Procedure for working up a load


April 7, 2010, 11:10 PM
Let me preface this by saying I am a newb at reloading.

I have a 6.5X55mm swedish built on an old swede M96 Mauser action. I am trying to work a load that will give me an inch or less at 100 yds.

My process- Tumble brass, Decap and neck size (using a lee collet die and turning the case 180 and sizing it again), Trim to length (2.165 + or -), chamfer the neck, prime, charge with powder and seat bullet (2.920 + or -)

Ingredients- Twice shot Winchester brass, CCI large rifle promers (#200), IMR4831, Sierra 142 gr HPBT Matchkings

Work up- 5 rounds 43gr, 5 rounds 43.5 gr, 5 rounds 44gr Because I was loading so few rounds I weighed each powder charge out on my electric scale to ensure accuracy.

Shot 3 rounds of previously loaded at 25 yds and 100 yds to ensure I would be on the paper.

I went through all of this so you can help me figure this out. None of these would group less than 1.75" at 100yds. :cuss: :banghead:

Am I on the right path here? Whats my next step? How do I get these groups shrunk a bit?

My first thought is to reload them all again and see if I can get repeatable data, but this seems like a lot of work.


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April 8, 2010, 08:18 AM
Are you shooting off a rest? I was doing some workups for accuracy and even with have the rifle on a front rest, I wasn't quite steady with it. So I ended up getting a Caldwell Lead Sled Solo. Like so:

It shrunk my groups.

April 8, 2010, 08:20 AM
i'm not familiar w/ that rifle, but there's a couple things i thought of here...

first is your powder. when you are working w/ stick powders, you need to expect to weight every charge. if that doesn't appeal to you, now is probably a good time to switch powders to win 760 or h-414.

second is the rifle itself capable of the accuracy you are looking for? i know the swedes have a rep for accuracy, but you won't achieve peak accuracy if your particular specimen isn't capable. is the rifle scoped? how good is your rest? how good are you from benched and bagged shooting? is the way you hold the rifle, and the pressures you put on the rifle consistent?

third is your powder charge seems pretty light to me. stick powders tend to want to run at higher pressures. also, is the powder the best choice here? if this is the right powder, i would be looking for a good load around the 46.0 mark...

what is your seating depth, and how did you arrive at that depth? do you have a chronograph? has your bullet proven accurate in this rifle before?

as far as your processes go, everything looks good to me - i think you just need to spend a little more time working the load up. here's a couple links that may prove useful to you - or not, but there's still some ideas and points:

good luck!

April 8, 2010, 10:31 AM

This is exactly what I was looking for!! A process on how to work up loads, with lots of discussion.

I am concerned with approaching max loads as my rifle is an old military rifle built a LONG time ago, so I do not plan on exceeding any loads published. That said, I will use this procedure to figure out what works and what doesnt.

As far as your concerns about powders, I will use up what I have on hand then try on of your recommendations to see if that helps.

The seating depth I use is what I got from some Hornady bullets I used. I seated them to the canalure, it is with in the depth specs, so that was what I went to. I may try to figure out a longer length, any thoughts on that?

Thanks again for your help.


April 8, 2010, 02:57 PM
sean - you'll get lots of discussion on this topic, so no worries there. all tools for your toolbox. some you'll use a lot, some you never will, and some will be there for just in case.

as a handloader, there are a lot of variables you can control that have large effects on accuracy; one of those variables is seating depth (or c.o.l.). i always start by seating as long as i can and still fit cartridges in the magazine. even better if i can reach the lands and fit in the mag. the reason for this is because when it comes time to fine tune the load, there is only 1 direction to go w/ the bullet, instead of having to test 2 different directions.

again, i have never owned the kind of rifle you are working with (though if i did my process would be the same), so you might consider that.

this topic is likely to generate a pretty good discussion, so just hang on for a bit...

good luck!

April 8, 2010, 03:10 PM
I did just that. I decided to change my seating depth to the the longest recommended at 3.150".

I have two powders on hand. I took the powder manuf recommendations as min and max loads and hand weighed out half grain increments across this range.

I am off the the range later and will see how this works.

I am looking forward to the discussion.

Thanks again for all your help on this.


April 11, 2010, 10:45 AM
A couple days at the range and here is what I have found.

After figuring out how to shoot from a bench, I am getting better at group sizing. Right now my smallest group is down to about 1 inch at 100 yds.

I found two different weights of one powder that seemed like they were better than others. So, I made up 6 rounds of each powder weight and grouped those in three round groups. I found the weight I get the best grouping with. (45.5 gr of IMR4831 with a 142gr Sierra HPBT Matchking)

My next step is to try varying the bullet length a bit to see what that does. Currently, I have seated them to the max overall length. I plan to shortening the length by successive 0.010" lengths for three batches of 3 rounds each.
Should be something like this:

3 rounds of 3.150 -Control group (This is what I have already shot )
3 rounds of 3.140
3 rounds of 3.130
3 rounds of 3.120
3 rounds of 3.110
3 rounds of 3.100

Any thoughts on this process?

April 11, 2010, 10:23 PM
Looks like you are on the right track to me.
Just curious, how did you determine your maximum overall length?
Did you verify the chamber to the rifling or the magazine length?
Don't go by what is recommended. Those guidelines are meant to fit every rifle made in that caliber.
The good thing about handloading is custom making ammo for YOUR rifle.

April 11, 2010, 10:30 PM
I seated one of the bullets I was going to use and seated it to the max OAL listed I could find. I colored it with a marker, then chambered it, looking for the rifling marks. I didnt see any and I didnt want to make a round any longer than was recommended (plus thats about the max length my magazine would allow). So, I used that as a starting point and worked down from it.

April 11, 2010, 10:32 PM
i always start at either the max length that will fit in the mag, or the length to land engagement, whichever is shorter - and will typically blow right by whatever the 'book' length is. no harm in starting off long.

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