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Ammo & Handloading

These are all the posts related to ammo, handloading, and reloading components like bullets, powders, brass, and primers.

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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RCBS Rock Chucker Reloading Press Mounting Template & Dimensions

I have needed the exact dimensions of both the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme Press and RCBS Partner Press a few times, as I was working on custom ways to mount them (like this portable reloading press stand).  Unfortunately, RCBS doesn’t publish anything to help with that … so I made a template and thought I would share it in case it helps anyone else. Download RCBS Press Mounting Template with Dimensions  The mounting template, contains the exact dimensions related to the mounting surface, but here are a few more dimensions for presses that are also helpful (and not published anywhere). RCBS Rock Chucker ...

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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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Practical Tips to Extend Barrel Life

With the number of “overbore” rifle cartridges popular today, barrel erosion is becoming a hot topic.  For example, competitive shooters using a 6 PPC typically replace a barrel after 700-800 rounds, and a 6.5-284 might also need to be replaced before the 1,000 shot mark.  That means the cost to keep a good barrel on the gun could be 60-70¢ per shot before we even consider the cost of components like match-grade bullets, brass, primers and powder.  In reality, short barrel life could easily double your cost per shot.  So what can we do to prolong the accurate life of ...

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Lapua 223 Rem Brass Weight Variation

I recently weighed 100 pieces of brand new Lapua 223 Remington “Match” brass, and honestly I’m disappointed.  A few people have been telling me how good Lapua brass was, so I was simply expecting more consistency than what I found.  It didn’t stack up well compared to some Norma brass I weighed recently … although the overall quality appears to be good.  In fact, it wasn’t much different than weight distribution of some super-cheap, once-fired Remington 223 brass I bought for 1/5 of the price (the average deviation of the Lapua brass was actually higher).  Here is the resulting data for the Lapua brass, so you can compare for yourself: Average ...

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Most Accurate Rifle Primers for Precision Reloading

What is the best primer?  This is a perennial question for handloaders pursuing optimal accuracy, whether that is for a benchrest rifle, F-Class, or long-range tactical setup.  The primer is likely the reloading component most shooters know least about, and when that is the case it is sometimes a good idea to just start by looking at what the experts are using. I decided to aggregate the load data listed on 6mmBR.com for various cartridges, to see how many times each type of primer was referenced.  I chose 6mmBR.com, for a few reasons: 6mmBR.com is respected in the shooting community and peer-reviewed The majority ...

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Berger 7mm 180gr VLD Bullets Weight Variance

Like most things in handloading … the more uniform one round is to the next, the more uniform ballistics you can expect.  That is why I weight sort my bullets, and for my match grade ammo I only load bullets that have exactly the same weight (+/- 1/10 grain). I recently weight sorted a box of Berger 7mm (.284) 180 grain Match Grade VLD Hunting bullets, and here are the results: Average = 179.89 grains Standard Deviation = 0.085 grains Extreme Spread = 0.4 grains Extreme Spread as % of total weight = 0.2% (this is amazing) Bullet: Berger Bullets 180 ...

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