Gun Powder Tips for Long Range Shooting
Cactus Tactical – Long Range Shooting Secrets. This series of Shooting and Gun Smithing Tips is brought to you by Cactus Tactical, an AmmoLand Expert Author
Cactus Tactical - -(AmmoLand.com)- The main difference between rifle powders is shape and chemistry. The shapes of the powder granules make some powder drop better from a powder measure. Chemistry affects the burn rate and is dependent on case dimensions, bore size, and bullet weight. Most powders are designed for a specific range of loads, however some powders are very versatile like IMR 4895. It can be used in everything from a 223 Rem to a 458 Win Mag. Using a powder engineered for your cartridge will result in better accuracy and safer loads. All powder charges listed in a reloading manual for your cartridge and bullet weight have been tested and do not generate excessive chamber pressures.
Primers: Any primer will ignite the powder but some powders need a hotter or longer burn to start the powder burning at the proper rate. Example: Win 748 powder requires a Magnum primer for proper ignition. A Standard primer will still make a bang but the results will be inconsistent. Consult your reloading manual for recommended Standard or Magnum primers for the selected powder.
Ammunition manufacturers do a lot of research before they sell a specified cartridge. They find the best velocity, bullet weight, primer and powder that will result in safe, accurate loads. Reloading can refine this process and make your rifle shoot better groups. It also adds the versatility of using bullets that may not be available in factory loads. Always try to replicate factory load velocities for the desired bullet weights. Hot loads seldom improve accuracy and accelerate barrel wear. Slower velocities may not spin the bullet fast enough to stabilize it.
Tuning a load: A Chronograph is required. Buy a box of factory ammunition in the desired bullet weight. Chronograph 10 rounds, waiting at least 5 minutes between shots. Document the results; compute the average velocity and variations. Shoot 2- 5 shot groups at 100 yards or more (also 5 minutes between shots). Document the group sizes or save the targets. This will be the base line for your reloads.
Find a load in the reloading manual that replicates the average factory velocity (same weight bullet). Load 10 cartridges, two each in 1-grain increments starting at 2 grains below and going to 2
grains above listed powder charge. Use a Bullet Depth Gauge to measure for proper seating depth. Mark these loads and chronograph them starting with the lowest charge (5 min / shot). After each shot, inspect for flattened primers (high pressure indication). Do not fire heavier loads if you see signs of high pressure. Select the powder charge that replicates the average factory velocity. Load 20 cartridges with the selected charge (weighing each load). Chronograph 10 as before and shoot 2 -5 shot groups as before. Compare factory loads to reloads. Consistent velocities have a better potential for accuracy. If the reload velocities aren’t more consistent, then you need to try a different powder. If velocities are more consistent but group size is larger with reloads, then you have a bullet seating depth or case length problem. Once you see an improvement over factory loads, you can refine by adjusting the powder charge in 2/10-grain increments.
All powders develop higher pressures and velocities when cartridges are placed in a hot chamber. Most guns are more accurate after firing a few rounds to foul the barrel. NEVER mix different powders. NEVER use pistol primers in rifle cases. Anneal the brass case from shoulder to mouth. This softens the brass and allows the bullet to move forward before the pressure builds up resulting in less bullet jump shock, better pressure seal, and better accuracy. Use a Case Neck Length Gauge to measure the chamber for optimum case length. Weigh and trickle up all rifle powder loads. Store powder in a cool dry place. Light, heat and plastic containers not made for powder storage (milk jugs, Tupperware, etc) will accelerate aging. After a reloading session, return powder to the proper container.
Case Neck Length Gauges and Bullet Depth Gauges are now available from Cactus Tactical in all cartridges with .224, 7mm, and .308 diameter bullets. These tools are very easy to use and come with simple instructions. Unfortunately, they are only available for guns with direct in-line chamber access such as a bolt action, single shot, AR-15, etc.
About Cactus Tactical
Cactus Tactical Supply was formed in 1999 to support Phoenix, AZ customers of various firearms training facilities with their tactical equipment and ammunition supplies. They soon began serving local law enforcements agencies and military organizations as a natural extension of the original business charter. It was a small step after that to go nationwide via the Internet and provide a 24 hour web store to allow law enforcement officers, military personnel, tactical enthusiasts and the armed savvy civilian to buy their equipment at reduced prices. Expansions into mail order and store front customer capabilities have followed over the last few years. Cactus Tactical carries most of the top brands of equipment that are designed for hostile environments. The internet accessible web store currently displays over 3,000 individual items for immediate purchase.
Cactus Tactical is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. For more information on Cactus Tactical and Cactus Tactical products, log on to www.cactustactical.com or call 602-441-3924.
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