Winter Loads ?


November 23, 2010, 01:14 AM
I have noticed over the last two winters that my pet / favorite load seems to suffer when the temp drops below 30 or so . I am using a fairly slow powder for my cartridge , Varget in 223 to be exact . Its know to be very temperature stable , and they advertise it as be so . I am running a fairly light load which chronos a little slow ( have not gotten speeds when bitter cold though ) , but 9 months of the year its the sweet spot . I always use magnum primers in all my 223 loading . Just wondering if its maybe its the shivering screwing up my groups , or if I need a different cold weather work up . Maybe a faster powder or hotter loading ? Whats all you say and feel ? Your observations ?

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November 23, 2010, 02:53 AM
Hodgdon Extreme Powders are still temperature sensitive, they just aren't as sensitive as some others.

I have loads worked-up for winter, spring/fall, and summer with 2 of my rifles.

I have been using a (summer) load this fall but carry the cartridge in my pocket if the temperature is below 40 degrees F. When I'm ready to shoot I just load the cartridge directly into the chamber.

My Eddystone shot well last winter using the pocket method. (

November 23, 2010, 03:59 AM
I haven't hunted below 10 degrees but above that I see no difference in my 30-06 ammo made with H4350 and a standard CCI LR primer. Varget shouldn't be effected but cold temps unless it's really cold. Just below 30 degrees really isn't all that cold especially when your using one of Hodgdon's Extreme Powders and a Magnum primer. If it were -30 I would say it might be the cold but +30 really shouldn't make a difference.

November 23, 2010, 06:38 AM
Agreed with ArchAngel. Temps in the 20-30 degree range are not cold enough to be an issue with your ammunition. I've used a lot of Varget in .223 from temperatures from 10 degrees to 110 degrees, specifically because it doesn't give me wide performance variations.

Put on a warm hat and coat and go try those groups again! It probably is just the shivering... ;)

November 23, 2010, 09:32 AM
I believe that you are doing everything right with your current loads. With that said,
you have to remember that low temps affect everything from the rifle to the shooter. Often it is difficult for anyone shooting for groups to duplicate that same tight rest that you achieved in warmer weather.

Perhaps a change to another powder will give you what you want. There are some new powders available that may work better than Varget.

Here's a quote from on IMR 8208 XBR.

shooters will find IMR 8208 XBR totally insensitive to changes in temperature, while yielding max velocities and “tack driving” accuracy.


November 23, 2010, 08:59 PM
I should have been a little more clear . I'm talking deviations of around .2 or so , not the load going away where it wouldn't be able to dispatch a yote or prairie poodle . In a standard therapy session at the range , after fouling and warming up , I'll bench around 10 target groups , then on to trying new loading combos . Usually an average of .6 -.7 with a couple of .4s and .5s thrown in to make me gloat . Temp gets down below 30 or so , and ya can add a couple tenths to those #s . I know air density goes up and has an effect , barrel cools much faster , seems like I get a little more unburned gunk ect .

I do also agree , it might be the guy squeezing the trigger . Seems like I'll fuss the shot less , shoot a little faster , and don't take as much time getting a good NPOA . Just pondering , I know the super uber serious bench crowd , load at the range and was wondering if its just more trial and error . I should really keep better records with temps , targets , loads and ect ....

On the side note , haven't had much luck with the initial work ups with XBR . Good groups at max loadings , but nothing spectacular . Only tried it with 69SMKs , so the jury is still out .

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