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Thread: Black magic

  1. #1

    Black magic

    I've recently started reloading though it has been a slow process as due to work I haven't been able to get on the range much in the last 12 months.

    However, I've been hearing lots of stuff about different loads and so on and I have no doubt that most of it is true for very many people. With factory loads my Blaser R93 shoots all the 150 grain 308 loads that I have tried to the same place as near as I can determine. This seems rather at odds with the experience of others.

    Last night I was on the range and managed to shoot a few of my reloads. I was using Reloader 15 powder and started at 41 grains as recommended by my Lyman manual. I worked up to 44 grains in 0.5 grain steps, my Lyman manual puts 46.2 grains as a max load though Sierra puts max for a 150 grain head at 44.8. Anyhow, all these loads shoot to the same point of impact in as far as I can determine.

    Now, i wasn't shooting great last night and it had been some time since I'd shot at the range plus I was having problems getting the same point of aim each time so some of the groups were about 2 inches with nothing under an inch. However, they were all centred right on the mark.

    So, is my rifle immune to the black magic that some others experience or is it just that I have so little experience that I haven't met up with it yet? I'm really feeling a little left out to be honest.

  2. #2

    It's hard for any of us to offer advice without watching you reload, checking over your rifle, scope and mounts and watching you shoot, but one thing I can tell you is that a Blaser with handloads should group better than that, especially if the factory loads group consistently well.

    What bullets are you using?
    Do you crimp the bullets into the case? (If you do please stop)
    How is your 'scope?

    I've never used re15 in a .308, but use Varget and N140 under a 150 or 165/8gr bullet. My rifle is an accurised remington called the LSR by Riflecraft and, regardless of bullet weight, make or powder charge, it slips all loads into 1" of each other at 100m (not yards). Each of the loads individually will print sub .5" groups easily and when I change the 'scope to a fine reticle one for range work I can almost put them on top of each other. But the Blaser should do this as well as I know that they are capable of outstanding precision.

    Try and get yourself some Hornady A-Max bullets or Matchkings or even the Sierra ProHunter 150gr soft points. The Sierra PH I find to have a good evenish jacket and is capable of almost match precision ahead of a good load and in a good rifle. A proven load is 45-46gr of Varget under a 150 or 168gr bullet. If your rifle is set-up correctly and you use the above load you should get good groups. if you don't then you need to take a good look at your marksmanship (position, hold and trigger technique).

    How do you shoot? Off a bipod or sandbags? Try and have the rifle fully supported on the bipod or firm bags with as little hold by you as possible.
    If you use a bipod do not apply lateral or forwards / backwards pressure. Just let the rifle sit naturally with your non trigger hand supporting the heel of the stock. Forget about recoil. If you have a good technique you won't notice it and a 150gr .308 isn't scary. On the range I often don't even grasp the grip, but just squeeze the trigger by just having the thumb at the back of the trigger guard.

    So, look at your reloads and bullet. Make sure that your technique is good (get someone to watch you if you can) and get out and practice lots. We all need practice and we can all have bad days and even longer periods. But that Blaser should print sub 1" easily, if not much better.

    Let us know how you get on.

    Best, Craig

  3. #3
    Philip, my only observation is that you are still a few grains short of maximum with your trial loads.

    It is my experience that a lot of rifles shoot their best just below or at book max. Certainly factory ammo for rounds like the 308 or 270 will be at or even slightly beyond book max.

    Keep going in .3 or .4 grain increments.

    Another thing. There is no point shooting test groups unless your mind is in it. If you are distracted by other things, you shooting will be slightly erratic.

  4. #4
    thank you both for your comments and observations as they are most useful to me as a beginner.

    Most of the problem with accuracy is certainly with me plus my scope has quite a thick reticule, I hadn't shot in a while etc. so all those little things add up. What does amaze me though is that so far the rifle has been consistent and shoots everything I feed into it into good, though not great, groups at pretty much the same POI. In the end if I can get 1 inch groups I'm more than fixed for deer and my aim is to try and get a stag in September with my own reloads.

    I have some V-Max heads sitting here and might load up a few of them Craig, I don't know if they are as accurate as the A-Max but they get a good name, though they are only the 110 grain heads as I got them for a sort of plinking load. Currently I'm loading 150 grain Hornady spire points but I'm starting to run out of them and am also running low on Reloader 15. Supplies are a problem in this part of the world and just as I'm working up a load I find myself running out of components and so have to change powder or heads and start again. If you know a good source of either Brian be sure to let me know! Desperate reloader will travel for supplies. I will start and ring around all the obvious places this week, again.

    I suspect my Blaser is on the long side for headspace as it flattens the primers of even factory loads pretty bad and with my low pressure reloads the primers can be seen to be backed out a little. Hopefully careful resizing of the brass once it is expanded to fit my chamber will resolve that problem but the primers are making me a little nervous and careful about my load development. Despite this I have loaded up enough rounds to take me all the way to just short of book max and if I ever get another day off work when the range is open I will go shoot them and see how they fly.

  5. #5
    Though I work in the industry I am not a riflesmith and cannot help with the technical issues of headspacing and proving of your Blaser R93. Maybe others on the forum have experience of Blaser issues.

    If you have a headspace problem then that is a serious matter and needs to be examined and fixed by a qualified riflesmith and as a first port of call have a chat to the guys at the Blaser UK repairs shop. Call Erwin Peumans at Blaser UK on 01978 660 001. Details on service and repairs and general advice can be had on the following webpage:

    Excessive headspace will cause the case to stretch beyond normal tolerances and can cause a case failure, which in turn can have unwelcome consequences. I've had a couple of case failures in old .303s where the correct headspace had gone and luckily the gases escaped without doing me or the rifle any harm. Armourers can change the head of the bolt of the Enfields to adjust for increased headspace over the life of the rifle. However Blasers are obviously built to far higher tolerances.

    Some flattening of primers is normal, but I find that even with my max reloads I get less flattening in my .308 than I do with some of the factory loads. Therefore I wouldn't be worried about your Re15 loads if they are below the max indicated. There may well be a more serious problem with the rifle itself.

    Does the rifle have a moderator and if so is it correctly fitted and threaded true to the bore?

    What kind of 'scope do you use? Is it reliable and properly mounted?

    If you crimp your bullets into the case please don't. I destroyed a BSA CF2 in .243 by doing that wrongly and gave myself the sickening experience of around 2 months of tinnitus. Don't swamp your barrel and action with oil. Rifles need far less oiling than most seem to think. Just a very light film or oil on surfaces and light grease or suitable oil on working parts. I remember when I was younger taking on problem rifles for friends and having to spend hours removing and degreasing the actions, chamber and stock inlets and channel of Vaseline. Someone had told them it was a good way of sealing the rifle against water. More like a great way of clogging it up and attracting dirt. Awful habit that. It used to be everywhere, even tight into corners of the bolt face and chamber.

    Without seeing the fired cases and examining the rifle I can't offer anything meaningful, but look at the following steps:

    The rifle:
    Speak to Blaser UK and perhaps get a 2nd opinion from Steve Bowers or one of the other top UK riflesmiths who may have handled problem Blasers before.

    Following on from that, and if necessary, have your rifle inspected for faults.

    Your reloads:
    110gr V-Max will do well as a plinking / general target practice round and there's no reason why it shouldn't group reasonably well.
    Do you get across to the UK much? There are a few places here to locate bullets and powders. If you come across to the gamefairs you can always ask people like RSD (Reloading Solutions Direct, based near Oxford) to take your chosen reloading bits n bobs with them to fairs and you can pick them up there. Or have them send to your local RFD if they will do that.

    If you are stuck with factory rounds for a while and find that they're not giving great precision then whip out the bullets and powder with a Kinetic Puller or a Sinclair Bullet Puller and replace the powder with a sensible and measured charge of your own preferred powder. I have done that so many times with poorly grouping factory rounds and had great results.

    Your shooting:
    Practice, practice, practice
    If you have a friend at your local range that is willing to help then get him or her to watch you shoot (assuming that your rifle gets the 'all clear' from Blaser or a riflesmith). Ask if you can try their rifle, them to try yours and compare performance. Do try another rifle and see if it is a general problem with your shooting as opposed to a rifle specific issue.

    Get into the right frame of mind for precision shooting. You and your rifle are either on the mark and up to scratch or not at all. Black and white. You need to build confidence in yourself and your rifle to do well. That will only come with practice and a drive to place rounds as near as damn it on top of each other. We all have crap shooting days and sometimes fall into bad habits, but it is up to you to get on top of it. Until you are happy that your rifle is not the problem then you won't be able to build skill and confidence in your shooting.

    Identify whether the problem is with the rifle or you or both.
    Try another rifle and see how you get on.
    Speak to someone competent about the possible pressure signs and be sure that the Blaser is safe.

    Know that you will become a good rifle shot with practice, but, like all of us here, you have to work at it.

    Oh, and in regard to a thick cross hair obscuring the target, rather than trying to place the reticle intersection on the central mark just slip the target square or dot snug against the edge of one of the reticle quadrants. That will give you greater precision for grouping.

    If you can take pics of the fired cases then that would help, but do speak to Blaser / Steve Bowers etc.

    Tell us how you get on.

    Best regards,


  6. #6
    Philip, if you do think you have excess headspace, get it checked by some who knows what they are doing. You should be able to order go/no-go guages of Midway or the like.

    Your best bet for reloading supplies is Young Guns in Castledawson. Mervyn definitely has all manner of Hornady bullets and had Reloader 15 a few weeks ago.

    The size of your reticle should not matter. Simply modify your target to suit your reticle. PM me your email address and I will email you a target in an excel spreadsheet which you can scale up or down to suit your scope.

    You are welcome to come down to me some evening, bring your rifle and reloading supplies and we can build up some loads and test shoot them on my "private range" at the back of the house.

  7. #7
    If I were you I would take Claret Dabbler up on his offer and get yourself a few reloading pointers and tips from someone more experienced. Plus if he watches you shoot there may be a fault there.

    I am not going to attempt to diagnose your problems all I will say is, all rifles are different, crimping is not a definite no no, and I think the problem will be a little more personal than head-spacing


  8. #8
    Philip, the BDS is running a reloading night in the Cohannon Inn near Dungannon on the 15/06/09.

    You should try and attend if you can make it.

  9. #9
    Following from JAYB's advice and if you are agreeable Brian I would love to take you up on your kind offer. I'll bring the whisky!

    The headspace issue, as JAYB has hinted, may be down to my bumping the shoulder too much. However, I'm still at a fairly experimental stage in terms of getting things set right and have had a struggle with neck sizing and then full length sizing. Neck sized brass would not chamber in my rifle but I suspect there was some small element of the sizing die, or my use of it, being an issue. I am fairly certain that the rifle is safe, at the very least, as it was back with Blaser/Erwin last autumn in keeping with what Craig suggests, though for a different problem. Is it a little on the long side of average? Well, I don't know but I have a factory federal case here that without doubt has the primer backed out and it usually flattens factory primers.

    My shooting ability is a different matter altogether but to be honest I'm usually happy with a 1 inch group at 100 yards. However, the last night I was out I know I wasn't doing great and due to work, mostly, I haven't really got much practise in about a year apart from the occasional shot here and there. I'm open to all advice, hints of tips in that department and am taking the comments here on board!

    I tried Mervyn today and he had none of either but could order them for me. I'm going to drop up and see him, maybe on Thursday evening, to see how he is fixed.

    My cases look like this:

    Factory ammo, note that in real life the primers in these loads don't actually look backed out though they do in the photos, however I have Federal factory cases where you can clearly see that the primer is backed out a bit:

    My starting reloads in brass that was once fired in my rifle but with a very low pressure load, I colour code the primers hence the funny colour:

  10. #10
    44gn n140 with 150gn spbt from my r93 .308 @100m (its only not on the target as the scope was zeroed for the .243 barrell)

    49gn h4895 125gn ballistic tip same gun!

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