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Ron Lewis

Good morning fellow shooters:
Here’s how I do it: Generally speaking if I’m working up a load then I probably am breaking in a new barrel. Just as Roland said, I spent most of my time wearing out a barrel with the first load that I settle on and rarely do I change that load. The past couple years has forced me to vary this plan somewhat because of the inability for me to always find the same components. ( That is, sometimes I can’t find any 168ge Amax bullets and I have to shoot 175’s instead.

Ron’s Way : ( Not necessarily the Right way but it works for me)
1. I set a target at 200 yds ( I recommend you set yours at 100 yds) I have a permanent stand on my range sitting at 200 yds that’s the only reason I shoot at 200 yds
2. I almost always use Lapua Brass if it’s available. I fine it to be the best quality and it has very good primer pockets. I pick one case to use and will work my load up using only this one case.
3. Pick up the trusty load manual and look at the range of loads for the particular caliber.
4. I start low on the chart and load the first round and shoot the target.
5. I then reload this case with a stronger load and shoot again
6. Reload with a stronger load and shoot again
7. I repeat step 6 until I start to see pressure signs on the primer or the bolt starts getting stiff. When you see these indications of pressure it’s certainly time to stop. I almost never shoot loads in my competition rifles that are hard to eject from expansion because they are on the verge of popping primers or worst locking your rifle up in the match which will most certainly end your chance of finishing well in the match.
8. This case is pretty much worn out at this point. I then use this case to make a dummy load that I keep in my die box for quick set up of my seater die.
9. Notice that I did not shoot a group ( not yet any ways) nor did I discuss cleaning my rifle while breaking in the barrel. Those subjects will be discussed on another topic.
10. Now I look carefully at my target and see where the bullets have been hitting to determine which load I’m going to start shooting. My goal is to pick a starting point to shoot groups. I’ve attached a sample target that shows the normal pattern. You can see from the target that the shots numbered 4,5,6,7,8 are sort of clustered together and that the ones number 1,2,3, are low and the ones 9,10,11 are high.
11. In this case I would pick loads 5,6,7 and load three rounds of each and shoot.
12. I would take the best load of these three and pick it as my starting load. ( Lets’ say load #6 is best)
13. Let’s just say load 6 is 43.0 grs of Varget. I would load 15 cases: 5 cases with 42.5 grs, 5 cases with 43.0 grs and 5 cases with 43.5 grs
14. I would shoot three 5 shot groups and pick the best one as my load.
15. Total shoots fired in working up this load would have been 35 rounds and I would have my barrel pretty much broken in and ready to load to go shoot a match. I would have also only destroyed 1 case in the process.

This type load development is a modified ladder test. There are many ways to accomplish load development and I have tried them all. For me this is a quick way to get your rifle shooting(90 % of the time). The fun stuff comes in on the 10% when this doesn’t work.