Finding a good load for beginning shooters

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Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by DeweyHales on 8/6/2018, 8:37 pm


This is the result we hope for when we start shooting bullseye. 

How do we get there?

I went through the Pet Load thread to find a starting point. Then, I loaded some ammo combinations with components I had on hand and headed to the range. 




The load is a 200 grain LSWC with 4.0 grains of Bullseye seated shoulder just above case mouth with a few thousandths of crimp.  I used Federal cases and Winchester Large Pistol Primers.   


Recently, at the range, I heard a lesser experienced shooter asking a seasoned shooter how much does each part of reloading matter.  The specific question was around using the same brand of cases.  I intend to proved that a beginning to intermediate shooter would be better served by dry firing than by sorting cases.   


I said that the case used doesn't matter very much.  I also said that I load cracked cases sometimes.  Because they won't feed some of the time, I shoot them at the long line.  I will show in this post how that works too. 


All of the groups fired in this post are from a resting position on a bench.  The post is geared toward getting a new shooter an accurate load to use in matches and training with the 45.  Dry fire and the 22 are the way to go to start, but eventually, the temptation to start shooting the 45 takes over. 

My resting position  involves sitting behind a shooting bench such that my arm rests on the bench in a position very similar to how I shoot the pistol when standing.  I use one hand only just like I would in a match. 


The first group was to try to shoot a 100/100.  The rest of the groups will be fired to try to get a 10-ring sized group.  Once you have a 10-ring sized group, a screwdriver will put it in the middle.  I'm just trying to see group size as we start to make changes. 





As I said, this is about finding out if changes still result in 10-ring size groups. 





Mixed cases still results in a 10-ring size group. 


What about cracked, mixed cases?






Cracked, mixed cases fall short of the goal, but the result is still really close to 10-ring size. 


The middle of the groups moves around on the paper.  I feel this has more to do with my bench technique than anything else.  During much of my testing, it was during a torrential downpour.  I was shooting with one hand and holding a golf umbrella with the other to try to keep my gear as dry as possible. 


I also tested seating differences and charge differences.  It took 0.2 difference in powder to really change the results.  I moved seating in increments of 0.005.  Plus or minus one increment of that size was about as far as I could go with these bullets. 


There are several takeaway lessons: 


First, I tested several guns I've collected over the years and numerous loads looking for a 10-ring sized group.  Lots of guns won't shoot small groups at 50 without just the right load combination.  Test your guns. 


Second, if you're a beginner, don't spend your time sorting brass.  Dry fire.  Shoot your 22.  Pick the brains of the best shooters around you.  The HM guys may focus on things that you're not ready for just yet.  That's why you pick the brains of the shooters one classification ahead as well.  They were in your shoes not too long ago most likely or still deal with similar issues from time to time.

Third, get more people interested.  We each need to be growing shooting and competitive shooting if possible.


Last edited by DeweyHales on 8/6/2018, 10:32 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by Chris Miceli on 8/6/2018, 8:47 pm

congrats. coated bullets as well.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by Wobbley on 8/7/2018, 12:52 am

A contrary opinion here:

http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2018/07/precision-reloading-for-handguns-smart-tips-from-the-usamu/
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by CR10X on 8/7/2018, 5:31 am

Dewy, thanks for the posting.  By the way, good bench groups considering the conditions.  

I also noticed that although the the groups did move, the center of the group was still within or right at the 10 ring.  Which serves as a reminder and something that I still tell shooters that spend a lot of time chasing groups by reloading.  Remember that those "flyers" can go towards the center of the target almost as often as they go away.  We just tend to call them "flyers" when they are further away from the target center. (I've never heard a shooter call an X a "flyer" yet.   Shocked )

Its the consistency of the shooter and how well the shooter can call the shot that really makes the difference in evaluating loads (and shooting as well). 

CR

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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by Chris Miceli on 8/7/2018, 7:08 am

CR10X wrote:Dewy, thanks for the posting.  By the way, good bench groups considering the conditions.  

I also noticed that although the the groups did move, the center of the group was still within or right at the 10 ring.  Which serves as a reminder and something that I still tell shooters that spend a lot of time chasing groups by reloading.  Remember that those "flyers" can go towards the center of the target almost as often as they go away.  We just tend to call them "flyers" when they are further away from the target center. (I've never heard a shooter call an X a "flyer" yet.   Shocked )

Its the consistency of the shooter and how well the shooter can call the shot that really makes the difference in evaluating loads (and shooting as well). 

CR

I really dislike seeing a very different shot placement than what i shot. Where ever i call it that is where i want to see it. 

as far as the brass thing goes... if you only buy starline and brass rat around military shooters you'll only have one brand
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by dronning on 8/7/2018, 7:50 am

Just curious where did you end up on crimp?  I put more crimp on (.465) during the winter leagues to get better powder burn.  Normally I use a .468-.469 crimp. 

- Dave
When I got KC's wad gun I RR tested it with the long line loads I was using (4.1 WST, 185gr Zero LSWCHP) @ 50yds got several 10 shot groups just under/over 1.5" and called it "no need for further testing".
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by jmdavis on 8/7/2018, 9:49 am

Thanks Dewey. 

My Ransom Rest tests show similar results in terms of group size. But there were differences. In my case once fired WCC produced the best groups at the long line. Second was new Starline* (I have a theory on this however). And third was mixed brass of mixed firing. In terms of 10 shot groups all were WELL inside the 10 ring <2.5. But the WCC was 1.75" from what I call my #1 magazine. 

The load was 4.3 of BE, a 160 Dardas cast bullet, CCI 300 primers (S&B were a little more accurate at the long line but were hard enough for the 18lb hammer spring to sometimes be an issue. No issues with the CCI300), .933 to the top of the shoulder (I don't measure OAL, as long as it fits in the magazine) from the base and a crimp of .468. This is a summer long line load. 

On the other hand once fired WCC cases with 4.4 of BE and a 185jhp produced sub 2" 30 shot groups at the long line out of the ball gun. But the only way to get that group was to use the same #1 magazine that I use in my wad gun. If I used the #2 or #3 magazine, the groups expanded to 2.75/2.5 inches. 

As you noted, I would not try to shoot split cases at the short line. That is asking for trouble in my opinion. I save them up for practice and 25 yard slow fire indoors. 

But assuming a known good load, dry fire and drills beat load testing. I have been told that by some of the best shooters in the country.


* The Starline was sticking in the powder die and I believe that I was getting varying loads. None were unsafe, but they were enough to change the group. The solution is more lube on the Starline. Once they are fired this issue ceases. I had a similar issue with wet tumbling cases until I started using Car wash with wax in it. That provided enough lube for the Square Deal to work smoothly on super clean cases.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by S148 on 8/7/2018, 9:57 am

DeweyHales, from what distance did you shoot those targets?

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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by Vern on 8/7/2018, 10:05 am

Why do different magazines make a difference? What changes?

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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by jmdavis on 8/7/2018, 10:17 am

Vern wrote:Why do different magazines make a difference? What changes?

Unanswerable by me. But I do know that magazine fitting is something that many custom smiths do. I also know that my results match those of some high masters. Possibilities include, drag on the trigger bow, pressure on the bottom of the slide (spring pressure), slightly different feed angles (spring pressure, magazine length and fit). But the fact is with the Ransom Rest, the group size changes between my #1 and #2 magazines. The #1 would shoot 1.75", round, 10 shot groups. When both magazine were used the groups would expand to 2.75 inches and appear elongated, when #2 alone was used the groups were 2.75 inches and elongated. 

But let's not get into the weeds and I apologize if I took us there. Dewey's results are important for many of us. And I 100% agree that time dry firing and training (not just shooting NMCs)  beats time spend load testing. You can't ammo test yourself to Master if you are a Sharpshooter. And you can't ammo test yourself to expert if you are a Marksman.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by DeweyHales on 8/7/2018, 2:14 pm

S148 wrote:DeweyHales, from what distance did you shoot those targets?
All testing was done at 50 yards from a bench. Our ransom rest isn’t available yet. But, before long, I’ll have access. 

Crimp should be around 0.468”.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by DanQ on 8/9/2018, 4:41 pm

Good read.  And I even "heard" it in your and Cecil's voices.  Always good advice from you guys.

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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by lyman1903 on 8/9/2018, 5:23 pm

I am surprised any one would shoot the split cases, 

been reloading for  years, any split or cracked cases are pulled and tossed in the recycle box, 

but then again, I load mostly rifle, and some 45 and 38,

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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by PhillySoldier on 8/10/2018, 7:15 am

Ive always thought as long as brass brands were separated there shouldnt be much difference in pistol brass at least. I was running some ransom rest tests though and between testing loads was switching back and forth between starline brass loads and blazer brass loads. I was seeing a 1/2" - 60% difference between the two brands of brass. To me, thats a pretty significant difference. I'll just add I think it sucks cause I have atleast 10 gallons worth of the BB brass saved too.

@jmdavis ya got me curious to try the WCC brass now.

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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by jmdavis on 8/10/2018, 7:43 am

At shoreline it's all good. At long line, in my gun, longer is better as tested with the Ransom rest. The longest new brass is Starline. But once fired WCC Match is close and in a couple of tests better, mainly from lube issues.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by STEVE SAMELAK on 8/10/2018, 7:56 am

lyman1903 wrote:I am surprised any one would shoot the split cases, 

been reloading for  years, any split or cracked cases are pulled and tossed in the recycle box, 

but then again, I load mostly rifle, and some 45 and 38,

I doubt that he loads split cases as a normal practice...more as an exercise with most variables included.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by DeweyHales on 8/10/2018, 9:55 am

I certainly don’t typically set out to load split cases. I’d never do that with Rifle. 

My intent was only to show that even big changes in brass don’t make sorting worthwhile for shooters struggling to hold the repair center at 50. Each of these loads will clean the short line. They will certainly hold the 9 ring. In the hands of a HM, they could still break 2,600. 

Dry fire more. Chase perfect loads less.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by zanemoseley on 8/10/2018, 10:00 am

You guys all know about the "jingle" trick right? If you have a huge pile of deprimed/cleaned brass and want to check for cracks just grab handfuls of brass and shake it around, if the cases are all good there will be more of a "chunk, chunk" noise, if there is a split case in the mix you will hear more of a jingle like a small bell. You'd be surprised how well it works. I do this to find 90%+ of the split cases in lieu of inspecting each case.

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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by sklarcpa on 8/10/2018, 11:37 am

zanemoseley wrote:You guys all know about the "jingle" trick right? If you have a huge pile of deprimed/cleaned brass and want to check for cracks just grab handfuls of brass and shake it around, if the cases are all good there will be more of a "chunk, chunk" noise, if there is a split case in the mix you will hear more of a jingle like a small bell. You'd be surprised how well it works. I do this to find 90%+ of the split cases in lieu of inspecting each case.



+1

I know I have a single split case out of hundreds when turning them in my media separator by hearing that distinct sound they make.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by rich.tullo on 8/11/2018, 7:08 am

Ok I agree with dry firing but will differ on a couple of points. 

For matches I think anyone is well served by consistent brass. How I did this is buy some new Starline brass which I used up to four times for the long line and until they crack for the short line. 

For practice it does not pay to sort. 

For beginners I would suggest the lightest 200 gn HG 68 load possible that will cycle your pistol which means 3.5 BE for a frame mount scope or iron sights running a #13 or #14 recoil spring. And 3.8 BE running a #10 spring for a scope mount. 

How the gun groups does not matter much assuming the gun set up for BE. If a new shooter is holding the 7 ring on the long line optimum ammo is not going help his scores. However light loads will help him with jerking and flinching. Moreover, out of some barrels 3.5 BE is surprisingly accurate.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by Wobbley on 8/11/2018, 9:00 am

I’m getting a mixed message from this and other advice on this forum.  

In a lot of threads, we give advice to new shooters to get a good 45 from a well known smith.  I don’t think any smith who wishes to keep his reputation will deliver a pistol that groups worse than 2 to 2.5 inches with high grade match ammo.  

Now we’re telling beginners to load less than stellar rounds that will take his 2.5 inch gun and turn it into a 3.8 inch gun.  And then we insult him/her by saying “you’re not good enough to notice”.

In any other precision shooting discipline the advice is always to get an accurate gun and load accurate ammunition so you can improve.  The same advice should be given here.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by rich.tullo on 8/11/2018, 9:37 am

Beginner in my book is someone who is new to shooting and new to bullseye. It is not a mixed message, If your long line scores are 70 and lower, hotter ammo is not going to help. 5 or 10 things will help that shooter get to sharpshooter before the ammo assuming the shooter is reloading good ammo. I would also tell the same shooter do not waste your money on pricey match 22lr ammo if they cannot clean targets. 

Transitioning from a 22lr (where a new shooter may be picking up bad habits) is not easy for some. 

Therefore less than optimum ammo is in fact optimum on the short line where the new shooter will drop way more points than in slow fire provided he or she is shooting ammo that is soft. 

I would rather see a new shooter hold the 8 ring with ammo that will just barely hold the 10 ring as compared to a shooter holding the 6 ring with ammo that will hold the x ring or less. 

As the shooters groups tighten up then he/she can make the effort to dial in the ammo.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by Wobbley on 8/11/2018, 11:12 am

I still think it’s the wrong message and a wrong-headed approach.  

I’m out.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by jmdavis on 8/11/2018, 12:54 pm

Some numbers.

In the past year I spent 170 hours running matches, on match admin, and scoring for leagues.

I spent 120 hours on matches, including leagues. 

I spent 120 hours of practice and training. 

I spent 50 hours on ammo testing, loading, ransom rest,  

I spent 75 hours on dry fire.

I spent 20 hours on clinic admin and helping at club clinics.

At Perry, I missed by.goal of re-classing to expert by.6 points. My contention is that the 50 hours of tweaking known good loads was the time least well spent.This is why I say that one cannot ammo test oneself to expert. No one is saying shoot bad loads. They are saying that the load is less important than good training and dry fire. At least that is what I am saying.
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Re: Finding a good load for beginning shooters

Post by Bob Fleming on 8/11/2018, 1:12 pm

The key to accurate BE reloads is finding a load that is tolerant of minor variations. The ideal load will be reasonably soft to moderate power and shoots into the same group with a variation of at least ± one tenth of a grain of your powder. In my case 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5 grains of bullseye powder with a Winchester primer puts a swaged Star 185 grain bullet into a 10 ring size group at 50 yards.
That is my match grade 25 yard line load and it was developed with the now unavailable swaged Star 185 HP. Pure lead is difficult to cast with. I have been using a NOE version of the H&G 68 with a hollow point with success. They are very much like the Star. They can be hard to catch in stock.....
http://noebulletmolds.com/NV/product_info.php?cPath=41_153&products_id=2990
Not necessarily a recommendation as there may be better out there but that is what I am using.
Bullets with damaged bases will make fliers.
A very small amount of tin helps fill out the details of the base and make the as cast weight more consistent without making the lead too hard. If you are getting leading at the chamber end of the rifling in the barrel then your lead is too hard.
I do not crimp, only flatten out the bell in the case mouth used to prevent damage to the bullet while seating.
While cracked brass more or less works it is risky as the bullet might get pushed further into the brass creating potentially dangerous overpressure. There is only one thing it is good for. Brass rat bait. Toss a good size handful of cracked brass on the ground where it won't get mixed with good fired brass and harass the brass rats when they try to grab it.
The foundation of rifle reloading is brass prep and it can be distressing to experienced riflemen to skip most of it. Inspection and cleaning are important but I have shot many 890s with mixed brass. Trigger control is much more important.

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