That " AH HAH ! " Moment


June 11, 2012, 03:16 PM

That moment, when after string after string of one bullet type after another, at varying seating depth for each bullet type, where the magic happens.

I thought I was gonna be at that table all day.

The groups started to deteriorate even .005 deeper than that, so I called it quits, and figured that was good enough.

The rest is all "me" so the saying goes.

Nice part is, I got similar groupings using three different bullet types in that weight range at the same depth- so I'm not going to be "market-locked" into one bullet type/ manufacturer.

Gosh, its a great feeling.

(thats a 4-shot group, btw)

Everyone jump in with their similar "been there, done that", and lets get a magic thread of "good" for once !

If you enjoyed reading about "That " AH HAH ! " Moment" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
June 11, 2012, 03:20 PM
Very nice. I remember my first one hole group with a handgun load. I was amazed what happened. I loaded up again and found out that once the sights were set to it, it was like a laser, I just couldnt miss. Ah, beauty is found in things like this.

Congratulations are well deserved, now you have realized the benefit of handloading to the fullest.

June 11, 2012, 04:47 PM
Never had the a-ha moment with a rifle yet. Everything I've tried sucks. I think it's probably my shooting. :D

June 11, 2012, 07:11 PM
Thats a great grouping. Im still looking for that AH HA! moment myself but so far I have gotten to " That will do nicely ".

Mind if I ask what load, gun and caliber?

June 11, 2012, 07:22 PM
Congratulations and welcome to the club, now it gets addictive and poseses your next time at the range to do the same and even better.

Again congrats fine work on your part.

Five shot group at 100 yards with 130 grain Hornady SST's in Savage Model 100 270 Winchester.


June 11, 2012, 07:45 PM
Savage .308

If this MOA cluster looks kinda big, take into account each bullet (5 of them) is nearly 1/2" in diameter. This group from my .458 SOCOM wasn't the result of a change in seating depth, but a change in powder type.

June 11, 2012, 08:06 PM
Nice one, Blarby! I'm still working on mine...

June 11, 2012, 08:25 PM
Mind if I ask what load, gun and caliber?

Ruger 77 Target II

180g Hornady SST
41g RL15
-.020 Off lands, the COAL comes out to 2.838
165.1g-158.1g Winchester Brass
CCI LRP #200

When I saw that grouping, I didn't even care that it wasn't on the bull.... I knew I had what I needed to get there... it was "bull-zeroed" for a completely different lands/bullet combo, anyway !

Thats a pretty great savage grouping, Flint !

June 12, 2012, 01:03 AM
had one "AH HAH" moment about 6 months after i started loading .40 s&w. i was using AA#7 and 180gr XTPs firing off-hand at about 12 yards. put 5 shots, all overlapping, cutting the "X" out of the bull. needless to say i didnt mess with the load any further.

really wish i would have thought to snap a pic at the time...

June 12, 2012, 09:06 AM
I had my "Ah HAH" moment on my 300 win mag, 11 years after I bought it. An old guy I knew sold me 40 pounds (!) of H1000 and a few thousand lake city 308 pulls for a ridiculously low amount, along with a single stage press, to get me started reloading. Brass I got once fired from a local shop.

(I never ran a single factory round through the rifle from day #1; and my first handloads were for that rifle!)

Anyway it took me a heck of a lot of years to shoot through that initial supply of ammo. Eventually the H1000 started going the way of caustic smelling so I pitched the last 8-10 lbs. I popped the pages for the cartridge out of the Sierra book, went down to the local shop and picked up every can of powder they carried that was listed on the pages, along with about 20 boxes of different projectiles.

A few years later... I had the a-hah moment. Landing a 0.92" 10 shot group at 300 yards using 220gr Sierra Matchkings and H4831SC.

But by then the barrel throat was shot out and fouling horribly.

So now I'm on a new barrel and starting all... over... again...

At least I have plenty of leftovers to get started with. :)

June 12, 2012, 11:45 AM
A few years later... I had the a-hah moment. Landing a 0.92" 10 shot group at 300 yards using 220gr Sierra Matchkings and H4831SC.
Wow. :cool:

I've been shooting M80 pulls and surplus H4895 only... maybe that's my problem. LOL

June 12, 2012, 11:54 AM
Quality components make a hell of a difference. :)

So does brass prep, if you really want to split hairs.

Good scale is important. A good competition seating die will make a LOT of difference (at least, it did for me). Pricey, though.

I got in to the whole "match prep" regimen on 300 Win Mag during the "search for the penultimate load".. (I don't shoot matches, so I don't normally call it match prep, but that's the buzzword...)

Some things make quite a bit of difference, some things don't.

Finding the best powder / bullet / seating length combination is just the beginning, though. From there, it gets even more interesting, if you really start to experiment with neck turning, sorting brass & projectiles by weight or volume, learn how to use "bushing" dies, flash hole deburring / uniforming, etc. :)

I'm just an amateur though.. the serious benchrest guys make what I do look tame.

June 12, 2012, 12:01 PM
Quality components do help.

A comp seater die is probably the biggest aggravation saver I've ever invested in. You can play with seating depths without it....but you will be hammering a lot of rounds apart- thats for certain.

It really taught me ( combined with a precision mic from RCBS) how much applied force matters in the seating stroke. You only think you are using the same force each time....until you measure it and find out that the force applied can change your seating by 5-6 thousandths at a time- even when the dies and shellholder are locked in perfectly and aren't moving.

June 12, 2012, 12:26 PM
blarby - that's a result of neck tension being different.

The brass thickness on the neck can vary by as much (possibly more) as .005" on commercial brass.

When you size a neck, ALL necks are sized to the same OUTER dimension, then the expander pushes them back OUT again on the downstroke. If neck thickness isn't uniform, the brass springs back differently (the math behind the metallurgy is beyond me, but it's not linear). The net result is an interior diameter that can vary by as much as .002.

When you go to seat the round, you get the differences in interior diameter of the neck, PLUS the variations in tension caused by the varying THICKNESS of the brass in the neck.

The net result is bullets which have WIDELY inconsistent seating tension.

Not a huge deal for the casual reloader - the pressure in a round is massive and will get the bullets scooting out of there every time at roughly the same velocity.

But for accuracy, roughly isn't good enough.

Neck turning - if done properly, with the correct sequence of steps (which includes correctly sizing both pre-and post turning) - will eliminate ALL vertical stringing on your groups and dramatically lower the standard deviation of your velocities.

(Your groups will be nice and round, and shrink.)

Doesn't matter so much at 100 yards, but when you start getting out 300, 400+, those velocity differences compound with every OTHER factor affecting the round's trajectory. It changes your wind characteristics as ALL rounds will be equally affected by wind - slower rounds drift more than faster ones. It'll change the spin drift characteristics, which ALSO compounds with wind resistance as rounds "climb" in to the wind and "drop" away from the wind, with respect to their turn direction. It will also neutralize differences caused by air density, as all rounds will slow the same rate (slower rounds tend to slow faster than faster rounds slow, inertia 101).

So having as tight of a muzzle velocity range as possible, is crucial to accuracy.


June 12, 2012, 01:07 PM
I'm learning I'm just too lazy and too busy to take the time necessary to build really accurate rifle rounds. My handgun stuff outperforms factory easily, and are easy to build. I've loaded roughly 7500 .45, .40, 9mm, .38, and .380 rounds in the past year with great success. But I run out of patience with .30-06. If I could get my handloads to shoot as well as HXP I'd be happy. But I haven't yet.

I appreciate the talent and work that goes into making REALLY accurate ammo. I respect those who choose to do it and get it to work. In future I may become passionate about getting the very last bit of accuracy out of my rifles. But right now I mostly use them for plinking and "practical" type competitions. And the time/benefit ratio isn't working out for me so far.

Plus I think I need glasses. That may really be the issue. :D

June 12, 2012, 02:58 PM
Blarby, Flint,

Some nice shooting guys! I've had that moment only one time in my 50 some years of shooting. I'd been working on a load for my .223 rifle, 52 gr. BTHP bullets, had just about given up when the "bell rang" ! One overcast morning, I was the only one at the large rifle range, I sat down and really took my time. I'd shot probably 15 rounds of this new recipe, changed targets, ran a bore snake down the pipe and started over. My next 5 rounds were .275, almost the same hole, wished I had a camera, I still have the target, maybe I can upload it yet. Anyway, before I left the range, a couple of members came in, I went and got my target and showed them, when i told them about my old 788 Remington rifle, they wanted to buy it. Ha It took me too long to get it to shoot like that, never have been able to replicate that again either.

Tim the student
June 12, 2012, 05:48 PM
If I could get my handloads to shoot as well as HXP I'd be happy.

Try Varget, or pony up and get some good bullets. Give these ( a go.

June 12, 2012, 06:01 PM
That's not too bad a price, actually. thanks

Tim the student
June 12, 2012, 06:21 PM
No problem.

June 13, 2012, 02:35 PM
Thanks for this post Tim, good sight for blems!

Tim the student
June 13, 2012, 02:43 PM
It is a good site - just have to watch it to see whats in stock. It looks like the bullets I linked are now out of stock - 1k must have bought them all out!

June 13, 2012, 03:28 PM
Nope, I was still trying to justify the expense. Guess I'll get some next go round. :)

June 13, 2012, 07:13 PM
Ive had a couple "ah-ha moments" They sure do make a guy proud

June 13, 2012, 11:27 PM
M.weier what caliber is the last pic of? I can't seem to dial in my match kings. Game kings I can get a sub 1/2 inch group out of my savage .308 MK so far the best I have done is 1.25-1.5 same distance similar weather. Load on the MK is 2.78 OAL 43 gr Varget and the 168 MK same load for the GK gives me great groups....I don't get it.

June 14, 2012, 12:46 AM
Further proof that my wife is a better shot than I.

Hers is with a scout rifle... low BBL length, and a 2.5X scout scope. No trigger job. Stock from the box.

Nice little 7mm-08 that one...and only .005 off the lands. We coulda stopped way earlier, but its fun to watch her shoot.

( Both 4 shots, from a Ruger Scout Rifle. 145g BTSPs, 47g RL15 )

June 14, 2012, 12:48 AM
@ JC : They have different ogive lengths. If you are seating them to the same depth, you will get different results.

June 14, 2012, 08:41 AM
Thanks! I am going to have to tweak the load a little more.

June 14, 2012, 09:13 AM
Do you have a precision mic ?

June 15, 2012, 11:42 PM
Yep. Pretty new to rifle loads just need to work on it a bit I guess.

June 16, 2012, 12:44 AM
I have been there a couple of times, although I don't have the targets to prove it!
First time was many years ago with a Savage model 99 in .300 Savage, maybe 3 dozen combinations bullet, powder, primer, brass,
and then H335 with a 165 Speer grand slam, 3 out of 5 into 3/4" & 5 into 1-1/4" . Not bad for a 1951 gun.
The next time was a Remington 7400 (autoloader) in .280 Rem, many combinations until I reloaded Remington 150grn corelokts.
4 shots (1 magazine) touching in 7/8" with IMR 3031.

If you enjoyed reading about "That " AH HAH ! " Moment" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!