shortcut to finding a tight group

TackDriver284

Handloader
Feb 13, 2016
1,736
393
It may sound like a silly question. As you know seating depths does help tweak a load after finding a node or a nice group. Does taking a shortcut such as loading one round in .4 to .5 increments to find your maximum velocity where you may feel little heavy bolt lift, pressure signs, etc, THEN just stop there and adjust seating depths to tweak that charge to tighten it up or do you need to be in the node to tighten it up? I have seen groups so good and its outside the node, have you?

I have always done load development loading 3 round charges in increments and done well with it, sometimes its frustrating because you may use the wrong powder or bullet and does not shoot worth a darn and wasting bullets /powder and burning barrels.
 

Nimrod84

Handloader
Feb 20, 2017
376
2
TackDriver284,

I'm just getting back into reloading, so Please take what I right as a grain of salt...

What you wrote is pretty close to how I do my load work-up. For rounds in the 30-06 family, I tend to use two rounds with bullets seated as close to the lands as I want and use 0.3-1 grain powder increments (depending on how low I start and how close I am to book max) to work up to and establish my max powder charge. Two rounds gives me double the opportunity to see a issue earlier rather than later; helps me catch charge variations, variation in brass, wacky primers, weird chronograph numbers, etc. before they become a safety issue.

I don't have quick-load so I won't directly comment on your node question. I would think you are in a "node", "zone" or some other good place by definition when you get good groups; regardless of what a program indicates. I will say that I've gotten some good results in the past with loads which shouldn't work according to conventional wisdom and poor accuracy with loads which should have been tack-drivers.
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,538
1,026
Perhaps there is no need to push to maximum velocity/heavy bolt lift?

Also - just responding to the title of this thread "shortcut to finding a tight group." The biggest shortcut I use is to do a little research and find a generally accepted "target load" or "accuracy load" for that cartridge.

These are listed in various loading manuals, Sierra & Nosler, and some are widely known.

The bullet makers shoot thousands of rounds for accuracy testing. They've already done most of the work for us.

But I don't stop there. I read. Gunwriters like Barsness & Boddington and others have done some very good work with various rifles and cartridges. I know Barsness has published many loads over the years that work well in different rifles.

Precision riflemen/target shooters share load data. Peruse it! That's how I got on a wonderfully accurate .300 WSM load. I just copied the exact load a fellow had used to do very well with a 1,000 yard benchrest rifle. It worked really well. Of course I worked up to it, but ya, the load had been developed and published. Well worthwhile.

In short, there are well known, published "accuracy loads" and that's where I start when I'm working with a new cartridge or rifle. Why spend time and money and bullets trying every doggone combo possible when there are usually a couple of excellent loads readily available? Loads that have proven accurate in many rifles...

Regards, Guy
 

Nimrod84

Handloader
Feb 20, 2017
376
2
Guy Miner,

I agree with you on all points. I missed TackDrivers reference to shooting with a sticky bolt. If I have a sticky bolt, then I don't use my remaining rounds and back off future charge weights. I'm a hunter, safety and reliability are the first and second priority. Accuracy and velocity are tied for my third priority and vary depending on the game & where I am hunting.

I further agree on, researching and asking for accurate loads from others - I love to do that and I cross reference them to my load books to verify safety. I read the original question as a what do you do when you have suitable but not top tier components or you have a rifle that needs a lot of special attention.

I have a rifle that needs special attention as a lot of "chocolate ice-cream loads" that nearly every 30-06 should love, don't work amazingly well in the family's Sauer 202 rifle. It has a two piece stock and slightly odd method of assembly, so vibrations and resulting accuracy "nodes" seem really off compared to most American rifles. It might just be a loose screw - there are three which connect the barrel to the receiver or its weird ammo taste might be coming from the cracks in the stock pieces which are being repaired...
 

Michael C. Smith

Beginner
May 24, 2016
220
1
I am just getting started in this maddnes! To me reading all you can and listening to the guys that know what's going! I know all the knowledge y'all put on here on a daily basis is great! It has really helped me and I thank everyone for that!

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hereinaz

Beginner
Dec 19, 2016
57
0
I had never loaded before and this is my first experience and story. Maybe I eas lucky.

I studied very carefully the OCW method. I read and I read and I read until I figured out what it meant and how to do it.

I also studied what the best powders and loads tended to be for my rifle from various manuals. I chose some of the best bullets to shoot. I was extremely careful with measuring my loads to keep them consistent. I used the hornaday comparators to find the chamber length in my rifle and also to test the brass that I resized and the seating depth. I read and watched on YouTube from lots of sources to get an idea of what they all did consistently and what they dismissed as mere witchcraft.

I then loaded it out as instructed in the OCW method by Dan Newberry. I went to the range shot a total of 23 bullets. I shot two foulers and then groups of 3 for 5 different charge weights. I took that home and decided which was the best ocw node. And, when I looked at my groups at home, and analyzed them, it happened just like Dan Newberry described. My best single group was at max pressure, but the best "optimal charge weight" was a grain lower.

Because I was shooting Barnes Bullets for this application, I then followed their instructions to find out what jump my rifle like for the "optimal charge weight" that I had chosen. I followed their procedure and loaded up another 15 rounds. By the third group I was shooting sub MOA.

I took my target out to 200 yards and then shot the group below. I think that less than 50 bullets and two range trips to find a good load is pretty good based on all I have read.

My experience with doing anything is I am better off to start with the best information and then follow a system that has been designed by people smarter than me. I knew that I didn't want to start this willy-nilly and jump around trying all sorts of different combinations without any consistency like a crazy man.

Starting with the best information about the chosen components and then choosing proven process will get you as close as you can before you actually load a bullet and pull the trigger. I applied this process and was pleased.

Now, if I can figure out why my other gun keeps jumping around POI... Vortex is gonna get a scope pretty soon, cause I think that is the problem.
a2fad4416bac3e872b125de066f3d2e7.jpg


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
21
The OCW method is really pretty simple. It's about finding a charge weight range that is barrel friendly.

Typically, the way we layout our test loads is in line with OCW, but then looking at the test results is a little different. I'll try the method on Saturday. I have 15 test rounds ready to go. It was easy to google.


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TackDriver284

Handloader
Feb 13, 2016
1,736
393
Guy Miner":13kgev8h said:
Perhaps there is no need to push to maximum velocity/heavy bolt lift?

You are correct, I should have mentioned to back off a grain and tweak seating depths. Safety is indeed priority one. But as you know sometimes with the magnums, the bullet shoots awesome at fast speeds close to max.
 

SJB358

Ballistician
Dec 24, 2006
31,304
563
I'm with Guy and all of you all really, I read a ton, use what I can find and start from there with my load work. Known loads are my favorites. With my previous Mashburn three others were using the exact same combo so I worked up and with 16 rounds found my load. Verified it a couple of times at distance. Life is great like that.

With lesser written about cartridges QL has been a huge help to me. Often finding good nuggets of information. Typically I'll start low and find the speed range I want to be in and then work seating depth. It's been a fairly decent way to get good loads that way.

I'll say this though, most all rifles can be made to shoot but if they are so fussy and require such and such a charge with a very specific bullet they are usually sick and will drive you nuts. A good rifle will shoot everything pretty well and then be just flat awesome with load work.
 

Cleveland48

Handloader
Jul 28, 2015
1,921
32
I do things pretty similar to Guy and research what a lot of people are using. I may start a little under and work up then adjust seating depth. I will be doing my first actual OCW test here pretty soon. I plan to load cases in groups of three in .3 grain increments up until pressure signs or max with bullets loaded at .020" jump. Then pick a node and adjust seating depth to pull it in. I have been guilty in the past of just picking a load that looks close to the velocity I want and adjust seating depth until I like it. Now I wanna do the OCW and give it a shot.


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Gunner46

Handloader
Jan 12, 2015
483
2
Actually, I've found it to be a pretty simple process. Just get on a couple forums and ask. You'll get a dozen "most" accurate loads, but in time it's easy to see which are consistent across the board, as apposed to just someones personal favorite.

The suggestions will not nail it down to 42.567 grs of XXXX, at 2.9457" OAL, but that's why we all go to the range.

The guys here have helped me narrow down my possibles in short order and I've walked away from the range with fewer rounds down range and better groups.
 

Darkhorse

Handloader
Mar 14, 2014
740
6
I guess I'm the odd man out here as I no longer read anything to look for a good load in someone else's rifle. I don't do the OCW thing and never will. I guess I'm just too old and stubborn to change. Plus I just like the way I do things.
These days I only keep a few favorite powders on my bench. I pick the one I want to use and shoot a few rounds to check the pressure for safety. Then I basically start varying the distance from the lands until I get the accuracy I'm after. Then it's tested in a cold, clean barrel a few times before I call it good. I usually start a couple of grains below max. and go up from there. I compare them all and pick the one I like best.
This is basically the same process used with the out of favor Browning BOSS. I have one on my 300 Win. Mag. and I wouldn't be without it. When I finally stopped fooling with it I had a deer load that shot under a 1/2 inch, sometimes much under, and a elk load that did the same thing.
I attribute the accuracy I get just as much to my case prep as to my loading process. It takes all the parts to make a whole. But I'm not getting into all that right now. I don't consider this a "shortcut' it's just the way I've done things the past 30 years or so.

The rifle that shot the group in the photo is a factory Model 700 that I glass bedded and did a trigger job on. It also wears a 10X scope which is not enough magnification for my old eyes.
 

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Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,538
1,026
Darkhorse - your "shortcut" is relying on powders and a loading technique that have long since proven their worth.

Meticulous handloading isn't always fast handloading. Looks like you know exactly what you're doing!

Regards, Guy
 

woods

Handloader
Jun 11, 2009
302
0
TackDriver284":357iqiji said:
It may sound like a silly question. As you know seating depths does help tweak a load after finding a node or a nice group. Does taking a shortcut such as loading one round in .4 to .5 increments to find your maximum velocity where you may feel little heavy bolt lift, pressure signs, etc, THEN just stop there and adjust seating depths to tweak that charge to tighten it up or do you need to be in the node to tighten it up? I have seen groups so good and its outside the node, have you?

I have always done load development loading 3 round charges in increments and done well with it, sometimes its frustrating because you may use the wrong powder or bullet and does not shoot worth a darn and wasting bullets /powder and burning barrels.

That's the way I do it. I generally have a preconceived idea of what velocity I am hoping for and stop short of heavy bolt lift

Example of this 6.5 rem mag that I thought would be great to shoot the 130 gr SSII at 3200 fps. I started lower and worked up with 1 load at each powder charge

DSC00980.jpg


and then a seating depth test looking for groups, lowest extreme spread and lowest standard deviation

1211-1.jpg


That load at .060" off the lands performs the same winter/summer/low altitude/high altitude

The problem I have encountered with loads that have a phenomenal group but high extreme spreads is (by the law of averages/statistics) that they do not always shoot good.

YMMV
 

TackDriver284

Handloader
Feb 13, 2016
1,736
393
woods":fqb4w7hu said:
TackDriver284":fqb4w7hu said:
It may sound like a silly question. As you know seating depths does help tweak a load after finding a node or a nice group. Does taking a shortcut such as loading one round in .4 to .5 increments to find your maximum velocity where you may feel little heavy bolt lift, pressure signs, etc, THEN just stop there and adjust seating depths to tweak that charge to tighten it up or do you need to be in the node to tighten it up? I have seen groups so good and its outside the node, have you?

I have always done load development loading 3 round charges in increments and done well with it, sometimes its frustrating because you may use the wrong powder or bullet and does not shoot worth a darn and wasting bullets /powder and burning barrels.

That's the way I do it. I generally have a preconceived idea of what velocity I am hoping for and stop short of heavy bolt lift

Example of this 6.5 rem mag that I thought would be great to shoot the 130 gr SSII at 3200 fps. I started lower and worked up with 1 load at each powder charge

DSC00980.jpg


and then a seating depth test looking for groups, lowest extreme spread and lowest standard deviation

1211-1.jpg


That load at .060" off the lands performs the same winter/summer/low altitude/high altitude

The problem I have encountered with loads that have a phenomenal group but high extreme spreads is (by the law of averages/statistics) that they do not always shoot good.

YMMV

Woods, did you choose the #7 , 8 , 9 and 10 group on the ladder test?
 

woods

Handloader
Jun 11, 2009
302
0
Did, but not because of the grouping, because it was at the velocity I wanted

IME if you repeat an Audette or OCW you often get different results
 

TackDriver284

Handloader
Feb 13, 2016
1,736
393
Woods, thanks for sharing. I'll try a ladder test for the first time soon for a new bullet I like to try on the .300 Win Mag.
 
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