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M.A.T. sparked a question in a recent post. I've shot the Leupold Vari-X III 6.5-20x for very long range accuracy for years and

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  • DakotaMan
    replied
    P-H-W, I know this thread is dated but just in case you or someone reads it:
    New or used brass doesn't make that much difference. Just make sure it is clean and trimmed to length. You should anneal the necks to extend case life. After about five reloads, you should also turn the necks. IMR and H 4350 are quite similar in performance. Just make sure you use the right recipe as they are not identical.

    Not sure what WSM you are shooting but I suggest starting with the bullet you intend to use. For long range accuracy, you won't beat the big Berger bullets if you can find them. The hunting versions are fine for all game up to elk size. They have been tough to find though so the Sierra Match King and Hornady A-Max will be highly accurate long distance bullets too (not for game hunting though). I use the Berger 210g and 215g in .300 Dakota for p-dogs or elk out to 1000 yards. For close range (out to 300 yards) deer and coyotes, you will want to develop a load for a smaller bullet. I use a 130g in the Dakota at 3900 fps for that. If you have p-dogs, you will also want to develop a load for the smallest bullet in your caliber.

    You need to step test loads of three bullets at a time to identify the most accurate load for your rifle. Best of luck!

    Leave a comment:


  • jhjimbo
    replied
    PHW,
    Start by going to your reload manual and pick the caliber you want to reload. For the bullet wt. you are loading, find the chart with the powders listed. Find the highest velocity and see if you have that powder. If so, back down the charge by 10% - usually a few grains. If you don't have that powder and want to continue go to the first table that uses a powder you have. This is a compromise as the first listed will usually produce the highest velocity, others will work but be less efficient and slower.
    I would say start with lead bullets as the charge/velocity is usually less than for jacketed bullets because if too fast the bullet will disintegrate. I am thinking you are loading a pistol cartridge. If your first is a rifle caliber go right to a jacketed bullet. I have never loaded a lead bullet in a rifle caliber.
    Go step by step through the load process, checking yourself at each step. I weigh each powder charge and also don't use a charge weight that can be double charged. One charge should fill the case to about 75 or 80%.
    Seat the bullet and apply crimp, especially if it is a large bore round. Check OAL. I made the mistake of too light of a crimp on a .44mag when i started and it is embarrassing when your bullets back out of the shell and jams the cylinder. Difficult to clear the jam.
    Load 10 or so and shoot them. If they seem good, go back and load the remainder of the lot.
    Remember to log the lot in your log book and assign a lot number to the box they are in.
    Good luck and happy shooting. Jim

    Leave a comment:


  • chuckles
    replied
    DakotaMan that sounds like fun but also a little rich for my blood.
    I will have to be content with potting ground squirrels with my .17HMR. While I do currently hold the Roaring Fork Valley record for longest kill on the ranch it was mostly luck He had to show himself a couple times while we walked them in.
    Thanks for taking the time to answer I was imagining some monstrous optic clamped on a space age varmint rifle.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pray- hunt-work
    replied
    Dakota Man- you mentioned in the above post "justifying the tinkering". My question is this- my birthday is around the corner and my reloading supplies are wrapped up and waiting. In a few days I will start reloading and was wondering what you recommended be a first load? I know to start a few grains light and work up. I'll use magnum primers in my WSM as were in a colder climate. Should I specifically use new brass and cheaper bullets to get the feel for it? And not worry about accuracy with the first few evenings of reloading? Or jump right into an expensive bullet and try to get dialed in right away. I hate the thought of doing a poor job reloading with an expensive chunk of lead. Thanks again for all your help.

    P.S.- while refusing to buy powder online and pay extra fees, I'm having a hard time findin IMR 4350. I'm sure this is a more common problem than not, but are there any suggestions? I.E. Mom and Pop gun stores? Wal-Mart? Or a 7 hr round trip to a cabelas? Also, although it appears to be a little hotter, would a H4350 give similar results? Or are they two totally different behaving powders that hold a similar numerical name?

    Leave a comment:


  • DakotaMan
    replied
    Chuckles, p-dogs are easy to spot at 1000 yards on the open prairies of South Dakota. I use binoculars to observe the area and when they run, you pick up the movement. I use a .300 Dakota with 210g Berger bullets. I can see them very well with my Leupold 6.5-20x40. That rifle's best is a 3.5" five shot group at that range. I expect about a 30% hit rate. Knowing the range is the most difficult aspect because of the rapid bullet drop at that range. I use a Bushnell Elite 1600 ARC range finder for that but it is often difficult to establish exact range because I usually have to pick up on a nearby object like their mound, a fence post, shrub, etc. Often there is nothing for the range finder to grab. In those cases, I need to fire a "sighter" round with a spotter on a spotting scope to home in. It's not unusual for a p-dog to stay out after one of those whizzes by 2 inches away.

    I use my Rem 700 Sendero in 25-06 with 100g Sierra Match Kings and Bushnell Elite 4200 Tactical for p-dogs out to about 700 yards but want to tune up some 115g Bergers for 1000 yard shooting with that too. Those bullets are just so expensive that I have a tough time justifying the tinkering.

    Leave a comment:


  • M.A.T
    replied
    DakotaMan,
    I don't know if anyone on this site can give you a side-by-side comparison on accuracy, because few people on this site do the kind of long range shooting you do, and even fewer have used both a Leupold Vari-X III and VX-3 to compare.

    Leave a comment:


  • RES1956
    replied
    Used to be the only "Extended Twilight System" we had wuz da moon,,,,

    Leave a comment:


  • chuckles
    replied
    DakotaMan, I was looking at a treeline 800 yds across the cornfield behind my house. The VX-3 could definitely resolve more branches at all magnification levels but both are plenty good for all my needs.
    I am curious, what do you use to spot prairie dogs at 1000 yds and what do you shoot at them? I have enough trouble doing either at 200 but I am sure terrain and vegetation could make a difference.
    And what kind of shot to kill ratio do you expect?
    I am trying to wrap my head around the concept since all my hunting is so up close. I took a doe last night with the muzzleloader (open sights) at 20yds and one with the crossbow earlier this year at 15. Field of view and low light performance are my critical factors for a scope here in the woods since once I set them I don't fiddle with the settings.

    Leave a comment:


  • DakotaMan
    replied
    WAM, I think you were just being sarcastic but for the record, I said that bench shooters are trying to achieve incremental improvements in the .005 range as they continuously try to advance their accuracy. Not that they shoot .005 groups. That would be sweet but it may be a few years yet before the sport achieves that level of success. I don't fault them (or anybody for that matter) for trying though. As for me, I just try for continuous improvement in accuracy in whatever increments it comes.
    Merry Christmas!

    Leave a comment:


  • DakotaMan
    replied
    Chuckles, thanks for doing the side-by-side look through. It's good to know that the VX-3 actually does have better clarity. You've really got to look at fine targets at 1000 yards or so to distinguish subtle differences.

    I've been exceptionally happy with the clarity of my Vari-X III. I can distinctly see a crisp three or four inch white square on a black background at 1000 yards on 20x. I can put my fine cross hairs right in the middle of that image. Most scopes I've tried in the same price range make the square look like a fuzzy white blob and the cross hairs cover the image so you can't tell if you are ON it or not. Some scopes react so poorly to mirage that image actually appears to move as you aim at it. My Leupy Vari-X III produces by far the tightest groups among scopes in that price range. I hesitate to buy a new one to get the matte finish until I know for sure about its accuracy.

    Leave a comment:


  • DakotaMan
    replied
    Thanks all. My primary concern is the long range accuracy difference. I wondered if anyone had shot long range prairie dogs or targets and noticed a difference in them. I know that Leupold improved the clarity and contrast in the VX-3 but I've heard through the grape vine that they lost accuracy in the process. I just don't know if that is true and hoped someone might have tested it. Although I care about low light in deer and coyote hunting, I don't care about it in my long range target and p-dog rifles. I only shoot them in good light.

    A scope surely DOES contribute a LOT to long range accuracy. If your rifle shoots perfectly but the lens twists the image to look like it is two inches further to the left than it actually is, you will miss. Due to parallax, some scopes may vary target appearance from shot-to-shot as you move your eye slightly behind the scope.

    At 500 meters I can put a different comparably priced scope on and double or triple my group size because of it. Various scopes react differently to mirage too. Some are bad enough that they make a 3 inch dot at 1000 yards look like it is jumping up and down or moving around in circles as you aim at it. I've had two scopes of the identical model from the same manufacturer vary by that amount too.

    Scope accuracy makes little difference if you are trying to plug a deer at 100 yards but if you are shooting p-dogs at 1000 yards you can't tolerate much error. These accuracy issues also manifest themselves much more at higher magnification, so someone shooting a 3-9x won't even experience these. Unfortunately, if you are trying to shoot a p-dog at 1000 yards with one, you won't be able to see the p-dog either.

    I find it interesting that when reviewers evaluate scopes they don't test accuracy. But I understand it is much more difficult to do that than it is to look through two scopes side-by-side to see which is more clear. I usually shoot at least 10 three shot groups to evaluate a scope. My Vari-x III shoots well. It shoots down to .1MOA at 100 yards. I just want one with a matte finish and I'm wondering if the new version might be at least as accurate or do I need to buy a Nightforce.

    The big shooters winning the national F-Class meets typically use NightForce Bench Rest 12-45s. As great as Nikons are for deer hunting, I guarantee you could not get an F-class shooter to use one in competition. There is a reason for that.

    Thanks for your comments and have a Merry Christmas all.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pray- hunt-work
    replied
    Chuckles- A merry Christmas to you and yours also. Ive told a white Christmas lie that I'm sure my better half will soon call me out on; While searching for a Christmas tree behind the ranch in bitterly cold temperatures, we were having a hard time finding a Balsam Fir tree like we were used to having back in Maine. The further we walked into the mountains, the more evident it became that the most shapely tree we would see on our adventure was a Cedar that sat not 300 ft from the parked truck. With no more a-do, we walked back and harvested the Cedar tree. The following morning a neighboring rancher drove over to chat while we were working cows and wouldn't you know it, in the bed of his truck sat two of the prettiest Balsam Firs I've ever seen. Luckily my wife was across the way dallied off to a mean little steer and I was able to avoid death (she takes her Christmas tree seriously) for the time being.

    Leave a comment:


  • chuckles
    replied
    So I got both rifles out to do a comparison after the posting above. (any excuse to fondle is a good excuse) There is a definite difference but I suppose one should expect improvement over 20+ years. The Vari-XII was the first scope I bought and it has survived numerous mountain tumbles and one free fall from a treestand without ever varying from zero. Don't know if that makes it accurate but it is a good reason to stick with Leupold.

    PHW- Thank you sir. They say laughter is the best medicine and my experience has been that life requires one heck of a lot of medicine.
    A merry Christmas to you and yours and to all the rest of you!

    Leave a comment:


  • M.A.T
    replied
    To clarify, I don't think the Vari-X III is a bad scope, I'm just saying Vari-X III and VX-3 are different scopes.

    Leave a comment:


  • obijohn
    replied
    I've shot the Vari-X IIIs and they are a repeatable scope. A scope doesn't make a rifle more accurate, it makes it possible for the shooter to get the best accuracy out of the rifle by eliminating aiming error.

    Optical coating technology has advanced over the years, but really... when is the last time you missed your target and it was because of some sort of scope failure? Also, remember that a lot of 'advances' in scope technology are really manufacturing advances where the factory has been able to reduce the cost of making something without adversely affecting performance.

    In short, I'd always buy the latest PROVEN version of a product given that there wasn't a significant difference in price... but I'd take a brand-new Vari-X III as a gift and be perfectly happy with it.

    Leave a comment:

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