.308 Reloading problems.


Well-Known Member
Hi Guy's

Advice needed...

Just been trying out some new loads for my .308. using 168grn Hornady SST's loading 43grains of Varget, CCI Bench rest primers into Fedral brass.

The problem I have is that there are no signes of ove rpressure but according to the Hornady manual I'm near enough at max load for the powder but I'm getting burnt powder residue on the outside of the case neck and shoulder of the case. I'm wondering if I'm not getting complete opturation and there are no signed os excessive pressure. In fact i can still see the B stamped on the CCI primer's.

The question is:
1. Is the black residue around the neck due to incomplete opturation and there for low pressure?

2. Will this cause a problem in the long run fo rthe rifle in terms of wear in the chamber?

3.Can I go past the max load in the book and if so to what?

4. Is there another powder that's worth trying?

thanks in davance for your help and advice.


Site Staff
I think Pete has it about right, it does sound as if you are not generating enough pressure for obturation to occur, hence your dirty cases. You should try increasing your loads up to the indicated max as shown in the manual.

What you have to bear in mind is that each gun is different and what is safe in one will be, or at least potentially will be dangerous in another. Therefore powder manufacturers when offering their suggested loads are always extremely careful to point out, that load development is the responsibility of each individual reloader and that by exceeding their suggested loads completely exonerates them from any liability. It is the legal eagles looking after their bosses. A by product is that as litigation has increased suggested loads have decreased, if you look in older manuals you will find the loads suggested being bigger than today's offerings.

If you go beyond the suggested max, and you are not experienced then I would suggest you get a bit of advice from someone who is close to hand and knows what they are doing. What I am saying is no one can tell you the absolute safe load for your gun, it is individual and has to be found out by testing. Stick with the manuals until you know what you are doing.

Changing the primer may have an influence, altering the bullet seating may also help. What about neck tension? would a little extra tension help? Have fun and keep us informed.



Well-Known Member
Hi Jason,

I use 168gns Hornady bullets and Varget powder, I have a number of manuals and they all seem to have conflicting views on powder weights? However I load to a max of 46gns as stated by Hodgdon data. Try this link mate, and follow the steps.



Well-Known Member
Jason, have you had any other concerns with the fired cases from your other reloads or commercial ammo?

Like Pete E, I too wonder if you might have a headspace issue. As you probably know, there are a number of concerns around .308 Win related to the common misconception that it is the same as 7.62 NATO.

It all depends on how the chamber has been cut. The following is from Ammoguide:

The original cartridge was developed by the Ordnance Dept. of the U.S. Army in the 1940's through 50's under the name T-65. After extensive testing, it was to become the first NATO-adopted "standard" cartridge, the 7.62mm NATO, or 7.62x51mm.

Winchester requested and received permission to introduce the cartridge commercially as the .308 Winchester. The result has been worldwide acceptance in a range of sporting firearms. However, the 7.62x51mm NATO and .308 Winchester should not be considered interchangeable. More on that below.

Key differences exist between military and commercial designs, notably in the hardness and thickness of the brass as well as the external dimensions of the case itself. The shoulder and neck of the military design dictate they are farther from the rim by .013 inches (commercial spec shown above), resulting in a significantly different headspace situation between the two rounds. The combination of shorter commercial ammunition in the slightly longer military chamber presents a possibly dangerous situation due to the emergence of a gap in the mating of case and chamber shoulder surfaces.

Even if military cases are shaped to the commercial chamber, it's reloading characteristics are different from commercial brass. The increased thickness of military brass results in more difficult sizing operations and reduces available powder capacity. This has the effect of increasing pressures when using military cases, with like charges. Also, primer pockets are likely to be crimped, complicating priming and de-priming operations. Nonetheless, some precision target shooters are careful to deal with these issues and prefer military "Match" 7.62x51mm cases, fire-formed to their chamber.


Well-Known Member
I spent a fair bit time working with varget in by 308 and never got really good results.

I am now using H4895 - this has proven to be an excelletn combination with 150g Hornady BT's. I am using a stoney point gauage to measure jump and sitting the heads 10thou off the lands rarther than the book appointed standard.

If I were you I would try a different powder and get a decent gauge depth for your shooter - it makes a massive difference.

To me, your cases look fine. The fact that you are not anviling your primer is not a bad thing. Try working loads up to the max and a little above. PLEASE BE CAREFUL AS THIS CAN BE DANGEROUS. Remember to check for over pressure signs on every case that you fire... time consuming but a lot easier and cheaper than buying a new rifle.

Best of luck



Well-Known Member
thanks for the advice guy's.

I'm note conviced it;s a headspace problem because with factry ammo I don't have this problem, having read your posts I'll try a different powder as I think Vargot may not be the powder of choice for this caliber.


Well-Known Member


I dont think the brass is too bad. If i use Hogdon Powder (Varget and H380 on my 22-250) i get same results.

I am using Remington Mag Primers in the 22-250 the accuracy is spot on and I am no where near max on load or COL as i dont need it.

Moved to VV N140 same dies same primers same COL and no burn marks. Only loaded a bit on the 308 with H380 and again i have moved to N140 but still to find time for a field day to see how accurate they are.

nosler BT125gn 49.5 grains of N140 and remmy mag primer. We will see...........


Well-Known Member
A bit late I presume.
I've loaded 165SST', Varget, CCI BR, fed and lapua brass.
Started at 44.5gr Varget at COL 71.35mm, shot 3/4" and used that as a hunting load for a while. It never shot better than that.
Then I increased to 45gr Varget at the same length. Group now 0.3" and
very consistent. (1 in 10 twist)
I thought hodgdon stated min42gr -max46gr Varget for 165 & 168gr.

Shot a Sika spiker with that load at 80yds, very little blood splash. ??


Well-Known Member
do not rely on the visual signs, flat primers, sticky left etc to indicate max pressure, the use of a chrono is a must when loading upto max! your max may well be 2,3,or 4gn less than advertised.
Those cases don't look to bad,try a different powder, see if that makes a difference..



Well-Known Member
According to Hogdens Basic Reloaders Manual No. 27 the max. load for Varget with the 168gr bullet is 46grains [compressed].
This info. was obtained using Winchester brass and the Federal primer 210M. Bullet used was Sierra 168gr HPBT.

It is more sensible to use manufacturers data than other.

As you slowly increase your loading charge look for pressure signs, the most common are hammered primers and difficulty in raising the bolt handle, both are classical signs.
Sometimes changing the primer type can significantly alter group size and breech pressure because of their different burning rate .
The use of a chrono. will be of little benefit to you as a given load fired in 3 different rifles may show 3 different velocities.
I would stick with your existing powder and slowly increase your loading watching for the warning signs, always load for minimum group size and never for maximum velocity.
In a very long shooting lifetime I only had ONE rifle that was most accurate at maximum velocities and that was a Vom Hofe Super Express 5.6 X 61 .



Well-Known Member
.308 loads

Below are pics. of 3 loads I have used in my Sako .308 rifle.
I have never had the need to use bullets heavier than 150 grain.
I found the 150gr Round-nose Hornady Ref. No. 3035 to be devastating on Muntjac and flatten them where they stood also the Speer 150gr SPBT was very effective on mountain Reds.
The Speer 130gr Hollow point Ref. No. 2005 was superb on furry and feathered vermin.
[ All loaded with Varget.]