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Load Development

These are the posts related to load development.

Secrets of the Houston Warehouse – Lessons In Extreme Rifle Accuracy

Back in 1993, Precision Shooting Magazine printed a landmark article about the findings of a group of benchrest shooters who turned a huge Houston warehouse into a precision shooting laboratory. The warehouse, owned by Virgil King, included a 325 yard long straight-away through the heart of it, which provided an ideal shooting environment where the breezes never blew, the mirage never shimmered, the sun never set and the rain never fell. So began the most insightful, revealing experimentation into practical rifle accuracy ever conducted. Over a period of six years, the levels of accuracy achieved in the Houston Warehouse went ...

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Rifle Reloading Data: My Pet Loads for Target & Hunting

These are some of my pet loads. They were what I found to be the most precise in my rifles after extensive and tedious load development. I may tweak the loads slightly as the throat of a barrel erodes, but I don’t typically vary too far from what is shown here. You should always reference a quality reloading manual and start with the minimum recommended loads and work your way up. Just because these have proven safe in my rifles, doesn’t mean they will be in your’s. Chamber dimensions, brass specs, barrel grooves and diameter can vary, so it’s very important ...

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Berger Bullets Bearing Surface Variation

One of my friends recently told me they sort bullets by both weight and length of their bearing surface (the part of the bullet that comes in contact with the barrel, illustrated below).  I hadn’t thought of that before, but you could see how variations in the bearing surface length obviously impact the amount of barrel friction on the bullet and therefore cause variations in muzzle velocity. For virtually all of my precision shooting I use Berger bullets, and I wondered if there was even any measurable variation in their bearing surface because their quality control is so much tighter than other ...

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7mm Rem Mag Load Development Part 4: 5 Shot Groups

I’ve already done quite a bit up to this point in my load development.  At this point I know I want to try to find an accurate load for Berger’s 168gr VLD over Hodgdon’s Retumbo powder and I’m now zeroed in on a very specific range of powder weights that seem to be very tolerant of slight pressure variances.  You can see the previous posts for how I got here. My next step is to test 5 shot groups in very granular powder increments. Jump to another step: Part 1: Bullet Selection & Real-World Velocities Part 2: Audette’s Ladder Test Part 3: Optimal Charge Weight Part ...

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7mm Rem Mag Load Development Part 3: Optimal Charge Weight

After I identified a promising range of powder weights using Audetter’s ladder test, my next step was to use Dan Newberry’s Optimal Charge Weight (OCW) Method to offset the “scatter node” drawback inherently present in the ladder test.  To learn more about that, read this article comparing the OCW method with the ladder test. The OCW method is based on the observation that there are some loads out there (like Federal’s match ammo for the 308) that shoot really well out of just about any rifle.  How can one recipe shoot so well out of so many different rifles?  Dan Newberry believes accuracy of ...

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7mm Rem Mag Load Development Part 2: Audette’s Ladder Test

The first step in load development for my new custom 7mm Rem Mag started with gathering the real-world velocities I could expect out of three quality long range bullets I was considering. I then used those velocities to compare the ballistic performance between those three bullets, as well felt recoil during the test rounds. I eventually decided to pursure further load development for Berger’s 168gr VLD bullet over Hodgdon Retumbo powder because it struck the right balance for me between the competing characteristics (recoil, barrel wear, flat trajectory, low wind drift, ideal energy for medium sized game, etc). For more ...

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7mm Rem Mag Load Development Part 1: Bullet Selection & Real-World Velocities

The first step in load development for my new 7mm Remington Magnum (with a 27″ barrel) was to get a basic idea for the real-world muzzle velocities I could expect out of a few different high quality, very low drag bullets, so that I could compare them ballistically and decide which to pursure for further load development. I decided to try out the three bullets listed below after reading a great article on 7mm bullets by Nathan Foster. I actually took all of these readings with a BRAND NEW BARREL (some of the first rounds out of it), so they ...

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Chronograph Accuracy Tips – 15 Practical Tips to Increase Accuracy & Reliability

“No mere gadget, the chronograph is one of the most powerful tools imaginable in load development and problem diagnosis. A bullet’s velocity is one of the major contributors to its behavior, and if you don’t know what its velocity is, you may never understand that behavior. But knowing why the bullet behaves as it does, you can take intelligent corrective action that wasn’t available to you before.” – Dan Hackett, Precision Shooting Magazine A chronograph can be a powerful tool … but if you get more than a few “ERROR” readings in a row, you may be tempted to put ...

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Creighton Audette’s Ladder Test

Creighton Audette came up with a method for developing precision rifle handloads that has been referred to by many names: Incremental Load Development Method (ILDM) The Ladder Test 20 Round String Method Unfortunately many of Audette’s original articles aren’t very accessible, so I wanted to provide a few resources that help flesh out the method to load development he proposed.  I recently tried it out, and although at first I admit I was a little skeptical … after seeing the real world results and some critical thinking about what we are really trying to uncover when doing load development, his ...

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