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Thread: A beginner's guide to revolver accuracy

  1. #1
    Boolit Master crabo's Avatar
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    A beginner's guide to revolver accuracy

    I am a newbie. (there, I said it) I have been casting bullets for only a short time, but I have found some things that I believe are quite beneficial to finding accuracy with revolvers. I have asked a lot of questions and gleaned most of these things from the writing of this forum. I then put them to the test in my shooting I have really enjoyed reading all the different discussions about accuracy, but I wish I could have seen a simple list of things that put things together for me at a beginnerís level. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you are getting started.

    Please feel free to contribute or disagree. This list is not intended to be the end all discussion of revolver accuracy, but to give the newbie a roadmap that hits the high points. Maybe someone would like to do a list for auto pistols, rifles, and lever guns.

    Crabo

  2. #2
    Boolit Master crabo's Avatar
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    A beginner’s guide to ……revolver accuracy

    1. Start with a bullet that has a reputation for being a good bullet. A few examples are: the 250 K in 44, the H&G 68 in .45 acp, and the H&G 51 in 357. Is this bullet going to be used as a hunting, target, plinking, or combat load? This will be a factor in what bullet design you decide to use. You might want a round nose bullet to use in a speedloader or a swc for hunting. I have found that a plain base bullet will often shoot better than a bevel based bullet in the same design. Wheel weights are great raw material for casting revolver bullets.

    2. Make sure that your lead and your molds are hot enough. Many of the more experienced casters run their pots at maximum heat. You can preheat your molds on a hotplate while your pot is coming up to temperature. I cut a wood block to hold my mold handles so the mold can sit flat on the plate while it preheats.

    3. Start with powders that are known to give good accuracy with cast bullets. 2400, AA#9, and 296 are good powders for max loads. Bullseye, 231, and Unique are good powders for midrange and target loads. Work up your loads in increments of .3 of a grain of powder. You should be able to see trends in the groups. You can always try more powders if these don’t work for you.

    4. Start with a good lube. There are many good recipes for lube, but if you buy a good one to start with, you can eliminate a variable while you are beginning. After you are doing well in your casting and sizing, then it would be time to experiment with different lubes if you want. Your budget will have to decide what method of lubing and sizing you are going to use.

    5. Check the barrel with a push through slug to see if there are any restrictions, particularly where the barrel is screwed into the frame. If there is a restriction, firelapp using LBT’s techniques until the restriction is gone. Slug the barrel to see what size it is. A bullet one thousandth over bore size often works well.

    6. The cylinder exit hole should not be smaller than the size of the bullet you are sending down range. Have a gunsmith open up the cylinder holes so your bullets are not swaged down before they enter the barrel. This is also something you can do yourself. The ultimate boolit size is that which requires felt finger pressure friction when pushed through the Largest cylinder exit. The size chosen should not be so large as to cause a loaded cartridge to have any felt friction when placed into the Smallest cylinder

    7. At this point you need to decide what your accuracy goals are. Will you only shoot at combat distances, or are you going to shoot at longer ranges, or is the ultimate goal to shoot silhouette at 100 or 200 meters?

    8. Test your loads by shooting your gun off the bench. If at all possible, put optics on the gun that you will be testing. The optics can help you remove human error while you shoot for groups. You can take the optics off after testing if you want. You may find that the point of impact often varies when shooting from the bench and shooting offhand. You should shoot groups at the distances you intend to shoot. You may find that many bullet/powder combinations will fall apart at 50 yards and beyond.

    9. Keep targets and accurate records. Check and see if groups are round, or elongated. The shape of the groups can be indicators of problems with grip and technique. I also think you should consider adding a chronograph to you toolkit. Knowing your velocity is an important ingredient in working up loads. I don’t have one yet, but I will in the future.

    10. Enjoy yourself. There is quite a bit of satisfaction in shooting the bullets you cast, not to mention the savings. I load and cast so I can shoot more for the money I spend. I like being able to shoot a bucket full of ammo instead of a couple boxes of store bought bullets.
    Last edited by crabo; 11-03-2007 at 09:43 AM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master on Heavens Range
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    Crabo, that is very good. Add to paragraph 6: The ultimate boolit size is that which requires felt finger pressure friction when pushed through the Largest cylinder exit. The size chosen should not be so large as to cause a loaded cartridge to have any felt friction when placed into the Smallest cylinder. ... felix
    felix

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Excellent post, this will help alot of guys getting started. I might add not to limit yourself to a certain velocity range when working up loads. I have found 2 great loads lately, one well slower than I would have tried, and one quite a bit faster. Both loads were discovered at the prompting of others on this board.

  5. #5
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    Cull any bullets with flaws. Wrinkles, defective bases, and side gaps have no place in accuracy testing.
    Practice a consistent grip. Do not vary your grip when you find what works. Practice at home holding and pointing and empty unloaded gun until you can hold the sights steady for an extended time without wavering. We all have a pulse but working those muscles strengthens them.
    Gianni
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  6. #6
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    One thing not mentioned on many posts is that you must lose all fear of recoil. You have to hold the sights on the target and break the trigger without moving or the best load in the world will not work. Even offhand, the sights must paint the target in as small an area as possible for each of us depending on age, strength, etc, and the trigger break must come without anticipating recoil and dumping the gun. You can't hold tight in the target offhand but by controlling fear, you will be surprised how good you will shoot.
    Never just yank the trigger when the sights cross the bullseye either or you will shoot high. Flinching makes the shots go low.
    You must learn trigger control, if you are off target, hold what you have and as you get back to center, add more pressure over and over until the trigger breaks without you knowing when. Never MAKE the gun shoot. That only works with the steel shooting group that will shoot thousands of rounds a week. They don't contend with recoil and have learned not to flinch. With the practice they get, they can control when the gun fires. Most of us here can't do it and I know I can't so just practice the basics.

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    Few other things that belong around #5 and #6 are alignement between the barrel and cyl when the gun is locked up and ready to fire. Quality and type of forcing cone and muzzle crown and the #1 most important aid to accuracy in my opinion a quality trigger. It must be fairly light and completely creap free.

    Ive seen guns that shot loads and bullets i shook my head at right. Ive seen guns with mismatched sizes, poor alignment, and poor barrels give surpising reslults. But for the most part even if they do shoot well there on the finiky side. But if you cant get the trigger to break at just the exact time your sights are aligned you will NEVER shoot small groups consistantly.
    I hear all the time that so and so shoots one inch groups with his out of the box ruger. What i find is that 99 percent of the time so and so shot one or two one inch groups with his stock ruger and its 7lb trigger and cant repeat them with me watching.
    Shooting a one time one inch group does not constitude a one inch gun. I hear it all the time and i hear it even on this forum. Guys saying there stock ruger will shoot one inch groups at 50 yards. Let me tell you something. Ive shot many many stock and custom rugers and one that is capable of shooting one inch 50 yard groups EVERY time is one rare revolver and youd better lock it up before i steal it from you.
    When i claim my gun will shoot one inch it had better do it for 12 shot groups and do it for an average of at least 3 12 shot groups. One 5 or 6 shot group at 50 yards is not going to tell you anything other then your having a good or bad day at the range. That means EVERY shot too. No throwing one flyer out of the group or allowing yourself to call one when shooting.
    If you have to call a flyer you either need trigger work or need to work on your trigger skills. To me any gun and even any man thats good enough to shoot one inch 50 yards groups using open sights with these criteria are a very impressive thing. I wish i could. But to be honest i dont have a gun in the safe that i personaly can make do this.

    So my point is when your setting your accuracy standards keep in mind that you need to be honest with yourself and understand that theres a BIG difference in what your going to see on paper then what alot of guys on computer fourms will tell you you should see. I get a real good laugh out of post that go. " Im so happy, I just bought me a new (fill in the blank) it was my first handgun and i took it out today with (fill in the blank) factory ammo and it shot one inch groups at 50 yards"

    I dont care how good a gun is or what brand it is. If you are lucky enough to find factory ammo that shoots one inch groups at 50 yards your first outing with an out of the box ruger with virturally no shooting experience with a handgun you are surely making guys like me that shoot every day with custom guns look like a fool!!!!!!
    Ive shot enough out of the box rugers to know that one that shoots under 2 inch at 25 yards with loads it likes is a good ruger. One inch 25 yard guns are exceptional and one in 50 yard guns are some kind of holy grail that a guy comes accross maybe once in there lifetime. People argue with my opinion all the time but im sorry. If you happen to not agree with this one your probably alot better at stroking a keyboard then you are a trigger
    Last edited by Lloyd Smale; 11-04-2007 at 06:25 AM.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

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    How would you guys feel about moving this to "Handguns" and making it a sticky?

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    Lloyd, what you say is very true. It takes work on the gun and thousands of shots. Much work with boolits and loads and technique. I would never expect a beginner to do it. It is never done every day but if done enough, it can be claimed for the gun. My BFR's will regularly shoot under 1" at 50 but it took a LOT of work. The Ruger is a little harder to keep consistant. But I HAVE broken 1" at 100 yd's several times and many, many groups under 2". But nothing is set in stone and nothing can be duplicated at will. I have had answers to my posts where someone claimed they could shoot 1" at 100 yd's ON DEMAND with their Freedom.
    We all know it can't be done! The potential might be there but the nut behind the gun might be loose any given day.
    I have worked with big bore revolvers since 1956 and learned a lot but will never claim to do anything on demand. With enough good groups I know what the GUN can do but will never claim that I can do it all the time.
    Now give me a single shot pistol and things change. I have many 200 yd groups 2" and under and my MOA 7br has shot 5 shots in .505 at 100 yd's. Will I do it all the time? NO, because I am not a machine. Can the gun itself do it? Yes, because I made it so.

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    Smile LLoyd Loved your post but pls throw in some paragraphs!

    I am just about crosseyed after reading Lloyd's post above. Please, I like what you say but please throw in a break once in a while to give my old tired eyes a rest.

    Just an ending to a sentence then a double ENTER key will provide a welcome break and make it easier to follow.

    Just like this. I ain't gonna cost you any paper! And we would love it.

    Thanks,

    Dan
    Pax Nobiscum Dan (Crash) Corrigan

    Currently casting, reloading and shooting: 223 Rem, 6.5x55 Sweede, 30 Carbine, 30-06 Springfield, 30-30 WCF, 303 Brit., 7.62x39, 7.92x57 Mauser, .32 Long, 32 H&R Mag, 327 Fed Mag, 380 ACP. 9x19, 38 Spcl, 357 Mag, 38-55 Win, 41 Mag, 44 Spcl., 44 Mag, 45 Colt, 45 ACP, 454 Casull, 457 RB for ROA and 50-90 Sharps. Shooting .22 LR & 12 Gauge seldom and buying ammo for same.

  11. #11
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    One more thought, watch the front sight not the target. Keep the focus there and the target out of focus slightly. G
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  12. #12
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    Good to hear a Ruger that gets em in 2" @ 25yds. is a good one. Mine does that on a regular basis. Now, 1" @ 50 yds. If I got that with my Ruger Auto Rifle, I'd be happy.

  13. #13
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    I made a longer transfer bar for my Ruger so I could get the trigger to 1-1/2#. I also recut the forcing cone. A Ruger out of the box won't do it. The BFR's will once the trigger is worked on. I have put 5 shots in 9/16" at 50 yd's with mine. Cast boolits too.
    I only shoot heavy loads for hunting, heavy boolits and near max loads. Never look down your nose at a good revolver.
    I can't shoot fast, from the hip, quick draw or any of the fancy stuff. I shoot to hit deer, period.

  14. #14
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    ............Great post and thread.

    What Bret said:

    Bret4207, "How would you guys feel about moving this to "Handguns" and making it a sticky?"

    Would anyone mind?

    .............Buckshot
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    Boolit Master crabo's Avatar
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    I was hoping that we could leave it here for a couple of days before we move it, because I think it might get more exposure in this section. I was also hoping there would be some takers on coming up with simple lists for rifles and lever guns. I enjoy the heavy deep discussions that Felix and BA get into, but some of it I don't understand at this stage in my education. This type of a list would have helped me in the beginning.

    This has been a lot of fun for me. It was really exciting to start shooting good groups with my S&W 8 3/8 586 and cast bullets. I know that the 2.5x8 Luepold I have on it at the moment, helps cut down on some of the shooter error when I shoot groups at 100 meters. I built a shooting box that holds a sandbag under the barrel/crane area and I can support both of my hands against the side of the box as I grip the gun

    I realized that one of the most important reasons to shoot groups on paper, at any distance, is to have confidence in your dot. I want to know that my gun/load combination is capable of consistently hitting the target I am aiming at. That way, when I miss, I know that it was me and not the gun that has missed. Then I can work on technique with confidence knowing if I hold it right, stroke the trigger right, and keep a good sight picture, I will hit the target.

    Thanks,

    Crabo
    Last edited by crabo; 05-28-2008 at 05:00 PM.

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    sorry when most were taking english class in school i was skipping and going hunting. But i broke it up just for you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Crash Corrigan View Post
    I am just about crosseyed after reading Lloyd's post above. Please, I like what you say but please throw in a break once in a while to give my old tired eyes a rest.

    Just an ending to a sentence then a double ENTER key will provide a welcome break and make it easier to follow.

    Just like this. I ain't gonna cost you any paper! And we would love it.

    Thanks,

    Dan
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MT Gianni View Post
    Practice a consistent grip. Do not vary your grip when you find what works. Practice at home holding and pointing and empty unloaded gun until you can hold the sights steady for an extended time without wavering. We all have a pulse but working those muscles strengthens them.
    Gianni
    Loading your gun with SnapCaps for home practice helps protect the mechanism and also forces the user to be certain it is unloaded.

    I keep a set for dry fire practice for all my guns.

    For those who don't want to purchase snapcaps, they can be made simply. I load an empty case with a RN bullet and use a pencil eraser in the primer pocket. (The kind from mechanical pencils fit perfectly or require little trimming.) Then I paint the cartridges green with a sharpie for instant easy recognition. BTW, sharpie seems to color brass better than Nickel if you decide to go this route.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by crabo View Post
    I was also hoping there would be some takers on coming up with simple lists for rifles and lever guns. I enjoy the heavy deep discussions that Felix and BA get into, but some of it I don't understand at this stage in my education. This type of a list would have helped me in the beginning. Crabo

    Crabo,

    The problem with beginners lists, is they are never complete. The best beginners list I ever saw was a Lyman Manual. It even has illustrations. It is a very good read. But .... it has to be read.

    In the end, there are three steps on every "beginners" cast bullet list:
    1. Research your objective.
    2. Decide what you want to do.
    3. Go do it.

    The advanced list adds two more steps:
    4. Figure out what went wrong.
    5. Try again.

    Everything you read on this board falls into one of those 5 steps.
    Evaluate everything you read for safety and use common sense.

  19. #19
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    Bass- Thats all true, but if we can lay down some grounds and make it a sticky for those that don't have the Lyman book yet, or can't afford/find the book, it'll help things along.

    We'll leave this here for a while and then move and stick it.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master crabo's Avatar
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    "The problem with beginner's lists are that they are never complete."


    I teach autobody in a high school. One of the things that I have learned is not to give too much infomation at one time. I often tell my students, "do this and then come get me" I then give them another step and tell them to come get me when they are finished with that step.

    I enjoy teaching others. I tell my students that they can go as far as they want with it. Some do the minimum and some excell. I was looking for a place to start and then once they get past the basics, they can get their Masters and PHDs from the more advanced in this forum.

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BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
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GC Gas Check