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Old 12-16-2010, 18:46   #1
StaTiK
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Simple question from a reloading noob

Hello everyone, it has been a while since I've posted.

I've been a shooter for years and years but never a reloader. I even have reloading gear, but since the military put me on the "left coast" I left most of my precious rifles with family members in my home state waiting for my return

My question is this: almost everyone who advises new reloaders where to start, on this forum and others, says to start with the minimum load data in XYZ book and then work up until you find the right load. Well how does one know when you've found it? Surely there are hundreds of viable combinations which produce positive results, right?

And how does one know where to begin? For example I would like to reload for my .308, but do I start with 147gr, 150gr, 180gr, etc? Are Speer, Hornady, etc pretty much interchangeable? I can give my specifics if you'd like, but I was just asking in general terms if that makes sense.

I'm beginning to see how the quest for the perfect bullet could consume your life. Thank you very much for any insight you can offer.
-StaTiK-
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Old 12-16-2010, 18:57   #2
Myke_Hart
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The first place to start is the ABC's of reloading. It's a book that you should read from cover to cover before you do anything.

You find it here. http://www.amazon.com/Abcs-Reloading...2547063&sr=8-1

Next you will need a load manual or two. You should have more than one to double check the other. Start with new manuals for the bullet brand you wish to shoot.
Speer bullet= speer book
Nosler bullet = nosler book
ect.

Not all simular shaped bullets are equal.

Pick a bullet type in the book that will suit your type of shooting needs.

Then pick a powder that goes with your bullet combination... after researching powders for your caliber.
In the case of .308 Varget will be a good place to start.

Start with the minimum charge in the book and work up.

The way you will know you have a good combination is by the accuracy and velocity of the round.
This will require using a chronograph to get your velocity.
To get your accuracy... well the target will tell you that.

Last: Be safe and ask tons of questions before you start.
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Last edited by Myke_Hart; 12-16-2010 at 19:09..
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Old 12-16-2010, 19:06   #3
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As for the bullet wieght and type... that would depend on what you are trying to do.

hunting?
100 yard target?
1000 yard competition?
Ect.
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Old 12-16-2010, 19:57   #4
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Wow, so many things. The ABCs will sort a lot of those out. Short answer, the "right" load is one that produces acceptable accuracy & safe pressures for the intended purpose. If you hunt, then use hunting bullets, if you just want to punch paper w/ extreme accuracy, then match type bullets work better.
No, bullets are NOT plug & play. While I rarely subscribe to starting data theory, it does work & helps keep you out of trouble. The issue, I have NEVER, not in 35yrs of reloading some 28diff calibers now, ever had great results w/ starting loads in rifle or handgun. So my choice is get 3 manuals & average the middle data for the bullet you choose & start there & work up or slightly down, depends on what you are trying to accomplish.
What is the "right" load? One that gives me the vel level I want, accuracy & want, does this within safe pressure limits & gives me complete powder combustion (minimal muzzle blast & unburned powder). That will vary from gun to gun, caliber to caliber. There are no universal "right" loads. SOme come close, but the point of handloading, especially for rifles, is finding the perfect load in your gun.
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Last edited by fredj338; 12-16-2010 at 23:17..
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Old 12-16-2010, 23:06   #5
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wow, thanks for the replies already. I've heard that the "ABCs of Reloading" is a must but it never really stuck. I guess I do need it, and if it answers these types of questions then it's money well spent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Myke_Hart
The way you will know you have a good combination is by the accuracy and velocity of the round.
Quote:
Originally Posted by fredj338
What is the "right" load? One that gives me the vel level I want, accuracy & want, does this within safe pressure limits & gives me complete powder combustion (minimal muzzle blast & unburned powder).
Pressures are in load charts and I believe powder combustion has a visual identifier (excess muzzle blast), but how do I know what velocity I want? If the chronograph reads X fps, is there a way to know that I want it to be 300fps faster/slower? Please forgive my ignorance, if that is a silly question.

-StaTiK-
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Alot is not a word. Allot is, but doesn't mean "several". Apostrophes are possessive, not plural. Your and you're are actually different words. So are to, too, and two; there, their, and they're; were and we're; as well as than and then.
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Old 12-16-2010, 23:22   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StaTiK View Post
wow, thanks for the replies already. I've heard that the "ABCs of Reloading" is a must but it never really stuck. I guess I do need it, and if it answers these types of questions then it's money well spent.





Pressures are in load charts
and I believe powder combustion has a visual identifier (excess muzzle blast), but how do I know what velocity I want? If the chronograph reads X fps, is there a way to know that I want it to be 300fps faster/slower? Please forgive my ignorance, if that is a silly question.

-StaTiK-
Well, not really. Keep in mind that the pressures shown are for that exact load in the book in that exact test platform. Change platforms, a bullet, OAL, even a primer can affect final peak pressures. The book is a guideline not gospel.
Without a chronograph, your actual vel is only a guess. Every gun is diff. If you are gun gaming & need a specific vel to meet min power factor, or exact vel to determine drop in your rifle rounds, you eventually must run your load over a chronograph. There is no way to determine if adding a certain amount of powder will increase vel in a linear fashion,. In most instances, pressures & vel increase disproportionately to the amount of powder added. Sometimes adding more powder only increases pressure w/o a vel increase (bad thing) & all this can only be determned by chronograph with your loads in your gun.
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"Given adequate penetration, a larger diameter bullet will have an edge in wounding effectiveness. It will damage a blood vessel the smaller projectile barely misses. The larger permanent cavity may lead to faster blood loss. Although such an edge clearly exists, its significance cannot be quantified".

Last edited by fredj338; 12-16-2010 at 23:26..
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Old 12-17-2010, 06:06   #7
Myke_Hart
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StaTiK View Post
wow, thanks for the replies already. I've heard that the "ABCs of Reloading" is a must but it never really stuck. I guess I do need it, and if it answers these types of questions then it's money well spent.





Pressures are in load charts and I believe powder combustion has a visual identifier (excess muzzle blast), but how do I know what velocity I want? If the chronograph reads X fps, is there a way to know that I want it to be 300fps faster/slower? Please forgive my ignorance, if that is a silly question.

-StaTiK-
Your load books sometimes will have have some standard velocity info in the front of the section for your round. It will say something like "we found in our tests that this brand projectile performed really well at 2700fps with so and so powder out of our 24" barrel expensive brand gun" Then you say to yourself I don't have that gun and my barrel is a 26".

From this information you can look at the load data to see where they achieved said velocity. Chrono those worked up loads thru your gun to compair.

Another way I like to find standard velocities for my gun is to purchase some factory ammunition simular to what I would like to reload and chrono it. I use that velocity as a baseline of where I should be around or near. Load up to and a little past that velocity (as long as I am not blowing by max pressure) looking for the most accurate load.

You can make some incredibly accurate rounds but if they are only traveling at 400fps they aren't going to be useful. The bullet might punch holes in paper but would bounce off or just break the skin on a deer.

Pressure charts in your load books are a measured pressure of what thier test gun produced with the listed load. It is there so you can see that a particular load produced a pressure of so many psi. Gun manufacturers will sometimes post max pressures your gun will operate safely at. You can use this knowledge to know if a load might generate too much pressure for your guns chamber before you even start.

This is the main purpose of the mininum load. Minimum load is to let you fire your bullet, powder, primer, case selection thru your gun to see how it will react safely. As said above minumum load will never be "THE LOAD" for your gun, but it gives you a safe pressure starting range. As you step up you can observe signs of pressure... crushed, peirced, or leaking primers, excessive recoil, excessive eject travel of a cartridge, stretched cases, sticky bolt, and the worst and last sign... your gun blows up. Without pressure instrumentation you will never really know what you operating pressure is. The point is not to blow up your gun on the first or any following shot.

Remember reloading is dangerous if done improperly. So walk before you run.
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Last edited by Myke_Hart; 12-17-2010 at 06:37..
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Old 12-17-2010, 12:43   #8
alwaysshootin
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This!

http://www.6mmbr.com/laddertest.html
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Old 12-17-2010, 15:17   #9
fredj338
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alwaysshootin View Post
Well, that can solve the accuracy issue, but you still have to choose an appropriate powder that gets you the vel level you want safely. FWIW, the Audette method doesn't really apply to handgun loads.
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Old 12-17-2010, 20:25   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fredj338 View Post
Well, that can solve the accuracy issue, but you still have to choose an appropriate powder that gets you the vel level you want safely. FWIW, the Audette method doesn't really apply to handgun loads.
I am aware of that! OP was inquiring specifically about .308 loading. Using the ladder test with various powder, bullet combination, will conclude, for a specific rifle, which powder, bullet, shoot the tightest groups!

StaTic wrote


"My question is this: almost everyone who advises new reloaders where to start, on this forum and others, says to start with the minimum load data in XYZ book and then work up until you find the right load. Well how does one know when you've found it? Surely there are hundreds of viable combinations which produce positive results, right?

And how does one know where to begin? For example I would like to reload for my .308, but do I start with 147gr, 150gr, 180gr, etc? Are Speer, Hornady, etc pretty much interchangeable? I can give my specifics if you'd like, but I was just asking in general terms if that makes sense".

and yes it can be time consuming! You can just pick a powder that you want to use, and if you have a bullet preference, perform the ladder test, and be confident you have achieved the best load offering you can.
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Last edited by alwaysshootin; 12-17-2010 at 20:26..
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