Finally decided to start reloading. I've bought the equipment and have been reading the books and manuals. I'm at the stage where I need to buy powder, bullets and primers. I've got a pretty good idea about bullets but I'm confused about powders.
Given all the options for each bullet in the reloading manuals, how do you decide which powder to start with? What are the factors you consider? Do you look for a powder that will work with as many bullets you're thinking of using? Do you base your decision on suitability with your powder measure? Do you base it on velocity? Again, for any given bullet the manuals show listings for a bunch of different powders. How do you know which to start with?
BTW, I'm starting with 6.5x55 and moving next to .308. I will be mostly punching paper at 100-200 yard ranges. I also want to develop a hunting load (deer). I have two 6.5 rifles, one with a '96 Mauser action and the other a modern CZ (I will soon be building another on a Savage 110 action with a 22 inch barrel). I have a preference for Sierra Bullets -- mainly because they're located 60 miles away and I like the idea of supporting the local economy. I'm thinking 120 and 140 g Match Kings for paper, and their 140 soft point for meat.
depends on barrel length
If you have a 29" barrel IMR 4350 works better, but if you have a shorter barrel
( 24") IMR 4895 or Hodgden Varget will work better
7.5 to 1 twist, 139 to 142 bullets work best
8.5 to 1 or slower twist like lighter bullets
my go to load is --
6.5X55 Swede. 29" barrel, 7.5 to 1 twist (M41B sniper and M1896 Swede. )
142 Sierra MK
43.5 gr IMR 4350
CCI # 34 primer
( CCI # 34 primer is a magnum primer, helps ignite powder in cold weather and works well in hot weather also, )
( I have used this load at 100, 200, 300 and 600 yards and is very good )
My Swedish Mauser is a 96/38. I don't recall the barrel length off the top of my head, but it's not 29 inches -- that would be an original model 96 -- I think it's more like 24 inches.
I believe the full stock CZ550 is a 21 or 22 inch barrel. The barrel I've ordered for the Savage will be 22 inches.
I base my powder decisions on case fill and efficiency. I have Quick Load software that predicts the percentage of powder combusted inside the barrel and how much case volume the powder takes up. I select a powder that gives me at least 98% case fill and combustion.
Since you will use Sierra bullets, get their reloading manual.
Each bullet weight will have the most accurate load (powder) listed.
Make a list of criteria............
It's a PIA......to make up a good load.......then, run out of powder.
I use to live in Hawaii......powder selection was dismal and sometimes the shipping of powder was spotty. You could be facing a "dock strike" or your store could be sold out on any given day. It was common for me to "stock up," on all components.
Of course, IF you buy in bulk via the Internet and pay hazmat......that may work.
How YOU choose a powder is your decision. For ME......here are some of my criteria.......
1) Does it meter well? I prefer Ball powders. Because, I don't get the "Ka-chunk," like when loading with a "stick powder."
2) Is it available in 8 lb containers?
3) Is it widely available and usually in stock??
4) Am I paying a "premium" price?
5) Can it be used with multiple calibers and firearms? I'd hate to have a powder that will only be used in one firearm.
6) Is the gas pressure curve correct for my gas guns (very important with an M1)?
7) Is it known to be accurate in that caliber?
8) Is it dirty?
9) How does it fill the case? I don't like to mess with compressed loads.
10) Have I heard of problems with it?
Take it FWIW......it's just my .02.
I load the heck out of both of those and I've gone 4350 for 6.5X55 and Varget and RE15 for .308.
But I have loads in each for 12 or more powders.