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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
The Ruger American Ranch Rifle is a bolt action with a 16" barrel with a 1:8 twist. It accepts AR mags (a shortcoming in my opinion). I'll be profiling its precision, i.e group size, for the following charges.

H4895: 24.5, 24.7, 24,9, 25.1, 25.3, 25.5, & 25.7.

The procedure will be to shoot 3 shots for each group and then go back and do it again until a total of 24 shots per charge has been shot (I may even do that statistical magic number of 30 shots per charge). That's a lot of shooting, 168 shots, but then shooting is what I do.

As I see what each charge is doing, I may see a point where the group sizes for a charge or two is just to big to continue shooting, so I may eliminate that/those charges from the test.

This will be the way the groups per charge will be presented. This is one I've already shot, but I didn't include the 25.7 gr which will be included in subsequent graphs.

I will be updating this chart each time I get new sets done.


2020-11-20 Update
Here's the first two sets. I left the first set chart up so we could see how on set at each charge looked. Noticed how well the first four sets track one another! There is one puzzler, that 25,5 charge. It wasn't so good in the first set, but that same charge produced the tightest group in the second set (orange dots). I'm kinda wondering which is right, and of course, they both could be - the best and worst of the 25.5 charge. We'll see!

Have I ever mentioned that three shot groups can be very misleading!


And keep in mind, I didn't shoot a 25.7 charge in the first set, so there's only one dot for that charge.


2020-11-21 Update
Hmmm, it just got a little weird 馃槚

The two lower charges that looked good, opened up quite a bit and that 25.5 gr group that had a 0.4 MOA and a whopping 1.2 MOA, just got another 0.4 MOA. Gonna be interesting to see if tha 1.2 MOA was a fluke of some sort.



2020-11-22 Update
It's lookin' like that one outlier (1.2 MOA) in the 25.5 gr group might have been a fluke. That group occurred in the first set and the next three sets show three groups under a half MOA. But we've a long way to go yet.


2020-11-23 Update
Well, with the 5th set comes a disappointment and a surprise. The disappointment is that I was hoping that 1.2 MOA in the 25.5 gr charge was a fluke, but I got a 1.0 MOA today.

The surprise is a new emerging winner - the 25.7 gr charge! I didn't even shoot this charge in the first set. Not only does the 25.7 charge have the lowest group average, it has the lowest spread (ES), and essentially a tie for the lowest SD.

But, again, we've still got a ways to go AND that 25.7 gr has one less set than the others so that gives it a slight unfair advantage. But before I'm done, I'll shoot one more 25.7 charge to bring it up to the same set count as all the others.



2020-11-24 Update
I could not resist adding the 25.9 gr charge. That's still 0.1 gr under the Hodgdon's max recommended load. I was not seeing pressure signs at 25.7 gr so I decided to go up 0.2 gr more. I still don't see pressure signs.

The 25.7 gr charge is holding, i.e. not growing in size and it is the best of the lot so far, but this charge has one less set than lower charges. Just as a reminder, it was not included in the first set; I added it in the second set. I'll have to catch it up sometime.

The 25.9 gr charge has the potential to overtake the 25.7 charge, but it's got a looong way to go since it's only seen one set. This kinda reminds me of 5 card stud. The high card bets and play continues to the next card. After all the cards have been dealt a winner emerges. So here we are with the 25.9 gr charge showing a 0.69 MOA group size, but we've still got sets to go before we can pick a winner. Anyway here's the latest look with 18 shots per charge except 15 shots for 25.7 and one set for 25.9.



2020-11-26 Update
Thanksgiving Day - the 50/100 yard range was a little busier than I was comfortable with so I decided to go to the 200 yard range if it was open - it was!

More in post #35 - it's gettin' pretty long in here.


2020-11-27 Update
Here's the updated chart. Because the chart is getting so busy, I added arrows to point out todays groups. You may notice there are two arrows for the 25.7 & 25.9 charges. These extra shots were catch-ups. The 25.7 gr was one group short because I started it in the second set, so now it's caught up. The 25.9 is still way behind but it now has four sets.

The discussion for this update in post #38 has the interesting target pic and some interesting observations.
 

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I know Col. Cooper was keen on the ranch/scout rifle concept, but it doesn't ring any bells for me. I almost bought a .308 Rem 600 back when I bought my Rem 700 .30-06, but passed because it didn't offer any real advantage over the 700.
Yeah, the AR mags stick you with the same old COL limits.
 

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I know Col. Cooper was keen on the ranch/scout rifle concept, but it doesn't ring any bells for me. I almost bought a .308 Rem 600 back when I bought my Rem 700 .30-06, but passed because it didn't offer any real advantage over the 700.
Yeah, the AR mags stick you with the same old COL limits.
I'm not a scout fan at all. I like the rifle concept - it's much what an AR is, except a bolt gun instead of semi-auto. The thing I don't like about the scout concept is the forward mounted scope. Not only is it of minimal benefit, but due to the required long eye relief, it greatly reduces choices in scopes.
 

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I'm not a scout fan at all. I like the rifle concept - it's much what an AR is, except a bolt gun instead of semi-auto. The thing I don't like about the scout concept is the forward mounted scope. Not only is it of minimal benefit, but due to the required long eye relief, it greatly reduces choices in scopes.
I鈥檓 not a fan of the Scout Rifle concept either.

The one thing that I did like about it was the sight redundancy...which I firmly believe in.
I鈥檓 of the Luddite state of mind that all rifles should have iron sights, if for nothing else as a back up.
All of my favorite rifles have iron sights, and some like my lever guns also have an aperture sight option in addition to a blade rear and a scope.

For practical purposes, I have at times found myself over magnified, but seldom have I been in situations where I was under magnified.
 
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Discussion Starter #5
I鈥檓 not a fan of the Scout Rifle concept either.

The one thing that I did like about it was the sight redundancy...which I firmly believe in.
I鈥檓 of the Luddite state of mind that all rifles should have iron sights, if for nothing else as a back up.
All of my favorite rifles have iron sights, and some like my lever guns also have an aperture sight option in addition to a blade rear and a scope.

For practical purposes, I have at times found myself over magnified, but seldom have I been in situations where I was under magnified.
It really depends on the application. For example, I have no need for iron sights at all. I've never had a scope failure nor a red dot failure. If I did have an optic failure, I'd either go to my backup rifle or just replace the scope. I can't imagine a situation I'd be in where I needed a scope but if it failed I could make iron sights do. If iron sights would do, why bother with a scope in the first place?
 

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I'm curious about your rifle cleaning regime and how it effects your groups. I learned thorough cleaning (removing copper fouling w/Sweets 7.62) would dramatically open up my groups and lower my score (Highpower Rifle). Once the lesson was learned, the M1A barrel would only be thoroughly cleaned when my records indicated a growth in group size. Enough practice rounds had to be fired after that to properly 'season' the bore and get the groups to calm down again.
 

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I'm curious about your rifle cleaning regime and how it effects your groups. I learned thorough cleaning (removing copper fouling w/Sweets 7.62) would dramatically open up my groups and lower my score (Highpower Rifle). Once the lesson was learned, the M1A barrel would only be thoroughly cleaned when my records indicated a growth in group size. Enough practice rounds had to be fired after that to properly 'season' the bore and get the groups to calm down again.
I basically don't clean my barrel. If I see the gun's precision worsen I'll clean it then, and just like you said, I'll shoot 10-20 rounds of "conditioning" before I start to measure groups again. I do endevor to clean the chamber frequently, but I keep forgetting to 馃槙
 

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On the flip side, F-Class unlimited shooter cleans his barrel sparkling clean before every competition.
 
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On the flip side, F-Class unlimited shooter cleans his barrel sparkling clean before every competition.
On the other flip side 馃檪 , PRS shooters don't do that.
 

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Sometimes pics are helpful so here's the last two targets (11-21-2020 & 11-22-2020), one shot at 50 and one at 100 yards. I shoot at 50 sometimes, especially if I have significant wind. That's one reason I evaluate all the groups in MOA instead of inches.

The 50 yard groups look really tight and they are, but they are 50 yard groups. They would be about twice as big at 100 yards - just something to keep in mind.

In both cases, that lower right is warmup with factory ammo of some kind (as in cheap ammo). When I started this, I had to zero a scope, which required "warmup" shots. In order to maintain consistency, I'm now stuck with shooting warmup shots at the beginning of each session.

 

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I signed on early to the whole Scout Rifle thing and have a custom built job using a very good `03 Springfield action. Pseudo Scout I believed Cooper called it. Lighter than most of the current commercial jobs except for the Steyr. And.....it sits in my safe... The concept sounds great and if you have a range with a backstop that's some mountains a dozen miles away so you can shoot skeet and do some other stunts it'd be fun but sort of like the Bren Ten it doesn't solve any problems and isn't even sufficiently "general" to work as a general purpose rifle
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I signed on early to the whole Scout Rifle thing and have a custom built job using a very good `03 Springfield action. Pseudo Scout I believed Cooper called it. Lighter than most of the current commercial jobs except for the Steyr. And.....it sits in my safe... The concept sounds great and if you have a range with a backstop that's some mountains a dozen miles away so you can shoot skeet and do some other stunts it'd be fun but sort of like the Bren Ten it doesn't solve any problems and isn't even sufficiently "general" to work as a general purpose rifle
Very interesting!
 

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Some observations thus far

1- Three shots can be very misleading for determining optimum charge,

2- Rifles do NOT shoot the same group size every time even when we shoot exactly the same charge under the same conditions. If it were possible for it to, why wouldn't it shoot every shot through the same hole? Why do we often choose to stop when we get that wonderfully tight 3-shot group? How often do we expect it to do that?

3- Lots of shots are necessary to determine the real and consistent precision (group size) of a rifle.

4- I don't like it and I'm sure you don't either that we're finding that determining the precision of a rifle is far more demanding than we've been led to believe. I was perfectly happy thinking I was doing it right with 3-5 shots per charge. Unfortunately it was also frustrating because my "optimum charge" misbehaved so frequently.

It's going to be VERY interesting, for me at least, to see how this plays out as I shoot more sets. I just hope there's a clear winner!
 

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Some observations thus far

1- Three shots can be very misleading for determining optimum charge,

2- Rifles do NOT shoot the same group size every time even when we shoot exactly the same charge under the same conditions. If it were possible for it to, why wouldn't it shoot every shot through the same hole? Why do we often choose to stop when we get that wonderfully tight 3-shot group? How often do we expect it to do that?

3- Lots of shots are necessary to determine the real and consistent precision (group size) of a rifle.

4- I don't like it and I'm sure you don't either that we're finding that determining the precision of a rifle is far more demanding than we've been led to believe. I was perfectly happy thinking I was doing it right with 3-5 shots per charge. Unfortunately it was also frustrating because my "optimum charge" misbehaved so frequently.

It's going to be VERY interesting, for me at least, to see how this plays out as I shoot more sets. I just hope there's a clear winner!
Imagine if there was a really popular method of load development that made all of these issues go away. 馃檪
 

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Imagine if there was a really popular method of load development that made all of these issues go away. 馃檪
The one-shot group?
 
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I worked relentlessly to find the absolute best match load for my M1A. Each time I thought 'this is the one!', the final test was a 25 shot group, to see if it met the 'all shots in a 3 MOA group.' There were many 1/2 - 1 MOA groups during load development, but surplus ammo was just as good on the 25 shot test. The rifle met the Marine Corps 25 shots in 3 MOA with any ammo - guess the Corp knew what the rifle could do.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
The ladder test has almost insurmountable issues for many. The ladder test is primarily for guns designed for long range shooting. A guy trying to find the optimum charge for his deer rifle with a 3-9x scope on it is not going to be able to use the ladder test at all.

That's not to say the ladder test doesn't work, but it is hard to execute and is not well suited for non-long range guns. For example, John Mcquay of 8541 explains the ladder test in a couple of YouTube videos. As John says, you need to be at about 300 yards, that's prohibitive for many; they just don't have access to 300 yards and/or their gun/scope is not adequate to give the precision needed at 300 yards to perform the ladder test..

The next issue is you have to record where each shot lands because you have to be able to identify what charges did what. That can be quite difficult and/or time consuming. John achieves this using a video camera at the target at 300 yards and then uses his video editor to identify where each shot landed. Once you've done that once, you have to do it two more times. John said he first tried driving to the target to record the hits and he spent almost an entire day setting up and executing the test.

I would run a ladder test without a second's hesitation if I could record the hits on one of my video cameras at 300 yards. The physical/mechanical layout of my 300 yard range, and range rules simply won't allow it.

John's approach to temperature stability is good. He shoots at a pace that minimizes they rise in barrel/chamber temperature, so that's a good way to manage the barrel temperature.

Unfortunately, many of us simply cannot utilize the ladder test - I would love to but it's just not possible at my range. Others are simply not set up to do accurate 300 yard shooting even if the had the range to do it on.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
One more thought about ladder testing. If I recall correctly, David Tubb does ladder tests at 200 yards. At 200 yards I can see where the bullets land through my spotting scope. So when I finish this test, I'[l give the ladder test a try at 200 yards.

I'll have to make a chart or at least a list, that describes where each shot landed. That will be tedious, especially for three ladders which is the recommended standard.

Some may point out that at 200 yards, wind could be a problem. It could move the bullet, but only horizontally for the most part. There is a very slight vertical component associated with a crosswind due to the spin of the bullet and the side the wind is coming from but it's usually negligible. Anyway, all we're looking for in a ladder test is the vertical part. So even if the wind drifts the bullet some, the vertical should be fine.

I normally wouldn't do a ladder test because it's a pain to do, but I want to because it will be interesting to see how the optimum charge identified by this series of tests compare to the charge indicated by the ladder test.

Should be a great experiment!
 
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