280ai loaders…newbie lookin for advice

Joined
Apr 12, 2018
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SE Wyoming
I’m very green to hand loading. So please bare with me!
Right now I’m working with RL22 and H4831 for powders as that’s all I’ve been able to obtain so far. Primers are cci 200 LR. Nosler brass. My bullet choices right now are 162eldx and 168 Berger vlds.
As of now I have loaded up the 162s with both powders in varying weights to test.
I haven’t loaded the Berger’s yet. But for a noob, how would you guys suggest starting out for powder weights? I’ve read so many forums my head is spinning haha. I don’t want to start out too low and waste powder.
How far below max do you novice loaders start your development?

Rifle is a custom build off of a blue printed rem 700 action. 24” 1:9 Carbon six with 7” can on the end. So far with the eldx I can sit on the lands and still clear the mag. I backed them off to about 3.335. I believe I came off .100 from the lands if my calculus is right.

Any advice would be huge! Thanks guys
 

MuleyFever

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I would start .02 off the lands if you can. I just got a new 280ai and the 162s liked being closer to the lands. Yours may be different I guess. I would start a couple grains under book max.

Search for posts by Formidilosus and read the load development thread. It just may change how you approach reloading.
 
OP
307_timberstalker
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Hey thank you for the advice. My ignorance is about to shine here but say if I’m hitting the lands at 3.459 coal…what would .02 off be? 3.439?
 

harvey_nw

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I'm loading that almost exactly in my 280ai, all the data is posted in my thread. I now have 100 rounds through it and have another OCW test loaded up from 58-59gr to see where velocity is now. I swear the load data got changed because Hodgdon's now lists max at 56.4gr, and I typically never load over max especially on a new barrel. Cross referenced some data from the Nosler book and it still lists 59gr as max for the 160, no signs of any pressure.

This topic is pretty subjective, for me to have confidence in a load it takes some testing and repeatable results. I've had success using almost every method posted to a forum. The main thing is just lay out exactly how you want to go about it, and stick to it. Only change one thing at a time during testing. Generally the most conservative method is to shoot a powder charge ladder test over a chronograph, 1 shot each starting 1-2gr below published max, up to 1-2gr above, to find pressure (make sure you're confident in identifying pressure signs, or just don't go over book max) and then do some seating depth testing just below there, or at a velocity plateau. Feel free to PM if needed.

 

snarkscarbine

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Dec 15, 2021
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75
Welcome to the rabbit hole!

Preliminary thoughts:

Don’t feel the need to get every whiz-bang reloading gadget out there, but do buy these if you don’t have them:
- Hornady modified case seating depth tool. If you can’t find the modified case PM me and send me a piece of fired brass and I’ll make you one.
- ogive comparator
- chronograph of some type
- one of them hammer-looking bullet pullers

If you don’t have these you’re really flying blind with reloading. People have done it for years without them, but it takes a colossal amount of trial and error.

Most barrels speed up around 150-200 rounds. Just be aware and maybe save your load work ups on expensive components for a little later.

If you’re shooting a temp-sensitive powder like RL22, make sure you pay attention to your ambient temp in relation to your powder charge and when you expect to do most of your shooting. When you get up toward a full case where most calibers tend to shoot best you can have some pretty significant pressure spikes off of fairly small ambient temp upswings. I’ve never used RL22 personally, but 7828ssc was brutal in this regard.

Por ejemplo if you’re doing your load development at 75f but you’re going to be shooting it at 105f (I’m in TX 🤷🏼‍♂️) you could run into an issue if you’re at the hot end of things already. Regardless if you have a temp-sensitive powder and you’re anywhere other than I dunno…socal, you have to be aware that your load performance will change with temp swings. For this reason I only use Hodgdon Extreme or the temp-stable RL powders any more.

I’ll usually start at the low end of the published load data. Different barrels build speed/pressure differently, so you may get a fast barrel that shoots where you want at a lower charge than you expect.

Start wherever you decide to, and load 1 round at each 0.5gr interval at something like jam -0.020” (doesn’t super matter exactly). Shoot those over your chrono and record the results. There will be a spot where 2-3 shots don’t give you as much change as the others do.

From there I’ll break that area down and load 1 round each in .1gr intervals and shoot those over the chrono. This will tell you where your velocity node is. Personally I stick my finger in the middle of the flat spot and that’s my charge. You now know that varying by 0 .1gr up or down won’t really make any difference.

From there, I’ll use Eric Cortina’s seating depth method to find my CBTO. At which point you’re done.

This method has literally never not worked for me across numerous barrels and calibers from 223 to 280ai. This method gives you the maximum amount of data with the fewest shots possible, because you’re not guessing about anything. Ladder tests and OCW is all methods from back when people had to do load development by guessing. I’m not into that; components are too expensive. 😉 best of luck!
 

menhaden_man

Well Known Rokslider
Joined
Jul 18, 2019
Messages
1,650
If you email Berger they’ll send you load data. I shoot the 168s in one of my 7RMs. Very accurate over H4831, IMR 4350 and Retumbo. Good luck.
 
OP
307_timberstalker
Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
50
Location
SE Wyoming
Welcome to the rabbit hole!

Preliminary thoughts:

Don’t feel the need to get every whiz-bang reloading gadget out there, but do buy these if you don’t have them:
- Hornady modified case seating depth tool. If you can’t find the modified case PM me and send me a piece of fired brass and I’ll make you one.
- ogive comparator
- chronograph of some type
- one of them hammer-looking bullet pullers

If you don’t have these you’re really flying blind with reloading. People have done it for years without them, but it takes a colossal amount of trial and error.

Most barrels speed up around 150-200 rounds. Just be aware and maybe save your load work ups on expensive components for a little later.

If you’re shooting a temp-sensitive powder like RL22, make sure you pay attention to your ambient temp in relation to your powder charge and when you expect to do most of your shooting. When you get up toward a full case where most calibers tend to shoot best you can have some pretty significant pressure spikes off of fairly small ambient temp upswings. I’ve never used RL22 personally, but 7828ssc was brutal in this regard.

Por ejemplo if you’re doing your load development at 75f but you’re going to be shooting it at 105f (I’m in TX 🤷🏼‍♂️) you could run into an issue if you’re at the hot end of things already. Regardless if you have a temp-sensitive powder and you’re anywhere other than I dunno…socal, you have to be aware that your load performance will change with temp swings. For this reason I only use Hodgdon Extreme or the temp-stable RL powders any more.

I’ll usually start at the low end of the published load data. Different barrels build speed/pressure differently, so you may get a fast barrel that shoots where you want at a lower charge than you expect.

Start wherever you decide to, and load 1 round at each 0.5gr interval at something like jam -0.020” (doesn’t super matter exactly). Shoot those over your chrono and record the results. There will be a spot where 2-3 shots don’t give you as much change as the others do.

From there I’ll break that area down and load 1 round each in .1gr intervals and shoot those over the chrono. This will tell you where your velocity node is. Personally I stick my finger in the middle of the flat spot and that’s my charge. You now know that varying by 0 .1gr up or down won’t really make any difference.

From there, I’ll use Eric Cortina’s seating depth method to find my CBTO. At which point you’re done.

This method has literally never not worked for me across numerous barrels and calibers from 223 to 280ai. This method gives you the maximum amount of data with the fewest shots possible, because you’re not guessing about anything. Ladder tests and OCW is all methods from back when people had to do load development by guessing. I’m not into that; components are too expensive. 😉 best of luck!
I ordered the comparator, I was mistakenly measuring bullet tip to case head.

I am using RL22 in my testing, it’s providing some awesome speeds with the 162eldx bullets and incredible accuracy. I’m worried about the temp sensitivity.
Today was my first day load testing. Much was learned. Had fun, figured out some stuff. Made mistakes but learned more.
 
OP
307_timberstalker
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SE Wyoming
After a day at the range I was able to test 2 bullets and 2 different powders.

Hornady 162eldx over RL22 and H4831
Cci200s and nosler brass. Set at max coal (3.331)

Take aways from this are
1. The RL powder bullet combo proved best at starting charge weight. Speed and accuracy were great. Shot 5 shot groups in 4 different grain weights up to max and never saw pressure or signs of.
2. The H4831 was way too slow at lowest test weight. Skipped a weight, went .5 below book max. 3 bullets in 1.5 holes. I believe 58.5gr. But speeds were low (2870 avg)
The max load was good, still slow, no signs at all of high pressure.

Next was Berger 168vlds. Again, same powder, primers and brass.
These were set to .010 off the lands. Now, I can’t say that with confidence as I didn’t technically measure properly so I’m sure bullets varied from measuring to tip.

For these I kept it to 3 shots for each charge weight.

The RL powder showed better speeds again, but no where near what I was thinking I might get. Accuracy wasn’t terrible. But not as good as the Hornady. I ran to what noslers recommended max for 168 with that powder and again, never got signs of pressure. I didn’t load any over max this trip.


The H4831
Again, slow speeds. In fact so slow I didn’t bother shooting after 1 shot at my weights under max. I went straight to max. I hadn’t shown signs of pressure again and have room to fill. This combo showed promising signs if I can get speed closer to 2900 and keep accuracy I’d be happy.

I may back off and give the vlds a little more jump. And maybe bump the eldx up closer. Though I might have a winning load with the 4831 and this bullet.

At the very end of the day i decided to try a factory box of nosler trophy grade 160 partitions just to get speeds and accuracy incase I can’t get a load done before sept deer opener. I was blown away. Needless to say, I have a go to round while I keep working on my reloading.

I appreciate everyone’s advice and help. I’ll incorporate a lot of the pointers into my loads and see how much better I can get them
38B22AEF-BC52-4F7F-A63A-BA1244C4BC9D.jpeg
This was my 5 shots with the nosler factory 160 partitions. Speeds came in with a avg of 2990. The flyer was shot #3 of 5.

A15CA8A6-6EE7-42B1-8EC9-5DA4E50666AA.jpeg
3 shots 162eldx over 58.5gr h4831. 2871 avg speed of 3 shots.
 
OP
307_timberstalker
Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
50
Location
SE Wyoming
I'm loading that almost exactly in my 280ai, all the data is posted in my thread. I now have 100 rounds through it and have another OCW test loaded up from 58-59gr to see where velocity is now. I swear the load data got changed because Hodgdon's now lists max at 56.4gr, and I typically never load over max especially on a new barrel. Cross referenced some data from the Nosler book and it still lists 59gr as max for the 160, no signs of any pressure.

This topic is pretty subjective, for me to have confidence in a load it takes some testing and repeatable results. I've had success using almost every method posted to a forum. The main thing is just lay out exactly how you want to go about it, and stick to it. Only change one thing at a time during testing. Generally the most conservative method is to shoot a powder charge ladder test over a chronograph, 1 shot each starting 1-2gr below published max, up to 1-2gr above, to find pressure (make sure you're confident in identifying pressure signs, or just don't go over book max) and then do some seating depth testing just below there, or at a velocity plateau. Feel free to PM if needed.

Man, I read through your post…my best 162/4831 combo came in at 58.5gr. Looks like our speeds are right there too. I thought it was pretty slow but maybe it’s just the nature of the powder? I keep reading the 4831 generates slower speed but good accuracy.
 

harvey_nw

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Feb 13, 2019
Messages
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WA
Man, I read through your post…my best 162/4831 combo came in at 58.5gr. Looks like our speeds are right there too. I thought it was pretty slow but maybe it’s just the nature of the powder? I keep reading the 4831 generates slower speed but good accuracy.
There's always a tradeoff, I try really hard to only shoot Hodgdon's extreme powders for temp stability because a consistent 2870 is way more better than 2960 during load development in August and 2820 during hunting season. You may be able to come up with a sensitivity factor and dial it in, but a lot of the popular velocity powders are volatile. Run the ballistics on that 162 going 2870 vs 2900 or even 3k. Personally I'd stop wasting components and run confidently with that load!
 

280ack

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Jun 14, 2018
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New Hampshire
I have a few 280AI rifles and am currently working on a friend's new rifle.
The H4831 has been disappointing in terms of speeds, starting in the low 2800's and picking up about 60 FPS now that we are over 125 rds in the rifle.

IMR4831 is worth a look but not as temp resistant - years ago before standardization IMR4831 was the go to powder in the 280AI with 160 partitions- killed a few bulls with that combo.
RL 22 has been good for me, again with a 160gr part and the max load listed in Noslers book gave me 3,026fps and 5/8"
RL19 has also been fair with 160s and good with 150s.
I test and develop in like temps that I will be hunting in, Thak means no summer development until i can get shooting when it's in the 60's or below.

What are your velocity goals ? What are your accuracy goals ?
 

wind gypsy

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Joined
Dec 30, 2014
Messages
5,487
I'm loading that almost exactly in my 280ai, all the data is posted in my thread. I now have 100 rounds through it and have another OCW test loaded up from 58-59gr to see where velocity is now. I swear the load data got changed because Hodgdon's now lists max at 56.4gr, and I typically never load over max especially on a new barrel. Cross referenced some data from the Nosler book and it still lists 59gr as max for the 160, no signs of any pressure.

The more time I've spent around loading and the more published load data i read, the less credence i give what they publish. It varies so widely from different sources and there are too many factors at play to just take what one company publishes as the truth as applicable to any given barrel/chamber.

58.5 H4831 should be more than safe behind a 162 in a 280AI. Might get a little warmer in smaller capacity brass like peterson but I would bet it's still fine.

My 175 eldx and 180 scenar loads in a long throated SAUM (same case capacity as 280ai) with H4831 were from 59.0-60+ grains. Reading notes I got to 62.6 grains behind a 175eldx with a fresh barrel and virgin ADG brass and didn't even note pressure signs. I bet they would have showed up after the barrel sped up and on a second firing of the brass though.
 

harvey_nw

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Feb 13, 2019
Messages
598
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WA
The more time I've spent around loading and the more published load data i read, the less credence i give what they publish. It varies so widely from different sources and there are too many factors at play to just take what one company publishes as the truth as applicable to any given barrel/chamber.
Agreed, seems like you'll get more consistent numbers to work with by searching forums for posted loads. My method lately has been to develop a mild load and shoot until the barrel is burnt in and brass is once fired like you mentioned.
 
OP
307_timberstalker
Joined
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Messages
50
Location
SE Wyoming
There's always a tradeoff, I try really hard to only shoot Hodgdon's extreme powders for temp stability because a consistent 2870 is way more better than 2960 during load development in August and 2820 during hunting season. You may be able to come up with a sensitivity factor and dial it in, but a lot of the popular velocity powders are volatile. Run the ballistics on that 162 going 2870 vs 2900 or even 3k. Personally I'd stop wasting components and run confidently with that load!
I ran ballistics on that 162 load at 2870fps vs the partition at 2990. I can say I was impressed at even at a low velocity the ballistics out to 700 were impressive enough for me. Will duplicate that load and run 2 more 3 shot groups with it.
 
OP
307_timberstalker
Joined
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Messages
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Location
SE Wyoming
I have a few 280AI rifles and am currently working on a friend's new rifle.
The H4831 has been disappointing in terms of speeds, starting in the low 2800's and picking up about 60 FPS now that we are over 125 rds in the rifle.

IMR4831 is worth a look but not as temp resistant - years ago before standardization IMR4831 was the go to powder in the 280AI with 160 partitions- killed a few bulls with that combo.
RL 22 has been good for me, again with a 160gr part and the max load listed in Noslers book gave me 3,026fps and 5/8"
RL19 has also been fair with 160s and good with 150s.
I test and develop in like temps that I will be hunting in, Thak means no summer development until i can get shooting when it's in the 60's or below.

What are your velocity goals ? What are your accuracy goals ?
I do like the speeds I’m seeing with the 22 but it was also 86° So weather out here in Oct-Nov will be drastically different. Is there a lot of truth to the 23 being as good but less temp sensitive? Or 26?
 
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