A couple months ago a top PRS shooter shared how he reloads. Uses a Dillon 550. Brass off the ground, lube cases, FL size, prime, throws powder with a Prometheus, seat bullet, tumble rounds in Walnut media for a short time to get the lube off. Another shooter I know does basically the same thing on a Dillon 450. He shoots 600yd F-Class with a Dasher. He was one X away from a perfect match. Ya, Ya I know if he had every gismo Sinclair offers he would had got that X. These two guys got my attention.
This AM I loaded 5rds for Dasher #7 on my single stage press as a first step to see all this for myself. Brass off the ground, squirt with One Shot, FL size, prime with my trusty Lee primer tool, powder (Ohaus beam/Omega trickler), seat bullet. Nothing else, lube still on cases. Good results at 100yds. After the 4th shot landed nicely, oh crap look at that, I better pay attention and get a nice shot off! Next will load 15-20rds the same way and shoot at distance/chrono, see what I see. I'll post those results. If that looks good, buy the stuff needed for my Dillon 550 and look at a different/faster powder throw option then currently using.
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offgrid: I have done similar experiments when loading at the range except that I used my own brass as opposed to randomly scavenged brass.
I don't think I have a rifle that is capable of the accuracy yours is but, in any case, I am not capable of shooting like that!
I was loading at the range to save some load development time with a new projectile. I did load some known good rounds as a test group to make sure I wasn't creating misleading data and it worked out just the same as if the brass was fully prepped.
I have a few thoughts. Loading un-tumbled brass isn't so different from loading tumbled brass. The biggest difference, IMHO, is that OAL isn't adjusted and there is no chamfer and debur. That can make a small mess in the seating die from bullet scrapings if enough are seated.
As mentioned in an separate post, the first and last rounds through the Dillon, if you don't keep the sizing station occupied while seating, causes some measurable difference in seating depth.
Using good brass like Lapua and good dies like a Redding Type-S sizing die and a Redding Competition seating die with a Forster Co-Ax press yields runout in the half a thousandth to one-and-a-half thousandths range. My Dillon 550b is pretty consistent in the five to seven thousandths range.
You are probably already aware of this but Scott Harris has put together a How-To describing how he integrates a Prometheus scale with a Dillon 550 that he has modified for accuracy. I have done many but not all of those mods to my 550 with very little to show for it.
I find dumping powder into the powder funnel very tedious as I am reaching around the primer feed system one way or another. I have to also remember to raise the ram or I dump powder making a mess that costs 5 minutes to clean. I seem to make that mistake at lest once every time I go back to try this method. The Prometheus would fix that but the cost is insurmountable.
I have wanted to incorporate the Dillon into my "Precision" rifle loading routine for a long time but having adopted many of NikonUser's techniques, I can keep brass together and perform assembly line-like processes in batches that work for me. The Dillon is super fast at knocking out spent primers though. I do use it for that and in so doing, it keeps almost all the carbon out of the single stage press.
I want you to be successful at this and hope to learn something new.
For some shooters, some rifles, it will matter. For most of us, the time spent prepping brass is better spent shooting.
IF YOU AREN'T HANDLOADING, YOU AREN'T SHOOTING ENOUGH!
NRA Instruc: Basic Pistol & Met Reloading
pfffffttt. I see powder residue on the paper. That ain't no stinkin' hunnerd yard target.
Throughout the variety of sports I've played in my life, way too many participants/competitors are focused too much on tools and too little on skills. Sure, it's hard to be a craftsman with crappy tools, but the best tools in the world won't compensate for poor technique. The vast majority of us will never be proficient enough in any activity to require that last nano-meter of equipment precision in order to stand on the top platform of a podium, when we're head-to-head against the best of the best.
Case in point. A number of us here have rifles which have repeatedly produced bug-hole groups at 100 yards. Easily 1/2 MOA accuracy, sometimes even 1/4 MOA accuracy. Hell, anybody with a reasonable credit card limit can buy such a rifle. Even get loaded ammo for it via the webz. So why do we not continuously score perfect rounds in steel/tactical/precision matches? Targets are no smaller than 1 MOA in size. Most of the time they're in the 2-3 MOA ballpark. For time-crunch stages we might even see 4-5 MOA targets.
Maybe we're not "doing our part". Or maybe we can't do our part "all day long".
As fredj338 states, maybe we should spend some more time shooting.
after FF Lapua 6BR brass to Dasher and running 2 or 3 full loads, I'll trim .020 or so shorter then the shortest case, never trim again for the life of the brass. I know doing this I won't have a problem brass growing longer then the chamber, which is my only concern with OAL. Several years back I was in gunsmith Clark Fay's shop in Raton. He shared with me what he and his very accomplished competitor wife Trudie do for brass prep, not much. But, but..what about...? Trim short, don't trim again was one of them. Also I haven't chamfered a case neck in a couple years. I know, crazy talk!
I'm so tired of reloading, time it takes. I'll shoot 1000+rds in the next 45 days, matches, practice. Trying to figure out a faster way that works for me. I got to take notice to a couple very good shooters I know using Dillons, their results. Also it's well noted David Tubbs and John Whidden load on Dillons.
Next test, shoot at distance, should be fun!
I'm perfectly happy for people to do minimal or no case prep reloading for competition loads, as long as they are not on my team.
I meet Trudie at the Nationals and Worlds. I saw her in Ottawa and she called wind for a 4-man F-Open team, Team USA Red and they took third place, bronze medal. She did a great job.
Given proper components, and a modicum of care, you can load very good ammo without spending much time prepping the brass. In my case, I spend very little time with my brass as I just resize it and use power devices to do a lot of the work that used to take a great deal of time. As I explain in my stickied thread, after basic resize and proper powder handling, each extra operation only adds incremental value to your load. For instance, trimming the brass or annealing the brass will not get me a lot more points; what it does is lessens the chances of losing points to whiskey tango foxtrot shots. Same thing with pointing bullets.
In F-class competition, you only lose points, you can't make up points. If I shoot a 9, no amount of subsequent Xs or 10s will make up for it. So you do everything you can to prevent losing points.
When I was calling wind for my team, I was counting on the fact none of the ammo had any surprises in it for us; the conditions had enough surprises for us.
I don't know if that makes sense to you guys, but it does to me.This message has been edited. Last edited by: NikonUser,
For perspective, I find hand loading, shooting, gathering data and experimenting based on the analysis of the data fascinating. It can also be extremely frustrating.
Some may simply think of loading as a means to an end. I sometimes do. Other times, I find it just as interesting as the outcome it is an integral part of producing.
I get that some are so intently focused only on the facets of their particular choice(s) within the sport that they are given to think that any or some related endeavors outside that narrow focus are wasted time/effort/money.
While it is true we are all engaged in somewhat different disciplines and outcomes of the shooting sports, I know I have learned more than I can say thank you for from interacting and listening here. I believe that will continue for a long time as there are some smart cookies around here who are wired to experiment.
A friend who is new to LR shooting had a rifle built earlier this year. He's hunted most of his adult life, shot some long range, competes with pistols. Built the rifle with the idea of learning about LR shooting, competing in LR steel matches, having fun. Defiance action, Bartlein barrel chambered in 6.5x47, a nice rifle. He's asked a ton of questions about reloading, various measuring... My advice to him do the little brass prep I'm doing and load 37 Varget/140 Hybrids jumped .015. But, but, what about doing OCW load work up...? Just load what I'm telling you. Shoot a 1000rds of that load, MAYBE revisit the load after that. His rifle shoots great as I knew it would with my experience with my own 6.5x47's. Sure he could tweak the load to shave off a fraction of a inch, doesn't matter at this point. He's shot a couple LR steel matches with me at Raton this season. He now clearly see that the load, how he is loading is not the weak link. He clearly sees his time is better spent shooting, dry firing. Learning how to maintain point of aim/point of impact in any shooting position and the big one, reading the wind.
I suspect the way one addresses this issue depends in part on the discipline in which one shoots. To be competitive in the steel/tactical/precision rifle matches that offgrid favors, the shooter needs an accurate system. IMO minimum 1/2 MOA capable at 100 yards. But often 1/4 MOA or less. Offgrid has a bunch of targets in the .1-.2 MOA neighborhood, and he's not the only one. Sure, the targets are generally in the 1-3 MOA ballpark, and center hits don't score any more just clipping a plate's edge. In theory, steel matches shouldn't be too difficult.
Steel matches have other challenges to mess with us. Unstable shooting positions. Non-standard distances to targets. Unknown distances to targets. High angle shots -- both uphill and downhill. Both subtle and huge terrain variations between the shooter and the target, which can channel or block winds. Extreme time pressures for a string of targets. Targets with unknown locations. Physical demands of humping rifle and packs across hilly terrain. No sight-in shots. No feedback on impact location from the Range Officer, other than "impact" or maybe "no call". No wind flags. Generally only one shot per target, then move to a target at a different distance and possibly different wind conditions.
My first decent placing in a regional steel match was a tie for third, which resulted in a sudden death shoot off for the true 3rd, aka "second loser" I shot first -- roughly IPSC-sized plate, a little over 800 yards away. We shot from the valley floor, noticeably uphill to a ridge. Wind was blowing left to right for such an angled shot all morning long, but it was dead calm in the valley at the time of the shoot off. I held for a 3 or 4 mph breeze (just left of plate) and center punched the target. The other guy held center of plate and his bullet missed to the right side by a few inches. He had a better gun than I, better optics, more accurate handloaded ammo tailored to his rifle, was pushing the same bullet maybe 125 fps faster than my factory ammo.
It all came down to my guessing that there was some wind out there, and my estimate (for once) was dead on. IMO the game we play determines which of its practices are "good enough", and then once a minimum level is attained, where we must focus our other efforts in order to be competitive.
I totally get what you're saying, fritz; and I agree 100%.
As I explained earlier, at the level of competition in which I am involved, you simply cannot leave a single point on the loading table.
When you're shooting the steel matches you describe, there are so many variables involved that loading to closer tolerances is a total waste of time. It's like measuring a cut to a fraction of an inch, guided by a laser, and then you use an ax to make the cut.
When shooting the matches I participate in, the paper tells the story and it's 15 to 20 rounds on the same paper in one string. The difference between an X and a 9 at 1000 yards is 2.5 inches; 1/4 MOA.
Shot this with one of my Dasher barrels when checking a load. Always check loads the same way, put up a piece of steel next to a paper target, get on the steel, bang out 5 shots holding the same point of aim/wind..., drive/walk out see what I see. This one is at 500yds. Have a pile of these, some smaller, some larger groups. Would this win me a BR or 600yd F-Class match, most likely not especially BR. My brass prep. Brass off the ground now, squirt case with lube, FL size, (sure I lost some of you on that, size before cleaning?!) SS tumble for a 1 hour or so, prime, powder charge, seat bullet. What would be more interesting to me rather then trying something different with my reloading process would be to make changes to my rifle, how it's set up. Set it up more like the F-Class Open rifles. Instead of using my floppy Atlas bi-pod use a SEB, instead of my lightweight fluffy gotta squeeze rear bag use a heavy SEB, instead of my 2 pound trigger use a 2 ounce trigger. Certainly would be a fun A-B!
Yesterday learned of local LR steel Dasher shooter using a Dillon 550 for his ammo. Chatted with him about his process. He tells me he could not shoot the difference at 1000yds single stage vs Dillon. OK, I'm convinced ordered all the stuff for my Dillon today. Can't wait, should be fun!
fritz, I remember that shoot off. You're selling yourself short, it was 935yds! Can't believe that other guy didn't hold any wind.
That's 1-1/4" vertical dispersion at 500 yards -- basically 1/4 MOA. And yes, with a rifle that's optimized for tactical shooting -- heavier trigger built to withstand the rifle drop test, repeater action built to handle the dirt/mud/rain of tactical competitions without puking, folding bipod, floppy rear bag, optics of only 25 power.
IIRC, F-class x-rings are 1/2 MOA, so your results are still in the ballpark.
BR could be a challenge, unless you decide to buy all the rifle support toys that effectively become a ransom rest -- isolating your body from the gun. But BR is a completely different game IMO. With the exception of calling wind, virtually everything is done to eliminate the shooter from the process of punching holes in paper. I'm not aware similar things being done with pistol, carbine, rimfire, or shotgun competitions.
IMO it still comes back to your premise that in order to improve our down-range results, the vast majority of us need to spend more time on perfecting the process of pulling a trigger -- regardless of how, where, with what, or why we shoot.
Sorry to disagree, but that was NOT the premise at all and I can't figure out how you would even think that.
Offgrid's premise as expressed in the OP is that all the ministrations done to a fired case prior to putting in the powder and seating the bullet are a waste of time; they contribute nothing to the precision of the shot. It is interesting to note the OP stated the loader in question was using a Prometheus to load powder. That device is worth more than all my loading tools, combined, including my annealer, trimmer, scale and autotrickler. So maybe there is something to accurate powder loading after all.
If you read my longish thread on competition ammo loading, you will notice that I do very little to my brass compared to a lot of other people. I don't clean primer pockets, I don't turn necks, etc. In fact, my regimen is quite minimalistic except for the fact I trim my cases at every loading. Oh, and I anneal at every loading also. But my use of ammo is different compared to offgrid's. In a match, I will be pumping 15 to 20 rounds on the same target and since I only have one load, I just replicate it continually and I do so in lots of 100 rounds. That means I can come to the line for a match and have two boxes of ammo; one with a few rounds remaining in it and the other a full box of 100 rounds. That means I will be switching from one box to the next in the middle of a string. Since I go through the same regimen for all my loads, I do not worry about switching boxes in a string, where one box may have cases that are 3X fired and the other where the cases would be 4X fired; the bullets show up the same on target at 1000 yards.
In my thread, you will also find references to what I call the "whiskey tango foxtrot shot." This shot manifests itself in the middle of a 20 shot string when the bullet shows up on target at a very unexpected spot. At first you blame your marksmanship, then later on you blame the conditions but at some point, you will blame the ammo. Shooting steel, this is not much of a problem, because a hit is a hit. But on paper, when the bullet walks out or drops off a few inches and you get a 9 instead of an X but you know that you held the same way and the conditions did not change, what do you do?
By always treating the brass the same way, across multiple firings, I virtually eliminated these whiskey tango foxtrot shots. The last thing I did for that was pointing the bullets. Now, when I get one of those shots, I KNOW it is not ammo-related, so I can effectively address it and scores go up.
Saying that people should shoot more and spend less time messing with ammo is one of those platitudes that just leaves me bemused. I am NEVER faced with the choice of "do I load ammo or do I go to the 1000 yard match?" Speaking strictly for myself, I plan way in advance for the various matches and I make sure my ammo is loaded BEFORE a match. If I saved the 5 minutes it takes me to trim a lot of 100 cases, I could not apply that to more shooting time. It's the same with the 20 minutes I spend to anneal 100 cases. I resize and decap at the same time, and that takes about 20 minutes for 100 cases. I really don't want to forego resizing my brass if it's all the same to you. I do tumble my brass, but that's with a device that runs on its own and I do that while doing other things.
The operation that takes me the longest is ironically enough the one that the very pricey Prometheus addresses; loading powder and with the autotrickler and soon the autothrow, that should be quicker. In fact, unless you think using Lee dippers is good enough for measuring powder, I am not currently aware of a faster way to do that task and still be called a handloader.
The extra operations that I perform on my brass simply do not have any impact of my shooting time; it's a false choice.
What offgrid did say was this:
This was at first in reference to the shooter using the load he gave him rather than spending time doing OCW and working up a load and so on. But that was not the premise of the thread here and we do not know HOW he loads; all we know is he used the load offgrid gave him and got good results.
If you read my stickied thread, you will have noted that I spent very little time working up my load. There was no one who could recommend a load for my rifle, I had to figure it out. There has to be someone who goes first. I have not changed that load since I started using it. But this is not what the thread is about.
I only FL resize every 5th or 6th firing which usually means I'm getting some resistance on closing the bolt. Otherwise I use a collet die to neck size which also deprimes the brass. I hand prime my brass and have my powder thrower set up for a few grains under my charge weight. Then I trickle charge on a beam scale to desired charge weight. Then it's a matter of seating to desired COAL. I can usually load 100 rounds in about three hours.
I've seen some guys get pretty scientific about their process. I do try to keep powder and bullet lots consistent. I thought my process was pretty simplified compared to others. My rifle is capable of 1/4 inch groups when conditions allow it. Otherwise I don't change anything until groups start to open up which means its time to chase lands until it's the barrel is needs replaced.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by NikonUser:
But that was not the premise of the thread here and we do not know HOW he loads; all we know is he used the load offgrid gave him and got good results.
His loading steps are the same as mine.
By the end of the year I'll had shot 7000rds through my center fire bolt rifles, about 4500rds practicing. I know others who are shooting 2-5 times that annually. Next season I plan on shooting more. Lot of the guys I'm competing against have many more years of competing in some form then I do. Best shooter here in Colorado competed for 15yrs shooting field/positional air rifles before moving over to LR steel matches, PRS. He has to have 100's of thousands of rounds down range. I will not catch him or others on the reloading bench, I'll nip their heels by getting more rounds down range with purpose. So ya, I need to figure out a way to reload faster, a way that works for me.
The beauty of the Dasher, so easy to get shooting well. Even random fire forming loads shoot amazingly well. Seeing how those FF'ing loads shoot with out doing anything to virgin Lapua 6BR brass certainly has changed how I approach all this reloading stuff.
Thanks for the confirmation, and it only reinforces the point of my earlier post where I underline the original premise of this thread; minimal case handling steps are plenty good enough for even the precision shooting that you do in great quantity.
Absolutely understood and I'm right there with you except that I no longer shoot anywhere near the amount you are. And it shows as marksmanship is a perishable skill. For someone like me who cannot get to the range any time I please (it's an hour away and the matches are only a few times a month,) working on team and wind coaching has impacted what little time I had pulling the trigger. All my work in accelerating the handloading workflow is now unused. I have more loaded match rounds that I've ever had at any one time outside of leaving for the Nationals or Worlds. Oh well.
Your focus is perfect.
Now that I have reached the pinnacle of F-TR competition, and at my age, maybe it's time to look at other calibers. Dasher, eh? Hmmm.
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