Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reloder 15

Back in the late '70s when I was reloading lots of shotgun shell, I used Red Dot, Blue Dot, Green Dot and Herco, all powders marketed by Hercules Powder Company. The old Hercules Powder was sold or became Alliant Powder, and when I began loading pistol cartridges, I continued to use Alliant Powders, mainly in the Bullseye and Unique persuasion. When I stepped up to rifle reloading, it was natural that I continued to use Alliant powder.

While researching powders for the .308 Winchester, I went to the Alliant site and found this blurb on the product page:
Selected as the powder for U.S. Military's M118 special ball long range sniper round.
Well, hell. If it's good enough for the Army, it's good enough for me.

I came late to the .308 Winchester as a sporting cartridge. I fired lots of it when I was on active duty, generally in 100 round belts through machine guns. It was an okay round, but nothing special. It wasn't until '04 or '05 that I ever purchased a rifle in .308, and that was a gift to my son. Load development showed that it liked Reloder 15 powder and Sierra Matchking bullets. When it came time to find a hunting load, it was a natural step to use that same powder with Sierra's Gameking bullets.

Either 168 grain Matchkings or 165 grain Gamekings, the same load works fine. 43.0 grains of Reloder 15, either of those bullets and if the rifle doesn't shoot, you've got some work to do. Every .308 I've shot that load in shoots it extremely well. The bullet leaves the barrel at 2700 fps, real close to published velocity. My ballistic program tell me that sighted in one inch high at 100 yards, it will be down just 2 inches at 200 yards and still carrying 2173 foot-pounds of energy. At 250 yards, it will be down a little over 5 inches and still carrying over 2000 ft/lbs of whack. I don't plan on shooting a game animal over 250 yards away, so that's good enough for me.

Today, I took that load out to the Woodworth Range, along with my Remington Model 700. I had loaded some brass with Gamekings, thinking it might make a good hunting load for this autumn. I fired two groups on the same target. The first 3-round group fell tot he right, so I adjusted the scope and fired the second target. Two pretty nice groups.

So, I adjusted the reticle again, waited for the barrel to cool, and fired another group.

When, I got home, I put my caliper on those groups and found that the average of all three is just 0.845 inches. This from a thin sporter barrel, with a rifle that was made in 1983.

If there are any .308 shooters out there, write that down. If I ever write a book about pet loads, (my apologies to Ken Waters) this is one that's going on top of the stack. It's a winner in every rifle I've ever shot it.


Old NFO said...

Very nice... VERY nice!

Skip said...

Don't know about hunting loads but 43gr of Varget under 168gr Berger hpbt VLD Match will clover leaf if I hold up my end.
Still use Red Dot in my trap loads. It used to be pretty dirty but they have cleaned it up.
Nice shootin'!

Rivrdog said...

When you get into the Bergers and Scenars, you're spending a ton of $$$ to get improvement that won't even show unless you have a sub-MOA rifle ($5K+) and are a sub-MOA shooter (2K-5K rds/year).

Just my $0.02, but the previous two years proved that adequately at Boomershoot, where the targets ARE 1 MOA.

My objective was, both years I went, to demonstrate that an ordinary hunting rifle, in my case either my .243 Winchester Model 70 Sport Hunter (mid-80's) or my .308 Savage 99E (1960) can do the job at 385 yards on 4" targets and 600+ on 7".

What I demonstrated to myself was that this weight of load (powder and bullet equal to PawPaw's) WILL do the job, ONLY if I and my spotter do OUR jobs. I also found that factory 95-gr Federal Fusion was just as accurate in the .243 as purpose-built match ammo.

So, go ahead and gussie up those loads until they cost $2+ to make, but since the limits at MOA are personal talent, the smart money is on the practiced shooter shooting a STANDARD round from a good hunting rifle.

Don't just ask me about that, though, ask Gene Econ, who ran Army Marksmanship for a while, and teaches an excellent course in sub-MOA shooting at Boomershoot, or ask (read his historians) Imperial Japanese Admiral of the Fleet Isoroku Yamamoto, who declined to invade the USA because he KNEW we had those marksmanship talents here.

PawPaw, you are an MOA shooter with a standard rifle and load, so don't let anyone tell you how to spend a fortune to probably not get better.