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Discussion Starter #1
I have recently acquired a Savage model 99E chambered in .243 and want to hand load some rounds for deer season this year.

I have tried to work up a load using 85 gr. Sierra BTHP bullets and IMR 4350 and 3031 powders but with less than spectacular results. I am using Lee dies with the factory crimp die, my powder charges started at 1 grain below maximum and worked up progressively from there. The best group I have got so far is just over 2" at 100 yards. It is a little disheartening because with Federal blue box 100 gr. factory ammo it will shoot sub 1" groups at the same distance.

My questions are these: Since it is shooting the heavier bullets better than the lighter, do you think the twist rate may be such that the heavier bullets are the way to go for accuracy? My reloading experiences thus far have been limited to long action calibers and IMR 4350 has always been my go to powder with the 3031 used mainly for experimentation, is there another powder that I should be looking at? Does anyone know the twist rate of the barrel on this particular rifle? My google-fu is not as good as it should be.

One more thing, all of the rounds I have loaded I have gone to great pain in order to make sure they are all identical. Length of the cases identical, each charge hand weighed, OAL is identical and a light crimp to finish it off. I am going to load 3 more with no crimp to see if that had any bearing on anything, this is my first time using a set with a crimp die.

This is frustrating, every other rifle I've ever loaded for was easy to get a great recipe. All help is greatly appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I have this thread up on another forum at this time as well. I have loaded three more up to try out tomorrow. I got a bullet started in a case and chambered it to find the OAL when the bullet was resting on the lands. After finding that length I set in in so it is .020 off the lands, gave it a light crimp and laid them out for tomorrow.
 

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If you are going to shoot deer with a .243 and you don't want to wound them and trail them for a couple miles you are going to need a heavier bullet. I use Nosler Partition 100 gr. in mine with good results. You need all the help you ca get from the bullet.
Now since you didn't say, what is the charge weight and which powder are you using on the 85 grain bullets? What is the OAL of the bullet after you set it back from the lands? Why did you start with 1 grain less than maximum load and work up?
 

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Please give us more information on the load your working with? Did you have a reason for dropping to the 85 grain pill?
 

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I've had good luck with IMR 4831 combined with speer 75gr hp they work well on ground squirls, but are absolutly devistating on rabbit sized critters. Since your using HP's I assume your targetting varmits and doubt you'll be disapointed once you find your sweet load. My daughter killed and elk and a deer with her 243 last yr using 85 gr barnes tsx. I can't really complain about how they worked on the deer, but she had some anti-expantion issues on the elk :( which added some unwanted excitment. I plan to phase out the tsx's at the range and put nosler up front this year.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I will be using this load for varmints if the opportunity presents itself, but the main purpose is whitetail hunting. I dropped to the 85 gr. Sierra because it is the only size they offer the HPBT Gameking bullet in. I have had great success with this bullet in other calibers, and after reading the reviews on Midway's site as well as friends results I felt comfortable using them.

The load I am working with right now is: 42.5 grains of IMR-4350. I started with the OAL being 2.595, which is the OAL of the factory shells it was shooting so good. Now the max OAL is listed as 2.710, the last 3 I loaded are right on that measurement.

The reason for dropping from max load by one grain and working up is simple, that is what has worked best for me over time. There has never been any reason for dropping any lower than that.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Did you have a reason for dropping to the 85 grain pill?
The only reason for was that this is the particular bullet I wanted to shoot. I have no problem going to a 100 gr bullet if that's what it takes to get good accuracy.
 

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Your load data is real close to a match from my Nosler Fifth Edition. Now buy some Nosler 100 Gr Partition Spitzer and load 41.5 of IMR 4350 as a Max load for 95/100 gr bullets, you may want to start at 40.5 gr. (loads range from 37.5 to 41.5) The book says 41.5 produced the best accuracy. These are guaranteed Deer Stoppers. Max S.A.A.M.I. OAL is 2.710 (Min not listed). And if you see a varmit these will put it down fast too.:razz:
 

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last years recipe for me was Siera 85gr flat base spitzers over 43gr IMR 4350 fed 210 primers, in my CZ550 in .243 it dropped all three in their tracks at ranges from 75-200yd with fantastic wound channels and all had 2" exit wounds. at the range they where all sub 1" groups or better depending on the shooter. i did do a bunch of reading on the Siera bthp 85gr and it is what most of the old timers at the range considered one of the most accurate and great for small to med deer. as far as performance, my bro shot a deer with the bthp and was not as impressed with its fragmentation/retention but he usually uses barnes ttsx 80gr so no comparison there is relevant as the barnes 80 and 85gr copper solids are stellar all around but too spendy for me. the 85gr bthp is great IMO but this year i am going up to the Siera Spitzer boat tail 100gr over 41.5 of imr4350 for better all around ballistics over distances
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm gonna go pop off these three I have waiting and if they won't group I guess the move to 100 will be in order.

I have rolled my own hunting ammo for over 20 years now and this is a first for me. I guess I have always been lucky to get the right combination of components without having to tinker too much. Hopefully I've just found a bullet my rifle doesn't like.
 

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OK loading a combo bullet and trying for something with a little flatter trajectory. It would be nice to have a chrono to check the speed. Stick with the OAL you have worked out for the time being and work with the powder charge. It might shoot better with a lower charge and be worth you while to start with 39.6 of IMR4350 and work the load up from there. If the group tightens up then work with the seating depth. I like the Sierra bullets and would expect them to shoot better.
 

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OK, even if you get 1/2 " groups from the 85 gr sierra you still should consider a better bullet for deer. Bullets that don't hold togather or shed their cores or bullets not heavey enough to consistantly take game are not desireable deer bullets. The .243 is the minimum cal legal for deer here in Kansas for a reason. That is the wounding of game without recovery. Why take the chance of loosing a trophy deer due to bullet failures. Give yourself all the advantage you can by buying premium hunting bullets. My recommendation still stands, use 100 gr Nosler partitions or at least a good reliable solid copper in the same weight.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Well I just got back from another round of test firing. I did take your advice Charles and loaded three more on top of 38.5 grains of powder, keeping all else the same. I guess the OAL was the culprit because the grouping shrank a lot.





The three on the right were with the lower powder charge, and I pulled the one flyer. The three shot string on the left were with the larger charge of 42.5 grains. Both groups were shot in a rapid three shot group with no cool down between shots, but I did allow cooling between groups. Interestingly the larger group was fired first, from a stone cold barrel.
 

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Why take the chance of loosing a trophy deer due to bullet failures.

I would have to just interject that bullet failure alone is not the cause of failure here but operator error. I shot a hundred rounds last year just to take the the three deer I did. Because I knew my load well and what it did at various distances, all shots caused devastating vital damage with pass through even breaking through a rib once on the other side. I know this is a worn topic but it was once said " it aint the Arrow, its the Indian" :cool:

A bad shot is a bad shot
 

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Discussion Starter #15
OK, even if you get 1/2 " groups from the 85 gr sierra you still should consider a better bullet for deer. Bullets that don't hold togather or shed their cores or bullets not heavey enough to consistantly take game are not desireable deer bullets. The .243 is the minimum cal legal for deer here in Kansas for a reason. That is the wounding of game without recovery. Why take the chance of loosing a trophy deer due to bullet failures. Give yourself all the advantage you can by buying premium hunting bullets. My recommendation still stands, use 100 gr Nosler partitions or at least a good reliable solid copper in the same weight.

All of your concerns are duly noted. To be quite honest, I read the reviews on Midway and have friends who use this bullet for deer and all of them love it. Late last night I got out my old Sierra manual and noticed a section I didn't remember it having that covered all of their bullet designs and intended purposes. The bullet in question is designed by them for varmints and to shed it's jacket and fragment violently! That is not at all what I want.

My thanks to you Ray, you are spot on with your advice. And I felt it was good advice given without the condescending tone you encounter in many internet forums these days. After reading that along with the advice here I've about convinced myself that 100 grain is the way I want to go.

But while I still have some of these left, I couldn't let them get the best of me. I had to prove to myself that I still had "it". This is the first new load I've worked up in many moons.

Thanks guys, sincerely, for all of the advice. I have this same thread up on two other forums with next to nothing as far as replies.

Hey Ray, our deer aren't as big as they are in Kansas.;)
 

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Thanks Roy. You still have an excellant varmit bullet there in that 85.gr Sierra. Load them up for Coyotes or raccoons or similar. They will be excellant for the smaller game. It's ok to have both. Good Luck, Ray :D

Roy, I have a trail camera out on this 12 acres I live on and I am retrieving some really good pictures of Bucks still in velvet and about 3/4 grouth racks. This is getting me in the mood of hunting. 1 is a 11 (maybe 12) pointer, only counted 11 and another is a 10 pointer along with a 8 point smaller one. So I am beginning to get excieted about hunting.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'm a one load for all kind of guy. I like to find one that will do for deer and I'll use it for coyote and bobcat too. I don't **** hunt anymore, two of three trips through a swamp in the dark chasing dogs wasn't my cup of tea. But if coons, or anything else, comes near the chicken coop a .22 Magnum fits the bill.

I quit putting out my trail camera because of all the bucks we were seeing during the summer. My wife and son expected them to be in the same places come October. I got tired of hearing about the deer not being where they are supposed to be, so I put it in the closet.

I got pumped while shooting, just knowing what I'm working for got my blood going. I'm ready for that cold air to hit!
 

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I used to go to Wyoming muledeer hunting in the Bighorns and I took my Rem.VLS with 26 bull barrel a couple times cause I could get up high and see for miles, so my ranges were as far as I wanted. This gun was my praire dog gun and could shoot great. My favorite load for deer was the Sierra 85 gamekings,one muley I watched for a while before decideing to take hime was at 425yrds with rangefinder, I hit him center chest and he went down just like being hit by a 20lb sledge .I have no fear of an 85 grainer out of the .243.Speed does just as much damage, if not more than weight.My opinion anyway
 

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I have recently acquired a Savage model 99E chambered in .243 and want to hand load some rounds for deer season this year.

I have tried to work up a load using 85 gr. Sierra BTHP bullets and IMR 4350 and 3031 powders but with less than spectacular results. I am using Lee dies with the factory crimp die, my powder charges started at 1 grain below maximum and worked up progressively from there. The best group I have got so far is just over 2" at 100 yards. It is a little disheartening because with Federal blue box 100 gr. factory ammo it will shoot sub 1" groups at the same distance.

My questions are these: Since it is shooting the heavier bullets better than the lighter, do you think the twist rate may be such that the heavier bullets are the way to go for accuracy? My reloading experiences thus far have been limited to long action calibers and IMR 4350 has always been my go to powder with the 3031 used mainly for experimentation, is there another powder that I should be looking at? Does anyone know the twist rate of the barrel on this particular rifle? My google-fu is not as good as it should be.

One more thing, all of the rounds I have loaded I have gone to great pain in order to make sure they are all identical. Length of the cases identical, each charge hand weighed, OAL is identical and a light crimp to finish it off. I am going to load 3 more with no crimp to see if that had any bearing on anything, this is my first time using a set with a crimp die.

This is frustrating, every other rifle I've ever loaded for was easy to get a great recipe. All help is greatly appreciated.
If this is a used gun you will find the barrel is shot. The rifling closest to the chamber is what goes. Have a gun smith check it for you. You cannot tell by looking down the barrel. The gun smith will make a cast of that part.
I went through what you are going through with a Winchester .243

Larry Northern Minnesota
 

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I have recently acquired a Savage model 99E chambered in .243 and want to hand load some rounds for deer season this year.

I have tried to work up a load using 85 gr. Sierra BTHP bullets and IMR 4350 and 3031 powders but with less than spectacular results. I am using Lee dies with the factory crimp die, my powder charges started at 1 grain below maximum and worked up progressively from there. The best group I have got so far is just over 2" at 100 yards. It is a little disheartening because with Federal blue box 100 gr. factory ammo it will shoot sub 1" groups at the same distance.

My questions are these: Since it is shooting the heavier bullets better than the lighter, do you think the twist rate may be such that the heavier bullets are the way to go for accuracy? My reloading experiences thus far have been limited to long action calibers and IMR 4350 has always been my go to powder with the 3031 used mainly for experimentation, is there another powder that I should be looking at? Does anyone know the twist rate of the barrel on this particular rifle? My google-fu is not as good as it should be.

One more thing, all of the rounds I have loaded I have gone to great pain in order to make sure they are all identical. Length of the cases identical, each charge hand weighed, OAL is identical and a light crimp to finish it off. I am going to load 3 more with no crimp to see if that had any bearing on anything, this is my first time using a set with a crimp die.

This is frustrating, every other rifle I've ever loaded for was easy to get a great recipe. All help is greatly appreciated.
If this is a used gun my bet would be; the barrel is shot. The rifeling closest to the chamber is what gets burned out. The bullet now has a long jump to the rifeling
 
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