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Most all major ammo manufacturers claim they have a line of ammo that rivals the most accurate hand loaded ammo. What do you do

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  • #16
    I used to swage the primer pockets and deburr flash holes when I reloaded. Now I buy factory ammo cause its more accurate than what I loaded in the 80's and 90's. The ammo makers have come a loooong way.

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    • #17
      I take many of the steps already cited to strive for consistency. Most of my rifles are bolt action or single-shot varminters, so it's easy for me to "baby" my brass. I keep notes and reloading records of what does/doesn't perform. When I'm on the rifle range, the process of handloading begins when I extract the brass from chamber. In a moment, I deprime the cartridge case, clean the primer pocket and wipe the neck & shoulders with very fine steel wool. In the moment that takes, my barrel has cooled a bit and I chamber the next round, repeat the process. That brass gets tumbled and each case is inspected. I can't adequately describe my methodology in a single entry, but I want every cartridge I chamber to be much the same as the one that preceded it in terms of weight, volume, powder charge, seating depth, etc. I'm very pleased with performance of my varmint rifles, or they don't last long in my possession.
      I will readily admit that premium factory ammunition is becoming increasingly difficult for me to improve upon, but handloaded fire-formed brass has served me well.

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      • #18
        Ammo manufacturers can provide consistent loads but there is no way that a specific cartridge loading can be harmonic with each of our rifles. Every rifle is unique and has its very own vibration/torque pattern based on numerous variables such as bedding, weight, barrel contour, rifling, cleanliness, bore diameter (that changes with wear), and effects of recoil on repositioning of the receiver in the stock.

        I am very interested in accuracy for varmint and long range shooting. Therefore, I only shoot reloads that have been meticulously matched to each of my rifles. Lots of good info above... here's what I do:

        1. Choose an accurate bullet best suited to my needs and the barrel twist... not all the same. I test dozens of bullets in my weight range and anticipated use. For varmints I use a lot of Hornady V-Max bullets and for 700-1000 yard varmints Berger target bullets. Long range antelope to elk sized game Berger Hunting Bullets or Barnes if less than 500 yards. In some bullet weights I find that the best bullet is an everyday Hornady Interlock hunting bullet or a Sierra Game King or a Sierra Match King.

        2. I condition cases perfectly. I clean, neck size (so the case matches my unique chamber perfectly), debur the inside of my primer pocket holes (many manufacturers leave a variable amount of trim protruding around the hole when they punch the hole), clean primer pockets, trim to length, turn necks).

        3. I weight brass, sorting into groups that are within 2-3 grains of each other. Less with .223 sized cases, more with .375 H&H sized cases.

        4. I load numerous test cases using different powders, bullet weights and bullet manufacturers. I fire 3-shot groups at 100 yards to test. All go over a chronograph and all shots are recorded on my computer so I can keep track of test results (load, velocity, group size). I calculate standard deviation and max variance in velocity in case multiple loads provide good group sizes. I take the one with the most consistent propellant burn.

        5. I select the best group within my targeted velocity or the hottest I can shoot accurately, depending on my needs.

        6. I vary the powder changes in .1 grain increments around the best load/overall cartridge length and test these for improvement. I choose the best load of those.

        7. I vary the bullet seating in increments of .025 from the test cartridge length, then from the lands, and finally from my maximum magazine length. I test these and take the best.

        8. I verify that a full magazine loads properly with the selected OAL by chambering them multiple times.

        I do this for each bullet type and weight that I shoot and record the loads for each rifle. If I change the rifle, its bedding or weight in any way, I verify all the loads and start over if necessary.

        Even if you don't want outstanding accuracy, you should still buy ammo from multiple manufacturers to find the one best tuned to your specific rifle. Consistent factory loads are very useful for plugging a deer at 200 yards and they meet the needs of most hunters. If you want to shoot competitively or hit a prairie dog at 1000 yards, you will most likely have to work up your own loads.

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