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After hours, and hours of reading….. I decided that this past weekend, was THE weekend to "jump" in the reloading arena.

I am using a Lee re-loader die kit, on a Lee station, and the assistance of a friend who has reloaded only pistol cartridges (5K plus - all pistol), but who has always used Carbide dies that didn’t require lube.

Again this is my absolute 1st (ever) attempt at reloading – and I clearly understand that I have a world of things to learn. I'm using a 55 grain Nolser bullet, Winchester rifle primers, and BLC-2, and loading everything to the specs of the Nosler reloading manual.

My first question is……Because I’m wanting to find the best load for my REM 700 VLS, I have prepared the bullets (tumbled, primed, lubed, etc…), and I plan to seat each bullet to the exact same depth. I have already filled 5 cases each, with powder (starting with 43gr – 47gr). For testing purposes, should I expect to see measurable accuracy results with 5 rounds of each powder grain weight?

My second question is…..Because I am new at this, I was painstakingly accurate with every cartridge, so it took awhile. The lube seems to have worn off the pre-assembled cartridges, will I need “re-lube” when I get ready to seat the bullet?

My rifle is 3 weeks old, means the world to me, and I’m a little concerned about shooting my first personally reloaded bullet. So, if ANYONE has an opinion of something I should do before firing my first reload is shot, I’m a sponge for information.

Thanks all….as always, I appreciate the help.
 

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Hi Lenny, and welcome.

I've been reloading for, oh, about 4 months, so I understand where you're coming from. I only reload pistol ammo with Carbide dies as well, so I'm afraid I can't help there. The difference in cost between steel and carbide was too small to not save that step and hassle.

You should not need to re-lube the cases before seating. The lube (and carbide) is only for the sizing function.

You will likely see a large difference in your rounds considering a full grain of difference in powder. However, there is always variation in loads beyond your control, so even 20 rounds loaded exactly the same will not be exactly the same in performance. Accuracy and consistency gets exponentially harder the tighter you get. I tend to load "lots" of a particular load for testing, in bricks of 50. I'll either have 10 lots of 5 or 5 lots of 10. That way I'll have a statistically significant amount of performance data to judge the accuracy and consistency of a particular load.

If you don't already have a micrometer, get one. It will help ensure that you actually to have consistent dimensions in your brass and loaded rounds. It's good to limit the vairables so that you have control over the performance, and you can determine that a change in performance is actually due to your changes and not variation in some other measurement you were not aware of.

Last of all, only go to as much trouble as you enjoy. I tend to be tedious and painstaking, getting enjoyment from the challenge of creating the perfect round repeatedly (yet to get there). My buddy however would much rather crank out rounds and send them downrange. He's found a load that is already more accurate than he, so variation of 1/10th grain or .005" is meaningless to him. Enjoy!
 

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LennyWayne,

Sounds like you're on the right track, and doing things right, and methodically. Just a quick word of caution regarding the case lube on your brass. Make certain that you remove all the lube from your cases prior to firing in your rifle!

Sounds like you're headed to the ranks of committed handloaders! Congratulations.

God Bless,
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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I don't normally load up to max on the first trip to the range. Personally.... I'd stop at least a grain short. Not a confidence-builder to lock the bolt with your first attempt!

Also, it's probably a good idea to always shoot over a chronograph when you go to max loads, just to be safe.

As far as best accuracy goes, I would suggest the following:

Try your loads with the 1gr. increment. Find out which one shoots best.

Then - with that powder charge, start changing the seating depth. Find out what the maximum overall length you can seat the bullet to. Use a fired case, with the neck partially squished or dented, then just barely seat a bullet in the case. Close the bolt on your dummy round, that's max OAL that you can chamber.

Now, seat at least 0.020" deeper. That's the max you want to start with. Actually, I would suggest that you do all of your initial testing at this length.

Then, with the most promising powder charge, start seating bullets 0.005" deeper per batch. You should expect the groups to get smaller at some point, then start getting larger again. Sweet spot should be fairly obvious, especially if you draw a graph of the OAL vs. group size.

As you can imagine, you'll burn up a box doing this. But - the amount of 'jump' to the rifling that the bullet likes will probably be relatively constant. So, if you move to another bullet, then you have a pretty good idea where to start and just need to try different powder charges.

Don't forget to let the barrel cool down between groups. You'll have to clean occasionally, and after cleaning fire a few fouling shots.

It's a boring trip to the range when all you have is one rifle and you have to wait a long time to shoot groups because the rifle is hot. Take a .22 and work on your trigger control between groups.

Pay at least some attention to the wind and don't waste time trying to shoot serious groups when it's swirling or gusting.

Also, best accuracy may come with another bullet. I would at least try some heavier bullets. The lightweights may not show the true potential of the gun.
 

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The Troll Whisperer (Moderator)
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Terrific advice above, Lenny -

Only thing I can muddle the issue with is that you have a magazine rifle. If you intend to load rounds into the magazine instead of using it as a single-shot, the overal length of the loaded cartridge MUST allow insertion into and out of the magazine without snagging or hanging up.

I always allow for about 3/64ths of an inch clearance between the bullet nose and the mag wall for this purpose. This controls the OAL of my loaded rounds. Be sure they won't hang up on the feed ramp, if it tends to project slightly into the magazine well, also. Some rifles have this feature.

As Mike G says, the real lightweight bullets may not stabilize best in your rifle's rate-of-twist barrel. The .243 usually does it's best work with the 75 - 85 grain bullets.

Welcome to the world of reloading - there's nothing else like it for self gratification! When you can roll your own ammo to suit the particular rifle and get those sub MOA groups, you feel like a real rifleman! Done properly, handloaded ammo will give MOST factory ammo a major run for their money.
 

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Lenny,
I've been shooting the 55 gn Nosler for about a year. First thing is to understand you can only go to 2.650 AOL (this is per Nolser) with the 55gn bullet being so short any longer on AOL could cause some damage. Working up to a load is alot of enjoyment to hand loaders. I still play around with the 243 with different powders, and always work your way up to the max loads. Myself I never go there but know alot of shooters that do,and have very good results. If you want to play with powder try 4895 about 43gn. I also use RCBS Comp dies. Enjoy the 243 the 55gn is a real flat shooter and the 100gn will stop a deer. I can keep the 55gn in .75 all day at 200yd. Good luck and enjoy reloading. Steve I use the Rem 700
 

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Can't really sourt out the best accuracy with one five round group for each charge, but can sourt out the really terrible ones (if the groups is 6" large at three rounds, the next two shots sure aren't going to make it shrink). CAN look for trends, and help zero in or the general charge-weight area that is the most productive for that rifle.

Probably more advantage in small variations in bullet seating than in minor variations in charge weights.

Good advice to not try for max. loads.
 

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LennyWayne welcome to the world of reloading. When I first started, I loaded my first bullets for a .257 roberts in a 722 rem bolt gun. The reason for getting into reloading a friend took me to a bench rest novelty shoot, chicken eggs on a wire hanging from a piece of tape at 150yds, well to make a long story short, I hit three out of three with his .243win varmiter. Now for the rest of the story, I shot out that 257 in a year and rebarreled to .243 win 1 1/4 blank not turned. The cases I bought 500 new and weighed them all and sorted them into lots of +- 2/10ths, then under the friends instruction, sized the new batch (50 ) outside neck turned (equal neck tension on the seated bullets), then removed the burrs from the inside of the cases flash hole (the burrs can cause a many variations in the fps remember the factories punch these out not drilled), then reamed the flash holes to a wire drill( .081 to .083) just slightly larger than the factory hole ( have run into a few flash holes that were severly undersized and this causes a flier in a good group), then uniformed the primer pockets with a flat btm cutter made for this ( don't really know if this helps but it don't hurt.), then with a slightly undersized lee case trimming tool trimmed them all (not all factory cases are the same lenght we want them all the same length) , since I was just blowing out cases ( so I could neck size them after they were fireformed to my exact chamber dimensions they do vary a little from gun to gun these will be custom cases for your rifle only) he gave me some h-380 and some sierra 100gn spitzer flat base. Well I put in 35gns in each case just thown from my powder measure after I set in this was the min load in my manual. Next went to a friends place and started to blow out that brass at 250yds with a 3X9 weaver on 9X when I was done and collected the targets I was treated to a shot group of .75 for the next 3yrs that rifle and load shot better than anything I tried, ie 4350 and 85gn match bullets, 75hps, this rifle shot a lot better with the brass blown out and the bullets seated into the rifling. I think the big thing I'm saying is if you want that .243 to shoot make that brass as uniform as possible, then work up your loads. I sure hope I have gave you a good starting point in which to get into it for serious accuracy, and not scared you away. I shot in competition for about 13yrs, and still load the same way for all my mettalic cartridges, I don't neck turn for the straight walled cases, rifle or pistol. Take care and have fun in your new endevor of rolling your own. Swany
 

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If you want to avoid having to lube the cases, you can go with a Lee collet neck sizing die. That is all I use for my bolt action rifles. Beware that if you neck size, you will most likely want to restrict your ammo to your rifle; the fireformed case may not fit another rifle.

I full length size for my 300 savage; it is a lever action (99). For those cases, I use hornady spray lube.
I think it is called one shot. I have found it to be a lot less messy than the lube on an ink pad. Just a very light application will do.

I have also used powdered mica to ease the expander through the neck. Just dip the neck into the mica, after spraying with the lube. You could use graphite with the same results.
 

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Hi Lenny,

By this time you will have 'fire formed' some cases in your chamber. In my opinion. the best advice you have received is about watching for pressure and causing case set-back(micrometer use, dry cases, and starting low).

Unless you are an alien(different planet), before long you WILL be thinking 'max velocity'. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use book max.

Buy that micrometer(a quality tool, not Midway's cheapest) you were told about, preferrably digital, that reads accurately to .0001". The reason being that .0005in, or one-half of one-thousandth, increase in head diameter is showing extreme maximum pressure in fire-formed cases. New cases will always(I hate using that word) show some expansion. The key here is guessing how much is good when you haven't a clue as to the hardness of the brass, from lot to lot. Soft brass expands more. Go figure.

Please practice with your new 'mike'. Pick a spot on the case. You will ALWAYS(there's that word) measure in exactly the same spot, before and after firing. Put a mark on the case-rim with a needle file, pick a spot on the headstamp, whatever.

Now, for practice; One of the buttons on the mic flat will be the 'zero' button. With your lightest touch, gently spin the 'handle' until the jaws just close on the case. Press the zero button. Now, gently open and close the jaws again while watching the numbers go away from and come back to zero.

You'll see that a BREATH of extra pressure will take you -0.
Don't worry about it. With practice you will get the feel. There is more 'expertise' involved in using a mic. on round stock but it would be hard(for me) to put it on paper. Go to your neighborhood machine shop and ask a machinist to show how to roll the stock(cartridge) across the anvil for a true reading.

You MUST measure the solid brass head just in front of the extractor cut or rim. Check your readings(for zero) three times, before and after firing. In checking a once or twice fired case I do not accept ANY expansion, zero, zip, nada! The part of the case you are measuring never gets resized. If you are expanding the head .0001 or .0002 at every firing, serious things happen to the primer pockets. You blow a primer and it will make you talk like Elmer Fudd for a while(if you're lucky).

All the manuals show how to check for flat or cratered or pierced primers. They tell how to recognize by soot or feel with a priming tool, loose pockets. There are pictures of split shoulders, and shiny spots on case bases where they extruded into recesses in the bolt face and were sheared off in bolt opening. Please study them. Save a fired FACTORY case(fired in your rifle). You'll always know what a sub SAAMI spec case looks like.

A tip; Everyone talks about "Bolt-lift". You're supposed to 'feel' the difference in lift between low pressure, max, and over max loads....With your hand...Who thought this up???

Here is a better way(It works for me.). Get yourself a digital fish scale. Two or three companies make them. Mine's a Berkley 50lb.(reads in tenths of a pound), twenty-five or so bucks at Cabella's.

Sew up a pouch, with an open side(Bolt handle size) from a shoe tongue. Punch a 1/4" hole in the top of it for the scale hook.

With your empty rifle on the rest, put the pouch on the bolt, insert the scale hook and lift to open the bolt for a reading. Write it down. Now, fire a factory load, get that reading, and write it down. Your readings may be a bit different. That's OK.

Now, start working up through your 'pressure-check loads'. You will be watching for ANY and ALL high pressure signs. As you open the bolt with the scale you will see a decided difference in readings as other pressure signs start to show maximum. BACK OFF! YOU HAVE PASSED SAFE MAXIMUM way back at about the second pressure sign.

Hope this helps and don't read me wrong. This is easy AND fun. You just need to be professional(read; safety oriented) about it. By the way. You'll feel better about a sub-quarter- inch group than a maximum load.

One last thing; That little thing that someone said about removing the lube before firing,...I have a test around here someplace....Can't find it, but the piece was titled 'Shooting Wet'. Extensive testing was done on wet(rain or water) or oily cases, fired in an Enfield rifle. The bottom line was, there is TWICE the thrust against the bolt-face versus a dry case. Dry cases grip the sides of the chamber and oily/wet cases slide backward....BIGTIME. They were finding out how much 'backthrust' it took to shear locking lugs....I don't want to know, thank you very much.

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've been terribly busy, and haven't had the chance to reply to the many posts.

I sincerely appreciate the many detailed responses, and am glad to report that both the rifle (and shooter) survived the first 50 rounds of my reload test.

I admit that I quickly realized that 5 rounds was WAY too few rounds to make a final bullet selection decision, but as someone noted above, it did allow me to clearly eliminate multiple powder charges.

I plan to be at my bench again this week, and will use the things I learned in this thread to make the best bullet my meager experience will allow.

One last thought/question.....my OAL on all of my bullets shot, was .267 (and sjsin explained that .265 was max) and I was very satisfied with my results. SJSIN....do you think I'm taking a risk, loading the OAL to .267??? Should I expect a significant change in MOA if I shorten the length to .265?

AGAIN....you guys are what make me proud to consider myself a sportsman.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Huh? Not sure why the change in OAL would be a problem, if it fits the mag and isn't too long for the gun's throat. Now, it is a rule of thumb that you want to seat one caliber deep in the case neck at a minimum, but there have been times I seated bullets out longer with no adverse effects.

Bullet seating does seem to have a considerable effect on accuracy and I would suggest you spend a little time working on that.
 
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