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7.62x54R Handloads - Range Report 3/1/2019

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by MrSpiffy, Mar 2, 2019.

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  1. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    Got out and hit the range today to test my first reloads for my Soviet Mosin-Nagant M91/30. I started with only Varget powder. I don't have enough brass to work multiple powders at once. That's fine, I'm sure my shoulder is okay with it, too. I'm still fairly new to reloading, so hopefully my analysis of these targets is okay.

    Ammo specs include: Sierra 150gr Pro-Hunter SP bullets, PPU once-fired brass (FL resized, trimmed, flash hole uniforming, primer pockets cleaned/reamed/deburred), CCI 200 Large Rifle primers, Varget powder.

    I'm using the original iron sights on my M91/30, which aren't great. (I'll replace with peep sights, eventually.) It shoots high by a fair margin, so I aimed at the very bottom-center of the target and it at least got me in the general ballpark of the bullseye. First rounds were a cold barrel, but I didn't wait for the barrel to cool down before proceeding. I don't have that much time. I figured the 5 rounds in each powder increment would at least group somewhat closely. I went by the Lyman's 49th edition handbook, starting at 43.0gr of Varget, and ramping up to 48.0gr in 0.5gr increments.

    All brass looked good after firing. No pierced primers or indications of over-pressure conditions.

    Here were the best groups, followed by some interesting notes:

    45.5gr Varget, approx. 3.55MOA:
    46530160304_f1149deab9_o.jpg

    46.5gr Varget, approx. 2.77MOA: (Note I threw out one shot... explanation forthcoming.)
    32311623307_da368f9501_o.jpg

    47.0gr Varget:
    46530160214_5b8ffddd8e_o.jpg

    My best grouping was the 46.5gr load, with an interesting caveat. I threw out the one round from my group size because I noticed something occurring over the course of the session. In between 5-round groups, I would retrieve the target, mark it up, make a new target sheet and send it out on the range. This allowed the barrel to cool a little bit, usually causing the first shot to change point-of-aim. (Often, much closer to the bullseye, funny enough.) Notice in these following targets I experienced the same phenomenon. The first round of each group was the one closest to the bullseye.

    44.0gr Varget:
    32311623437_86cd2596a6_o.jpg

    43.0gr Varget:
    46530160414_72dd279a76_o.jpg

    Sometimes it wasn't as noticeable as in these examples, but the cool-down period usually affected the first round a bit. In any case, I found this interesting. Is this common? Can I change anything to minimize this?

    Since my best grouping was the 46.5gr load, and my shots tended to group fairly well near the bullseye on the 47.0gr load, I plan to work up some more reloads between these numbers. I may also add 0.1gr increments just outside of that range, as well (46.4, 46.3, and 47.1, 47.2, etc.). If nothing else, I get to shoot more rounds.

    I hope my analysis is good on this. If I made any mistakes or should be watching for anything else, I'm always open to suggestions and learning a better way to read my data.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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  2. ybuck44

    ybuck44 Member

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    This reminds me of when I first started with 308. You seem to be going in the right direction, but I think you should look for a accuracy node between 46.5 and 47 by using .1 grains. Keep at it, lots of fun range time ahead of you. Good luck
     
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  3. Heir Kommt Die Sonne

    Heir Kommt Die Sonne Member

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    You're far more techinical than me. I still use the Lee dippers to measure even though I've been at this for a few years. For me, if it feels right in the gun, isn't too dirty and it hits the target then it's good enough. Haven't really had a chance to seriously test the accuracy of my loads on paper.
    You're heading in the right direction. Just slowly increase the loads until you find a sweet spot.

    I know it's probably not necessary to recommend to you in your situation, but I'd highly recommend to bring a rod and a hammer to the range . Since you have a Mosin you already have a ramrod with you, but rarely you'll get a squid load anyway. It's only happened to me once with my rifle rounds, but what I think happened is too much oil accumulated in the primer. It was unexpected and with the loads I was using it shouldn't have happened. But it's always good to come prepared.
     
  4. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    I'd run .3 gr between 46.3 46.6 46.9 and 47.2, but otherwise I think you're on the right track. As for errant rounds, your receiver may need trued, and without watching you shoot, we can't rule you as a factor out either. Looks like you're havin fun though good luck with this project.
    P.s. that is a LARGE case and I've personally never noticed .1 making a practical difference in cases that size.
     
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  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    You already know the front sight is just wrong for 100 yards shooting. When you do out that peel sight in the rear change the front sight too. Here is a great replacement.
    http://smith-sights.com
    The adjustable base and one sight pin is only $39 and additional brass or red/green fiber optic front post replacements are only $6.
     
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  6. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    The Mosin Nagant is very peculiar about tang and "magazine" screw torque. Talking about the main screw in front of the mag well. Changing torque will change POI, and they have a tendancy to move on their own with repeated firing. I treat all of mine with REMOVABLE Loctite.

    You can get your POI down easily by replacing the front sight pin. A standard finishing nail is almost the perfect size to replace it with a taller pin. You can also file this into a sort of blade allowing a finer bead. I like to tack them into place with a dot of plumbing solder.

    There is one technique you can do in reloading to significantly improve accuracy potential in a rimmed cartridge. Move the headspace to the shoulder. Given the steep taper of the X54r round, this is easily done with FL dies by simply backing them off until (mostly) only the neck is sized. This assumes all ammo will be fired in the same rifle, brass sized in this manner may not work across different rifles.

    I've found Varget to be a little touchy in larger cases such as X54r and 7.5 Swiss. I do shoot a lot in cold weather, so that may be the difference, but I had the best luck with hotter Winchester primers with this powder. I prefer IMR 4064 for all things milsurp.

    Looks like you're on the right track with a couple of those loads.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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  7. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    I'm glad you've found a method that works well. My background is in engineering, so my brain would never allow me to use a dipper for measuring, both for safety and accuracy/testing reasons. Still being so green at this, I'm nervous about blowing up a gun. But a scoop is also just not very repeatable. It's probably fine for plinking, but not as good for precision and consistency.

    Funny you mention a hammer. I actually brought one with me. Not because of squib loads. But, because my front sight dovetail can get a little loose when it heats up. I tried to peen it before I went to the range, which tightened it a bit. But I brought the hammer in case that wasn't enough.

    I'm sure you're right, that 0.1gr increments are unnecessary. Especially for using iron sights. But hey... Why not? :)

    As for truing the action, it's probably not worth it in this rifle. It was a $99 gun when I got it. The gunsmith will cost a lot more than that.

    I'm sure my shooting technique could also be improved. I'm shooting from a bench with a front bag. No rear bag or rest.

    I had been looking at the Mojo sights, but thanks for the suggestion. Can't hurt to have another option!

    When replacing the front post, do you unscrew it? Pull it out with pliers? That's a pretty simple fix for shooting high. I may give that a try.

    I'll also check on the front tang screw and see if it's moving. A simple tightening and Loctite is easy. If do this, will I need to retest my loads? Tightening the screw may change harmonics a little by stiffening the action, won't it?

    As soon reducing cases, I sized them so the die only pushed the shoulder back 0.001" - 0.002". That's similar to what you're recommending, correct?

    For powders, I also plan to shoot with BL-C(2) and VV N140. So I'm far from done with my testing. :)
     
  8. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    To remove the front sight pin, you have to drive the dovetail out of the slot, then the pin pushes out the bottom. Sometimes they fall right out, sometimes will take a few taps with a brass hammer. Then test your nail for fit, you may have to do some light file work on the head to fit the recess on the bottom of the dovetail, and tack it in place with some solder. Make a witness mark if you don't already have one so you can recover the same windage without trial and error. I see your FS dovetail loosens up, a little extra solder on the bottom side should swage into place as you replace the dovetail and fix this issue.

    Adjusting the tang screws will change harmonics and possibly POI. I wouldn't obsess too much with load development. If you can get close to 2 moa with an iron sighted military rifle, you are doing fantastic, basically shooting to the limit of the sights in terms of precision.

    Yes, bumping the shoulder only .001 is basically a neck size only, so you're already doing that it sounds like. If you do try BL-C2, I'd recommend Winchester LR primers also, that stuff can be difficult to ignite consistently.

    Also, if you're looking for a lower recoil load, check out the 123 gr .310 Vmax. I've found them to be very accurate across several rifles and quite impressive on reactive targets. The Barnes RRLP frangible is extremely fun also, but those are a bit spendy.
    [​IMG]
    This was from a .311 bore Finn M39 with some severe Kentucky elevation. I had to hold near the top of the paper, probably accounting for the 3 low shots. It was also -9F and I was laying in a foot of snow, so my chattering teeth may have contributed to group dispersion LOL. This load ran around 2 MOA from a bench in more civilized conditions in that rifle, and was sub-MOA from my PSL SDMR. It tears coyotes a new one also, which was it's original intent.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
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  9. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    Thanks, @Random 8! My front sight is already a little loose, so I'll pull it out and check the sight post. Maybe I can still work on that this weekend. I have some nails around here somewhere, maybe one will fit. I'd love to have a pointed front sight post for better aiming, rather than the flat post. A file should work well there.

    Do you have any concerns about the solder flowing when the rifle gets hot from shooting? I'm guessing it doesn't get hot enough to melt the solder.

    I've shot BL-C(2) in my AR-15 with standard CCI small rifle primers. No issues with ignition. But, I hear ball powders and slow-burning powders sometimes benefit from magnum primers. I'll try the standard CCI 200's first. If I have issues, I may try the magnums.
     
  10. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    Did some quick reading on magnum primers for ball powders. I may snag a small number of magnum primers and do some side-by-side testing with a chronograph to compare results.
     
  11. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    I've found the standard Winchester primers to be hot enough for ball powders in .308 and similar sized cartridges. Think of them as a "light magnum" primer.
    You'd have to fire a whole lot of ammo really fast to melt standard plumbing solder, although I'm sure it could be done. I managed to lightly char the handguard on an M44 back in the days of $30 per can commie ammo.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  12. NoName47

    NoName47 Member

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    If you have the bayonet for the gun put it on when you shoot. Mine shoots 2ft the the right at 100 if it isnt on. Mosin were sighted in with the bayonets on
     
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I'm using BL-C(2) in the 303 British and I'm using CCI standard primers. I must admit, I have not tried magnum primers. If you try them and accuracy improves please post that, thank you.
     
  14. IMtheNRA

    IMtheNRA Member

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    Pretty good results, congratulations! I was wondering if you slugged the barrel on that rifle.
     
  15. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    Thanks! I did slug the barrel; it came out at 0.311".
     
  16. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    I picked up some of the Winchester standard large rifle primers, as @Random 8 mentioned above. I plan to test alongside the CCI 200 primers to see how they compare with BL-C(2).
     
  17. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    I've already drifted my front sight over to compensate for not having the bayonet. But I ran into this issue when I first bought the rifle. You just have to tap it over farther in the dovetail.
     
  18. farmerboy78

    farmerboy78 Member

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    so, the mosin has several different things that cause accuracy issues. the stock and handguard are typically touching the barrel, the russian version has a horrible trigger, the bore diameter, and the torque on the action screws. I have a finn 28/76 that I have put in a crook chassis. have cut the barrel to 24" and threaded it 5/8x24 for my suppressor. and I have put a timney trigger on it. my barrel has a .308 bore which eases realoading, but knowing your barrel diameter gives you some options. what does the primers on your 47gr charge look like? I dont think you have gone high enough as of yet. I personally run 50gr varget with a 168gr amax that's under 1/2moa. but, I definitely worked up my load from about 43gr as you should. also, the russian barrels can be finicky and not like the 150gr bullet because the rifling twist accomadates a much longer and heavier bullet. if I were you, I'd try the 180gr .311 sierra game king first. then maybe the 180 .312 rnsp hornady. I had several mosins that wouldn't do better than 2.5moa and the .312 reduced it down to 1moa using the same charge. which was 54gr imr 4350. hope some of this helps and keep shooting.
     

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  19. WelshShooter

    WelshShooter Member

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    Vihtavuori N140 is a very nice powder which will work well in your Mosina, comrade. I have a Finnish Mosin and I feed it N140 with a 185gr .30 cal Lapua Scenar bullet. 46.8gr was the sweet spot, the picture below shows a five shot group with 46.3gr and five shot group with 46.8gr. The two fliers in the white were from the 46.3gr charge, and three patches fell off (two on the left of the bullseye by the '9' and another just above the bullseye) which explains why there are 13 holes.

    Viht N140 also works well with the 155gr Scenar. The second picture shows a ten round group using 47.2gr of N140, with one flier on bottom of target from shooter in the next lane and another hole where a patch fell off.

    Even though your Mosina uses 311 diameter bullets I suspect you can load a 150gr or 180gr bullet using similar load data. Bear in mind that Vihtavuori's website assumes a 30cal bullet for all of its 7.62x53R / 7.62x54R load data but the published loads should be fine for a similar weight 311 diameter bullet.

    20190209_110020.jpg

    20180703_084817-815x832.jpg
     
  20. TxRoadDog

    TxRoadDog Member

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    Looks like you already found some pretty considerable results. While the 7.62x54r may be ballistically similar to a 308win, it's case capacity is a little higher. Similar length, but a lot fatter. I would suggest trying a slower burning powder like IMR4350, H4350, RL17. Something around there... might give you a little more case fill and a little more velocity without pressure. Just a thought.
     
  21. HEAVY METAL 1

    HEAVY METAL 1 Member

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    You can get some shrink tubing and put that on the front sight to have your POA and POI coincide. Remember a taller front sight will lower your POI. Set it up then trim it to get to the same POI/POA. There is quite a lot of information on accurizing a MN and trigger work that can be done at home. My 91/30 really likes the Hornady: https://www.grafs.com/retail/catalog/product/productId/21415. I use IMR 4064 and this rifle will shoot amazingly tight groups; as in MOA. I can already hear the BS alarms sounding, but it is true, this rifle is a hummer for sure.
     
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  22. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    I read into your first post that you are not fond of the recoil, so I stuck with 150 as you're using and lighter. I have loaded heavier in the MN and found either 4064 or IMR 4350 to be my friends up to 180 grain. I got especially good results with the 174 gr Graf/Horhady bthp .311 (special production for Graf and Sons, not a catalogue item) over IMR 4350. This is the load I shoot to 600yards in vintage sniper, and it will hold X ring if I hold the right wind and no weak links in the system rear their ugly head. The all purpose load for my camp rifle, a (poorly) sporterized carbine is the Hornady 174RN over IMR 4350. This bullet performs very well on large deer and tends towards fine accuracy, but the BC is quite low so the bottom will drop out of your trajectory around 200 yards.

    I do however, greatly prefer 150 and lighter in the MN for casual shooting or CMP to 200 yards. Especially with the lighter .310 bullets intended for the X39 round. 4064 or similar should work fine with these as well.
     
  23. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    I have to agree that a heavier bullet is probably a good idea here. These were the only .311 bullets I found at the time, so I went with them. But, going with a 180gr bullet is likely a better choice. I'll keep my eyes open for some next time I'm in the reloading section. (We have a Scheel's nearby, which has a good selection of reloading components. Love that place!)

    I'll also have to check on the stock to see if the barrel is floating properly. I've considered getting epoxy and bedding the barrel for better accuracy. I may still do that. I also want to eventually switch to Mojo sights. I did shim the trigger a little to help with trigger pull. It's smoother than it was. I may need to see if I can stone it to get a little more out of it before I invest in a new trigger. I can't drop much on this right now. I'm just happy to be reloading for it.

    While I'm not fond of the recoil using the standard steel butt plate, I have no issues with recoil when I use the slip-on recoil pad I have. It's a much easier shooter, and the length-of-pull is better. But shooting from a bench is always harder on the shoulder than standing or kneeling. I was surprised, though, that I wasn't really sore after putting 50 rounds through the gun from a bench. It's been a while since I've shot that rifle much.

    Thanks for the suggestions. As with the poster above, and you, I believe a heavier bullet is better-suited for this gun. I've used Hornady bullets and like them. I'll keep my eyes peeled for them over at Scheels.
     
  24. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Thanks for the bullet link... Exactly what I want to try in my Russian, Finn, British, and Japanese rifles. Curious if you have mic'd these?... If actually .312", Hallelujah.
     
  25. MrSpiffy

    MrSpiffy Member

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    Just to verify...

    I slugged my bore at 0.311". Using a 0.312" jacketed bullet is probably not advisable, correct? I know lead is fine in most cases, but the copper jackets may be too tight?
     
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