?Loading .308 and .243 for consistant performance?

?Loading .308 and .243 for consistant performance?

This is a discussion on ?Loading .308 and .243 for consistant performance? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; My search capabilities are extremely limited. I either get 300 threads that have every/any possible combination of key words or a "zero found". So, if ...

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  1. #1
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    ?Loading .308 and .243 for consistant performance?

    My search capabilities are extremely limited. I either get 300 threads that have every/any possible combination of key words or a "zero found". So, if all I get are directions to relevant posts that's great!

    I've been reloading hand gun ammo for a few years and have had good results. I am not super critical of my charges and have had good luck with the Lee turret set up and their powder disc charger. As long as I keep the hopper better than half full and keep my actions consistent, I get reasonably consistent loads.

    I recently(yesterday) picked up a Lee Challenger, 50th Anniversary kit for loading .308, .243 and .223. I want to start doing more shooting for tight groups and accuracy at longer ranges and want get serious about loading for consistent performance, especially in the .308win.

    The Perfect Powder Measure that came with the press seems to be on the same level with the disc measure as far as repeatability. I tried for a 37.5 gr charge with Varget powder and was getting anywhere from 37.3 to 37.7 gr as measured on the balance scale.

    Is this enough variation to warrant a better/ more consistent measure? If so, is there any real advantage to going with one of the automated measure/scales like the Hornady Lock N Load Auto Charge Powder Measure over a good trickler? Are they faster? I don't see how they could be any more accurate than using a powder trickler and a good scale. So, what do you get for the $200+ price increase? And, while I'm asking for someone else to do my research for me, who makes the best powder trickler?

    ETA:
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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    For my precision rifle rounds I dip then trickle by hand. Each case prepared identically and each powder charge spot on. It is time consuming but worth it. If you want same hole accuracy the only way is attention to detail. I don't know if the electronic stuff is as precise as a balance beam and my eye, but for me loading is kind of a zen thing anyway so I am not worried about speeding things up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    For my precision rifle rounds I dip then trickle by hand. Each case prepared identically and each powder charge spot on. It is time consuming but worth it. If you want same hole accuracy the only way is attention to detail. I don't know if the electronic stuff is as precise as a balance beam and my eye, but for me loading is kind of a zen thing anyway so I am not worried about speeding things up.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    Same. I use a single stage press and do everything by hand. Just take your time.

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    I have a RCBS electronic powder dispenser and I love it (would not reload handgun ammo without it). I use it to reload my handgun target rounds and to get my .243 to trickle level, then I trickle the rest in for the .243. I have checked the RCBS several times it has always been spot on, but I still trickle for the precision stuff.

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    There's a lot (and I do mean a whole lot) more to making accurate loads than just the weight of the powder charge. Not that it's not important. but the same amount of powder in a crappy load is still crap. There are so many variables you can change, and that's why there are so many books written on the subject. I've been loading for nearly 40 years and still learn new stuff all the time.
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    When I wanted to work up a really tight load for my .30-06 and .223, I set my powder dropper just shy of the measure I wanted and used a trickler to bring it up to the exact weight, right down to the last granule of powder. If you want exact loads of powder, I don't think any dropper or measure is going to be consistant enough with most rifle powders. Most are too course to be that consistant.

    My powder dropper is an antique Herter's that will give exact drops with fine pistol powders (HP-38 my usual). For courser rifle powders, it's fairly accurate for range loads. I use a RCBS trickler in lieu of the spoon I once used. Sometimes that .1 grain adjustment in powder weight makes all the difference between a good load and a great load for any given bullet style or weight.
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    Re-visiting this post I see I didn't actually address your question. I personally prefer a good old balance beam scale and a simple powder trickler. You will not find a simple powder drop that will meter with enough consistency to squeeze every bit of accuracy out of a load. A friend of mine uses an RCBS Chargemaster and loves it, but you are talking $300 or so. A balance beam scale and a trickler will set you back around $100 only and does the same thing only a little slower.

    Cosistency is the name of the game to make extremely accurate ammo. That and a whole lot of time and expermenting with diffent components. Some things that I have found over the years that help a lot. Properly trimmed brass is a must. Best trimmer in my opinion is the simple and inexpensive Lee. No adjusting and they will trim to same length every time. A VLD neck chamfering tool also is a must. A primer flash hole uniformer (you would be amazed how poorly formed most flash holes are). A good straight line bullet seating die or what is often called a competition seating die. Runout is very detrimental to good accuracy. Finally a lot of patience and range time and you can possibly get to the 1/2 MOA area with a good rifle. Below that is difficult but not impossible. I have gotten one gun to shoot under 1/2 moa over the years of playing with this stuff.
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    I just picked up a Hornady Trickler and electronic scale. I have a couple Lee Safety balance scales and like them but there is a lot of room for variance due to angle of view, thus the electronic scale.

    I'm using RCBS small base dies with the Lee Factory Crimp Die for my .308win and .223 and a Lee 3 die set for .243

    I am a complete newb to loading rifle ammo so I am sure there will be a long learning curve.

    What's the best way to determine seating depth? I have seen that some actions like to have the nose in contact with the rifling and some just shy... How do you determine when you make contact with the rifling?

    ETA:
    My primary concern is the .308 I will be running a Remy 700 SPS AAC SD, if I ever get my B&C stock back and the scope rings for my LRS1. This is my first rifle put together primarily for mid range precision.
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    What's the best way to determine seating depth? I have seen that some actions like to have the nose in contact with the rifling and some just shy... How do you determine when you make contact with the rifling?
    There are several ways, but the easiest is to take an empty cartridge and a bullet. Then size the cartridge neck just enoungh to put some resistance on the bullet. Place it in your rifle and slowly close the action. The bullet contacting the rifling will push the bullet back in the case. Take it out and measure for over all length. May have to do it a few times to get correct tension on bullet, but works fairly good to get the OAL. Only way to determine which seating depth works best is to load and shoot different lengths.
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    Quote Originally Posted by luvmy40 View Post
    I just picked up a Hornady Trickler and electronic scale. I have a couple Lee Safety balance scales and like them but there is a lot of room for variance due to angle of view, thus the electronic scale.
    Only way to be certain you are reading a beam correctly is to view it from the same angle every time. I have mine on a shelf at eye level.
    I also am a big fan of the Lee factory crimp dies.
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  11. #11
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    Jeff F,

    Keep in mind that I have loaded precisely 30 rounds of .308 in my life.

    What do you use to swage the mouth of the brass for the "fitting" process? Is the the sizing die adjustable somehow?

    I did up a few rounds with the Hornady scale and trickler and I have to say the process was not as cumbersome as I had anticipated.
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  12. #12
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    You can adjust your sizing die to only neck size by backing it out from the full length sizing position. Depending on the chmaber in your rifle it may only take a very slight kiss on the neck with the die. Try a bullet before you do anything and it may be snug already, all chambers are different.

    That brings another thing to mind. I personally never full length size my brass after the first firing. I only do neck sizing. As long as you use the brass in the same rifle all the time it don't need full length sized only neck sized to hold the bullet. Saves on wear on the brass, but the necks will eventually get brittle (work hardened) and split unless you anneal them every so often (see told you there's so many things involved depending how serious you want to get).
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  13. #13
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    The New Winchester brass and Hornady bullets worked perfectly and gave me an OAL of 2.776". This is, however too long for the magazine. Is this normal? It's really not a big deal to load each shot individually if I am looking for the tightest groups. I was just wondering if it is the norm.

    Do you anneal with a torch or oven?
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  14. #14
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    Yea that would be fairly normal at max OAL. If you think about it the tip of the bullet is well past where the rifling starts if it's a spitzer. Whats actuually first touching the rifling is the ogive of the bullet.

    I use a handheld propane torch to anneal my brass. Annealing is a art unto itself and requires some skill to master. The object is to restore the elasticity to the brass without ruining it with too much heat. Also you never ever want to anneal the web of the case. If only neck sizing you only need to do the neck area. There is a lot of info on the web about the subject and would recommend you do a lot of reading before even attempting it. Here's a youtube video that shows it perfectly and is exactly how I do mine except for the water quench. I like to air cool mine for no other reason than it saves time drying it out and there seems to be no difference doing it that way. Annealing Brass in HD - YouTube
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