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"Two Bit" groups.

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by deadshot2, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    This is really a story of a rifle but since a big part of it's success is due to ammo development I thought I'd post it here.

    Recently I got the urge to buy that "ultimate rifle". One that could shoot with extreme accuracy at long distances. When I went shopping the rifle that caught my eye was a Les Baer Tactical Recon .308. Guaranteed to shoot 1/2 MOA groups. Sure is a nice rifle but the price tag was a little staggering. At just under $4,000, without scope, it was surely no "economy model". Anyway I got to thinking. Since I already had a really nice shooting .308 Remington 700 SS 5R milspec, that only set me back only 25% of the Les Baer, I decided to really see what I could do with it. I got really serious about load development.

    Using Varget and Nosler Custom Competition BTHP's in 168 gr I got serious about finding the sweet load for this rifle. One that would deliver small groups at ranges beyond the usual target range of 100 yards. Since the max range of my club's facility is 300 yards that was the test area.

    A 'two-bit' group that at least meets the guaranteed accuracy of a Les Baer, all from a rifle that is pretty much "off the rack" and even has close to 3,000 rounds through it.

    Quarter Group.jpg Quarter group 2.jpg

    Seems like the "old veteran" likes 43.8gr of Varget in a Winchester Case, a BR-2 Primer, and 2.800" OAL.

    The group measured just over .5 MOA (again, this was at 300 yards). Sure glad I saved my money and invested in a NightForce NXS 12-42X56 scope instead. The LB didn't include a scope at that price so I figure that I came out with a rifle that's just as fun to shoot for half the price. I have no reason to believe that a little work on my part and I can tune that load just a little more. Some other test loads just above and just below this load had some "cloverleafs" in them but had an overall size due to the two rounds that were spread out by an inch or so from the 3-shot clusters. These groups were shot from a bipod, not sandbags or a rest. I just believe in developing a load in the same manner as I'm going to shoot it thus the bipod.

    That said, the 168 is not even the suggested bullet for the Rem 5-R Milspec. It's supposedly "optimized" for the 175 gr projectile. I just have a thousand of the 168's so I'll have fun with them and then work up a similar load for the 175's.

    Just goes to show that a lot of a rifle's accuracy can come from the load, not necessarily a bigger price tag. All the more reason that reloading is fun and very productive.

    BTW, for those that are like my wife and wonder why the rounds didn't hit my point of aim which was the red dot, when testing ammo I like to purposely set my scope so the POI is off my POA. That way I have a constant point to center my scope reticle on rather than shooting it out in the first few shots.

    As a parting shot, has anyone shot at a quarter? If so, what range? How did you secure it? If you hit it, how did you find it afterward. Just want to try it for grins and giggles.

    I've been also saving golf balls for a summer shoot at a local "pit" when I can get together with my Grandkids. Sometimes I just get tired of plain paper.

    Quarter Group.jpg

    Quarter group 2.jpg
     
  2. rrojohnso

    rrojohnso Vancouver, WA Member

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    Sounds great! What is your barrel twist rate? Is that what you used to decide your rifle is hungry for the 175's?
    We have shot at quarters before - usually set it back in a stump at the end of a dirt strip for sighting in while in the hunting range (it's 5k feet higher than my home range). They don't usually go far - usually just fall. I bet you could simply tape it to a target (tape the back side of the target as well to catch it if the quarter tries to blow through)?
     
  3. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Does a nickle count.
    When I was twelve, my buddies and I would set a nickle up against an old railroad boxcar that was left in an abandoned rock quarry.
    Then, (I still can't believe how dumb we were) one of us would point and shoot a .22 rifle up close to the nickle, oh, about 1/2" to 1" away.
    Where the bullet went we never considered that part, but if you stood close enough, you could catch the nickle as it dropped out of the air.
    It turned the nickle into a sewing thimble most times.
     
  4. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    The barrel on this rifle is a knock off of he M-24 SWS barrel that Remington produces for the military. It's a hammered rifiling barrel with a 1:11.25 twist rate which Remington claims is "optimized for the M-118/M-118LR round. I've shot a bunch of 175's through it and they just "fell into" an accuracy group with loads ranging from 43.5 to 44.5 gr of Varget. It's been a lot more difficult to find something that worked well with the 168's. They don't like loads just .3 gr above and .3g below this one I tested. A very narrow "node" it appears.

    As for shooting coins, my goal was to shoot a quarter at the same range as I shot this group, 300 yards. I've seen coins shot at closer distances, some even have powder burns on them:laugh:

    Another target I'm considering is lifesavers hung from fishing line set out at least 200 yards, possibly 300. For me, the bigger the challenge, the greater the personal satisfaction. Combine that with some days I have nothing better to do with my time. As the old comment goes, "ain't that a bubblegum"?:cool: (I'm really loving retirement. (Now if I could only be assured of another 20-30 years)
     
  5. Edmon

    Edmon Battle Ground Member

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    I am also in the process of finding the sweet spot for a 30-06. Could you share with us the process you undertook to acheive such accuracy? Did you use any specific ladder tests? Any info you could share would be appreciated.
     
  6. MrNiceGuy

    MrNiceGuy between springfield and shelbyville Well-Known Member

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    Tape them to a cardboard box. Nothing fancy, just some scotch tape and you're good to go.
    I shoot them anywhere from 75 to 100 yards. At that distance the 556 round will go them like a hot knife through butter... except for pennies. They tend to crack and split.
    They make great key chains when you're done.
    Pretty much everyone I know has one of my old targets. :laugh:

    img3186w.jpg
     
  7. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I'v used a little bit of several methods.

    The basic "Ladder Test" originated by Creighton Audette is OK but for me, and the range I shoot on, it's not really practical. His method works best at long distances. Really shows it's value at ranges of 400 yards or more.

    The OCW method, where 5 rounds are shot in a round robin method at 5 targets, eventually shooting 5 separate loads is more my favorite.

    In order to get to where I want to be a little quicker I look at what others have done and where the majority of "accurate" loads for similar rifles fall. There's no point on wasting powder and bullets testing the full range from min to max for a given caliber through a rifle just like yours when everyone else is claiming accuracy within a 1-2 grain range.

    I developed a load for my old 1903 Springfied which still has the original 1942 barrel, a 4 groove. I found some popular loads that others had had success with and then shot OCW type groups with loads that were at the low end of the popular ones, then increased by .5 grain increments until I had 25 rounds total. From this test I then took the one or two (high node/low node) loads and then worked on either side, lower by .2 gr intervals and upward by .2gr intervals, to fine tune.

    The biggest thing I've found is that each rifle truly prefers a particular bullet weight and design. My 30-06 "likes" 165-168 gr bullets, shooting nice 3/4" groups at 100 yards (not bad for an old $12.85 surplus Army rifle). It also does well with 220 Gr Win Silvertips but my shoulder doesn't fare as well with the big slugs.

    My .308 performs best with 175 gr bullets. 180's are not worth the cost of the bullet and anything less than 168 is a pain to get something better than "average".

    It's just like marriage I guess. When you find the right combination everything goes together well. Anything else is at best, OK.
     
  8. Edmon

    Edmon Battle Ground Member

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    Thank you deadshot2. I hope that with patience and time I will find the sweet spot for my rifle. It's frustrating when you spend lots of time and effort to work up a load you believe will be kick a$$ only to find out it is not and you get better accuracy with factory ammo.
     
  9. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    It's not just patience, it's also consistency. Make sure all your cases have the same neck tension. If, when seating bullets, you find one or two taking more pressure than all the others, set them aside. Go ahead and shoot them as is, just make them part of a group of "tight necks" rather than mixing them among the others that required more similar seating effort to the rest of their group. These rounds that required more seating pressure can also be those "fliers" that cause a shooter to discard the accuracy of that load.

    To prevent as much as possible of this, I don't just size in one step anymore. I use a Neck Sizing die that bumps the shoulder back a couple thou without sizing the rest of the case. I then run it through a Lee Collet Die to finish sizing the neck. Then, as a last check and to insure all case necks are at the same diameter and "neck tension", I run a Sinclair Expander die on all cases using their "Oversized Mandrel" which gives me an exact .306" case mouth diameter. All bullets seat with the same perceived pressure. When I started doing this I also started conserving hair. Groups improved and I revisited some loads I'd discarded earlier as inaccurate.

    To pass on some credit where it's definitely due, one of my "mentors" is a guy named "Bud" Solis.

    Here's a quick clip from the Berger Bullet website on Bud

    "Felix “Bud” Solis of Snohomish, WA is a Highpower shooter and member of the U.S. Veteran’s Rifle Team. In the last 14 months, Bud has broken 16 National Records in the Open, Police, and Senior categories. He shoots 4 different rifles in 3 calibers, at distances of 300-1000 yards."

    He told me at the range about a week ago "shooting is both the most fun, and the most frustrating, sport one can participate in. Just when you think you have it mastered it all changes". Truer words----.

    Just be patient, follow logic, and keep records. Most of all, don't get discouraged.

    Oh, by the way, Bud broke one of those numerous records three times in the same meet. He out shot HIMSELF twice. I do admire that man's skill and you'll never meet a more humble man or one so willing to share. I sure like having him as a mentor even though I don't choose to compete.