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Need Help Handloading .308

16352 Views 10 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Nekekami
Ok, i was at the range today testing out my first batch of handloaded ammunition. Lets just say i was a little less than pleased :oops: . The guy in the booth next to me had what looked about $8000 worth of high-quality sniper rifles (he might have been a police sniper or just a really big enthusiast). We started talking and I mentioned I was handlaoding. He asked me what i was loading and i told him; 200gr Sierra Matchking bullets with 47.1 grains of IMR-4350 powder (i got this load straight out of a handloading manual which said it was supposed to be accurate). He said that the 200gr was overkill and that I use the 165, 168, or 175gr Matchking Bullet with Varget powder. So heres my question:

What has been the most accurate recipe for a .308 cartidge that you handloaders have discovered?

I have a Savage 10FP with a 24" barrel and 1" in 10" twist.

I know the problem is not the gun or the shooter because I can put 5 shots under a quarter with 168gr Federal Gold Medal Match ammo consistently.
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I have a 5R Rem. 700 and my best load so far has been with the Sierra 168gr. HPBT combined with 42gr. of RE-15. My gun really seems to like this load and shoots very well with it. This load has also worked very well in my friends Rem. 700. His has a different barrel length and twist so I think that says something for this load, if I had more time and $ before I go off to college I would play around with the 175gr. but the I've heard that in closer ranges these two are almost identical. I think the 175 has and advatage at long distances, say 1000yd. etc.

I would try this load and see if your gun likes it, at the very least I think its a good starting point. Hope I could help.

Here is a picture taken the first day I shot my 5R, this was my best group of the day, 3 shots at about 4 o'clock.
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I'm not yet done with my development of my .308 load (still a bit of seating depth testing to try). But I'm getting incredible results with Reloader 15, my results are not nearly as good with Varget - which came with much stronger recommendations - go figure.

I still plan on trying IMR 4895, but RL-15 looks like the one to beat so far (latest results were 5 shot group, 0.6 inches from 200 yards using bipod and my standard sandbag, using Lapua 155s (monster BC at .508) at 2,850 fps from my Patriot Arms .308 with a 12" twist, 24 inch barrel. I have an equally tight load for Sierra 175 MatchKings, but have not yet run that one through the chrony.

If you are running a 10 twist, the Lapua 155s are not in your future (to bad they totally rock - high BC and they run seriously flat out to 1,000 yards), but you can certainly go with the Sierra, JLK, or Berger 190s.
So would you say Varget is a better powder or RE-15? I had read somewhere that Varget was "match powder". Is this true? Do you thunk Varget would be a more accurate powder than most others or no?

I use Varget with my AR, it works very well. In my 5R is us RE-15 and it shoots like a champ also!!! I have not used Varget in my 5R yet due to time and $ :( . I use the RE-15 because that was recommended to me by someone who has put a lot of time into finding this out. But ya never now, perhaps Varget will work better in yours, i say play around and experiment some if you can. The more you mess around, the more you'll learn. And ask people around you, everyone has an opinion (and of course they're all right! lol), no but really if you ask around I bet you can get some very useful insight. After all thats why we check out this website isn't it?? Sorry for rambling on, good luck.
cfroehlich7584 - at least in my Patriot ARms .308, RL-15 is better by far.

My Custom swap barrel rifle, 308 / 6.5x284, has a faster twist (10" instead of 12") longer barrel (26" instead of 24") and shoots heavier .308 bullets (175, 178 AMAX, and 190 SMK versus the 155 Lapua and 175 SMK) tahn the Patriot Arms. Under these conditions, it shoots RL-15 and Varget about the same (at least at this stage of development).

I agree with Jeff, try different powders and see which does best. Around here, RL-15 and Varget dominate the line (temperature and humidity swings are huge so an extreme powder is necessary to stay safe and prevent temerature-related pressure swings from stomping on your load in case you shoot the second relay and not the first), while further north, IMR 4895 and IMR 4064 control.

I'll offer a different nugget too. When you find an accuracy node (there are more than one, so don't stop when you find one), pay particular attention to teh velocity that got you there. If you use that target velocity for different bullets and powder combinations, you will generally find an accurate load for the different bullets and powders without much difficulty or hard work.
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I have to ask this:

Most accurate for what conditions?

Short distances? Long distances? Extreme Distances?
Hot weather, mild weather? Dry? Humid? Arctic conditions?

For me, none of my handloads have been more accurate than the subcaliber round or the match ammo I've regularly used, and neither has the consistency been better.

The match ammo I regularly use is Lapua Lockbase HPS+ or Lapua FMJBT(My advice, don't bother with the Scenar stuff, it sucks really), and the heavier bullets work really well.

Something you could try is Lapua's 12g D46 FMJBT bullet(BC of 0.547), with about 43.9g of Norma 203-B gunpowder. It's pretty close to Lapua's own FMJBT(They use Vihtavuori gunpowder), which has turned out to be excellent for me at distances up to 900-1000m, even in arctic conditions.
The main thing i would use this cartridge for is shooting 100 yards and a mix of cold and hot weather, but not an extreme of either. I live in michigan and i target shoot year round. But where i live the longest range around for miles is only 100 yards. So that is what i would mainly use it for.

Although i suppose Michigans weather could sometimes be described as "Arctic" :D
cfroehlich7584 - for punching paper at 100 yards (especially in Michigan), you probably want to consider IMR 4064, RL-15, Varget, IMR 4895, and H4895.

In Houston, I need to consider high temperature and humidity extremes, like 95 degrees and 80% humidity before 10:00 am most every day. I need to focus on the extreme temperature powders, or the load that works early in the morning is over pressure by noon.

Since that is not really in your future, look hard at IMR 4064 and the two 4895s. In my rifle Varget gives good, but not exceptional results. RL-15 gives me exceptional results, regardless of temperature.

Nek - I have 2 loads that are tighter (at least at the 300 yards that I have tested them) than the Federal 175 GMM. that I have been shooting. They are also narrower in ES (Then again, I weigh, sort, and match prep my brass and beam scale weigh every load). I presume the match ammo you are tlaking about is the Lapua - I have never shot it, but hear good things about its consistency and accuracy.

I might be suprised and find the 175 gr. Federal GMM kicks my current 175 load's butt in the ranges beyond 600, but I seriously doubt that a tight load opens up that much.
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*Shrugs* Reading about the climate around there, it sounds as if Norma and Lapua recipes should work for you, since it is quite similar to the southern parts of Sweden. However, arctic climate is a bit more nasty than that. In the winters, the northern parts of Sweden temperatures can easily drop down to -50 degrees Celsius, while in the summers, +25-30 degrees Celsius isn't exactly rare. Finland and Norway are even worse off.


I haven't tested the 175gr GMM yet, only the 168 which I wasn't impressed with. Sure, it was accurate, but less consistent than the Lapua or Norma ammo.

With the Lapua FMJBT, the spread in velocity over the last 100 factory-loaded rounds is around 3.8m/s between the fastest and the slowest, and they come from different batches.

And you'd be surprised at how ammo can suddenly open up as the range increases..
Ooops :oops:

Let this be a lesson for you all, as to why you should make sure that you sleep properly, and double-check what you write.

Something you could try is Lapua's 12g D46 FMJBT bullet(BC of 0.547), with about 43.9g of Norma 203-B gunpowder.
That should be 43.9gr i.e grains.

Let's just hope that Darwin hasn't had to sort things out.
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