Let's talk about precision reloading


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SWThomas
December 9, 2013, 08:49 PM
I've been posting a lot lately but my brain is a sponge right now and you guys always provide the knowledge. I wanna talk about all the different things folks do when reloading for maximum precision accuracy. What I'm gonna do is list some things I've seen folks do and ask for your input on the topic. What I would like is some sort of proof/data that a certain step has made a measurable difference in accuracy. Right now I'm chasing the accuracy goal with my GAP-10 but I will be having a precision bolt gun built soon. Here goes...

- Turning case necks

- Using bench rest primers VS standard primers

- Using competition seating dies over standard dies

- Crimping and not crimping

- Loading to be just off the lands or kissing the lands

- Uniforming primer pockets

- Deburring flash holes

- Bumping shoulders VS resizing to factory specs

Please provide input on any or all of these steps and if you've personally observed increases in accuracy by performing them. If you would like to add something I didn't list, feel free to do so.

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4895
December 9, 2013, 09:26 PM
Turning case necks:

Theory is that the more uniform the tension applied to the bullet, the more uniform the release is from the case during propellant ignition.

IMHO it has made a difference in my firearms including a .22-250 Remington, a .243 Winchester, and a .30-06 Springfield. It doesn't make a lot of difference, but I will attest to a 1/4" difference @ 100 yards but that could be psychological as well. I feel it is best to outside neck turn brass after it has fireformed to the chamber and BEFORE it is resized. I think it gives a more accurate pattern from the chamber. Thinking you have loaded the best to your ability has an advantage in that department.


Competition Dies vs. Standard Dies:

Theory is that bullet runout will be reduced with a Comp Die and improve the yaw of a projectile entering the throat increasing chances of perfectly centered bore aligned with a near perfectly centered projectile. I know this can be quantified but I have neither the tools or time for such an endeavor. I don't think it is worth the expense for a reloader to purchase tools. It is more for the competition shooters trying to shoot 1/4" moa at say 600+yards consistently.

I have shot some of my best groups with BR primers and believe they are made to a better standard than STD primers. If you want the best, buy BR primers.

I only crimp for leverguns and revolver cartridges. You would have to shoot over a chrony a lot to determine if crimping, lack thereof, or something in between would impact SD (standard deviation) from shot to shot. That is a big deal for competition shooters that get everything they can out of a match. Consistent velocity is key to hitting the target with precision.

I uniform the primer pockets of most of my new brass along with deburring the flash holes and have seen a more consistent shot group with this brass. It is part of brass prep for me and doesn't really take that much time. I think it is worth knowing that I am giving the propellant the most uniform "shape charge" I can, especially if I am using a BR primer.

I have always full-length resized so I can't say much about bumping a shoulder vs. FL. I've always been satisfied with FL.

As far as loading off the lands, I primarily stay with the load manual recommendation and have had good luck so far. I don't like having rounds loaded for a particular rifle and then maybe sell the rifle and have ammo that may not fit. I just stick to factory length as most rifles are more accurate than the shooter.

All in all, flash hole deburring, primer pocket uniforming, and case neck turning (after once-fired and before resizing to get the best pattern from the chamber) will get you a lot of bang for your buck.

Handloading is a lot like peeing in the ocean. Every little bit helps.

Longhorn 76
December 9, 2013, 09:29 PM
Sorting brass and bullets by weight.
De-burring flash holes.
Spinning bullets for center of gravity.

I would not do all of this on a regular rifle for hunting deer. But would do all of it with a custom gun for bench rest shooting.

Poper
December 9, 2013, 09:33 PM
Let's talk about precision reloading
I've been posting a lot lately but my brain is a sponge right now and you guys always provide the knowledge. I wanna talk about all the different things folks do when reloading for maximum precision accuracy. What I'm gonna do is list some things I've seen folks do and ask for your input on the topic. What I would like is some sort of proof/data that a certain step has made a measurable difference in accuracy. Right now I'm chasing the accuracy goal with my GAP-10 but I will be having a precision bolt gun built soon. Here goes...

- Turning case necks: Depends. Lapua and Norma brass are usually consistent enough to not need it. You get what you pay for certainly seems to be true with brass. If using Rem., Win, Fed., or military once fired, then maybe lightly turned necks if the brass thickness is significantly uneven. Check with a runout gauge or ball micrometer.

- Using bench rest primers VS standard primers: Benchrest, yes.

- Using competition seating dies over standard dies: Competition dies, yes. More uniform depth seating and straighter, too.

- Crimping and not crimping: No crimp.

- Loading to be just off the lands or kissing the lands: Usually .010" off or more. Start with .010" off and shoot five five-round groups to test. Then test additional seating depths at .010" deeper (shorter COAL) as you see fit or until the guns preference is obvious to you.

- Uniforming primer pockets: Yes.

- Deburring flash holes: Yes.

- Bumping shoulders VS resizing to factory specs: I adjust my dies to bump the shoulder a maximum of .002". I use a RCBS Precision Mic tool to measure the shoulder bump. I also use the Redding neck bushing dies to be able to precisely set neck tension as brass thickness in the neck can vary from lot to lot.

Please provide input on any or all of these steps and if you've personally observed increases in accuracy by performing them. If you would like to add something I didn't list, feel free to do so.

Additional: I like to weight match the bullets within .1 grain of the nominal weight or the most common weight of a batch of bullets. I.E. with a 168 grain match bullet, I will match to 167.9 gr., 168.0 gr, and 168.1 gr. - Sometimes the most consistent weight might be .3 or .4 off the nominal weight and that is the weight I will match them to. It is not unusual to find bullet weights to vary by a full grain or more. However, you will get your best yields by buying match grade bullets from Berger, Sierra, etc. I find Berger is usually most consistent, but you pay a little more for that consistency. Bullet weight matching is more beneficial in small calibers and light bullet weights.
YMMV.
I hope this is helpful.

blarby
December 9, 2013, 09:37 PM
- Turning case necks

- Using bench rest primers VS standard primers

- Using competition seating dies over standard dies

- Crimping and not crimping

- Loading to be just off the lands or kissing the lands

- Uniforming primer pockets

- Deburring flash holes

- Bumping shoulders VS resizing to factory specs

All of these things drive you to the same direction : consistency.

Thats the goal.

The more consistent your ammunition is from shot to shot, the less deviation you will see on target.

The more things you do to assure that each round is consistent with the next one while putting it in the gun ( fireforming to chambers, bullet start in the lands ) helps.

I do all of the above except a concentricity ream- because I dont have any weapons that benefit from it. If I did ( and i've had reamed brass before in 3 of my bolt guns- I did not see a difference) I would do it. I do check them for uniform concentricity. If they are off my a considerable margin- I scrap them. Most i've found are not off by enough to matter. If I found more that were, and I was wasting a lot of brass, I would probably buy a reamer.

I do not crimp rifle loads for paper. I do crimp loads used in hunting. After I dropped one about as square on the point as I could accidentally from a treestand last year, and the bullet moved into the case... I started crimping hunting rounds. I only carry three or four when I go out, and I dont want to lose one to such event again.

I do not think it effects accuracy. I know it effects reliability. See above. I don't "not" do it on paper loads because its special. I dont do it because its an extra step. Thats reason enough. I add enough weird steps in even my economy loadings, that ever thing I don't have to do saves me...

A caveat- I do crimp revolver rounds, and I taper crimp semi-auto rounds for pistol.... but I don't thinks thats whats on your mind.

I've leade tested all of my bolt guns. They all benefitted from it. My ruger target gun shrunk almost a full inch of MOA at 200 yards using my chosen load and bullet in that gun. Downside : When you change load or bullet, you're going to do that workup all over again to get the same ( you hope) result. However, when staying at that loaded length in my Ruger, using same weight and profile bullets, the result was similar but not exactly as good. So you at least have a starting place.


You've put your mind in the funk of accuracy. It'll be there awhile, believe me. You CAN VERY WELL psychologically assign priorities to things that dont matter- and make them into things that do matter. Don't do that. Trust your results from your efforts. It helps to have a shooting partner verify what you've changed, and what the effect was. My wife does this for me. I was chasing the worlds cleanest cases for months before she pointed out it didn't matter by loading my mags with the dirtiest of her handloads she could find- in a switcharoo at the firing line- and smiling when i shot well.

I still shine cases. Its a peeve. But I know its not necessary, I do it because it looks good- and psychologically that makes both targets and deer that much deader to me. Didn't work on deer this year in Oregon. I'm 1-1 with bambi in Oregon.

I Do have competition die sets- but only in .308 and 7mm-08. I wanted micrometer seating, without endlessly counting thread turns. Thats the only reason. I load for 16 calibers and bores now, and thats the only two I have it for. Its handy. I might get one for .223 as I'm experimenting with a lot of bullets- but its a big expense. If you play with a lot of bullets, its justified. If you don't, probably not.

4895
December 9, 2013, 09:40 PM
I would not do all of this on a regular rifle for hunting deer. But would do all of it with a custom gun for bench rest shooting.

I'm not trying to pick a fight, believe me, but I loaded some ammo for a friend last year. He bought his daughter a .243 Winchester for deer hunting and since she is all arms and legs so to speak was concerned about recoil. I offered to load some reduced recoil ammo and he agreed. I pulled out all of the stops and did everything for her ammo that I could do except measure bullet and case run-out. Let me tell you he was happy as a pig in mud when he shot the rifle for first time and put 2 bullets literally in the same hole and a third, fourth, and fifth less than 1/4" from the original hole at 40 or 50 yards. He told me that in his 50+ years of shooting, hunting, etc. he had never shot such a tight group. That tells me that if you want to ring the best out of your ammo, it is possible with everything mentioned by the OP. I told him I thought his daughter deserved the best ammo possible to keep her interest in shooting/hunting as she was quite young and he wanted to teach her about the responsibility and privilege of hunting. It took me about 6 hours to load 50 rounds. Time well spent.

Walkalong
December 9, 2013, 09:50 PM
- Turning case necks

Only turn enough to clean them up and get then even all the way around. It might help in a standard chamber. The best bet is to buy the best brass though, which is Lapua.

Turn necks to nearest .0001 to fit a tight necked chamber in a custom chamber/gun.

- Using bench rest primers VS standard primers

As far as Federal goes, the most experienced workers make the BR primers, so in theory they will be more consistent. The Fed match primers dominated Benchrest when I was shooting. Then came the primer shortage. Many folks used Winchester primers, and some never switched back, saying they could tell no difference. I never ran out, so I used them.

- Using competition seating dies over standard diesWhatever dies you use, you must check the run out to be sure you are making straight ammo, and you cannot make straight ammo with bad brass. It starts with the brass, and then just don't mess it up from there.

- Crimping and not crimping
Don't crimp.

- Loading to be just off the lands or kissing the lands
It depends on the barrel and the bullets. Need more info, but some very accurate loads can be had way off the lands.

- Uniforming primer pockets
Yes. I like the K&M. Can't hurt, may help, easy to do, so do it.

- Deburring flash holes
Yes, don't over do it. Can't hurt, may help, easy to do, so do it.

- Bumping shoulders VS resizing to factory specs
Yes, whether neck sizing or full length sizing, only move the shoulder .001 or so.

Many things are done searching for those last tiny increases in accuracy that you will never see without a world class gun (http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=165049&d=1337969443), bullets, and ability to shoot them well.

Will they all change a .75 MOA load into a .25 MOA load. No, they will not. Will they make a difference when the aggregates (five 5 shot groups) are in the sub .25 MOA range? Many think they do.

Walkalong
December 9, 2013, 09:51 PM
: consistency.

Thats the goal.

The more consistent your ammunition is from shot to shot, the less deviation you will see on target.That's it. Then it is up to us.

USSR
December 9, 2013, 09:53 PM
I'm chasing the accuracy goal with my GAP-10 but I will be having a precision bolt gun built soon.

Okay, here goes again:

- Turning case necks: Don't waste your time - buy Lapua brass.

- Using bench rest primers VS standard primers: Buy the Russian primers (Tula/Wolf) - very low ES/SD numbers and much cheaper.

- Using competition seating dies over standard dies: I use a competition seating die - makes for much easier adjustments for bullet seating depth.

- Crimping and not crimping: NEVER CRIMP BULLETS THAT DON'T HAVE A CANNELURE - and you will be using match bullets that don't have a cannelure.

- Loading to be just off the lands or kissing the lands: Either be more than .010" into the lands or more than .010" off the lands. Match bullets come off of different machines and the ogive location will vary by up to .010". You don't want to be "kissing the lands" and have some of your bullets into the lands and some off the lands.

- Uniforming primer pockets: I do it - doesn't take much time.

- Deburring flash holes: I do it for brass other than Lapua - doesn't take much time.

- Bumping shoulders VS resizing to factory specs: I use a combination of a body die which bumps the shoulder back and resizes the case body, and a bushing neck sizer die.

These were pretty much standard practices when I was shooting in 1000 yard F Class Competition. The two biggest factors in LR accuracy are your bullets and your brass. Using Lapua brass and match bullets is perhaps 80% of the accuracy game. The remaining 20% is the tough part. Hope that helps.

Don

Walkalong
December 9, 2013, 09:58 PM
The remaining 20% is the tough part.Amen brother!

blarby
December 9, 2013, 10:01 PM
That's it. Then it is up to us.

Amen.

Some folks have this belief that magic ammo pulls the trigger too, and by golly, it does not !

Listen to don- he knows ! Want good brass to see if yours measures up ? Buy some of his. (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=731619)

sauer1911
December 9, 2013, 10:06 PM
Somewhere on the journey for supreme bullet accuracy, I would get lost in the belief that all those things will make me a better shooter.

At my age/eyesight and waining desire to make only one hole in a target with say 10 rounds at any distance, I wouldnt really worry beyond what is perfection and what I want to spend in equipment to find a happy balance.

Try em one at a time to see what really gives improvement vs cost or time.

be safe

Walkalong
December 9, 2013, 10:08 PM
250 pieces of LC LR brass, fully prepped, ready to prime. I shoot Lapua in 300 yard F class at the range. This stuff is very good though.

witchhunter
December 9, 2013, 10:54 PM
I do all of those things, but I use whatever primer shoots better. I seat to the length that shoots best. I have a 22/250 that likes em -.050. I like micrometer seating dies, especially working up loads on a new rifle. Just makes it easier to repeat. I like bushing dies, they are smooth as silk. I agree with the masters use good bullets and good barrels. You will need a good barrel to notice the last 20% anyway. I would do anything I could to make my brass more consistent.

bds
December 9, 2013, 11:28 PM
I am not a precision rifle shooter, just a plinker with .308 but gleaned a lot of good information on long range precision reloading from The Rifleman's Journal (a dedicated website for 1000 yard match shooting with particular focus on .308) - http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/p/articles-index.html

After checking out the primer comparison article (http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2009/06/primers-large-rifle-primer-study.html) (there are 8 total articles) and "Basic" section, scroll down to "Reloading" section on the above link and grab a large cup of coffee then get comfy as there's a lot to read.


Here's 2 of 5 part series on loading for 1000 yard Palma matches - http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2010/10/cartridges-loading-308-for-palma.html


Here's 1 of 3 part series on accuracy secrets of 30-06 - http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2012/05/cartridges-accuracy-secrets-of-30-06.html


Here's 1 of 3 part series on 7.62 NATO long range match cartridges - http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2012/02/cartridges-762-nato-long-range-match.html

cfullgraf
December 9, 2013, 11:58 PM
Please provide input on any or all of these steps and if you've personally observed increases in accuracy by performing them..

All the information posted is good stuff.

But, when loading for a gas gun, case life is short and alot of time may be expended for little gains.

Here is a good article from Sierra Bullets on loading for gas guns, aka semi autos and service rifles.

http://www.exteriorballistics.com/reloadbasics/gasgunreload.cfm

bds
December 10, 2013, 12:00 AM
Thanks! I am bookmarking that link and getting another cup of coffee.

jb27
December 10, 2013, 12:10 AM
The info that Walkalong gave in post #7 was spot on. Ultimately you want to produce the most concentric ammo (lowest runout) that you can. If you don't already have a concentricity gauge, I suggest picking one up. I have the Sinclair gauge and am very happy with it. That in combination with finding out the combination of components that YOUR rifle likes is the ticket. The seating depth (jam vs touch vs jump) will depend on the bullet you use and what your gun likes.

One thing I can definitely recommend based on personal experience is using a Lee Collet die to neck size and follow that up with a Redding Body die to bump the shoulder back .001 or so. I did some experimentation with my target .223 using several different sizing dies and this method produced the most concentric ammo which translated into the smallest groups on paper.

gamestalker
December 10, 2013, 02:30 AM
When I'm using run of the mill brass, I turn necks, even for my hunting ammo. I do notice some difference too, enough to make it worth while. Take some measurements, you'll notice just how inconsistent the necks really are, and it does matter.

Regarding seating depths, I have always started at the lands, and then work back. I would say nearly all my loads shoot most accurately when seated touching or within .010" off the lands. I do have one rifle though that groups best with them .030" off. But be sure to use proper work up procedures, as pressures are significantly higher when the bullets are up close and personal, and even more so when touching.

And in my opinion, properly head spaced brass is an absolute must. I keep mine as close to zero as possible. Way back when I started reloading, I didn't know it was even something to be considered. A friend who was a bench rest shooter started introducing me to some of the finer arts of the hobby, which included proper head spacing of the brass.

I clean primer pockets, and make sure they are fairly uniform when I see obvious flaws, but I don't get too involved.

The only cartridges I crimp, are those that absolutely have to be crimped. Tubular magazines and fully auto use are about the only exceptions in my opinion. Just because a bullet has a canelure, doesn't mean you have to crimp in it, I don't. So only crimp if it's absolutely necessary.

I know this is slightly off topic from the OP's questions, but it does address crimping. When I'm loading jacketed bullets for rimless AL cartridges such as 9mm and .40 cal. I never bell or crimp the cartridges. By not doing so, I am getting consistent neck tension, and the highest degree of neck tension obtainable.

I use competition die sets, they're better, and easier to accomplish precision loads with. You can get by without them, but it certainly makes life a bit easier when your goal is measurable consistency. Does a comp die improve my groups? I really haven't performed a comparison, but I would bet it sure doesn't hurt it any.

GS

Nordeste
December 10, 2013, 08:16 AM
Just excuse my ignorance in rifle hand loading, gentlemen, but what exactly is neck case turning?. I understand it has to do with uniforming the case neck somewhat, but I have no clue on how it's done or the tools that are to be used.

bds
December 10, 2013, 08:29 AM
From The Rifleman's Journal - http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2010/10/cartridges-loading-308-for-palma.html
Neck Turning

Once the brass is in hand and selected by case wall variance my next step is turning the necks. Now we're getting down to one of those important steps in reducing SD. Neck tension, the case's "grip" on the bullet, is one of the variables that affects muzzle velocity, and necks with inconsistent thickness will not produce consistent neck tension. Neck turning is the solution to this problem and although it can be a tiring process, there's no real alternative.

I turn my case necks to a thickness of 0.0125", this yields loaded rounds with a neck diameter of 0.333" (0.0125 x 2 + 0.308). To get my preferred neck tension of 0.002", I use a 0.331" bushing or a non-bushing die that has been machined to have a 0.331" neck. Once your necks are turned, you'll really feel the difference as you seat bullets - all of them will feel the same.

How to turn necks - http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/2009/12/reloading-neck-turning.html

cfullgraf
December 10, 2013, 08:33 AM
Here is a neck turning tool.

http://www.sinclairintl.com/reloading-equipment/case-preparation/neck-turning/neck-turning-tools/sinclair-model-1000-neck-turning-tool-prod36849.aspx

Walkalong
December 10, 2013, 08:35 AM
K&M neck turning tool.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=169679&stc=1&d=1344564858

SWThomas
December 10, 2013, 11:47 AM
OK I'm sold on the competition seating dies.

If I were to buy a Redding seating micrometer, would it fit in my Dillon seating die?

Also, what's the difference between the VLD micrometer and the Standard?

Poper
December 10, 2013, 12:47 PM
After all the advice above (and it is all good, mind you) the best thing you can do to obtain maximum improvement of your groups down range is to practice, practice, practice! Pay particular attention to your natural point of aim and the fundamentals of aiming and the trigger squeeze during each and every practice shot.

JMHO.

Walkalong
December 10, 2013, 01:11 PM
what's the difference between the VLD micrometer and the Standard?The seating stem is different. The VLD stem is contoured to seat the various VLD bullets. I have never seen one to know the difference in contour exactly.

Nordeste
December 10, 2013, 01:31 PM
My question has been very satisfactorily answered. Now I know something more. Thank you ;).

Potatohead
December 10, 2013, 02:37 PM
Geez all this is complicated. Glad I just load pistol.

Ive got enough stuff to be OCD about already! :)

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