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Old 02-11-2004, 11:17 PM   #1
Nontypical Buck
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Default What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

I was just wondering if any of you had a preferred method for working up an accurate rifle load. I've got everything I need to begin handloading for my 22-250, but I'm still reading and researching trying to get a feel for the "best" way to approach load work-up.

The components I'll be starting with are Win. brass, once fired in my rifle. Win. large rifle primers. Hornady 55gr. V-Max flat base bullets. Varget powder.

The only data I could find for the 55gr V-Max with Varget was from Hornady's wedsite, which lists a starting load of 30.8gr at 3,200fps, and a max load of 34.6gr at 3,600fps.

How fast should I step up the powder charge? How many rounds should I load at each step? Etc...


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Old 02-11-2004, 11:46 PM   #2
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

According to my Hornady 5th edition, the 22-250 Rem. using a 55 gr. bullet, and Varget powder the starting load is 30.8 grs., 31.7 grs., 32.7 grs., 33.6 grs., and max. 34.6 grs. I usually will load in the published steps above, and load 5 rounds of each checking for pressure signs, and best accuracy. Good luck.
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Old 02-12-2004, 08:36 AM   #3
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

I usually load 3 different sets of 10 rounds. I load just under max for one load and then step the power charge down at 100fps intervals. Bag these load seperately and use three rounds through the chrony and the rest I shoot on two different days to find out which give the best groups.

Main point is rifling, does the rifling in the barrel suit the bullet choice you have made?
In the .22 cal I'm sure it does.
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Old 02-12-2004, 08:42 AM   #4
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

Ditto what handloader 1 said. Except I load 6 rounds of each load. That gives me two 3 shot groups , just enough to tell if it is a possible good load.
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Old 02-12-2004, 08:43 AM   #5
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

I would load 4 sets of loads between your 30.8 and 34.6gr (five each). Pick a COL that can reliabably fit in your magizine but not smack the rifling. I like a stoney point AOL guauge for this. Shoot your four sets and pick one load out you like. Next, go back to the loading bench and keep your load you liked. If they are all about the same groups/velocity spreads, pick the max(what I do). I now adjust seating depth. If you started with .03" from the rifling already, you have only one place to go, down. I would now shoot 4 different sets (5 each) of your varying seating depths. Should have something to work with now.

If on the first set, none of the groups are workable, I usually change the bullet or powder.
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Old 02-12-2004, 08:44 AM   #6
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

I do like handloader but in my experience accuracy is on a curve it gets better as the load increases and then drops off as max is approached ( again this is me and the powder I use) but then I have an area lets say between 32 and 34 grains that my most accurate load falls in then I start working from there 32.5, 33, 33.5 34. for my purposes 1- 1.5 inch is great and I stop there but if you want to see something smaller then you'll be doing it again. Lets say 33.1, 33.2 ect until you find the right load; from there you can play with seating depth.

I use the listed seating depth in the manuals. I can't help you there in finding how far out you can go but if you ask here they will help you. I do you know you have to measure your chamber and determine where the lands and grooves start it's the procedure I don't know.
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Old 02-12-2004, 10:04 AM   #7
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

I'll take the 3 fastest powders that offer an 85% case capacity or better from at least several data sources for the bullet weight I'm working a load for. I like to use the data from the bullet manufacturer, powder manufacturer and data from other sources like Sierra or Lyman manuals. I then take the max load listed from all of the sources and determine an average max load, reduce by 10 % and that's my start point, I increase in 1/2 gr increments to the max charge. Loading 5 rds for each charge. At that point I take the 2 smallest groups and increase/decrease 1/10 gr increments to find the tightest group. If lucky the load is usually worked up in under 50 rds. If I change a component like bullet or primer I'll start at the charge weight from the previous load and do the same 1/10 gr increment increase/decrease. While it may seem complicated it works for me with a minimum of effort and expense. I like to include the Sierra and Nosler data for all calculations because they state the most accurate, fastest powders and charge and Nosler includes the case volume of the charge.
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Old 02-21-2004, 04:55 AM   #8
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?


I think that everyone who has loaded for awhile has found a "comfort zone" that they are comfortable with. Some love to tinker and their zone gets pretty demanding. While others are satisfied if a bullet leaves the barrel and strikes pretty close to where it was supposed to. I for one am a pain in the neck nit picker. Everything I list has, to one degree or another, given me improved results in accuracy.

First I'm convinced that attempting to build an accuracy load in a rifle that hasn't been tuned is a waste of time, effort and money. Due to age and being gimpy, I've greatly reduced the number of rifles I now own. All of which are Remington 700s. If I buy a new rifle, the first thing I do is to thoroughly clean it. Then it goes to the gunsmith.I get the action and chamber area of the barrel glass bedded and the rest of the barrel channel is free floated. I, or the gun smith replace the factory firing pin and spring with a Tubb High speed firing pin and spring. While the rifle is at the gunsmiths, I buy or order the necessary components, except cases, needed to load for the rifle. I'll also get a box of the cheapest ammo I can find for the rifle. When the rifle comes home it is cleaned again and we make a short trip to the range. I will fire 8 rounds in order to get the fire formed cases I need to adjust the dies.

Now comes the loading room work. I will use one case and a Sinclair chamber length gage, to determine the exact length of the chamber of the rifle. I measure the diameter of the chamber neck. Next, I use a RCBS precision mic to find the actual headspace measurement of the fired cases. I adjust the full length sizing die so that when a case is sized, the headspace of the sized case is the same as the fireformed case. Since both of us use a .22-250, I'll use it as an example.. The max listed case length of the .22-250 is 1.912". The max neck diameter is .254" with a bullet seated. Were the actual chamber length were within .010" and the neck diameter within .005" of the S.A.A.M.I. specs I would order .22-250 cases whe I ordered brass. Once I recieved the new cases, I culled them by weight after they had had the primer pockets uniformed, inside flash holes deburred and the out side of the case necks turned. However, my chamber was nowhere near the specs. I ordered .243 Win cases and converted them to .22-250. Once I had the cases reformed, I trim them to the actual length of my chamber. and prepped the same way. I then fireformed the cases with a light load.

Now I'm ready to load test loads. A method of determining seating depth. I like to size a fired case just enough to hold a bullet lightly. I mark the bullet with a marking pen and just start it into the case and chamber the case. Then carefully remove the case from the rifle and measure its length. Since all bullets vary in length, the measured bullet must be used in furture test. After cleaning the bullet I'll seat it to a length about .005" to .010" longer than the measured length. From there on it's a matter of trial and error. Smoke the bullet and chamber it. The point I look for is where the lands will mark the soot on the bullet, but will not remove the soot so you have shiny brass showing. Now I load three rounds to a load and start just below the midload shown in the book and work up in half grain steps to one grain over the max book load. During firing, every round is inspected for pressure signs. Once pressure is indicated, STOP. I don't care if the load is less than shown in the book. STOP, and back up half a grain of powder minimum. I take the load that shot the smallest group and load five rounds of that load as well as .3 grains above and below that load.

Most of the time this is enough to result in a good load. I usually go a little deeper running chonograph test and drop test. It may be surprising just how accurate a factory rifle can be, Good luck and God Bless.
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Old 02-21-2004, 09:43 AM   #9
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?

Funny how everyone has just a little different approach.
Started to read BIGBOB 30-06 and we do alot of the same technics.
First all my rifles are accurized by the gunsmith. Trigger pull, Bedding, Lugs........
I am a little more anal and weigh all my bullets as you would be surprised
at the difference.
As with Bob I weigh and measure everything including the final product.
However I go with 5 rounds at each 1/2 gr powder measurement and when I go to the next set I totally clean the barrel and run a light patch of gun oil.
The first round in the new set is to just clean out the oil and does not count in my group.
I also am carefull to wait a minute or 2 with the action open to cool down the barrel for the next shot.
When I finally find the perfect load I take a MASTER and paint it orange so I have the weights and mesurements right there for quick referance.
This is a fun little hobby and you can put as much time and presion into it as you like.
It took me a good month of weekends with powders and bullets to find my Savage 112 in 22-250 shoots 52gr Speer Hollowpoint with 34 gr of 4064 the best.
Blowing the heads off Gophers at over a 1/4 mile is some of the best fun in the world and knowing that I am the 1 who is loading the bullets is just iceing on the cake.
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Old 02-21-2004, 11:04 AM   #10
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Default RE: What's your proceedure for working up a rifle load?


Thanks for the great info.

One question, though. How do you make 22-250 cases from .243? Who makes the case forming dies for that operation.

Right now I've done the following case prep and accuracy steps:

1.) Trimmed all the cases to the midpoint between the trim to and max case length (1.907"), to ensure uniform case length and square the mouths. Camfered and deburred the mouths.

2.) De-burred the flash holes.

3.) Uniformed the primer pockets.

4.) After finishing all of the case prep steps that involved removal of material, I then weighed and separated the brass into +/- 0.5gr lots, discarding any cases that were more than 2 grains from the mean weight. I then chose 50 cases from the group of cases closest to the mean, and set aside the other groups to be used when these cases wear out.

5.) Neck sized only. Actually, this step was done before trimming, but I just thought about it now and didn't want to change the step numbers!

6.) Adjusted the seating depth to approx .015" from the lands by using the sooted bullet method. My next step will be to get a Stoney Pt. OAL gauge and refine the seating depth further, but for safety and lack of a more accurate measuring method, I decided that .015" was as close as I'll get for now.

7.) When seating the bullets I use a three step proceedure where I start the bullet about 1/3 into the case, turn the case about 120 degrees, seat another 1/3, turn 120 degrees, finish seating. I read in one of my manuals that doing this tends to minimize bullet runout. I don't yet have a method to check it, but I thought I'd do it anyway as it should hurt anything either.

8.) Weighed all powder charges as precisely as possible. Time-consuming but worth it. I found that my RCBS uniflow powder measure will throw charges to about +/- 0.1gr, but with the scale and powder trickler I am probably getting the charges within +/- 0.02gr or closer.

The next tool purchases will be a Stoney Pt. OAL gauge and bullet comparator to really dial in the seating depth, and an outside neck turner attachment for my Forster trimmer. I think that neck turning will have a big impact on accuracy, as I can visually see slight variations in neck thickness.

I've already done the gross tuning of the charges by starting at the minimum and working up in the steps of about 1gr as posted my manual. I found that best accuracy was at the min. charge and at near the max charge, with the group opening up in between (is that normal?). When I shot the first handloads I had intended to chrony them, but I was having one of those days and while I remembered to pack my chrony in my shooting bag, I forgot to put the tripod in the truck! So no chrony'd loads from the last batch. The last batch I handloaded I decided to further refine the powder charge, so I loaded the 50 rounds starting at 33.8gr Varget and moved up in 0.2gr increments back to the published max load of 34.6gr. Since I'm new to handloading, I'm not going to go over the published max charge, even though the cases showed no pressure signs at the max load. I'm going for accuracy and not speed anyway, and I don't feel like dancing with the devil on this. I watched another guy suffer a ruptured case that blew the magazine and floorplate right out of his rifle, and I don't want that to be me if I can help it. [8D]

Thanks for all the great advice, guys. Please keep it coming. Now that I've tried it I find handloading absolutely fascinating, and your advice is a big help!

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