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  #1  
Old 04-10-2011, 11:27 AM
Joshua M. Smith's Avatar
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Reloading the 7.62x54R?


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Hello,

I'm about to embark on my first rifle reloading endeavor. I have been reloading and casting for pistols for years now.

The round is 7.62x54r. I chose it simply because the most accurate rifle I currently own (besides rimfire) is my accurized Mosin-Nagant 91/30. It will hold 0.8MOA with open sights at 80 yards with good surplus, and with bad surplus, I can keep it at 1.5MOA out to 100 yards.

It hits point-of-aim as I have one of my modified sights on it.

So, here's what I have:

45 pieces of Winchester brass

100 .308" Hornady BTSP 150grn (I know, and I have .310" on the way, but this is what was on hand and what the data sheet calls for, besides)

100 Federal large rifle primers

a pound of Varget (chosen because it's listed by Hodgdon for all bullet weights

Hodgdon loading chart

Now, here's where things get tricky. I guess I'm supposed to lube the cases. I do sometimes on pistol cases if they seem sticky; I use Fluid Film, which is lanolin-based. I can't even tell they are entering the die after applying just a bit. Can I assume this stuff will work with a tapered rifle case, as well?

How do I use these dies? Is it possible to just neck-size them after firing them in my rifle?

On the Hodgdon loading sheet, the max loads have a "c" after them. What does this mean? I don't believe I'll go much beyond the minimum charge; there's only a 3.5grn difference and I have almost too much spin for a 150grn bullet, so I want to keep things fairly slow, but still flat.

None of the cases need trimmed; they're all in spec. I think that when they do need trimmed, I'll use one of my files. I'm better with them than I am with most automated stuff and I don't mind the work.

What all do I need to know? I'm used to dealing with 20kPSI or less; now I'm looking at around double that. The Mosin-Nagant is a tough rifle and could probably take an over-charge, but not a double, so I am going to load one round at a time after priming them, and I plan to weigh each charge individually anyway, just so I know it's 100% on with the others.

Any and all advice will be appreciated. I'm not fond of the thought of a bolt through my left eye!

Thanks,

Josh
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  #2  
Old 04-10-2011, 01:33 PM
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Would advise Imperial Sizing Die Wax for a hand applied lube for the cases. The stuff you've been using for straight wall cases may be OK, but the Imperial is a terrific lube with great results. Otherwise, try your personal lube, but have a stuck case tool kit handy.

You would be best off getting a neck sizer die if that is what you want to do. I've tried both and have decided to just go ahead and full length size to assure the shoulder gets a tiny bump back to allow easier chambering.

My 91/30 and M38 carbine get 173 gr Sierra BTHP's loaded with IMR4350 for jacketed loads and 135 gr BTB's and RL-7 for gas checked cast loads. These have proven to be about the best in accuracy and in keeping within good pressure limits.

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you'll see another thread on this topic in the "Similar Threads" section. Click on the thread for more info.
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Last edited by kdub; 04-10-2011 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:14 PM
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Another vote for the Imperial die wax. I don't know how well your Fluid Film would work on a bottleneck case but know for certain the Imperial does work.

If you want some of the benefit from neck sizing without bumping the shoulder back while using your full length die, you can use a VSI-C valve spring shim beween the die lock ring and the frame of your press. This shim is .015" thick and any auto machine shop probably would give you one. They are only about .11 cents if you have to buy it. Just FL resize (without the shim) when the case finally gets hard to chamber.

In Hodgdons load specs, those with the "C" behind the charge weight means it's a compressed load.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:14 PM
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I'll be following your results because I would like to create better handloads for my 7.62x54R.
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Old 04-10-2011, 07:25 PM
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Thanks folks.

Couple, few more questions, if I may:

When do I anneal the brass? I've heard of this being done on rifles..?

There's a cannelure on the bullet. Must it be used?

I understand that, in this die kit I'm getting, there is a Lee Factory Crimp Die. I didn't really want it, but this is the only Lee die set I saw for the 7.62x54R. I had one in my .45acp set, and ended up not using it once I found the seating die has a crimp built into it.

Does the seating die on the 7.62x54r likewise crimp? After the three dies for the .45acp and one hole filled with a ram-prime fitting, I have two holes left. Seein's how I don't have any use for the FCD anyway, I'd rather not have to remove any other dies. I will if I have to, of course.

Thanks!

Josh
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  #6  
Old 04-10-2011, 08:06 PM
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You don't have to anneal the brass, but it lasts longer without neck splitting if you do. Don't attempt the annealing unless you know how to do it, though.

No, you don't have to crimp cartridges that aren't being used in tubular magazines or handguns. Rifles with box magazines really don't require crimped cartridges, but some insist this is the only way to assure consistency. The only time I crimp cases is when in handguns or leverguns.

No, the cannalure doesn't have to be used if not wanted. If you determine the distance to the lands with a dummy case and bullet, then back off .010" - .030" to keep from touching the lands with the bullet (jacketed in this instance, cast shooters often like to kiss the lands gently with such loads).

Don't toss the crimp die - it may come in handy someday. With the 45 ACP, the cartridge headspaces on the case mouth and a rolled crimp on the case is not desirable. You should use the taper crimp die with it and any semi-auto cartridge that also headspaces in this manner.
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  #7  
Old 04-10-2011, 08:39 PM
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Trimming the cases with a file is probably not a great idea. The little Lee tools that fit in your drill are dirt cheap and work slick as can be. You'll need a cutter, a pilot, a shellholder and a stud. All together, that might be $10-12.

Russian 91/30s can have bores that are different from published specs. You might want to slug your barrel just for grins and giggles. I've heard reports of bores as small as .308". Of course, if your rifle is grouping well, it probably indicates that whatever ammo you are using is the right diameter.

Annealing brass is not hard. For some reason, a lot of the 7.62x54R brass is poorly annealed. If you anneal about every 6-8 reloads, your brass should practically last forever. Winchester brass may be much better than the S&B stuff I normally run into. There is a quick little video stickied near the top of this forum that shows how to do it.

For reloads, you might want to try 50 grains of Varget behind a 150 grain Speer with 2.880" COL. That gave me 2840 FPS at measured pressure very close to 50 KPSI, which is pretty conservative.

With 180 grain bullets, H4350 has about the optimum burn rate. That combination gave me 2650 FPS at measured pressure very near 51 KPSI, 3.000" COL.

Your rifle will be different from mine, but as near as I can tell, anything below 55 KPSI is pretty conservative for this rifle.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:37 AM
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Hi Gents,

I had slugged the bore in the past.

I didn't quite believe what I got, so I slugged it three more times tonight.

They all match: I have .299" lands and .310" grooves. I have a tight spot at the muzzle and halfway down the barrel.

I thought these measurements were a bit off, so I made sure of the calibration of the calipers using a known wire thickness I had on hand, then verified it with another set.

So.... dunno. I reckon it'll shoot .308" and .310" OK, don't you?

Thanks,

Josh
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Old 04-11-2011, 03:16 AM
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.308 MAY work out OK, but maybe not. A friend found he got lousy accuracy with .308, but when he switched to .311 bullets meant for the .303 British round, thiings went back to normal. Also, your dies may be set up to size the neck for .311 bullets, since that is the nominal diameter for the 7.62X54. If so, this will result in the bullets being held too loosely in the neck. If this is a problem, you should be able to get a smaller diameter neck expansion ball for your sizing die.
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Old 04-11-2011, 06:31 AM
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You'll want bullets that are big enough to reach the grooves to seal the gas.
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Old 04-11-2011, 06:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua M. Smith View Post
They all match: I have .299" lands and .310" grooves. I have a tight spot at the muzzle and halfway down the barrel.
So.... dunno. I reckon it'll shoot .308" and .310" OK, don't you?
Thanks, Josh
Since your barrel has tight spots, I'd try lapping it before persuing load development. A tight area can effectively resize the bullet going down the bore and leave it wobbling as it exits the muzzle.

I'd guess the .311 bullet mightr be better acuracy wise. Some do shoot the .308" bullets well, so you really won't know until you try 'em.
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Old 04-11-2011, 09:42 AM
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As an aside, you mentioned you "accurized" your 91-30. What did you do? I have one that I'll start reloading for soon (when the rain stops!).
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Old 04-11-2011, 05:35 PM
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First batch of reloads:



Not bad, I don't think. I'm approaching my limit with iron sights. The three I marked as POA I is how I started off, then switched to COM.

Load is Hornady 150grn BTSP backed by 45grns of Varget. Bullets are .308". Minimum load is 47grns, so I'm below minimum.

It's shooting in circles; that is being rectified right now.

Josh
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Old 04-12-2011, 09:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikld View Post
As an aside, you mentioned you "accurized" your 91-30. What did you do? I have one that I'll start reloading for soon (when the rain stops!).
The first thing you want to do is smooth the barrel channel using an appropriate sized dowel rod or socket from a ratchet wrench, wrapped in 320 or so sandpaper. When you are done, you should be able to lay a straight edge along the barrel channel.



Lightly oil the cork bedding on both sides.

Next, cut cork, lay it in, and lay the barreled action into the stock. Observe whether the barrel lays flat. It may. Now, tighten the front and rear screws to about 50in-lbs. The barrel will probably raise the muzzle quite a bit.




Bring lots of ammo and tools to the range. This takes a lot to get right.

Start placing cork material in the front and rear. You want the barrel to lay as flat as possible when the action screws are tightened.

On mine, I could not get the barrel to lay perfectly flat, as there is an as-yet undiscovered pressure point someplace in front of the front action screw. It raises just a little bit.



I used business card stock on the top handguard. Oil it well.

This is not necessarily a bad thing though. It provides an opportunity to add another known pressure point.


Move the front sling mounting point back!

And this is critical: You have made the barrel bed and handguard one with the barrel. You have a heavy barrel now, for lack of a better term. It's bad for harmonics when you attach anything to the barrel, so move the sling back, especially if you are like me and use the sling to shoot!

The Finns did something similar to this, and a lot of the time they would cut off the lower handguard. and let it just be on the barrel. This helped with any warpage due to temp extremes and they didn't have to be as precise with their shimming. However, I like the one rigid stock, even if it takes a bit more work.

Josh
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:06 AM
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I reload for my Mosin using Lee dies that I switched the decapping/expander for one for a 303 British (Lee SKU: SE2358) which expands the neck to use a Remington 180 gr. .311 core-loct RNSP. I was able to get 1 1/2" at 100 yards with the iron sights using Varget in Sellier & Bellot brass. My favorite plinking load for this gun uses a Lyman 311291 cast over unique which also shoots quite well.
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Old 04-18-2011, 06:36 AM
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Its been over twenty years since I reloaded for my Polish M44 MN. I have a set of the Lee dies, SAKO brass and used to use French or IMR powders when I was in Germany. I've also have a older 1904 dated Tula thats a Scout Rifle now and looking at ordering a 91/30 when I get home. Thanks for the bedding info and good shooting.

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Old 04-18-2011, 05:22 PM
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I have an RCBS die for my 7.62x54. It came with a 308 and 311 expander ball.
You can adjust the full length die to size the case mouth only, from just the tip back to the shoulder, or push a little further to bump the shoulder back. Originally screw it in to where it just touches the mouth opening. Then a couple turns in at the time till I get the depth I want, then adjust the decapper to where it knocks the primer out. donald fs
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