Question about creating new loads


March 18, 2013, 10:18 PM
Is there a rule of thumb you fellows use when making up new loads? Are you making five, ten, twenty rounds of each load to see how they shoot off the bench?

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March 18, 2013, 10:27 PM
I might just load up a dozen to get velocities, then maybe a dozen more at another slightly higher level. When I think I have something I'll load 50, or maybe more, and wring it out better. I have loaded just one before.

March 18, 2013, 10:30 PM
For me it depends on revolver or semi auto. Revolver I load a cyl full. 5 or 6 depending on the gun. Semi auto's 10 of each. Then when I think I have it right 20 more. Make sure it cycles and ejects, check over a chrony. If it's right , load em up.

March 18, 2013, 10:36 PM
First, i have found that max loads are rarely the most accurate so I generally work up a load that will be below max. Once I have decided on a load, I'll load 5 rounds at that load, 5 at .2 gr or 2% lower, 5 at .2gr or 2% lower than that and then 10 more stepping the other way. At the range I shoot for accuracy and check for signs of pressure. when I detect high pressure, I set the rest of those loads and any higher aside and pull them later. If I don't get the desired accuracy, I start working downward loading 5 at .2gr or 2% lower levels until I find the load I like.

The increment I use actually depends on the characteristics of the powder and the charge. I use QuickLoad to calculate the initial base load and use a chrony to determine it produces the velocities predicted.

Mike 27
March 18, 2013, 10:44 PM
I agree I usually run about a magazine per load or 6 for wheel guns.

March 19, 2013, 12:40 AM
Depends a bit on the mood I am in and what I am loading for. I have been known to pick a load and load 100 rounds for a gun I am really familiar with. However for new guns or a rifle, I may only load 1 to 3. The only rule I use is: Start low and work up. Just how many I load before increasing the load is not important.

Andrew Leigh
March 19, 2013, 01:21 AM

I am rather structured and like the more structured approach. I have used Dan Newberry's Optimum Charge Weight (OCW) method for some time now and find it to be very safe, and very good. To make matters easy for myself I have converted the narrative and calculations into a Excel Spreadsheet. You need only enter a couple of parameters and it spits out the loads.

In no more than 25 odd rounds and one trip to the range you will have your load.

There is one caveat however, it is best if you are already capable of shooting 1MOA groups for the method to be at its best.

If interested, PM me you e-mail address and I will forward you the Excel Spreadsheet.

March 19, 2013, 04:12 AM
I don't have a chronograph yet, so what i generally do is look at the data for a given bullet/powder data in my Lyman and Lee manuals. I figure out what charge and COL is right in the middle between the two books, then load 50-100 for pistol rounds. Since I use mid-range data I know I shouldn't be close to MAX pressure and I have confidence that it will function in auto loading pistols. When I started out I always went with starting load data and only loaded 10-20 rounds. I quickly found out that with most powder/bullet combos I couldn't get reliable function using starting loads. So far it has worked out great. The only loads that haven't worked well for me are loads using 800X powder.

For rifles though I do usually start very close to starting loads and load 10-20 rounds. I normally just start at 0.2gr over MIN, and work up until I either get a very accurate load or until I see pressure signs.

For revolvers I load 10-20 rounds at minimum charge and work up until I get an accurate load.

I recently started reloading for 5.7x28. It has its own set of rules. Very finicky little round that requires much patience and caution.

March 19, 2013, 04:12 AM
If I'm loading for an auto loading action I load 5 of each powder weight increment, and 2 for most all other type actions.

For instance, if I were working up a load in .40 S&W- 135 gr. Nosler JHP & Longshot. The charge table shows a start charge of 8.0 grs., max is 11.0 grs.. I would load 5 with 8.0 grs., 5 with 8.2 grs., 5 with 8.4 grs. until I've reached 10.0 grs. Once I'm at about the middle of the powder charge range, which is 1 grs. in this example, I continue my sets of 5, but now in .1 grain increments.

High powered rifle is about the same thing, it's just that there is more to evaluate, and it's done at longer distances, and hopefully over a chronograph because it will provide a nice BDC base line to work with down the road. I look the web area over real well, inspect the case head for signs of extractor impressions, primer signs, and so on. We'll save how to read your loads for another time.

I make log book entries regarding pressures and performance characteristics.
Example of something I might document: (8.0 gr.) load did not fully cycle the slide on 3 rounds fired, (8.2 grs.) Primers are very domed looking and protruding about .050" above the case head on all 5 rounds fired. The notes I log per load development will include any element of the load, including field notes from hunting trips.

Log books are monumental in this hobby, there is such a wealth of important information that needs to be recorded. Other wise you find yourself back at square #1 the next time you load with those same components. Not only does it save a bunch of time and $ spent on components, I also use one to document how it performed on it's intended target, be that a deer or paper. I love it when my Son walks in the door and hands me a box of bullets and says, "load me up with some stuff for mule deer, I need it this week end". So because I keep extremely detailed records, I no longer have to go through the whole process each time I load a for a specific weapon, using a specific bullet, using a specific powder, using a specific primer, using a specific head stamp. I've been doing it this way for so many years, and I have to tell ya, it's a great feeling to know I can just look at the log book and every important detail is right there. But that doesn't mean I don't use my books, I cross check every log entry against published SAAMI approved data.

I apologize for the long answer, but it seemed as though you were looking for a complete work up procedure. I hope this helped you.

March 19, 2013, 05:16 AM
OP didn't mention if for rifle or handgun. For rifle, I typically start at min book load and load up 2 or 3 sets of 5 at 0.5 grain increments up to approx. 0.5 grains below the max book load. Shoot those (while being observant for pressure). I'll review the results for those on paper and go from there. My most recent load that i've been working on after my initial batch, I had three of the six initial loads that I wanted to see more of so I loaded up 3 sets of 5 of each and shot them. That eliminated 1 of the 3. Next I loaded up 3 sets of 5 of the 2 best loads and went 0.2 grains above/below those and loaded up 3 sets of 5 of them. Finally arrived at what I feel is the best load. Lots of work (play) but in the end I'm pretty confident in my selected load.

March 19, 2013, 05:25 AM
Hi Andrew, I would be interested in a copy of your spread sheet if possible,

thanks in advance

March 19, 2013, 05:39 AM
If I'm working up loads for my handguns (revolver or semi-auto) I make 5 rounds of each charge weight over a particular range.

If I am working up rifle loads - which is rare anymore - 3 to 5 rounds per charge is all I use.

I personally never go to max levels for two reasons - plated bullets and a desire to save money/powder.

March 19, 2013, 06:13 AM
Loading for my rifle's I start in the middle of the load chart for the weight of the bullet. Jest say it was 20.0 gr low 26.0 high I would start at 23.0 then 23.5 24.0 24.5 25.0 loading 10 of each. I would go to the range and shoot 3 rounds 23.0 set for 10 min then shoot 3 rounds from the 23.5 I would do this till I shot all of the different loads. Then go home and take the 2 best loads then tweak then till I have a very good load. It take a long time to get a 1/2 in or less at a 150 yards.

March 19, 2013, 07:49 AM
There is alot of information about pet loads, I'll start with one of those and depending on the results I may tweak them some. I'll load 50 rounds usually so I can really test them in my gun. I never load hot stuff, just target loads so I'm not concerned with pressure. The exception being 9mm, that can be tricky. Gotta watch 9mm real close, even seating depth can make a big difference in pressure . I have a D.W. PM9 and if it weren't for that I wouldn't load 9mm, they're a PITA.

March 20, 2013, 09:57 AM
Thank you everyone for the great info!

I was specifically asking regarding making up some new loads for my M1 Garand using 140gr Nosler CC bullets that I scored on the cheap. 140gr is not a typical bullet weight for the Garand, and I wanted to do some tinkering to see if I could get an accurate load with it.

Also great info as I intend to start loading for pistol rounds soon as well.

Well, that is, when I can find some damned powder. :banghead:

March 20, 2013, 12:25 PM
I loaded 15 .308 the other day. Sunday afternoon I shot two five shot groups over the chrono. I have five left to go with my next tweak. (.338 bushing instead of .337 and .1 or .2 Grs less powder) I'll load 15 more of those.

Getting better.

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