There are many different things that factor in improving
the accuracy or your loads; using the right amount of powder is perhaps the
most important factor. Before deciding how much powder to use, it’s always good
to consult multiple sources of reloading information.
First, find what is
listed as the best powder for the bullet you are shooting. You’ll see a figure
for what is considered to be the safe maximum load for the rifle caliber being
loaded. However, you have to always remember that each barrel is unique and
will generate a different amount of chamber pressure when compared to other
If possible, pick out a day and take your reloading
equipment to the range with you. (If this isn’t possible, simply reload
multiple rounds with varying powder charges and then test at the range.) Also,
it’s always good to have a chronograph handy when testing your rounds.
Once you’re set up on the range, load and test a single
round that is loaded to the minimum safe level listed for you caliber and
bullet. Then, examine the case for any signs of pressure damage. If there are
no signs of damage, it’s safe to slowly increase the amount of powder; it’s
best to do so in increments of .3 to .5 grains of powder at a time. When the
edge of your primers becomes completely flat, then it’s time to stop increasing
the powder load as you have started to produce high pressure signs.
Once you find that number, load 5 rounds with your maximum
safe powder charge and shoot them. Pay close attention to the velocity on the
chronograph, as well as the grouping; there’s no such thing as too many notes.
Then, load another 5 rounds, dropping the powder by .3 to .5 grains of powder.
Shoot and record the data. Doing this will allow you to find the velocity and
powder combo that delivers the best accuracy for your particular rifle.
Never jump to conclusions after firing a great group. Back
it by firing at least two more groups. It’s very rare to guess and be right
when it comes to finding the right amount of powder to use for every rifle in
that caliber. Developing reloads with a chronograph is definitely an advantage,
as well. By doing so, you are able to test any other types of powder by
duplicating the same velocity. Remember, you will always shoot the tightest
groups at or near this speed. After finding the best powder and amount to use,
you’ll then want to experiment on bullet seating depth to further increase your
A chronograph will also show you how little velocity is
affected by a slight variation in your powder charge. After you’ve decided on
an accurate load, there’s rarely a need to weigh individual powder charges. A
good quality powder measure can drop consistent powder charges with most types
of powder. There are a few exceptions to this rule, though, seeing as some
wildcat rounds might need to be individually weighed.
Another thought to keep in mind is how much unburned powder
you might have, especially if using a slow-burning powder. As often is the
case, you will run out of barrel length before you run out of powder, resulting
in wasted powder. If you find this to be the case, it might be good to use a
fast burning powder. It is also important to always use magnum primers with
high-capacity cases. This will help to utilize the entire powder charge in your