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Judge my reloads / shooting

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by raddiver, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. raddiver

    raddiver Well-Known Member

    This may not be the place for this, but this is pretty much the only forum section i hang in, so bear with me.

    So this weekend i did my best to create match grade ammo.
    For reference i was using this target at 100 yards...

    What is considered average when it comes to .223 at this distance? I want them all tighter than that, but maybe im just kidding myself?
    I have nothing to judge against as this is my first rifle.
    the 2 at the top and the 2 to the right side, were from factory ammo. the one to the lower left outside the diamond was one of my reloads, but i knew that one was off when i pulled the trigger.

    Comments much appreciated.

    here are the results...
  2. REL1203

    REL1203 Well-Known Member

    You say 223, but you dont say the actual gun. If thats an M4 Iron Sights, its not bad, if its a Rem700 with a nice Scope, it should do better, so you need to give us a little more info.
  3. raddiver

    raddiver Well-Known Member

  4. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Well-Known Member

    Something needs work. It's hard to say if it's the ammo, gun, or shooter.
  5. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    or scope.
  6. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

    Shooter needs more practice.
  7. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    It takes some time and tons of practice to learn how to bench a rifle accurately. I'll share some tips with you thatmight help. First of all you must shoot from an absolutely solid stable platform, no exceptions.
    The next thing is to find a way to create a solid rest to shoot off of, I use a large sand bag, the type used by highway workers. I lay it out length wise and then cradle the rifle in the center of it and then put a sinch around the bag and rifle, so as to make the two one unit.
    How you handle the rifle is critical as well. I try limit my physical contact with the rifle as much as possible. This is really difficult to do with a high recoil firearm such as a .270 or 7mm RM, both of those are what I shoot and can really beat you up. But in your case you are shooting a very light recoiling weapon. Watch how you pull the trigger and if it doesn't have a decent trigger have it adjusted or worked on, or have it replaced with something better.
    And probably one of the most effective methods of eliminating movement when pulling the trigger is to have a companion single load for you. You'll want them to put an empty round in every couple of rounds, randomly so you and your friend can observe how much pull or general movement you are producing when that firing pin drops. Obviously there should be zero movement when it drops.
    If the glass is not presenting problems, the rifle is of average accuracy, and your loads are well made, you should be able to shoot 1/2" - 1" groups from 100 yds. quite consitently. If you can't get decent groups, you'll have to work the bugs out of your equiptment and shooting skills.
    One last tip that I use all the time. I use black 1/2" tape on white butcher paper in a cross pattern, but with the center of the cross eliminated. This helps me to keep the reticles aligned consistently from shot to shot. I also use a small level to get the black cross on the paper level, so your rifle will not be cantered. Other wise you'll be lucky to place follow up shots consistently in the same exact spot. Another method is to put your foul shot on the paper and use it as your point of aim. But considering you are shooting a 22 cal. projectile, it might be difficult to see such a small hole from 100 yds. with standard quality glass and reticle. In most circumstances a duplex reticle is too wide to allow you to seen the hole at the center of the cross hairs.
  8. Scott_R

    Scott_R Well-Known Member

    How many different loads did you try? (Powder weights)

    You didn't tell us anything about the reloads. What components did you use?

    When I work up a load, I sometimes have some groups that would be very disappointing if I was shooting a proven load in a given rifle. Until you find one of those, I wouldn't sweat it too much.

    Both bench shooting AND reloading take practice. I'm no expert, but I have learned quite a bit just by going out to shoot as often as I can.

    Gamestalker has some great advice, above. I would like to add that a rear bag is also key to helping you align your sights with as little contact with the rifle as possible.

    I shoot 223 in an AR, and that makes it easy to swap optics. For shooting paper, I use a 6-18 x 50 which helps me hold the same place each time.

    Good luck and keep at it.
  9. WNTFW

    WNTFW Well-Known Member

    Actually it sounds you have a lot of newness wrapped up in one big ball. Good news is the group is not bad considering all the new things happening.
    I am concluding this based on what you posted, so forgive if I am wrong.

    I would not shoot free recoil or tie the rifle to the bag. I do agree that there are unstable benches. Don't forget the chair/stool or whatever seat you are using at the bench. That alone will wreck you. You could shoot prone if the bench is shaky. I don't like benches much for several reason. One being more than half I encountered were no good.

    I also am not a fan of shoot & see (splatter) targets. I also like to put a clean sheet of paper for a target backer

    You look to have a lot of horizontal stringing in the group. That points to trigger control and NPA. Let's not forget wind. Having no vertical is good. Usually when I see clusters within a group that is an encouraging. It shows me the mistakes are being minimized. I also look at a group and evaluate elevation and windage separate. It helps me figure what the weak link is.

    for example
    Last time I shot a string from sitting with a .22 @ 100yds my shot strung in the vertical only. That pointed to velocity variance in the round as part of the problem. I won't use that as the only excuse but if my horizontal stringing was 0 I could at least be happy with that. I knew I wasn't throwing off the left/right.

    I would concentrate on shooting better. That means do your best to pick a load and load up 50 to 100. Then go shoot them until you decrease your group. It might take more rounds. But the main point is don't have 5 variables constantly moving. Constantly changing a load won't help.

    If you can let someone else shoot the rifle that can be an easy way to clear some things up. (known good shooter)

    Scott R said it:
    "How many different loads did you try? (Powder weights)
    You didn't tell us anything about the reloads. What components did you use?"

    While I do believe each rifle is different there are some generalities like certain bullets just are not that great. So answering the questions Scott is asking might short cut some of the process.

    What is the twist rate on your .223?
  10. raddiver

    raddiver Well-Known Member

    Gamestalker... Thanks for the insightful reply.
    This i was not. I was using a bipod and my left arm under the stock to adjust elevation

    This also was not done. I simply "eyeballed" the crosshairs and said "welp.. that looks ok" I will work on that too.

    I just started loading for this rifle so i only have one set of components to work with.
    The previous weekend i had worked up a load and 24-24.1 were the most accurate out of the bunch.
    So i went with..
    IMR 4895 24 grains
    Hornady FMJBT 55gr (sorted and loaded only .733 in length)
    CCI 400's
    Cases were trimmed to 1.750
    COAL was SAAMI max at 2.260.
    I can go beyond max and the bullet still doesn't touch the rifling before it falls out of the case. Even on cases that are 1.760. So with that i decided its best to stay at max.

  11. raddiver

    raddiver Well-Known Member

    You are not wrong. I have tons to learn.
    For example what is NPA? :)
    My twist is 1:9. i edited the last post so you might not have seen it.

    and to all, i really do appreciate the help.
  12. Scott_R

    Scott_R Well-Known Member

    While I believe the Hornady FMJ's to be about the best FMJs you can buy, they ain't awesome.

    Get some MatchKings, or Varminters from Sierra; or try a VMax bullet if you want to stick with Hornady.

    Sounds like you have some bench/rest issues to work on too.

    Also, How are you measuring powder? I'm asking because although H4895 is great, it isn't the best metering powder in the world. If you're trickling, then disregard.

    I assume you don't have a chronograph?
    While they aren't necessary, they do help determine if fault likely lies with the reloads, or the shooting (wind, or technique). I use the chronograph to measure the variances of each shot to determine if my reloading techniques are in question (High extreme spread (ES), or high standard deviation (SD) )
    This can also be done to some extent as NTFTW explains about evaluating a group. More info can't hurt.

    I would buy some match bullets and go from there along with other good advice in this thread.

    My 1:9 shoots Sierra 45gr Varminters really well. (Model 1310)

    ETA: I think NPA = Natural Point of Aim
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2011
  13. WNTFW

    WNTFW Well-Known Member

    "This can also be done to some extent as NTFTW explains about evaluating a group. More info can't hurt."

    Correct. If I had shot my .22 over a chrono I could say for sure that the vertical was due to FPS variance. Shooting irons I would have to say some of it was me.
    Also some FPS variance won't show until farther down range and you may only have access to 100yds.

    Plus when you get a good load you have another documented piece of info. Some guys have no use for a chrono while others find it utterly essential.

    NPA is natural point of aim. Shooting irons from position you would close your eyes and breathe a few cycles. This lets your position settle. Open your eyes. Where your sights point is your NPA. You have to muscle the gun to put the sights back on target. Your shots will pull towards the NPA. So what you want to do is move your body so the NPA lines up with the desired target center. It is the same with a scope or bipod or benchrest. Think if you had a benchrest setup but had to push the rest with your thumb to keep centered. The guy next to you is perfectly centered. Who has the more consistent setup?
    At first it is frustrating. You will over correct, under correct, get worn out. etc. So learn to back off of a shot that ain't happening. This is one aspect of practice with no firing involved that helps. The more relaxed you are the better. Another aspect is bone support not muscle support.
  14. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I think you will need to find the right powder/bullet combination that will be most accurate in that rifle. Although the Stevens rifle is made by Savage and I like Savage it does not have the Accutrigger. That's too bad because it's a great trigger. I think you would have been better served with a Savage rifle.

    BTW, my most accurate .223 bolt action ammo is made with 25.0gr Varget under a 55gr bullet. (Sierra #1390)
  15. raddiver

    raddiver Well-Known Member

    I am using a chargemaster 1500.

    I dont have a chrono, but its on my wish list.

    And i guess ill be picking up some different bullets.

    And here is where some more confusion comes in for me.
    With a 1:9 i thought i wanted a heavier grain and say something like 1:12 i wanted a smaller grain, or do i have this backwards?
  16. scythefwd

    scythefwd Well-Known Member

    RAD - that's correct. What size are those groups? 1.5 inches?
  17. raddiver

    raddiver Well-Known Member

    ~2.25. aside from the 2 at the top #4 and the 2 at the right #5 which should be disregarded, the 11 in the center were shot during two range is hot sessions.

    Besides it being in less than ideal conditions wind wise, its becoming more and more apparent this is shooter error more so than it is the load. I've gotten some great advice that will keep me busy for months to come.

    Im assuming ill want to try 60-69 grains for my 1:9
    maybe these?
  18. Scott_R

    Scott_R Well-Known Member

    69 gr SMK is an excellent choice, IMO.


    I'm sorry, I read something that wasn't there. Those bullets (65 gr SGK) are also probably great, but I haven't seen any for a LONG time. Good luck finding them.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  19. raddiver

    raddiver Well-Known Member

    Ok ill try the 69's thanks again.
    I get the feeling im racking up forum debt i wont be able to repay anytime soon. :)
  20. coloradokevin

    coloradokevin Well-Known Member

    Not to state the obvious here, but you might consider having a skilled/experienced shooter fire a couple of groups for you. Doing so would remove one significant variable, since you described yourself as a new shooter with a first gun. Then, with that data you could determine if you need work, the ammo needs work, or if both need work. In other words, if you don't know exactly what you and/or your gun are capable of, you won't know if the ammo is performing well or not.

    And, while others will very likely argue this point with me, I wouldn't consider bipod shooting to be unstable in the least... a bipod with a rear bag (or "sand sock") can be one of the most stable shooting platforms in my opinion, and I've shot my best groups from exactly that kind of setup.

    Another option for comparing ammo would be to buy a couple brands of factory loaded match ammunition, and shoot them to compare accuracy with your handloads.

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