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  #1  
Old 05-13-2009, 01:10 PM
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Highest MV for 180 gr. 308 Win Load?


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I recently purchased a Loadbooks manual for .308 Win. Inside it publishes loads from various manuals, all for .308 Win. In the Nosler section, I was surprised to see the maximum load listed for IMR-4064, using a 180 grain bullet as: 44 grains, MV = 2,718 fps. Is this correct and not a misprint? Would this be a safe load to work up to (assuming no signs of excessive pressure) in, say, a Browning X-bolt?

I had previously thought the only way to safely get a 180 grain bullet to move at 30-06 velocities (2,700 fps) in a standard bolt action .308 hunting rifle was to buy Federal high energy Nosler Partition cartridges, advertised at 2,740 fps. Is this untrue? Can a reloader safely achieve such velocities with a bolt action hunting rifle (not just a heavy single-shot target rifle), if carefully working up to this maximum load without signs of excessive pressure? If so, is IMR-4064 the best powder available to handloaders that can do this?

Thanks for any input.

- Greg
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  #2  
Old 05-13-2009, 06:54 PM
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The .308 was originally designed with 10% higher peak pressure than the '06 so it could fire 150 grain bullets at near '06 velocities but from the more compact case. A modern action will let you handload the '06 up to the same pressure as the .308, though, so handloaders can squeeze more out of the '06.

I think the Nosler data is either a misprint or the test gun used had a 28" barrel, which could give you that velocity. I ran the Nosler Partition in a case with 56.2 grains of water capacity (the smallest that doesn't force the 44 grain load to go over pressure) in QuickLOAD and got about 2652 fps from a standard 24" test barrel. IMR 4064 is a single-base powder and not a high energy powder, and the 44 grain load is already compressed in that small case. So I doubt it happened. Computer models can be off sometimes, but in this case I don't think it is. But just in case, I tried to cross check the load at Hodgdon.com, (they distribute IMR now) but the site wasn't working. Go there yourself and check when you have the time?

The computer said it is possible to get to 2718 and rather a bit faster using the new high energy Reloader 17, and do so without exceeding .308 pressure limits, but you'll want to work up slowly.
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Last edited by unclenick; 05-13-2009 at 06:57 PM.
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  #3  
Old 05-14-2009, 02:51 PM
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Thank you Nick for your informative response. It certainly looks like the stated 2,718 fps is not feasible with IMR 4064. I tried the online Hodgen site, but it also was not working. I wonder what powder Federal used in their high energy load and if it was similar to Reloader 17. Thanks again.

- Greg
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  #4  
Old 05-14-2009, 05:15 PM
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Reloader 17 is new in the canister grade powder market, made in Switzerland and sold through Alliant. The powders in the Federal High Energy and the Hornady Magnum Light cartridges are not available to the reloader. Moreover, it is super-compressed by some special process. One of the other board members popped the cork on a Magnum Light load and said the powder began swelling up and overflowing the case. So it is something pretty odd and apparently would take special equipment to load.

The Hodgdon site is working again. It's one 180 grian bullet load with IMR 4064 had a maximum of 45.2 grains, a compressed load, and showed 2683 fps. This is in a Winchester case. Winchester's .308 cases have two to three grains more powder capacity than most, and that lowers pressure enough to use more powder. QuickLOAD predicts 2660 fps for the same load. The 23 fps difference is small enough that powder lot or primer lot or muzzle blast post-exit acceleration or even chronograph error could account for it.
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  #5  
Old 05-15-2009, 10:56 AM
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And truly, the difference between 2718 and 2683 is a very small variation in the results. (35 fps) it would appear that the answer to the original question is 'likely possible.'
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Old 05-15-2009, 04:15 PM
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Good point. Well within the range of variance you normally see. I should mention that when I tweaked the Reloader 17 load to go right up against maximum SAAMI pressure it got to about 2748 fps from the 24" tube on the computer. This was only just slightly compressed. Clearly the powder has some good velocity potential.
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Last edited by unclenick; 05-22-2009 at 11:18 PM. Reason: corrected transposed digits
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  #7  
Old 05-22-2009, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by haskins02 View Post
Loadbooks manual for .308 Win. ... listed for IMR-4064, using a 180 grain bullet as: 44 grains, MV = 2,718 fps. Is this correct and not a misprint? Would this be a safe load to work up to (assuming no signs of excessive pressure) in, say, a Browning X-bolt?

I had previously thought the only way to safely get a 180 grain bullet to move at 30-06 velocities (2,700 fps) in a standard bolt action .308 hunting rifle was to buy Federal high energy Nosler Partition cartridges, advertised at 2,740 fps. Is this untrue? Can a reloader safely achieve such velocities with a bolt action hunting rifle (not just a heavy single-shot target rifle), if carefully working up to this maximum load without signs of excessive pressure? If so, is IMR-4064 the best powder available to handloaders that can do this?
Hodgdons list velocity of 2683 fps for 45.2 gr. of IMR 4064 looks like all you are going to get from that powder and even though no error term is given I think it's safe to say that 2700 fps is technically the same as 2683 fps. (i.e., you will never know the difference). The psi listed (58,200) should provide plenty of tolerance for pressure error. So, assuming that everything else is equal (barrel length, bullet, etc.) I'd say that 2700 fps is possible and safe in a bolt action hunting rifle. Based on my own comparisons of the .308 180 gr.Partition bullet to the Speer SP I suspect that 2700 fps will be reaching with the Nosler. The Partition in my rifles is generally about 5% slower than similar Hot Cores.

So, is IMR 4064 is the "best" powder available to handloaders? IMR 4064 may be the fastest powder available, or not. Compared to unclenick's QuickLOAD estimate of 2718 fps MAX Alliant lists 2641 fps MAX for the 180 gr. Speer BTSP from a 22" barreled .308 using 48.7 gr. RL17. Bump that up to a 24" barrel and you may be pushing 2700 fps again. Even if IMR 4064 load is the fastest load, my measure of "best' usually hinges on how well the load shoots overall in the velocity range "best" for the purpose at hand. If you need 2700 fps for the range and bullet you expect to work with and the load is also acceptably accurate then it may indeed be the best powder. Otherwise, a powder that gives less velocity but better accuracy may do a better job.
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Old 05-22-2009, 10:15 PM
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It's pretty tough to get a valid comparison between some of these loads. Note that the Hornady load is for the Speer 180 grain Spitzer soft point #2053 while the Alliant load is for the boattail soft point #2052 (which I don't see listed currently on the Speer web site, though I may have missed it). The difference at that same COL is about 3000 psi and 30 fps. I note also that the Alliant data does not specify a case. The .308 case internals vary a lot. I've measured .308 case weights anywhere from about 154 grains to 186 grains, which is about 3.7 grains difference in internal water capacity. With RL17, that would mean a difference of about 10,000 psi for a fixed powder charge near maximum. If you adjust the load to keep pressure constant, that difference in case capacity amounts to almost 50 fps difference in muzzle velocity. Going from 22" to 24" adds another 50 fps. Also note the 22" Alliant barrel would not be a SAAMI spec test barrel which is 24" in .308. It could be one that's been set back for longer life, I suppose, but my point is we can't know it was close to SAAMI minimum as the SAAMI spec test barrel would be. A larger chamber means lower pressure and velocity for a given charge weight.

At any rate, there seem easily to be enough variables to add up to over 100 fps difference depending which combination of variables you use? I can remember testing a bunch of club-owned Garands and seeing the same match load run anywhere from 2495 fps to 2610 fps in them. This was shooting M72 match which is rated at 2640 fps on the box. Much of that underperformance had to do with the charge not filling the case well and the powder getting thrown forward in the case on loading sometimes and the gun being elevated for loading on others. And those guns were near the limits of loose in some cases, both as to throat wear and chamber headspace. But I think it makes a good illustration of how much difference performance in real guns can make as compared to what the factory or a load table shows? You just have to use a load in your gun and measure what it actually does there? That always seems to be the bottom line.
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Last edited by unclenick; 05-22-2009 at 11:17 PM.
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  #9  
Old 05-23-2009, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unclenick View Post
Hornady Magnum Light cartridges are not available to the reloader. Moreover, it is super-compressed by some special process. One of the other board members popped the cork on a Magnum Light load and said the powder began swelling up and overflowing the case. So it is something pretty odd and apparently would take special equipment to load
I pulled one of my Hornady 180gr Heavy Mags for the .300 Win Mag apart. I forget the exact amount of powder I extracted, seems like it was something crazy like 86 grains. But it was so compressed, I had to beat the case with a 50 BMG case to rattle it all out. I chased the dream of matching Hornady's 3100fps speed for awhile, but gave up that dream.

They also advertise the .338 Win Mag Heavy Mag 225gr's at 2960fps. No idea how they are getting that kind of speed.
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  #10  
Old 05-24-2009, 03:30 AM
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Haven't reloaded 180's in the .308 for a few years. Runs in my mind they ran in the 2625 fps range.

Long ago I decided it was prudent that, if I wanted to run "Bullet X" at "Y fps", I'd do it with "Gun Z", which is easily capeable of doing so without having to tread the jagged edge of safe pressures.

My suggestion......get a .300 Weatherby, kick the 180's out at 3100 fps or so................or just be happy with whatever your .308 will do without attempting to "wring it out".
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