Savage Model 12 F/TR Loads and setup in a week?

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  • Savage Model 12 F/TR Loads and setup in a week?

    Well, lets start with these

    I have only just recently got into F-Class shooting and purchased a Savage F/TR as a starting point. I have had it a little while now and was pretty lazy in load development to start off and basically just shot a few groups with different loads and come up with the following load.

    Brass: Lapua
    Pill: 155 SMK Palma (2156)
    Powder: 47.4gr ADI AR2208
    Primer: CCI BR2
    COAL: 73.55mm

    I have been using that load to get some practice up while also fire forming my brass. I now have 300 fire formed cases
    As I stated in another thread I have been scoring Consistently around 55-57 per round no matter what the conditions are, which means on difficult days I was being competitive. In the one prize shoot I have attended in F-Class I managed to pick up this.

    I had the opportunity to shoot another rifle on Saturday and scored a 59-6 straight after shooting a 55.3 with the savage. This is suggesting that its my setup that is holding me back at the moment. Well time to get serious for the Coonabarabran Prize Shoot!! Only problem is that it is this weekend

    Thought it might be good to go through the process in a thread and draw on the vast experience of the members on here to help put a setup and load together that will have every body else quitting F-Class because they know I cant be beaten!! :S

    So.......... The rifle

    The Brass

    Other kind of important bits and pieces

    So far i'm off to a flying start having achieved this....

    Yep....hard work putting cases into the tumbler!!!!
    I suppose this begs the first to clean my brass? I have the tumbler, as shown above, and an ultrasonic cleaner. I have just thrown the cases into the tumbler without having done anything to them. The idea here was to give them a quick clean before resizing. Is this a good idea? should I then punch out the primers and but them through the Ultrasonic cleaner? Thoughts would be appreciated.

    Case lengths of my once fired brass range from 51.13mm to 51.18mm. I am a bit unsure what the best approach is here in case trimming. My original plan was to get one of these:
    and then work out my case length to be just short of that to stop the formation of a carbon ring in my chamber. should I leave them all until they grow enough length for me to achieve this? or should I trim them down now to the 51.13mm (that being the shortest case I have measured).

    I only have the standard Redding dies at the moment but I did order an S type bushing resizing die on Friday which I should get tomorrow. Only problem is that I haven't ordered a bush yet Measuring some loaded rounds I have found that they are around .336 in diameter. My standard die is resizing them to .334, which I would have thought is ok having .002 in neck tension. The smallest Redding bush I can get is .335 which would mean a neck tension of .001, would this still be ok? or have I got this whole neck tension thing totally wrong?

    That might do for now. Really hoping to get some input from all you reloading gurus out there. I have been reloading for years but only for hunting rifles and this is getting into a whole new realm for me, trying to get a rifle to shoot .5MOA at long range seems quite a challenge!!!

  • #2
    Sneeky, I don't think theres anything anyone can tell you thats going to increase your average by 4 points in 1 week.

    In F-class we have to have great equipment, be experts in:
    - equipment maintenance
    - technique
    - wind reading
    - long range handloading, procedures and results analysis (very different to short range)

    None of us ever stop learning new things, Even the best guys in the country are constantly learning. We've all got to do the hard yards and develop all of the points above. You shooting well with someone else guns means that you've only had to control 2 of the five above mentioned fields. (you've still done really well, dont get me wrong).

    To me, Long range handloading means no short cuts and a REALLY in depth understanding of the procedures we use and why. It is also helped by a REALLY in depth understanding of internal and external ballisitics.

    I'm only a 56 average shooter. I shoot lots of 58's, 59's and some 60's. The trouble is, I've shot lots 54's, 55's and a handful of 50's too (at 1000y).
    One of the things I've learnt this year shooting the Queen events, is that even when you think you understand wind, we need to have experience in every condition possible. The worse it is, the better the experience.

    My advice to contribute to your week is:
    No short cuts.
    Weigh each charge of powder to the kernel
    Seat each bullet seating depth exactly.
    Know exactly where your lands are and keep checking them, adjusting the seating depth accordingly, because they move as the throat burns.
    Dont oversize cases
    Do everything you can to keep neck tensions the exactly the same and light
    Free float your dies
    and................ the king of LR consistency,.............. sort your bullets ia weight and bearing surface length. To the o.1g and .001".

    Theres soooooo much more, but theres a few fundamentals. Plenty left for others to chime in on.

    A good friend of mine thats been shooting for a lifetime said to me one "Lots of practice should see your average improve by 1 point per year".
    I didn't want to believe him when he said it, but now, 18 months later, I really believe its true.


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      Sneeky253 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks DenisA....Some great tips there and its really appreciated. Hmmmm might take me a week to sort through that box of 1200 pils lol!! In fact will start on that straight away. Is it worth weighing my brass. I have heard plenty of people say yes and plenty say it doesn't matter. I guess a feel that it doesn't really take long to do, so why not?

      I am not familiar with the term "free float" your dies. Could you please shed some light on this for me?
      When you say "don't oversize your cases" do you mean to just neck size them, or do the .001 shoulder bump?
      I'm guessing that a neck tension of .001 is light?

      Thanks again DenisA,

  • #3
    I weight sort all my brass in .1g lots to meet rule number 1, no short cuts. That said, I only have 70 pieces of 300wsm brass and the variation is 6 grains across them all, so for 12 round detail, the brass weight varies considerably. I'm still developing a load with it, but I currently have that load shooting .3 moa. I think sorting brass matters most when your tryiing to reach .1 and .2 moa's provided equipment and skills will allow the difference to be seen.
    It also depends on the size of the case, ie, the % difference in powder chamber volume.
    Click image for larger version

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    Start doing things properly and don't let up so that you don't develop bad habits.

    Free floating dies means that you don't lock them down tight. You run them down until your set lock nut just touches the press, allowing you to very slightly wriggle the die. Recheck it every stroke as it will try and wind itself out or tighten itself up over a hand ful of sizings. The idea is that the die centres itself on the case better which gives better concentricity.

    .001" shoulder bump is good, or neck szie only if the brass still chambers.

    I get best results on all cals with .0005" (half thou) neck tension. I only size 2/3's of the neck.

    Have fun with 1200 pils . Maybe sort them in batches of 300. :S


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      Sneeky253 commented
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      roger that....thanks again.

      Just out of interest, was a little surprised at the weight differences! Range from 154.8-155.5

  • #4
    How do you measure the bearing surface?


    • #5
      Using vernier calipers and 2 x Hornady style comparitors, 1 on each jaw of the verniers. The correct size comparator insert is used on the ogive and one size smaller is used on the boat tail. It doesn't give you the bearing surface length, more a length between 2 reference points that indicates the difference between bearing surface lengths.


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        Sneeky253 commented
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        Ok.....200 cases tumbled! Do you think I should de-prime them and put them through the ultrasonic cleaner? or not bother? oh....and still sorting and sorting and sorting and sorting pills :S

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        Sneeky253 commented
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        Originally posted by DenisA" post=4050
        Using vernier calipers and 2 x Hornady style comparitors, 1 on each jaw of the verniers. The correct size comparator insert is used on the ogive and one size smaller is used on the boat tail. It doesn't give you the bearing surface length, more a length between 2 reference points that indicates the difference between bearing surface lengths.
        So I take it its not good enough to just use the base of the boat tail and just measure the ogive?

    • #6
      If you are going to weight sort cartridge cases I would do it either of two ways.

      Ideally I would sort cases that are high quality like Lapua straight out of the box, do all my prep work then check my batch weights and put them into case holders in order of increasing weight. They stay that way during reloading and firing and put back in that order.

      Others might just batch a certain weight spread and keep them in a batch but that means you may not have a usable number for competition shoots, you need to sort a lot more to get a usable batch and / or your weight spread is still too great to be precision graded.

      Once cases have been fired the only way to weight sort them in my mind is to do a very good Ultrasonic clean to get rid of the internal carbon that is not of consistant weight and get them back to as clean as possible. De-primed of course. I use the "Clean and Shiny" formula described here in this article from Accurate Shooter.

      Once dry I tumble in Corn Cob with "Turbo Brite" Polish added for several hours and they come out near mirror finish. This leaves a coating on the brass that seems to protect them against tarnish marks from storage and / or handling.

      I don't have a fancy expensive set of Digital Scales and even reasonably priced one's I feel are not accurate enough with their +/- 0.10gr accuracy which means an error of 0.20gr or more is possible so I use my Powder Scales. Slow but more accurate if the cartridge case is put in the tray the same way and position each time.

      So, my sorting goes in groups of 0.1gr or less in increasing weights of batches.

      Some I know say that this method of sorting is not good enough and will weigh every case on it's water capacity instead but you still have to start off with a clean case internally and leave the spent primer intact or if new cases plug the primer pocket with something.

      After a few firings if the cases get more dirty than I can wipe off or I decide to reduce the carbon collection internally then I will go through this process again as they will be mixed weights again after cleaning.

      Just my method.


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        Sneeky253 commented
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        Thanks Mega........was hoping to see you here! Into the the ultrasonic they go!! well tonight anyway, heading into town to get supplies! It will give me a nice break from sorting pills, must nearly be half way through the much to do, so little time!

        Edit: Any thoughts on what I should do with my case length?

    • #7
      Sorting Bullets by Ogive Length.

      Well, not every person will agree with the methods used and every person has his right to an opinion on what method to use.

      As with the method used by DenisA I think he means this way with two comparator bodies and two comparator inserts, one for the bullet calibre and a smaller one for the boat tail base....

      I have a few issues with the idea of using a comparator on the boat tail as well. One is the increased distance now between the calipre jaws and a possible decrease in the accuracy of measurements, next is how uniform the actual boat tail of a bullet is and the length of it's angle to the base. There is no datum point like there is for the ogive to base of a bullet.

      How flat is the flat part of a boat tail bullet and how consistant is it. After discussions with BRT I obtained two of these custom modified Hornady Anvils for my comparators.

      This will provide a better base to measure from and do make it easier to get the bullet seated in the gauge correctly for the most consistant measurements.

      So, I sort my bullets from base to ogive datum point. Now the Sinclair Comparator Inserts pictured above give a shorter dimension than the data supplied by Berger Bullets for my 130gr 6.5mm VLD's but by using the Sinclair Comparator Nut I get the same dimension as that supplied by Berger in their Reloading Manual which is Base to Ogive 0.676" The Calipres were zeroed on the Comparator Nut first.

      I don't like using the Sinclair Comparator Nut without the Hornady Anvil as I find it a little difficult to get everything to sit consistantly the same and quickly for accurate measurements.

      There are dimensions from Berger of Bullet OAL, Boat Tail, Meplat Diameter, Ogive, Nose Length, Base to Ogive and Bearing Surface as well as the other normal data which a lot of other Bullet Makers do not supply. I don't know how Berger measure the 0.200" Boat Tail length of these bullets as yet.

      "Sneeky253" only a week to get some precision ammo ready, hmm, I think you may need a little longer.....

      We haven't got into precision case preparation with Primer Pocket Uniforming, Flash Hole Uniforming & Deburring, Neck Turning, Neck Deburring using a VLD Tapered Reamer, Meplat Trimming, Bullet Pointing and heaps more.......

      A few of the Precision Benchrest guys go a further step with bullet sorting using a Juenke Bullet Comparator which spins the bullet and uses Ultrasound to compare the internals of a bullet to others for batching. It must pay off because they are always on top of the leader board in competition.


      • #8
        I would not let them grow to maximum chamber length, that gives you no safety margin at all.

        Find a length that is typical of your shortest cartridge length and trim them all to that length as long as it's between the min and max cartridge length. Let the shorter one's grow to your trim length. You are after uniformity.

        You are only playing with 0.010" at the very most, typically half that .


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          Sneeky253 commented
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          Cheers Mega......Have been waiting for a bit more gear to arrive, namely a flash hole deburrer and primer pocket uniformer (While the hell do the distributors keep nothing in stock!! ) Who gave themselves a week to do all this anyway oh well, will do the best I can at this stage.

          Jasmay recommended one of these for a neck turner, any thoughts?

      • #9
        If you aren't using VLD bullets, don't worry about seating depth. If you are shooting a 308, you will be in F Standard and you can't use VLD pills.
        A Lee Collet Die is a much simpler method of neck sizing.
        Not sure about weighing bullets, so I'll pass but weigh cases in to 0.5 grain lots.
        As Mega says, use an ultrasonic to maintain the original case volume. It doesn't hurt that they also clean your primer pockets
        This is not to say that the other posters are wrong, although it would be interesting to compare results. My method is simpler and quicker, that's all
        Good Luck


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          Sneeky253 commented
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          Cheers mate, appreciate the input. I have decided to weigh brass in .5g increments. Did the ladder test today at 500m. There was about an inch difference in elevation between 47gr and 47.3gr (roughly .2MOA!), really happy with that. I will be loading some up at 47.1gr tonight and test them first thing in the morning and then play around a bit with tuning my action screws. Hopefully that load will work out as we are shooting 800 and 1000 yards tomorrow at 11!!!

      • #10
        Sneeky #27
        Never mind the difference in elevation Between groups. It is the elevation In your group that counts.
        It is fortunate that you are shooting 1000 so soon. That range, being the maximum, will test the vertical dispersion of your rifle. This will be a function of your load and your bedding. By load is meant uniformity of powder charge as well as the suitability of that charge (the weight), All Other Things Being Equal.
        Ideally, you would be trying different charge weights at 1000, to see which one gave the smallest vertical dispersion. I take it that this is not possible but you can still form an opinion of your rifle's ability to shoot good elevation. By that is meant, good enough for bulls or good enough to group in the central ring.
        I note your intention to experiment with bedding screw tension. Don't do this Before 1000. Have your shoot and see what the VD is like. Good enough, or not good enough. It will be a function of bedding or powder charge weight.
        If it isn't good enough, check the bedding for rock. If the bedding is OK, experiment with different charge weights.

        And Good Luck.


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          Sneeky253 commented
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          cheers mate, I was checking vertical today, hence the ladder test. I was trying to find the node for the rifle, which at the moment appears to be between 47 and 47.3gr, that's why I was so happy to find it (6 shots with a vertical spread of about an inch at 500m, 3 loads of 47gr and 3 of 47.3gr) I just want to check a few groups in the morning at 47.1gr to see if they group well, I have no doubt that they will be ok. I was going to do the ladder test at 800 today, but the mirage was pretty horrible, hence why I come up to 500m. I am very lucky that I can walk out my front door and shoot at 1000 or more (was shooting at 1650y last week!) Hopefully I will have a lot more case prep gear to work with next week. I really want to work on brass and load prep, that's my weak spot at the moment and that's why I love this forum!! so much great advice and helpful tips!!

          Really appreciate the advice

      • #11
        Well, I have decided to pussy out on doing the bedding job myself. I spoke with Kieth Hills from Cowra (from what I have heard he has a great reputation for building target rifles) the other day and I will get him to do it. He said that these Savages really benefit from a good bedding job, something that I have been hearing a lot. He is going to replace the pillars with some high quality ones and then fully bed the action. Should happen early January.

        I did improve the optics on it. I was finding the 5.5-22x56 NXS just didn't have enough magnification for my liking and also the 1/4 inch clicks aren't really up to the job when getting a bit serious. I have put a new 15-55x52 Competition on it. Looks great and hopefully makes things a little easier.

        I have also been sorting out some case prep gear. Spoke to BRT shooting supplies and will hopefully have a lot of stuff shortly to improve my match loads.

        Loads and setup in a week?