Accurate Reloads

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Accurate Reloads

Post by John on Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:10 am

Lets start a discussion about reloading an accurate round of handgun ammunition.  What are the two most important contributors to accuracy, in your opinion, hopefully backed up by tests?  Some items to consider are bullets, cases, powder, primer, seating depth, crimp, to name a few.  Hopefully beginners and the more experienced reloader will learn a few things to help acquire more X's!

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Al on Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:14 am

All right I can jump in on this one.

I'm assuming we're referring to 50 yard ammo.  25 yd & 50' has different requirements in my mind.

#1.  Good Bullets with perfect bases.
#2.  Consistent powder drop, with little to no variation.
#3.  Consistent brass, especially thickness. 
(I know, you said top 2, but I couldn't decide which to make the top 2) 

#3 is in there because of the variations in brass thickness.  I use a ball end micrometer to check my necks when turning brass on my long range rifles.  when I've done some spot checking on 45 brass, I get measurements from .0083-.011x.  When your taper crimp can be set for only one dimension and your brass is all over the roadmap in thickness, you're going to get some wide variations in the amount of energy required to push that bullet loose. 

My match brass I've always segregated by brand PMC for long line, Win WCC for short line.  The only reason I picked those 2 was I had enough of them to load up a years worth of match ammo with the same brass.

My practice brass is Rem and TZZ for long line (.0083-.009) and everything else for short line.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:51 pm

Top two? Bullet and powder.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by spursnguns on Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:01 pm

I first was having a hard time narrowing down my list of “contributors” to just two items.  But then, I boiled it down to just one….”consistency”.

For example; powder.  I’m not quite sure CLAYS (a favorite of mine) is really any “better” than VVN310; but if you are not metering precisely the same charge for each cartridge, it’s all mute and accuracy will suffer.  As an aside; consistent powder charges were in my top two list.

Whatever crimp you choose, e. g. 0.468” versus 0.470”; if it not consistent then accuracy and function will go to hell.  Primer choice....who cares, if your bullets are irregular or your case lengths/thicknesses/etcetera vary.

I learn as I go and would be happy to hear what others think.

Jim

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by ShooterSteve on Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:08 pm

I find this all very interesting.  A question for Al or others with the same experience in regards to neck tension.  In your experience, how would 50 yard groups compare when shooting mixed brass vs. brass you segregated by thickness?  The reason I ask, is years ago when I tested my .45 over a R.R. the groups averaged 2.70" for 10 shots at 50 yards with mixed brass, 3.8 BE, Win. primers and 185 Star HP swaged bullets.   I am curious if careful attention to neck tension would make my 10 ring gun an X-ring gun?  I purposely do not load nickel plated brass because of how tight they feel thru the loading process compared to regular brass.  I know that is not very scientific based reason, but there is no doubt, they have greater neck tension.  Steve

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:16 am

Brass comes in all thickness and length, if you use all the same then consistency will be greater and groups better.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Al on Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:27 am

My WAG would be to add another 1-2" to the group.  But, only if the brass varied in thickness. 

Let's say you happened to use some TZZ match brass to set your taper crimp to .468(Now the lot of TZZ that I had, had the thinnest walls of any brass I tested, .0083-0085) along with a mix of Speer, Winchester, Amerc, Black Hills, Starline, Remington, PMC, Fiocchi, and maybe more (and yes my shortline practice brass includes all of these except the amerc.)

you have a .452 diameter bullet and for simplicity sake call the brass .008 thick so you have another .016 in brass thickness to add for a total of .468.  Virtually no crimp required and you're going to have issues with bullet movement, from recoil, in the rounds in the magazine with the same brass.  With the resulting difference in combustion chambers you'll have varying velocities.  Now add some extra thick brass (say .011) in there for a total uncrimped diameter of .474.  Your taper crimp is still set for .468 so you have .006 of crimp on that brass.  Much more pressure is now required to begin that bullet movement down the bore.

You get where I'm going with this, Jim already said it "consistency".  while your load may not be the best there is for your pistol.  If it's inconsistent with any of its components, it won't be the best it can be.

Early on in my quest for the best 50 yard load I made bunches of mistakes, no reason for you to reinvent the wheel.  Just keep your long line stuff as uniform as you can.  If you have access to a Ransom Rest, test a variety of crimp amounts.  I had one kart barrel that wouldn't group worth a darn until I tried some at .463-.465.  Then it became a 3" gun @ 50 yds.  For the life of me I don't remember what brass I was using at the time, but in that era I had mostly WCC and PMC.

I am the worst offender of what I'm about to say, but that's just how I'm wired.  Don't waste time and components looking for that last 1/4" of a tighter group from the bench, we don't shoot from the bench. Perfect Practice, Perfect Practice, Perfect Practice.

FWIW
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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by spursnguns on Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:40 pm

Al wrote:Perfect Practice, Perfect Practice, Perfect Practice.

FWIW
Al

 A similar, yet different, issue...."consistent" grip, "consistent" sight picture, "consistent" trigger squeeze, etcetera.  A pattern seems to be forming.  LOL.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:45 pm

Grip can be your worst enemy, you can shoot X's or 8's just by varying your grip slightly.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by ShooterSteve on Wed Jul 10, 2013 5:15 pm

Thank you all for the good advice.  It gives me some details to focus on.  On a side note, I've had a few of those Americ cases end up in my stash and I've never experienced such an inferior 45 ACP case as those.  I've been trying to visually weed them out but every now and then one slips through.  Not sure what the deal is with them, but they are bad for sure.   Steve

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by spursnguns on Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:18 pm

ShooterSteve wrote:Thank you all for the good advice.  It gives me some details to focus on.  On a side note, I've had a few of those Americ cases end up in my stash and I've never experienced such an inferior 45 ACP case as those.  I've been trying to visually weed them out but every now and then one slips through.  Not sure what the deal is with them, but they are bad for sure.   Steve

I'm sort of a case "snob"....

For my target guns; new or once fired Starline or ASYM only
For all my others guns: I'll throw in Winchester and Federal

I'm not wanting for brass, so I can be picky.

Jim

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Accurate Reloads

Post by John on Sun Jul 14, 2013 10:23 am

When I posed this topic I said--- "important contributors to accuracy, in your opinion, hopefully backed up by tests?"  Some interesting comments followed about brass brands, crimp, bullets, and neck thickness BUT only one suggestion (crimp) followed up by RR tests to prove the point.  Am I the only one who does tests on different
loads to make sure the theories are correct????  All testing should be done at 50 yards.  It is almost impossible to load a .45 round that will not shoot 1" at 25 yards unless you use .357 bullets !!!!!!!! John

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by SMBeyer on Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:59 pm

Here is what I see repetedly on this forum as well as other places.  Sharpshooters and Marksmen are doing the most testing for accuracy trying to find that magic combination of case brand, OAL, bullet type, powder brand/weight, primer, crimp, etc.  to get their .45 to shoot 1.5" groups at 50yds.  It seems from reading their posts that they are focusing most of their time and more importantly mental focus on gun performance instead of personal performance.  PLEASE don't take this as me putting down Sharpshooters and Marksmen, that is not what I am doing.  I am trying to get them to look at themselves for improvement.  Is a good (not unbelievably awsome) gun ammo combination important? Yes, but a 1.5" gun won't help you at all if you jerk the shot into the 5 and 6 ring.

We had a match at our club yesterday.  There was a Sharpshooter there that posts occasionally here that has been shooting Bullseye for 1 year.  This month he shot 123 point better than last month and he was shooting a borrowed pistol for the .22 match!  Most importantly he told a friend of mine that he knows his guns are capable of shooting well and it is him that needs improvement.  In my opinion this is one of the most important things needed for improvement.

Here is how I started with .45 shooting.  I bought a Les Baer 45 wad gun.  Some will look down on them because they aren't a true "custom" built gun but to me it was a good compromise in quality/price/ and availability.  I didn't want to wait a year or 2 or spend $3500 or more.  So I ordered one from Champions Choice for about $1800 and had it within a few days.  I already had a Dillon 550 that I got for Christmas when I was 14 and had .45 dies because my brother had a sorry excuse of a .45 (Colt Delta Elite).  Bought some 185 LSWHP bullets and had some Bullseye powder.  I loaded 3.5 up thru about 4.1 of Bullseye and have settled on 3.9.  Once I put the gun on sand bags and tried shooting groups but wasn't real impressed.  Was getting about 3" groups off bags with a dot scope and haven't benched it since and have never shot it in a Ransom Rest.  I shoot 3.9 of Bullseye, Zero 185 LSWHP, Win primers, .469 crimp, and an OAL of 1.225.  I don't care what size group it shoots out of a RR.  When I call a shot really good it is in the x ring and about 95% of my shots are in the direction of where I expect them to be.  Occasionally A shot will be in the oposite direction of my call but I attribute that to some sort of gripping or triggering error.

So my point is I have a good gun that functions reliably with good ammo that goes to call.  Equipment- done, out of my mind, not even a thought that that shot in the white is because of my equipment or ammo.  Now I can focus on MY weakness.

Scott 
an

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Dave C. on Sun Jul 14, 2013 3:25 pm

Well said Scott

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Accurate Reloads

Post by John on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:20 am

The purpose of my proposed ammunition discussion was to identify, with input from competitors, the most important aspects of an accurate handgun reload. Then the newer competitor would know what to watch for in his reloads.  After initial tests one can go on to techniques and more X's with lots of practice and the confidence that comes knowing one is shooting accurate rounds. 

I have seen quite a few shooters with a new 1 1/2" 1911 that wouldn't shoot 4" at 50 yards mainly because they did not know the basis of accurate reloading.  If the shoter could use accurate ammunition from the beginning he would not have to do much/any testing.  I test frequently mainly because I have the time and am interested in debunking some of the myths about accuracy.   There are at least two others who do "unusual" types of machine rest testing in the PNW.  I am just the most vocal.  John

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:40 am

I tested hundreds of loads in my ransome rest, a good friend and i developed many loads that would shoot 10 ring at 50 or better out of mostly guns with kart barrels. Then i quit. Ounce you figure out the basics there is no need to keep searching. Its then time to pick the one you shoot best and practice building it with the utmost consistency as possible then practice shooting it.

Here is a few things that i found that works and gives the best accuracy.
 1)You need good clean brass, all the same brand and style works better than mixed at 50 yds, at 25 you can get by with mixed but just remember 2/3 of your points are shot at 25 so why not use the better for it too?
2) you need good bullets, regardless of brand they must be made good and consistent, weighing at 50 yds into groups of .1 tenth a gn. will give you a less chance of a flyer. Is it worth it to do this, really only if you are shooting good enough to be able to call all  your shots.
3) A good primer, use all the same brand as different primers can cause a different point of impact.
4) A good crimp is needed to get consistent burn of the powder, and feed correctly, I found .468 -.469 does this and the bullet should be seated to show .032 or close above the case rim. (if using a standard lswc with a dia. of .452)
5) Bullseye loads work best with a fast burning powder like Bullseye, V-310, clays, tight group, wst and there are many more. Which is best, the one that gives you the feel that you prefer and it must meter good. I use mostly bullseye, its extremely accurate, meters well and  costs less than some of the others, but its dirty. ?That said, guns used in competitions should be cleaned so that doesn't matter to me much.
6)Learn to load consistently, If every round is as close to the same as the others you will benefit in the way of more points regardless of your skill level.7
7) buy a 45 acp check gauge ( dillon,midway or others all sell them)and after you have loaded your rounds for a match, wipe them off with a rag, remove any bullet lube that might be on the case and check it with the gauge for fit, this will eliminate 99% of ammo related alibis and give you confidence that your loads will feed and fire.
USE ALL THESE TIPS AT YOUR OWN RISK, THIS IS ONLY A OUTLINE OF HOW I DO MINE.


Last edited by DavidR on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:14 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Al on Mon Jul 15, 2013 11:55 am

Been down the same road Dave.

Funny thing is that after testing hundreds of test loads, my go to loads wound up being 3.5-3.8 Clays with an H&G 130 for short line and 50' ,and 4.3 WST with an H&G 68bb for long line.  Basically the same loads I had gotten from Neil of NSK when I visited with him on the phone after I had developed them.

Now the only thing I do when I have a new 45 is experiment a bit with the amount of crimp if it doesn't shoot my existing load to my expectations.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:20 pm

Thats the beauty of the bullseye community, we all share knowledge, A new shooter who wants to find what works and what doesnt if he searches the forums can come up with the answers with out trying everything on his own.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Al on Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:52 pm

Absolutely Dave,  Why reinvent the wheel?
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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by SMBeyer on Mon Jul 15, 2013 8:32 pm

I agree the information of how to produce good ammo is a great thing to share.  It is also invaluable to the truly begining shooter/ reloader.  I just think new shooters can get sucked into the vortex of the need to have a 1.5" .45.  I would bet my 1.5" potential gun doesn't shoot but 3" with my loads and I would say I average about 94 at the 50yd line.  99% of the people shooting couldn't tell the difference off hand shooting a 1.5" gun from a 3.5" gun.  However if that is what you are concerned with then who am I to stop you.

Scott

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Toz35m on Tue Jul 16, 2013 1:29 am

I heard Doc Young was roughly quoted "Never stop testing".  No harm can come from testing and learning the impacts of what different loads, crimps, powder, etc....can have on your load.

For me I want to know my equipment works to the best of its ability so it is one less thing I have to think about while I am learning how to shoot a .45 at 50 yds.  I have the expectation of me I can clean the target at 50 yds.  I have never done it but I should be able to and so should my pistol and load.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Tue Jul 16, 2013 10:46 am

If your shooting a wad gun that is not based on the standard, tight frame good fit w/kart barrel, then you should test to see what shoots the best. But so much has been documented over the years that its doubtful you will gain anything dramatic over whats already been proven to be accurate.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by spursnguns on Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:59 am

This is an interesting discussion.  Ultimately, I believe, we just need to remind ourselves that we are not shooting bench rest rifles.  The difference between a "good" load and a "bad" load is pretty obvious and quite dramatic.  In the real world; a good load is not 0.1" better than a bad load; it is 2.1" or 3.1" better.  I have a half dozen "competition" loads that, for me and for what I need, all basically shoot the same (accuracy wise).  Unless I have component issues; I shoot only one of those loads.  Not because of its accuracy, but because it is cleaner burning and has an acceptable recoil impulse.

I do admit….I love to tinker/experiment with guns and loads.  That's part of the off-range fun.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Jack H on Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:14 pm

A lot of us do not have the time or funds or range facilities to shoot test after test along with time to train, drill and practice, and then go to the match.  I have a range with a ransom.  But I seldom use it anymore.  I am totally satisfied with testing me when I shoot.  I know a good shot when I feel it and see it in my sight.  That is the most important knowledge.  I subscribe that most good guns will shoot known loads quite well.  Like 3.8-4.0 BE.  Mine do.  I want to perfect my technique to maximize stability.  As I get older like some people, that and eyesight are getting tougher to deal with.    Us working stiffs will just have to do our best with what we got.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:41 pm

Jacks right, once you know your gun and load will shoot accurate you gain more with building your strength and skill. A gun that shoots 3.5'' groups can shoot a hundred at 50 yards just like a gun that shoots under 1''. If super accuracy was the answer someone would have shot 2700 a long time ago, rather than never as it stands today.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

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