New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need (Read 963 times)


New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need
« on: October 08, 2019, 10:53:02 PM »
I’ve owned reloading equipment and components for years but have only reloaded like 5 rounds in all that time.

I’m trying hunting and got Ar’s in 556 and 762x39 for pig.  Just use cheap factory ammo for them as I consider them 20 yard guns

Recently picked up a 7mm-08 to try on the Westside.
What do I need / not need to make accurate 7mm-08 ammo?

Purpose: accurate “light” (100-120 gr) hunting loads.  For goat hunting and possibly deer hunting.  In theory, shots out to 400 yards

Prior owner shot 3/4” groups with 140gr Nosler ballistic tips and Sierra Gamekings.  He gave me his 140gr recipes so I’m gtg for140 gr reloads

Shot some of his remaining/leftover reloads from shoulder and got ES of 80fps, 30fps and 40fps.  Sample size was small since they were leftovers.  I take it that these are good ES for shoulder fired shots as shoulder ES can be 3x-4x greater than ES from a lead sled.

Plan to hand fed rounds if they are more accurate than rounds that can fit in the magazine.

What I have/own:
•Lee classic turret press
•Lee single stage press
•Lee 7mm-08 die set (fl sizer, neck sizer, seater)
•1/2 ownership of induction annealer
•Wet tumbler
•Digital scale
•powder tickler
•Lee powder drop

Tools I have already ordered:
•Forster neck and shoulder bump sizing die.  (If it has a expander ball, I’m considering removing the expander ball per Froggy’s suggestion on 6mmbr) $75
•Redding bullet seater $27 (no micrometer)

Components I’m looking to use:
•100-120 gr bullets - Preferably with a ballistic tip.  I read that prs competitors use Bergers but Berger doesn’t make 100-120 gr hunting bullets
•Lapua brass.  Concentric.  Uniform thickness.
•powder - still researching but a stable one
•primers -  still researching but a stable one.   

Tools I plan to slowly buy (in no order):
•Sinclair bullet seating depth gauge (can be used for a lot of calibers) $31 and/or a Hornady length gauge and drilling/tapping a fire formed case to measure CBTO $40
•Magnetospeed sporter chronograph $160
•some type of leadsled to take accurate velocities with the magnetospeed $90
•Giraud 3 way brass trimmer $105
•Redding instant indicator with gauge $132 to measure CBTO at the press with a turn of the turret instead of removing the round and measuring CBTO by hand with a comparator and a caliber.
•Redding seating micrometer $42
•RCBS Ball micrometer $52
•neck turner - 10/9/19 don’t need for hunting ammo
•Hornady concentricity tool $96

Range finder - still researching
Primos trigger stick tall tripod 2nd gen, not 3rd gen, $120ish
May also use tools for reloading 308 and 223
« Last Edit: October 09, 2019, 05:35:16 PM by tim808 »


Re: New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2019, 03:19:36 AM »
Ill try to give my best advice regarding some of the topics you brought up above. Great cartridge choice btw. I am assuming this is a bolt rifle??

If this is for hunting purposes, I would use bullets with greater sectional density in the 7mm family. Most calibers do better with terminal performance on game (except coyote or varmint hunting) when you are in the upper end of the spectrum of weight (hence why berger does not make a dedicated hunting bullet in the 110 class). For a 7mm bullet I would stick in the 140-168 grain bullets, my bro and I have had great luck with either the ELD-M or X on game.

As far as ES / SD goes. Yes you will have velocity differences throughout different positions of shooting but there should not be that great of a difference between them, you shouldn’t see an ES of 80 for one and then an ES of 10 for another. For me personally I try to achieve SD <10 and ES <20 at a minimum while prone or on the bench. It just allows me to rule out one less variable when hunting. The magnetospeed is a great investment to have and a must for anyone who reloads. Knowing velocity also gives you an idea of pressure and how much more you can push your loads safely.

As far as cartridge OAL, what type of rifle are you using? If you are using a bolt rifle with BDL setup, that might be difficult, but if using a DBM with magazine, its usually quite easy to file down the front notch on an AICS magazine to allow for substantial OAL increase. I also would not plan on single feeding for a hunting rifle, its always nice to be able to load a few in your magazine if needed, its better to have that option and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Reloading dies will be 100% personal preference and how much nitty gritty you want to go through. Each person needs to make their own decision on this one. As far as what I use for all my rifles, I use a redding type S FL bushing die with a Sinclair mandrel. I use the FL bushing die to bump the shoulder .002-.003” and to adjust the neck size via bushing so that it is about .004-.005 below bullet diameter. Then will use the expander / neck turning mandrel to open the mouth diameter up for total of .002-.003 neck tension. But like I said, each person has their own preference. I think some universal recommendations are to use at least .002 neck tension on hunting rounds and to bump the shoulder at least .002 on fired cases, to allow for ammo that will chamber smoothly regardless of dirt or grass in the field. 

Definitely get the Hornady comparator and shoulder bump gauge. You definitely want to be able to measure of the datum of the shoulder for sizing operations. Also when seating bullets for load development, do not measure to the tip of bullet, rather you want to measure to the ogive of the bullet using a bullet ogive comparator. Without a doubt it will make your life less frustrating and make your process more consistent

Powder and primer stability shouldn’t be an issue in Hawaii. We do not have temperature variations enough to cause issues. But if you are planning on hunting in colder regions, H4350 and IMR 4350 are usually rock solid with high temp swings.

As far as the items you are planning on buying. My personal opinion, do not waste time with a led sled. I honestly think they are the most useless equipment on earth. If working up loads, learn to shoot prone or on the bench off bipod with a solid rear bag. If you cant get rock solid off of that, using a lead sled is just masking a bigger issue than finding a load. A Harris bipod is all you need and as far as rear bags, I find it comfortable to use a bigger bag like a Wiebad Tod tac bag, but I just got a precision underground 3D ELR bag and it is awesome.

You listed primo trigger sticks, hunting for goats these past 3 years, one tool that is worth its weight in gold for my bro and I are having tripods. We have arca rails on our hunting rifles and having a tripod allows you to shoot from literally any position, even a 45 degree angle on a hill. As far as brands goes, that is another topic of itself. But the Sirui T-025x I believe is super light weight and built well, if you don’t have an arca rail, you could always get a pig saddle ontop. Yes it’s a little more pricey than Primos sticks, but I promise you its worth it.

As far as range finders. Just remember the general rule is the range finder works at ½ the distance advertised. So if it claims to reach to 1k yards, usually you will get fast and easy readings out to 500ish. I use a leica 2800com and can range around 1100ish free hand, but only if its against a flat rock or thick tree. The only way to get more out of it would be to put it on a tripod and aim at a perfectly reflective target, which is unrealistic in a hunting situation.

Hope that was helpful Tim. Goodluck with the journey and feel free to ask more stuff and im sure others will chime in as well.


Re: New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2019, 05:11:49 PM »
Hi JO,
Yes, bolt gun.

I’m set for 140 loads but I also wanted to try some lighter loads that are similar to 243.  It seems like 243 is well liked and was what I originally wanted but I couldn’t find any used 243 or 6.5cm rifles

I want to get a sled because i read it reduces the shooter affecting the velocity readings.  I consider myself a beginner so the sled will reduce my affect on the readings
(Reduce user error)

Your ES is good for shooting from the shoulder !

The Tikka 595 uses DBM’ it from Mrgaf.  The mags are pricey so at this time I’m reluctant to modify them.

Good point about using a would be a bummer to spend hours in the field and lose an opportunity because I couldn’t take a quick 2nd shot.  I’ll work on a 120 load that will fit in the magazine.  Mrgaf’s 140 recipes fit in the magazine.

Thanks for the info on neck tension and shoulder bumping.  I’ll look more into mandrel expanders.

Okay - I’ll put a comparator in my cart.   I’m thinking the Redding instant indicator is pricey but it is so fast since it is mounted on the turret so you can check cbto on the fly as you reload.....just turn the turret to measure the cbto....adjust the seater if needed...rerun the round thru the seater

Thanks for the info on primer and powder stability.  I got a bunch of powder from Mrgaf that I can use

Thanks for the info on the bipod and bags,  I’ll look into them.  I read about a guy called froggy that shoots long range using a bipod

Tripod - I’ll look into the sirui

Rangefinder - I’ve read about the leica’s but I probably can only afford a Nikon or vortex unless I find a used Leica

Thanks for all your help!  Now I have more reading and buying to do!


Re: New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2019, 11:16:31 PM »
 243 is a great cartridge (although terrible barrel life), but I think you will be very glad to have your 7mm-08, the 7mm class offers probably one of the greatest ballistic coefficient bullets right now.

Not trying to tell you what to do. But if we take a look at PRS or ELR guys, you will not find a lead sled within miles of where they are, the only people I see using sleds these days are on the hunting network or guys who probably shoot 20rds a year with their “hunting rifle”. And I think there is a great reason for that. Yes the lead sled will give you an artificial rock solid position, but that’s about where the “pros” end for it. Like you said, you don’t consider yourself a great shot, that is even more reason NOT to use a sled. Yes there is a difference between practicing basic fundamentals of marksmanship and load development, but I do not think they are done separately. As for as SD, FPS, and ES. That is even more of a reason to not use a lead sled, if you are concerned with variations, why would you use a sled when you aren’t going to use when in the field, its best to practice how you will be shooting in real situations. Shooting without a sled offers you valuable information as well, it will instantly tell you what you are doing wrong or right.

If you cant get comfortable behind your rifle on the bench or prone with bipod and rear bag, than something is wrong. Either your eye relief needs adjustment, you need to add some sort of cheek riser or stock pad, or you need to adjust your fundamentals. When you fire a round with a sled, it also doesn’t allow you to see where your natural muzzle rise is. If you are prone and your reticle is constantly hopping up and to the left/right, maybe you need to have someone look at your positioning and line you up straight. If you are using a bipod and you bipod “hops”, you need to figure out how to load it correctly. Lastly a sled is a terrible tool because it takes away the recoil impulse and felt recoil onto the shooter. Especially with a lighter rifle, you want to practice with direct contact with the rifle and feel the recoil impulse. Over time, this can help reduce flinching and pulled shots.

If you take the time to check off your fundamentals and find a rear bag you like (wiebad, str8 laced, precision underground, bison tactical, Armageddon gear, TAB gear), you should be able to get into a rock solid position, practice your fundamentals, get great feedback on your rifle, and get accurate data for your load development. Like I said, if you can find a bigger rear bag dedicated for load development, it should take 99% of the shooter error out. Then you can practice with a smaller rear bag that is more field appropriate (I use a str8 laced bag in the field, it probably weighs like 4oz compared to my precision underground which weights like 2lbs).

Not sure what your budget is for a rangefinder. But Eurooptic has the Leica 2700R for 500 bucks. I don’t carry binos at the moment, but the glass for the leica is pretty sweet and I can spot goats easily at 800 yards with it, granted the FOV isn’t the greatest. I went with the 2800com because it will instantly laser and send the range to my kestrel (in my pack) with applied ballistics and spit out a holdover for wind and drop into the leica. If that is something you do not plan on using, the 2700R will serve you perfectly.

If you ever see a maroon beat up camry at kokohead, just look for an Asian guy with bright orange rimmed glasses and a shaved head and im always willing to chat more with you in person


Re: New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2019, 08:16:13 AM »
Hi JO,
If I see your car, I’ll look for you.

Bags - Thanks for the info, I’ll read up about them

Sled - I am thinking of just using it when I check the SD and ES of test loads with the magnetoscope to reduce the human error factor.  I’ve read shouldering can increase ES 3x to 4x.....this is off the internet so it could be completely wrong.  I understand now that there are two views/camps on lead sleds.  When I’m more consistent the sled may not be necessary.  Because of my background/work, I’m cursed to isolate variables and the sled fits in with that cursed mind set, so I’ll probably try out a sled. 

(I’m also a recoil wimp.  I was taking velocity reading last week and stopped after 12 rounds because I wanted to use the few remaining ammo for Makua.  I’m glad that I didn’t have much more ammo to check velocity!  7mm-08 in a hunting gun is bit more “interesting” compared to 308 in a heavy barrel bench rifle)

I don’t plan to put a lot of weight on the sled, so it won’t be rock solid.   It will move.  I just want something consistent in back of the gun while I measure velocity.....till I get better/consistent .

Trigger time - I generally try not to shoot from the bench.  I don’t shoot prone or use a least not the short kind.   Beer belly.....I’ll try prone when I lose a little more weight. 

I’m trying to learn to shoot from standing (braced against a post), kneeling and sitting....and with a tripod when it arrives.  Positions that I feel I am the most likeliest to use in the field.  I’m considering a pellet gun to practice in the back yard if the boss will allow it

Tripod - thanks for Sirui suggestion, those things are strong.  There is a t2204x +g20 combo on Craig’s.  It can support 15kg but I need to read more about the model you have.

Range finder - the Leica’s are mentioned a lot while I browsing.  I’m hoping a used leica pops up.  I may post a wtb in the classifieds

Thanks again and have a great weekend!


Re: New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2019, 09:18:39 PM »
Lead sleds also tend to kill scopes.
Yahh! Freedom and justice shall always prevail over tyranny, Babysitter Girl!


Re: New to reloading for hunting - what do I need/not need
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2019, 05:52:24 AM »
Hi Rklapp,
I read about that and also stocks breaking.

I’m hoping that won’t happen since 7mm-08 isn’t a powerful caliber and I won’t be putting a lot of weight on the sled.  I think i will mod the sled’s bottom so it will slide better.

I still have to read up about the rear bags that JO mentioned.  Could still go that route instead of the sled

Thank you, Tim