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New 243 Load

Customizing cartridges

New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Sat Dec 03, 2016 7:53 pm

Ok, just for S&G (and anyone who cares) I'm going to document the reloading for a new 243 I'm setting up.

After much debate, I picked up a Savage 12LRP in 243. It is a target action, heavy barrel, magazine fed gun that I intend to use for a variety of shooting from longer range Coyotes, to local bench competitions, and possibly deer. I topped it with a Vortex Viper HS-T 6-24. After an initial barrel break of shoot-clean-shoot-clean ... with a box of factory, it is time to start reloading. I'll try to post a little review of the gun and the scope in the appropriate forums later.

I'm starting with 100 round of new Lapua brass
95gr Berger Classic Hunters
CCI 200 primers
Hodgdon H4350

Berger's reloading advice is summarized as follows: Start by finding the bullet jam or jump that works at minimum book charge and then find the charge node using that jump. Some don't like this method for one reason or another but I decided it would be the route I would take.

I full length resized all of the brass. They didn't need to be trimmed as all cases were very uniform and near trim length anyway. I slightly chamferred and deburred the case mouths and called it good.

I found where these bullets touched the lands by disassembling the bolt, removing the firing pin, extractor and ejector and the making a dummy round. With no powder or primer, I seated a bullet WAY long. Of course the bolt wouldn't close on this round. I kept turning my seating die in little by little and kept checking for resistance when closing the the bolt. It took a bit, but I finally found point where the last 0.005 seating depth change made the bolt close without resistance. I took the last COL prior to this and considered it the "at the lands" measurement. Technically it is somewhere between at 0.005 jam and just touching, but close enough for my purpose. With this gun, I have plenty of magazine length to seat the bullets long if need be.

Next, 25 cases were primed and charged with 40 gr of powder. NOTE: ALWAYS REFERENCE RELIABLE RELOADING MANUAL AND WORK UP FROM THE MINIMUM LOAD. NEVER USE SOMEONE ELSE'S LOAD DATA.

5 sets of 5 were loaded at different COL's. I used my at the lands length, 0.020 off, 0.050 off, 0.080 off and 0.110 off the the lands.

Today was a great morning for shooting so I shot each of the batches, starting with the longest jump.

As Berger stated would happen, there was a noticeable difference.

The best 5 shot, 100 yard group was with an 0.080 jump to the lands, That group had the first 3 shots in the same hole with shots 4 and 5 making the overall group 0.507"

The 0.110 and 0.050 jump groups also shot well, coming in at around 0.0570. Hopefully this means that in this jump area, it isn't too jump sensitive.

The shorter jumps, 0.020 and touching opened up a lot. Not what I was expecting, but they were around 0.870 and 1.500 respectively.

Half inch isn't a bad start. The next step will be to work up the powder charge using the 0.080 jump COL to see if I can tighten them up a little more.

I'll try to post a few photos in a bit.

Mitch
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Sat Dec 03, 2016 8:02 pm

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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Sun Dec 04, 2016 10:14 pm

The next set of test loads are ready.

Based upon the COL test above, I decided that the 0.080 jump was the best spot. With my seating die set for a COL of 2.605" I loaded up 5 sets of 5 rounds with powder charges from 40gr to 42gn (my book max) in 0.5gr increments. Again, always reference your own books, don't take my word for it.

I will shoot these the next good chance I get, starting with the lowest charge and working up, keeping an eye out for pressure signs. If I get to 42gr with no pressure signs I may go higher, I may not. It depends what the groups look like up to that point.

One thing I noticed when loading 25 rounds tonight with the seating die set for a consistent COL (cartridge overall length) of 2.605 is that was getting a runout of +/- about 0.002. I was a little uneasy about this, but I did some research and found out it may actually be a good thing. No bullets are perfect, especially the longer hollow point pullets. It is far more important that the length from the base of the cartridge to the start of the ogive (the spot where the bullet becomes full diameter) be the same, than it is for the overall length to be the same. The base to the start of the ogive measurement is called the BTO.

My seating stem is a cone shape. It seats the bullet by pressing on the curve of the bullet about 2/3 of the from the tip to where the bullet becomes full diameter. This should be a more consistent location, as it is closer to the start of the ogive. Seeing a little runout in the COL just confirms that the tip of the bullet is not bottoming out in the cone and seating by the tip, which would lead ta more consistent COL, but a potentially less consistent BTO.

Since the BTO is really the measurement that correlates to the jump/jam, that is what we want consistent. Between different length and shape bullets, a consistent BTO will yield a different COL. As I observed when loading, this difference is even present, very minutely, in same batch bullets due to ever so slight imperfections.

Berger has a few really good articles on their website if you look under the Information - Tech Talk section.

I'm learning as I go here too, so if someone sees something incorrect, please let me know. That way we all learn, and since there is no one-right-way, we might even spark an interesting discussion.

Mitch
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby Fitter » Mon Dec 05, 2016 11:21 pm

I'll be completely honest in saying most of your post, to me, is more or less a foreign language. I know nothing about reloading other than what I read here on the boards. And that's what exactly what makes this forum a good resource for people like myself and those who are experienced custom loading their own cartridges. We all have something to learn.

I do know one thing for sure. I would be very happy and confident with those groupings especially if I were creating my own ammo.

Nice work Mitch and thanks for sharing!
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Fri Dec 09, 2016 8:55 am

I was in your same shoes about a year ago. I understood the basics of reloading, put a primer, powder and a bullet in a case right?

It is something that I have really started to enjoy over the last year. My brain ticks on technical stuff so I find doing the research and seeing how far I can push the tolerances is actually fun for me.

Making ammo that is more accurate for less $ is just a bonus. It truly is hard to "save" money reloading most calibers though. What little you do save you end up spending again because you shoot more.

Maybe the correct way to say it is that I am able to shoot more for the same $.

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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:32 pm

It was 5 degrees this morning but when I stoked the woodstove, I noticed the smoke was going straight up. No wind is a good day to shoot regardless of temperature.

The plan was to test the 5 different powder charges that I had loaded up at the COL from the previous test. They ranged from 40.0 to 42.0 in 0.5 increments.

I was really hoping to see 41.5 or 42.0 be the best, as the higher charge would result in a higher velocity. As it turned out, 40.5 was the best I had today. The 42.0 batch really opened up, but there were no signs of over pressure. It may be possible to carefully work up and find another accuracy node above 42.0 before I get too hot. I'm not sure if I will pursue this or not.

For now I'm happy, other than the fact that I seem to be really good at pulling 1 shot in every 5 shot group. That may have had something to do with a cold, numb trigger finger :lol:

Here are the best and worst 100 yd targets from today.

Mitch
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby Fitter » Sat Dec 10, 2016 11:42 pm

Nice shooting!

I hear ya on the cold weather. I spent 6 hours stacking firewood that arrived today. Wanted to get it off the ground and cover it before this fresh snow arrives. Good times.
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Tue Jan 03, 2017 6:09 pm

I'm learning that I am really good at making 3/5 or 4/5 good shots.

I spent Saturday at the range helping a buddy with a new-to-him 223. Took a couple tries but we did find a factory ammo it likes and one of my hand loads was outstanding.

I also spent a little time behind my gun. After shooting a couple of the good 3/5 and 4/5 groups, I really buckled down, focused on the fundamentals, and prayed that the stars would align. I'm not saying that the gun or the load is capable of this every time. And I'm certainly not saying that I am capable of this on a regular basis, but even once in a while is kind of fun. This is by far the best 5-shot group I have ever shot.

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Re: New 243 Load

Postby Fitter » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:37 pm

Deadly. :D
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby Alaska Dave » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:12 pm

Very excellent load development. Looks like you need to sell me that rifle before you wear out that barrel. Lol
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:32 am

Fitter, yeah I killed that paper dead. Hopefully I can find some fur with it soon.

Thanks Dave, it has been a fun project. I have 117 rounds through it. I'm hoping for 1500 on the barrel. I'll let you know if it is for sale in another 1382 :lol:

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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Tue Feb 21, 2017 2:20 pm

Shortly after my last post, I started having a little trouble with the gun/load.

I was getting increasing pressure signs with the identical load. Given I had shot 70 or so rounds of this load, I wasn't really watching it. Eventually pressures got too high. I stepped back, checked everything (and then rechecked) and tried starting over with book minimum loads again. A similar situation happened, it started out fine, but pressures rapidly increased to a point of being unsafe.

After discussion with several accomplished shooters and my gunsmith, we decided to call Savage. They requested that the gun be sent back for inspection. It has been in for 2 weeks and I'm hoping to have it back in the next 2-3.

No-one could pinpoint a problem. I verified the calibration on my scales (2 of them), double checked powder, primers, seating depth, neck tension, everything. This gun, which had shot a mid-book load well, was now generating excessive pressures and velocities at book minimums.

Someone suggested fowling, and that could be. However the gun only had 150 rounds through it and had been cleaned several times. Plus, the 3 shot group before the last over-pressure was in 0.2"s. I've seen guns fowl and loose accuracy, but never fowl to a point of bore constriction while maintaining superb accuracy.

I'm confident that Savage will right the situation, or will let me know what they think I was doing wrong.

Either way, I hope to have the gun back and up and running again soon.

Mitch
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby Alaska Dave » Thu Apr 06, 2017 9:39 pm

Any news?
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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Thu Apr 06, 2017 10:58 pm

Give me a couple days and hopefully I can post an update.

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Re: New 243 Load

Postby practice-more » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:52 pm

Ok, I think things are what they are and I can give an update.

The gun came back from Savage just a couple weeks ago. They had it for about 8 weeks. The slip said they replaced the bolt face, replaced small parts, function and 5 round fire tested it.

When I got the gun back from Savage the replacement bolt face was very fowled with a few light marks in it and the barrel was FULL of copper. When looking at the copper at the muzzle it was also very obvious to see that the barrel was VERY rough. I attempted to speak to Savage about this on two different occasions but I got nowhere. In fact, I'm disappointed in how I was treated by Savage. I won't go into details on the thread.

I did several more 1-shot clean routines with a foaming bore cleaner and didn't seem to make much progress with reducing the build-up. On a side note, I found out that an overnight soak with WipeOut does a great job of cleaning a barrel. But, after just 1 round it was right back again.

A friend of mine looked at it with a bore scope and agreed it is excessively rough, but since the accuracy has been good, we decided I would just try to keep shooting it until it comes time for a new barrel. We checked a bunch of things to see if there was any "cause" to the increasing and over pressure issue I was having before. We changed to a slower burning powder and re-set the bullet jump. Accuracy seemed good and according to his radar, the velocities were very stable over a string of fire. I wish there was an "aha" moment but there wasn't. I don't know exactly what the problem was, why I was having it, or what Savage may or may not have done to the gun. It makes me a little uneasy not knowing how or if the problem is fixed, but I will proceed carefully and keep a close eye out for any symptoms of something going wrong.

I'm fine tuning a new load now. It is a very mild charge of H4831SC under the same Berger 95 grain classic hunters. They seem to shoot well right at the lands or a couple thousands into the lands. Even though I'm at the low end of the book charge window, I'm getting good velocities, around 3040 fps from the 26" barrel. It appears that this gun is "tight" and prefers a lower charge while still making great velocity.

The weather has been less than ideal for testing, but I shot a 5-shot 300 yard group tonight in a 12-14 mph wind that measured at 1.85". I would like to get this down under 1.5 and I think I will.

I guess that is all I have to report for now. Hopefully I will have some groups I'm proud of to post later.

Mitch
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