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257 Weatherby Mag guidance needed

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Kaldor, May 1, 2018.

  1. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Looks like Im going to pick up a project for a friend of mine. His rifle is a beautiful custom that was built by a local gunsmith, that normally with factory ammo is 3 shots on a dime. Gun has probably 500 rounds thru it in its lifetime. However, factory ammo is hard to find, and runs about $3.25 a shot when you can find it. A mutual friend of ours offered to do some reloading for him, but just hasnt had the time to finish up the project properly.

    This is where I step in. So far the results I have seen are less than great. A couple weeks ago, he had me test fire the reloads, and it was a poor showing. Is in, I cant hit a 8" steel plate at 200 yards with a rifle that normally shoots 1/2" groups at 100.

    This is what he has for components:
    Sierra 100gr GameKings - good bullet, very close to the factory ammo he shoots
    IMR 7828 powder
    CCI 450 primers
    250ish cases - once fired (Lapua loads Weatherby's ammo IIRC, so good brass)

    He has 8# of the 7828 on hand, so he kind of married himself to it. Same with the 1000 CCI 450's. Bullets we can be a little more flexible, but the factory ammo runs a 100gr SP, so no reason to mess with a good thing. Ive tried to get to try some Nosler Partitions as this gun is smoking fast, and a tougher bullet might be a better choice, but he is kind of set in his ways.

    Are the above components a good combo?

    My thoughts are to bump the shoulder 10 or 15 thou to start with to headspace the case on the shoulder instead of the belt. Ive done some looking around, and this seems to help with case life. Ive also heard that belted mags can have issues if you size them too many times, they get a ring around case, right above the belt. Generally requires a collet die from some place like Innovative Technologies to fix this so Id like to avoid this if possible. I understand that these cases may only stand up to 3 or 4 firings before they are scrap. Good plan?

    With that 100gr bullet, Hodgdon lists at 73gr for max charge. I figured dropping back to 68gr to start, jump .5 gr, run a ladder with 3 shot groups. So 68, 68.5, 69, 69.5, 70, 70.5, 71, 71.5, 72, 72.5, 73. Does that sounds feasible, or should I take bigger jumps on powder as the case capacity is so high? My general rule is round 1% of case capacity per jump, which would be roughly .7gr jumps to get the ladder done quick, then come back pick the best group, and fine tune with a little +/- of say .3gr. Once again, sounds good?

    Lastly, and this is something I need some help on. What should we be running for OAL? Book calls for 3.200", which is probably what the factory ammo runs. This is a legit Weatherby barrel, so it does have the huge amount of freebore like most Weatherby magnums have. However, the previous guy seated the bullets out super long in an attempt to sit like 20 thou off the lands. This can and did cause some pressure issues I seen in early test loads. So Im inclined to try factory OAL as this is what the gun seems to like best. However I see alot of guys talking about running them long into the freebore and having success. What are you gentlemens thoughts on this?

    The rest will be pretty much the norm for me. Decap, tumble in SSTL media, inspect before I start anything. Then size, trim, deburr, load.

    Thanks for the help
     
  2. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Just got done chatting with my buddy. I got the bullets wrong. He purchased 117gr Hornady Interlocks. Changes the starting point and max load obviously, but Ill still approach it the same way.
     
  3. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    I would jump the 1% steps to save on bullets. Once you find a node then fill in the gaps. I have always started with bullet mfg recommended OAL. Some bullets are not jump sensitive. As to sizing I always set belted cases the same as non. So just set the shoulder back 0.001"-0.002" as you would any bolt action.
     
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  4. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    I would look for a tougher bullet. When you crank a 100 gr pill over 3500 FPS you need something that will stay together. 7828 may be a little too slow for 100 gr. My favorite load was IMR-4350 and CCI250 under a 110 gr Accubond. I recovered one bullet that split a shoulder blade, broke 4 ribs, traversed the paunch and stopped at the pelvis. It weighed 67gr. This was at a range of about 35 yards. If a bullet was going to go to pieces it would have done it at that range. Took another buck at 110yards. It looked like he collapsed straight down. Didn't even kick.
     
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  5. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Last edited: May 1, 2018
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  6. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    My fault, 250s are magnum large rifle :)
    That's what he has
     
  7. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Some good info here guys, thanks.

    Belted magnums are all new to me, especially with the Weatherby with the rounded shoulder.
     
  8. CptnAwesome

    CptnAwesome Member

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    I'm thinking he meant 250
     
  9. CptnAwesome

    CptnAwesome Member

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    Kaldor I have a Weatherby Vanguard in 257Wby Mag that I reload for.

    Your gameplan sounds good to me. I tried RL-25 and H4831 to start with but wasn't happy with the groups so I switched to IMR7828 and that did the trick. I can get sub MOA all day with my best group of .32" at 100yds. But they're usually around .5"-.8"

    I use RCBS FL sizing die and just barely bump the shoulders like you said

    That rifle just may not like the Hornady Interlocks, I'd suggest trying a different bullet next time out just to see. Sierra's shoot best for me but like you said a stouter bullet be best for hunting.

    I shoot 117gr Sierra Gamekings and 110gr Accubonds with the Gamekings shooting better out of my rifle. (I'd suggest giving them a try, Sierra's shoot good in every rifle I own) CCI 250 primers and my OAL is 3.25. I'll withhold my powder charge but let's just say it's on the high end.

    If the rifle you're loading for has an actual Weatherby barrel I say don't bother trying to get to 20 thou from the lands. I'd say 3.20 is a good starting point but better accuracy might come if you start to creep out longer.

    If I'm not mistaken Norma not Lapua loads Weatherby ammo but still good brass. I've gotten 5 or 6 loads from mine.

    Just curious, what kind of dies are you using?
     
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  10. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Thanks for the info.

    I think he has about 50 of the Hornady 117's bullets left. I think the bullets will work, as in hold together when they hit an animal, but retention might be a little bit low, which is going to ruin alot of meat. Probably good enough for deer though, but Id hate to sacrifice a front quarter. Interlocks are tough, but not 3300 FPS tough. If I can can get the accuracy to a 1/2 inch at 100 Ill call it a win. Depends on the guns owner, Ill have to talk to him. He also talked to me about ELD-X's, which are great in my 308, but the wrong bullet for this application.

    I think the Partitions are the way to go, and Im going to try and steer him that direction. Probably go with 115s or maybe 120s. Most of his shots are 200 max, so we are talking 3000ish at 200 yards yet, so crazy expansion. Shooting a little bit slower in that rifle will help preserve the barrel a little longer providing we can get the accuracy. Probably a max 1500 round barrel, and Id hate to see him shoot it out. Would be a dirty shame.

    I figured start at 3.20 and see where it gets me. Finalize some kind of a charge weight, then play with OAL out to a max of maybe 3.30"

    Dies are Lee. Should work well enough, but not my favorite. Not my rifle or dies though. I prefer Hornady other than a few specialty dies like M-die, FCD, etc.

    And youre correct, Norma does the factory loads. :)

    Edit: Did you see your accuracy node in the upper or more middle of the load range? Ive always found that my accuracy nodes for rifle hover right around 90-95% case fill, so definitely in the upper half.
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2018
  11. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Ive wondered that same thing actually. The reloads I shot that were terrible accuracy just were not hot enough to seal the chamber and they were really dirty. I need to find out what charge weight he was at, so I can make that determination. If I was a betting man, Id say he was below 68gr of powder, which was causing some issues as well. Ive shot that gun with factory loads, and the recoil wasnt even close. And yep, I have 250's, so large rifle mag primers.
     
  12. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    I agree, probably a .7gr jump. Will save alot of time too. Rifle has a very light barrel, so after 3 shots, its 5 minutes to cool. Makes load testing a PITA.
     
  13. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Sounds typical of what my buddy has seen from his with 117gr factory loads. Boom, DRT. He has shot a couple of big bucks, I think one that was over 300#, with that rifle. Another vote for a tougher bullet. Im seeing a pattern.
     
  14. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    LwIpsoP.jpg
    Here is a pic of the rifle. Such nice wood, and the local smith that did the work is really old school, did a hell of a nice job. And its wrong handed :rofl:
     
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  15. Captcurt

    Captcurt Member

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    Gorgeous work. Too bad he was dyslexic.
     
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  16. Grumulkin

    Grumulkin Member

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    h29zo67.jpg
     
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  17. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    I know, and Im right handed, not wrong handed. Many jokes have ensued at his expense for being wrong all the time.
     
  18. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Gonna dig this one up as I am finally getting this project off the ground.

    Picked up all the powder, primers, brass and dies a couple weeks. Settled on Nosler Partition 120gr. Powder is IMR 7828 SSC. Primers are CCI 250s. I was misinformed, the dies are RCBS.
    Ran thru last night and pulled the loaded rounds that had issues. Powder looked fine, so it went back in the jug. The 40 live primers were punched out and trashed. Cases will get tumbled tonite.

    Is it common for the case shoulder to look slightly squashed when you bump the shoulder back? I was told that the shoulders were bumped 5 thou, but the case certainly doesnt have the nice round radius the factory brass does.
     
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  19. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Ran thru the sizing and trimming last night. Took some measurements to the shoulder before I set my dies.

    Once Fired 2.125
    Factory 2.105

    I wanted to bump the shoulder 10 thou, but the die and shell holder combo wasnt having it. I was able to hit 7 thou, but I really had to crank down on the sizing die more than I wanted, so I settled on a good consistent 5 thou. Tested the resized case in the rifle and the bolt closed like butter, so we will run it.

    Target 2.115
    Actual 2.120 (die bottomed out on shell holder to cam over)

    Now I just need to tumble the cases this weekend, run some test loads up, and go test fire next weekend.
     
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  20. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    OK gents, running into some issues and need some help trouble shooting what the problem might be. I loaded one complete round and then tested it for feed and if the bolt will close on it easily. It failed on both parts.

    The COAL on the completed round for my reloads was 3.200" and I was having issues with the Nosler 120s not wanting to feed. Feed ramps in the rifle look fine, nothing for them to catch on. The bullet point on the Nosler 120 gets absolutely smashed as you try and close the bolt. The guy who did some work up for this rifle before me actually had his COAL out at 3.300" and the Hornady 117s have no issues feeding. At this point I rolled up a dummy round, and tested the 120 at 3.300" which did not seem to solve the issue. Still does not feed easily. I actually have no idea what could be the issue. My plan is take my dummy round, and start trying different seating depths and COALs to see if I can hit on the right COAL to get it to feed correctly. I do have a box of factory ammo so I will check the COAL on that as well, but those are actually a round nose bullet, not a spitzer, so not sure how useful that data will be.

    Even though it wasnt feeding correctly, I did want to see if the round would chamber. It would not. When I resized this brass, I gave the brass about a 5 thou shoulder bump because that is what I could consistently get without really pushing on the press handle on cam over. When I say pushing, Im talking about a moderate level of force, not trying to resize 7.62x51 MG brass levels of force. When I resized the brass, I tested it against the rifle to see if it would easily drop into the chamber, and it does, like butter. However a loaded round drops into the chamber, but I cannot close the round on it without significant effort to close the bolt. My trim length is right at 2.540" so that cant be the issue. Shoulder bumped 5 thou, and brass chambers easily. Im kind of stumped.

    So, Ill roll up a couple of test rounds tonite, and mark them up with a Sharpie to see if I can figure out what the issue might be.

    Ill get the specific numbers up tonight for shoulder bump, trim, etc and some pictures, but I had to walk away from it last night and take a break as what I was seeing just isnt making sense.
     
  21. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    If your crimping stop for the time being. Let that be the last thing you do once every thing else is right.

    If a freshly sized case it dropping in and out freely then it has to be the OAL or your buckling the neck/shoulder area if crimping. If you have a way to check your bullet contact to lands you need to do this first. Every bullet weight and shape has a different profile. Which means it will contact at different spot every time you change bullet/wt/mfg.....

    If you have the Hornady head space gauge with the comparator you can find out what you max is going to be. If setup a old piece of brass if you have any to just barely hold the bullet, then push it in by hand then try to remove without disturbing where the bullet ended up at. I've taken brass over the rears and split the necks so the bullet would slip easily so I could measure what my Max OAL was going to be.
     
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  22. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    No crimps on this ammo. I dont really feel a bolt rifle ever needs it.

    The more I think about the more I tend to think the same thing you are that something between the sized case to the case with the bullet in it is causing issues. I wonder if the neck tension as I seat the bullet is causing enough distortion in the shoulder to actually buckle the shoulder slightly as I seat the bullet? Could also be causing the feed issue as well if the case is distorted. I do have a head space gauge but this is a legit Weatherby barrel, so I could chase down that free bore forever and not hit the lands with a bullet. I did do a quick test last night with a 120 Nosler bullet at 3.300" COAL covered in Sharpie marker, and did not hit the lands. I plan on making up a few dummies tonight and seeing what I find out, but I will cover the entire case so I can see what the contact pattern is.
     
  23. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    OK, solved the problem.

    Long story short, the RCBS seating die that I previously thought was not a taper crimp die, was. That was messing up the shoulder as it over crimped. Backed the die out about and 1/8" from the shell holder, seated a new bullet in my dummy case, and it had no issues. It solved both the chambering and seating problem. Needless to say, Im used to Hornady rifle dies that do not have a taper crimp unless you buy them that way. Even still, totally my fault, and I put 2 and 2 together after I talked with a buddy, and we talked it over and he threw out some ideas. In short I should have RTMFM!

    A couple pics
    i7jHlgy.jpg
    From left to right : once fired, sized, dummy, factory, and another reload. The only one that had issues was the dummy. Everything else chambered, even the once fired. Do you like my dykem in a marker? I figured the Magnum 44 is worth a laugh at least :)

    gI4Bg8V.jpg
    You can see the shoulder hitting the chamber wall here where I marked it up.

    Now some case measurement number for nerds:

    Before I hit on the fact that the crimper was screwing me. Shoulders measured with Hornady 375 comparator

    Once Fired:
    OAL: 2.542
    Shoulder: 2.120
    Shoulder (across): .495

    Sized:
    OAL: 2.540
    Shoulder: 2.115
    Shoulder (across): .491

    Dummy
    COAL: 3.300 (wanted to see if this long COAL would hit rifling, it did not)
    Shoulder: 2.108
    Shoulder (across): .496

    Factory
    COAL: 3.043 (shorty round nose bullet)
    Shoulder: 2.102
    Shoulder (across): .488

    Overall, lesson learned!
     
  24. CptnAwesome

    CptnAwesome Member

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    Yeah the shoulder is a lil too far back from the looks of it. I did the same and actually collapsed the case on one. I'm using RCBS dies too. Their dies will "roll crimp" at a certain setting.

    So what caused the bullet deformation? Or was that it?
     
  25. Kaldor

    Kaldor Member

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    Case shoulder deformation was caused by the taper crimp being set to low. Turned the die up about 1/8" from the shell holder so it cant crimp and it solved all the problems. Like I said, I should have RTMFM
     
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