After I hair-lipped the rose bush today, I sat down at the bench and worked another series of reloads based on Newberry's OCW method of finding a good load. I couldn't decide if the ugly rifle didn't like those Fusion bullets, or didn't like Reloder 15 under those bullets, so I looked for something different and found a box of 155 grain Matchkings that I had forgotten about. Then, I looked at four references and got an idea of what loads might be suitable for IMR 4895 powder and that bullet. I came away with six loads, starting at 41.5 grains, progressing upward in 0.9 grain increments to 46.0 grains, all under that 155 Matchking.
I went out to the Woodworth Range, and it was closed. There were six or eight cars waiting at the gate, so we all got out of our vehicles and talked. We all verified that we had checked online and the range is supposed to be open today at noon, so I whipped out my smartphone, did a quick google search, and found the number to the state office of Wildlife and Fisheries. I got someone on the phone and started raising hell. In about fifteen minutes, someone else called me back, told me where a key was located on a tree near the gate, and told me to let everyone in.
Once on the range, I got set up and started running the line, along with shooting my groups. After firing my string I looked downrange through the spotting scope and was fairly pleased. All six 3-shot strings averaged 1.26 inches, and three of those groups were under an inch! Very good. There is something that rifle likes about IMR 4805 powder and 155 grain Matchkings. Somewhere between 44.2 grains and 45.1 grains there is a sweet spot, and I'll have to find it, then start tuning loads to that rifle. After I get the load tuned, I'll run it over the chronograph and enter it into my pet load records.
Funny thing. Hodgdon shows a max load of 47.3 grains of IMR 4895 under a 150 grain bullet. I filled a case with powder and couldn't stuff but 46.4 grains to the junction of the neck and shoulder. My hottest load was 46.0 grains and it's too hot for my rifle. When I touched that load off, it blew the primer, jammed my ejector, and pushed the extractor out of the bolt. I managed to find all the parts and get the rifle running again, but I was mighty concerned for a few minutes. This comes as a caution to check your sources, make your own judgement and pay attention to what your rifle is telling you. A load that's too hot in your rifle may be okay according to the published literature. When you handload ammunition, you're on your own. Be safe.
I've done more shooting in the last two days than I have in the last three months. It feels good to get a little recoil therapy. It also feels good to see that rifle shoot like I thought it might.