No, I do not. There is no need for any processing on the bullets that I use.
|Nature is full of |
Can you please explain the tools and process you use to achieve precise bullet seating depth? I am interested in how you would do this for a semi-auto (for example a Scar 17S), and a bolt action rifle (SSG3000 or Remington 700). Would a Hornady C1550 OAL gauge work for the 17S?
This is going to be a little bit different.
The way I achieve the proper seating for my match is very different from what you have read everywhere else. Remember that barrels are expendable.
When my gunsmith chambered my first barrel for this rifle, I provided him with a dummy round in which I had seated the bullet exactly how I wanted it to be. I knew from past experience that my bullet likes to be seated right at the lands. So, he took that dummy cartridge and chambered the barrel so the bullet would be seated right at the lands. He then made me a little guage that I could fit right on a completed cartridge and then use my caliper to measure from the base of the cartridge to the top of the guage to be exactly 3.000. So this way I could check all my loaded ammo with that guage.
When I chambered subsequent barrels for use with the same bullet, all he wanted was that guage to measure. This way all my barrels are chambered the same way for my current bullet.
For a Scar-17s or any other autoloader, it is far more critical that you seat the bullet to magazine length and that will surely by quite far from the lands.
However, that said, when I loaded my ammo for a semi-auto that I was single feeding, I used the Hornady guage (it was a Stoney Point at the time,) to measure the OAL. That worked quite well and it would also work very well for a bolt action. Finally let me just say that you should not obsess over seating depth for precision. If your bullet is not a VLD design, do not seat it at or into the lands. Then I would try just a couple of depth; mag-length, .060 from the lands and .020 from the lands and I'm not overly fond of that last one for a non-VLD bullet. If you can determine a difference use the one that produces the best results. Just be aware that bullet depth seating is AFTER you have already a very nice load. In my experience, if will not make a lousy load perform well, but it can make a great load be a superb load.
|Nature is full of |
Thank you for answering in such detail.
While feverishly loading for the upcoming Nationals, I was pondering the steps or components that I believed to have increased the precision of my ammunition over the years. I thought I would update this thread with some of those thoughts. So in order of importance:
o- The biggest contributor to precision is the barrel. If the barrel is warped or does not have a lapped bore or the correct twist for the bullet you want to use, or the bore is inconsistent in diameter, any effort to get precision out of it will be in vain.
o- The bullet is the next big one. The bullet must have a clean, consistent heel or boat tail, the weight must be consistent, the shape of the ogive must be consistent, the meplat must be small, clean and consistent. Internally, the core of the jacket must contain no bubble and the jacket must be uniform. Those last two are difficult to check and you need special instruments, so you are forced to rely on the reputation of the manufacturer.
o- Matching the powder to the caliber and the bullet is discussed earlier in this thread, but once you have achieved that, getting the most consistent load is extremely important but that will only show up at long ranges. If shooting at 600 yards or less, you can do quite well with a Chargemaster or even a powder measure that works well with your chosen powder. At long ranges, the powder charge must be weighed to within .02 grains or less.
o- Earlier in this thread I talk about buying brass in bulk from the same lot. Before you get to that point, using brass from the same manufacturer is your first step.
o- Primers need to be from the same manufacturer, at least, and the same lot as much as possible. They must be seated the same depth every time.
o- Proper resizing is next, ensuring a consistent internal volume and avoiding headspace or bolt closure issues and providing a consistent neck tension.
o- Trimming the brass comes next, ensuring a proper neck tension (due to neck length being the same.)
o- If your brass has punched flash holes (ie is not Lapua and a few others,) you need to remove the chad inside the case. You only do this once and round out the flash hole. Be careful not to enlarge it.
o- Seating the bullet straight is next, using something like a Redding competition seating die with its internal sleeve reduces or eliminates any concentricity issues.
o- Finding the proper seating depth for your barrel is next. Do not expect it to fix other problems; it's more like a finishing step. You may need to chase the lands as the number of rounds through the barrel increases.
o- Weighing the brass is next if you do not have the same lot in the brass.
o- Annealing every loading is probably the last step in eking out the last bits of precision with your given load and component selection.
The Nationals were a lot of fun and we got some hard lessons from the wind, I am here to tell you.
At any rate, I have come to the painful yet inescapable conclusion that the 180gr bullet, however well it has done for me in the past, has been surpassed and is actually a handicap at 1000 in stronger wind. While it allowed me to place very well the few times the wind was manageable, the vast majority of the matches were in strong winds and the 180 just could not keep up.
I had ordered and received two new barrels with a faster twist than my beloved 1:11 and I had also ordered 90 pounds worth on 210gr JLKs. The bullets have arrived and the barrels are being chambered and fitted as I write.
I am switching over to Lapua .308 Palma brass, of which I had picked up 500 cases last year (all from the same lot) and I am now in the process of prepping said brass for loading. I already have 100 cases mandrelled and primed with Remington 7 1/2 primers, of which I have an abundance, again all from the same lot.
I talked with various F-TR shooters and it was an eye opener in a few instances. One gentleman I spoke with explained that he was using 3 grains more than my (max) load of Varget behind a 215 grain bullet. That's 3 grains more than my load behind my 180gr bullets. His case life is one or two firings, where mine is at least 7. His point is do you load to conserve brass or win matches? I explained that I also value my handsome face more than he did his ugly mug. But I get the point and he did extremely well. He was cutting through conditions that were turning my 180s into uncontrolled kites. The skunk.
At any rate, message received and understood.
So going forward I'm going to use my 180s for the 600 yard course of fire and the 210 for the 1000 yards, just switching barrels as needed.
Also, it was my first time shooting my .308 at the short 300 yard course. That was fun as the wind really had little effect on the bullet for that short a distance. I can see why people who only shoot at 300 yards or less can get a false sense of security thinking they have mastered "long range." It is a huge difference when you get to 600, and 1000 yards is even more so.
I will come back and update. My first outing with the 210s will be the first 1000 yard match in December.
My poor shoulder.
Nikon ,really enjoy following your post.
You do things I can only dream of,
That's very nice of you.
If this is something you would like to try, I would urge you to go to a local range and watch the folks doing it. They will be happy to talk to you and draw you into their world.
You can come here and ask questions, there are a lot of people here who will be happy to share their knowledge.
Also, if you can get your hands on the 2014 edition of the Gun Digest, I have a 5,000 word article in there on F-Class.
Nikon, very nice info in your post. I have use your info in reloading my 223, it WORKS.
4 years ago I attended Appleseed to learn the fundamentals of rifle shooting, 2 days latter I earn my riflemen, I am hook.
In a different post on this form you stated "The targets used for that discipline are based on a 2 MOA 10-ring. If your shooting system (you and your equipment) can hold 2 MOA all day long at the distances for this discipline (200, 300, 600,) you will absolutely dominate the sport and win or tie in every match. You will be a High Master in short order. I know from experience this requires work, dedication and top flight equipment."
Your statement open up my eyes.
I am moving into service rifle comp. I have shot <1 MOA it was luck. I can not shoot 2 MOA all day every day but I am working on that. My rifle with a little more work done and my reloads can do it.
Thanks for all of the great info.
cuda2045, thanks for the very kind words. This is definitely off-topic for this thread and I would love to discuss it with you and there are others here who would be very happy to participate in this discussion. If you could respond to the accuracy thread:
Or start your own thread, I think it would make for lively, informative fun.
As luck would have it, I'm on my way back to Minneapolis this afternoon for the week. I have been visiting a customer there in Golden Valley and a thread like that will give me something to do stuck at the hotel in the evenings.
I will also be updating this thread with some information about my move to the heavier bullet and new barrels (and new challenges.)
I will also add than if you're going into Service Rifle, get Glen Zediker's book of Handloading for competition; it's very focused on Service Rifle ammo. Tell him I sent you; ?he'll say Nikon who?" Of course, that's not my real name and I have talked with him a few times, but that was long ago and he would not remember me. But it could make for a laugh or two; he's a really good guy with a strange way of writing English.
It's been a while since the last update here and a lot has happened so I thought I would share with you.
As I explained earlier, I think, the team moved from the 180-185 bullets to 210-215 class to remain competitive with the other national/international teams. The 210-215 class bullets from Berger and JLK have BC values near .700 which help deal with wind deflection. The game here is to send these bullets at velocities north on 2600FPS out of a .308 rifle and with their BC, they arrive on target at about the same velocities as the 180-185 gr bullets that leave the confines of a barrel at velocities north on 2800FPS. BC rules.
I purchased two new barrels from Krieger with a faster twist than my beloved 1:11 twist, which is perfect for the 180JLKs. I got them chambered identically and also just like the rifles of the other team members. I don't shoot with the team, I call the wind, but I thought it would be great to take advantage of all that wind calling experience by using the same set up.
Work has been a bear over the last 10 months and I have been traveling a great deal. This does not leave me much time for a proper load development.
To go with the heavy bullets, I also bought a lot of 500 cases of Lapua Palma virgin brass. When I start with virgin brass the only thing I do is round out the mouth with a mandrel, prime, load powder and seat the bullet. I ran a quick ladder test and settled on a load that is over book max, so I'm not posting it here. I seated the bullets to a depth of about 15 thou off the lands. I went shooting.
The last several matches have been nothing short of disastrous and while I could see some brilliance in the concept, I was hating the move to the heavy bullets. The team shooting on the other hand, has been getting better and better and we are very pleased with the results.
The team member attributed my poor performance to my incompletely-tested load. While I was out of town, a couple of them took my rifle and some brass and tested out the load and checked several others and then they provided me with a detailed report. Turns out that for my hastily-assembled load was actually an excellent load and where they thought my velocity would be too low, it turns out that my batch of Varget is different than the one they used and even though my load was about .6gr less than theirs, my ammo gets the same velocity; 2645FPS as measured with a Labradar. The deviation was 11FPS.
With those results, I started thinking and tried to figure out whiskey tango foxtrot could explain the results on paper. Then it finally dawned on me. We always knew the 210-215s are finicky over the long 1000 yard and they exhibit elevation issues, the exact problem that was plaguing me. I had been using virgin brass from the start with this load and while nothing showed at 100 or 300 yards, stuff happened at 1000 yards. I had fired all my new brass at least once, now I would be processing the brass according to my own ritual. I prepared 75 rounds with the exact same load, but this time the brass had undergone my process and the cases were all as best as I could make them. When I seated the bullets, they all felt the same going in.
This past weekend, I shot my first match with this ammo and what a difference. I shot a 582-11X with the second match being a 197-6X. The three points I dropped were nail bitter 9-ring, two a 3 o'clock and one at 9 o'clock. There were no elevation issues to speak of, I could hold inside 1 MOA in elevation for the vast majority of the 60 rounds for record. I was elated.
I still believe that it is better to fire-form virgin brass and then resize relative to your chamber, but I am thinking about buying a neck sizing die to set the neck tension of virgin brass to be uniform, because I can assure you that it was not uniform at all. I do NOT want to F/L resize virgin brass, but the neck is different. At any rate, I don't need to worry about that for this batch of brass. This will last me about 3000 rounds, enough to get to Connaught 2017 and the next Worlds.
So moral of the story, watch that neck tension.
OK, on the subject of neck tension then. I'm currently in case prep mode for some upcoming matches with my 6.5 Creedmoor. I bought 4 boxes of new brass (Hornady), 2 each from 2 different sources (one online, the other local). I don't have any record of which ones came from which source. The part numbers on all four boxes are the same, but there are two different lot numbers, which isn't at all surprising given that they came from different retailers.
When I sat down to size them yesterday, I found that in two of the boxes the cases were annealed, and in the other two they were not. At least, they don't look annealed. They also have a different feel when I run a mandrel through them. The annealed cases felt rougher, and it took a little more effort to do it.
This isn't the greatest picture, but you can see the pair of cases on the left is clearly annealed and the other appears not to be.
So my question is, should I expect these cases to shoot the same, all other factors being equal, at say 600 yards, or are the non-annealed ones likely to give me a different POI or group size?
I've read someplace that manufacturers will sometimes polish the cases after annealing and that the cases actually are annealed, they just don't look like it. Should I be concerned about this, or just go ahead and use them?
I've been travelling this past week and still some time before heading home so please understand my delay in answering.
I forget who makes Hornady brass, or if they even make it themselves. I think I remember vaguely that it's sorted and culled Winchester brass and I could be wrong. At any rate, all brass is annealed. If you tumble it, it will lose its annealed look. For instance I anneal my fired brass every time with my Giraud and it looks like the ones on the left. Then I resize and tumble the brass and it comes out looking like the ones on the right.
Your differences are the exact reason I buy 500 cases from the same lot and keep them together for the rotation, until the barrel is done. Then it's time for new brass and a new barrel.
The difference in the resistance on the mandrel "could be" that the "annealed" brass was not polished, whereas the "non-annealed" and yet still annealed brass, was polished.
After the first firing, if you treat the brass the same way going forward, there should be negligible difference at 600 yards.
I thought maybe that might be the case. Thanks for the insight. I've got a 2-day 600 yard fun match coming up in a couple weeks, 3 x 20rds each day. I think I'll use the polished cases one day and the non-polished ones the other day and see if there's any difference.
There may be differences due to environmental condition changes between the two days, but elevation wise, unless there is a major difference in temperature and humidity, it should be virtually the same.
Differences emanating from varying neck tension would manifest themselves as larger elevation issues. If your waterline is similar from one day to the next, you don't have a problem. Windage is all on you.
|Knows too little |
about too much
"Windage is all on you."
Truer words will never be heard.
Some men are morally opposed to violence; they are protected by men who are not.
Yeah, the wind ate me alive at the 1000 yard match I shot over Memorial Day weekend. It had been a number of years since I've shot that far, and I forgot how humbling it can be. As far as condition changes over two days go, I'm more likely to see changes due to inconsistencies in my technique than due to the case necks. But I'm hoping that shooting three matches each day will average that out.
I don't know what kind of matches you'll be shooting, but whatever you do, do not let the changes in the cases play in your mind. If you think one set is going to perform worse than the other, it will.
Just concentrate on your form, keep an eye on the wind flags (if any, otherwise any other indicator) and just pull the trigger the same way every time and wait a couple seconds before moving after you take the shot. In other words, do your follow through.
This is a 600 yard prone tournament. There are categories for optics and F-class but I'm an old school iron-sight sling shooter. I used to do quite a bit of Highpower XTC but my knee gave out and I can't sit or kneel anymore so now I just do prone. This is six 20-shot matches over two days. I'm not very competitive, but I have fun with it. Next year I'm probably going to put a bipod and some glass on an old XTC match rifle and start dipping a toe into the F/TR waters a bit.
Yeah XTC is in my life's rearview mirror also. Some years back, I shot a match and a 300 yards standing to sitting, I never made it back up to standing. (Ok, I did, but there was a lot of creaking.) That's when I new that it was time to call it quits on that aspect and concentrate on prone only. I still have issues getting up and down, but I'm not carrying a rifle while doing that.
MROS (Match Rifle Optical Sights) is the one with the Helen Keller-type targets and the scoped rifles, but no bipod. I've tried that and I intend to spend more time with that after 2017. I will use another rifle than my F-Class monsters.
600 yards is a lot of fun, the conditions are still discernable and you don't get anywhere near as many whiskey tango foxtrot moments with strange results.
You should remember that F-TR, indeed F-class as a whole, was started by an old target rifle shooter who could not hold his rifle anymore and who's vision prevented him from seeing the target properly through the peep sights. I see many old TR shooters coming over to F-class.
Their big shock is the size of the F-class targets.
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