New to reloading 338 Lapua, but not new to reloading questions.

teddy12b

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Hello,
I've been reloading my own ammo since 2002 when I was younger and dumber and thought I needed a 300 RUM because that's what all the gun magazines were saying that I should get for an elk hunt. I got into reloading with an RCBS rock chucker kit to save money on the $2 plus trigger pull I had with that rifle. Over the years I got into precision shooting and got into a Dillon 550B and RCBS 1500 combo because I do value my time too.

Here I am today and I'm starting to get setup in 338 lapua, because I'd like to take a 3,000 class some time and that's the caliber that's intrigued me for some time. I got a smoking deal on some of the lapua brass and now I'm committed. Now, I'm in need of dies. I've always used full length sizing dies if nothing else just to give it enough bump that it'll chamber and function in anyones rifle and this rifle will be used in the field and what it to run even if there's dust on the ammo. I've never used any bushing type dies but have been reading that the Redding type S is the way to go. I'd really like to get some guidance on what dies to use. In the past I've always used that 4th station on my 550B as a spot for a Lee factory crimp die just to make sure everything was centered and checked.

The primers will be Fed GMM Magnum unless I get convinced otherwise. Powders I don't know which yet, but sounds like Retumbo is the go-to powder. I don't have any real preference on bullets, but figured I'd start with Sierra 250gr, 300gr and Hornady 285 Eld.

For the actual rifle, I'm pretty much sold on the Ruger RPR just because of reputation, price, and I like that the stock folds and can make that cannon easily to travel with.

Any help or recommendations would be greatly appreciated because as expensive as the reloads are for this caliber I want to make sure every round counts.
Thanks,
 

secondofangle2

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285 and 300 class like Retumbo buy once cry once w Lapua brass and yes other than custom , Redding bushing dies are awesome and yes bump that shoulder a thou or two so you don’t get false pressure signs.
 
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lash

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H1000 tends to be a bit better for the 250 gr and can also be used for the 285s, but since your primary goal is ELR, Retumbo is probably your huckleberry for the heavies.
 

teddy12b

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Sounds good so far. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't too far off track. The magnum sized reloads is a new animal for me and it's all expensive enough I don't want to have to keep re-buying the same things.

I've never used any kind of a bushing die, and it's still a little confusing to me to be honest, but that seems to be what better shooters than I recommend.
 

OLD308

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I load for my 338LM improved and 338 LM on a Dillon 550. FL sizer station 1, expander mandrel station 2, powder dump station 3, bullet seater station 4. Widden Gunworks custom FL dies with seater. No bushing dies for me.

250 Lapua Scenars and 250 SMKs for bullets Retumbo and H1000 for powder. 215 primers with Lapua brass. Since I’m down to my last 10 lbs of H1000 and 5 lbs of Retumbo I Just ordered 2 lbs of VV N560, 02 lbs VV N565, and 2 lbs VV N570. Need to find an alternative, VV is usually in stock some where. Higher price but availability is important.

Bushing dies can make a dramatic difference. That different can be both positive and negative. Also time consuming, it’s another variable to account for. So ask your self if your a good enough shooter and reloaded to chase and experience the difference.

Hope this helps.
 

TheOfficeT-Rex

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    I load for my 338LM improved and 338 LM on a Dillon 550. FL sizer station 1, expander mandrel station 2, powder dump station 3, bullet seater station 4. Widden Gunworks custom FL dies with seater. No bushing dies for me.

    Do you run that in a single pass, or just only have one toolhead?
     

    OLD308

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    One tool head, start to finish, powder measuring on a V3 autotrickler. I experimented with the 2 tool head method where you prep brass with one toolhead and then load with another. Kinda defeated the purpose of the progressive press to me. To each their own so no issue with those that do it differently.
     
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    teddy12b

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    I load for my 338LM improved and 338 LM on a Dillon 550. FL sizer station 1, expander mandrel station 2, powder dump station 3, bullet seater station 4. Widden Gunworks custom FL dies with seater. No bushing dies for me.

    250 Lapua Scenars and 250 SMKs for bullets Retumbo and H1000 for powder. 215 primers with Lapua brass. Since I’m down to my last 10 lbs of H1000 and 5 lbs of Retumbo I Just ordered 2 lbs of VV N560, 02 lbs VV N565, and 2 lbs VV N570. Need to find an alternative, VV is usually in stock some where. Higher price but availability is important.

    Bushing dies can make a dramatic difference. That different can be both positive and negative. Also time consuming, it’s another variable to account for. So ask your self if your a good enough shooter and reloaded to chase and experience the difference.

    Hope this helps.

    This is where the 338 lapua is a new animal to me. Typically on all my 550b tool heads I have a full length sizer die in the first stage, second stage is either empty or has the powder drop depending on caliber and intentions, third stage is the bullet seating stage and 4th stage is where I put a lee factory crimp die on almost every caliber I reload for.
     

    OLD308

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    Crimping, neck turning, neck bushings, expander mandrel, and annealing all effect neck tension. Per my shooting ability I found out the following.

    Expander mandrel on Lapua brass (3rd firing) with top tier dies loaded below the razors edge of pressure with accurate powder charges and seating depth is quick simple and better than I can shoot. It’s also stupid fast to load on this way.

    This is why I load this way. May not work for you. May be all wrong. I call my missed shots so more than effective for me. Hope this helps.
     

    DTF370

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    Following this thread. Just picked up a 338 RPR and experience-wise I’m in a pretty similar boat.

    I agree with what has been said thus far. I have some factory ammo to keep me busy, but I have about 80 pieces of lapua brass and I picked up for FGGM 215’s. I believe I am going to try the 270gr ELD-x so I picked up a box. But for the life of me, I cannot find retumbo or H1000 anywhere. My LGS guy thought Hodgdon would probably have a new batch of both power around the first of the year.

    I do have a large stash of 250gr BTHP’s and 285 BTHP’s. I may develop a load with an alternate powder for the time being.
     

    teddy12b

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    I cannot find retumbo or H1000 anywhere.

    The more I research the 338 lapua the more I find that those two powders are the go-to powders for the 338L. I've looked everywhere I know where to look and have not found any or either powder for sale. I'm hopeful that what you heard about those powders becoming available again after the first of the year is true. I don't know if I even want to bother working up a load with another powder. As expensive as each round is, this is definitely a caliber I want to get right especially at the start.
     

    Steel head

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    The more I research the 338 lapua the more I find that those two powders are the go-to powders for the 338L. I've looked everywhere I know where to look and have not found any or either powder for sale. I'm hopeful that what you heard about those powders becoming available again after the first of the year is true. I don't know if I even want to bother working up a load with another powder. As expensive as each round is, this is definitely a caliber I want to get right especially at the start.

    my buddy with a 338 norma is hurting as well.
    You can try IMR7977,,, it behaves very similar to H1000.
     
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    DTF370

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    I haven’t found much info IMR7977 as far as temperature stability. I know it is allegedly on the enduron line, but I’m curious how it compares to H1000 stability. Anybody have anything on that?
     

    OLD308

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    7828 was what i used when the 338LM first came out (stateside anyway). Velocity was crap, but we didn't know better than. 250 SMKs hitting 2750-2800 was about the max in my 28" barrel. Hope this helps.
     

    waspocrew

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    +1 on the Redding Type S dies. Absolutely love using mine.

    Where are you located? I've picked up 2 8lb jugs of Retumbo and see H1000 sitting on the shelves in Cleveland, OH.
     

    Howland

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    I've just been down the same path with an RPR in .338LM. I chose H1000, 215M & 285 ELD-M and am fortunate to still have an unopened 8 lb. jug after load development.

    Neck tension will affect accuracy. Not just the tension itself but the consistency. Most folks use bushing dies to control tension. I like the Redding dies and have them for other calibers but I'm very happy with the Hornady Match dies for under $100.

    Different brands of brass have different neck thickness. If you stick with one brand, you can probably get away with two or three bushings. 21st Century makes neck mandrels in 0.0005" increments so the final sizing step is opening the neck to the same dimension. I'm not convinced the factory crimp dies will help more than hurt neck tension consistency. For plinking in an autoloader it can't hurt. For precision loads in a bolt I'm not going to chance being unable to precisely control tension. Mine likes the .3350" mandrel. Three thousanths is plenty of tension, no need to crimp more.

    I'd do load development on the Rockchucker. Once you have all the adjustments dialed in and want to crank out enough for a few matches or extended range sessions it'll be time to set up the progressive.

    Oh, those extended range sessions will be easy on the shoulder, that brake is a beast.
     

    teddy12b

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    +1 on the Redding Type S dies. Absolutely love using mine.

    Where are you located? I've picked up 2 8lb jugs of Retumbo and see H1000 sitting on the shelves in Cleveland, OH.

    I'm in Fort Wayne IN, not too far from Cleveland, but there isn't any of it available in this town.
     

    teddy12b

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    Neck tension will affect accuracy. Not just the tension itself but the consistency. Most folks use bushing dies to control tension. I like the Redding dies and have them for other calibers but I'm very happy with the Hornady Match dies for under $100.

    Different brands of brass have different neck thickness. If you stick with one brand, you can probably get away with two or three bushings. 21st Century makes neck mandrels in 0.0005" increments so the final sizing step is opening the neck to the same dimension. I'm not convinced the factory crimp dies will help more than hurt neck tension consistency. For plinking in an autoloader it can't hurt. For precision loads in a bolt I'm not going to chance being unable to precisely control tension. Mine likes the .3350" mandrel. Three thousanths is plenty of tension, no need to crimp more.

    I'd do load development on the Rockchucker. Once you have all the adjustments dialed in and want to crank out enough for a few matches or extended range sessions it'll be time to set up the progressive.

    Oh, those extended range sessions will be easy on the shoulder, that brake is a beast.

    I've never used the Hornady Match dies, and everything I read seems to reconfirm the Redding Type S die. I just don't know which particular ones to get now. I'm fine without having the dial on top of the die because once I get the die setup in a 550 tool head it doesn't ever get moved again.

    I scored some of the lapua brass midway had on sale recently at $80 per 100 pieces that had a headstamp for another brand of ammo so it was clearanced out. I sold my rock chucker years ago, and when I get going on this 338 lapua, I'll just run it one round at a time like a turret press.

    Any recommendations on which specific model of dies?
     

    lash

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    FWIW, I’m simply using a set of mismatched RCBS and Forster dies with my .338 and have had nothing but success.

    EF3D0656-811F-49EA-8283-F542F3F9F73C.jpeg
     

    Gohring65

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    I use RCBS fl bushing die with a standard RCBS seater and Redding competition shell holder kit.
    285s and h1000 work well together. I was having trouble the last couple months finding h1000, all I could find was rl 33. I bought 6# of it, and boom h1000 appears. I picked up 4# of h1000 as soon as I seen it. That gives me 10# of it. Savage 112 mag target.
     
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    SmileMaker

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    20191204_111430_resized.jpg


    My setup: Redding body die (used in a single stage press), Wilson neck sizing die, Wilson bullet seating die with a micrometer seater & VLD stem (not shown). Using Lapua brass, 215 GMM primer, H1000 & Berger 300 hybrid.