Reloading for precise shooting

Some time ago I published this article about ammunition and reloading. Since then I've gained more experience and improved the reloading equipment a bit. And I also encountered some mistakes that we often make when reloading precise ammo...

The procedure I described in the article proved to be very successful and I did not change it significantly. I'm just trying to improve the individual points. What I have changed a bit is the approach - I try (especially when I am developing the load) to proceed more "scientifically". I use programs for internal ballistics to not have too high chamber pressures and I also play more with the bullet jump.

As for calibers I wrote about them some time ago here. We have basically the same requirements and there has been no big change. However there has been a change in the fact that we have new bullets available which have enormous potential. Pictured are the Hornady A-tip with silver tips in various diameters. They have a lead core and machined aluminum tips. Their advantage is that they do not deform as plastic (during handling or in flight) and are completely accurate as each other. The whole bullet has an improved construction and so far it turns out that they are really great. Those without an aluminum tip are excellent machined monolithic Warner Flat Line bullets in various diameters. Their advantage is low weight (and therefore higher speed) in combination with a high ballistic coefficient. I bet on them in large calibers for long distances.

We have this calibers ready for the new season:

.223 Remington - for shooting up to 300 meters. Great precision, low recoil, low price.

6mm Dasher - for shooting up to 1.000 meters. We still do not have personal experience but we know it is a great calliber.

6,5 Creedmoor - our standard round for shooting even slightly over 1.000 meters. Great combination of price, easy reloading, great precision an long range performance. I use this caliber even for hunting.

6,5 PRC - when I need more than Creedmoor... Slightly over 1.250 meters. Better performance in the wind, more power and recoil like .308 Win. Lower barrel life.

7mm Practical - that caliber and our rifle are great. For magnum rifle it has low recoil. Up to 1 mile (1.609 meters).

.308 Winchester - our school rifles. If I would considering changing the barrel I would change even the caliber to 6.5 Creedmoor...

.338 Lapua Magnum - rifle at a distance of over 1 mile (1,609 meters). With new bullets I expect better results than in the past.

37 XC (eXtra Capacity) is our new caliber for shooting at extreme distances up to 2 miles (3,218 meters). I'm looking forward to this. But the fact is that the barrel lasts only a few hundred shots, my body only a few shots and my wallet maybe one...

The biggest shift in the reloading process is the transition from the Hornady dispenser to the great AutoTrickler V3 dispenser with FX-120i scales. In addition I managed to improve the original Hornady Auto Charge dispenser so I still use it for most calibers. But being able to control it with the super weight of the FX-120i is simply priceless...

But what I would like to mention are the errors in reloading. Recently I have come across cases where bad or inappropriate reloading is simply obvious... In this case it is a broken case due to too much pressing the shoulders in the full format of cartridges. With some rifles the chambers simply have a slightly larger clearance and "headspace" so when fired the case expands excessively in length does not last and breaks. The cartridge case on the right was even coated with lubricant to make it easier to pull out of the chamber (the shooter knew about the problem and so he lubricated the cartridges before loading into the chamber). This lubricant then caused the cartridge bulge in the shoulder area during the shot.

Quite often this is a problem combined with the charges being at or even over safe pressures. Many shooters try to "squeeze" out of ammunition maximum power. But it can be at the expense of cartridge life, barrel life and even safety. Many shooters orient themselves when checking (whether the pressures are too high) by what the primer looks like after the shot. But this may not always be a good indicator:

From left:

- no pressure signs

- the primer shows signs of pressure - and in this case it is actually over pressurized

- the primer shows signs of pressure (the hole from the pin has raised edges like a crater) - but in this case it is a false alarm and the pressures are OK. Only the primers are too soft and the firing pin has too much clearance. The hole in the bolt head is too big.

- the primer looks fine but the pressure is too high. Both ejectors are printed on the bottom of the case...

What a primer looks like can be an indicator of excessive pressure - but unfortunately not very reliable...

All of these cartridges show signs of excessive pressure. Which is evident in the fact that the ejectors are printed on the bottom of the cartridges (the last one on the right is also cracked). The first and third from the left were even significantly over pressurized and according to the signs on the bottom of the cartridges (unfortunately I am not able to take a better picture but it is quite obvious to the eye) the bolt had to be stiff to open. Those cases not only have printed marks from the extractors but are even scratched from the opening of the bolt. And this is an absolutely clear indicator that the pressure is really too high! As for the bolt to be harder to open - it is a clear indicator of too high pressures! It's already on the verge of safety not to mention the life of barrel or cases...

When reloading we should pay attention not only to performance but above all to accuracy service life of the barrel and cartridges and of course safety! It is unnecessary and silly to pursue extremes in performance because usually the precision at the limit pressures decreases and it is better to go a step lower in speed. We will get a longer service life of the barrel, cartridges and often better accuracy.

What works in one weapon may not work in another. Each barrel behaves a little differently so you need to do honest testing with each weapon and you can not rely on the results of others... In addition - the behavior of the barrel changes slightly over its life. Therefore testing needs to be repeated over and over again. And so we can get the best results from our weapons...

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