Monday, November 8, 2010

Booooolits n' brass n' stuff

Sinclair International is loving me these days. I've been on a massive reloading kick in order to maintain my shooting habit, and I'm not above trying new things.

This weekend I tested two brand spankin' new loads; one for my 308 and the other for my darling, the-AR15-from-DPMS. I've had some consistency issues with the 308 at distance, so I boiled up some 210 grain Sierra Match Kings over the new Reloader-17 for a nice OCW test. It went well, as did my 69 grain SMK over Varget OCW for the AR15. At long range though, one of these loads went fantastically well, while the other went very bad.

Browsing the Sniper's Hide thread on using the 208 grain Hornady A-Max with RL-17 verifies the "start slow end fast" mentality of ballistics, whereas you heave a ginormous (no autocorrect, awesome) bullet with a high B.C. for some long range groundhog splattering goodness. Checking my Shooter Ballistics software shows the 210 SMK as superior to my 175 Nosler CC load in the wind deflection department, with an additional 150 yards or so of sweet supah-sonic flight time, if I can start out in the 2,360 fps range, which I achieved. Somewhere though, something didn't go right - when I chose the load that had the 2,300 fps that I needed, and appeared to be on the accuracy node , it clocked it in a the range yesterday with a velocity of 2,437. Huh? I'm going to have to find out what went wrong there, as I shot some of these at 620 yards and my groups were spreading like two feet apart.

In for the win though was the trusty and reliable 155 grain Nosler CC handloads that I've used as a baseline for a year and a half. That one shoots really well, but at 2,668 fps average it's a little slow for serious long range work. My next move is to try tweaking my 175 grain loads, and perhaps doing an OCW test with those using RL-17, as I hear good things about that combo.

As for the 69 grain SMKs in the AR15, I was hitting groups of 7" or less at 620 yards, and that was with a Burris 2-7 variable with heavy reticle that obscures the entire 8" dot that I was shooting at. I'm pretty impressed.

On the way now are some more 155 grain booooolets for the 308, as well as many 69 grain pills for the 223.

Something that I also caught this weekend which explains the wild inconsistencies that I've been getting with my loads is that RL-15 and RL-17 get hung up in the LEE Perfect Powder Measure. I couldn't figure out why several shots would hit lights out at 500+ yards, and then one or two would hit like six inches low. Apparently, the long powder kernels get hung up like a horrible game of Jenga in my powder thrower, and that would explain why velocity on some of those shots would be 100 fps or more slower. I noticed when I was throwing charges and measuring them on the scale, that some of them would be way light; I bumped my powder thrower and a bunch of powder fell out. Now I know.

I have good things to report about the Competitive Edge Dynamics M2 chronograph that I am now using, as my last chrono - a Competition Electronics - had a C-Products magazine and .380 acp induced malfunction from which it could not recover.

As I've mentioned before, chronographs - like geraniums - need lots and lots of sunlight to function, and when you're a busy working dad that spends half his life driving to-and-from someplace, you may not have adequate light to work with. Also, Virginia is full of all these damned trees, which make what little sunlight you have pretty useless. The CED M2 chrono is all about combating the light problem, and it worked out very well this weekend.

Much reloading to do in a short period of time, as I am hoping to have a gazillion rounds loaded for the AR15 for some marksmanship lessons with my nephew. Hell yeah!
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