Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 family of rifles

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Old 05-01-2012, 15:19   #1
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Handloads at the range today

Today my wife joined me at the range for some shooting fun. I strung a tarp with paracord to catch my brass and tried three slightly different hand loads.

I shot with a centerpoint ar22 3-9x32 scope.

The first is a variation of my initial load:

25 gr Varget
55 gr sierra Sbt gameking
federal 205 primer
2.246" OAl (this is the change..shorter)
brass not trimmed due to short case length of federal bulk ammo from walmart.

The second was in brass once fired and picked up after the guy shot it at a different range.

25 gr Varget
UMC brass trimmed to 1.750"
2.246" OAL
federal 205 primer
Sierra 69 gr matchking

the third was:
25 gr win 748
fiocchi brass neck sized only after firing in my savage bolt action (experiment here)
federal 205m primer
2.246" OAL
Sierra 69 gr matchking

The Varget matchking loads are slightly compressed, meaning they crunch as the bullet is seated, but they still shake afterwards. The win 748 load is not a compressed load. The 55 gr gameking varget load is not compressed.

So, how did they shoot?

FANTASTIC! 100 % reliable as always. I was already happy with the 55 gr gameking, but really itching to try the 69 gr matchkings in this gun. I was not disappointed. Micky Mouse three hole groups at 50 yards with 4 and 5 just at an inch total spread, with no effort whatsoever at keeping the barrel cool. Target rifle accuracy...nope. Did I try? nope. Clay pigeon pieces called and I was able to quickly dust them in various sizes..someone left lying around at 50 yards.

The biggest surprise was no point of impact change in the different loads. at 50 yards i didn't expect much, but none was a surprise. We didn't have time to go out to 100 yards today, but we will eventually and i'll get more info. I was totally happy with bulk box ammo at 100 a few weeks ago before I hand loaded the first batch. I expect nothing but improvement with the reloads.

My 4 inch mini strut with cut down (side rails removed via cutoff wheel and file) utg tri rail clamp cools the barrel quickly, even though I wasn't going for cool. I have not done before and after testing and probably won't now that i have tried it with set screws on the gas block. It works and i'm not messing with it. I will tweak the load if It seems like a fun thing to try.

Shooting Micky Mouse head shaped three shot groups at 50 yards is more than good enough for now with a semi auto and three shots in under 15 seconds easy...maybe under 10.

Pam's 10/22 does the same thing at 25 yards and i sighted it in at 50 today, skewering the red dot on a single shot to re-check zero for her later.

We love our rugers. I highly recommend hand loading for this rifle. It will take several boxes of ammo to recover the cost of equipment, but the fun never stops after that and the savings are real. This rifle is not picky about brass, bullets or powder apparently. that makes range pickup brass a real money saving option. Saving money means more shooting. More shooting has no down side i can think of.


Last edited by justasking; 05-01-2012 at 15:44. Reason: to add scope info
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Old 05-01-2012, 15:51   #2
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The same 25 gr. charge of VARGET [ FOR BOTH] the 55 gr. and the 69 gr. bullets has me a little surprised. How did the primers' look , on the 69 gr. matchkings ?
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Old 05-01-2012, 16:06   #3
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They were fine. 25 gr is a pretty middle of the road charge for the 55 and about a grain and a half below max for the 69 There were no pressure signs. All the brass even went to the same place on the tarp and fell straight down into a pile, pretty much. The sierra book is known for being a touch conservative and my experience with both the .308 and .223 bolt action hunting rifles has shown this to be so. I had been considering bumping the 55 gr up gradually, but don't see the point. it will just cost more per round. i ge the bullets at the sierra factory outlet seconds store. They are sold by the pound so the 55 gr works out a little cheaper, but none of them get close to store pricing...like cabela's for example.I may drop the charge on the 69 gr to 24.5 just to see if it functions okay, but it is much easier to mass produce th ammo the way it is right now. Even using 25 gr of win 748 works just fine. Those are the two powders i picked for the .308/.223 back when i started reloading. I always keep some of both on hand because i prefer the uncompressed loads up near the top of the range and win 748 makes that possible.

For background information, i use the 69 gr in my savage .223 (not 5.56) bolt action with the 25 gr charges already and have gone as high as 26.5 before accuracy degraded without pressure signs, albeit in a slightly longer COAL. It is light enough to leave a powder ring on the outer case neck in that rifle with the longer COAL. Very pleasant load to shoot in a lightweight sporter rifle.

I wanted to see how finicky the mini would be on neck sized brass from another rifle too. I will be trying neck sizing on a few of these I fired today. if they always function, I will neck size, in spite of the bad rap it gets in semi autos. Something tells me the mini won't care. If it does, i won't do it. If it feeds fine, i will do it to preserve a few extra loads on the brass. It does make a difference.
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Old 05-01-2012, 19:12   #4
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justasking, Sounds like you and your wife had a good time. I load with IMR 4064 and Sierra bullets 53gr HP and 69gr HPBT. I have been getting my load data from Hodgdon's web site. Cartridge Loads - Hodgdon Reloading Data Center - data.hodgdon.com There tested loads have short C.O.L. for Sierra bullets. 2.235 for 69gr HPBT. They do not have a load for a 55gr Sierra bullet they have a C.O.L. of 2.200 for bullets from 53gr to 63gr. My loads have been shooting very well with these C.O.L.s. The 53gr load that grouped the best for me was .5gr over starting load. I have had a hard time working up a good load for the 69gr HPBT it grouped the best for me .5gr below max load. 3/4 inch 5 shot group @ 100yd. Next week i want to buy some of that new CFE 223 powder to try.

My Mini is apart right so i took a pic of my new 10-22 Mini Me (i set it up like my all weather ranch rifle) to show you my Portuguese brass catcher don't laugh it works real good.
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Old 05-02-2012, 09:30   #5
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That's awesome! lol. Yeah, I looked at Hogdon data, their OALS, sierra data (2.250 oal for 55 gr, 2.260 oal for 69)...my own data from my savage bolt action and crunched for about a week to come up with the 25 gr super easy load for both. It just happens to shoot fine, like all sierra loads have from day one for me. I have actually NEVER had a load that was over 1" @ 100 yards with my .308! That just blows me away and speaks to the effort these guys put in at sierra bullets. My first try with the .223 was just under 1 " at 100 in my savage bolt action and these have all been right around or under 2" (granted i am extrapolating from 50..but i am okay with that for now. My bulk federal cheapo wally ammo was around 2 " @ 100 on day one.)

I am intrigued by the brass catcher...does it get them all?
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:03   #6
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It does not catch the brass just leaves it in a nice pile on the bench. I think if you duct tape some cardboard near the bill it would catch the brass fine.
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Old 05-02-2012, 10:17   #7
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this works on the mini too?
On the bench would be great..or on the ground when offhand, etc.
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Old 05-02-2012, 11:07   #8
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Lucky guy, gets to go shooting on a weekday!
It's great that you're getting fantastic results from your handloads. I've gotten wonderful results after pumping out 2000rnds on a Lee Single-Stage, just plain ol' Lee Dipped, not even weighing.

Question: (this is for my information, not to criticize your techniques)

Originally Posted by justasking View Post
....The first is a variation of my initial load:

25 gr Varget
55 gr sierra Sbt gameking
federal 205 primer
2.246" OAl (this is the change..shorter)
brass not trimmed due to short case length of federal bulk ammo from walmart....
When looking for accuracy, why go shorter? I thought when trying to 'seat to the lands' the OAL gets a tad longer?
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Old 05-02-2012, 15:44   #9
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excellent question. On my bolt action, the oal was 2.280 with this bullet! It was seated closer to the lands, but magazine length actually forced me to cut it shorter. On my mini, i found the tapco gen II mags to be about .004" shorter than the stock 5 rounder. I tried 2.260, which is sierras test OAL for this bullet (the 69 gr...2.250 is the one for the 55 gr) They were hitting on the way in by just a couple thousanths, so i shortened them to 2.250.

Then i didn't fire some at the range one other day and noticed the soft points were flattened on a few of them (again, the 55 gr sbt) so i just shortened them .004 more and the problem went away.

For semiautos, magazine length will restrict you on OAL, unless you want to load them single shot..I don't want to do that, no matter how accurate it is.

In my .308 bolt action, the OAL is SIGNIFICANTLY longer than book value to get the best accuracy, but still fits in the mag.

I don't load to the lands for any hunting rifle anyway. I know a guy who dumped powder in his magazine when unloading to cross a fence and a deer jumped out...bullet wedged in the rifling, magazine full of powder...he was done hunting before the deer even appeared. Not me. I will sacrifice MOA for 1.5 MOA and take reliability every time.

I've successfully chased and caught the .361" @100 in a hunting rifle with a long OAL in my .308. For me, .75-1.25 is good enough for hunting, so I went backwards and gained reliability.

I will be loading some with 24 grains of varget to check for function and accuracy. That will give me 10 more rounds per pound of powder! It's always good to save money if possible. If it ruins the load, I will just not load any more. The slightly compressed rounds have not migrated outward at all, so i will be able to use the 25 gr load at this OAL if the 24 doesn't work out. I will probable end up working some .2 increments if i don't like the 24 gr for accuracy. That will be best of all worlds, find the load and save money too...maybe...that is the nature of reloading.
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Old 05-02-2012, 16:18   #10
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I wanted to add there is an element of consistency that is key to reloading. Seems obvious, but if you think about it, the other thing is accuracy nodes found by changing your powder charge. If you do everything the same on every round, accuracy is increased. Then you find the node by working the charge to find the spot where the barrel is closest to your desired POI in it's wobbly travels during each shot. It really boils down to those two things for me. That is enough for me to trump box ammo easily with very little work.
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Old 05-02-2012, 16:45   #11
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Thanks for the clarification justasking. And no, I don't want to single-load either. I too noticed the shorter box length of the Tapco Gen2. Quite a bummer.
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Old 05-03-2012, 03:54   #12
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It would be real hard to find the lands with the mini, it has a long throat. The short COL keeps the bullet tips from deforming due to recoil, the longer your COL, usually the top round will have a flat tip. I will have to try this, Hornady recomends most 55 gr loads at 2.220 and Vmax loads at 2.250. The Nosler books recomend 2.260 or closer for bolt action rifles to get close to the lands, but the mini has a long throat. I do get great groups while shooting ballistic tip and Vmax loads at 2.260 but I am struggling to find a good COL for my 55 fmj w/cannelure rings.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:14   #13
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tri70, Thanks for the info i found the loads that i tried with a shorter C.O.L. shot better in my Mini but i did not know the nuts and bolts of it why they shot better. One of the things though about was with the longer loads were they getting banged up with the Minis action when they are being loaded into the chamber? I like to use complete tested loads with the same bullet not just the same weight and a tested C.O.L. I know that in most cases the test gun is not the same gun you are loading for but it is still a good place to start.
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Last edited by 51colt; 05-03-2012 at 11:01.
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Old 05-03-2012, 10:28   #14
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The longer COL rounds would get banged up tips in the magazine, usually the next 2 rds with soft points. It seamed the 2nd shot got it worse than the the rest. It may have been the 5 rd factory mag too. I don't think the 20 rd factory mags did that. I will shoot some soft points this weekend and see.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:16   #15
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justasking, Yes i do use the Portuguese brass chatcher (said hat) on my Mini. I like saving my brass and i don't like hitting the guy next to be with my hot brass. It works good for me. Now when i go to the range i keep seeing more and more guys using hats for brass catchers on Minis and ARs. I modded the the hat i mean the brass chatcher this morning to hold the spent brass. I am going to test it next trip to the range. Check it out.
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Old 05-03-2012, 11:58   #16
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that's awesome! I have a realtree hat from work that's going into this service. Thanks.
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