Accurate Reloads

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Accurate Reloads

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

First topic message reminder :

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!

John

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Toz35m on Wed Jul 17, 2013 1:53 pm

Here is an example of why people should test.  In 2010 I did some ransom rest testing.  I found a load that worked out to be 1.8".  Fed Primers, New Starline brass, 4.4 BE, Zero 185 gr LSWHP.  When I tested last week 2 things had changed, I used Win Primers and I had put a 1" ultradot on the slide.  New group size was 4".  Not sure when my load stopped performing to my expectations but I have been loosing points for sure.  I used the same ransom rest and same process to build up my loads so not sure what I have missed that caused the difference.   I did find a new load that grouped at 1.8".  I did notice one thing in common in both test sessions is the other known good loads did not perform acceptable in my 45 for me. An example is 3.8 gn of VV310 does not cycle my slide when I tested it with iron sights.  My 45 is also set up to shoot leg matches so it has a bit more lock up and takes a little more to unlock which is a factor that could have an impact on load development.

I know we have a wide range of what is acceptable to people.  Some are happy if they hit the paper and some want to hit the xring.  Your testing should be in line with what works for you we should all be open to new or old ideas.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DavidR on Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:37 pm

You should always test your gun when something changes, but sometimes its a simple as a different lot of powder or primers or a bad batch of bullets, most times its the gun.

DavidR
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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by DeweyHales on Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:58 pm

As reloading supplies have tightened up, I have been burning through powders and bullets that I tried at some point but quit using.  What I have found is that almost any combo will hold the 9 ring.  

However, to hold the 10 ring, it takes a bit more work.  I always start with a load that seems to shoot well for someone else.  We have plenty listed on this site.  Often times, you will be very close to a load that will shoot well in your gun.   

It is worth taking a bit of time to try new combos at the range before shooting a match.  In rifle, the pet loads will clean targets in every rifle I have tried.  With pistol, some tweaking is necessary.

Start with a good bullet.  From there, add a consistent powder charge liked by your pistol.  Those two things seem to put me in the ten ring every time regardless of case or primer. 

The shooter is almost always the limiting factor.  Trigger control is most important.  Sight alignment is next (sight picture for dot shooters).  All the other things are much less important.

DeweyHales

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by spursnguns on Wed Jul 17, 2013 4:02 pm

DeweyHales wrote:Start with a good bullet.  From there, add a consistent powder charge liked by your pistol. 

Trigger control is most important.  Sight alignment is next (sight picture for dot shooters).

Gospel.

Jim

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by Chuck26287 on Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:08 pm

This has been a very interesting/informative thread.  My comments on a couple of the thoughts throughout it...

It makes sense to me that Marksmen and Sharpshooters are the ones doing most of the load testing.  By the time someone shoots at the Expert/Master level, they are probably using a load they have proven in their equipment (probably when they were a MK or SS).  This was likely a contributor (admittably not the most significant, though) to improving their scores.

It also makes sense to me that people "reinvent the wheel" by testing loads that many people have tested and posted the results.  I am planning to develop a load using the Nosler or Zero 185 gr JHP and VV N310 for my .45 on the 50 yd line.  I have seen the posted results and I know 4.2 gr to 4.5 gr will probably be what shoots a good group.  What I don't know, is which will shoot best in MY gun.  The beauty of reloading is you can tailor your load to the gun.  Someone else's time and effort is going to get me pretty close in my starting points, but I want to know what each of my guns is actually doing with a load.  Only one way to determine that... test it.

Bullseye shooting, like any other quantitative process, is affected by variability.  Within any quantitative process, variability is ALWAYS additive, and the final result is the sum of all variability within the process.  Improvement comes from reducing variability in the process.  While I believe the GREATEST source of variability is the shooter (trigger control, hold, physiology, etc), and thus I agree the area with the most potential for improvement is the shooter, not the ammo, I do believe if variability can be removed by tuning the ammo to the gun, it will improve the process results.

I think a very simple reason so many of us MK/SS (I'm a SS) spend so much time testing, is it's easier for us to see improvement quickly.  In one day of testing, I can decrease the variability from the load I'm shooting.  Decreasing MY variability takes practice, and lots of time.  Results are much slower to be seen.

If you are a reloader, and shooting serious Bullseye, I think load testing/development for your particular gun(s) is a must.  You are silly for not reducing the variability that can be very EASILY reduced by doing some testing.  But, with that said, once that's done, 10 hours spent trying to reduce another .2" off your gun/ammo group size will probably not improve your scores nearly as much as 10 hours spent shooting that load and decreasing your trigger control variability.

After basic load development for your particular equipment is done and that variability has been reduced, spend the time on reducing other variability where you will see the largest reduction... probably the shooter (and for us MK/SS's... DEFININTELY the shooter).

One thing I have often heard, but never agreed with is something like "My gun and ammo groups to 2", but I can't hold to 2", so improving the ammo/gun to a 1.5" group doesn't help me.  The old mentality of "It doesn't matter because I can't shoot as well as the gun".  Wrong.  Reduce a process component variability, and results, on the average, will improve.  Just because variability is not eliminated from an area where the LARGEST improvement can be seen, does not mean that variability should not be eliminted.  Reduce any variability, and the sum of the variability decreases, and the results will improve.

One last thought as to why I spend more time than is truly effective testing... I enjoy it.  There... I admitted it.

Chuck26287

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by xmastershooter on Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:29 pm

Life was much easier when I started shooting Bullseye. The bullet of choice with most was the Star 185 gr hpswc with the black lube. Ed Masaki recommended 3.8 gr of Clays, so I used that. Later, I learned that he recommended BE powder for the short line because of the snap during recoil, so I used that. I settled with 4.0 BE so that it functions in cold weather. From the sandbag, the long line load held the x-ring. Never tested anything else nor used the ransom rest.

My advancement was contributed mainly from shooting many matches, about 95%, and my loads 5%. Dry fire and practice/training may have helped but it was mainly shooting actual matches. From my perspective and many others, the long line load is more critical than the short line. If one shoots a 2700 and uses the .45acp for both CF and the .45, then the bullet accuracy may affect six 50 yard targets. Hypothetically, if one scores 2 points less on each target due to less than an optimal load, then there will be over 10 points lost during the match. A 10 point swing is enormous at Camp Perry. Twice I tied another shooter during a state match, only to lose by x counts.

With the Star bullets gone now, some favorite recipes does not work as well with other bullets in my pistol. I would like to thank DavidR for his survey on top shooters' favorite loads, even though criticism was given. These loads are a good place to start. There's nothing more frustrating than knowing your shot was a called 10 but it hit the 9 ring. I'm encouraged by a new load with the Zero 185 gr hpswc so my testing continues.

Some observations during matches: The better shooters (high masters, masters, and some experts) tend to shoot, reload the magazines, score and return much, much earlier than sharpshooters, marksmen, and some experts. Besides having a shot plan, beginning shooters may need to develop some discipline during a match. There's some etiquette that should be followed so that the match is not held up while one gawks at his/her target when it looks as if it was shot with a shotgun and the shooter thinks it's the load or one click of sight adjustment.

Norman

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by jakuda on Fri Jul 26, 2013 6:09 pm

Hey Norman,

You forgot to add that your shooting glasses prescriptions are worth 50 points.  =)

what was the zero 185 hpswc load you are testing? I bought a box to try out, although my main load is the dependable Magnus swaged 185gn swc.

Cary the lowly expert.

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by ShooterSteve on Sat Jul 27, 2013 7:04 am

I agree 100% with Chuck's comments.  It's worth spending some time with load development and really understanding what parts of the process affect accuracy.  I find it to be an enjoyable task and just like equipment, it's something we can control, so why not make the best of it and make sure your reloads and equipment are not holding you back as you progress.  As far as the human error, a lot of trigger time along with coaching from higher level shooters, both in person and from this forum will go a long way. Steve

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Re: Accurate Reloads

Post by xmastershooter on Sat Jul 27, 2013 11:55 am

Hi Cary,

With the Zero 185gr HP LSWC, I've tried Clays, Titegroup, and Bullseye powders. I'm not a professional reloader but I do the best I can with what I have and my testing is off a sandbag on top of a stool on the bench to simulate the proper shooting height. I do not weigh each bullet and sort accordingly. My 50 yard 10 shot groups tend to be around 2 to 2 1/4" inches with 4.2gr of Bullseye. Less powder didn't seem to work as well. With 3.8 to 3.9gr of Clays the group opens up to around 2 1/2 inch+. I use CCI primers.

The extinct Star 185gn HP LSWC with the black lube and 3.8gr Clays consistently gave me groups of 1 3/4" with an occasional 1 1/2" grouping. I may be wrong but if I could get this kind of results off a sandbag, I didn't feel the need for a ransom rest. From what I've read from the list, one needs to be very knowledgeable and meticulous for it to work properly.

Norman

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Re: Accurate Reloads

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