Proper way to test reloads?


August 30, 2011, 08:03 PM
Today I finally got out to test out my first .308 hand loads and I'm curious to see how others test out there different loads.

I had 4 different loads to test out and 5 of each load for a total of 20 rounds.

My loads were all using Hornady 165gr BTSP and Varget ranging from 35gr to 44gr in 3 grain intervals.

When I got to the range (my back yard) I set up a target at 100 yards.

First I shot 5 factory Remington 180gr to warm the barrel up. Then I waited 10 minutes, changed out the target, ran a bore snake thought the barrel and shot the 35gr loads with approximately 45 seconds between shots, waited 10 minutes changed targets, bore snake, shot the 2nd group and so on..

Am I being anal waiting that long between groups and running a bore snake though? or should I wait longer? My thought was to have the rifle in approximately the same condition at the beginning of every group.
Factory Remington 180gr SP ^^^
Load 1 35gr ^^^
Load 2 38gr ^^^
Load 3 41gr ^^
Load 4 44grains^^

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August 30, 2011, 09:22 PM
Looks like your 41 and 44 gr loads are the ones to follow up. I don't do the "prep" you did between shooting groups but some people do and say it makes a difference in the groups.

August 31, 2011, 08:39 AM
I would load up another batch of 38gr. that one outside was probably just you but that group looks good to me.

August 31, 2011, 11:15 AM
I have loaded a set of rounds to test using the Optimal Charge Weight system -

Now if I can just get to the range to shoot them...

As far as cleaning between groups, I don't think I'm going to go that far. I'm too lazy.

August 31, 2011, 11:25 AM
Good shooting. I think those groups will tighten up if you don't clean between groups. For my taste, 3gr intervals is a little much. I typically like to work up in 1gr increments through about half the listed data, then I continue up in 0.5 gr and down to 0.1 gr as I approach listed data. Once I start seeing pressure signs or max out the data, I work the loads back down in 0.1 gr increments. By doing that, I know where the sweet spot is (because I found it twice).

August 31, 2011, 11:38 AM
I would probably try 39.5, and then a 43 gr. group. Those two groups show the most promise to me. If I had the range in the backyard like that, heck I would have the single stage reloader and scale right there dialing that load in and playing with OAL once I get them touching.
I can't believe Factory shot that crappy, even with a cold barrel

August 31, 2011, 12:41 PM
Running a bore snake on the 1st shot will change the POI of that shot and open up all of your groups.

I set up 5 targets if I'm testing 5 loads. I fire 1 round from the 1st load at the 1st target, then switch to target2 for load 2, etc. then back to target 1 for load 1 until I have my 5 shot groups for each load on each respective target. This spreads the variables like barrel leat, wind, etc. evenly over the set.

August 31, 2011, 01:30 PM
35 grain load looks like the 5th shot was from a warm barrel - maybe the same for the 38 load? To me, those looked the best, so I would also try to split the difference and see if that helps

August 31, 2011, 03:40 PM
I always call my first shot after cleaning and also when the charge is changed. You may wish to check out the "Creighton Audette method"; it saves rounds.

August 31, 2011, 11:10 PM
Thanks for all the info. I really like the idea of shooting at 5 targets at once. I cleaned between each group so I would hopefully have the rifle in the same condition at the beginning of each group.

I realize the 3 grain interval was pretty large, I was just using this to see where in the spectrum worked and then get more dialed in once I get a good starting point.

The factory stuff I shot pretty quick, didn't take my time. Also I believe my barrels twist is a little off for that heavy of a bullet (so i've been told)

I also picked up some CCI BR primers that I'm going to try out.. I'll post my other loads and groups as I go along

September 1, 2011, 12:15 AM
I increase my loads by .5 grains until I get the best 4 shot group. I keep the barrel cool between shots with a wet towel and I clean between groups with a brush and solvent followed up with a shot of brake cleaner. The reason being that I am a hunter and when I go hunting, the rifle is clean with a dry bore and the first shot is the most important.

September 1, 2011, 01:21 AM
The Hodgdon Load Data Site ( lists a charge range for Varget under a 165gr Hornady BTSP bullet as 42.0gr to 46.0gr. If it were me I would run 4 rounds of each starting at 41.0gr up to 45.0gr in 1 gr increments to see which will shoot better in your rifle. Then when you find the "best" go 1/2 gr above and below that number to see if you can find the sweet spot...

Your rifle seems to like that bullet/powder combination. Good shooting...

September 1, 2011, 06:48 AM
I make up 10 rounds of loads with one grain imcrements. Shoot five rounds at target, let gun cool, do not clean. Next load the same. After five rounds of each loading record which was best. Repeat the experiment and see if you get the same results. Once I determine the best powder charge I repeat the experiment this time varying the seating depth from just touching the lands to .010 away from lands. These loads are also made up in 10 round batches at .002 difference in COAL. Same procedure, shoot five of each, let rifle cool do not clean. After all five batches have been shot compare groups. Repeat the entire series and see if you get the same results.

BTW: I would NOT shoot my test batches from a rifle equipped with a bipod but rather use sand bags under the forearm aproximately where my hand would naturally go. Sandbag under the buttstock "toe" and no hand on forearm. Proper benchrest texhnique is essential to get good results.

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