Chasing MOA....... finally.

Thread starter #1

The Rodney

Senior Member
Started reloading all of two weeks ago and am off on a long journey, I really like this.
Rough start with CFE 223 and Sierra TMK shooting five inch groups and one 4" trying four charges and three seating depths. The Hornady Match did better but no tighter than 3" @ 100 yds.
Frustrated about all this I played it al back in my head. I mounted the scope to torque specs so no issue. Must be mistakes at the reloader but I am shooting box ammo with wild fliers and four to five inch groups. Must be my marksmanship, well? Been a solid rifle shot a long time. Did you check torque on your actions screws.... no. Loose. Torqued to 30" on the front and 50" on the rear with new loads to test. Lee starting loads for TMK. Nope.... fliers and 4" groups. Dang. Hornady Match 2" group with two different charges! Well, that made happy. Then Hornady SST and the pic speaks for itself. I am through with TMK till I get another powder. One charge on SST showed some stress on the brass face so will shoot the lesser charge which is a full grain down. Will try some higher charges with Match and hopefully get to 1". Two screws man..... so simple!



...just joking, seriously.
Good job!
I think I started off like you, loading alone and didn't have a whole lot it's a lot to lean on. Actually, I still am like that, so I pay attention in this forum like a good student.
For my pressure signs, I always relied on the primer...
Flattened out toward the edge, but not all the way...
No outward catering around the firing pin dent.(EDIT: CRATERING)
I think paying close attention to this factor kept me away from having many other issues such as swollen brass (for the most part, lol).

Not really sure about what you mean by stress signs on the face. An imprint? Or could the bolt face be rotating across the brass before it is pulled backwards out of the chamber?
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Senior Member
The primer in the above pic doesn't look bad. I don't know what's normal for your pin strike to look like, but from the pic it looks ok. I'd like to see you get some commercial brass. I've loaded thousands of .308 using milspec brass and had many issues along the way. These issues include accuracy.

I still use milspec for AR and plinking ammo, but my precision loads are commercial brass. (Winchester Preferred)

Milspec NATO .308/7.62 brass has thicker walls. These heavier walls reduce capacity requiring reduced loading when compared with most commercial brass.

Also, who opened up the primer pockets on your milspec brass? Too much material removed can leave you with loose fitting primers.



Senior Member
Rodney, when I clean my rifles and replace the actions in the stock I tighten the front bolt first, both bolts are tighten to be snug, then I torque them both 55 inch lbs. starting with the front bolt.

Like Chuck said military brass is not the best for developing loads. Most military brass is designed to fire in full auto weapons and loaded in mass production. Thereby the brass is thicker and harder than commercial brass and if you check the volume and weight can vary significantly.

You will learn all this over time, there a many little tricks in the reloading trade.


Senior Clown
now that I am on a desktop instead of a phone I see the differences in the 2. I see the ejector mark over the NATO stamp. Again, the load may still too hot. The primer does look good like chuckdog you may have an issue with trash under the ejector. See if you can push it below the surface of the boltface.

I have a little different opinion of military brass. As mentioned above, the NATO brass has a smaller case capacity than commercial brass. I use it in my .308 and am able to reduce the load by 1gr over commercial brass to get the same FPS. When you couple that with seating deep I really can't believe they are not all fliers.
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Thread starter #10
Chuck, did not know that about NATO brass. I knocked out the primers, hand chamfered, and cleaned the pocket. Had no idea brass could impact accuracy. Speaking of brass, if you buy some good commercial how many shots do you get out of them?
Howa 1500, 20", bull barrel, 1:10, Hogue stack, floated, pillared, HACT trigger.
There are brass flecks on the bolt face. Little chards there that I am not used to seeing.
Nimrod- I do have 40 brass from factory loads I bought. Hornady, S&B, and Remington. They would do better than the Winchester 7.62 brass right? I bought 200 rds at $1 a round of the Winchester. Torque specs for action screws seem to be all over the place but since I saw increased accuracy I think I will try what you mentioned...both screws same torque (50)

My next trip I am going to adjust the torque on action screws, load the SST into commercial once fired brass (same charges one grain apart) and load some more Hornady Match. Still going to leave the TMK alone until I can try a new powder. My 16yo son is always good company at the range and he is about to start outshooting his dad. We put a scope on his .243 yesterday and we have factory loads but I did buy the dies and have 80 once shot brass. CFE 223 apparently is not good for this round. Anyone recommend a powder for .243? I don't have bullets yet but he will hunt this gun and likely will load SST or Interlock from Hornady, not sure what grain.

If anyone shoots at Charlie Elliot let's get together one day soon.
the action screws should be torqued the same. When you loosen it back up bump the butt on the ground lightly to make sure the recoil lug seats right. You want the action all the way back.

check the bolt to make sure the ejector will go just below the surface. With the over pressure issues you have had... there may very well be shaved brass in/under it. If it doesn't go far enough in... it will continue to shave your brass once it is fired. It could also effect the the bolt face isn't true.

commercial brass will last a good bit depending on what you do with it. Not firing over pressure loads will certainly add to the life. Annealing between every or every couple firings will also add to the life.


Senior Member
When I am shooting targets testing loads I always remove the ejector. What this really says is ,,,, that since I don't hunt anymore and only shoot targets ,,,, all my bolt actions don't have ejectors. My last BR rifle was a 'drop port' which drops the cases straight down into a tray I placed under the rifle. Still no ejector, just gravity.


Senior Member
To the OP - you are at the start of a really interesting journey - and doing the right thing, asking questions to folks who have "been there - done that".

You've already learned a valuable lesson - if the rifle is throwing off 3-4 " groups, something is grossly wrong with the rifle - stop and find out what it is - action bolts, loose bases, loose rings - fix those and get back to it.

Here's a couple of other uninvited pieces of advice:
Your rifle may be capable of better accuracy than you think after you address a couple of issues - I never take on accuracy work for someone unless the action is bedded, the bore truly cleaned (by me) and the scope rings are lapped and scope remounted. If you are looking for 1", you may be able to get by without this, but for really solid, repeatable accuracy, this is just a starting point. Everything about reloading is about repeatability and consistency; without it, you are just "burning powder".

Read all you can. Log on to and read all you can about reloading and rifle performance.

Good, consistent brass is worth what you have to pay for it. Think Lapua, Norma and Nosler....

Case necks matter. Crooked loads may shoot OK, but they will never be great. Read about runout and how to adjust your dies (or cases) to control it.

Once you get a batch of measurably consistent cases, vertical dispersion in a group is the load out of tune . Horizontal is wind or the shooter. Ask RayJay if wind flags are worthwhile.....

When developing a load, I look at The Nosler loading website for that caliber, check their "most accurate powder tested" for the desired bullet weight, start at their mid-range load and go in increments until is see the vertical dispersion shrink. Then I start testing seating depth to fine-tune. That usually works for me to develop a load pretty quickly.

There is a lot of literature on the internet about how to tune a load. Read it - it will help you cut out a lot of frustration and cut down on wasting your $, time and energy.

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