Load Tuning Questions

Written by Sierra Bullets New Product Development Manager Mark Walker

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When I began shooting F-class several years ago, everyone told me that my gun must hold “waterline” elevation to be competitive. Using a load with very little vertical will give you the full width of the scoring rings to help with wind changes. This is great advice and this is still the way I set my rifles up when possible. However having shot benchrest before switching to F-class, sometimes I wonder if maybe there is a different way.

I have read many articles and books about short range benchrest and how they tune rifles and most of them recommend leaving some vertical in the tune because it makes it less sensitive to wind changes. Up until now I have loaded to make sure that elevation is flat without regard for how much the wind moves the bullet around in flight. While this maximizes the width of the scoring rings, you must still be very diligent in your wind calls or you will lose points. If adding some vertical to the tune (maybe holding ½ MOA vertical instead of ¼ MOA) makes the load less wind sensitive, maybe that is a better way to go. Possibly give up some scoring ring width to make the load less wind sensitive and therefore easier to make wind calls with.

I know a lot of people will say that what works for short range benchrest shooters usually doesn’t apply to long range. However if these guys are noticing less wind drift at 100 yards, why wouldn’t that carry over to 1000 yards? I’m sure there is a ton of data to the contrary to prove this theory wrong but I can’t help but wonder. For my next blog, I plan on testing this theory if I have the range time. If anyone has any thoughts on this idea or how to test it, I would certainly love to hear it. Until next time.

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3 Responses to Load Tuning Questions

  1. Ken P says:

    The known ballistics tell us that as flight distance increases velocity downrange decreases. Therefore the ballistics within 100 yards are considerably different than say 500-700 yards down range and different still at 1000 yards downrange.

    I know you are aware of these simple principles so I was somewhat suprized by this article. When shooting for points, time to re aquire target is just as critical as trajectory. Tuning the rifle is just as important as tuning the load. Of course knowing your hold off and drift always helps.

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  2. firstriverbend says:

    I am interested in what you find out if/when you have time to pursue this question.
    What I found out long ago, is just because that is what is said or thought, does not make it so! 🙂
    When I use to shoot IPSC, a few of us would shoot indoor .22 matches for range time in the winter. Helped not being soaking wet and freezing cold at the same time one is shooting to keep one’s trigger memory sharp.
    I had an old .22 pistol. It was just a knock about revolver of questionable accuracy but it always went bang. 🙂 I would shoot these timed matches basically the same way I shot IPSC matches, double action and as fast as I could acquire the sight picture. This drove many of the other shooters crazy, as they were certain one should take all 60 seconds to shoot the 6 rounds, in order to get the best score. I would shoot the 6 rounds in between 4 to 6 seconds and always double action.
    Well after getting a bunch of “do it this way for better score”, I took the time to use a bench and see what could be rung out of that old .22. At the 50 foot mark, it would shoot into the 9 ring but no better, not matter what I did and no matter who was shooting it.
    So the upshot was I shot these indoor matches double action the same way I always did into the 9 ring at between 4-6 second always placing in the middle of the pack, which drove the poor fellows shooting much better pistols, I was the only one shooting a revolver, much slower than I shot.

    The point is conventional wisdom does not always play out the way one thinks it should.
    Best of luck on this project, please keep us posted! 🙂

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  3. Eddie D Helton says:

    Is loading the test loads for the ladder test beginning at the Jam depth dangerous?Furthermore, for the Depth test another .015 beyond the Jam level? I used the lowest level starting level for a trial in the Nosler load data. Just wanted to make sure I understood correctly. Thx for your help. EDH.

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