Centerfire Cartridges

.30-06 Springfield Part 3 - Long Distance Rifle Loads

OK...you have in your possession a M1903, M1903A3, or M1917 Enfield rifle. If the "Rifle Gods" are smiling, you have a M1903A3 National Match with a "Star Gauge" barrel, or maybe, a match-prepped pre-'64 Model 70 Winchester "Over the Course" rifle. If you're real dammed lucky, it's a Roy F. Dunlap "Camp Perry Special." How freaking cool is that!!! Yeah, I know...I'm "Old School." But, guess what, "Old School" is really cool!!!

The title of this missive covers a distance-specific set of parameters. NRA National Championship Course - Slow Fire - Prone - 10 rounds at 500 or 600 yards in 10 minutes. Additionally, consideration will be given to NRA 1000 yard events. Some folks may be scratching their heads and thinking "1000 yards?" Yes, by golly!!! Back in the day, the .30-06 ruled the long-range competition fields. The .300 Winchester Magnum took over for the '06 and, currently, the 6.5mm-.284 Norma is "soup de jour." The fun part is seeing a grizzled veteran '06 match shooter taking it to the rest of the field with ancient history long distance loads.

The load data that follows will make the rifles listed above "sing" like an angel choir! I'm not going to repeat the information previously mentioned in Part 2 - Service Rifle. What I am going to do is provide you with the information necessary to make you blush while you shake hands with a match director that's handing you the 600 or 1000 yard trophy.

Rifle loads designed for this distance are what one would call "heavy" target loads for bolt-action rifles only. These loads will put you in good stead at the 600 yard line and any other target distances out to 1000 yards. As such, load preparation is a lot more intense than anything mentioned in Parts 1 or 2. This is the realm of the "Handloader," not the "Reloader." Folks, it's time to get really serious about your "Match" ammo!!!

Brass Prep is 94% of the Battle

Interesting sub-title but, very true. To start with, let's leave the "arsenal" brass for Service Rifle loads. Select the best match-quality brass that your wallet can stand and when purchasing this brass, select the same manufacturer and the same lot number. I cannot stress this enough! You want your long distance loads to be boringly consistent. Another key factor is to purchase more than you think you'll need. If you're looking to have 200 long distance match brass on hand (for a particular rifle), purchase 500 minimum. Why? Simple: You're going to sort this brass (even if of the same lot number) by the following prep and "culling" factors:

1) Visual Inspection - Is the brass concentric? Are there high and low spots? Are the primer pocket flash holes centered or are they off-centered? Are there serious dents or dings in the brass body? Are there any folds or cracks in the neck and shoulder areas?

2) Chamber Check - The brass that survive Step 1 above should be checked for proper headspace via the rifle chamber. If you've got a really tight tolerance match chamber, full-length resize your brass to fit the chamber with a light bolt handle resistance. If you've had to full-length resize your brass, check them for overall case length. If too long, get your case trimmer out and bring them back to spec. If trimmed, deburr the necks inside and out before proceeding.

3) Primer Pocket Uniforming - What the heck does this entail? More tools and a lot of patience. Some folks uniform primer pockets and some folks don't. Again, your choice. However, I prefer to uniform the primer pockets of my long-range brass. For years I've used a Whitetail Match-Prep tool to cut my primer pockets square and to the same depth for consistent seating. The drawback to the Whitetail is it's short and narrow handle. Frankly, I'm not getting any younger and running this tool by hand hurts after a while. Check out primer pocket uniformers from Sinclair and other bench-rest tool providers (they have larger handles). In order to speed up the process, I'd recommend an RCBS Trim Mate Case Prep Center or similar case prep tool. These tools have a primer pocket uniforming cutter station that will "cut" your time in half (or better). Utilizing a two-stage approach (Prep Center and then finish with the Whitetail tool) works like a champ.

4) Flash Hole Uniforming - Believe it or not, not all primer flash holes are created equal. Some manufacturers drill their flash holes (preferred). Others punch them as part of the brass forming process, which leaves metal burrs on the inside portion of the flash hole. These burrs, if excessive, could deflect the primer flame pattern during firing. Additionally, you may find that you have flash holes that are too small. Your flash holes should be .081" diameter and you need a light bevel on the case side of your flash hole. Old-School: Use a Number 2 long center drill bit to deburr from the inside and uniform your flash hole diameters. Another method allows for reaming flash holes with a Number 45 drill and using a "N" twist drill to bevel the flash hole. Modern Method: Utilize a flash hole uniforming tool from Lyman, RCBS or bench-rest manufacturers to both deburr the flash hole from the inside and uniform the flash hole diameter at the same time. Be advised that regardless of which method you use all of this is done by hand and not electric drill.

5) Case Segregation by Weight - Now it's time to get that fancy electronic scale out. Weigh your brass. Keep a log denoting first through last and how much each one weighed. Even if your brass is of the same manufacturer and lot number, they can vary by as much as 4 grains from lightest to heaviest. For long distance loads, sort your brass +/- 2 grains from lightest to heaviest. Any brass that falls outside of that spread can be kept and utilized for "practice" ammo. Why in the heck would we want to do this? Wide variation in case weight indicates a wide variation in internal case capacity. Wide variation in case capacity equals severe vertical shot dispersion at long distance. Not good! Once weighed and segregated, keep your brass in 100 round batches (50 round batch minimum). Doing so allows you to track the number of reloads per batch and, if the brass needs trimming or culling later, it's easier to do so.

6) Neck-Wall Concentricity - Time to get your tubing micrometer out. Don't have one? Get one and spend as much as you can afford for a good one. You'll use this tool more than you know. Concentric neck wall thickness equals same bullet pull, brass to brass, upon firing. Utilize this tool to determine neck wall thickness. If your neck wall thickness exceeds .016", invest in either an outside neck turner or inside neck reamer to bring the neck thickness into spec. RCBS and Foster-Bonanza have excellent concentricity "runout" tools that will help you determine: a) whether or not your case necks are straight and true and b) whether your bullets are seated correctly (no wobble). A "runout" of more than .0015" is unacceptable. You'll want your bullets leaving the brass and hitting your barrel rifling in a manner that is as true as possible.

7) Case Length - Usually, new brass does not exceed the maximum '06 case length of 2.494" (end-to-end). I'd rather err on the side of known length and always check them prior to loading. If too long, trim them. As you load and fire this brass, periodic checks of case length are warranted. I usually check case length after the third reloading. When cases exceed the maximum '06 length of 2.494", it's time to get your case trimmer out and bring them back into spec. Some folks trim their brass back to the "classic" trim-to length of 2.484"...not a darn thing wrong with that. I prefer to split the difference and trim mine back to 2.489"...the choice is up to you. Remember, if you trim, you must deburr the inside and outside of your case necks.

8) Deburring - When you resize and/or trim your brass, minute burrs are created both inside and outside of the neck mouth. RCBS, L. E. Wilson and others make great deburring tools. Use them. Don't skip this step! Your chamber, dies and bullet bases will thank you. Dinging a bullet base adversely affects accuracy. We won't even go into what scraping does to chambers and dies!

Whew!!! Tired yet? We aren't done. Not by a long shot!

9) Case Resizing - 99.9% of the time, standard full-length resizing dies will work fine. If your barrel chamber happens to be really snug, you might fall in to the .1% that need a small-base resizing die. Full-length is preferred for brass life but, if you have to use a small-base die, be vigilant. Keep a weathered eye out for incipient case head separation indicators (i.e., a bright line or beginning crack around the brass body circumference, just above the case head). Regardless of which die you use, make sure that your resized brass will cycle properly through the rifle action before completing the loading process. Confirmation tools, like the L.E. Wilson Case Length Headspace Gauge, can make this process a lot easier.

10) Case Lube for Full-length Resizing - Yup, I'm a bit hard-headed on this subject. There are a ton of case lubes out there. You're welcome to use what you like. Some are liquid, some paste and some use "ink stamp" type pads. However, if you use Imperial Sizing Die Wax (currently available from Redding Reloading Equipment), you'll never switch...period! No dents, no dings, no drips, no errors! It's like Brylcreem hair groom, a little dab'll do ya. Trial and error will teach you how much to apply via your fingers. Keep it off the shoulder area to prevent lubrication dents. Wipe off the excess with a clean mechanic's rag and press on.

11) Neck Sizing - Some folks will stand firm and utilize a neck sizing die for their long range brass. Not a darned thing wrong with doing so. Makes some sense, especially when one considers that most long distance shooting is a single-load proposition (i.e., not loaded into the chamber from the magazine). However, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, neck sized brass must be relegated to the particular rifle that the brass was fired in (no sharing brass between match rifles). Secondly, by the third reloading of the brass, bolt tension on closing will drastically increase. Brass can only "spring back" so far. I'd recommend full-length resizing your neck sized brass every third reloading. Eliminates the problem.

12) Neck Lube for Neck Sizing - Say what? You'll need to lube the inside of the neck to eliminate excessive expander ball pull during neck sizing. Worst case scenario, not doing so causes case stretching. Imperial Dry Neck Lube (also available from Redding Reloading Equipment), Motor Mica or Number 2 graphite work great. Use a .30 caliber neck brush to apply the dry lube to the inside of each neck before neck sizing. Your brass will thank you!

13) Seating Primers - Use a hand seating tool and not the one mounted on your press. You'll want to feel the primer seat properly and doing by hand is the only way to go. There are many hand priming tools on the market with some of the best provided by RCBS, Redding, Forster Bonanza, Sinclair, etc. Check them out and pick the one that makes sense to you. Learn to use it and don't deviate!

Time to Load - The Other 6% of the Battle

Powder Scale and Measure

Two critical tools. Keep them clean and use them religiously. Some folks will use the scale to set the measure, and then weigh every powder charge thrown. This works but can prove to be tedious very quickly. Remember, when we sorted brass above, we allowed for +/- 2 grains from lightest to heaviest. It's unnecessary to weigh each powder charge if you use a top notch powder measure and solid lever technique. Lever technique is a learned art and take lots of practice. One way to do this is to balance your scale then set the scale to your powder charge weight and throw and weigh a 100 loads worth of powder (dumping each load back into the powder bottle from whence it came). Do this exercise a couple times per week for a couple of months and you'll get the hang of it. From that point forward, when loading, you'll check-weigh every 10th powder throw to confirm setting. RCBS and Redding make fantastic scales and powder measures. Spend the money...you'll never regret it!

Bullet Seating Die

Time to choose...standard or micrometer - either one will work just fine. Remember, we're seating bullets to an overall cartridge length that will exceed your rifles magazine length (i.e., single-load only). Your sweet spot will usually be somewhere between 0.002" to 0.010" off the rifling lands. Setting your bullet depth to jam the lands is not a good idea. If the Range Master calls a cease fire and you have to clear your rifle, you may very well leave the bullet in the rifling and spill powder all over the inside of your action. Huge bummer! If nothing else, an old rule of thumb states that bullet jump to the rifling should not be greater than 1/10th of your bullet diameter for single-load, long-distance rifle loads.

Data

In the previous articles, use of medium-fast to medium burn speed powders was very prevalent. Here however, we land in the realm of medium-slow powders. IMR4350 and H-4350 powders rule the roost with H-4831 working very well with heavy bullets. Here we go:

·         180 gr. Sierra MatchKing, 56.0 gr. of IMR4350 or H-4350, Civilian Match Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210/210GM Primer

·         185 gr. Lapua D46 FMJBT, 54.0 gr. of IMR4350 or H-4350, Civilian Match Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210/210GM Primer

·         190 gr. Sierra MatchKing, 53.0 gr. of IMR4350 or H-4350, Civilian Match Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210/210GM Primer

·         200gr. Sierra MatchKing, 52.0 gr. of IMR4350 or H-4350, Civilian Match Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210/210GM Primer

The loads above are top-notch for 500 to 600 yard shooting. The 200 grain load really shines on a bad wind/mirage day and at the 1000 yard targets. With the 1000 yard line in mind, the following loads are excellent:

·         190 gr. Sierra MatchKing, 55.0 gr. of IMR4350, Civilian Match Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210/210GM Primer

·         200gr. Sierra MatchKing, 58.0 gr. of H-4831, Civilian Match Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210/210GM Primer

The heavy loads will rock you with a bit of recoil but, if you're shooting jacket is padded properly and your rifle stock length is correct for you, thumbs-up and go get 'em, Tiger!!! These loads are proven performers, time and again.

Side Note - I haven't used Accurate's 4350 in the 4350 loads above but, I'll bet you that it will work like a champ too. Check their load data for appropriate powder charges.

One or more of the loads referenced above will provide consistent, reliable and supremely accurate ammunition for your match-prepped bolt-action rifle. Have fun and good shooting!

Time to make the lawyers happy.

Disclaimer: Since I have no control over variations in components, reloading tools or reloader's procedures, the individual is solely responsible for any changes in ballistics that may occur using this data. Users assume all risk, responsibility and liability whatsoever for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any product or data. I do not assume any liability in conjunction with the use of any product or data.

.30-06 Springfield Part 2 - Service Rifle Loads

There's a reverence and a sense of history that envelopes you the first time you hold an M1 Garand (or an M1903, M1903A3, or M1917 Enfield, for that matter). Battle-proven firearms utilized by amazing individuals...many times, in harm's way. In order to truly appreciate them, there's a need to obtain the ammunition that was originally intended for these rifles. This includes either military M2 (Ball) or M72 (Match). Whether purchased or home-fabricated, it's time to head to the range.

Once you've become familiar with your service rifle, you might as well try your hand at NRA High Power Rifle competition. The course is completed via four strings of fire as follows:

Slow Fire - Standing - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 10 minutes;

Rapid Fire - Sitting or Kneeling - 10 rounds at 200 yards in 60 seconds;

Rapid Fire - Prone - 10 rounds at 300 yards in 70 seconds; and

Slow Fire - Prone - 10 rounds at 500 or 600 yards in 10 minutes.

Sounds like a challenge? Sounds like fun? It is and you'll gain a new appreciation for those who went before us!

Note: All of the load data that follows will work wonderfully well in the rifles mentioned above. However, I'll be discussing distance specific loads in an upcoming blog article titled, .30-06 Springfield Part 3 - Long Distance Target Loads. Part 3 will make any match-prepped, heavy-barreled, bolt-action rifle dance and, the M1903, M1903A3 and M1917 Enfield sing. Part 3 does not pertain to the M1 Garand. With this in mind, when reading the following information, think M1 Garand. The other rifles will follow suit but, think M1 Garand!

Reloading for the M1 Garand

Fabricating ammo for the M1 is reloading, not handloading. What you're trying to accomplish is ammunition that matches or closely matches the original military specifications. In order to do so, you'll need to use bullets in a certain weight range and a powder with a very specific burn rate.

·         Standard Military Ball, also known as M2, has a bullet weight of 147 to 152 grains.

·         Military Match, also known as M72, has a bullet weight of 172 to 173 grains.

·         The powder of choice is IMR4895.

·         Other powders that closely match this burn rate are Hodgdon's H-4895, IMR4895's sister powder IMR4064 and Winchester's W748.

Over the years, our military arsenals and civilian contract manufacturers have utilized IMR4895 as their primary powder. In competitive rifle circles, it and H-4895 are still the "go-to" powders. Using lighter weight bullets is not an issue (more to follow); however, the use of overly heavy bullets and/or slower burn-rate powders can create a huge headache! Ignoring this bit of advice can cause pressures to spike (not good when you consider that the youngest of the rifles mentioned above is ~66 years old and the oldest is ~113 years old). Additionally, in the case of the M1, the rifle mechanism will operate with more force. More force equals bent operating rods and damage to other parts. Not good! Don't do it!

Let's Talk Brass

Unless you have access to prime surplus military ball or match ammo, you'll need to "roll your own." While it used to be very easy to obtain original surplus ball or match ammunition, it is not so today. You'll have to search high and low (or find someone with a hoard and see if you can talk them out of some). If you can't find this ammo, then keep a weathered eye out for once-fired military brass. Another option is to purchase Greek-manufactured M2 from the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) or custom-fabricated M72 equivalent ammunition from Creedmoor Sports. Check out the following websites:

https://estore.thecmp.org/

www.creedmoorsports.com

M2 Ball brass will have a crimped-in primer and, depending on year of manufacture, a headstamp denoting a circle with cross centered and the arsenal ID plus year designation (i.e., TW54, SL53, LC60, etc.). When prepping this brass for reloading, use a separate decapping die to remove the crimped primer and, either swage the crimp out of the primer pocket or use a military crimp removal cutter. This makes future primer seating much easier!

M72 Match brass does not have a crimped-in primer, it's better annealed (heat treated) and, is more consistent in weight and wall thickness. M72 brass will have the arsenal ID plus year designation as well as the word "Match" or "NM" (National Match) on the case head (i.e., FA61 Match, LC63 NM, etc.).

Regardless of whether you're using ball or match, late-issue ammo or brass (1960 or later) is preferable. Do not purchase surplus military '06 ammo or brass that has a head stamp prior to 1953. The reason for this caution is due to the fact that primers utilized in military ammo, prior to that year, contained potassium chlorate, mercuric compounds or both. When fired, these primers deposit corrosive salts in your bore...a very fertile ground for rust and corrosion. The only way to clear your bore of these salts is by pouring a liberal amount of scalding hot water down your bore, running bore solvent through the bore and immediately following up with a patch or two gently lubricated with a top-end gun oil. The mercury released by some of these primers won't hurt your bore, but it will weaken the brass making it non-reloadable.

Military brass has thicker case walls and is less prone to dents and dings upon being ejected from an M1. If you can't acquire military brass, any civilian '06 version will work. Keep in mind, the rifle may beat this brass up a bit and it may not last as long through multiple resizings.

Speaking of resizing, I recommend the use of either "full-length" or "small-base" dies. Some military service rifle chambers will allow you to full-length resize, others won't. The ones that won't, do yourself a favor...grab a small-base die set and don't look back. Regardless of which die you use, make sure that your resized brass will cycle properly through the rifle action before completing the loading process. Confirmation tools, like the L.E. Wilson Case Length Headspace Gauge, can make this process a lot easier.

The key take-away(s) here would be:

·         Use the appropriate sizing die for your chamber;

·         Keep your service rifle brass and hunting brass separate due to the more generous chamber dimensions associated with service rifles (i.e., don't over-work your brass while sizing);

·         If using military brass, sort it by arsenal and date; and

·         Make sure that your "civilian" service rifle brass is of the same manufacture and, if possible, the same lot number (i.e., eliminate variations in internal powder capacity).

Primers

If you sit down with a group of competitive M1 service rifle shooters and mention the words "large rifle primer," the answer is always the same. Based on my own personal experience, I agree with them wholeheartedly. In order of preference:

·         Federal 210M (Gold Medal Match);

·         Federal 210; or

·         Winchester Large Rifle (WLR).

Another primer to consider is the CCI No. 34 Military Rifle Primer. I've been very happy with the other three primers but there are a few folks out there that swear by the No. 34. Food for thought.

Bullets

For manufacturer, weight and style of bullet, see load data below.

Time to make the lawyers happy.

Disclaimer: Since I have no control over variations in components, reloading tools or reloader's procedures, the individual is solely responsible for any changes in ballistics that may occur using this data. Users assume all risk, responsibility and liability whatsoever for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any product or data. I do not assume any liability in conjunction with the use of any product or data.

Loading Note: When substituting civilian brass in the loads referenced below, an increase of 1 grain of powder will be required to meet spec. This is due to civilian brass having larger internal case capacity than military brass.

M2 Ball

This ammunition utilizes a 147 to 152 grain Full Metal Jacket Boat-tailed (FMJBT) bullet at a muzzle velocity of ~2740 fps. Cartridge Overall Length (COL) = 3.185 to 3.240". You can match this spec as follows:

150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 47.5 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 47.5 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 50.0 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

150 gr. FMJBT (Sierra or Hornady), 50.0 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

These M2 equivalent loads work great for the slow-fire offhand and rapid-fire sitting/kneeling portions of the NRA National Match Course. If you're looking for a little edge in accuracy, try Sierra's 150 gr. MatchKing, 155 gr. MatchKing or their 155 gr. PALMA MatchKing bullets. Another bullet that deserves a serious look is Nosler's 155 gr. Custom Competition.

Old School: If recoil is or becomes an issue in offhand and/or rapid fire, try substituting the Sierra 125 gr. Spitzer Flat-based Pro-Hunter bullet in the loads above. They are fun to shoot, light on the shoulder, less expensive and operate beautifully in the M1. You may be surprised at how accurate they are! If match bullets are an absolute must for you, try Sierra's 125 gr. Hollow Point (HP) or 135 gr. Hollow Point Boat-tail (HPBT) MatchKings.

M72 Match

This ammunition utilizes a 172 to 173 grain FMJBT bullet at a muzzle velocity of ~2640 fps. With 168 and 175 gr. match bullets, COL = 3.240 to 3.330".Here you can "tweak" the load a little (Yeah, I'm a handloader at heart...lol). You can match this spec as follows:

168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 47.0 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 47.0 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 48.0 to 49.0 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

168 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 48.0 to 49.0 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 46.5 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 46.0 to 46.5 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 to 47.5 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

175 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 to 47.5 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

600 Yard Line

The heaviest bullet weight that can be utilized in the M1 Garand is Sierra's 180 gr. HPBT MatchKing. This is "the" bullet to use if you're shooting the 600 yard NRA target on a windy day! COL = 3.240 to 3.330". Try the following data:

180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 45.0 gr. of IMR4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 45.0 gr. of H-4895, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 gr. of IMR4064, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

180 gr. Sierra HPBT MatchKing, 47.0 gr. of W748, Military Brass, Fed 210/210M or WLR Primer

What about other more modern bullets and powders? There are several "newer" bullets (of appropriate weight) and powders (of appropriate burn rate) out there and they'll work just fine. If you wish to try them, please feel free to do so but, remember...follow the bullet and/or powder manufacturer's recommendations! If you're not sure, call them. They will tell you what will or will not work in the M1 Garand.

Keep in mind that the parameters for M1 service rifle loads are very tight. Bottom line, please remember the title of this blog..."provenreloads-handloads." I wouldn't pass along this information if it didn't work, time and time again.

One or more of the loads referenced above will provide consistent, reliable and supremely accurate ammunition for your M1 Garand. Have fun and good shooting!

 

Hunting Loads for Semi-auto and Pump-action Rifles

Ah, hah...some of you thought that I had forgotten! In the previous blog article, ".30-06 Springfield Part 1 - Hunting Loads," I mentioned that I would discuss '06 hunting loads for our brethren that prefer semi-auto or pump-action "civilian-built" rifles. Bullet preference would be the standard "cup-and-core" type. Nosler Partitions also work very well in these loads. Bonded bullets are the rage these days but I'd leave them out of these loads. Bullet construction is a bit on the stout side and you may not get the results you want.

Here goes:

·         Substitute 150 grain Spitzer Flat-based or Boat-tail bullets (i.e., Speer, Sierra or Hornady) in the M2 Ball load info referenced above.

·         Substitute 165 grain Spitzer Flat-based or Boat-tail bullets (i.e., Speer, Sierra or Hornady) in the 168/175 grain M72 Match load info referenced above.

·         Substitute 180 grain Spitzer Flat-based or Boat-tail bullets (i.e., Speer, Sierra or Hornady) in the 180 grain "600 yard" Match load info referenced above.

Note: COL should be set per bullet manufacturer's loading manual recommendation, not to exceed 3.340". Make sure that your cartridge length does not exceed your magazine length. 

I've utilized the bullet substitution loads referenced above in the Remington 750 and its predecessors (i.e., the Remington 4, 74, 740, 742 and 7400) as well as the Browning BAR series and Benelli's R1. They work like a champ!

Needless to say, they also do beautifully well in pump-action rifles like the Remington 6, 76, 760 and 7600.

These loads will bring meat home to the freezer and a big smile to your face!

Go for it, my friend!

.30-06 Springfield Part 1 - Hunting Loads

If you feel the need, there's no better way to start a hardcore discussion around the proverbial American deer camp fire-ring than "What's the best all-around rifle/cartridge combo available if you could have only one rifle to hunt with?" These days, there are so many different rifle platforms and cartridges to choose from that a person could truly spin themselves right into the ground trying to make up their mind. Given the parameter set above, my choice is a simple one. It's the .30-06 Springfield in a bolt-action rifle.

 

Everyone has their favorite(s) and, before you give this article a sideways look, I'd appreciate your consideration of the following:

 

·       Over the past 110 years, this cartridge has taken big game on every continent in the world;

·       It was our primary service rifle cartridge during WWI, WWII and the Korean War (some folks called it a "conflict"...B.S.! It was a war);

·       Since the advent of RCBS keeping records of annual reloading die sales, the '06 has always been in the Top 10, usually in the Top 3; and

·       It ranks in the Top 10 each year for total factory ammunition sales.

 

Another classic example is this. I had the pleasure of hunting "Muy Grande" white-tail bucks, just outside of Laredo Texas, from 1990 to 1994 and again from 1996 to 1999. Being a diehard observer, I took note of the type of rifles and cartridges utilized by 81 hunters visiting the lease. Bolt-action rifles were the hands down favorite at 63, semi-autos were second at 11, lever-actions were third at 5 and break-actions fourth at 2. The '06 ranked first at 55, the .270 Winchester came in second at 19, the .30-30 Winchester was third at 5 and the .308 Winchester finished the list at 2. My goodness! I was under the impression that Texas was hard-core .270 Winchester territory!

 

My earliest memories of big game hunting involve my Dad and his prized .30-06 Model 70 Winchester, "The Rifleman's Rifle." The US Air Force kept him moving around a lot and, he hunted deer and elk as his career allowed. His '06 found its way into hunting campsites in Washington, Louisiana and California. Dad used factory ammo for a very long time. He found that his rig had a penchant for Winchester 150 grain Silvertips for deer and 180 grain Power Points or Silvertips for elk. As a youngster, I was thoroughly impressed with the rifle, cartridge, his shooting skills and how well this combo put game on the ground. Later, when the original Silvertips faded away, Federal PowerShok's in the same grain weights took their place. He was tickled when I started rolling my own ammo and has been extremely pleased with the ammo that I've handloaded for his rifle(s).

 

Several .30-06 rifles have crossed my path over the years. The ones that got away, I wish I had back. After cutting my teeth in NRA High Power Rifle Silhouette with a Mexican Mauser sporter in .308 Winchester, I used a Winchester Model 70 in '06 (initially with LC61 M72 Match ammo) for 2 years. Loved that set-up and successfully duplicating the M72 ammo but, the .308 Winchester was "soup de jour" at the time and so I went. My current favorite '06 is a Remington Model 721B that was built in 1957. It's a "tack driver." This rifle also likes Federal PowerShok's, like Dad's Winchester, but it really shines with handloads.

 

This article is geared toward hunting loads for bolt-action rifles. As insurance for 100% functioning in the field, please utilize a full-length resizing die for your '06 hunting ammo. Save the neck-sizing die for ammo dedicated to a particular match-grade bolt-action rifle.

Before we go any further, a decision point has to be made here. Do you want your ammo to emulate factory rounds or do you want to tweak your loads for a particular rifle? The crux of the matter is this: reloading allows you to match factory specs and handloading provides for fine tuning. Both options have much to commend them. The choice is up to you.

 

Disclaimer: Since I have no control over variations in components, reloading tools or reloader's procedures, the individual is solely responsible for any changes in ballistics that may occur using this data. Users assume all risk, responsibility and liability whatsoever for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any product or data. I do not assume any liability in conjunction with the use of any product or data.

 

Hunting Loads (Bolt-action Rifle)

 

Reloads

 

Let's say that you want to reload to factory level. Makes sense. Let's face it. If you forget your rounds and need to hit the corner market in Nowhere USA, they are probably going to have three brand choices: Remington Core-Lokts, Winchester Power Points and Federal PowerShoks. The average velocity for these factory '06 loads are as follows: 150 grain = 2900 fps, 165 grain = 2800 fps and 180 grain = 2700 fps. Cartridge Overall Length (COL) = 3.210" to 3.225", not exceed 3.340". You can make this happen easily.

 

·       150 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer, Sierra or Hornady), 51.0 gr. of IMR4064, Federal, Remington or Winchester Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

·       150 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer, Sierra or Hornady), 58.0 gr. of W760, Federal, Remington or Winchester Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

·       165 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer, Sierra or Hornady), 51.0 gr. of IMR4064, Federal, Remington or Winchester Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

·       165 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer, Sierra or Hornady), 55.5 gr. of W760, Federal, Remington or Winchester Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

·       180 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer, Sierra or Hornady), 55.0 gr. of IMR4350, Federal, Remington or Winchester Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

·       180 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer, Sierra or Hornady), 55.0 gr. of W760, Federal, Remington or Winchester Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

 

Handloads

 

Now it's time to get your ammo in harmony with a particular rifle! The following loads have worked like a champ in at least 10 different bolt-action '06 rifles. Some of these loads may appear to be a bit "warm" when compared against current reloading manuals but, I've never had a lick of trouble with any of them as long as they were fired in a Remington 700 or Winchester Model 70 Series or equivalent bolt-action rifle. I'm not a huge fan of the 150 grain weight bullets in the '06. For non-elk class animals, I much prefer the 165 and 180 grainers as I've experienced better accuracy and less meat damage with these weights. Would rather run 150's in the .308 Winchester. However, in deference to my Dad, I'll throw a few 150 loads in for good measure. Again, COL = 3.210" to 3.225", not to exceed 3.340".

 

·       150 gr. Spitzer (Sierra Pro Hunter), 50.0 to 52.0 gr. of IMR4064, Winchester W-W Super Brass, Federal 210 LR Primer

·       150 gr. Spitzer (Speer Boat-tail or Sierra Pro-Hunter), 49.0 to 51.0 gr. of IMR4895, Remington Brass, Winchester LR Primer

·       150 gr. Spitzer (Speer Boat-tail or Sierra Pro-Hunter), 58.0 to 60.0 gr. of W760, Winchester W-W Super Brass, Winchester LR Primer

·       165 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer or Hornady Interlok), 48.0 to 49.5 gr. of IMR4064, Winchester, Remington, Hornady or Nosler Brass, Winchester LR Primer

·       165 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer or Hornady Interlok), 57.5 to 58.5 gr. of IMR4350, Winchester, Remington, Hornady or Nosler Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

·       180 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer or; Sierra Pro-Hunter or GameKing), 56.0 to 57.0 gr. of IMR4350, Winchester W-W Super Brass, Federal 210 LR Primer

·       180 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer or; Sierra Pro-Hunter or GameKing), 58.0 to 59.0 gr. of RL-19, Remington Brass, Winchester LR or Federal 210 LR Primer

·       180 gr. Spitzer Boat-tail (Speer or Sierra GameKing), 56.0 to 56.5 gr. of W760, Winchester W-W Super Brass, Federal 210 LR Primer

 

Elk, Moose and Black Bear Time!!! Heavier loads for heavier game. The 180, 190 and 200 grain bullets rule this roost!!! COL = 3.210" to 3.225", not to exceed 3,340".

 

·       180 gr. Spitzer Flat-base or Boat-tail (Speer), 57.0 to 58.0 gr. of IMR4350, Winchester W-W Super Brass, Federal 210 LR Primer

·       180 gr. Spitzer (Nosler Partition), 59.0 to 60.0 gr. of H-4831, Winchester W-W Super Brass, Federal 210 LR Primer

·       190 gr. Spitzer Boat-tail (Hornady Interlok), 47.0 to 47.5 gr. of IMR4064, Winchester W-W Super Brass, Winchester LR Primer

·       200 gr. Spitzer (Nosler Partition), 58.0 to 59.0 gr. of H-4831, Winchester or Remington Brass, Winchester LR Primer

 

The 190 and 200 grain info listed above is amazing! It shoots a lot flatter than you'd think and hits like a freight train.

 

For the folks that love the original bullet weight for the '06, here's 220 grain load data that works like a champ out to 200 yards and will stop darned near anything that walks in North America!!! COL = 3.210".

 

·       220 gr. Round-nose flat-base (Hornady or Sierra), 53.0 to 53.5 gr. of IMR4350, Winchester or Remington Brass, Winchester LR or Remington 9-1/2 LR Primer

 

Note: For information regarding '06 hunting loads for semi-auto or pump-action rifles, please check out my upcoming blog article: .30-06 Springfield Part 2 - Service Rifle Loads.

 

Someone asked me the other day what I "felt" about the '06. I told him that it reminds me of:

 

·       Fluorescent orange hats and vests;

·       Old olive-drab field jackets;

·       1950's vintage military canteens with water that tastes like 1950's metal;

·       Red-checked flannel or wool shirts;

·       Gray wool socks;

·       Broken-in boots that need new laces;

·       Sharp knives in leather scabbards;

·       Korean War-vintage C Rations for dinner;

·       Finding the constellation Orion (The Hunter) in the night sky; and

·       Warming your backside next to a keyhole fire pit.

 

With a .30-06 bolt-action rifle in your hands, good rifleman skills and carefully tailored handloads tuned to the rifle, well...as an old friend from Texas would say, "It just don't get no better than that!"

Old School .308 Winchester Match Loads

This first article covers a topic that I field a lot of questions about. When I say "a lot," I'm not kidding you at all (average runs 15 to 20 request for help/information per week). Regardless of how many other great match cartridges are out there (and there are quite a few), the venerable .308 Winchester still reigns as the premier "go too" match cartridge.

The subject matter below is a bit dry and technical so, grab your favorite beverage, belly-up to your computer and hang with me! Also, as the title states, this is "old school." No modern powders need apply. Here we go!

You’ve decided to handload for your accurized, match-grade .308 Winchester bolt action or M1A (civilian M-14 style) service rifle. Safety, accuracy, and consistency are your primary concerns. You’re not sure where to start and, don’t wish to spend a small fortune on components (by the way, powder prices have increased again averaging $30.00 per pound retail plus tax) or, all your time on the shooting bench load testing. Well, the following .308 match loads have worked extremely well for me in competitions over the past 35+ years.

Terms:

FA-Frankford Arsenal
Fed-Federal
GM-Federal Gold Medal Match Primer
Gr.-Grains
H-Hodgdon Powder Company
IMR-Improved Military Rifle Powder (formerly Dupont, now owned by Hodgdon)
LC-Lake City Arsenal
NM-National Match
OAL-Over All Cartridge Length
RL-Reloder Powder (Alliant Powder Company)
SMK-Sierra Match King Bullet
WCC-Western Cartridge Company
Win-Winchester

Caveats:

  • Unless otherwise noted, the following loads assume that you’re utilizing Lake City Arsenal (LC) or Frankford Arsenal (FA) Military Match brass. Any of the FA or LC Match brass is great for use in these loads. The most consistent and, therefore, most desirable of the "old school" brass would be FA 63 Match, FA 64 Match, LC 64 Match, LC 64 NM, LC 66 Match, LC 66 NM, LC 72 Match or LC 77 Match.
  • If you’re lucky enough to lay hands on either WCC 58 or WCC 60 match brass (the Holy Grail of .308 Winchester match brass), save them for the long distance loads referenced below. This brass has the best internal case capacity and wall thickness consistency of any .308 brass ever fabricated. They are very coveted and amazing to work with! 
  • If you decide to switch from military match brass to civilian brass, I’d recommend utilizing Winchester, Remington, Federal, Norma, Hornady Match, RWS Match or Lapua Match. When utilizing civilian brass with loads that were developed in military match brass, you can increase the powder charge by ~1.0 grain to closely match pressures and ballistics achieved in the military match brass.
  • Cartridge OAL can be set to 2.80” or extended to .002” off the rifling lands (if you plan on single loading).
  • Recommend the use of RCBS, Redding or Forster-Bonanza full-length sizing and associated seating dies for the majority of these loads. Exception would be the M1A service rifle...utilize small-base, full-length sizing dies. 
  • These loads assume the use of 1 in 10” or 1 in 11” rifling twist. If your rifle utilizes a 1 in 12” rifling twist, check your target (at distance) for accuracy and bullet key-holing.
  • You can substitute the Federal 210 GM or Win 81/2-120 (currently designated WLR - Winchester Large Rifle) primer for the Federal 210 primer.
  • The distances referenced below come from the discipline of NRA High Power Rifle Silhouette.
  • .308 match loads for use in AR-10 style rifles will be covered in an future article.

Disclaimer (got to make the lawyers happy):

Since I have no control over variations in components, reloading tools or reloader’s procedures, the individual is solely responsible for any changes in ballistics that may occur using this data. Users assume all risk, responsibility and liability whatsoever for any and all injuries (including death), losses or damages to persons or property (including consequential damages), arising from the use of any product or data. I do not assume any liability in conjunction with the use of any product or data.

99.9% of the time, you’ll find that one or more of these loads will create that “one-hole group” or at the very least sub MOA group that you’ve been looking for. Have fun and enjoy! Steve

 

.308 Match Loads Effective out to 200 and 300 Meters
The primary (accuracy) powder charge for each load is noted below. A range of powder grains is included for load tweaking purposes.

168 gr. SMK, 39.0 gr. (37.0 to 39.0 gr.) IMR 3031, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
168 gr. SMK, 39.0 gr. (38.5 to 40.5 gr.) IMR 4895, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
168 gr. SMK, 40.5 gr. (38.5 to 40.5 gr.) IMR 4895, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
168 gr. SMK, 40.0 gr. (38.0 to 40.0 gr.) H-4895, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
168 gr. SMK, 40.0 gr. (39.5 to 41.5 gr.) IMR 4064, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
168 gr. SMK, 43.0 gr. (41.0 to 43.0 gr.) Win 748, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer

.308 Match Loads Effective out to 375 Meters
168 gr. loads above will work like a champ at this distance as long as the wind isn't too bad. The primary (accuracy) powder charge for each load is noted below.

175 gr. SMK, 37.5 gr. IMR 3031, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
175 gr. SMK, 39.0 gr. IMR 4895, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
175 gr. SMK, 39.0 gr. H-4895, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
175 gr. SMK, 40.0 gr. IMR 4064, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
175 gr. SMK, 42.5 gr. Win 748, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer

.308 Match Loads Effective out to 500 Meters
If the wind is blowing like no tomorrow, the 175, 180 and 190 gr. loads will help you stay on target with a minimum of windage adjust required. The primary (accuracy) powder charge for each load is noted below.

175 gr. SMK, 41.0 gr. IMR 4064, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
180 gr. SMK, 42.0 gr. Win 748, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
180 gr. SMK, 40.5 gr. IMR 4895, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
190 gr. SMK, 40.0 gr. IMR 4064, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer
190 gr. SMK, 41.0 gr. Win 748, LC Match, Fed 210 Primer

Long Range .308 Match Loads – Effective past 500 Meters
These loads are on the stout side but, I’ve never had pressure problems while utilizing the Remington 700 Special Purpose or Heavy Varmint barrel rifle. These loads also assume the use of Redding or RCBS full length match dies, Redding Competition Seating Die and a 2.80” overall cartridge length.

175 gr. SMK, 43.4 gr. (42.0 to 43.4 gr.) IMR 4064, Remington or Federal Brass, Fed 210 Primer
175 gr. SMK, 42.0 gr. (40.5 to 42.0 gr.) H-4895, Remington or Federal Brass, Fed 210 Primer
175 gr. SMK, 45.5 gr. (44.0 to 45.5 gr.) Win 748, Remington or Federal Brass, Fed 210 Primer
175 gr. SMK, 43.4 gr. (42.0 to 43.4 gr.) RL 15, Lapua Match Brass, Fed 210 Primer