Thoughts on Handloading


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mc223
November 20, 2006, 03:44 AM
CAUTION: The following post may advocate loading beyond currently published maximums . Develop loads AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.


Sometimes when attempting to find the best loading, the envelope must be opened. Flat primers in a well balanced load that achieves the desired downrange performance may not be an indication of high pressure. Once the envelope has been opened the information inside must be read and used accordingly. Those who stop load development because the book says so, may not be taking full advantage of the load potential. I am not condoning loading to excess, but I do not have the test barrel that was used for the book loading. The use of chronographs and comparison factory loadings assures me of the best possible performance of my handloads.

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USSR
November 20, 2006, 08:27 AM
Those who stop load development because the book says so, may not be taking full advantage of the load potential.

mc223,

True, but for someone without a chronograph, the ability to read high pressure signs, and half a brain, it is better to stay with what the reloading books say.

Don

TooTaxed
November 20, 2006, 11:59 AM
None of my optimum accuracy loads, either pistol or rifle, have turned out to be high pressure loads. Rather, they turn out to be low or moderate pressures.

I develop loads by using a batch of uniformly trimmed cases, loading ten cartridges for each powder charge at trickeled 1/2 grain differences within the range recommended by the manual, with all bullets seated just short of the barrel lands. The most accurate load, and the one either side, are then tested touching the lands, and seated slightly deeper into the case. I may develop optimum accuracy loads for a given firearm for different powders and bullets. This can get crazy!!! Especially when you find out different firearms like different loads! Or, even if the same firearm likes diferent loads at different ranges!:rolleyes:

But, it's fun! (Maybe I have too much time on my hands?):p

snuffy
November 20, 2006, 12:41 PM
This one should have a long life on here.

I too have exceeded maximum listed loads in manuals. But only when looking for accuracy when listed loads towards the top indicated more velocity might result in smaller groups.

One particular rifle was my son's 7-08 in a Browning A-bolt equipped with a boss. It has an 18 inch barrel not counting the extra length of the boss, the effective bore travel is still only 18 inches.

I went above listed loads in several manuals while running the bullets over a pact chronograph AND shooting groups at a target. I won't list what those loads were, only that they were safe according to a steady rise in velocity per each increment of powder weight increase, and the case head expansion never was more than a factory load with the same weight bullet. To accurateley measure case head expansion, you HAVE to have a micrometer capable of reading to .0001, then have the skill to read and interpret the readings. My background as a machinist makes this a piece of cake.

Another rifle is my 300 WSM, again an A-bolt. I was doing a load work-up for the 165 interbond. Group size continued to shrink as I neared and got to what Hornady said was max for that powder. In this case I had data from another bullet manufacturer that gave the same powder a higher charge weight, for the same weight bullet. So I went over the Hornady max listed, up to the max listed by the other manual, a total of 1.5 grains. Of couse shooting groups over the chrono. The groups continued to shrink, but the velocity slowed in it's increase at 1.0 over and the group was only .560 at 3100 fps. So I didn't shoot the last 3 shells, pulled them apart. I had an accurate load, at plenty of velocity for the deer I hunt. Oh and case head expansion, CHE was well within limits of factory loaded shells, and the cases had good tight primer pockets when I loaded them for hunting that year.

I'm not a fan of primer apperance as to reading pressure. It's iffy at best, depends a lot on headspace, and the hardness of the primer cup.

temmi
November 20, 2006, 02:40 PM
I live by the Maxim “Velocity = Pressure”… I stop when I am satisfied with the groups… I will not go over listed Maximums… and rarely need to go up to them.
I easily get sub MOA with Well under MAX loads.
Now that I have my Crony I find my loads are marginally faster than the same published load.

It is possible, that if I continued to develop, groups may shrink… but why take the chance.
If you fail to kill a dear/hog with your 1st shot… I don’t think a ¼ inch would have helped.

The Bushmaster
November 20, 2006, 03:06 PM
Most of my reloads are usually just under maximum published data. I have no reason to go over maximum load data as I am running within 50 to 100 fps of factory and well within the kill zone of any game animal. I agree with temmi and TooTaxed. There is no reason to take a chance of ruining a perfectly good firearm. Without a test receiver to insure pressures are within tolerance I will not exceed listed data.:)

Vern Humphrey
November 20, 2006, 03:23 PM
I have never found a reason to go over published data.

Now, years ago, when there was no published data for "Ruger only" .45 Colt loads, there were some very knowledgeable people who developed that data. But for the average handloader, going over published maximums is venturing into unexplored territory.

wanderinwalker
November 20, 2006, 04:00 PM
But there can be problems encountered when using manual-listed loads at less-than-maximum levels as well.

I pierced a few primers and burnt a firing pin in my AR-15 before I finally stopped trying to push 69gr bullets with Winchester 748 powder (using WSR primers). I can't remember the load, but I was well below any maximum I found in any of my manuals. So what did I do? I switched powders, putting my performance up in terms of both velocity and accuracy, and stopped piercing primers. And I am still within specified loads, though using heavy bullets in a .223 can do some strange things, IME, even when in "safe" zones.

TN Shooter
November 20, 2006, 04:28 PM
I have encountered situations where group size was decreasing with increasing velocity. However, you can usually switch the powder/primer/bullet combinations to experiment with group size without exceeding published data.

mc223
November 21, 2006, 07:01 AM
Now that your thinking, How about Headspace and case thrust. A couple thousandths of excess headspace could allow the primer to back up momentarily just prior to the case being thrust rearward and reseating the primer in a new flattened condition. These could give a totally false indication of pressure. These may account for the problems that wonderinwalker described with under book charges.

qajaq59
November 21, 2006, 07:57 AM
I have one set of eyes and only ten fingers. Plus that hog, deer, or whatever really didn't care how fast that bullet was going when it went thru his heart. Consequently, I'll stay under the max.

But if you have the knowledge and a safe place to fire, be my guest. Many a terrific wildcat was dreamt up by people that wanted to push the envelope.

However, please be courteous and don't sit next to me on the firing bench while you experiment.

wanderinwalker
November 21, 2006, 08:30 AM
mc,

Possibly, though I'm usually pretty good at checking primer seating depth. Haven't checked my headspace (actually have a new barrel now too) but it's a gas-gun so I just FL size and call it a day. I'm more inclined to believe it was temperature variance and sensitivity of 748; one day it was "safe" and the next week primers pierced.

Also switched primers. CCI-400 or BR4s and Varget and my pin stays melt-free and my rounds fly true, hot or cold.

caz223
November 21, 2006, 08:55 AM
Depends on caliber.
If the caliber has been reduced in power since it's inception because of lighter duty guns introduced later, and you have one of the heavier duty guns then shooting weenie loads through it when the gun and brass were actually designed for stout loads is failing to use the caliber to it's full potential.
I load under max in most of the newer calibers, but the older calibers that have been downgraded I load to the original specs, because that is generally where I find the accuracy they designed in.....
.22 hornet, (Have you seen how much they have weenied this poor caliber lately?)
10 mm, buy a box off the shelf and shoot it. Feels like .38 special to me.
Target loads are for bullseye shooters.
I want to see the steel plates dance........

USSR
November 21, 2006, 11:01 AM
Depends on caliber.
If the caliber has been reduced in power since it's inception because of lighter duty guns introduced later, and you have one of the heavier duty guns then shooting weenie loads through it when the gun and brass were actually designed for stout loads is failing to use the caliber to it's full potential.
I load under max in most of the newer calibers, but the older calibers that have been downgraded I load to the original specs, because that is generally where I find the accuracy they designed in.....


Or, if the original SAAMI pressure spec's are low because the cartridge was originally used in a rifle not as strong as a '98 Mauser (such as the 6.5x55), and have chambered a modern action for that cartridge, then by all means load it up to modern cartridge pressure. In my F Class Winchester chambered in 6.5x55, I regularly drive a 142SMK at 2950fps without safety issues.

Don

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