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Old 06-06-2018, 02:31 PM
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Hitting the accuracy 'sweet spot' with the right load....... Hitting the accuracy 'sweet spot' with the right load....... Hitting the accuracy 'sweet spot' with the right load....... Hitting the accuracy 'sweet spot' with the right load....... Hitting the accuracy 'sweet spot' with the right load.......  
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Default Hitting the accuracy 'sweet spot' with the right load.......

In building up loads for accuracy, what reductions have you seen just in changing powder charge alone? Type of gun and at what distance? Size of groups is good.

With me it seems that biorhythms are the main factor. I can have a great day at the then next time I go I look like a novice and next time I'm Jerry Miculek again. So I'm not the best judge of variables outside of myself.

PS I took some movies today of dry firing a J frame, an L frame, a Shield and a DAO 3rd gen. I took some from the side, and I took some into the camera lens for a head on shot. Out of about 20 shots, 2 moved slightly. The others were rock solid.

I should take time to go to the outdoor range with a sandbag.

Of course I was fresh, just had to set up the camera and shoot at it. Not carrying and unpacking stuff in a noisy range and trying to shoot. Usually, it takes a few shots to warm up at the range. So when I'm being assaulted, I can say, "How about give me a few warm up shots."
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Old 06-06-2018, 02:53 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is offline
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No absolutes here; light load, moderate load , or max. load may be most accurate. Seldom predictable. I've always found it worth the trouble to find the most accurate load. If you're not experimentally inclined, it's doubtful you'll get much out of handloading.

However, there are lots of factors besides powder type and weight of charge that affect accuracy.
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Old 06-06-2018, 03:05 PM
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To be credible, people who delight in endlessly fiddling with powder charges up or down half a tenth should invest in a premium long-range rifle.
Doing that routine with a typical duty or carry pistol at distances under 25yd and trying to attribute those inch variations to changes in powder loads is...well, c'mon, try the same comparisons with batches of identical loads in blind testing and you get the same variations.
Like rwsmith said, you're mostly measuring yourself more than the hardware.
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Old 06-06-2018, 03:24 PM
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Pistol or rifle?

For pistol from a rest at distances <= 20yds, I haven't noticed much if any group size difference load to load. However, there has at times been a noticeable difference in group POIs. So, ignoring bad bullets or a terrible powder choice, shooter's hands/eyes and reasonably consistent powder charges probably obscure everything else.

Rifle has proven different. Until I have a load that "shoots better than I do", relatively tiny differences in lots of things translate to noticeable differences at distances >=100 yds.

I don't know exactly what happens 20 to 100 yds . . . or at what distance the transition occurs . . . I don't shoot there lol.
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Old 06-06-2018, 03:24 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is offline
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With regard to handgun loads, I agree. Doesn't require a lot of work and loading in increments of .1 grain probably isn't necessary unless you have an incredibly accurate handgun. However, I certainly won't criticize those that do such. We all see precision a bit differently and that's okay.

If your requirements aren't stringent and you're not shooting past twenty-five yards with a handgun, it's pretty easy to come up with a good load.

Much different with rifles. Even some of the newer inexpensive rifles are surprisingly accurate. You may not need a specialty long-range setup at all. Nothing wrong with fine-tuning a load to get a step beyond mediocre accuracy.
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Old 06-06-2018, 04:01 PM
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Default Oh, I'm experimentally inclined.....

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No absolutes here; light load, moderate load , or max. load may be most accurate. Seldom predictable. I've always found it worth the trouble to find the most accurate load. If you're not experimentally inclined, it's doubtful you'll get much out of handloading.

However, there are lots of factors besides powder type and weight of charge that affect accuracy.
I experiment a LOT. I just can't SHOOT!

Of course there are a few dozen factors but people always talk about finding the most accurate load and wondering what kind of group size reductions they got just considering that one factor.

As you approach THE right load, does accuracy improve?

I should be more methodical but I'd HAVE to shoot off of a beanbag to tell anything. That's easier at the outdoor range 50 minutes away, but I can surely rig something to use indoors. Nearly all the shooting I've done in the last 8 or so years is offhand for 'practicality'. I've also got a lot more guns. And I'll have to start adding range data into my load notebook.
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Old 06-06-2018, 04:28 PM
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Frustrating first hand experience. I have 2 Mauser made Lugers (1938 and 1941) that I use in competition (25 meters ). I reload. And already had a great load devoleped for my first (the 1941), when I bought the 1938 as backup (they are oldish, so anything can break anytime). The thing is. The perfect load for for the first one wasn't reliable on the second (I chronographed them with the same load. The first one always gives higher velocities. Some 70 fps higher ). When I made a load that was reliable on both the accuracy of the first one went out the window. So, 2 pistols 2 different loads.
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Old 06-06-2018, 04:34 PM
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Default SWEET SPOTS.

That's a very individual thing. For ME certainly they are easier to detect at greater distances, & not ALWAYS while using a rest. If I get a bug hole group at about any distance, you know the targets you hang on the wall, vs throwing away, those are worth writing down the load & testing again at least on a few different days. It can't be all luck if it made a tiny group once, it probly could again. Another method I stumbled across when I got a 617 was to fire 50 rounds from 10 yards offhand at exactly the same spot with a different target for different ammo. Yes the groups are larger than 3,5,10 shot groups, BUT if/when they make one big hole, you got a winner IMO. You could really go off the deep end testing different primers/ oal's/crimps. I'M NOT a world class shooter, so when the load shoots better than me, functions well, noise/recoil is not objectionable, doesn't throw casings into the next county or beat up the brass, I'm happy. On some occasions I do want a certain velocity/energy, (hunting, bowling pins, & short barreled guns) I start 1/2 way between min/max listed loads to save some time & $. The more dear to me the gun is, the lower & more carefully I work THAT load up. My warmer 357's are shot from the Ruger first.

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Old 06-06-2018, 05:03 PM
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When I was shooting Bullseye I played with combinations for my 45 loads. And that was less than 1 1/2" at 50 yards. Once done that was it. Funny thing was that when I was done I was right where all the "pro's" were in spite of people saying all the time, you have to find what works in your gun. For my IDPA guns I just load to the recommended loads for the PF I'm wanting and the bullet seems to go where I aim it. I'm not worried about tweaking another 1/4" out of it for the short distances we shoot. I do load to about 5% or so over the minimum PF needed.

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Old 06-06-2018, 09:26 PM
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When I'm doing load development for either rifle or handgun I do everything possible to remove the vagaries of my own performance from the equation. That means shooting from a bench, off heavy bags.

Rifle development always starts at 100 yards. Handgun calibers start at 50 yards. Depending upon caliber and intent, both may end up being tested at greater distances once I'm further down the rabbit hole.

I don't find developing for handguns any less straightforward than for rifles. For me, working at distance and from a bench are the keys.

Most of the pistol shooting I do is freehand. Much as I enjoy that - among other things, handguns are almost universally used that way in the real world - no way would that work for me for load development!
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Old 06-06-2018, 09:40 PM
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I have learned with pistols and rifles, that it depends a lot on the..........
vibrations in the barrel and what the powder produces speed wise......
that the bullet weight and weapon like, for good results.

Naturally, how much COFFEE
I had before I left the house, can also make a big difference as
well as how my "Ora" is with how things are going on around the family !!

Stress can be a bad thing for some people.
What, me worry ?? !!

As long as I didn't cut a target frame in half........
I had a good day.
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Old 06-07-2018, 12:34 AM
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Google "Houston Warehouse experiment". When shooting rifle groups in perfect conditions with bench rest rifles they were able to vary powder charges by as much as 3 grains [10% in a 5.56/223] and still shoot in the 3's. That is a group size of less than 0.3" for ten shots. Powder is not the accuracy node when all else is being done in a rifle. I have had powder change pistol groupings with 1/2 gr weight changes in light loads [5 gr or less]. Much of shooting depends on many other variables.
In general a box of quality factory ammo will let you know what your gun is capable of.
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Old 06-07-2018, 12:39 AM
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Default I feel your pain.....

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Originally Posted by Kurusu View Post
Frustrating first hand experience. I have 2 Mauser made Lugers (1938 and 1941) that I use in competition (25 meters ). I reload. And already had a great load devoleped for my first (the 1941), when I bought the 1938 as backup (they are oldish, so anything can break anytime). The thing is. The perfect load for for the first one wasn't reliable on the second (I chronographed them with the same load. The first one always gives higher velocities. Some 70 fps higher ). When I made a load that was reliable on both the accuracy of the first one went out the window. So, 2 pistols 2 different loads.
I really shoot too many guns to get good with any of them. I do try to concentrate on the 'important' ones, though. That leads to what you've seen. With over half a dozen 9mm weapons (one carbine) making cartridges that suit all of them is kind of tricky, especially trying with different bullets. I'm getting better at it though. After 5 or 6 more years I should have 9mm about perfected.
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Old 06-07-2018, 01:25 AM
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My experience is mostly with revolvers.
This opens up the all the combinations of bullet size (and composition), chamber throat, and bore dimensions.
Along with the powder charge.
Looking at the groups below, I think I hit that sweet spot just as the bullet was bumped up enough the fit the chamber throats.
And yes I believe jacketed bullets obturate just as cast bullets do but at somewhat higher impulse energies.
The gun in question has quite large throats and most bullets need that bump in it.
I have made up some loads with the oversized Zero JFP but have not had a chance to fire them in this gun yet.

I also am not the world's greatest shot but in this case no amount of coffee (or The Force) is going to affect a group off sandbags this dramatically.

I guess my bottom line is that, yes, .5 grain can make all the difference in the case of revolvers.
This is not the only load that has developed like this for me.

The next picture shows that the gun used can make a big difference.
Shooting a 4" S&W 44 magnum is more difficult for me than the same load in the big 7.5" Redhawk.
The internal dimensions are a little different but not by much as the Redhawk has big holes too.

Then again, .5 grain is probably not going to make any difference in the gun in the 3rd picture.
But I have been wrong before.....
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Old 06-07-2018, 02:27 AM
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Back in the early days I was attempting to mak light target loads with Unique. Very definitely the wrong powder for that application. I switched to Bullseye and saw a significant improvement.

But in general, I've been told that good quality bullets are far more important to accuracy than powder choice.
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Old 06-08-2018, 12:39 PM
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I think the bullet is the most important ingredient in accuracy.
Years ago when I played with a couple of 40x center fires. I learned you first found out if your rifle liked boat tail or flat base bullets . If you look 22 caliber bullets are 52 and 53 grain. One is a FB the other a BT.
As to powders there is usually several that will get you where you want to go. That being said if a lot of folks be are having great luck with one combo , don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
I do stair step powder charges both pistol and rifle to find the best combination for my firearm. I also test my loads from a good rest.
I always reshoot loads to verify their performance.
I find loading and shooting equally fun.
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:13 PM
rockquarry rockquarry is offline
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Regarding flat base vs. boattail bullets...a lot of shooters, particularly the newer less experienced ones, will select a boattail bullet as first choice. With the current long-range, high ballistic coefficient fad, they assume the boattail is the best choice.

Sometimes it is the best choice depending on many factors. Often, however, the flat base bullet will prove to be at least slightly more accurate, especially if distances aren't long. Beyond 400 yards or so the boattail bullet will often shoot better. Some people shoot beyond 400 yards, but most don't.

If I have a choice between boattail and flat base in a particular bullet weight, I'll try the flat base version first. That may eliminate the need to try the boattail.

With regard to the popular 52 & 53 grain .224" Sierra MatchKings, I've found the 53 flat base will usually (not always) outshoot the 52 boattail. We're getting into hairsplitting differences here, but that's what handloading is all about for many.
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:51 PM
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I've hardly noticed powder type, or charge weight making a big difference in pistols and revolvers. Once in a while ,I would get a bad combo that was worse than my average loads. I would just not use that combo/powder charge again. Now in long range rifle, that's another world completely. I've had groups at 100y, go from 1 1/2", to 1/4" with powder charge weight and bullet seating changes. Once I get my 308 under 1/2" MOA,@ 100 yards, I'm good to go at 500Y and beyond.
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Old 06-08-2018, 05:11 PM
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As far as the boat-tail applies to revolvers, remember Elmer HATED it
when someone first put a bevel base on his SWC.
Now it is "standard" but not necessarily better.
The flat base may be a little harder to load properly but it also assists obturation and passes less gas
(according to the conventional wisdom which is basically the same as according to Elmer Keith).
You can still get the original 429421 or similar at places like:
44 Mag, Lyman 429421, 255gr, SWC-K (Authentic Keith) - Montana Bullet Works
Another 24010 I like is the Beartooth WFNPB (see picture).
Beartooth Bullets > Home
Notice the nice long bearing surface and the fact the bullet engages the rifling before the crimp groove.
Elmer considered these important factors.
Veral Smith designed the WFN series and I consider him a worthy successor to Elmer as a cast bullet designer.
Lead Bullets Technology
You can get those sized for your revolver and they shoot real nicely.
It's a favorite of mine in the 44 Special.
If you take your time and correctly bell the case mouth these are not hard to load at all.
The Lyman M die can be a food friend with this.
Notice that most all jacketed revolver bullets have flat bases.
A couple do not like some solid copper alloy bullets but those are still uncommon in the revolver world.
.429 Xtreme Penetrator 220gr Bullet – Lehigh Defense, LLC
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Old 06-08-2018, 07:40 PM
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Don't forget abut the gun as part of the accuracy equation. If the gun has a problem, it can be very finicky about getting a load that shoots well. If everything is to specs, many loads will shoot well, with a favorite or two.

Oversized throats, out of time, bad forcing cone, bad muzzle crown, etc. will all be detrimental to shooting good groups. Best to make sure the gun is in top shape before spending the time and money to work up loads.
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