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retread: How far off the lands?

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  • retread: How far off the lands?

    Since beginning to hand load in the 1960s, I have gotten whip lash from the way that folks who should know, write about how far off the lands to hand load. In the '60s, most experts were saying load close to the lands. So, close that many cartridges would not fit down into the magazine.

    Later the theory was to set the bullet back a bit to get some "jump" and a bit more MV.

    Now I am told by an acquaintance who loads a lot of rifle ammo to get the bullet off the lands by between 15 thousandths of an inch and 30 thousandths.

    Please respond with your opinions on this issue.
    Steven A

  • #2
    I initially load .015 off until testing to determine best OAL for that particular load.
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    • #3
      You probablyhave seen a couple of my recent posts that involved that very same issue.
      Here is one and it contains the link to the first where I ask about setting VLD bullets in an AR.

      In summary I tried a range of bullets loaded long, ogive set close to the lands and the same bullets set also at magazine length. Although it was a relatively small sample, it seemed to indicate that these bullets were much more accurate with ample jump... IOW set them to mag length. A bolt action or precision target rifle may react differently.

      It also might be the difference in bullet design that has evolved over the years. Many of the current bullets have a different nose design and tangent taper from what was common back in the 60's. That may change the jump alignment requirements to where they are both valid theories... I think it comes down to... try it and see which YOUR rifle and bullet selection prefer.

      I too started reloading in 1963, unfortunately I didn't have the internet to network and find out various info, tips and tricks. Back then we learned by reading manuals, magazine articles, friends stories and experimentation. A pretty slow process in which life often got in the way, so old habits died hard. Now things move a lot faster and technology has helped speed things up, but a lot of the old wisdom still prevails.
      That's my opinion and I'm stick'n to it...
      ...till I change my mind.


      • #4
        I have a Browning Bar 11 Safari 308 that shoots exceptional with bullet .015 off the lands, but I have to load them one at a time in the Mag. I have some Rifles it don't make a difference, Most rifles normally get loaded to What the book says, if they shoot good or I duplicate factory loads Because, I have a lot of old rifles that spent most of there life in the pickup and they always brought dinner home with factory ammo.

        I think most people go through the process of trying to make a factory hunting rifle shoot like a custom gun. Its each to there own, I would decide what your wanting out of your rifle. If you go through the accuracy process and shoot up a lot of bullets and find out that factory works best, at least you got some extra range time. You never know you may have a TAC driver in your gun safe.

        I still have the bug for a custom rifle that I can switch calibers/Barrels with but I spent 6K on my wife's new computer yesterday for our 32nd anniversary. Its a 2018 Apple iMac Pro-2 27" monitor all in one computer with 8 core processor.
        I have a good basis now for my new rifle, My toys always cost double what hers do , It will take me a few weeks to get what I want, Rifle, scope, Lab radar chronograph and 1 mi Bullseye target camera. My eyes cant see the target like they use to.


        • #5
          The first thing I do is establish, how far to the lands, for the bullet I'm planning on loading. If it's so long, that I can't reach it and keep enough bullet in case, I just load to function in mag and move on.
          If I'm able to load with .010" jump, I start there and establish rifles max and accuracy nodes (modified ladder). I then step back in .020" steps and look for signs of improvement, finalizing with smaller steps. I like to either jump at least .010" or jam by same, I've found if you try to just kiss the lands, any small variations, have more effect.

          Bullet design and intended usage matter too. The following link deals with bullet design.
          Iintended use, can mean hunting or rapid fire, where it's being fed from mag or single loading, where accuracy matters more than ability to feed from mag.
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          • #6
            If I can get to the lands, I load to touch the lands and then adjust to see if I can find a better distance from or into the lands. If I cannot get close to the lands, I do pretty much like Robert and swampshooter. Experiment to see what your rifle likes. Rifle determines what it likes. My 6.5 Creedmore likes touching the lands, 308 can't get close to lands sohoots great with about a .050" jump.
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            • #7
              I start all my bolt gun loads with the bullet touching the lands, then I work back until I find best accuracy. Maybe I've been lucky, but of all the off the shelf rifles I've loaded for very, very few have been incapable of accepting the loaded cartridges due to magazine fit. I ran across a 700 chambered in .308 win not to long ago that had a really deep throat, I couldn't even get close to the lands in that rifle. But other than that one I honestly don't remember the last time I ran into a limiting factor with a production rifle.

              Often times I find best accuracy right up at or even jammed slightly (.010") into the lands. This does however have a noticeable impact on velocity, all things considered, I'll take improved accuracy over a little bit of velocity trade off. This is not to say one can not achieve superior accuracy with a running start, I've found that there's often an equally accurate distance off the lands, you just have to be willing to search for it.



              • #8
                I'm usually about .0010 off also.

                I will try one batch of long and short against each other just to see.
                I have had a couple of rifles that like a long jump to the lands, my 243 has something like 1/2" now.
                others are so close I can't load that ammo into another rifle of the same caliber.
                I don't get all worked up about exactly what the jump is the throat is gonna change anyway.


                • #9
                  I'm like Robert, start at .010.

                  Most of my bolt rifles will not eject a un-fired round. Bolt must be removed...a small price to pay for improved accuracy.


                  • #10
                    I usually start at .010 off the lands when doing load development and may tweek seating depth just a little but I can usually find a very accurate load buy juggling components and leaving seating depth at .010. The one exception I've found is with bonded bullets which tend to like a longer jump to the lands. I normally start at .030 off and seat deeper with bonded bullets.


                    • #11
                      This has been one of the most informative posts on the subject I've found so far. Everyone was clear and concise in their explanations and I have a better idea of not just what to do but why. I've been reading a lot about reloading over the past couple of months and I've been very strict with myself about following the load data to the letter. Finding the lands for my TC Compass and adjusting seating depth accordingly seems like a good place to start deviating accordingly. My loads are all between the lowest and next up in the data manual and I feel like they should stay there for now and that the next step before adjusting increasing my loads would be to find the lands for my rifle. If I don't first find the lands before moving on to load development it seems like I'll never be able to maximize my rifles performance. Or, am I putting this particular cart before the horse with flawed logic?
                      "Truth is for people who choose ideas over ideology." ~ Optofonik™


                      • #12
                        No that is not flawed logic at all.
                        I have great loads but If I seat to what some reloading books call for my groups are terrible no matter the powder charge.


                        • #13
                          If you're loading for hunting something that might bite you or trample you, I'd load .050" off the lands or to a reliable overall length to feed from magazines. In a couple bolt rifles I've tested oal they seem to prefer .030' off. I worked up the powder until finding the best accuracy then played with oal. Tested seating with reloading manual recommended length and from .010" to .050" and my best groups tightened a little at .030" in factory bolt rifles.


                          • #14
                            I think it all depends on the rifle. It decides what it likes or does not like. I usually start with the bullet makers suggested seating depth and work from there. Some rifles want the bullet seated farther out and some deeper. Some rifles can be extremely fussy. One I have in 7x57 with shoot tiny groups with Nosler Ballistic Tips and Partitions but stick a Nosler Long Range Accubond of the 120 or 140 gr. Barnes TSX and you'd think that rifle was a shotgun. It doesn't shoot groups, just patterns. That's some of the fun and frustration of loading your own ammo.
                            Paul B.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rg1 View Post
                              If you're loading for hunting something that might bite you or trample you, I'd load .050" off the lands or to a reliable overall length to feed from magazines. In a couple bolt rifles I've tested oal they seem to prefer .030' off. I worked up the powder until finding the best accuracy then played with oal. Tested seating with reloading manual recommended length and from .010" to .050" and my best groups tightened a little at .030" in factory bolt rifles.
                              I agree. You haven't lived until you've opened a rifle with a bullet set about .006 off the lands and had the bullet pull because it stuck in the lands, dumping all of the powder into the action, with the ramrod 1/2 mile away in the truck. Makes a long walk and a short day of hunting. RD

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