Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Load Data, Methods, Bullets, Ballistics
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rkittine
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Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby rkittine » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:01 pm

I am sure that there are many on this Forum that have been successfully reloading precision ammo for a lot longer than I have. Probably with as good or better results. Based on another thread, I was asked if I would put together how I load for long range precision rifle shooting, in this case 100 through 1,000 yard Bench Rest along with what equipment I use.

As I am always learning, as this unfolds, input from other precision loaders would be appreciated. There are certainly more than one way to accomplish the goals that we all want as competitive shooters and I for sure not only am willing to try new things, but welcome them as a way to expand my knowledge base.

As a little background, I started reloading in the mid-60s as a young teenager. Through a long process (no need to bore you all with that story) I ended up with a set of FFLs, Dealer, Dealer in Restricted Weapons and Manufacture and started commercially reloading at the end of 1970. Mt. Ivy Reloading Company was started, which I ran until 1986. Star progressive pistol reloaders gave way to fully automatic machines, loading and boxing .38 Full Wad Cutters, 45 ACP Semi-Wad Cutters and target rounds for the 9mm.

As my shop sold more rifles, I was asked if I would develop custom loads for customer's rifles, mainly for long range hunting. With beam scales, single station ram type loading presses and, by todays standards, run of the mill rifle dies, I made many a rifle shoot 1/2 to 3/4 MOA groups out to 500 yards, the longest range directly at my disposal. Cartridges of choice included, .220 Swift, .22-250, .243, .25-06, .270, 7mmRem Mag, .308 and .30-06. As you can see, no specific bench rest cartridges, and all factory chamberings with factory ammo available, but a few that were capable at reasonable distances.

The mainstay rifles were Remington 700s, Parker Hale 1200s, Sakos, H&Rs, Mauser 4000s and Ruger No 1 and Browning Rolling Blocks. Not much more was done to any rifle except maybe bed the action and float the barrel.

We have to remember that these were the pre-computer / digital days and I hate to think of what I paid for my first chronograph, which required that you set up two screens with plates that you shot through one time and then had to be replaced. No problem with optics or lighting / shadows, but each round cost a $1.00 to check for velocity and in 1971, that was pretty pricey. No printers or self recorders either, so a lot of data books and had writing of results, loads etc. Annealing was done by hand with a hand torch and a drill and based on the current best practices, cases were only neck sized once they were fired in the chamber they were being loaded for.

Fast forward, the only thing left on my metallic bench from those days is a RCBS / Ohaus, 5-0-2 Beam Scale. Radar is used to map muzzle and down range velocities and digital scales weight to .002 grains.

What will follow, is how I now handle precision loading as learned through, years of regular loading experience, reading of company reloading manuals, Long Range / Bench Rest primers like Tony Boyer's book, a long time bench rest mentor named Greg, 1,000 yard shooting school at the Williamsport 1,000 Yard Bench Rest club and input from numerous bench rest shooters that I have met in the sport.

How much of it is necessary or important I do not know, but we bench rest shooters are a compulsive bunch and if we even think something can help and are pretty sure it can't hurt, then what is a few more minutes and a few more dollars, that might result in one less "flyer" at 1,000 yard.

TO BE CONTINUED
Last edited by rkittine on Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
Bob Kittine
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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby SShooterZ » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:29 pm

Very much interested in this thread. My ammo has worked well for me for out to the 500 yards I might shoot but it is far from precision. Interested to hear how you put together those magic pills.

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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby Ramos » Wed Jul 27, 2016 7:24 pm

TO BE CONTINUED, what a teaser!!!! :mrgreen:

Just teasing. I know you already typed this up once and you get to do it again. Trust me, been there done that. Looking forward to more, Sir!

deadeer
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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby deadeer » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:50 pm

Yes, looking forward to the next chapter. Thanks for the time.

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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby rkittine » Thu Jul 28, 2016 6:43 am

not sure if I should just go back to the original post and keep adding or put down more as a "Reply". Guess best to just add to the original so there is continuity.

Bob
Bob Kittine
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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby SShooterZ » Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:30 am

I would recommend a REPLY. Keeps the continuity alive and if people have comments or questions, you can respond to them as we move through the topic.

Just my $.02 :thumbup:

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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby bluedot » Sat Jul 30, 2016 10:33 am

Thank you. This will be an interesting thread, and I'm sure it will help me become a better reloader.

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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby rkittine » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:12 am

I am also hoping that from the input, I will gain some new insite too. As it is the weekend and I sell real estate, it will be Monday before I can get to this. But I will start it soon.
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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby rkittine » Sat Aug 06, 2016 8:08 am

We all know it takes basically 4 things / conditions, to make for a great and accurate long range shot.

The ability of the shooter
The equipment used - The rifle and all it's components
The conditions, wind, temperature, humidity etc.
The ammo used

I think that it is a given that a great shooter can get the most out of the equipment they use. They will shoot a poor rifle better than a poor shooter will shoot the same rifle etc.

The equipment of course is what you have available or are willing to build or purchase.

When it comes to the conditions, well, the best shooters can read the conditions and adjust for them, but then just as the trigger is pulled, one of those pesky wind flags down range might just flip the other way right then. When shooting at 1,000 yards, that can make a huge difference and although the guy or gal at the bench next to you is shooting in the same general conditions, their flag may not falter as they pull the trigger.

Williamsport. PA is notorious for wind and with flags placed every 100 yards it is not uncommon to see the wind velocity and direction across the course be different at any given moment in 4 or 5 different places. Some thousand yard ranges have tree lines so close on the sides, that they are less susceptible to the wind, so when the current national record holder was able to put 10 rounds into the x-ring in 2.81 inches at Williamsport, it is a record to truly be proud of.

So that leaves the Ammo.

So like shooting, in order to get great ammo capable of great long range accuracy, there are also some necessary conditions.

The loader - Has to know what to do and take the time to do it correctly
The equipment - will custom made Whidden Dies make a difference over out of the box RCBS? I want to think they will and they sell a ton of both, but the bench rest guys all are using competition dies, whether Redding Competition cut for SAMMI specifications or any of the many custom die houses. Same with all the other bits and pieces used in the process.
The components - Brass, Projectiles, Primers and Powder

But there is another twist that is just as important and even more frustrating. You can load PERFECT ammo that will not shoot in your gun. How can that be? Well as everyone on this site will know, the equipment, i.e. the rifle, will greatly effect what works and what does not. So a perfect load with a light bullet may very well work great in a rifle with a slow twist, but in a barrel with a fast twist may spin apart a few yards down range and that heavy projectile that you are shooting in a 1:12 twist barrel may never stabilize where it would in a barrel with a 1:8 twist. Things like chamber dimensions, free bore etc. can also effect how a specific load reacts.

So, a perfectly loaded round that shoots sub-1/4 MOA in one gun may not even shoot 1 MOA and another.

Most Benchrest shooters select all the specifications when building or having a gun built. For those here that want to get the most accuracy out of their rifles, make sure you know at a minimum, what the twist of your barrel is, what your chamber neck dimension is and what free bore you have.

With at least that information, there are a lot of sites that will allow you to then decide the best STARTING components and loads for your specific caliber and rifle.

As this thread continues, I will stick with what I do for the 6.5x47 Lapua Caliber, specifically for 1,000 yard Benchrest, shot in a rifle with a 1:8 twist barrel, with a no-turn .294 tight neck and freebore of .167 optimized for 130 grain VLD projectiles.

So based on these specs, I looked up recommended starting loads and selected Lapua Brass, CCI Small Rifle 450 Magnum Primers, Berger 130 Grain Tactical Hybrids, Berger 130 Grain Target VLDs and 130 Grain Hunting VLDs. Tried a few powders, but as most had suggested H4350 was the most recommended for this set up.

My accuracy load ended up with the Berger 130 VLD Target projectiles, seated with the base at the junction of the neck and shoulder, over 41.3 grains of H4350 with a CCI 450 Magnum Primer, seated with 4 thousandths "Crush".

So now, how to make up a stock of competition loads.
Bob Kittine
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Re: Reloading to Bench Rest Standards

Postby Hogpatrol » Sat Aug 06, 2016 10:59 am

Bob, Let me play the devil here. I was at Williamsport also and the gentleman who said he crushed primers, in my opinion, was using the wrong term or kidding himself. A primer is basically a small open ended brass can. If a primer is "crushed", it has to expand. Where is that metal going? It has to go somewhere and I would say it's not going anywhere unless the primer pocket is oversize. I think flatten may be a better term. It seems to me "crushing" or flattening them would disturb the primer compound, one more variable to deal with. One can achieve the same thing by uniforming the primer pockets and maintaining case headspace lengths. Regarding powders, try Reloder 17 with the 6.5x47, 130VLDs. Works great for my skinny barrel Brux.
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