Load Consolidation

DMW1116

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Oct 10, 2020
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With the component issues of the last couple years I have compiled a large variety of test powders and components and feel the need to reduce them down to a couple of loads per caliber. I’d like a cheap practice load and a higher performance load in each of the calibers I reload. Is this a wise goal or has every reloader tried the same thing and then added back variety later?

Examples
308 Winchester
175 grain SMK/IMR 4064
150 grain FMJ/SW AR Plus

30-30
135 grain Acme/W231
160 grain FTX/LEVERevolution

357 Magnum
158 grain XTP/Alliant 2400
125 grain Gallant/W231
 
It's hard to do these days especially with powder. Been working up 308 loads and IMR 4064 was working out nicely. Now I can't find it and haven't been able to for some time. So now am researching a suitable replacement. With the cost of the powder, shipping, and hazmat these days I need to chose wisely.
 
My 250 savage only gets a 100gr ballistic tip and 35.5gr of ramshot big game.
My 300wm gets a 180 nosler etip and 70something grains of 4831sc.
My 308 is getting a 165gr accubond over varget for hunting, and a 150gr fmj over MP540 for clanging steel.
My 223 is a bit more varied. It depend on the rifle, the intended use ( hunting/targets), the game being hunted.
So yes, I am trying to consolidate and simplify my reloading.

Long story short with pistol it's the same. A target loading and a SD or hunting load. Done.
 
I’d like a cheap practice load and a higher performance load in each of the calibers I reload.
I think you are on the right track. At first it is wise to test a variety of components as each will vary on how your firearm will shoot, regardless of caliber. You can have two exact firearms and one might shoot better with the load used even though it is the same load. Reload and test a variety for each of your firearms and keep a log of what components it shot best with and than just buy and use those components for each of your firearms.

About the only thing I might disagree with is having a cheap practice load and a higher performance load. I am of the belief that what you hunt with or practice with should be one and the same, simply because the two different loads will shoot different and when one practices it is all about bullet placement, muscle reflex, and muscle memory. Fluidity in shooting is lost with 2 different loads because bullet impact will be different as well as recoil with 2 different loads. Just my 2¢.
 
Don’t do what I do.
I just keep buying the stuff.
Powder, I mean.
Yes, I experiment and test and come up with dozens of perfectly good, nearly identical (in performance) loads, and some aren’t very good so I ditch those ideas and have new ideas, then just keep buying more and not using the stuff up…
So now I have a couple dozen different oddball powders for shotgun, rifle and pistol.
 
I reload my 9mm/45acp SD ammo and have worked up range loads with less expensive components with the same point of impact and accuracy for practice. That took some time and $$ but it worked out. As far as rifle goes I don't scrimp on components
Don’t do what I do.
I just keep buying the stuff.
Powder, I mean.
Yes, I experiment and test and come up with dozens of perfectly good, nearly identical (in performance) loads, and some aren’t very good so I ditch those ideas and have new ideas, then just keep buying more and not using the stuff up…
So now I have a couple dozen different oddball powders for shotgun, rifle and pistol.
Been there.
 
I seem to always try to reduce the number of powders I use. It never seems to work.

Powders that I do not like, I use them up. Usually, the loads are not THAT bad are just not as good as I’d like. But, I always need some plinking loads.

Anyway, I always seem to work things out with minimal expense.
 
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absolutely. time contraints say narrow it down to the bare repeatable minimum or I'll never have time to do any.
 
So yeah, a good while back I sorta inventoried what was in the safe. Then I did a pretty extensive run through of the typical best preforming weights per caliber, like 150 and 165 in .308 and so on. After that I pulled all of the data I had on hand and went through the loads looking for pressures and velocities, as well as scouring gun rags and the net for pet loads and such for accuracy.

I basically boiled it down to IMR3031, H4895, H4350, and H4831 for long arms and handguns was Bullseye, Unique, and Accurate 5,7,9.

Even then it seemed more than what I had envisioned, but they all fill a niche. I don't do any formal target shooting just practice and hunting loads, but I have a variety of calibers from .223 to 45-70 and from .380 to 454. Most every one of them has a dedicated jacketed bullet load that I use, that is very accurate and usually on the top end of the data.

That said, since I really got into casting my own about half of what I have has changed some. Toss in my now 22yr old grandsons, who is reinventing the wheel and a few other things, and we're back to having added bottles of this and that sitting on the shelf that we usually end up swapping off to friends and relatives.
 
It's hard to do these days especially with powder. Been working up 308 loads and IMR 4064 was working out nicely. Now I can't find it and haven't been able to for some time. So now am researching a suitable replacement. With the cost of the powder, shipping, and hazmat these days I need to chose wisely.
That’s where I am. IMR 4064 shoots great in both my 223 and 308. However, price and availability have forced me to seek alternatives. I don’t do anything serious enough with those loads to justify the price.

I’m fortunate that my practice and carry loads shoot to the same point of aim in my 9mms, though I should probably do some sort of formal qualification of that statement.

My 357 defiantly shoots different with all the different loads. Availability is somewhat of an issue there as well. My two favorite target bullets have been out of stock for a while.
 
Like we say at work; "Perfection is the enemy of good enough".

Once I got it in my head that no animal could tell the difference in 40-50 FPS, the ballistic app would tell me the exact difference in MPBR and that the round had enough impact velocity to expand, things got a lot simpler.

So, while I'd love to get my hands on some H1000 for my 300WM, H4831C is "good enough" and also works in my .270Win, .260Rem and 6mmSLR.

I do have practice bullets and hunting or SD bullets, just to do some cost savings. Launching $1.00+ bullets at steel plates just doesn't make a lot of sense.

Back when I was competing in LR and silhouette I quickly learned that my time and resources (primer, powder & bullets) were better spent practicing in conditions, from match positions, than chasing a 1/4 MOA improvement. I've never missed a target, nor lost an animal due to a so-so load.
 
I recall a short lived program of four packs of 4 oz samplers of powders in the same range. That way you might only have three little cans with 3 ounces each after you had picked the other for your preferred load.
I’ve sort of been one of those folks who feels like I have to get to know a powder (or bullet, primer, rifle, etc) before I decide whether or not to like it so I buy three one-pounders of anything new to me. One pound I burn up just trying to figure out its personality. The second goes to finding sweet spots in various chamberings. The third is for fine tuning loads. All of these are purpose built loads though. I always start with, “What do I want to put a hole in?” and work backwards from there.
But, that’s also how I end up with lots of odds and ends and pounds of powder, boxes of bullets, and cartons of primers hanging around in closets.
Don’t do what I do.
 
If I had 2 firearms at most per cartridge then I could consolidate both powder and bullets. Having 5 different 26cal cartridges with 15 or 16 varying barrel action combos keeps all of it high. No need to start consolidating now, we'll until I have better data.
 
Biggest problem with standardizing a load is components, at least in this market where the shelves might be full one day, and not the next. One of my best load workups, for example, is with the Speer 230grn GoldDot ShortBarrel component bullet... good luck finding that, now. Last time I went shopping for the 168grn SMK I couldn't find any on the shelf, either. I understand that supply issues are getting better as we speak, but that is not to say something won't happen as soon as tomorrow... and cause another run on components, or a diversion in production to something else.

My general reloading ethos is to find a load that provides reasonable accuracy (and other performance parameters, like velocity...) for a specific firearm. Once I work that up, and I'm satisfied, I pop a brew and call it a day. I've been loading my 6.5grn Unique under any 230grn .45ACP bullet for 30+ years, for example. 8.5grn Unique under a 215grn cast .41MAG SWC is another.

My last fit of 'exploration' was trying to find a 'new' powder that would work well with both the 124grn 9mm, and the 200grn .45ACP... thinking maybe I was missing something by using that old fashioned Flaming Dirt (Unique,) so I picked up 4 of the new powders. Someone mentioned 'a waste of components,' and that's exactly what that turned out to be. I circled right back around to Unique... and now I have 4#+ of orphan powders I have to do something with. Yes, I'll burn them up, but this was a lesson on 'if it's not broke, don't fix it.'

I have 2 rifles I'm working with now that I'm actually trying to find the most accurate handload for... my AR-15 DMR build, and my Savage 10 in .308... because those are the only 2 rifles I have that are worthy of such exploration. I've tried a few different bullets, and a few different powders (mostly what I already have on hand.) I expect to find something reasonable without much effort. I suppose I could go out and buy 10 different powders, and burn up a 500 count box of SMK's looking for that last 1/4" of group size... but that's tedious and time consuming. In the meantime, I'm paring down my powder stash... which currently has about 10 standard powders, and reduce that down to about 6 powders... 4 rifle and 2 pistol.

I know there are some of you out there that relish the idea of working every approach to a load... and that's great. I wish I had that kind of time and facility to do that... but I live in Realville, and I don't. Sometimes simplicity is it's own reward.
 
Ive tried to consolidate, and in some cases it worked, some cases not to so much. Ive had more luck on the bullet side, than the powder side.

I break my powders down in 3 groups

Ball blaster ammo powders which can and will change on availability:
AA2230
TAC
AA2520
Staball Match
CFE 223
I spend alot of time messing about here because these can and will change on availability because I use alot of it

Specific load powders for lower volume AR and bolt gun use:
8208 XBR
H4895
Varget
H4350
N555
7828 SSC
Retumbo
All proven performers for specific loadings, but I only use them for low volume AR or bolt guns

Pistol powders:
Titegroup
N320
CFE Pistol
W296
Im less demanding here, these work in the pistol stuff I load.

As far bullets go, I have alot, but Im slowly paring back to 2-4 per cartridge, usually a cheap bullet for fun, and an expensive bullet for targets that matter or hunting. Some calibers (30 and 224 in my case) I try alot of cheap bullets as Im just looking for projectiles for blaster ammo in my ARs and Im happy with 1.5 MOA groups.

223:
(AR15)
55 Hornady SPs
62 Hornady FMJBTs
69 RMRs
77 SMKs

308:
(AR10)
150 Hornady SPs and FMJBTs
168 Hornady BTHPs
(Bolt)
175 SMKs
185 Bergers
200 Bergers

300 BO:
125 Speer TNTs
125 Hornady SSTs
150 Hornady FMJBTs

257 Weatherby Mag:
117 Hornady round nose

6 Grendel:
70 Speer Varmint
95 SMKs
108 ELD-Ms

6 CM:
105 Bergers
109 Bergers
107 SMKs

300 PRC:
200 Bergers
220 SMKs
220 Bergers

After making a list Ive decided I have plenty of crap
I think reloaders largely have a hoarding problem :)

I do have a bunch of odds and ends rifle bullets, 30 here, 50 there, and what I used to do with them is load them up with a middle of the road charge with a powder I care less about and shoot them for foulers or blaster ammo. But with needing to watch my primer usage more and more, Im tending to let these bullets languish in a big box on the bottom shelf.

Pistol is alot more cut and dried for me. I shoot mostly Acme Hitek coated or RMR, with a sprinkling of XTPs in there for 9 and 45. I dont have any leftovers on these as my loads are established and I tend to load in batches of a 1000 per caliber. And the real upside of pistol on powder is you get a ton of rounds per pound, and pistol powder is fairly easy to get still, even if the price is a wee bit high.

9:
147 Acme
147 XTP
124 RMR

45
185 Acme
230 Acme
185 XTP
 
IMR 4064 shoots great in both my 223 and 308. However, price and availability have forced me to seek alternatives.

Same here. I think the key is using same-same.

Varget, IMR-4064 and Viht N-135 are all medium burn single base stick powders and load within a grain each for most cartridges. Two of the three are extreme powders. Two of the three are available now. Most importantly, all three come from separate countries, key for the world today. Australia, Canada, Finland.

A year ago, when I ran low of Varget, only N-135 was available and it was an easy transition because same-same.

I like TAC, BLC2, CFE223, LT-32, etc but they are now out of the running - not single base extruded.

Similar situation for magnum cartridges using slow burn Retumbo, IMR-7977 or N-170. Single base, extreme, three separate countries.
 
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I like TAC, BLC2, CFE223, LT-32, etc but they are now out of the running - not single base extruded.

What is magic about single-base? ...and/or extruded.


Carrying my previous comments further, and after smiling at Kaldor's post...

After making a list Ive decided I have plenty of crap
I think reloaders largely have a hoarding problem


In .308, which I load a lot of, I've found, out of 3 different .308 rifles, I have 3 completely different .308 cartridge workups, depending on the rifle, and 3 different powders.

For the (5.56mm) AR's... I'd be happy with an 8#er of TAC, and a box of 62grn BTHP or FMJ bullets.

I was updating my inventory list this morning... I have no less than 9 different .30 bullets on the shelf at the moment, 3 different .22's, and... really? ...6 different .41MAG bullets?!?! The .41's are an issue... some of those bullets are not made any longer, the wonderful Remington 210grn JSP for one, and I'm reluctant to load them up to just shoot them into paper... so I HOARD them... for no good reason. I even have a partial box of .41 GoldDots... that's I'm saving for no particular reason. *sigh*
 
In .308, which I load a lot of, I've found, out of 3 different .308 rifles, I have 3 completely different .308 cartridge workups, depending on the rifle, and 3 different powders.

For the (5.56mm) AR's... I'd be happy with an 8#er of TAC, and a box of 62grn BTHP or FMJ bullets.

I was updating my inventory list this morning... I have no less than 9 different .30 bullets on the shelf at the moment, 3 different .22's, and... really? ...6 different .41MAG bullets?!?! The .41's are an issue... some of those bullets are not made any longer, the wonderful Remington 210grn JSP for one, and I'm reluctant to load them up to just shoot them into paper... so I HOARD them... for no good reason. I even have a partial box of .41 GoldDots... that's I'm saving for no particular reason. *sigh*

I shoot a fair bit of 223 at 600 yards for fun, so FMJs dont quite cut it there but the 69s and 77s certainly do though. The 55s are good for putting critters down, and the 62s are cheap for shooting steel closer in.

I only have 2 308s, AR10 and bolt. The bolt gun will shoot the AR10 loads, but the AR10 wont shoot the bolt gun loads due to being too long for a mag. I have shot up alot of odds and ends 30 cal bullets in my 300 BO though, so they make good steel blasters.
I have a ton of 223 & 308 bullets that Ive tested back when things were cheaper, and some have been deemed as not successful, so I have them in a big box on the bottom shelf.

I just got tired of chasing different things and started to settle on common components that are known to work well like Varget and 308, 6 CM and H4350, 300 PRC and Retumbo. I really got tired of trying to reinvent the wheel.
 
Consolidation huh? I think after all these years, I may have actually achieved this mystery of ours.
30-06- 180gr Hornady or Nosler Partition and H4350 powder.
30-30- 150gr Hornady FN and Win 748.
.38 spl- 158gr coated rnfp and Unique.
.357 mag-180gr coated rnfp and 2400.
.45 auto-200-230gr coated rnfp/rn and Universal, Unique, Red Dot or BE-86. I know, not much consolidation there!:thumbdown:
.45 Colt-200gr/250gr coated rnfp and Unique powder.
Pretty much this is what I load. Heading to the shop to finish up some .38 spl in a few.
 
What is magic about single-base? ...and/or extruded.

Single base extruded powders are inherently more accurate because of lower velocity spreads, more stable, and store longer. Inherent because the powder stabilizers are a lot simpler.
 
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