Shooting test load procedure - The HuntingPA.com Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Shooting test load procedure

Please give me some thoughts on your approach to testing loads for good groups: How many test loads do you fire for each test load? At what range? Any recommendations for the best type of target? Do you start with a swabbed barrel, shoot a filing round, do you clean the barrel between a certain number of test shots and thoughts on barrel cool down. If you clean your barrel at a certain number of shots to what degree do you clean it?

After you return from the range to what degree do you clean your rifle? Do you address copper built-up each time or upon inspecting from time to time?

Which type of solvents, oils, brushes rods and bore guides do you recommend?

Any proven tricks of the trade? I may be a senior, but I am not too old to learn new tricks. Thank you for your time.

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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 01:47 PM Thread Starter
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If that was not enough questions here are two important ones I left out:

What are your thoughts on testing groups during what wind speeds/directions and air temperature?

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 02:27 PM
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If you look you will see there was a question on this forum on cleaning that I have a detailed description of what do. Always shoot a filer. For load development I like light to no wind. If there is wind pick one direction to shoot in. Do not try to shoot groups in switching conditions and do not try to shoot the condition by which I mean don't hold off. Best case use ap wind flag, can be as simple as a strip of survayor tape so you shoot in the same wind directon for all shots in a group. Be realistic of your equipment. A light barrel factory rifle in a light caliber that will usually shoot .5 or .6 groups is a decent gun. If you on occasion get a .2 other. 3 group, great. If you have that 1 .5 group you carry in your wallet but it's usually .y to 1.0 or more, you might want to keep working at Ltd. Try going to a club shoot, hang out, watch, listen, shoot what ever you have. Do that for a summer and you will learn more than you will in a lifetime by yourself. Don,t be intimidated. We all started the same way. We all took our lumps. Go it alone you will probably not reach your potential and spend a lot of money needlessly. Remember, just because it's on the Internet doesn't make it true. Get around the folks who are actually doing it.
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 02:29 PM
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some people use factory ammo to sight a rifle in to start with. when i work up a load for one of my rifles i decide what bullet weight i want to use and brand. also what powder choice i will be using. i was taught to look at the lowest load and the max load of powder and start in the middle and work my up toward max. i load 5 rounds in 1/2 grain increments and separate these and mark them. i put them in a sandwich bag and label them according loads. i do this until i get near max. i label targets for each load and head for the range. i do not readjust the scope when doing this as i am looking to see which load gives me the best group. the load that gives me the best group is the one i stay with. i have never had to load any max loads doing this. hope this helps. if the barrel heats up during process i will let it cool down between rounds. i have never cleaned the barrel while testing and have had no problems.
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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 03:01 PM
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Pa. Slim, seems like a good sytem for your needs. Keep on doing what your doing.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 03:40 PM
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My approach is pretty similar to Slim's. Down to the sandwich baggies - label them with a sharpie or I'll include a small piece of paper inside each bag. I also usually load 5 of each, but usually though only fire three. I have the other ones in case I feel like I twitched or yanked the trigger or did something to effect the group that's not part of the standard variance for the group. I'll then have an extra to fire if needed. I'll also pre-label my targets before I get to the range.

I try to at least start with powders I've had good luck with in the past and that I have on hand - something that I can use for a couple different bullet weights. I've kinda approached the bullet type & weight thing differently over the years depending on what I had on had at the time.

When I did my son's 7mm-08 - the only thing I had was 139 gr Hornady interlocks ... I picked two different powders that worked for that bullet and did I think like 3 different charge weights for each powder till I figured out which one seemed to work the best in his rifle ... Then the next time I loaded up more with that powder but fine tuned the load till we found what really worked best for it ...

When I did my newest 270 - I had a bunch of different bullets on hand from my other rifle. I ended up just picking a powder and mid charge weight for the different 140 grain bullets and another for all the 130 grain bullets I had on hand and tried to first figure out which bullet was best suited for that rifle. Once I figured that out then I went back and played with different charge weights and powders till I refined it more.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 03:50 PM Thread Starter
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Sometimes over the course of an afternoon I might shoot 30+ test load in one gun while testing another or two on the side letting the barrels cool on each. Is it advisable to shot one filing round with 30 shots without cleaning the barrel any?

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pa. Slim View Post
some people use factory ammo to sight a rifle in to start with. when i work up a load for one of my rifles i decide what bullet weight i want to use and brand. also what powder choice i will be using. i was taught to look at the lowest load and the max load of powder and start in the middle and work my up toward max. i load 5 rounds in 1/2 grain increments and separate these and mark them. i put them in a sandwich bag and label them according loads. i do this until i get near max. i label targets for each load and head for the range. i do not readjust the scope when doing this as i am looking to see which load gives me the best group. the load that gives me the best group is the one i stay with. i have never had to load any max loads doing this. hope this helps. if the barrel heats up during process i will let it cool down between rounds. i have never cleaned the barrel while testing and have had no problems.

This is more or less what I will do also. Once you find the best group you can start tweaking down into tenth grain increments. If the best group is at the low end of the powder charge work down, high end work up. Once you have your best group, then you can work on distance from the lands. Just a few thousandths can make a big difference. Try to do your shooting with the least amount of variables you can, like wind and temperature. If you shoot on a cool spring morning, temps can sometimes change by 20+ degrees from start to finish. And don't rush, take your time while shooting. Hurrying through can make for some big deviation in group size.
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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 04:46 PM
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Here's what works for me providing my rifle is already sighted in and barrel broken in. I usually take 3 rounds loaded to a starting point with powder, primer and bullet of choosing, then bump that powder charge up in .5gr increments. Somewhere between min. and max loads there will be a sweet spot where your groups will come together. Usually if my rifle is already sighted in I'll start at 100 yards. Targets, I like to make my own on a large piece of cardboard from an appliance box. I draw a red 1 inch dot about 5 inches apart vertical and horizontal on the cardboard, big target will tell ya if your new load is off or on the cardboard. Always start with a clean barrel, and will fire one round to foul the barrel then proceed to fire 3 round groups. After 3 rounds I clean to get some burnt powder out, then let the barrel cool right down. ( This is a good time to find out what other guys at the range are doing, shooting, hunting, politics, ect ..)
When I get home I do a cleaning with a 50/50 mix of Butches Bore Shine and Montana X-Treme Copper Killer using a Tipton cleaning rod until the patches stop coming out with blue on them. One wet patch and one dry patch and repeat. Then a few dry patches and a couple of Ballistol oil patches to finish.
Since I would be shooting at 100 yards wind speed under 10 miles per hour doesn't really effect your accuracy that much. Hot and cold temp. does effect your velocity some but with some newer powders it's not to much unless your trying to shoot in 95 degree weather then again in 0 degree weather. Hotter weather will make the pressure in your cartridge and rifle go up so you want to be careful when working with max. loads when it hot. Hope this helped some.
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2019, 06:54 PM
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Wow, it seems like many on here play with powder loads a lot more seriously than I do. Tenth of a grain increments? Really? My scale isn't even that precise I think.

Here is what I do:
Pick a bullet and powder that I want to try
I start with the published bullet seating depth and do maybe 5-6 different powder charges up to maximum - 5 shots of each variation.
Then I'll seat bullets out further, same various powder charges(5 of each)
Continue that process until I'm virtually touching the lands.

Then I'll test all those loads(5 shot groups) and I'll pick the ones that produce the best groups and test those further.

I always shoot from a fouled barrel and try to keep it cool
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