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  1. #1
    Major minderasr's Avatar
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    Default Let's Talk Reloading

    Let me start off by saying I don't shoot competitively. Plinking, either putting holes in paper, or knocking down steel plates. Simply for the shear enjoyment of shooting. I thought this topic might generate some good discussion that newcomers to reloading (like myself) could appreciate and hopefully learn from.

    The man who convinced me to get into reloading (and hooked me up with a ton of brass) gave me some pointers. He said to start at the mid point of the recommended starting and maximum powder loads, and load up 5-10 rounds. Then do the same for one and two tenth grains less powder, and one and two tenth grains more powder.

    Next, from a bench rested position, fire the gun starting with the weakest load at your target (25 yards), working your way up to the strongest load. Note bullet impact position (accuracy and grouping). The load that is most accurate and with the tightest group is your load for that gun. Makes sense to me, and I could see the groups walking in towards the aim point (bullseye) when I followed this.


    Another reloading buddy suggests I should go for the weakest load that will still cycle the gun (automatic). Noting that competitive shooters tend to do this for the least amount of recoil/muzzle flip. He claims anything more is a waste of powder.

    Some research lead me to power factor. For those that don't know, power factor is bullet weight times velocity divided by one thousand (BW x V / 1000 = PF). Obviously you'll need a chronograph to determine velocity.

    To the best of my knowledge, for IDPA the minimum power factor is 125 except for .45 ACP which is 175 PF. I'm loading 9mm (115 gr.) and .45 ACP (230 gr.). For the record, my current .45 ACP load averaged ~170.4 PF.

    I'm still working out my 9mm load and the strongest load averaged 125.7 PF. From what I've been reading, for 9mm a 124 gr. bullet is much more common because it's easier to obtain that golden 125 PF (uses less powder). I may switch to 124 gr. in the future.


    With that said, iIs the goal a specific power factor or velocity for the load? Are you looking to match (as closely as possible) a recipe from your handbook, even though your gun is not the same equipment (universal receiver) used in the handbook for testing?

    What is the ultimate goal?
    Jim
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. - Norman Thomas, leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

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  3. #2
    General meketrefe's Avatar
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    Finally!!! A trhead that is not politics!!

    The ultimate goal is to enjoy yourself and load for what you like not what others like.

    I think makes sense to load to produce match quality ammo at one fraction of the cost but there is also the satisfaction for those folks that shoot for accuracy or matches.
    Then others do it because they want to get a mild in the middle of the road kind of load for basic training or plinking that will be maybe milder and not as accurate but it doesn't matter.

    So what do you really enjoy? That determines what to do IMO.

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    Captain Sweetyzfd's Avatar
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    My ultimate goal is to get the best group. I mostly reload 308 but do some 223 and 9mm as well. I start at the lowest powder recommended and make 3 rounds. .2 more grains and 3 more rounds and so on. I find the 2 best 3 shot groups and build 5 more of both those. After I figure the best amount of powder I begin to change seating depth to see if that tightens the group up any more. I love to tinker just wish I had my own range to expedite load development. That's how I do it

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  6. #4
    Captain Sweetyzfd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meketrefe View Post

    I think makes sense to load to produce match quality ammo at one fraction of the cost but there is also the satisfaction for those folks that shoot for accuracy or matches.
    Agreed. Building a load specific to your gun really increases accuracy potential. So satisfying to build your own load which is more accurate and cheaper than store bought match ammo

  7. #5
    General meketrefe's Avatar
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    For accuracy forget about speed for a second. Pickup a max load and get 10% or even less off. Then after segregating and preping the brass load strings with variations in charge, seating depth and crimp. Do no change more than one parameter at the time for each string otherwise you will not know what makes the difference. It is a good idea to know the max coal of your chamber and then see if you can work backwards in seating depths obviously if the magazine system alows that.
    Repeat the whole process of other powders and bullets maybe in different days.
    Find info on loads that manufactures and folks report as accuracy loads and maybe wiht the same pistol or rifle setup. That way you have a baseline to start.

    So what do you want to make accurate first and what gun?

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    Major minderasr's Avatar
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    I was going to bring up COAL in my next round of questions. I've read you want the longest COAL (not exceeding maximum) that will still pass the "plunk test". But most of the recipes call for an OAL much less than maximum.

    Do you follow the handbook for the load, go for the longest, or somewhere in between? Obviously this would affect pressure, so I imagine you'd need to be careful here. Because of this, overall length has always confused me.

    Jim
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. - Norman Thomas, leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

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    General meketrefe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetyzfd View Post
    Agreed. Building a load specific to your gun really increases accuracy potential. So satisfying to build your own load which is more accurate and cheaper than store bought match ammo
    Yes and no. While one might reload for a specific chamber and firearm to be the most accurate if one can reproduce a copy cat of a popular round that perform very well in many rifles that is another way to do it. Everyone should have a copy cat of the federal gold match line like the 308w that is a hallmark of consistency and accuracy. This round performs very well in many chambers. People who compete might not be able to use reloads in some matches so switching to the commercial equivalent is going to be seamless.
    So there is no one single method of formula for everyone. The objectives, likes and dislikes is what dictates what to do.

  10. #8
    General meketrefe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by minderasr View Post
    I was going to bring up COAL in my next round of questions. I've read you want the longest COAL (not exceeding maximum) that will still pass the "plunk test". But most of the recipes call for an OAL much less than maximum.

    Do you follow the handbook for the load, go for the longest, or somewhere in between? Obviously this would affect pressure, so I imagine you'd need to be careful here. Because of this, overall length has always confused me.

    It depends on the chamber and purpose. But knowing your chamber is key to understand how much of a jump you are going to produce and avoid those bullets that might be more jump sensitive. Jump meaning from the mouth of the case to fully engage the rifling.
    Bench rest shooters have been shooting loads with the bullets touching the lands. In some short necked cases this is a great way to assure
    concentricity. The bullet self aligns but then these loads are single fed so will not be a good idea for an autoloader or even a bolt action.
    Some of these things can only be evaluated through study and then actual practice and testing.

  11. #9
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    I was going to say no let's not talk about it and stay under the radar but you guys are going at it

  12. #10
    Captain Sweetyzfd's Avatar
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    Why would I make a copy of FGM when I have several loads that shoot better? I wasn't implying that match ammo doesn't shoot well especially FGM. In my case I have developed loads that do shoot better in my specific rifle.

  13. #11
    General meketrefe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sweetyzfd View Post
    Why would I make a copy of FGM when I have several loads that shoot better? I wasn't implying that match ammo doesn't shoot well especially FGM. In my case I have developed loads that do shoot better in my specific rifle.
    In standard SAAMI chamber there are very few as consistent as that. In fact is used as the civilian equivalent of the service round MK 316 MOD 0 that is the standard issue to military sniper teams. These rounds are the hallmark of accuracy and repeatability and industry standard for dacades.
    As I said in some matches you are not allowed to use your reloads (liability thing) so professional / world champion shooters use either MK316 surplus or FGM or equivalent black hills or something.

    But this doesn't mean your rifle has to like that round. Or it means the MK 316 is the most accurate for every single rifle and chamber variant.
    So in your case it might make sense you reload or if you shoot in leagues or F-class where reloads are ok that is the case in many places.

    So again it depends on one's goals and circumstances.

    For me there is a good reason for having a MK316 copy cat. For others might not make sense. It is ok. this is a free country and we are just talking opinions.

  14. #12
    Les
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    I would load differently depending whether I am loading for my pistols or for my rifle. For pistol, I load hot enough to run the gun. My guns don't particularly care how hot the load is as far as accuracy. I have to keep my 9mm load away from really hot loads as the short barrel in my subcompact tends to show a tendency to keyhole if I get too much velocity. My 45 doesn't care how hot the load is, it shoots accurately with any load. So, for pistol, I load hot enough to run but PF isn't a concern in my shooting regimens as I don't shoot any leagues that take PF into consideration.

    When I load for my rifle, I load for accuracy. I'll pick my bullet and load several different powder charge weights to find what the gun likes best. Start at the load manual bottom end and work my way up in .2 grain increments. This has proven to be a time consuming effort that continuously evolves. A couple different bullets with 2 different powders result in a lot of testing. The time factor is mostly affected by the distance I am from my club range. Notes must be kept with all the data for every load or the effort is a waste of time. For me, accuracy in a rifle is the goal when I reload.
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  15. #13
    General meketrefe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Les View Post
    I would load differently depending whether I am loading for my pistols or for my rifle. For pistol, I load hot enough to run the gun. My guns don't particularly care how hot the load is as far as accuracy. I have to keep my 9mm load away from really hot loads as the short barrel in my subcompact tends to show a tendency to keyhole if I get too much velocity. My 45 doesn't care how hot the load is, it shoots accurately with any load. So, for pistol, I load hot enough to run but PF isn't a concern in my shooting regimens as I don't shoot any leagues that take PF into consideration.

    When I load for my rifle, I load for accuracy. I'll pick my bullet and load several different powder charge weights to find what the gun likes best. Start at the load manual bottom end and work my way up in .2 grain increments. This has proven to be a time consuming effort that continuously evolves. A couple different bullets with 2 different powders result in a lot of testing. The time factor is mostly affected by the distance I am from my club range. Notes must be kept with all the data for every load or the effort is a waste of time. For me, accuracy in a rifle is the goal when I reload.
    Wise words.
    If someone is in a hurry and want quick results probably reloading is not for them.
    I found manufacturer documentation to give great baselines for starting loads.
    Some of the accuracy loads published by sierra seem to be easily repeatable in many rifles.

    http://www.6mmbr.citymaker.com/f/sierra308Win.pdf

    http://accurateshooter.net/Downloads/sierra223ar.pdf

  16. #14
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    In 1993 I was a Platoon Sergeant of the Intel School's Aircraft maintenance platoon in Arizona when I started reloading. I mainly shot to keep up my own skills and eventually started shooting IPSC, I also invited the members of my platoon out to the range to shoot my AR-15s to improve their marksmanship skills. I didn't really bother trying to load for accuracy in either pistol or rifle since it was volume shooting that was needed. When I am reloading for the purpose of teaching people how toshoot I also don't go for extreme accuracy just extreme reliability. As long as the rifles and pistols cycled that was good enough. The shooting I was doing was "minute of man" not "minute of angle." It worked and my platoon had the highest percentage of experts in the Brigade.

    A majority of my rifle loads will do MOA at 100 yards which is where I tend to shoot the most. When I go to 300 that is where I start being picky about loading for a particular rifle. The ladder loading system that Les described isa good one for finding out what a rifle likes in a hurry, I would also recommend that you get a chronograph when shooting the ladder. The chrono will do two things for you; 1) allow you to plot trajectory of your ammo by knowing the speed at the muzzle and BC of the bullet. Very important for longer range shots. 2) Will let you know if you shot a round out of sequence (skipped a rung on your ladder).


    Donít fool yourself: Reloadingd oesnít save you any money, it steals your time and will eventually drive you mad (if you are a bench rest type) in the quest for the smallest hole possible. Enjoy the thrill of rolling your own and seeking Accuracy Nirvana, it is the only hobby that ensures you never have an ammo shortage when the rest of the world does.
    Manus haec inimica tyrannis
    The only cure for the liberal/progressive minded is; to put them into a situation where they have to rely on their own advice and theories to defend themselves.

  17. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by minderasr View Post
    Some research lead me to power factor. For those that don't know, power factor is bullet weight times velocity divided by one thousand (BW x V / 1000 = PF). Obviously you'll need a chronograph to determine velocity.

    To the best of my knowledge, for IDPA the minimum power factor is 125 except for .45 ACP which is 175 PF. I'm loading 9mm (115 gr.) and .45 ACP (230 gr.). For the record, my current .45 ACP load averaged ~170.4 PF.

    I'm still working out my 9mm load and the strongest load averaged 125.7 PF. From what I've been reading, for 9mm a 124 gr. bullet is much more common because it's easier to obtain that golden 125 PF (uses less powder). I may switch to 124 gr. in the future.


    With that said, iIs the goal a specific power factor or velocity for the load? Are you looking to match (as closely as possible) a recipe from your handbook, even though your gun is not the same equipment (universal receiver) used in the handbook for testing?

    What is the ultimate goal?
    For IPSC the power factor rating was a way to make scoring fair across the caliber spectrum. Minor power factor rounds were seen by the old timers as wimpy loads that should not equate to their manly loads. Remember before the wonder nines we had the .45 ACP and the .38 super. I don't know if this has changed but 9mm Luger is restricted to minor power factor, which is a scoring handicap if you don't hit all "A" zones. If you want to shoot a 9mm as a major power factor load you have to go to 9x21, .356 TS&W, 9x23, .38 Super, .357 SIG or 9x25 Dillon.
    The ultimate goal depends on who you are and what you are doing.
    The ultimate goal for shooting in competition is to make Major power factor with the lightest weight bullets possible. Lighter bullets going faster equals less recoil. The ultimate goal of a bullseye shooter is the most accurate round. The ultimate goal for the plinker is more fun.
    Manus haec inimica tyrannis
    The only cure for the liberal/progressive minded is; to put them into a situation where they have to rely on their own advice and theories to defend themselves.

  18. #16
    Major minderasr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dsdmmat View Post
    The ultimate goal for shooting in competition is to make Major power factor with the lightest weight bullets possible. Lighter bullets going faster equals less recoil. The ultimate goal of a bullseye shooter is the most accurate round. The ultimate goal for the plinker is more fun.
    As I mentioned, I'm not shooting in sanctioned competitions. I guess my goal is accuracy with little recoil, and then only pistols (for now). So plinking for fun, but accuracy for bragging rights amongst my shooting buddies.


    Thanks to everyone who has responded.
    Jim
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. - Norman Thomas, leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

  19. #17
    Les
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    This has been one of the best threads on the forum the past few days. Nice going all, good discussion, lots of info, and everyone getting along. How refreshing this is.
    NRA Life Member - NRA Range Safety Officer - SAF Member
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  20. #18
    Major minderasr's Avatar
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    Dragging up this thread from the depths, hoping to spark continued conversation on the topic.

    I bought a chronograph and have been testing my loads. Also dropped the 9mm 115gr and went to 124gr. I was surprised to see very little difference in powder measures between the two using W231. We're talking 2-3 tenths of a grain difference.

    Currently running Xtreme 124gr FMJ, 4.5gr W231, 1.135" COL with range brass. As for .45 AUTO, currently running Zero 230gr FMJ (but will be moving to Xtreme in the future), 5.0gr W231, 1.260" COL with range brass.

    It was definitely interesting to see where my loads sat as far as average speed (FPS). Definitely added to the reloading time experimenting with and chronographing loads. Makes me wish I lived a little closer to my gun club!

    Merry Christmas everyone.
    Jim
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. - Norman Thomas, leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minderasr View Post
    Dragging up this thread from the depths, hoping to spark continued conversation on the topic.

    I bought a chronograph and have been testing my loads. Also dropped the 9mm 115gr and went to 124gr. I was surprised to see very little difference in powder measures between the two using W231. We're talking 2-3 tenths of a grain difference.

    Currently running Xtreme 124gr FMJ, 4.5gr W231, 1.135" COL with range brass. As for .45 AUTO, currently running Zero 230gr FMJ (but will be moving to Xtreme in the future), 5.0gr W231, 1.260" COL with range brass.

    It was definitely interesting to see where my loads sat as far as average speed (FPS). Definitely added to the reloading time experimenting with and chronographing loads. Makes me wish I lived a little closer to my gun club!

    Merry Christmas everyone.
    First rule of chronographing, POST RESULTS! :P

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    Quote Originally Posted by minderasr View Post


    With that said, iIs the goal a specific power factor or velocity for the load? Are you looking to match (as closely as possible) a recipe from your handbook, even though your gun is not the same equipment (universal receiver) used in the handbook for testing?
    The answer is "yes"

    Only you can determine what the goal is. When I shoot matches with a power floor I load to the floor.

    When I hunt, I load for the hunt.

    When I plink I load for plinking.

    etc and so on.
    "An armed man is a citizen. An unarmed man is a subject"

  23. #21
    Major minderasr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RandallOfLegend View Post
    First rule of chronographing, POST RESULTS! :P
    .45 AUTO avg speed was 720.3 FPS
    9mm avg speed was 1034 FPS

    Jim
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. - Norman Thomas, leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

  24. #22
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    I started my journey into reloading when the ammo crunch was in full swing. I started with a lee turret press which I still use. At the time I couldn't buy any ammo (at reasonable prices) unless it was 243 or 270. So reloading allowed me to keep shooting throughout the crisis.

    Since then I have purchased 2 dillon 650's and a 1050 (found on craigslist) . Whenever I want to shoot I just crank out some rounds.

    I have also picked up some odd ball caliber guns, and reloading has allowed me to enjoy them just as much as the common calibers.

    Like was posted above, this hobby does steal time, but I find the solitude to be relaxing. It has certainly not saved me any money, but it has allowed me great enjoyment of my guns, both classic and modern.

    So in short load your own loads as your needs require. If you want match ammo make it. If you want plinking rounds, save your powder. If you want hunting loads you can load them up as well. If you want to save a few bucks take up boolit casting.

  25. #23
    General dsdmmat's Avatar
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    Casting will not save you any money, believe me. Lol you will just shoot a lot more and then cast more and then shoot more...... It is a vicious cycle.
    Manus haec inimica tyrannis
    The only cure for the liberal/progressive minded is; to put them into a situation where they have to rely on their own advice and theories to defend themselves.

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    Major minderasr's Avatar
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    What about case gages? Are they all created the same? Was reading an article (Essential Gear: Using the L.E. Wilson Pistol Case Gage | Ultimate Reloader) and it got me thinking about these questions. I'm currently running Dillon case gages but now I'm wondering if there's a better option.

    Thoughts?
    Jim
    The American people will never knowingly adopt Socialism. But under the name of 'liberalism' they will adopt every fragment of the Socialist program, until one day America will be a Socialist nation, without knowing how it happened. - Norman Thomas, leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America.

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    Quote Originally Posted by minderasr View Post
    What about case gages? Are they all created the same? Was reading an article (Essential Gear: Using the L.E. Wilson Pistol Case Gage | Ultimate Reloader) and it got me thinking about these questions. I'm currently running Dillon case gages but now I'm wondering if there's a better option.

    Thoughts?
    You should be fine. I use Wilson gauges but Dillion has a great reputation, I wouldn't be concerned if I were you.
    Manus haec inimica tyrannis
    The only cure for the liberal/progressive minded is; to put them into a situation where they have to rely on their own advice and theories to defend themselves.

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