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The Thread, "Tighten the Groups Up" has climbed over 800 views, I suppose there is a message underlying this interest.

In view of that interest, I will attempt to add more to that subject.

As a starter, lets take a look at the ammunition you are using, this is for those that Hand Load. Hand Loading is only a couple of years old for me so I do not profess to be an Expert, However, I have uncovered a few things that improved the grouping in both my M1A's, These two rifles are close to identical, all USGI, Walnut standard stocks, one has a TRW NM barrel and the other a SAK NM barrel. Both rifles are scoped.

The first and biggest improvement noticed had to do with overall cartridge length. My shooting is off the bench by the way. Improvement was noticed by accident, I had several hundred pulled Lith, 147 gr. bullets serving no purpose. I decided to load some of these up to use as barrel warmers. By accident, I over-looked adjusting the bullet seating die and ran off 20 rounds. I notice these rounds being longer than usual when I loaded five in the mag,. they actually rubbed inside of the forward wall of the mag.. They produced a respectable group at 100 yards. Firing another five rounds, but taking more careful aim and letting off, this second five was so much better than shooting the Lith as issued, a Light when on, maybe there is somthing to this seating closer to the lands, well there is, or was for me.

I carried this information over to the Sierria bullet loads after finding out just how long I could make the rounds before contacting the lands , than backing them off .020"...

If you have not tried this, it may be just as big a pleasure for you as it was for me.

If one of you Members that has long experience in Hand Loading for the M1A would add your expertise, we would appreciate it very much.

I will get back to the rifle mods next time. art
 

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Hi Art,
Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us.

I have found that, generally, longer is better for the M-14. But, the Wolfe barrel I have is the exception to this rule.
I couldn't get the rifle to group as I thought it should until, on a whim, I shortened the OAL and then I got some tighter groups. Just over 1 MOA.

This barrel also has the shortest distance to the lands of all my M-14 type rifles. Maybe that has something to do with it. I do know that they all have a "sweet spot" where accuracy is best for a given load.

On a side note, I just bedded my first M-14 last night. I managed to NOT permanently glue the stock to the receiver and it actually came out pretty good for a first timer. Maybe this will improve the accuracy of the Wolfe barrel even more.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge with us.

pg
USA2
 

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Good Schtuph!!!

Thanks Art. I was also following that thread with interest and I appreciate your observation about OAL.

I have been reloading for about 3 years now and I am at the point where I feel confident of my abilities (with reloading) and my record keeping. I will be experimenting with OAL in my SAI M1A NM rifle. I thought I had achieved the best that rifle was capable of until I took in trade some hand loaded match rounds last summer (155 gr Amax over 40.5 gr H4895 from someone I totally trust) that were a bit longer than I usually load. They shot 1.00 to 1.25 MOA (iron sights) without me really trying very hard . . .

They shot good enough that I will be experimenting with stretching the OAL out a bit. That is as soon as we exit the mini Ice-Age we are experiencing here in NY . . -22 below last week. . . . Foxtrot Mike. MCORPS1
 

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This is very interesting Art, Thanks! I hand load some as well and have picked up a lot of good tips from this board. When I started loading I bought books and read about how to do it. Just like most things there's a lot that's not in the books.

For any newer board members; there is an ammo forum where a lot of handloading issues are discussed. Or for those who are considering getting started lolading it's a great way to "look over the shoulder" of someone with experience.
 

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Art,
I have been handloading for only a few years now but have found out a change here and there make a difference.

When I first started I was using Hornady 3037 147g bullets from Wideners using IMR 4895 with Fed 210 primers with a OAL of 2.800" and had just accepted that a 2-4" group at 100 yrds using a scope was the best I was going to get but then I started reading up on OAL, case prep, primers and powder etc.... after shooting some FGMM 168's and BH Match 168's I was able to do 1-2" groups but at $20 for a box of 20 was going to be hard to feed a M1A unless we moved into a shoe box so I started looking at better reloads.

I had been using 100% LC Milsurp cases and will continue to do so as it's cost effective and as most of you may know Milsurp cases are not match quality so I did my very best to turn them into the best quality brass by seeing where I could improve, the first step was to sort by weight as the variance was quite alot which affects internal case volume, the next step was to uniform the primer pocket to ensure consistent primer seating depth to avoid any chance of a slam fire with a high seated primer, I was surprised by the amount of material removed then I went after flash hole deburring after reading that on non-match cases the flash holes are usually punched and not drilled which leaves a burr on the inside and gives uneven ignition which can affect accuracy then I trimmed all cases to a very consistent OAL of 2.007" +/- .001" and also deburred and chamferred the case mouth.

My next step was case sizing, we all know that a M14/M1A Service rifle is hard on brass and cannot be treated like a bolt gun by neck sizing due to the possibility of slam fires or not having proper bolt lockup (really bad news) but I wanted to come as close as I could so I started doing some measuring, my Springer is HS at 1.632" so I purchased a Hornady HS kit with a .308 insert and found out that by F/L resizing I was bumping the shoulder back approx .010" + and I had researched that bumping it back this far not only affects accuracy but case life by over working the brass so I researched how far match shooters were having luck with and came up with a .002" bump, well I am not a match shooter and sure don't have a match rifle so I doubled that amount and went with .004-.005" to avoid issues with a dirty chamber.

The next thing I looked at was bullets and let me say all you guys out their that are pulling you hair out trying to work up a load and get decent results with pulled bullets, or off brand plinkers please stop... you get what you pay for.
After shooting several brands I either use Sierra 168 SMK Green Box or Nosler 168 CC and their is a tremendous difference between those and the Mil-Spec stuff, one thing I did notice was even on match bullets the tips are quite irregular so OAL from base to tip varied as much as .008" so I researched this and found out that you can get a meplat trimmer and remove approx .005" and true them up but it only matters at longer ranges for those pesky match shooters again MCORPS1 so I read some more and discovered that base to tip is not where I should be measuring it should be from the ogive as this is the point that engages the rifling so I purchased the Hornady OAL stuff and found out that my Springer has a max OAL of 2.290" using either a SMK or Nosler from base to ogive, well let me tell you seating bullets out this far turns your rifle in a semi single shot rifle as they will not cycle 100% so I started going back .010" at a time and came up with a happy medium of 2.255" +/- .005" and have 100% feed/function.

I was very lucky with powder/primers, I either use IMR 4895 or RE-15 with a Fed 210 or WLR primer but have to admit I have had better results with the WLR one's, I have not used CCI 34 primers and feel no need to with proper case prep the harder cup is not necessary and not worth the added expense to me.

In closing I must say I am very pleased with the time I have invested and was able to achieve a sub 1" MOA group by hand trickling the charges and using all the same bullets from the same lot with cases almost identical in weight and was also able to reload the cases 10X before sending them to the scrap pile, I know there are those out there that will not invest the time and in some cases risk by doing some of the things I have chosen to do but as handloaders we all experiment to a certain degree and some do it more than others.

Here are some pics of my quest:

LC 1X fired


LC 10X fired (1X on left)


Target at 100 with my pet loads, the flyers are result of the nut behind the trigger




Also recently I have been reading about tuning my Springer stock and with Art's help and advice have made some adjustments and when I have a chance I plan on shooting my loads with this newly adjusted stock and will report my results.

Have a Great day guys and keep um in the 10 ring MCORPS1
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Panter, and others, thank you

Panther, You have really involved yourself, looks like the extra effort has paid off. Great pictures,I am determined to learn do do this myself, someday.

You have done the trial and errors of reloading the same as many of us, I am not certain I do not enjoy working at the bench more than shooting.

Keep up the good work. Art
 

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Here is what I did and I'm consistently shooting.45-.60" groups at 100yrds.

Measure your chamber for Over All Length(OAL) with Stoney Point OAL Gauge with desired bullet. Measure three times and use the average. Measure your magazine to see what the maximum OAL that will fit in the particular mag. The difference in a loaded bullet OAL and the distance to the rifle lands is known as jump.

Pick powder, be careful here because the M1A is picky about pressure. The Garand is lightning fast so you need a moderate burning powder such as IMR4895,H4895,Varget,BLC(2). Look at the data for your powder and setup your loading block to load 10 loads graduating up from minimum to maximum by .5 grains.

Prepare your brass. Resize, trim case, and ream flash holes. You will only need to ream the flash holes once, but you will see the inconsistency in the size and placement of the flash hole as you do this. I move all off center holes to the fouler/plinker loading block. Chamfer inside and outside case mouth.

Consistency is the key to hand loading. You want every round to be as close to the same as the last. Start with changing powder charge but leave the OAL at the Minimum allowed. Fire your graduated charges and find the powder charge your barrel likes. Then Prep and Charge with the favorite charges, there maybe 2 or 3 different ones so now charge 20-25 of each charge. Fire these for group you should now see which is the best one.

Now, fine tune the Pet Load by adjusting the OAL in .005" increments.

I found the my SA NM loves .005" short of touching the inside of the mag. and my SA Super Match loves .020 off the lands.

So in short only change 1 variable at a time, write down your data. Consistency is the key and some barrels like a lot of jump and others don't.


LT-
 

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Tidbit from my past reloading...

I am not currently loading my own but probly should get back into it since shooting a lot more these days. Back when big into reloading, my buds and I experimented a lot with different bullets, sizing and adjusting the length. Anyways, what I'd like to share about OAL is a method to match your rifle to your choice of bullet.

Get a once fired brass and place the bullet you want to optimize into it. Wallow around on that combo until the bullet will slide in and out snugly with your fingers. Open the bolt and load this dummy round by camming it into the extractor and pushing the brass against the ejector until lined up and start closing the bolt slowly. This will bring your bullet of choice to center the bore because your brass matches the chamber perfectly. As the bullet approaches the rifling, the ogive will hit and slide it rearward in the brass. Now slowly pull the op rod back and put pressure on the brass so it doesn't fling out. Once cleared, take it out and measure for OAL.

Every rifle will measure different because of these factors...
1. the lands in every barrel start short in some and long in others.
2. Every bullet brand has an ogive shape all it's own.
3. Headspacing can be long versus short.

Another thing learned is to back off a hair from the rifling. Yea, you want it as close as you can get it BUT if your bullet engages the lands, it has no room to get a running start and your pressure goes way up. How much??... I can't say, however, reading your brass will tell you. When you swap from a Sierra bullet to a Nosler or Speer, you will see a good bit of change in OAL using the method of measure above.

Last note: short boattail bullets at max length is not a good plan.
The 7.62/308 neck is not long enough to grab them well.

Hope some of that made sense. Enjoy your range time!!
 

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as a BR tinkerer, and long range varmint hunter, i have found bullet seating length to be a critical part of achieving best accuracy from any rifle/bullet combo. just like everything else, all rifle and bullet combo's seem to like something different. 1 of my varmint guns does its best with the bullets jammed hard into the lands, and most of the others do best with the bullet .003"-.008" off the lands. when dealing with military style semi auto's(M1A, and AR's) magazine length usually limits what you can do. i typically seat the bullet out as far as the magazine will let me, then check to make sure they dont get into the lands when chambering. i also try some at shorter lengths, but that has almost always opened up groups to some degree.
 

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as a BR tinkerer, and long range varmint hunter, i have found bullet seating length to be a critical part of achieving best accuracy from any rifle/bullet combo. just like everything else, all rifle and bullet combo's seem to like something different. 1 of my varmint guns does its best with the bullets jammed hard into the lands, and most of the others do best with the bullet .003"-.008" off the lands. when dealing with military style semi auto's(M1A, and AR's) magazine length usually limits what you can do. i typically seat the bullet out as far as the magazine will let me, then check to make sure they dont get into the lands when chambering. i also try some at shorter lengths, but that has almost always opened up groups to some degree.
How true, there is no one size fits all for most accurate load. Of course different requirement dictates different accuracy. I've shot benchrest in the 80s, then on to high power. As Lefty O mentioned, mag limitation dictates COL and making sure stay away from the lands. The latter ensures that you don't stick a bullet and scatter powder in the action in case of cease fire and have to eject a live round.

For high power using the M14, a MOA ammo/rifle combo if achieved is great. The X ring in High Power across the course match, except for 200 yards, is around MOA. I often see people shooting service rifles spending good barrel life continuosly doing load development trying to achieve less the half minute group (maybe once or twice for bragging rights, or maybe "all day long") when they are much better off spending more trigger time on the range, in position, shooting their MOA rifle/ammo combo.

Here is how I start: Pick out the following; powder suitable for the platform, primer, bullet for the intended use. Start with the COL suitable for the intended use, mag fed or single loaded. For load development use the OCW method or ladder method. I've achieved my sweet spot using one or the other. Once the charge is settled on, optimize with COL changes.

Here is the link to OCW

http://optimalchargeweight.embarqspace.com/

Here is a link to the rough ladder test I did for my double lugged M1a. For start I just picked out the COL from Sierra Manual with the intent of adjusting from there. I do not see the need now.

http://www.m14tfl.com/upload/showthread.php?t=94185
 

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Yes, thank you for that thread Bamban, very much what I needed to know, it will save me some work.

Art, I did some test about a month ago with moving OAL from 2.780 as book suggest for individual loads, all the way down to 2.745 I adjusted powder charges to keep my port pressure and chamber pressure safer than a lunatic should be allowed to do. I highly recommend noone try this at home. Although neither my rifle, myself, chamber or brass, seemed worse for the wear and tear, the groups are what surprised me. I had gotten a batch of bullets from hornady that had the crimping cannelure in the wrong place on the bullet, so I said, what the heck, go with it. On some I seated to called for length, and the rest went down in increments of .005

Now the surprising part, the 150 grain bullets with a variety of charge grns of IMR 4064, ranging from 38.5- 43 grains in LC - 05 brass, showed little if any change in POI at 100, and shot off the bipod showed groups that went from 1- 1 3/8" across the testing group of projectiles....strange at best, and i can only assume that the powder adjustments counter-acted the drastic changes in OAL of cartridges. I would have bet money that the groups would go from 1-3" all over the place. There was a perceptible felt recoil difference and the landing spots of empty brass, about 3-4 feet apart in an arc on the ground beginning at 1 and going to 3 o'clock.

I don't recall who said it, but I think I will take their advice and quit buying seconds to load and shoot, it is too much work, but then again, I am like Art in that, I really love the bench work, as much if not more than shooting, especially when it is cold and rainy out like today, it keeps me connected, although I am not on the range, to my favorite pastime.
 
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