barrel if you are inclined to. If I encounter pressure on the hotter rounds, I will not shoot groups with the other loaded rounds and will pull bullets when I get back home. Do not shoot in round robin style because position and natural point of aim will be compromised.
    5. Shoot 3 shot groups starting from lowest to highest. All groups are shot over a chronograph.
    6. Examine target and find the place where consecutive groups line up vertically and ES is the lowest and speed increases the least from one group to the next.
    7. Load to the middle of the powder node and do a seating depth test.
    8. Load 3 shot groups starting from Jam - 0.005" all the way out to Jam - .040" in .003" increments.
    9. When you find the seating depth test that shoots the best, load towards the longest side of the node to allow more room for throat erosion.
    10. Final step is to load the new seating depth and load 5 shot groups in 0.1 gr. increments 0.5 gr. on each side of node (if pressure limits are not reached). This will cover an entire grain of powder and you will be able to pinpoint where the powder node starts and ends. In the summer, load towards the low end of the node, and do the opposite in the winter.

    HAPPY SHOOTING!


    Update 3/29/15
    A step I have added lately to my process is to do the powder charge test with multiple primers to see which one shows best potential as well as more consistent chronograph numbers. The primers that performs best during the powder charge testing is the one that I will do the seating depth testing with.

    If you find this method helpful in any way, think about making a donation to this great site.
    Thank you.




    [​IMG]
     

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  2. trailrider121

    trailrider121 Site $$ Contributor

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    My consensus with you Erik on accuracy load. Would you recommend adjusting seating depth at 100 yards or move it out to say 300 yards? More pragmatic at 300 yards would be best and give better feed back on what the load is doing. If 300 yd not available, the 100 yd would work with careful examination.
     
  3. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    I used to do the seating depth at 300 yards, but now I do it all at 100 yards since I have found that if it shoots well at 100, it will shoot at 300.
     
  4. milanuk

    milanuk Team Savage Site $$ Contributor

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    Hello Erik,

    Looks very similar to the concept employed when doing Optimal Charge Weight tests - the raw group size is less important (at least initially) than finding a 'node' where the vertical center of the groups is stable over several powder charge increments. Also typical is the 'scatter' group (39.5) immediately preceding the node. Once a node is identified, subsequent fine-tuning of seating depth, neck tension, etc. for accuracy is usually pretty straight forward.

    Monte
     
  5. trailrider121

    trailrider121 Site $$ Contributor

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    Gotcha. Thanks for the pointers. I use the OCW method and it works very well.
     
  6. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    Monte, I have never done an OCW test and only vaguely know how it works from things people have told me. But the end result is the same it seems.
     
  7. 6BRinNZ

    6BRinNZ

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    Thanks Eric - info greatly appreciated.

    Couple of questions - have you seen cases where the fps doesn't flatten despite the vertical aligning on the target? If so, do you simply rinse and repeat to validate?
    Could you post this pictures example of the fps? (Maybe the numbers aren't appropriate to post?)
     
  8. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    So far, the speed has always flattened out when the groups align.

    I no longer print the chronograph readings, I just make notes on the target now.
     
  9. Toolbreaker

    Toolbreaker Site $$ Contributor

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    Thanks for posting this, Erik. I've recently been developing loads at 100 yds for shooting at ~700 and have been culling charge weights & confirming the smallest groups for the longer ranges, just as you wrote. I think I need to go back & look at my previous targets & data a little closer now.

    As a side note, I had read online that VLDs won't group well at shorter ranges, but I have been seeing just the opposite with some loads in my testing. I'm thinking that the instability you're describing and my personal grouping of VLDs may be related? Or am I way off here?
     
  10. tenring

    tenring Site $$ Contributor

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    OCW article:

    http://optimalchargeweight.embarqspace.com/
     
  11. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    VLD's shoot well at 100 yards, I have done it many times. Go back and examine your targets and you will find a good load.
     
  12. Alex Wheeler

    Alex Wheeler Site $$ Contributor

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    Eric, after you tune the load in with seating depth do thy still all print the same on target? Also how do you settle on powder charge, as you have a 1 gr window there?
    Alex
     
  13. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    Yes, after adjusting seating depth they still print the same vertically.

    I always load to the center of the window. For this gun, my load is 40.0 grains.
     
  14. sailhertoo

    sailhertoo

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    I must be reading this wrong.

    38.5 looks like one hole. how can 39.5, 40, 40.5 align vertically any better than that? They have some vertical to them and 38.5 don't.
     
  15. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    You need to read the groups, not shots on the group.

    Like I said, most people will go with 38.5 and they will be wrong.
    Look at 38.0 and 39.0, the groups don't line up with 38.5 vertically.

    Now, look at 39.5 - 40.5, the groups line up vertically on the target.
     
  16. CatShooter

    CatShooter

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    It is easy to make a snap judgement, but at the same time, the first string of targets do tell you something worth listening to.

    A full repeat of the series is worth doing. I am NOT a believer in the ladder/OCW theories - they have too many statistical holes in their theories, and I have shot too many groups to believe in that voo-doo.

    Shoot groups a few times, it is easy for a load to produce a great group once in a while, but not be a great load.

    When working up loads, I usually shoot the ones that look good TWICE the next time, because it is unlikely that you can have three good flukes in a row.
     
  17. eric32

    eric32 Shooting when I can Site $$ Contributor

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    Erik

    Can this method be used with a barrel tuner set to 0. Then shooting the groups
     
  18. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    Yes
     
  19. savageshooter86

    savageshooter86 Site $$ Contributor

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    I used OnTarget to plot the center of my groups and chose the 3 that hit closest POI vertically off my POA. Then chose the middle charge like you do. Then I played with seating depth to get the smallest group with the charge I selected. I trusted OnTarget to calculate it more precisely than my eyes could. Used the measuring and scale function in the program to get it accurate.
     
  20. Erik Cortina

    Erik Cortina Team Lapua-Brux Captain Site $$ Contributor

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    If you notice, on my targets I have a horizontal line that runs across all the targets. I just measure off of that and I can plot it in a line graph.
     

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