Sporting Shooter

Developing A Safe Working Load

YOU'LL be surprised how much pressure rises when increasing powder charges even by as little as one grain. Many handloaders set out to develop a maximum load seldom realising they are moving into uncharted territory, an area where it pays to exercise the utmost caution, especially with a strong, modern bolt-action rifle. They'll usually be aware of a number of high pressure indicators that they can watch out for. - flattened, or badly cratered or pierced primers, enlarged primer pockets, hard bolt lift and cases that are hard to extract, brass that has flowed into the ejector hole of the bolt face, or cases with enlarged primer pockets. All these things give an indication of excessive pressure.

I've found that using primers to judge high-pressure is not very exact, but if you use the same primer all the time it may give a reasonable indication of when pressures starts getting too high. However other factors can fool you. Endplay of a cartridge in the chamber (excessive headspace) can cause primers to flatten excessively. When the striker impinges on a loaded round, the firing pin drives the case

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