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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy Gents, (and gentler species if you're listening)

I’m newly interested in reloading. Have read lots of threads but have lots to learn. I did call Springfield to check on my version of production (1985) to make sure I’m ok with 180 grain (they tell me I am fine with commercial 308 up to 180gr. I’ve even reloaded a 100 rounds with a buddy’s equipment and supervision and went through 50 rounds a week ago with much satisfaction. The thing is now I’m trying to decide on powder, bullets, size, etc.

I’ve got a hundred count of Winchester brass. Liked the way the 180 grain ran through (got good results out to 540yds) after good groups at 100 and 200 yards. But in reading the threads I’m cautioned about Varget for the gas and op rod, am wondering what I ought to be looking at and guess I’ll revisit just about anything but maybe the primers, and hopefully not the brass.

I know I ought to be using CCI #34 primers.
And already have the Win Brass.
For bullets I am leaning towards the Sierra GameKing 180gr.
So now it’s down to powder selection.

Would be interested in any input concerning the subject before I order. I have the RCBS X-Die Small Base dies being shipped, otherwise have not purchased bullets or powder.

Your thoughts??
 

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A lot of people don't like to give out load data because of the liability issue.
But I am doing the exact thing you are doing or about to do.
I have 100 Win brass trimmed and primed with a box of Sierra 180 sitting on top waiting to be assembled.
I am planning on running up to Cabellas in Reno this Saturday and Buying the latest and greatest Horniday reloading book #8 To double check my load.
I hear it has a Service Rifle section.
So far I have decided on 42gr of IMR 4895 for my Garand but I'm not sure about my M1a I have read 37gr to 39gr of IMR 4895 but I need check the new book.
 

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As stated GET MORE BRASS !!!!! a good source is Scharch also as for reloading, again as stated most don't give a specific recipe as it changes from rifle to rifle even made by the same company.
There are some tried and true powder/bullet combinations that work really well but again you have to work up aload either by the ladder test or OCW method, I would venture to say that most go with a std OAL and dont play around trying to seat close to the lands as mag length dictates this. As far as powders go I have had great luck with IMR 4895 and RE-15 using either 168 SMK's or Nosler CC's I don't buy into the hype of Military primers and have never had a slamfire but you gotta do you prep on cases to seat those primers also on brass sizing I venture to say that to stay safe and make things easy F/L resizing is the way to go for most but I for one only do partial F/L resizing as I want to control how far I bump the shoulder to keep from overworking the brass and I run things pretty tight which most are not willing to do especially with a Service Rifle.

Good Luck and ask plenty of questions, get lots of brass, bullets, powder and a good manual and have fun !!!
 

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Varget with the sierra 180's should be ok, just don't attempt MAX velocity loads.
Many loading manuals use bolt-action rifles for their load testing, and bolt guns are able to handle high pressure loads much better than M1A.
Unless the loading manual has specific info for gas guns, then keep your loads in the low & middle area - about 2550fps MV maximum for 180gr in your rifle.

Even with the X-dies you should still have a gauge or caliper to measure the length of your re-sized cases.
In 308Win, the maximum length of a re-sized case should be 2.015 or less, most manuals suggest trimming to 2.005.

When seating primers, feel every one with your finger tip to make sure that none protrude above the base of the case.

Length of a loaded cartridge should be about 2.80 - 2.83 - make sure they work through your magazines.

There is no need to crimp the case neck when using copper jacket bullets.

Reloading is basically pretty easy, but there are many steps and it gets tedious.
Keep your fired cases in batches of case type, and how many times they have been fired.
Keep detailed records of you reloads: what cases, what primer, powder type & amount, bullet type & weight.

This site has additional very good info -
http://www.exteriorballistics.com/reloadbasics/gasgunreload.cfm

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 

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I did call Springfield to check on my version of production (1985) to make sure I’m ok with 180 grain (they tell me I am fine with commercial 308 up to 180gr.
Most people avoid using bullets heavier than 168 grains on a regular basis for the M1A. It will handle them and the new edition of Hornady's reloading manual (the M1A service rifle section) even gives a load for their 178 grain bullets but the heavier bullets put a lot wear and tear on the rifle. The weakest link to the operating system is the operating rod. That long skinny piece of metal can bend or break if your system pushes with enough pressure. They make gas plugs that are designed to be used with the heavier bullets. You set the plug up so that gas in excess of what is needed to operate the system is vented out of the system, theoretically this helps reduce hammering the op rod and other moving parts. I'm not saying that you can't shoot 180 grain bullets but it's sort of like saying a touring model VW bug with a turbo will do over 120 mph; while it will do it, I wouldn't recommend doing it regularly or you may prematurely end the life of your machine, and you might even find out how expensive the medical bills can be.

I’ve got a hundred count of Winchester brass. Liked the way the 180 grain ran through (got good results out to 540yds) after good groups at 100 and 200 yards. But in reading the threads I’m cautioned about Varget for the gas and op rod, am wondering what I ought to be looking at and guess I’ll revisit just about anything but maybe the primers, and hopefully not the brass.
The problem isn't so much that Varget is unusually high pressured compared to other powders, the problem is that the bullet is so heavy that you have to use powder charge weights that create high pressures no matter what powder you use. IMR 4895 is a very popular powder for the M1A and both it and Varget push the pressures up to the 53,000 psi range which is getting pretty hot. The Hornady manual indicates that 40.6 grains of Varget (max load recommended in their service rifle section using an M1A as the test rifle) should give about 2400 fps using one of their 178 grain bullets and at that speed the pressures are just under the recommended 50-51,000 psi chamber pressure range. If you want to get any higher speeds than that then you are going to have to take things slow while developing your loads and be very careful about pressure issues.

I know I ought to be using CCI #34 primers.
And already have the Win Brass.
For bullets I am leaning towards the Sierra GameKing 180gr.
So now it’s down to powder selection.
I personally have never had a problem with using other brands of primers and I have reloaded for the M1A for more than 30 years. I normally use Winchester Large Rifle primers because they are cheap, easy to get, and I believe that they help the accuracy to some degree when I get really anal about by my reloads. In the bench rest world, a lot of competitors believe that less primer energy tends to make for a smoother powder burn in the case and that equates to more consistent muzzle velocities. Of course that's bench rest shooting which is a far cry from what the M1As battle rifle origin but it is something to think about. Generally, if you ensure that you take care to uniform the primer pockets your primers will seat at about 0.003" under the surface of the cases base and that is where most experts recommend the primer surface be in order to avoid slam fires and such.

Would be interested in any input concerning the subject before I order. I have the RCBS X-Die Small Base dies being shipped, otherwise have not purchased bullets or powder.
This is another item that you can get really anal about like me or just get what works, it all depends on what you want out of your loads and rifle. The RCBS X-Die is a good die but I ended up getting Redding dies. I like the consistency, accuracy,and repeatability of the Redding reloading products better than most other manufacturers. In my opinion, the advertised advantage to using a X-Die is the fact that you work the brass less and can get more reloads out of your brass. Well if you plan on using big bullets that require lots of powder to push them to reasonable speeds then I don't think that the X-Die will be of much help. On the other hand, if you use pretty much standard loads, bullets in the 155 - 168 grains range, and standard velocities, about 2500 - 2600 fps, then the X-Die will probably extend your case life well enough to be worth the money and effort. But then again, if you want long case life stick with lighter bullets, around 155 grains, and light powder charge weights. I can get more than 10 reloads with my light 168 grain loads from Winchester brass.
 

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Some good detailed answers above so I won't bother repeating them. I will chime in to say that I agree that IMR-4895 is a little fast for the heavy bullets and you'll get more chamber pressure that you'll like. Don't personally have any experience using Varget in the M1A but I do know people who really like it. IMR-4064 tends to be a good performer with the heavier bullets though.

As for primers, no, you don't HAVE to stick to the CCI. I have shot about 8k rounds through my NM rifle using Winchester LR primers with NO issues. Just seat the primer below flush in the primer pocket (may want to check out a primer pocket uniformer tool to keep the pockets deep enough).

Reloading is fun and you just have to follow directions and pay attention to detail. Don't get too caught up in all the little tricks bolt-gun shooters do for accuracy. The M1A, even the NM model, is a service rifle and about 1 MOA is about the best you can consistently expect - although you may occasionally do better. Just seat the bullets to about 2.800 overall length to where they'll fit in the mag and go shoot. The Sierra bullets are very forgiving of "jump" so trying to seat them close to the lands doesn't gain you much at all (actually none that I've been able to determine).
 

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Welcome to the club. You have asked a loaded question because we all have an opinion. I use only Accurate Powders in AA2520. The reasons are very simple, its a ball powder ad meters well in my powder measure, the rounds loaded with it in my rifle are very accurate, in my market its less expensive then other powder and I seem to be able to find it when other brands are out of stock.
 

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Its pressure at the gas port more than pressure at the chamber that damages M1A and M1 Garand rifles.

Powder needs to be in the burn rate range of IMR 4895 - you can move a little to one side or the other and lots of folks will tell you they use other powders. Your rifle may be okay with those as well, or it may not. Rifles are different - as are reloaders.

My pet load (many years ago) for my M1A used 180 grain bullets and the chamber pressure was well below max for the cartridge and rifle (down around 47,000 psi or slightly less by the info in the reloading manual). However, it wasn't chamber pressure that broke my operating rod twice (yeah, two times). It was high pressure still present (due to the slow burning powder reaching and maintaining excess pressure for the gas system as the bullet passed the gas port in the barrel. Don't use slow burning powders like IMR 4350, IMR 4831, W760, etc.

As seconded/thirded/fourthed above - you need more brass.

Go slow - case prep. is key with these rifles, resizing, cleaning, primer pocket clean, case trimmed and then

primer seated correctly, right powder in the right amount, bullet seated to correct depth, etc.

Usually the most accurate loads are 150 to 250 ft. per second slower than the maximum loads listed - also means the pressure for the most accurate loads is usually lower than max as well.

Good luck, go slow, read, ask questions, observe your rifle and your brass and go up on powder in small increments (I use 0.2 grains) when I start at just barely above the minimum loads.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
FNG with the loaded question

Any thoughts? Dang, I like it! Appreciate all the reassuring comments. Since I just read Zediker's article I needed it.

I’m still trying to get my head around the headspace and shoulder setback he covers. And his admonitions to ‘get a longer handle on my press’ was a little intimidating. And his rule-of-thumb for ‘never allowing more than four firings on a case’ was just a little discouraging. Don't get me wrong. I'm not second guessing experts already, just glad to hear so much upbeat advice after reading that.

I will certainly drop down in size on the bullets; kind of like that 168 Sierra Gameking and right now I’m leaning towards the IMR 4895. I did want the round powder but pretty slim options compared to the others (I weighed each load last time because the throw would catch on the protruded powder and variations were sometimes as much as half a grain. I really liked the way the 180 grain and Varget were shooting but who am I kidding, what, was I conjuring up range days from 1972? I spose it just felt good. We’ll see if something lighter don’t feel better. I’m not bent on pushing any envelopes here, just want to get back to feeling comfortable with an old friend and the reloading is my new form of much needed therapy.

Thanks for all the input and thanks for the link to the guage… after Mr Zediker I won’t sleep well till I learn how to measure headspace and how to resize (is bump the word) not just the case but the shoulder so as headspacing is what it ought to be. That’s my only hitch right now. I can read all I want but I do better observing. And the “service rifles”… got to get that manual. Gracias Gentlemen!
 

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For good reliable (and accurate) operation in an M1A, you should full-length re-size the cases.
And if/when necessary trim & deburr the necks.

For headspace, it is completely adequate to just test & adjust the position of the sizing die by hand & feel.
Start with a small gap between the base of the die and the top of the shell holder (this will probably NOT push the shoulder back enough, but it is a good starting point for testing).

1) full-length re-size a case and check its oal for length (less than 2.015 inch).

2) insert the case into the chamber without closing the bolt - it should go in & out without any binding.

3) gently allow the bolt to move forward without pushing on the oprod - it should stop when the extractor claw hits the backend of the rim.

4) gently push on the oprod (moderate thumb pressure) to test if that is enough to get the extractor to snap over the rim and for the bolt to close COMPLETELY - righthand bolt lug rotated fully into the recess in the receiver.

5) gently open the bolt - it should open with a moderate pull.

the 'best way' to do these tests is to remove the extractor, ejector, and firing pin from the bolt - to give a more precise 'feel' of how the bolt head contact the case.
but removing & especially re-installing those parts can be troublesome, and it isn't really necessary.

6) if steps 4 & 5 fail, then the die needs to be lowered to give more sizing to the case.
the threads on the die are 14 tpi, so each full rotation is just over 0.07 movement, so by just moving the die clockwise a little will give a few .001's more sizing.

7) use a different non-sized case and start at #1 again.

8) when you have found a die position that works for 4 & 5, then move the die just a touch lower to give a little extra clearance for when the chamber gets dirty, etc.
also, not all cases resize the same - some are tougher (e.g. GI) and might need a little more die adjustment, so check steps 4 & 5 when you use a different batch of cases.
and, the amount of lube on the case makes a difference, you want just enough so the case can be easily pulled out of the size die.
too much lube on the case shoulder will cause 'dimples' - the case is still useable but indicates that there was too much lube.

note: some presses nave a noticeable amount of stretch or spring when a case is actually being resized.
so it might happen that the shell holder presses on the base of the die when a case is not being used - look to see how much gap there is when a case is being sized.

Now, re-size all the 'failed' cases and made sure that they and all the others work ok.

This method determines the amount of re-size needed for cases in that one particular rifle chamber.
Other rifles of the same caliber might have tighter chambers and your reloads might not fit them - so be careful.
New commercial and GI cartridges are usually made with a lot of sizing so that they will fit easily into even tight chambers - your reloads don't have to be that tight, just enough so they work reliably in your rifle.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
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I'll follow those instructions Jay.

Really liked the web site reference you posted too.

I note in some of these thread where some claim that 308 is stamped on their barrels. Not mine.
Also saw where one fellow says his head space measurement was actually noted in his box. Not mine.
One poster said SA may be able to tell you head space over the phone based on serial number. Have not put that question forward yet, since I'd already called by the time I read that.
Calls to Springfield:
(1st time) customer service gal said my weopon was produced in Aug 1985 and that my barrell was definetly a 308(Second call) for more information the customer service person would only go so far as to tell me it was chambered for 308 and 7.62 and I was safe to shoot up to 180 grain.

From all I read there IS a difference in head space, albiet small. Not having done any of this before and not having measured headspace before I'm sort of swimming in all that.

Thanks Again... still reading and learning but will go through your steps with my spent brass as a dry run.

Don't want to dismantle my bolt till I know more and now just looking for some of the right tools to obtain beyond just the dies.
 

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The head space specs for 7.62 and .308 overlap and if the chamber is reamed to be on the short side of one and the long side of the other then it should run anything pretty well. This is usually around 1.631" - 1.632" if I remember correctly.

I'll follow those instructions Jay.

Really liked the web site reference you posted too.

I note in some of these thread where some claim that 308 is stamped on their barrels. Not mine.
Also saw where one fellow says his head space measurement was actually noted in his box. Not mine.
One poster said SA may be able to tell you head space over the phone based on serial number. Have not put that question forward yet, since I'd already called by the time I read that.
Calls to Springfield:
(1st time) customer service gal said my weopon was produced in Aug 1985 and that my barrell was definetly a 308(Second call) for more information the customer service person would only go so far as to tell me it was chambered for 308 and 7.62 and I was safe to shoot up to 180 grain.

From all I read there IS a difference in head space, albiet small. Not having done any of this before and not having measured headspace before I'm sort of swimming in all that.

Thanks Again... still reading and learning but will go through your steps with my spent brass as a dry run.

Don't want to dismantle my bolt till I know more and now just looking for some of the right tools to obtain beyond just the dies.
 

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This site has good info about 308Win and 7.62Nato chamber and cartridge headspace -
http://www.armalite.com/images/Tech Notes\Tech Note 69 Headspace 080722.pdf

But the reality is that they are almost identical and you will not have any problems if you 'tailor' the full-length re-sizing so that the cases fit YOUR rifle.

Using GI ammo in commercial 308Win rifles has been safely done for many years. And using commercial 308Win ammo in GI chambers has also worked fine - as long as the commercial ammo does not use heavy bullets (more than about 180 grains), and is not special ammo that is designed only for use in bolt action rifles.

Jay Kosta
Endwell NY USA
 
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