New to 308win reloading, need advice

skyfire1201

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Hi everyone,

I'm new to the world of 308win (been shooting and reloading 223 up til now). I'm starting my load development and could use some advice to narrow down my choices. Please bear with me as I tend to get pedantic.

Goal (in order of priority):
1. To create a few 308 loads that'll function reliably in my gun out to 800yrds (1000yrds if possible) with sub-moa precision.
2. One target load for competition, and one hunting load for deer and/or bear (a single load for both if possible).
3. Reuse as much of my existing reloading components as possible (list below).

Gun:
Colt LE901 semi-auto rifle, 16" barrel, 1-12" RH twist
Vortex 2.5-10x scope with MILRAD reticle
Larue and Magpul (PMAG) 7.62 magazines

Powder Inventory:
VV n140 (I have a lot of this powder and would like to use it up)
TAC
AA2520
RE-15

Primer Inventory:
Winchester LR
Remington 7 1/2 (I know this is small rifle primer, but listed it here just in case)

I don't have an extensive 308 bullet and brass inventory, so this is where I need advice the most to narrow things down:
  1. Given the conditions above, what bullet/brass/powder combo is likely to yield the best accuracy and velocity, while still cycle the gun reliably?
  2. I'd like to keep costs under control, what are the best places where I can get once fired brass (preferably cleaned) at reasonable prices?
  3. What depth should I seat the bullet? Just touching the lands, or off lands by .010" (or some other distance)?

Thanks in advance!
 

Matches Malone

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A lot of this depends as far as seating depth and bullet/brass products.

I will say, take everything you read with a grain of salt. A lot of dudes, especially on here know what they are talking about but what works for one doesn’t mean it will be safe or get you to your desired goals.

Can’t help finding an accuracy node, you’ll have to test your loads and adjust as necessary. Chrono your loads if you plan on reaching out.

I’d recommend varget for powder. I use it for 75+ grain in .223 and for .308. I personally believe it to be pretty consistent and temp stable.

Personally I use the eld bullets and seat them at a depth the factory does. Reason for that is because I never got any accuracy better than that.

Easiest way to procure brass is to buy factor ammo, shoot it and use the brass. Or buy it. Brownells online, or your local sportsman warehouse/bass pro whatever can have brass like starline. I have no opinion on brass besides I like lapua, but’s it’s a little more pricey.
 
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Ryridesmotox

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I like brownells and Natchez for brass. I found some Jagemann brass on Natchez a while back and took a chance on it. It has been really good so far. At the time it was like 18 bux per 50. Be a little leery of military 308. A lot of that has been shot through a machine gun, small base dies are your friend for that. Or go for the military LR brass its it's its their precision stuff.

I have used 308 brass from Winchester, PMC, Remington, MEN (NATO), and Lake City. They all produced acceptable accuracy with the right preparation.
 
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skyfire1201

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@Ryridesmotox, between Winchester and LC, which do you find to have better quality? I read somewhere that Winchester has higher case volume, where as LC has thicker base, and presumably functions more reliability in a gas gun. Is there any truth to that?

If I get military LR brass (how do I identify those anyway?), do I still need to use a SB die, or will regular FL sizing die suffice?
 

DrewC

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I’ve processed a ton of LC 308 brass and have never had to use a small base die.
 

Ryridesmotox

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I have had to, others report the same. I buy my brass new now instead of once fired or range pickup. I used to use pick up brass from the range at Pendleton, it kinda sucked tbh, unless you got lucky and the snipers didn't brass up, or you otherwise pilfered it.

@Ryridesmotox, between Winchester and LC, which do you find to have better quality? I read somewhere that Winchester has higher case volume, where as LC has thicker base, and presumably functions more reliability in a gas gun. Is there any truth to that?

If I get military LR brass (how do I identify those anyway?), do I still need to use a SB die, or will regular FL sizing die suffice?

I don't want to get into a quality debate of one over the other. I think it's more personal preference.

If you want the best, Lapua is the best, and its probably the toughest. But I'm a cheap ass. I used to pick up brass off the range at camp pendleton here. Some was ok, some was garbage, but it was free. I got some LR brass, that was really good, I would put the quality up there nearly as good as Lapua (perhaps mistakenly). As far as once fired, just grab a bunch at once, prep em, sort em as well as possible, and load em.
 

DrewC

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Op, this is what I’d do if loading for a 16” gas gun - Get some 1x fired LC brass from a company like Diamond K or whomever. Get some 175 smk’s and some AR comp for powder. It’s outstanding in a gasser especially in a shorter barreled rifle. Low pressure, great speed and accuracy, low Sd’s.

On sizing just keep it simple till you get some time behind what your doing and full length size the brass bumping the shoulders back .003-.005 from a measurement from pieces of brass fired from your rifle. Forget using those case gauges and use a comparator to find how much to bump the shoulder. Case gauges suck. I have a Dillon .308 that is so loose I can take a piece of brass and shake the damn thing in there. I also have one of those EGW ones that have 5 spots to check brass and that gauge is so tight I can’t size brass to even fit in it. Make some dummy rounds and chamber it in your rifle just to check but you’ll be fine. Super simple.

Load up for an OCW test starting at say 39.8 and go up to 41.2. You’ll find your load in there.
 

skyfire1201

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@Ryridesmotox, I'm a cheap ass as well, which is why I'm looking at once fired LC or Winchester ($.20 / brass), instead of new Lapua or Starline (>$.50 / brass). Where I live I don't have the luxury of just going to an army range and pick up 308 brass, otherwise I'd have done it (it's like picking up money from the ground, heh).
 
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skyfire1201

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@DrewC, I'm all for keeping thing simple :) For my 223 and 300blk reloads I've used Sheridan case gauges, but that's before I learned about the Hornady headspace gauge.

As far as load development procedure goes, is it better to seat the 175gr SMK just off the lands and find the load with the best accuracy/SD first, then fine tune the seating depth, or the other way around? And when tweaking the seating depth, how much should I vary it by?

Thanks for the powder suggestion, I'll look into AR Comp, local shops don't always have a great selection.
 

jmac1911

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@DrewC, I'm all for keeping thing simple :) For my 223 and 300blk reloads I've used Sheridan case gauges, but that's before I learned about the Hornady headspace gauge.

As far as load development procedure goes, is it better to seat the 175gr SMK just off the lands and find the load with the best accuracy/SD first, then fine tune the seating depth, or the other way around? And when tweaking the seating depth, how much should I vary it by?

Thanks for the powder suggestion, I'll look into AR Comp, local shops don't always have a great selection.
I don’t think you will be able to chase the lands in an AR platform due to Mag length. Find a load at max mag length with low SD numbers and fine tune the length for group size. Good luck in your quest!
 
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308pirate

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    @Ryridesmotox, between Winchester and LC, which do you find to have better quality? I read somewhere that Winchester has higher case volume, where as LC has thicker base, and presumably functions more reliability in a gas gun. Is there any truth to that?

    If I get military LR brass (how do I identify those anyway?), do I still need to use a SB die, or will regular FL sizing die suffice?

    Lake City cases generally are thicker walled than Winchester, with a matching decrease in internal volume. That lesser volume and thicker wall means nothing re accuracy potential or reliable function in gas guns. It just means you may see pressure signs at lower charges with LC brass than you would with Winchester.

    You don't need a small base die with Lake City brass unless they fail to chamber or extract regularly after being sized in a std die.

    Still, I would just get some Winchester brass and be done with it.

    Decent primer on ID'ing military brass: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_headstamps
     
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    AMGtuned

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    @Ryridesmotox, I'm a cheap ass as well, which is why I'm looking at once fired LC or Winchester ($.20 / brass), instead of new Lapua or Starline (>$.50 / brass). Where I live I don't have the luxury of just going to an army range and pick up 308 brass, otherwise I'd have done it (it's like picking up money from the ground, heh).
    @airborne6.8 ?
     

    TheOfficeT-Rex

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    @Ryridesmotox, I'm a cheap ass as well, which is why I'm looking at once fired LC or Winchester ($.20 / brass), instead of new Lapua or Starline (>$.50 / brass). Where I live I don't have the luxury of just going to an army range and pick up 308 brass, otherwise I'd have done it (it's like picking up money from the ground, heh).

    Isn't necessary to be a .mil range.

    I find that on most ranges, people will just leave 223 or 308 brass when they leave - unless the RO is making people police their brass, in which case, you can simply ask if you can clean up after them if you see them throwing it in the range buckets. Most people don't like bending over for it and are more than willing to let you pick up after them if you are polite about it.
     

    Rhed

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    I have a 16.5 inch gasser at 1:12. “MY” best load
    Brass: Lapua
    Bullet: Hornady HPBT Match 168gr
    Primer: Fed 210
    Powder: Varget @ 44.3
    Case length: 2.007
    Seat depth (base to ogive): 2.177
    Bushing size (neck tension of 2 thou) 0.336
    Shoulder back down: .003

    My best load for “MY” rifle. Yours and others will differ.
    Although seating bullet close to lands is ideal for bolt rifles. Not so with gassers. Need to find the max COAL your mag will allow. Not unless your gonna single load each one. Then you’ll need a OAL gauge tool. Hornady makes a good one.
    I buy most of my components https://www.powdervalleyinc.com/
    Or http://www.shootersproshop.com/
     
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    Taylor4862

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    I don't have any experience with semi autos, nor specifically a 16" barrel in .308 so correct me if I'm wrong, but surely you'd struggle to have any level of precision out to those ranges in a setup like this
     

    airborne6.8

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    I to use to buy lapua Brass. Properly prepped nato Brass is just as good. Haven’t bought lapua in a decade now. 308 gas gun is just as good as a bolt gun. Velocity and accuracy from 10 feet too 1200 yards. It’s all on the trigger puller from there.