Firearm Forums - Arms Locker banner

Long Range Considerations

6349 Views 47 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Magnum88C
A few rambling thoughts about long range zero's, reloading ect. that may kick off some intresting discussion. The wind discusions are always fun LOL.

A couple weeks ago my boy decided to put on a proper zero with a proper load on the .308 rifle he has been shooting as of late. It was pretty intresting watching it come together for him.

Last week he came up with a decent load for it Fed Gold Metal Match brass/175 grain Sierra BTMK's/ Fed GM primers and 45.3 grains of Varget. He's using GM brass because I have several 5 gal pails of it, it's not my particular first choice and the Fed GM primers are the only ones that will stay in the primer pockets after a few reloadings of the GM brass. The GM brass is "soft" and the GM primers are a bit bigger than othere brands and tend to stay in the primer pockets longer than other brands. He's using Varget powder because we buy it 64lbs at a time and 175's because they get bought 10k at a time.

He tried my TBA M40 load of 45.8 grains of Varget under a 175 for 2800 fps, but that dog wasn't hunting in his rifle, with the componets he was using. I use Lapua brass and CCI BR-2 primers in my loads, when he starts buying his own brass he can run the good stuff.

At 45.5 grains he was getting 2775 or so for a five shot average but his "ES" (extreme spread) was running in the 30's with a high teens "SD" standard deviation. He finally settled on 45 grains even for a 10 shot average of 2705 an ES of 18 fps and a SD running high single digits. This load gave him a nice two finger bolt lift and shot into 2 1/4" at 300 yards. I think he's going to stick with that load for now, he's about tired of load development.

ES is pretty important to me in my long range loads and I will trade velocity for low ES numbers any day. Usually I find that with the .308 that the hotter loads get pretty jiggy. Not uncommon IME to drop back a full grain from the top end of things only loose 25 FPS and get much better ES and SD numbers.

Yesterday he set up the 4'X4' target frame and set out to zero and seemed to be doing OK. I had ran out a Sierra ex ballistic chart for him and he went to work. Things went fine at 500 yards and he was holding a decent 1.5 MOA group in a gentle, but funky wind, that kept switching exactly .75 MOA from 3 to 9 and then 9 to 3.

Then he moved back to 600 yards and found the chart value to be 1.75 MOA low, he noted the change and didn't think much of it.

He was strung out pretty good at 700 yards from the wind, I think he was getting tired and missing the wind changes or just under doping them, that gentle wind was now sporting a 2.5 MOA value and just gently switching back and forth every few minutes. Never the less he could tell that he was now running about 1.25 MOA high.

When he got back to the house he showed me his notes and it confused me a bit, since the Sierra charts are usually really close. So I ran back out with him yesterday evening and I shot his rifle at 500 and found his initial zero to be a few inches low, he hadn't done a good job doping the center of his group or just had an odd flyer that had given him a funky group. I brought his 500 zero up and we shot 600 and 700 yard again with chart data and found things to be plumbed up.

What a difference it made to have a very precision zero. We got home and was going over the chart and found that what he actually had was a 475 yard zero and that accounted for his deviation from the chart values. You just got to love the ballistic programs! I ran the chart again for a 475 zero and that explained his dope changes at 600 and 700. Very cool.

It all had me wondering, that when we feel the need to touch up chart values, if the problem isn't more about the quality of the zero than the charts or maybe ES and SD isues as well.

See less See more
1 - 14 of 48 Posts
JD, you should leave the discussion of long range work to those that do it.

When you start interjecting your abstract theorys, you come off sounding silly.

"In other words, WITHOUT being shot at, starving, dehydrated, exhausted, depressed, with an IDEAL firing set up, .5 MOA rifle, and without any target movement, mirage, super cold or hot weather, rain, snow, fog, etc, he STILL couldn't count on a first round hit on a 10" circle at 600 yd, like a head on prone man offers as a target?"

I'm not sure where you come up with this, even with his first attemps to zero a new load his 600 yard groups, doping a switching wind every shot held inside 7". Concerning conditions he was shooting though heavy mirage on a 96 deg day. You over play the effct of conditions, we shoot in them all the time, actually every time, since there aren't too many 500 to 1000 yard indoor ranges.
We shot today 94 degrees, slightly more wind, a 12 to 18 mph 3/4 value wind on the 8" X18" gong at 500, 600 and 700 yards and his corrected data had him first round hits at 500 and 600, he took two shots to get his first hit at 700, the gong is tough at 700. I'm happy when I get a first round on it. So no, 600 yard hits are not a problem, besides we are talking about a 14 year old boy. Nobody wants to present me a 600 yard head shot in any conditions I can see well enough to shoot in.

Once we get past the point of load development and have a good data card most all or shooting is on gongs. We have a 8"X18" for the short end and a 18" X 24" for long range. It's just easier that using radios and someone forward to call back the hits on paper.

"Why not use a sideways torso, 8" x 24", hmm? It's JUST as likely that a man will be sideways to you as facing you, after all, when you HAVE to fire at him. If you don't HAVE to fire, why reveal your presence, hmm? Why RISK a miss at long range, if he's unaware of you? You can obviously get closer, since he's stupid enough to be holding STILl, exposed to your fire, in open country in daylight. Like you are going to have a sandbagged bench and computer, etc, when it's for real, right? Like you DARE have nothing but a bolt action?"

Not sure where to start with the rest of this sillyness, some of it concerns bonehead tactics, based on what?. The rest makes some assumptions that don't really have any bearing.

There isn't a shooting bench anywhere on my place, we shoot most of the long range stuff prone, my boys rifle has a Harris bi-pod. My rifles don't, I shoot off my Becker Patrol Pack that carries my long range kit. My boy is starting to understand why the pack is more versitile and it won't be long before he goes that route himself. I'm not dogmatic about such things and let them figure stuff like that out for themselves.

The use of a computer is really only used in load development and data card buliding and printing, so it's used only in the beginning and only for conveinence and fun. I could load my 175's to 2700 fps and simply use all my USMC data for the M118LR load or pull it from the Sierra manual. I also feed the Sierra data into an Excel spread sheet program I put together and them print these nifty little cards. My daughter taught me how to do that.

Concerning the ballistic effects of Sierra match bullets, no they don't "expand", they fragment and the effects are well documented.

And no, we don't have just bolt guns, you should know that by now and I don't really buy into the idea's that drive your personal choices and tactics. The bolt guns are really special purpose weapons, just like a 11" AR is. There are much better choices for general purpose rifle work than shorty AR's or bolt guns. If it comes to the defence of my family, I would much rather have my family shooting well outside the ballistic advantage of the average thug.

You can keep belly aching about long range shooting and we will just keep right on doing it LOL.

See less See more
LOL JD, is "Shottist" even a word?

andy said:
no, they dont "fragment', not at ranges beyond which a good sp will expand, anyway, and you DONT want little frags when taking big game, either. So what it all amounts to is a lot of $ and time wasted, JERKING yourself off mentally, about how wonderful a "long range "shottist you are. :)
I'm thinking, that no one, that gets hit at 700 yards with a 175 grain Match King is going to feel like running the 700 yards up to my position, even if they could find it.

Where did shooting game with Match Kings come from?

Good grief JD

andy said:
oh yeah? can the bolt action be ccw'd? efficiently take small game? handle 95% of the LIKELY combat scenarios? fire the GI rifle round? is it rustproofed? has it got luminous sights? If not, it can't even handle the HALF of the time when it's dark. :) it's not quiet, it's not usable with one hand, basically, the bolt action is a joke, and the M1A is little better than a joke. if you had to lug one around all day, when by your own admission, you are too lazy to pick up and pocket a 1lb pistol each time you getout of a vehicle, you'd dump that 308 in a heartbeat.
Where did you get the idea a long range bolt gun is for hunting small game?

Your GI round theory doesn't make much sence to me. JD gets low on 5.56 ammo, with means he has 25 or 30 rounds now. So what else is he to do but ask a military unit if they will lend him a few rounds or take it from them by force. Sounds like a good plan to me, gee I'm low on ammo, time to take on a platoon of Army Rangers, they will have some.

Not wanting to sit on my pistol when I drive has more to do with common sense than laziness, sitting on your carry pistol is just plain stupid. Anyone that has carried more than a day could figure that out.

Coming up with a good LR .308 load is pretty straight forward Mag

Magnum88C said:
Heck, if that's the first load he developed, then he did right good with it. Give him a pat on the back.
You just have to stick to the basics, Varget, RE15, 4895 and 4064 are the tried an true powders proved over and over again by NRA High Power, NRA Long Range and Palma shooters for 40 years. 4064 and 4895 are pretty long excrutions and don't feed though a Dillon powder measure all that well, but my Harrels and Redding Bench Rest tools dump good charges. Varget will go OK though a Dillon if you tune it up some which should get done anyway. RE15 is smaller than Varget and feeds good though the Dillon, if I threw all my charges thats what I would use, it's alos the powder used in the Lake City M118LR load, which sports a 175 grain SMK. The M118LR is the best mass produced military sniper round developed to date for .308 bolt guns and is widly copied by all the "custom" amunition producers.

In the last few years "recreational" snipers have re-discovered these loads and all the "Sniper" forums bounce the old bolt action match rifle loads around like they have re-invented the wheel. The other day I read a post by a guy that was "experimenting" with 190 grain Sierra Match Kings, what a hoot, that was a standard 600 yard line load for 30 years when folks ran .308 bolt guns in the NRA Match Rifle class.

I would run it myself in my bolt guns, if I didin't have a couple "retired" M1A, double lugged, McMillian stocked, Kreiger barreled rifles that are now Leupold scoped. The 190's are too heavy for the gas guns and take slow burning powders to get the velocity up to where they have an advantage over the 175's. When I shot on the USMC team we used 190's over heavy charges of 4350 and may the shooting gods forgive me! We beat the hell out of those rifles with that load, but we didn't have the 175 Sierra's and the 173 grain Lake City matach bullets just wouldn't cut it in the competative world of of military team shooting. When we started that the AMTU jumped on the band wagon too and the results of that are why M14 match rifles got the rep of not holding together. Young AR shooters like to throw that around when expounding the virtues of AR's for service rifles, but they really don't know where it came from.

Myself, I have more or less "standardized" on the SMK 175's for all my .308's. A big part of long range success is repeatability. You have to stick with a load and then learn it's characteristics under a wide range of conditions to be successful. Thats far more important that contant experimentation, since everytime you change loads you have to go back though the data development stage. I have spent a fair amount of time with that, experimenting with premium VLD's ect. I'm not sure it really makes you a better long range shooter in the long run.

The bottom line is that no matter what load you use, it will require sight adjustments. Some loads may require more than others, but they will all need to be doped. The best long range shooter will be the one that understands the downrange performance of his load , not the guy with the highest bc bullet. Repeatability is the name of the game, you have to trust your load and it has to be forgiving enough for it's acuracy to survive high volume reloading tecniques and variances of powders, primers, bullets and barral wear.

I have found that the high BC VLD's bullets are rather twitchy, with little powder changes, seating dept or different primers causing big changes. The Sierra Match Kings are very forgiving and shoot good in everyones rifle. The jacket material and bullet ogive (sp?) are designed to interface with many chamber cuts and survive the violent jump from magazine to rifling in service rifles while maintaining concentricity. You can never go wrong with Sierra Match Kings.

See less See more

Most civies that shoot LR will be reloading, my days of dumping box after box of free M118LR into a SAW box mag pouch from fresh cans are over. If I want ammo in quanity it means reloading.

The good news is reloading for the .308 is a pretty straight forward and well understood and good quality ammo can mass produced pretty easily.

Since the best bullets and powders for the .308 are so forgiving, all thats left is to dump the same amount of powder in cases that are the same and stick a bullet straight into the case.

There is really no point in trying to re-invent the wheel with this endever, nor do you have to get anal like bench rest shooters do.

There are several good cases that have stood the test of time. Lake City has always made a good 7.62 case, they are hard and thick to stand up too the rough treatment of M14s. Anytime you can get them in bulk, do it, sort them by head stamp date and you will find them to be very consistent. Because they are thicker you will also find that you need to reduce charges. Don't skip this unless you carry around a rubber mallet to get your action open. The problem has always been getting this brass, unless you are around military shooters a supply can take some hustling. Hang around High Power shooters they always seem to have plenty. Lake City is my prefered brass for M1A's for it's durability.

IMI (Isreali Military Industries) sells new brass marked IMI Match .308 that shares many of the same charataristics as LC brass and it's commercially avaliable. I have used the Jew brass and it's not bad at all, reasonalbly priced and readily avaliable. A good choice for M1A shooters, that can't scape up LC match.

Winchester brass is a good choice for reasonably priced bolt gun cases they are consistent and readly avalible. Win brass is what black Hills loads thier premium M118LR load eqivilent on even though it carries thier head stamp. The nice thing about win brass is that it is a high capacity case that allows max charges for bolt guns. No trick to get 2800 fps with no pressure with 175's in win brass and it's a good choice when running 190's.

Standard Rem brass sucks, but they have some special runs that are highly sought after. Such as brass for Palma shooters that have small rifle primer pockets and very thin case wall of high tensile alloy for very max charges. Probually no one here will care as this brass is very tough to get, we used it for our 190 grain 600 line loads in the USMC trying to keep our rifles together. It's very expensive.

Fed Gold Metal Match factory loads are the standard that all others are judged by in factory ammo. As a coponent though the brass requires some special consideratiion. Part of why this ammo works so well in almost every rifle it's put in is that it's loaded straight and the brass is soft and expands evenly to fill about any chamber. The brass alloy is very consistent so it fills evenly and the bullets are Sierra's so they are forgiving.
Handloading this brass only works well if the rounds have been fired in a good chamber.
This brass has a bad rep amounst some LR shooters as being too soft, because after a couple loadings the primer pocket will seem loose with some brands of primers.
You have to stick with Fed Gold Metal Match primers if you are going to run this brass and size it very minimaly. it will last many reloadings if you don't set back the shoulder any more than .002 or so, it won't stand alot of heavy resizing.
I use this brass quite a bit because I got a ton of "once fired" coaching LE snipers for our SD.
It's a major bad choice for M1A's and you will get case head seps in a couple loadings, the M1A will literally pull it apart, it's very sad LOL. When the AR10's and SR's hit the market they got a bad rap shooting GMM because they where still tuning the gas system timing on these rifles and had case head seps on the first firing. Whoops.

Saved the best for last, if you want the best readily avalible .308 brass you buy Lapua. It has characteristics like Win but much more uniform. Simply the best and priced that way. If you are starting out save your money and buy Win, you won't be able to tell the difference till you get pretty damm good.

For case prep, I don't get too fancy. I set back the shoulder of gas gun brass .005 and bolt guns .002. I use Forester sizing dies with a tuned expander ball in my Dillion press. I don't like to spend time messing with case mics every time I size bolt or gas gun brass so I have two sizing dies in two tool heads.
You can get good results from other sizing dies, but absolutly need to own a concentricity gauge to check that your die is straight. The best is Sinclairs, OK is RCBS's.

For seating dies I use Foresters "Bench Rest" dies they have a sliding case guide that makes sure bullets are stuck in the case straight. Redding later bought rights from them and thier dies are good too but more expensive for the same thing since they pay royalties. Seating straight is important don't skimp on your seating die buy either Redding or Foresters.

I use a Sinclair primer seat unifoming tool that cuts them all the same, RCBS makes a good one too. For trimming I use a simple tool that fits into a cordless drill and trims to length by indexing on the case datum. I also have a Dillon sizing and trimming unit and a Gracey. They all work, but the simple Sinclair tool is fastest and cheapest. Once sized and trimmed, I uniform and debure the flash holes with a simple Lyman tool, primer pockets are punched and they have a burr inside.

The name of the game for good LR ammo is concentricity and your set up needs to be checked at every stage to make sure your ammo ain't crooked. Once checked it will stay that way and really only needs to be checked if you change something.

See less See more
Settle down Mr. "Didn't touch a rifle in 14 years" slingshot boy

You are just suffereing from a bad case of "Long Range Envy" different folks deal with it in different ways. Some make themselves look silly by trying to link LR work to sitting on thier pistol. Others go the other route making up stories about secret loads and 1/4 MOA .300 mag barrels with 60,000 rounds down the tube.

You will be OK though, just ignore my ramblings and repeat, "I will only be out in the dark", "I will only be out in the dark", and try not to think about how a 14 year old boy could drop you like a flea bitten prairie dog at 700 yards.

First the serious stuff, then I'll deal with goofy

Magnum88C said:
LOL, Teuf, I guess I'm one of the guys that inadverdantly reinvented the wheel. Got RE15 because they didn't have varget, got 175SMKs because it's the only match bullet the shop had in .308 and Winchester brass was the best they had. . .lol.

Anyway, do you crimp in your bolt gun loads? I was told not to, as crimping can have an adverse effect on the accuracy, and is not needed in bolt guns.

Also, do you full length resize every time? Again I was told to neck size only, after the first time the brass is fired. That it will fireform the brass to that chamber, and be more accurate and the brass will last longer. Only full-length resize when the case length goes out of spec, trim and full-length resize. Comments?
I use a Redding taper crimp die, not to hold the bullet in place but to make sure the neck tension is the same in all my ammo, I just put it in the last station of my Dillon. You want about .002 of constriction, just seat a bullet and measure and then adjust down the taper crimp die till you get the .002. You cant get a taper crimp in a factory resizing die, you have to have one for the task.

Yes I full size every time, if you don't things will get sticky, the key is to set the case shoulder in your bolt guns back only about .002. You will need a case length gauge to set it up right. The RCBC "Case Mike" works good.

If you have your sizing die set right, you won't need to trim but about every third loading or so. You solve alot of problems in advance if you adjust your sizing die correctly.

I don't see anything wrong with your RE15 /175/Win brass load run the velocity up to 2700 fps and your in business.

JD you seem to have an a fixtation with shooting up and down hill LOL

Apparently you didn't pass 8th grade math, it's ridiculously simple to figure, ever heard of such a thing as "cosine"?

I'm going to leave you in the dark though ,because your bleeting about it like a gut sheep entertains me :laugh01:

Field support

A couple weeks ago, after a morning of shooting prairie dogs, my boy got up from the prone with the Win and the Harris bi-pod fell off the front of the rifle. I looked over and the sling was still attactched to it and he was looking back at me with a "I don't know what happened" look.

What had happened was the front sling swivel stud had stripped out the threads in the aluminum bedding block that runs though the fore end of the H-S Precision stock. Probually from his traversing back and forth. Not a big deal to fix, I just bought another sling swivel stud that was longer and had a nut on the end. I drilled the stripped hole out a bit counter sank the nut in the barrel channel and it was fixed.

It would have really sucked had he slung the rifle, the swivel pulled out and he dumped that rifle on it's scope. Bad scene indeed.

It did show me once again why jarheads shoot off thier packs, bi-pods just don't allow the fexability using the pack does. Having the pack in front of you is also like having your "office" handy. You arange yourself with the outside pockets facing back and you can just reach in and get what ever you need weather you are spotting or shooting. Such as your "butt sock" to support the heel of the stock for a tighter hold or your data book ect.

Then there is the issue of quickly traversing left to right quickly, it's pretty hard on the lightly constructed Harris and I've seen folks bend the legs getting excited. The Parker/Hale is tougher of course but it's pretty damm heavy for a .308 rifle.

Hard to beat shooting off the pack.

See less See more

Lapua brass is the way to go for long range loads. I'm kind of surprised to hear about your experiences with IMI brass, but I was loading 175's at M1A port preasures. I've never tried it with 190's and slow powders.

I have never used the Lee dies, I have been using Foresters forever it seems and probually will till I wear them out, if thats possiable.

I'm not a big fan of neck sizing for "field" rifles, I'm not so sure that if your loading rounds that are concentric it even helps all that much, but I'm not a bench rest shooter either. Loading ammo for High Power has a different set of considerations, the National Match Course has 4 srings of rapid fire with stripper clip reloads for bolt gun shooters and I want my bolt handle to run with two fingers. I go the same route with scoped tac rifles. The key though, is setting up the sizing die correctly, setting it to just set back the shoulder .002.

I have never used the K&M tool. I have been using the same Lyman tool for years. Like I said though i'm not sure how good uniforming the flash hole does, but it can't hurt. Some of the worst brass for having burrs in the case are Fed Gold Metal Match, go figure. I know though that some brass has pretty small flass holes, Hertinberer brass from thier nata spec ball ammo in excellent, but it has small flash holes and you cut quite a bit of metal getting them uniform with the Lyman tool.

The issue of match ammo fragging comes from several sources. It's been found that, in situations that you are restricted to full metal jackets that match ammo frags at velocities consideraly lower than any ball ammo. Probually a function of jacket material and thickness.

As far as field shooting of a pack goes, I use a "Becker Patol Pack" from Eagle, it's about med ALICE size but far more refined. The med ALICE works good too though, the pockets on the front of it craddle the rifle perfect. The packs don't need to be "customized" but it helps to load the pockets that suppot the rifle with something soft that you won't need when shooting, like socks or somthing.

As far as general purpose rifles go, I really like my scout scoped M1A, it's just an outstanding 500 yard battle rifle IMO.

See less See more
Mike the Lyman tool is along the same lines, except is has a wood handle and isn't as fancy :). Thats pretty clever how you set it up with a spring so it could be drill mounted, power is good. I got a whole bunch of Hertinberger brass to be proccessed this winter and that would be the ticket.

Oh the hell, A thread revived from the dead LOL


Desinated marksman or more defined by thier role than anything else, IMO there is much more to it than being a better shooter. It's in the manner they are deployed and the rifles they deploy with that set them apart. Snipers are usually operating from a BN level, attached to various units in that BN as is needed, usually for some manner of recon.

Desinated Marksman are an organic part of a rifle squad and support that sqauds missions in the same way that squads SAW or grenadier would. A good desinated marksman uses the same skills as a sniper he just employs them in a manner that befits his role. Largly the desinated marksmans tactics are the same as a sniper, the difference being the ranges are usually quite a bit closer so he can maintain his position in the squads assult.

A sniper works hard to maintain his ballistic advantage since they are prone to being fixed by fire and assulted. The desinated marksman has the support of his squad and generaly works at shorter ranges. Because of the shorter ranges rapid fire is desirable thus you see all the M14's floating around with various optics.

The jews were some of the first to feed a desinated marksman into thier squads and called them an "assault sniper" or something like that, I don't exactly remember.

I think for the most part, most SHTF "sniping" would fall under the role of the desinated marksman, and the desinated would be supporting a group defence effort.

As far as match bullets go, my experience suggest they don't "upset" as much as they fragment into pieces on game.

See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
JD you are a blithering idiot with zero field experience shooting game with any bullet, tell us about your hunting experience again JD 5 head in 50 years? LOL

My experience with match bullets is that they act allot like ball on animals except they fragment at lower velocities, but like ball ammo that can be pretty varitable, I've seen the 175/168 SMK's make some nasty wound tracks in medium game. Match bullets aren't for big game hunting and shouldn't be used for that. The .224 cal. match bullets are pretty frangible and I pretty well expect 75 grain Hornandys to come apart in a coyote at 250 yards and less.

1 - 14 of 48 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.