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Numbers when working up a load.

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by MEJ1990TM, Sep 29, 2019.

  1. MEJ1990TM

    MEJ1990TM Member

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    Just wondering how many rounds you guys load per powder weight when you are working up a load on a rifle. I usually just load a standard box of 20 and fire five round groups throughout a shooting session. Giving the rifle ample time to cool back down between firing.

    Was watching a video on YouTube from a very knowledgeable reloader (his name escapes me now) and he only does four. That’ll give you a three shot group, plus a flyer if you have one.

    Admittedly I’m getting into reloading again at the same time as shooting on a regular basis. So I’m not quite as confident in my shooting as I once was.

    How many loads do you guys load at a particular powder charge, and what increments do you vary each powder charge?

    I’m currently loading ‘06 for a Garand, and an ‘03A3, but will eventually get into the other calibers I’ve got.
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Kinda depends on the rifle and cartridge, if it's a barrel burner or a deer rifle I go with 3. If it's a target gun or has good barrel life is go with 5 rounds.
     
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  3. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    If you're still a little rusty a good lead sled can make a big difference in cutting out some of the guess work too.

    I wouldn't do more than 5 at a time per load. Maybe 10 if you know you're close and checking reliability in a semi-auto
     
  4. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Welcome to THR mej1990tm
     
  5. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    3 for loads that I think might have any pressure signs. 5-10 for the one I think is going to be right.
     
  6. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    I start with one of each to find absolute max. Then I go to 3 of each. When I want confident, I did 4 for the occasional pulled shot. When I start tweaking seating depth, I do 5. My final load test is 3 that are one tenth high, 3 that are on my load, and 3 that are one tenth low.
    These 9 go into one target and must be one inch or less to qualify as my hunting load.
    There is always a powder that will do this with a good rifle.
    Iron sights or milsurp get a much lower standard.
     
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  7. Bartojc

    Bartojc Member

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    Typically I start with 5, but I have done 4. For rifle I vary the charges based on size of the case. For example I might vary a .223 charge by .2 or .3 grains where as on 30-06 I might vary by .4 or .5. Larger the case volume the more I vary. When I get a charge I am happy with I sometimes vary length either more or less by .005 to see if that helps the groups. When I do this I mostly load 3 rounds but sometimes the 5. It all depends what I'm looking to do. If I am loading a hunting round I may load 10 of what I think is my final recipe and run them all to see how they doo across more shots. Sometimes it is the shooter, but groups will open the more rounds you run. COnsistancy is what you are looking for.

    -Jeff
     
  8. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    For quick screening I only use 3. When I find a area of interest I jump my count to 5 and more as I narrow down the field. I'm also running every thing across my crony too.
     
  9. Spring1898

    Spring1898 Member

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    Typically I load 4 rounds per charge weight. The number of weights changes depending on the range given for the particular powder. For most major LR calibers I use 0.5gr spread for simplicity and around 5-6 different charge weights for between 20-24 loaded cases.

    I fire 3 shots, the 4th is optional if I know I pull a shot, or results are inconclusive, or something else happens like dropping a round bullet down or jamming it coming out of the mag. (I may load an additional number for the first charge weight just to ensure I have enough shots to get on paper)

    After working through those results I will pick the most accurate load, repeat that load, and add additional loads at 0.2gr above and 0.2gr below to fine tune. This is for everyday target shooting or hunting loads.

    Some say shoot at least a 5 shot group. But it depends on what you are doing. When working up a load you are trying to limit all other factors except the change in powder weight. In my experience, going much much beyond 3 shots, towards 5 or more the barrel starts to heat up and becomes a dynamic factor in the outcome, particularly with lighter weight barrels.
    Afterwards if you want to learn more about the capability of the particular rifle, then increased shots per group allow for heat effect on barrel harmonics and operator fatigue

    Also if I am going to the range, I will bring 3 or 4 rifles needing loads (If I have that many) that way I can rotate through that many in one session while the barrels have time to cool between sets.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
  10. Skeptic13

    Skeptic13 Member

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    For my initial pass I usually do 5. The second pass once I have narrowed my charge weight down to a smaller range I will probably do 10 to give them a more complete testing.
     
  11. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I like to take as much of "me" out of the equation as possible, so I shoot a lot of my work up loads. For my revolvers, at least two cylinders full, for my hi-cap semi-autos min of ten rounds each from two magazines. For my rifles 10 rounds and my Garand 16 rounds. I get a better idea of what the ammo is doing and less of my marksmanship...

    But I like reloading so more is more fun...
     
  12. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Three shots are the current "Golden Standard" for accuracy because inprint Gunwriters use three shot groups. But, except for marketing, three shots are basically meaningless as a standard for accuracy.

    There is an excellent article at the end of the Oct 2014 Shooting Sports USA on group size and accuracy: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nra/ssusa_201410/ This foundational article was written by small bore prone competitors who wanted to shoot perfect scores. In small bore prone a Match is a 40 shot event of two twenty shot targets. The typical 1600 round Smallbore bore prone tournament is 160 rounds fired for record, divided up into four 40 round Matches. Therefore the referenced article assumes that a 40 round group is the baseline.

    This is a 20 shot group. Half of the 40 rounds for a "match".

    CDGP9Qe.jpg

    As anyone can see in table six, at least at 100 yards, a five shot group is 59% of the size of a 40 shot group, a 10 shot 74%, and a twenty shot 88%. A three shot group is below contempt, but three shot groups are the current standard for the shooting community because the leaders of the shooting community, that is in print Gunwriters, have convinced the shooting community that three shot groups are an exact measure of accuracy and consistency.

    What we should recognize is that Gunwriters are shills for the industry. They don't exhaustively test the weapons they are given for several reasons. The first is time and materials. Gunwriters are given a flat fee for their articles, the less they shoot, the less they spend, the more money they get to keep. The less time and material they have to spend on the current article, the more time and less money they have to spend on the next. That is one reason, and another is because even though these guys get weapons that are "worked over", they are not interested in proving the inherent accuracy of the thing, because the inherent accuracy of the thing may not be so great.

    Originally I shot ten shot groups for everything. That took a lot of time and at the end of a shooting day I would be sort of punch drunk. I have gotten lazy and have been shooting five shot groups to see if there is a pattern. Then, if I think I have found a real winner load, I will come back and shoot more down range. What I have learned, is small groups based on small shot counts can be very misleading. You have to get the round count up to really be sure of your load.

    This is an example:

    This seemed promising

    4Gqc1vD.jpg

    but a twenty shot group, and not as wonderful as the five shot group

    QlzdKQd.jpg

    but it would mostly hold the ten ring at 300 yards

    dY3Rapo.jpg

    ZxiXqyq.jpg

    I think the real problem is the barrel. I have a custom 270 Win barrel on another rifle and that rifle shoots like a house a fire.

    yhqoL5d.jpg
    8inhs5s.jpg

    When I can keep ten shots inside the ten ring at 300 yards, I feel the load is accurate, at least to 300 yards. Whether or not it is accurate further out takes testing to verify.

    I remember asking the third place guy at the NRA Smallbore Championships about the number of rounds he needs to shoot downrange to have confidence in his ammunition, and for him, it was about a brick of 500 rounds.

    A bud who shot on Larry Moore's Long Range Team asked Larry about the number of rounds needed to have confidence in a load, and Larry said "about 20,000"! Larry was an Engineer and his first Job out of College was working at Springfield Armory with John Garand. Larry did win the 1000 yard Wimbleton, with a 30-06, and as a test engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground he tested every rifle through the M16, during the period when the US Army was selecting a service rifle replacement to the Garand. Larry had incredible access to ammunition and firearms as a test engineer, so 20,000 rounds is understandable from the aspect of someone who has unlimited resources.

    I will go with ten rounds at 300 or 600 yards, and then I will get the round count up on subsequent visits to the range. Some of my 308 Win loads I shot thousands of them in competition and you get a real good idea of the quality of a load when you burn a couple of barrels out with them.

    A shooting bud said that the real test of a bullet and barrel is a 600 yard group, but, if you can't dope the wind, you might as well be throwing rocks. There is a big pile of rocks in front of my firing point!
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2019
  13. Spring1898

    Spring1898 Member

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    I think the application dictates the number of shots required. I would say that 3 shot groups are standard because that is all that is necessary for most shooters' applications. Since the OP was originally asking about load work up I believe the following applies.

    The hunter or the recreational shooter has a very different end goal than the competitive shooter. For the former I find greater than 5 shot groups unnecessary (during load workup), especially when considering how many rounds are typically fired before the barrel has time to cool in an actual live event. If my load for a hunting rifle will shoot consistently in a (for example) 1" round, from a cold bore every time, then I am satisfied.
    Afterward, I may shoot more rounds simply to see, as stated above, how the rest of the rifle will perform at 5 or more shots. But rarely will that happen in field. The most shots I have ever fired in a single go was 3.
    The more shots fired, the relative greater influence on accuracy/precision by the rifle and shooter vs the ammo. In the above scenario there were many more environmental factors that had more influence than the load itself.

    The competitive shooter needs much more consistency, not only in the load, but also the platform, and this is reflected in the additional steps needed to prepare for such events: weighing cases, bullets, specific trim lengths, and knowing exactly how the platform will react as the match goes on, etc.
    3 shot groups here are not only insufficient, but poor preparation

    And again, it depends on whether you are testing the load or testing the platform with the load, the results therein are subject to the user's end goal.
     
  14. Legionnaire
    • Contributing Member

    Legionnaire Member

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    I'm pretty close to @Bfh_auto. I'll do a pressure run of one shot at each charge level to find max pressure; I also watch the chronograph. I then run three-shot groups to identify one or more likely accuracy nodes, and a few more three-shot groups around the promising charge. Then a couple of five-shot groups to confirm.
     
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  15. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I load 5 rnds ea charge and usually 7 different charges depending on round as to the amount of variance, doing some 30-06s now and .5gr variance, then when I find the best load I go .2gr to dial it in. I have found some loads that are on the low side and accurate enough for me. I like marking the case bottoms for different loads just in case someone drops my case.
    I have a few rnds of M2 ball for my Garands and 03s that I shoot for brass. I found a load using 125gr bullets that are soft shooting and accurate, look on the CMP forum for hints.
     
  16. tcoz

    tcoz Member

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    If I’m testing 7-10 loads I’ll shoot five of each then evaluate. If I can then narrow it down to 3-5 loads I’ll load and shoot ten of each into the same target. When I was load testing for my RPR I narrowed it down to two loads and shot twenty of each into the same target and repeated it again another day.

    It depends on the type of rifle and how precise I want the load to be. For my 300BLK pistol, five of each and that was it, testing for function as much as anything.
     
  17. Jeff Flannery

    Jeff Flannery Member

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    I start somewhere on the low side of powder weight and load 3 at a time increasing the powder weight by 1/2 gr each time. An example would be ay if a ad starts at 30 gr and mx is 36 grs, I start at 31 grs and then move to 31 1/2then 32 and stop about 1 1/2 grs shy of max. It's amazing what 1/2 gr difference make! This all assumes my COAL is the same in all cases and the cases are all trimmed to the same length
     
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