Loading for the 280 Ackley...

Hi all, I'm new to this forum but have eves dropped many many times the past few months listening to what others have posted. I enjoy the input from others. I've been trying like crazy to work up a load for my Nosler NCR. Ordered it from Shawn @ Nosler back in 2012 and am now getting around to loading for it. My process has been met with resistance every time I've been to the range to shoot. Rifle is chambered in 280AI. I've been reloading for 10 years and each session teaches me something new. My rifle was ordered with the magnum contour, Timney 3 position safety / trigger, custom ordered to 25", cerakote color is gray, and with matching stock. I topped it off with a Zeiss HD5 3-15x42 scope with target turrets.
I've been using IMR-7828SSC for load development with the 150 grain ABLR. I didn't seat it as deep as factory spec, but it had 120++ thousandths of jump.
My first test was running a modified OCW at a 200 meter range. Started at 58.7 gr and worked up to 63 which had pressure signs and backed off making 62.5 my max.
My results were disappointing. It looked like I took a pen and poked random holes on paper.
My goal was to refine my load and take it to an 800 yard range an hour from home. I've messed with everything on this gun. My original seating depth gave the ABLRs a 140 thousandths jump. Seating depth now is nearly what's called for in the book @ 3.340" (I think Nosler calls for 3.330").
Brass is Nosler (now on 3rd firing) and I'm only neck sizing. I use Redding Bushing dies & Redding Seater both competition dies.
Federal Primers LR to start and after reading through this forum and others with postings from JD338, Dr. Mike, and Ridgerunner665 - I've switched to Federal Mag primers (215's).
I called a Nosler technician and he said to make sure I give them a jump and recommended I seat them to factory spec. (no difference).
Talked to Hodgen Powder tech and he said nearly the same, but my start load was too high and recommended following their load data for the 150 Scirroco. That's what I did next. Started at approx 55gr and worked up and the story is the same. Accuracy obviously gets better as case fill gets approx 95% or higher.

When I shoot 62gr @ 3.340 COAL (CBTO 2.625) 2 of 4 rounds group, 1 round is within 2 inches which is MOA at 200 meters (approx 220 yards) then get 1 wild flyer of 5 - 6 or more inches. I know when I pull my shots (most of the time). This is consistent in the 2-3 times I've fired that load, but it's been the load that has clustered the most.
I've even replaced the scope with a spare VX6 2-12 and luckily had spare 30mm rings. No change.
What's encouraging is looking at the chrony for 5 shots at low 3008fps to a high of 3011fps. Even thow low ES & SD. Just not accurate. I think I'm finishing my 3rd box of ABLRs and there are days I feel like doing something evil to this rifle.
Yesterday - went to range with another load of 62gr @ near Nosler spec for seating depth & 215 primers. Two shots close to each other (1"), 1 shot within 2" of the group, and then two other shots 5 - 6" from the first 3 shots.
I like the 200 meter range better than 100 yard range (I don't know why that gun club did that, it gets confusing) to help me get a better read on accuracy. The other range is an hour drive. The 200m range is 25min and there is an 8' berm on either side of the 20' wide shooting lane minimizing wind.

I've used my process before on several rifles with great results - this one has been trying my patience.
Sorry for the biblical writeup. Any feedback is most welcome.
MAJ Chris
Welcome to the forum!
Lot of 280 AI shooters here. Great cartridge IMO.
This isn't a slam on anyone or any product but I'd change bullets. I have had some issues getting the ABLR to group consistently. It may just be me.
Try running some 160 ABs in it just to see. Bet it will surprise you. If you want to run 150s, try the Scirrocco for a few.
I run RL26 in mine with the Swifts. (I have a 7 RM where I run 160s)I'm not at the home computer but I think it's right around 61 gr. I'll check.
Ridgerunner665 has done a ton of work with his Nosler Rifle in the 280 Ackley. I'm sure he'll pop in and help.
Welcome aboard, zener.

Dewey has given you sound advice. The ABLR doesn't always yield excellent accuracy. When this particular bullet works, it works very well, indeed. However, it can prove somewhat fussy. I have had good success in the 280 Rem, but there are other bullets that work better still.
3 things...

How long are you waiting between shots when you fire the groups?

Switch to 160 grain AccuBond bullets, seated at 3.34"... An excellent bullet for hunting out to 700 yards, and will poke holes in targets out to beyond 1,200 yards.

If you insist on a long range bred bullet... Try the Berger 168 (either one).
Thanks Gents,
Ridgerunner - I've been thinking about those 160 Accubonds and read several encouraging posts. I don't have any in my inventory, but I have 3 boxes of the Berger 168 VLD hunting bullets, open box of Berger 140's, a few boxes of the ELD-X 162gr bullets and random 7mm bullets I use for barrel break in or sighters. Any recommendations on powder? I've got RE17,19,22 for Aliant powders and run the gamut for Hodgens.. 7828SSC, H4350, IMR4350, H4831SC, and some faster ones. I may abandon that bullet or come back to it at a later date and am headed to MT next Saturday for a combo Antelope / Elk hunt. I don't want to burn out a barrel trying to conduct load development. I work 1 mile from a local Cabelas which can be a blessing and curse depending on your bank account balance and wife. :grin:
I typically pace each shot approx 90 seconds to a minute and in between shots check the barrel with my hand. If it's slightly warm to the touch, I keep going. My thought is, it's not the best way to do it and probably should wait 2-3 minutes in between shots. If the barrel heats up, I typically stop and make a 200 meter walk and mark my targets. That range has a sheltered entrance and shooting area, so no direct sunlight which helps and keeps the sun off of the ammo.

What I love about the 280AI is how nice it is to the brass. I have a WSSM in my collection and that is a brass prep nightmare.

I went to the range today for a short visit to work up a 243 load for a friend. I had a box of Berger 140's and shot 5 rounds with approx 63gr of IMR-7828SSC and had a nice group at an 1 1/2" with one flyer about 2" away. I either pulled it or didn't give the barrel enough time to cool down.

If you guys have a berger 168gr recommendation (starting load and seating depth) and I have the powder, I could work up a load for tomorrow and see what happens.

The kicker of all this is - I was hoping this would be my rifle. If not I'll fall back to my 300WSM for my upcoming hunt.

Thanks guys.
Of those powders.... I'd feel the best with the 7828, at whatever charge gets you at least 2,850 fps with the Berger's.

You can probably get a little over 2,900 fps with the 168, but it'll get rough on the brass.

I seat them all at 3.34".

I really like Reloder 26.
I'm still trying to solve the Berger puzzle. They have a secant ogive, which makes them very particular to seating depth. I had to give up on the 168 Berger VLD Hunting for this year since hunting season is here, and I needed to settle on a load.

The 160 grain NAB should be a lot more straight forward to load. It has a more traditional tangent ogive and should be more forgiving.

I'm running RL26 as well (with 168 grain Barns LRX). But lots of guys also like RL22 and IMR7828ssc. I also wouldn't overlook H4831 for a very consistent powder, but you won't get the kind of speed you would with the other powders.
Well I'm hard headed and my wife would say that behavior can be stupid at times. I tried a ladder with same ABLR and RE22 (have 1 # left) and it was a waste of time. Very very stupid. On a hunch I made up 6 rounds of Berger 168's (what Lynn suggested) with 59gr of 7828ssc. The barrel was warming up as I got to that string but they started grouping and I had only 10min of shooting time at the club left. I'd like to return tomorrow and try an OCW run and see where I get the best accuracy. I seated them at 3.33" which was approx 2.636 CBTO. I got the 3.33" from Berger manual for 280 Remington. I have a 6.5cm and seat Bergers 10thou off the lands and grooves, but not sure I have the time to play with seating depth on the 280AI.
I got Nosler brass federal 210 and 215 primers, and want to stick withIMR7828ssc for now. Maybe next year try RE26. I have IMR4350 too. Lynn - I bought a few boxes of the 160AB's from Nosler shooting store. They are Blem's. I figured some day I'd try them and they gave me a 10% military discount (not too shabby).
Recommendations on a starting load? I usually work up in .3 of a gr and find a group that clusters and then fine tune from there.

Thanks all.
MAJ Chris
I wanted to follow up on this and my results.
I have a 280AI in a Nosler Custom. I was able to find a nice load using IMR-7828ssc and Berger 168gr VLD Hunter (not Classic) bullets. At the 200 meter range (yup - Meter), my groups were 1/4" or touching. I didn't mess with seating depth, but seated them at one caliber length. I was getting approx 1900fps.

In late October, I bagged a nice doe antelope with my friend on our first DIY trip to MT. We missed some buck opportunities early in the hunt but got busted. Their eyesight is amazing and this was an excellent learning experience for us. My range was 148 yards prone off of my elbows to get above the grass (more of a story to that later). I hit a bit high on the front quarter and the Berger did a number and it took out lung, spine, chunk of backstrap, and left a softball size hole in the other side. It was like a frag round went off inside her. The rest of the critters used during the hunting season with that combo dropped, but had substantial meat damage.

We checked our rifles at some BLM land the locals use to target shoot in Big Timber, MT area. I setup a few targets at 300 yards and the first two shots were nearly on bullseye and 1/4" apart. I stopped there and figured that was good enough. I added some elevation to the scope before shooting to compensate for elevation & temp / pressure.

The rest of this year this rifle and load bagged 3 more white tails and 3 coyotes. A great hunting season. All of the deer had meat loss due to the Berger fragmenting. A whitetail doe quartering to me at 205 yards one shot kill. When I gutted her, the front quarter was burger with no exit. The bullet took a hard left and fragmented. The weird part of this is, there were two distinct exit wounds where fragments of the bullet exited from both rear ham areas. I thought I was going to have a mess cleaning her. I saw internal organ damage (lung heart) but no gut shot or punctures.

I love the Berger accuracy but the meat damage is undesirable.
Next year I'm going to switch bullets. I bought some blemished 160gr AB's to try and have some ELD-X's as well. My hunt'n partner shoots a 270WSM with Bergers and had the same problem with substantial meat loss.
I have plenty of IMR-7828ssc left and am thinking about picking up RE-26 to try as well.
Thanks for the report! I kind of overbought on 168 grain Bergers (think I have like 250 left), and still can't get those things to shoot. I think I will get there, but seating depth is an issue for me.

I've also heard about fragmenting issues with the Bergers. Really that's what they are intended to do, and it defiantly kills stuff. :mrgreen:

Anyway, thanks for adding your experiences loading for the 280ai.
I have wanted a 280 ackley for a few years now and this thread has been a huge help to get me started. Thanks to all those that have contributed their knowledge and experience. I recently got one of my Rem 700's re-barrelled in 280 ai and settled in on using 160g AB with R-26 powder. I started to load up some 160 AB and found that my chamber is shorter than what seems to be posted here. The 160's are touching the lands at 3.290" OAL. I know Lynn says he seats the 160's at 3.340" and has some bullet jump along with that. I am going to talk to my gunsmith but was hoping to get some comments here as to whether this is a problem and what would be considered a normal length. Thanks
Hbohnet":3g3f2g8d said:
I have wanted a 280 ackley for a few years now and this thread has been a huge help to get me started. Thanks to all those that have contributed their knowledge and experience. I recently got one of my Rem 700's re-barrelled in 280 ai and settled in on using 160g AB with R-26 powder. I started to load up some 160 AB and found that my chamber is shorter than what seems to be posted here. The 160's are touching the lands at 3.290" OAL. I know Lynn says he seats the 160's at 3.340" and has some bullet jump along with that. I am going to talk to my gunsmith but was hoping to get some comments here as to whether this is a problem and what would be considered a normal length. Thanks

I'd shoot it first. If it's accurate I'd bet you'll get plenty of speed. R26 should work excellent.
Sort of wondering about that myself. If it was chambered for the SAAMI spec chambering which Nosler loads their ammunition for, 3.330 at least should fit. I would ask the smith who cut the chamber about the amount of freebore on his reamer.

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I set the first few reloads to 3.340 and could not close the bolt. At 3.300, bolt easy to close but saw marks when put some carbon on bullet. At 3.295 some light marks. Barnes 145g LRX touch lands at 3.308". Before I took the gun to the smith he confirmed that it was the saami spec reamer. Sounds like this is abnormal from your feedback, will talk to gunsmith. Thanks for the replies.
Totally agree, I'd have the smith look at it. Even if you can get the 160 grn AB to shoot well, you'd be somewhat boxed in with the bullets you might want to try in the future.

Plus, it might not be safe with factory ammo.
Lynn, I went back through this thread and could not find what your bullet jump is. Would you mind letting me know what this is with the 160 AB's. Thanks
Even though I have to tools to do it....I have never accurately measured my bullet jump with this rifle and load.

As it is a hunting rifle, I simply loaded them to the standard length for most '06 based rounds (3.34") because I wanted them to feed smoothly...I have loaded some to mag length (3.425")....I do believe those were close to the lands, based mostly on velocity.... But I honestly don't know the exact measurements.
I don't get too wrapped up in bullet jump unless I'm shooting bullets with secant ogives, such as the original Berger VLD's.