Multi-shot Test vs Satterlee Method: An Objective Look

Subwrx300

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I've tossed this topic around in my head for quite a bit and I wanted to share test data from new barrel. Mainly, because a lot of shooters that are new to handloading are hearing about Satterlee's method from YouTube and elsewhere thinking it will give them a magic load in 10-20 rounds. It might, but statistics are not on their side.

Before continuing: I have the utmost respect for all shooters in our sport and this is not a dig/slight or anything similar to Scott Satterlee, 6.5 Guys or anyone else that uses a 10 round method for development. Use whatever type of load development process that works for you. This is not a "best way" post per se, but a comparison of the two methods to help guys understand the downsides of single sample velocity testing.

I've seen quite a few posts, videos and articles about the Satterlee method and it's merits but in most cases, the merits are over hyped. This is purely based in statistics: larger samples are better. PERIOD. In it's best form, the Satterlee method is simply shooting 10 rounds to find velocity at charge intervals and max pressure. Then using the "flat spot" in velocity to predict an accurate, low SD node. But honestly that's not really a method; that's part of loading safely and again, statistically speaking, it's pretty unlikely to have the "flat spot" actually represent a low SD node.

There are instances where the initial velocity testing 10-shot style methods are valuable and even advisable: an unfamiliar catridge, vastly different bullet from other loads, powders without reference manual data. But this is good for finding max pressure; not for finding best "nodes".

Here is a picture of a multishot/OCW style test with a new Bartlein 26" 6.5CM barrel chambered by Area 419, 140 ELDMs, Hornady brass 4th fire, BR2 primers, (40 rounds through barrel when test began) :

20190221_192407.jpg

Here is the data if you look at like running 5 Satterlee tests with the same charges. Notice that each String (like running a new Satterlee test) shows different results. I've hightlighted the areas that would called nodes using this method, but its different or ambiguous for each new sequence. But if you simply use the SD for each charge weight, the decision is Simple and easy: between 41.6-41.8gr.

OCW vs Satterlee.PNG


I logged the data averages into Excel to get this set of graphs:
Screenshot_20190221-191417_Excel.jpg

To be clear, the data in the charts is not a Satterlee plot, it's the avg of 5 shots per charge, which means the velocity listed per charge has MUCH higher confidence than if I simply used one or two shots each.

The upper graph is looking at SD by Charge weight and the lower is velocity by charge weight (AKA Satterlee Method).

If I used Satterlee Method: I would have fired 10 rounds to find my node for future work up, I would have tested 41.1-41.5 at .1gr intervals with 5 rounds each (another 25 rounds following the results from above). Then I would need to test seating depth at best SD/group from above (another 5 rounds each +-.010 increments; about 25-30 rounds). Total rounds needed to find load: 35 without changing seating depth and 60-65 with seating depth test.

BUT I would have been testing the wrong node and ignored a series of charges that would have reduced my SD by +50%! I would never know it existed if I didn't fire more rounds to begin with!

Now using the OCW like method (this is not an OCW exactly; that would evaluate relative POI by charge weight): I fired 5 round groups at .2gr charge increments (30 rounds total) and have the following results from 30 rounds: an average velocity for charges that is reliable, avg group size by charge, POI shift by charge, plus most importantly: SD for each charge. I can say with confidence that any load with 41.6,41.7, or 41.8 should have an SD around 3-5fps, velocity between 2749 - 2765 and produce groups of about .5-.6 or better. If I feel I need to decrease group sizes, I could then test seating depth (another 25-30 rounds) and be done.

Essentially, I've gotten to the same round count with both methods but I have better data shot in the same conditions, and best of all, I don't have any doubt that I've picked the best node possible.

Some might wonder why not choose 41gr as it's the smallest group and SD is still single digits. Simple: all of my "5th shot fliers/misses" are left which indicates is probably me. I was having difficulty with NPA shifting during string and my common miss is left. But the other 4 shots tell me 41.6 is capable of .3" and 41.8 is capable of .4" with practice.

So in summary, both methods will require a minimum of about 30 shots to develop a load, but any method with more shots per charge will at least let you make the right choice with better data more confidently and more quickly with fewer range trips. If you don't know the cartridge or bullet well, you might not shoot some of the loads due to pressure, but you will have good data for rest.

Edited: updated with all data and comparison as if running 5 separate Saterlee tests to check reliability of data/results.
 
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lash

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Nice work! I personally happen to agree with your premise and your single study seems to bear that out. I do know that some people successfully use the Satterly method and I would not suggest that they change.

A point to be considered is that these techniques are largely being used on cartridges that are already easy to load for with pretty well know regular charge nodes. I’m not yet convinced that the Satterly method would work as well for an unknown wildcat or other traditionally difficult to load for cartridge.

I’ll never say never, unless proven so, but for now I’ll continue to use OCW. It’s a method that I personally have confidence using.
 

JMGlasgow

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Is there any particular brass prep you do with the Hornady brass? I've had very inconsistent results with Hornady that were solved by switching to Alpha 6.5 Creedmoor LRP.
 
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Subwrx300

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Is there any particular brass prep you do with the Hornady brass? I've had very inconsistent results with Hornady that were solved by switching to Alpha 6.5 Creedmoor LRP.
Honestly, not really. But here are my current prep steps:
  1. Ensure all brass is IDENTICAL LOT. Arguably the most important aspect of my process. If I'm unsure about which lot a piece is from due to mishandling on the range, I toss it in a bin for practice ammo only.
  2. Bullets, primers and powder all from same respective lots bought in bulk for the whole season plus some. Primers by the 5000, powder by 8lbs (have 3 8lb jugs of H4350) and bullets by the 2000. Saves a lot of time having to retune loads. It will get shot eventually...
  3. Tumble in Walnut 20-45 min depending on how dirty (remove crud)
  4. Hornady One Shot spray lube (one pass on each row, then flip 90, repeat on all 4 sides)
  5. Decap/resize with -.0015 bump (measured using .420 Shoulder comparator body gauge set. This usually results in -.0015 to .0000 shoulder bump). Side note: I tested several pieces of sized brass that varied from VERY hard to chamber to super easy to chamber. The .375 and .400 gauges showed no difference in shoulder length, but the .420 showed variation of +-.003. Basically, if you use the wrong gauge, you can get false positives that you've bumped shoulder when you actually haven't. YMMV
  6. Run sized brass through K&M 6.5 expander mandrel. This seems to have helped quite a bit lately. My SDs would vary from 8-16 with my old rifle a few months back; since I've added this step, they have held in the 7-12 range with my old rifle (don't have enough data with new barrel to say it carries over though).
  7. Prime with BR2 primers and RCBS Universal hand tool (with the slide jaw things) ensuring the lever/handle touches the body of tool on EVERY price of brass. Usually takes two hands to ensure it's fully seated.
  8. Charge powder with RCBS 1500 (stays on 24/7 and calibrated every session. Also re-zero every 10-15 charges). If it over charges, I dump it and let it rethrow, rather than pick out kernels to get to weight. Seems like there is a bias that will show correct charge but is in fact under charged due to poor sensitivity to kernels of powder.
  9. Seat bullets with Hornady Micrometer seating die. Tip of seating stemp has been drilled longer and polished with JB Paste (bullet in drill) to ensure no burrs in stem and not contacting tip of bullet during seating.
  10. Load ammo about the same time from when I want to shoot it whenever possible. I try to load 7-10 days before shooting to allow necks to spring back/tighten on bullets. Within 24 hours of loading it seems good, but from 1-5 days out, it seems less consistent (in my experience). 7+ days it's all the same.
  11. Store/transport ammo in hard MTM boxes.
  12. Shoot as best I can....
I DON'T:
  • Sort bullets, brass (by weight or volume), primers or anything else other than ensuring all components are same lot as last time.
  • Neck turn; tried it, hated it, no benefit for Hornady because necks are already on the thin side and fairly uniform.
  • Clean my rifle after every outing; more like every 3-6mos or 5-600 rounds and then it's only a mild clean at best. Have a few rifles that perform better on cold bore with a single boresnake pass, but that's barrel specific.
  • Shoot my rifle with any sort of oil in the bore, regardless of how little.
So yeah... Pretty basic lol. That was a lot shorter in my head.
 
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Subwrx300

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Forgot to add that watch my scales negative value when loading. If it drifts away from -154.2 (weight of my pan) and doesn't come back to that number within 2-3 seconds, I re-zero with pan on scale.

Also all brass sizing stages happen as a single batch. I don't do 50 then come back a few days later to finish sizing the rest. It's okay to split stages up (size one day and expand/prime another), but I don't like to split middle of a lot into two separate days.
 
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kthomas

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As much as I wanted to be a believer, through multiple barrels and cartridges, I really don't think the "Satterlee method" is the most conclusive nor scientific/data driven way to approach finding a load. I found this out by shooting these 10 round ladders for years, but would always shoot two 10 shot ladders with identical powder charges - by doing this, I often saw no direct correlation between the two ladders. It's eye opening.

When using this method to try and find a velocity node, if often (almost, if not every case) found the velocity node outside what the ladder results would've found. I now do an initial ladder to find out what velocities different charges will get me, and at what charges I'll start seeing pressure signs. After that, I'll load up 5 rounds each of varying charges below pressure signs to see which has the lowest SD's.

It's pure statistics. 10 rounds is not enough to conclusively draw any results, it's statistically irrelevant. My college statistics teacher would've failed my ass if he knew I was using a 10 rounds ladder method.

I'm also not sure why this method is attributed to Scott Satterlee, as people where doing this method much before he was.
 

Subwrx300

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As much as I wanted to be a believer, through multiple barrels and cartridges, I really don't think the "Satterlee method" is the most conclusive nor scientific/data driven way to approach finding a load. I found this out by shooting these 10 round ladders for years, but would always shoot two 10 shot ladders with identical powder charges - by doing this, I often saw no direct correlation between the two ladders. It's eye opening.

When using this method to try and find a velocity node, if often (almost, if not every case) found the velocity node outside what the ladder results would've found. I now do an initial ladder to find out what velocities different charges will get me, and at what charges I'll start seeing pressure signs. After that, I'll load up 5 rounds each of varying charges below pressure signs to see which has the lowest SD's.

It's pure statistics. 10 rounds is not enough to conclusively draw any results, it's statistically irrelevant. My college statistics teacher would've failed my ass if he knew I was using a 10 rounds ladder method.

I'm also not sure why this method is attributed to Scott Satterlee, as people where doing this method much before he was.
LMOA and 100% true about stats class!

I think it's mainly because of the 6.5 Guys videos. When they were super popular a few years back (not that they aren't now for some), they interviewed Scott and discussed his method in some detail. They then used it in a series of load development videos and tests.

Fast forward to present and a quick YouTube search produces a metric ton of videos with "Satterlee" in the title along with some variation on load development. See:
Screenshot_20190222-012154_YouTube.jpg
Screenshot_20190222-012203_YouTube.jpg

Scott is a world class PRS shooter and it works for him. But then again, if you build a custom rifle with great components, awesome gunsmithing and quality bullets/brass, virtually any load will shoot well with some background data. Hell, just look at my load development: 41-42 shot .4-.7 and every load had single digit SDs! It's easy to see how it works with good equipment because virtually any load will work!

Now try this with a factory rifle and barrel (which I have done many times) and watch SDs and groups dance all over the place except in THE SWEET spot.
The newbies with R700s don't know why their gun don't shoot. "I don't know what's wrong! I just shot a Satterlee test and picked a good node. First groups were like one hole but now they are like 1 MOA. What gives? "

Hopefully a few of the new guys read this and figure out there is no secret sauce. Just good old fashioned patience and experience.
 

TJC

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The other variable not being discussed is barrels speeding up from new. In my new 6.5CM Bartlein I’ve seen velocity increase 25 FPS for the same load between round 70 -> 100.

If you can’t repeat the test over time and can’t get the same consistent results then you don’t have a thesis. The first 10 rounds are going to produce a different set of data than rounds 110. Repeatability remains key.
 

MinnesotaMulisha

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Very informative write up. Great job.

I tried a ten round development with a 6 Creed, and it worked well for me.

Tried again with a 6.5 Creed, and not so much.

I'm not saying caliber has anything to do with it, but each rifle is different and will give you different results.

I definitely agree that a sample of 10 is far too low to collect enough data for a rifle that may shoot thousands of rounds, especially when you can count on the barrel speeding up for the first 100 or so.
 

Skookum

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Scott has corresponded on this very forum about this subject.

http://forum.snipershide.com/threads/scott-satterlee-‘ocw’-question.6912772/#post-7375082

Basically, Scott is using heavy bullets (147's in the video) for the 6.5 Addiction (Sweedmoor), slow for caliber powders (H4831 burn rate), and loading them 0.010" off the lands. The flat spots he sees and uses are within 1% of max charge or exceed max charge, and are a natural result of the load reaching the point of diminishing returns.

These are the missing elements that noobs don't understand.
 

BrentMac

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Very good info! I’m going to stick with the old time tested development I’ve used for years. Awesome data!
 

Subwrx300

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Scott has corresponded on this very forum about this subject.

http://forum.snipershide.com/threads/scott-satterlee-‘ocw’-question.6912772/#post-7375082

Basically, Scott is using heavy bullets (147's in the video) for the 6.5 Addiction (Sweedmoor), slow for caliber powders (H4831 burn rate), and loading them 0.010" off the lands. The flat spots he sees and uses are within 1% of max charge or exceed max charge, and are a natural result of the load reaching the point of diminishing returns.

These are the missing elements that noobs don't understand.
Exactly. It's a process of process that works for his very specific cartidge, bullet weight and powder. Its too bad others that don't understand why it's so specific and simply do themselves a favor: use 4 or 5 shot groups over .2-.3 GR intervals with a Chrono. Load done.
 

towerofpower93

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Scott has corresponded on this very forum about this subject.

http://forum.snipershide.com/threads/scott-satterlee-‘ocw’-question.6912772/#post-7375082

The flat spots he sees and uses are within 1% of max charge or exceed max charge, and are a natural result of the load reaching the point of diminishing returns.
The two times I've successfully used the Saterlee "single round for measured velocity" method to identify a velocity flat spot which ended up giving me very nice groups afterwards fell into this category; at or just above max book load. Both of the loads I settled on were above book max by a few tenths of a grain and under the highest single round I shot during the single round ladder to find my rifle's stopping point based on pressure signs.

Tried it again with a 308 AR10 and a Marlin 336 in 30-30 and never did get a correlation between the velocity ladders and the loads I eventually settled on, but these guns weren't being pushed up and over book max.
 

C_R_Slacker

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Glad you posted this. I had the same skepticism of the "10 round" method and thought about trying something different. What i came up with was similar to what you described; a modified ocw. My only worry is that my group size/point of impact data will be unreliable because i use a magnetospeed instead of a labradar. I've got a new barrel to work up for and a change in bullets for another barrell, so we'll see i guess.
 

steve123

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Over the years my processes for load envelopment has evolved.

Personally I don't begin load development until the barrel has been run in with light to medium loads. I do this using a quick break in and clean, establishing a zero, and shooting steel for the fun of it, for at least 100 rounds, if 6mm, the barrel will have sped up by then.

This also work hardens the heel of the brass without over expanding the extractor groove as can happen with warm loads right off, and of course fireforms the brass. Go to my posts in the 6mmBR reloading depot to see what happened when I strayed from my plan and tried to do a short cut, lol. Basically a virgin case will have less powder capacity than a fireformed and sized case.

Next is ladder testing at distance, and in .1 grain increments, or .2 if I feel lazy. But .1 grain at 400Y on a calm morning has been the best way so far and provided all the info I needed. The paper target doesn't lie. What one is looking for is the phenomenon "positive compensation" foremost, look it up, that's the barrel harmonics method the record holding benchrest shooters use.

You are juggling different things to achieve a balance, velocity as it pertains to a node, and looking for low SD. Sometimes the lowest SD must be sacrificed for the tightest node. In other words say you had a SD of 5 but groups at 600Y were 4" inch but with an SD of 8 you had 2.5" groups, which would you choose???

Once you've found that node, you can try changing primers, seating depths, neck tensions, and charge of .1 grain less or more, something, or a combo of, this might get you some improvement. But at this point I'm drawing the line on how much time I spend in load work since I'm not a benchrest shooter.

With my last 6x47L barrel, while doing my ladder at 323Y, there were three consecutive shots touching so I picked the middle .1 and I was done doing load work in 14 shots. Granted I already knew the OACL that shot best in the previous barrels which worked in this one (using my own reamer', powder, brass, and bullets, that I had before)

I believed the proof on the paper and didn't worry about chrono numbers, because a .2" group at 323Y tells me what I want to know.

Also I'm more of a "good enough" type. Using my methods has resulted in sub 1" vertical at 400Y with two other rifles the last few years during ladder testing. My newish 6mmBR a few months ago gave 1/4" for 3 shots at 400Y, I could care less what the SD was - good enough, right?!

Once I have the load done I then chrono. If I can time the temps throughout the year I'll add or subtract a 10th or 2 of powder to maintain the velocity I had and chase the throat once in a while.

Nothing against your methods, Sub. Whatever works for each individual, a node is a node.
 

Skookum

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I come at things just a bit differently.

I shoot 3 shots at each 1% increment until I find pressure. Rounds loaded to the max OAL that I would want to actually use.

Then I use a little bit of math to find out how far I need to back off for summer heat. In approximate numbers, it works out to about 2% off max for loads worked up in winter at 40 - 50 degrees. And 1% for loads worked up at 70 - 80 degrees.

I then run an optimal seating depth test using 5 round groups. I start seating deeper in .005" increments until an obvious candidate presents itself.

The load I choose gets tested at 200 yards. 4 groups of 5 shots at the same point of aim. That will tell the tale. I have never had a load group at 200 yards for 20 shots and then fall apart further down range.

All this testing is still around 60 rounds or less. I think I did it in 49 rounds last time.
 

just browsing

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It always ends up being somewhere in the middle. Other part of this is working under the assumption that load data is generally done on new/low round count barrels. If you’re basing your data sets solely off of velocity numbers, chances are you’re going to see a significant change in barrel behavior between 100-200 rounds fired.

I also think one of the most important aspects that’s been mentioned though is quality rifles shoot a wider variety of loads just as consistent loading processes produce more consistent loads. Too many variables in this sport to say there is an end-all, be-all way to load development. Build a sound rifle first and then focus on solid loading practices... that’s where you’ll see the biggest decrease in rounds needed for load development, guaranteed.
 

bgavin

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I've tossed this topic around in my head for quite a bit and I wanted to share test data from new barrel. Mainly, because a lot of shooters that are new to handloading are hearing about Satterlee's method from YouTube and elsewhere thinking it will give them a magic load in 10-20 rounds. It might, but statistics are not on their side.

Before continuing: I have the utmost respect for all shooters in our sport and this is not a dig/slight or anything similar to Scott Satterlee, 6.5 Guys or anyone else that uses a 10 round method for development. Use whatever type of load development process that works for you. This is not a "best way" post per se, but a comparison of the two methods to help guys understand the downsides of single sample velocity testing.

I've seen quite a few posts, videos and articles about the Satterlee method and it's merits but in most cases, the merits are over hyped. This is purely based in statistics: larger samples are better. PERIOD. In it's best form, the Satterlee method is simply shooting 10 rounds to find velocity at charge intervals and max pressure. Then using the "flat spot" in velocity to predict an accurate, low SD node. But honestly that's not really a method; that's part of loading safely and again, statistically speaking, it's pretty unlikely to have the "flat spot" actually represent a low SD node.

There are instances where the initial velocity testing 10-shot style methods are valuable and even advisable: an unfamiliar catridge, vastly different bullet from other loads, powders without reference manual data. But this is good for finding max pressure; not for finding best "nodes".

Here is a picture of a multishot/OCW style test with a new Bartlein 26" 6.5CM barrel chambered by Area 419, 140 ELDMs, Hornady brass 4th fire, BR2 primers, (40 rounds through barrel when test began) :

View attachment 7030109

Here is the data if you look at like running 5 Satterlee tests with the same charges. Notice that each String (like running a new Satterlee test) shows different results. I've hightlighted the areas that would called nodes using this method, but its different or ambiguous for each new sequence. But if you simply use the SD for each charge weight, the decision is Simple and easy: between 41.6-41.8gr.

View attachment 7030167


I logged the data averages into Excel to get this set of graphs:
View attachment 7030113

To be clear, the data in the charts is not a Satterlee plot, it's the avg of 5 shots per charge, which means the velocity listed per charge has MUCH higher confidence than if I simply used one or two shots each.

The upper graph is looking at SD by Charge weight and the lower is velocity by charge weight (AKA Satterlee Method).

If I used Satterlee Method: I would have fired 10 rounds to find my node for future work up, I would have tested 41.1-41.5 at .1gr intervals with 5 rounds each (another 25 rounds following the results from above). Then I would need to test seating depth at best SD/group from above (another 5 rounds each +-.010 increments; about 25-30 rounds). Total rounds needed to find load: 35 without changing seating depth and 60-65 with seating depth test.

BUT I would have been testing the wrong node and ignored a series of charges that would have reduced my SD by +50%! I would never know it existed if I didn't fire more rounds to begin with!

Now using the OCW like method (this is not an OCW exactly; that would evaluate relative POI by charge weight): I fired 5 round groups at .2gr charge increments (30 rounds total) and have the following results from 30 rounds: an average velocity for charges that is reliable, avg group size by charge, POI shift by charge, plus most importantly: SD for each charge. I can say with confidence that any load with 41.6,41.7, or 41.8 should have an SD around 3-5fps, velocity between 2749 - 2765 and produce groups of about .5-.6 or better. If I feel I need to decrease group sizes, I could then test seating depth (another 25-30 rounds) and be done.

Essentially, I've gotten to the same round count with both methods but I have better data shot in the same conditions, and best of all, I don't have any doubt that I've picked the best node possible.

Some might wonder why not choose 41gr as it's the smallest group and SD is still single digits. Simple: all of my "5th shot fliers/misses" are left which indicates is probably me. I was having difficulty with NPA shifting during string and my common miss is left. But the other 4 shots tell me 41.6 is capable of .3" and 41.8 is capable of .4" with practice.

So in summary, both methods will require a minimum of about 30 shots to develop a load, but any method with more shots per charge will at least let you make the right choice with better data more confidently and more quickly with fewer range trips. If you don't know the cartridge or bullet well, you might not shoot some of the loads due to pressure, but you will have good data for rest.

Edited: updated with all data and comparison as if running 5 separate Saterlee tests to check reliability of data/results.
Thanks for the test and great info.

I’m just starting to reload and have a question. How far off the lands should I run my initial test?

I have a Mpa 6.5 switch log with about 750 rounds of factory 140 eldm so no worry about barrel speeding up. I have the 750 once fired hornady brass to use. I’ve bought H4350 primers and 140 eldm bullets and have Rcbs reloading equipment but haven’t loaded anything yet. Still reading and trying to learn.

Thanks
 

Subwrx300

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Thanks for the test and great info.

I’m just starting to reload and have a question. How far off the lands should I run my initial test?

I have a Mpa 6.5 switch log with about 750 rounds of factory 140 eldm so no worry about barrel speeding up. I have the 750 once fired hornady brass to use. I’ve bought H4350 primers and 140 eldm bullets and have Rcbs reloading equipment but haven’t loaded anything yet. Still reading and trying to learn.

Thanks
Personally, with 140ELDs, id start at 2.813ish oal. It will match the factory length, which works really well in most barrels with standard reamer.

But generally speaking, I start at-.020 of lands if I'm working with a new bullet. After you find a decent SD node (if it doesn't shoot to your speed) if test the best SD region with different seating depths at. 015" increments. .005 off lands, .020, .035, .050, and .065. One of those should shoot substantially better than the others.
 

bgavin

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Personally, with 140ELDs, id start at 2.813ish oal. It will match the factory length, which works really well in most barrels with standard reamer.

But generally speaking, I start at-.020 of lands if I'm working with a new bullet. After you find a decent SD node (if it doesn't shoot to your speed) if test the best SD region with different seating depths at. 015" increments. .005 off lands, .020, .035, .050, and .065. One of those should shoot substantially better than the others.
Thank you!
 

Subwrx300

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Glad you posted this. I had the same skepticism of the "10 round" method and thought about trying something different. What i came up with was similar to what you described; a modified ocw. My only worry is that my group size/point of impact data will be unreliable because i use a magnetospeed instead of a labradar. I've got a new barrel to work up for and a change in bullets for another barrell, so we'll see i guess.
I'm on the same boat with the magnetospeed.
I completely understand with the Magneto... I owned one for 2 years before moving to LabRadar. There are still pros and cons to each. But while some don't get a POI/group size shift with Magneto, I think a lot do (including myself). That is a pretty big benefit to the Labradar. But the simplicity/consistency of Magneto speed is still ahead of the LR.

I don't use my Chrono that often(new barrels and new loads, hot/cold temps) but it's nice to be able to shoot load development and practice at distance with zero disruption to POI.
 

Subwrx300

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Over the years my processes for load envelopment has evolved.

Personally I don't begin load development until the barrel has been run in with light to medium loads. I do this using a quick break in and clean, establishing a zero, and shooting steel for the fun of it, for at least 100 rounds, if 6mm, the barrel will have sped up by then.

This also work hardens the heel of the brass without over expanding the extractor groove as can happen with warm loads right off, and of course fireforms the brass. Go to my posts in the 6mmBR reloading depot to see what happened when I strayed from my plan and tried to do a short cut, lol. Basically a virgin case will have less powder capacity than a fireformed and sized case.

Next is ladder testing at distance, and in .1 grain increments, or .2 if I feel lazy. But .1 grain at 400Y on a calm morning has been the best way so far and provided all the info I needed. The paper target doesn't lie. What one is looking for is the phenomenon "positive compensation" foremost, look it up, that's the barrel harmonics method the record holding benchrest shooters use.

You are juggling different things to achieve a balance, velocity as it pertains to a node, and looking for low SD. Sometimes the lowest SD must be sacrificed for the tightest node. In other words say you had a SD of 5 but groups at 600Y were 4" inch but with an SD of 8 you had 2.5" groups, which would you choose???

Once you've found that node, you can try changing primers, seating depths, neck tensions, and charge of .1 grain less or more, something, or a combo of, this might get you some improvement. But at this point I'm drawing the line on how much time I spend in load work since I'm not a benchrest shooter.

With my last 6x47L barrel, while doing my ladder at 323Y, there were three consecutive shots touching so I picked the middle .1 and I was done doing load work in 14 shots. Granted I already knew the OACL that shot best in the previous barrels which worked in this one (using my own reamer', powder, brass, and bullets, that I had before)

I believed the proof on the paper and didn't worry about chrono numbers, because a .2" group at 323Y tells me what I want to know.

Also I'm more of a "good enough" type. Using my methods has resulted in sub 1" vertical at 400Y with two other rifles the last few years during ladder testing. My newish 6mmBR a few months ago gave 1/4" for 3 shots at 400Y, I could care less what the SD was - good enough, right?!

Once I have the load done I then chrono. If I can time the temps throughout the year I'll add or subtract a 10th or 2 of powder to maintain the velocity I had and chase the throat once in a while.

Nothing against your methods, Sub. Whatever works for each individual, a node is a node.
Point of this thread wasn't to say this way or that way is best but that in general, more data is better and repeatability is important. Specifically for guys that are new to reloading that don't have the experience or skill to do some of the more difficult methods that require very consistent equipment and shooting skills.

I've used the Audette ladder in the past also with good success. It can be great if weather and wind are cooperative during the window you need to find the load. I used it almost exclusively for better part of 5 years but I found that SD can and does impact ability to make hits on 1.5-2 MOA targets beyond 800yds (along with how much of my "A" game I brought with me 😁).

I still like the Audette ladder (look for same POI elevation at distance over a series of charges), and positive compensation is a real thing and if your experience and equipment are up for the task, you can get some awesome loads. But you have to know when it's you or the rifle dropping a shot along with proper interpretation of impacts.

My challenge was that 400yds does not show much change in POI due to velocity and I've had several rifle calibers (308 6.5s 223s and more) produce bum loads even after a few ladders. But at 600-800, it's nearly impossible to find a calm day where wind and shooting skills coincide to give repeatable results.

This was post was for the guys that are still learning to master fundamentals of consistentcy, use NPA to your advantage, proper recoil control and have just started handloading. That's a lot to ask of a new shooter at 400-500yds with Audette Ladder.
 

winniedonkey

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Honestly, not really. But here are my current prep steps:
  1. Ensure all brass is IDENTICAL LOT. Arguably the most important aspect of my process. If I'm unsure about which lot a piece is from due to mishandling on the range, I toss it in a bin for practice ammo only.
  2. Bullets, primers and powder all from same respective lots bought in bulk for the whole season plus some. Primers by the 5000, powder by 8lbs (have 3 8lb jugs of H4350) and bullets by the 2000. Saves a lot of time having to retune loads. It will get shot eventually...
  3. Tumble in Walnut 20-45 min depending on how dirty (remove crud)
  4. Hornady One Shot spray lube (one pass on each row, then flip 90, repeat on all 4 sides)
  5. Decap/resize with -.0015 bump (measured using .420 Shoulder comparator body gauge set. This usually results in -.0015 to .0000 shoulder bump). Side note: I tested several pieces of sized brass that varied from VERY hard to chamber to super easy to chamber. The .375 and .400 gauges showed no difference in shoulder length, but the .420 showed variation of +-.003. Basically, if you use the wrong gauge, you can get false positives that you've bumped shoulder when you actually haven't. YMMV
  6. Run sized brass through K&M 6.5 expander mandrel. This seems to have helped quite a bit lately. My SDs would vary from 8-16 with my old rifle a few months back; since I've added this step, they have held in the 7-12 range with my old rifle (don't have enough data with new barrel to say it carries over though).
  7. Prime with BR2 primers and RCBS Universal hand tool (with the slide jaw things) ensuring the lever/handle touches the body of tool on EVERY price of brass. Usually takes two hands to ensure it's fully seated.
  8. Charge powder with RCBS 1500 (stays on 24/7 and calibrated every session. Also re-zero every 10-15 charges). If it over charges, I dump it and let it rethrow, rather than pick out kernels to get to weight. Seems like there is a bias that will show correct charge but is in fact under charged due to poor sensitivity to kernels of powder.
  9. Seat bullets with Hornady Micrometer seating die. Tip of seating stemp has been drilled longer and polished with JB Paste (bullet in drill) to ensure no burrs in stem and not contacting tip of bullet during seating.
  10. Load ammo about the same time from when I want to shoot it whenever possible. I try to load 7-10 days before shooting to allow necks to spring back/tighten on bullets. Within 24 hours of loading it seems good, but from 1-5 days out, it seems less consistent (in my experience). 7+ days it's all the same.
  11. Store/transport ammo in hard MTM boxes.
  12. Shoot as best I can....
I DON'T:
  • Sort bullets, brass (by weight or volume), primers or anything else other than ensuring all components are same lot as last time.
  • Neck turn; tried it, hated it, no benefit for Hornady because necks are already on the thin side and fairly uniform.
  • Clean my rifle after every outing; more like every 3-6mos or 5-600 rounds and then it's only a mild clean at best. Have a few rifles that perform better on cold bore with a single boresnake pass, but that's barrel specific.
  • Shoot my rifle with any sort of oil in the bore, regardless of how little.
So yeah... Pretty basic lol. That was a lot shorter in my head.
Well damn....cant say you are cutting corners. Titties.
 

Scopes

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Exactly. It's a process of process that works for his very specific cartidge, bullet weight and powder. Its too bad others that don't understand why it's so specific and simply do themselves a favor: use 4 or 5 shot groups over .2-.3 GR intervals with a Chrono. Load done.
How did you decide to use 41 to 42 grains for the test groups?
 

Subwrx300

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How did you decide to use 41 to 42 grains for the test groups?
I've run several Creedmoors... virtually all of them have shot well between 41-42gr; it's a widely accepted node that's common for H4350 and 140ELDM. I knew the velocity range I wanted to work towards (2720-2780) and those charges should have put loads right in the middle of range (which it did).

If I didn't know the cartidge, I would have used the interwebs to find working ranges for most guys, fired a 5-10 round ladder to find pressure signs (and have fired brass to set shoulder for future reloads), then moved right to the same test done above.
 

C_R_Slacker

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So I've thought about it some more and this is what I'm thinking. I have a good idea where i should be with the powder/bullet combo I'm using, so I'm going to run a fine "satterlee ladder" of about 8-10 rounds over my expected node. Mainly to check for pressure, but also to get basic velocity data. Then I'm going to do a 4-5 round ocw without the magnetospeed and see if i get the same answer both ways. Then I'll pick a load and shoot a five round group and run five more with the magnetospeed to check sd/es. That would be 50-70 rounds, more if i need/want to mess with seating depth. I'll try to stay around 50, hopefully that will give me a good load.
 
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mustang-cars

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This is my experience with the Satarlee test. I started reloading 1 year 2 months ago. I shoot 6.5CM, H4350, and ELD-M 140’s. I’m on my third 26” Bartlein barrel. I used 3 different types of brass off and on. I’ve been through 3 different lots of powder. 3 different lots of primers and 4 different lots of bullets. I’ve used the Satarlee 10 shot test in all of my load development. Every single time it’s worked without fail from low nodes to high nodes.

I always load .020 off of the lands. I do shoot 100 rounds through the barrel before doing the test though. I shoot 10 rounds over the chrono. Look for the flat spot. Load 20 more of the node. Shoot 10 over the chrono to get ES/SD then I shoot 2-5 round groups at 100. If everything looks good from those 20(always has/does). Go home, load for a match and go shoot. Easy as that.
 
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Skookum

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This is my experience with the Satarlee test. I started reloading 1 year 2 months ago. I shoot 6.5CM, H4350, and ELD-M 140’s. I’m on my third 26” Bartlein barrel. I used 3 different types of brass off and on. I’ve been through 3 different lots of powder. 3 different lots of primers and 4 different lots of bullets. I’ve used the Satarlee 10 shot test in all of my load development. Every single time it’s worked without fail from low nodes to high nodes.

I always load .020 off of the lands. I do shoot 100 rounds through the barrel before doing the test though. I shoot 10 rounds over the chrono. Look for the flat spot. Load 20 more of the node. Shoot 10 over the chrono to get ES/SD then I shoot 2-5 round groups at 100. If everything looks good from those 20(always has/does). Go home, load for a match and go shoot. Easy as that.
I guess that one would have to conclude then, that everyone it doesn't work for is just doing it wrong.
 
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Juggerxxx

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Very much agree with your thoughts on their 10 round test. Numbers do not lie and that 10 round test is no magical exception. Out of curiosity you should plot the 65guys methode with one random charge from each and see how many times their method passes or fails.
 

Subwrx300

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Very much agree with your thoughts on their 10 round test. Numbers do not lie and that 10 round test is no magical exception. Out of curiosity you should plot the 65guys methode with one random charge from each and see how many times their method passes or fails.
The funny thing is the 6.5 Guys created a spreadsheet that uses 3, 4 or 5 shot groups that tracks SD and graphs it relative to other charges specifically to find good SD nodes. They very much use statistics to their advantage.

I've done the above with my own tests and it was 50/50 at best. It's just not enough data to make conclusions.
 
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Afkirby

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My idea was to shoot 3 or 5 shots for each charge weight leading up to a max charge, then find the cumulative SD of three successive charge weights. Something like this

45.0-46.0gr total test spread, 3 or 5 shots each 0.1 grain increment

SD of 45.0, 45.1, 45.2
SD of 45.1, 45.2, 45.3

Repeating this pattern to the max charge.

If an “SD Node” existed I would think this would identify it by singling out a median charge of a charge range which is velocity insensitive.

I’d be curious to see if this would be an effective method. Once I have a few more rounds through my Sako I may try it out.
 

mustang-cars

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I guess that one would have to conclude then, that everyone it doesn't work for is just doing it wrong.
I don’t think that’s the case because obviously there are many that disagree with the 10 shot test. Actually I find that more disagree with it than don’t. In my experience though it’s worked quite well. That’s the very interesting thing about shooting sports and reloading to me. It seems as though science, myth, and dumb luck all come together to make this great hobby a very intriguing and exciting hobby!
 
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Subwrx300

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Had a chance to retest 41.7 with same brass from original test today. 41.7 is right in the middle of the good SD node found in OP. (3) 5 shot groups, working on body position to fix a left miss with 10 min between groups. 25deg, 40mph winds (I was a bit sheltered though) and snow. 15 shots chronoed:
20190224_145637.jpg

POA is top right corner of black electrical tape (the green vertical line and blue intersection. Avg groups is ~.4" for 5 shots. But even after barrel is 25fps faster, it's still shooting tiny holes at the same node as before. I'm fighting setup/recoil control issues which is shifting misses to the left (right should angled to rear, stock slights right, muzzle goes left, miss left) but managed to pull it together for the last group hitting exact POA 4 out of 5.

With known POA/POI, SD and velocity confirmed multiple times, this load is ready for matches.
 

Skookum

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Had a chance to retest 41.7 with same brass from original test today. 41.7 is right in the middle of the good SD node found in OP. (3) 5 shot groups, working on body position to fix a left miss with 10 min between groups. 25deg, 40mph winds (I was a bit sheltered though) and snow. 15 shots chronoed:
View attachment 7031682

POA is top right corner of black electrical tape (the green vertical line and blue intersection. Avg groups is ~.4" for 5 shots. But even after barrel is 25fps faster, it's still shooting tiny holes at the same node as before. I'm fighting setup/recoil control issues which is shifting misses to the left (right should angled to rear, stock slights right, muzzle goes left, miss left) but managed to pull it together for the last group hitting exact POA 4 out of 5.

With known POA/POI, SD and velocity confirmed multiple times, this load is ready for matches.
The 41.5 "ish" grain load area with a 140 grain, is a repeating theme. So much so, that I would refer to it as an "index" load. Similar to 44 grains of Varget with a 175 SMK in a 308, or 25 grains of Varget with a 69 grain SMK, and 57 grains of H4350 with a 180 bullet in a 30-06.

It just works...over, and over, and over again.
 
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Subwrx300

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The 41.5 "ish" grain load area with a 140 grain, is a repeating theme. So much so, that I would refer to it as an "index" load. Similar to 44 grains of Varget with a 175 SMK in a 308, or 25 grains of Varget with a 69 grain SMK, and 57 grains of H4350 with a 180 bullet in a 30-06.

It just works...over, and over, and over again.
Yep. I always check 41-42gr at .2 intervals. Haven't had a 6.5 yet that didnt find at least one or two good loads in that range with 140s. 42gr with my Criterion, 41.9gr on 3 different Howas, 41.7gr for this Bartlein, 41.3gr on an MPA and 41gr on a Remage and a Savage MSR10... It's a chocolate ice cream load.
 
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regnar375

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Excellent write up. When I was taught a few years back on how to develop a load, Ibeas taught to do I like you have described except with 3 shot groups instead of 5. I have been able to get several rifles to shoot in the twos consistantly at 100 yards and a 6mmbr to shot low twos high ones consistantly with sub 1/2" groups at 600.

My brass prep is the same except for measuring bullets into batches.

Thanks again for the write up.
 
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Steel head

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So this thread kinda inspired me to try the ten shot method with my relatively new Shilen prefit in 260 rem with 147 ELD-M’s with 4451.

Loaded 10 rounds in .2 increments stopping at 44.1 in my roomy Winchester brass.

Started a.040 jump.

Found a velocity flat spot from 43.7 to 43.9.
As I’m new to this method I tried 1 round each at 43.6 and 44 and found 43.6 jives with the flat spot and 44 was just slightly ramping up in speed

I then picked 43.8 did a seating test in .020 increments.

Yesterday I shot two 5 shot groups with charges thrown with my hornandy electronic powder measure with the chrony and got this.

147 43.8 4451 #200 2.30 base to ogive.
2780 avg 10 sd 24 es
2779 avg 4 sd 11 es

7049522

Zero’d scope and shot this.

7049525

I’m totally satisfied with that.
 
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