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Handloading: Improved Cartridges? Probably Not.

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May 13, 2013

Handloading: Improved Cartridges? Probably Not.

By David E. Petzal

The Golden Age of Handloading came after World War II when everyone and his brother Montmorenzi went down to their basements to crank out their own ammo and rarely came up into the light. One of the side effects of this craze was the mania for “Improved” cartridges, and the leader of the cult was a Utah barrelmaker, gunsmith, and wildcatter named P.O. Ackley.

In 1962, Ackley published Volumes I and II of the Handbook for Shooters and Reloaders, which contained all sorts of interesting stuff, but mostly loading data for everyone’s Improved cartridges, and there was a bunch.

“Improving” a cartridge meant that you took a well established, respectable cartridge such as the 7x57 Mauser and fired it in an Improved chamber that was cut with less taper and a sharper shoulder than the original. The brass would be fire-formed to its new shape, and the resulting increased powder capacity would boost your 7x57’s velocity up to that of a .280. Or so the theory went.

All of this took place when the only people who owned chronographs were the ammo companies and a very few brave souls who were willing to endure the process of getting results from the first home chronographs. I used to do it in the 60s and it took me weeks to recover from the experience. People would go to the range with their Improved rifles, fire a shot, and say, “Yes, by God, that sounds a lot faster than before.”

In real life, most Improved rounds produced piddling increases in velocity but huge increases in pressure. My one extended experience with an Improved cartridge involved a .280, and I found that in order to achieve 150 fps more than factory velocity, I had to blow primers, which is not a good idea. It’s fine to use a sharper shoulder and less case taper, but if you want a meaningful velocity increase without pressures that will leave you fingerless, you have to use a bigger case, period.

The one Improved cartridge of which I know that was both useful and commercially successful was the .375 Weatherby, which Weatherby introduced around 1945, and which stayed in the line until replaced 8 years later by the retina-detaching .378 Weatherby. The Weatherby version of the .375 got a major boost because Warren Page used the daylights out of it and wrote about it a lot. It was a very good cartridge that increased the velocity of a 300-grain bullet from around 2,550 to 2,700 fps, or a little more.

Unlike the much bigger .378, its recoil was manageable. I recall Page, who detested recoil, telling me that he had shot out three barrels on his .375, which is a humungous amount of shooting.

The closest thing we have to Improved cartridges today are the various short magnums, which follow the general form, but unlike the originals, hold lots and lots of powder.

The original Improved cartridges were doomed by the proliferation of small, simple, accurate chronographs, which also had the effect of getting ammo makers to load to their advertised velocities. Now, we live in a world of harsh scientific reality where we can no longer fire our .250 Savage Improved and say “Godd*** if that doesn’t sound every bit as fast as a .25/06.”

I sort of miss the old way of doing things.

Comments (43)

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I'm wondering if some of our "Improved" smokeless powders are filling the niche of "Improved Cartridges". I am getting pretty amazing velocities using Reloader 17 in 30-06 and 240 Weatherby Magnum without signs of pressure. I wonder if any of the other handloaders are getting these kinds of velocity gains just using modern powders.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Every year or so Dave writes on article on the pitfalls, limitations, etc of handloading, which only reinforces my desire to be happy buying factory ammo.

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from Mark-1 wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I confuse *wildcat* with *improved*, then *improved wildcat* cartridges. I believe the only *improved* cartridge I fiddled with was the 22 K-Hornet. That cartridge may have had a future at one brief moment.

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from AP wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Mr. Petzal, are you referring to the 280 ackley improved? Everything I have read about that cartridge has been full of praise, so I'm surprised to see that you have different feelings.

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I've never figured out how to "improve" cartridges like the 257Robers or the 30/06. They did the job they were designed to do and did them well.
Actually Steve, reloading makes sense if you want to save a considerable chunk of change on ammo or tailor a cartride to a particular firearm or purpose. Or, be someone like me who likes old, obsolescent cartridges (example: 6.5X54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer)where if you want to shoot the rifle, handloading is really the only option.

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I've never figured out how to "improve" cartridges like the 257Robers or the 30/06. They did the job they were designed to do and did them well.
Actually Steve, reloading makes sense if you want to save a considerable chunk of change on ammo or tailor a cartride to a particular firearm or purpose. Or, be someone like me who likes old, obsolescent cartridges (example: 6.5X54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer)where if you want to shoot the rifle, handloading is really the only option.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

To AP: I am indeed. I tried and tried to get that thing to do significantly better than a standard .280 and could not. And this was in the early 1990s when there were very good slow-burning powders around. I'm aware that other people use it and like it, but you have to go with your own experience, and what that told me was, that if you want to exceed .280 velocities, get yourself a 7mm Weatherby Magnum. It's my observation that if a wildcat really has something to offer, the factories pick it up. For example, the .22/250, 6.5/284, .35 Whelen, .458 Lott, and a whole bunch of others. But none of the big ammo makers has touched the .280 Ackley Improved.

To Steve in Virginia: You're drawing the wrong conclusion from what I've written. Wildcatting is a separate part of handloading, whose advantages are so colossal as to beggar description.

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from Canadian Lurker wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

What are those Cat Ridges you are writing about?

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from buckstopper wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

The "improvements" from handloading come from customizing bullet, powder and velocity to what your rifle likes at the same time saving about 50% of ammo cost. Though rifles are sometimes like women. You gotta spend money on them to make 'em happy.

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from O Garcia wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

The other great improved cartridge is also a Weatherby. Just as the .375 Wby. is an improved .375 Holland, the .300 Wby. is essentially an improved .300 H&H. Nothing wrong with the performance of the H&H rounds, and they feed and extract without fail, and they're "classy" but the "improvement" in ballistics by the Weatherby rounds is substantial. Especially when it's Weatherby(Norma) factory ammunition.

The H&H cases were ripe for improving because they had pronounced body taper to ensure reliable extraction during the days of poor quality brass and spiking pressures (the Brits insisted in cordite for nearly everything, including battleship guns, and it stayed that way as long as the Empire stood). Once the quality of brass and powder improved, there was no longer a life-and-death need for that pronounced taper.

In his many mail exchanges (pre-email, obviously) with his friend Robert Chatfield-Taylor, Jack O'Connor expressed his opinion on improveds and wildcats, saying one can indeed tweak a standard case and claim an improvement in performance, ESPECIALLY if it's loaded to 70,000 psi. Not only were chronographs rare then, so were calibrated pressure barrels. By the time a primer pops, you're already in .270 Weatherby territory.

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I just don't have the patience for all of the fire forming required to shoot the improved rounds. Why bother when I'm getting conservatively 100 to 150 fps just by using Reloader 17.

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from Ol Krusty wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

The one thing I like about the improved rounds, especially the 243, is that they just look sexy. Its like the old farmer going to the big city for the first time and seeing an elevator. He watches an old lady walk in the elevator, the door close behind her, and a minute later a beautiful blond comes strutting out. The farmer yells at his son and says "Hurry, go get your Ma!". That's kinda the same was I look at improved's. I know I'm screwed up.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

Dave I'm so glad you posted this. From the embarrassing amount of reloading data I collect I never did see the advantage of the "improved" cartridge. I do see the good from factories making +P ammo. To bad forward thinking companies like Federal or Hornady doesn't make a 7x57 Mauser +P.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

I shunned the magnum mania until a few years ago when I found a 7mm Weatherby Magnum for sale at the right price. Just bypass all the other .277 and .284 wannabes and grab the gusto of a real 7mm magnum. No sense pussy-footing around with the 7mm Rem Mag or WSM. 7mm RUM doesn't make barrel life sense either.

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from O Garcia wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

Sometimes, people go for an improved version for other reasons. The .35 Whelen Improved is chosen by those who feel the .35 Whelen's shoulder doesn't provide secure enough headspacing. (I did say "feel" so don't flame me.) Otherwise, ballistically, the plain-vanilla Whelen is fine.

The .425 Westley-Richards Improved simply eliminates the "rebated rim" situation by increasing the rim diameter. No other major changes.

The .280 Ackley Improved certainly has its fans even among gunwriters. Nosler has chambered its high-dollar Model 48 for it, so I guess that qualifies for endorsement. Not a lot, but still... On the other hand, there wouldn't be so many fans of the .280 A.I. if the 7mm Remington Mag weren't so underwhelming.

I just read an article on the .280 Ross yesterday. When you really think about it, the 7mm Rem. in its current SAAMI factory form is not the 7mm Mashburn Magnum, but the .280 Ross.

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from FirstBubba wrote 48 weeks 13 hours ago

Just saying magnum makes me flinch! LOL!
At one time, I thought "speed" was THE answer and stuffed various cases with copious quantities of assorted propellants.
Now?
I still load several different calibers, but, no more flattened primers or pressure problems. Other than wringing a bit more out of my .30-30 Win than "factory" offers, most of my loadings replicate factory loadings.
Improved, to me, is cheaper ammo tailored to a specific rifle.

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from kudukid wrote 48 weeks 12 hours ago

"which also had the effect of getting ammo makers to load to their advertised velocities."

Maybe not...

A few weeks ago I got some fresh 130 PSPCL 270 ammo directly from Remington's Tech. Folks. Gave average 2715 chronographed in a 20" barrel Ruger Ultralight.

Good luck if you think you can use factory trajectory tables for your long range targets.

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from duckcreekdick wrote 48 weeks 10 hours ago

Something else to keep in mind is the dismal resale value of improved or wildcat chambered rifles. They appeal to only a small segment of shooters.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 48 weeks 10 hours ago

All . . .

I've been handloading the .257 Ackley Improved, 7x57 AI and .280 AI for close to a decade now, maybe longer. I've gone through several .257 AI barrels and one 7x57 AI barrel.

Observations--

If any of the above AI cartridges are loaded to the traditional (low) pressures of their parent cartridges, then the AI velocity improvement over the parent cartridges is, in barrels of the same length, generally only 50-100 fps faster. Not that much. Accuracy, ease of chambering, reuse capability and similar factors typically match the original cartridges.

However, if one takes an AI cartridge and pumps it up a bit to "modern" (but still safe, in good bolt actions) chamber pressures of 60,000-65,000 psi (and I've read that Weatherby factory rounds typically load to at least 65k, possibly even 70k), then the AI velocity improvement over the (far lower pressure, a bit less powder capacity) parent rounds is significant.

My 257 AI rifles with 24" barrels safely and reliably match 25-06 rifles in the same barrel length, including handloads. The .257 AI rifles hardly kick at all and consume slightly less powder than the 25-06, but match it.

My 7x57 AI rifles with 24" barrels safely match most .280 Remington factory loads in rifles of the same barrel length, but will be pushed too hot to match well-crafted .280 Remington handloads. The velocity difference, however--50-75 fps--is typically (and ballistically) irrelevant.

My .280 AI rifle with its 26" barrel and good handloads is a significant improvement (around 150 fps, sometimes a little more) over a .280 Remington factory load in the same barrel length, and a bit more improvement over a factory load out of a 24" barrel.

Conclusion--

When a person goes to the expense of rechambering barrels to AI calibers, purchasing the dies, obtaining a chronograph (and a replacement for the one that will get perforated)and spends time and money at the range fireforming parent cartridges to AI offspring, the whole exercise and adventure comes down to whether the handloader likes to experiment, likes to revisit the past (via P.O. Ackley's books, which, by the way, contain loading data that should not be relied on or used with modern powders), likes to tinker in the reloading room and at the range, and is willing to put in the time and money to do so.

I have no regrets about my years with the AI cartridges. I handload for and shoot my AI rifles as much or more than any of my standard cartridge rifles. I've found properly loaded 257 AI and 7x57 AI cartridges to be supremely efficient, accurate, deadly, light-to-moderate recoil rounds. I wish the factories would load for them, using modern pressures and powders such as H-100V, Reloader 17, Varget and VVN 550 and 160. If I ever do go on the elk hunt I've long dreamed about, I'll take one of my 7x57 AI rifles and some of my carefully developed loads.

But I'll also take my .270 or 30-06 as backup.

Good aim and fair shooting to all.

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from Drew McClure wrote 48 weeks 10 hours ago

In the local hardware a guy came in asking the workers about a countersink. I thought he was building a deck, but then he pulled out a military 223 and said he was reloading ammo and needed to remove the "edge" around the primer cup that military ammo has, and this guy said that he had read all about it and guys online were removing it with hand drill bits. I pointed out that the countersinks he was looking at were for wood and I suggested he call brownell's and get the proper tool so he doesn't eyeball the work and produce accuracy impacting variations in his reloading. When someone says "it's easy" sometimes I think they don't know how ignorant they actually are, which is dangerous.Cheers to not producing junk in your basements, oh wait Southerners don't bother building basements, so "man cave, or "garage".

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from Amflyer wrote 48 weeks 9 hours ago

I have been experimenting with a Weatherby 7mm Magnum improved. I swage the case head down a bit and set the shoulder back and trim the case. I load with an 139 grain SP and a sensible charge of medium burning powder.

Oddly enough, it also chambers and fires just fine in a 7 X 57 Rifle.

And before the mtnhunter gets testy, it's not my damn fault that he hunts so far away from everything! If you hunted in a sensible state, like New Jersey, those wapiti wouldn't stand so far away from you.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 48 weeks 8 hours ago

I'm not to hot on the idea of manipulating case dimensions, but as for caliber I find where the real rewards are. 30-06 Lake City annealed military brass makes fantastic 25-06 as the bountiful amounts of 7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win Mag makes beautiful 338 Win Mag. 300 Win Mag I'll get 3 or 4 reloadings out of it, but who cares when it's free!

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from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 8 hours ago

T.W.
So good to hear from you. As usual, you have articulately stated the plus and minus's for AI calibers. Have enjoyed my 257 Ackley Improved over the years. I believe Mr Ackley wrote it was one of his most successful improved rounds.

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from Carl Huber wrote 48 weeks 7 hours ago

The good old days; I guess you can't go home again. Myself I try to concentrate and improving myself. Offhand shots, I can't live up to the accuracy and range of today rifles and ammunition time and again. Most any rifle shoots about 1 MOA at a hundred yards. I can't stand up and put a bullet in a 5 inch circle at 500 yards.

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 6 hours ago

TW and DP,
As a long-time user of the 7X57, I have found that as long as you use modern actions you can certainly load the cartridge up to pressure levels consistent with other standard cartridges. These loadings will enable you to achieve significant improvements in performance without any safety issues. Why then isn't there factory +P loads as well as equivalent loading data for the 7X57 like there is for the 257 R?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 6 hours ago

Amflyer,

Thanks for your insightful tech tips. As for New Jersey, I have instructed my survivors to ensure my remains are not transported over or through New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachussets, or Delaware enroute to their final resting place in Arlington, Virginia.

T.W.
Thanks for your informative post. Glad to see you back.

WAM

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from deadeyedick wrote 48 weeks 6 hours ago

Since I like my body parts just where they are I'll let someone else fool around with improving rifle cartridges and stick with relaoding manual data

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from Amflyer wrote 48 weeks 5 hours ago

WAM, you are of course welcome. Funny thing about knowing everything; I didn't even have to own the two calibers I knew everything about to know everything about them.

Virginia sounds like a nice place. If they ever recover my body. I'd like to be put out to sea, Viking style. Hard to find beach in Nebraska though.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 4 hours ago

'Flyer

Everywhere/nowhere is nice when you are dead....

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from kudukid wrote 48 weeks 3 hours ago

Harold is correct.
SAAMI pressure requirements are based on the worst actions that were ever available for any given cartridge.

Let me illustrate by quoting Nils Kvale from The Norma Gunbug's Guide..."When the 308 Norma Magnum cartridge came out there were no factory guns chambered for it, and we naturally received lots of inquiries about rechambering. The by far most popular rifle for this purpose seemed to be the model 03 Springfield in .30-06 caliber, and to obtain a background we started trying out a couple of these rechambered rifles. They were of course high number actions in excellent condition and the rechambering job was properly done by our Gunsmithing Division. Following is a survey of the punishment we passed one of these guns through.

70 rounds standard proof loads, 35% excessive pressure.
15 rounds special proof loads, 50% excessive pressure.
One round with 75% excessive pressure.
One round with 100% excessive pressure.

The last rounds of course destroyed the case and the action was hard to open, but set-back of the locking lugs was not severe, and we could not locate any cracks or deformation of the action. This makes us assume that rechambering of good Springfield 03 rifles to .308 Norma Magnum caliber is entirely possible".

Handloaders need to make certain loads are not excessive for the brass cases we use. A blown case can, depending on the action, result in a face full of hot gas that might singe your eyebrows and dry your tears. If that gas includes bits of brass from the case or sand or other particles in the action, they may end up penetrating your eyes...not good. Any modern action from the 98 Mauser and the high number 03 Springfields should handle highest pressures SAAMI lists for any modern cartridge.

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from Tim Platt wrote 48 weeks 3 hours ago

Harold I have a Ruger No. 1 in 7X57 and have often wondered the same thing. I believe I could fill the case with powder and the gun would be fine...

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 2 hours ago

There might be another reason here too. For many years and for several editions of their reloading manual, Hornady stated that with a certain loading of DuPont/IMR 4350, one could safely propel a 140gr. bullet from a 7x57 at about 2900fps. Just after the 7mm/08 came out its data suggested that the 7x57 had more velocity by a small margin. Suddenly, the next edition of the Hornady (as well as several other manuals)suddenly downgraded the 7x57s top velocity by about 200fps. Therefore the 7mm/08 looked pretty good. Hmmmm...I wonder.

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from Carney wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Dave, this article reminds me of the old saying:
"Did you hear about the tragic murder of a beatiful theory by an ugly gang of facts?!?!"

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from Mark-1 wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

@AJ: Removing crimp on military brass--Best is a RCBS swagger for 223, 308 & 30-06. On the cheap: A person can also use a 13/64 drill on 223. For 308/30-06 I believe a 1/4"[.250] drill bit can be used although I've heard a 3/8 drill used. I do know large rifle primer pocket is .210. AND Yes, a counter sink #84 bit can be used. Oh: Hornady has a hand tool to remove the crimp for $10 [?].

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Mr. Happy, Mr. Harold, Mr. WAM, thank you for the kind words. It has been a while since I've been here.

Mr. Harold, I concur with your comments about the 7x57 Mauser. It has traditionally been (vastly) underloaded (as has the 257 Roberts). The excuse the manufacturers use is that somewhere in the world there exists a shooter with a Mauser 95 or other "weak" action that can't handle "modern" (as in 60,000-65,000 psi) factory loads common to probably 95% of all the other centerfire rifle rounds in use today.

I think that's a poor excuse. Nearly pathetic, actually.

A warning on the side of a cartridge box--"Do not use this ammunition in a Mauser 95. Do not use this ammunition in any rifle made before 1960 unless that rifle is a good condition Win. Model 70, Rem. Model 700/721, Savage 111, Sako, Weatherby, or other well-established strong bolt action."--is more than sufficient.

I dislike (intensely) the apparent assumption by ammunition manufacturers that we shooters are too stupid to choose the right ammo for our weapons (and, conversely, the right weapons for our ammo).

Finally, for those shooters who genuinely are too stupid to use the correct ammunition (or, again, the correct weapon for their ammo), then hmm (and I know this is not politically correct), their application and entry into the Darwin Award Competition is duly noted, and may the stupidest shooters win it by having voluntarily removed themselves from the human gene pool.)

I've probably handloaded 4000 rounds for the 7x57 Mauser. It is a fabulous (and fabulously classic) cartridge. When properly handloaded in a good rifle, it produces muzzle velocities within 100 fps of the .270 Winchester/.280 Remington. In my (admittedly biased) view, it is a better round than the 7mm-08 when handloaded--because it has more powder capacity--and should be a better factory round (but see above comments).

Some people complain the 7x57 is not an "accurate" cartridge--but this isn't the fault of the cartridge, but rather of the chambering/throating in a given barrel, meaning it is the fault of manufacturers who produce barrels that are throated excessively long. A proper chamber, a proper throat, a good barrel, a properly bedded action in a rigid all-weather stock, and a good factory load (sad there are almost none) or, far better, a carefully developed handload, will give you a supremely accurate 7x57 rifle.

Although he wrote the following back in 1961 or so, P.O. Ackley's words still bear the ring of truth today about the 7x57: "No better choice could be made for North American hunting if a commercial cartridge is desired." (Handbook for Shooters & Reloaders, vol. 1, p. 387, Ackley, P.O.)

On a related note, I highly recommend gunwriters and gun magazines to be quite a bit more demanding--and quite a bit less tolerant--toward and with ammunition manufacturers and firearms manufactuers. Excuses or reasons for poor performance (by a cartridge or rifle) today are poor excuses and poor reasons. SAAMI should not be a manifesto or legal decree.

TWD

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Mr. Happy, Mr. Harold, Mr. WAM, thank you for the kind words. It has been a while since I've been here.

Mr. Harold, I concur with your comments about the 7x57 Mauser. It has traditionally been (vastly) underloaded (as has the 257 Roberts). The excuse the manufacturers use is that somewhere in the world there exists a shooter with a Mauser 95 or other "weak" action that can't handle "modern" (as in 60,000-65,000 psi) factory loads common to probably 95% of all the other centerfire rifle rounds in use today.

I think that's a poor excuse. Nearly pathetic, actually.

A warning on the side of a cartridge box--"Do not use this ammunition in a Mauser 95. Do not use this ammunition in any rifle made before 1960 unless that rifle is a good condition Win. Model 70, Rem. Model 700/721, Savage 111, Sako, Weatherby, or other well-established strong bolt action."--is more than sufficient.

I dislike (intensely) the apparent assumption by ammunition manufacturers that we shooters are too stupid to choose the right ammo for our weapons (and, conversely, the right weapons for our ammo).

Finally, for those shooters who genuinely are too stupid to use the correct ammunition (or, again, the correct weapon for their ammo), then hmm (and I know this is not politically correct), their application and entry into the Darwin Award Competition is duly noted, and may the stupidest shooters win it by having voluntarily removed themselves from the human gene pool.)

I've probably handloaded 4000 rounds for the 7x57 Mauser. It is a fabulous (and fabulously classic) cartridge. When properly handloaded in a good rifle, it produces muzzle velocities within 100 fps of the .270 Winchester/.280 Remington. In my (admittedly biased) view, it is a better round than the 7mm-08 when handloaded--because it has more powder capacity--and should be a better factory round (but see above comments).

Some people complain the 7x57 is not an "accurate" cartridge--but this isn't the fault of the cartridge, but rather of the chambering/throating in a given barrel, meaning it is the fault of manufacturers who produce barrels that are throated excessively long. A proper chamber, a proper throat, a good barrel, a properly bedded action in a rigid all-weather stock, and a good factory load (sad there are almost none) or, far better, a carefully developed handload, will give you a supremely accurate 7x57 rifle.

Although he wrote the following back in 1961 or so, P.O. Ackley's words still bear the ring of truth today about the 7x57: "No better choice could be made for North American hunting if a commercial cartridge is desired." (Handbook for Shooters & Reloaders, vol. 1, p. 387, Ackley, P.O.)

On a related note, I highly recommend gunwriters and gun magazines to be quite a bit more demanding--and quite a bit less tolerant--toward and with ammunition manufacturers and firearms manufactuers. Excuses or reasons for poor performance (by a cartridge or rifle) today are poor excuses and poor reasons. SAAMI should not be a manifesto or legal decree.

TWD

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from O Garcia wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

T.W.

I don't think American ammo companies assume that shooters aren't smart enough. I think they're afraid of lawyers.

I've wondered about the 8mmx57 as well. The change to .323 "S" happened in 1905. The event that spurred increased production of Mauser rifles, World War 1, happened in 1914. Another round of increased production happened in the 1930's and 1940's as Germany rearmed then waged WW2. These millions of Mausers are the ones likely to have made their way to America as war trophies or sold as surplus. All in .323. Somehow American companies still load the 8mm at low pressures because of the slim chance that a shooter will fire it in a really old .318 barrel. Since European companies themselves load both the 7mm and 8mm at what you call modern pressures, I think it's a matter of lawyers.

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from kudukid wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

O Garcia:

Yes, a matter of lawyers, and way too many of them! Also a matter of uninformed jurors who believe bullets are cartridges. Also a matter of liberal jurors who hate firearms and want to punish us and the manufacturers.

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from etexan wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

Do you suppose W.D. Bell killed all those elephants with hot handloads in his 7x57

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from DaleM wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

My introduction to the Ackley Improved cartridges was via a 98 Mauser that someone had rebarreled and chambered in .257 Ackley. I developed a handload which reliably put rounds into about 1 MOA. I wasn't looking for extreme velocity, just accuracy. The most surprising thing about the chambering (at least with the load and brass that I was using) is that I could reload the brass between ten and twelve times without the need to trim cases. I was shocked, but I carefully measured cases and sure enough there was no need to trim. I don't know how you guys feel about trimming cases, but I find it the most tedious part of handloading, so being able to avoid it made me REALLY LIKE the .257 Ackley.

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from Harold wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

Actually, etexan, I don't think there was much in the way of handloading in those early years of smokeless powder cartridges. W. D. M. Bell's hayday was in the early 20th century before WW1. I believe he used Kynoch 175 gr. round-nose solids, a duplicate of the standard military load in that round. He also used military loads or their civilian duplicates in 6.5x54 Mannlicher Schonauer carbine as well as a 303 Enfield and a 318 Rigby. All killed elephants well enough for him, but only the 7x57 (275 Rigby) and the 303 cartridges had enough quality control in their manufacture to suit his exacting requirements.

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from Kachok wrote 46 weeks 6 days ago

I don't agree with the vibe of that, I think there are some cartridges that strike a better balance with an improved shoulder most notably the 280, and yes it is indeed quite a bit faster then the original and we have published load data to support that. My Nosler #6 lists the maximum speed of a 160gr 280 Rem at 2929fps while it lists the AI version at 3045fps, and as a side perk the 40 degree shoulder reduces case stretch considerably, not to mention slightly reducing throat erosion by moving the flow vortex rearward into the neck of the case, so to jump to the conclusion that Ackley was some kind of hack is nonsense. Has anyone else noticed that 1,000 yard benchrest shooting has been dominated by sharp shoulder cartridges for the past 20+ years?

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from Doug Doty wrote 45 weeks 5 days ago

Personally, the "improvement" you get from loading 150-200 fps faster isn't woth the effort. The advantages aren't significant enough to make any real difference. The game you shoot, if you do your part, isn't going to be any deader. If I was able to reload again, I would load for accuracy, period. That, in the end is what's most important.

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 6 hours ago

TW and DP,
As a long-time user of the 7X57, I have found that as long as you use modern actions you can certainly load the cartridge up to pressure levels consistent with other standard cartridges. These loadings will enable you to achieve significant improvements in performance without any safety issues. Why then isn't there factory +P loads as well as equivalent loading data for the 7X57 like there is for the 257 R?

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 6 hours ago

Amflyer,

Thanks for your insightful tech tips. As for New Jersey, I have instructed my survivors to ensure my remains are not transported over or through New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachussets, or Delaware enroute to their final resting place in Arlington, Virginia.

T.W.
Thanks for your informative post. Glad to see you back.

WAM

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from O Garcia wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

T.W.

I don't think American ammo companies assume that shooters aren't smart enough. I think they're afraid of lawyers.

I've wondered about the 8mmx57 as well. The change to .323 "S" happened in 1905. The event that spurred increased production of Mauser rifles, World War 1, happened in 1914. Another round of increased production happened in the 1930's and 1940's as Germany rearmed then waged WW2. These millions of Mausers are the ones likely to have made their way to America as war trophies or sold as surplus. All in .323. Somehow American companies still load the 8mm at low pressures because of the slim chance that a shooter will fire it in a really old .318 barrel. Since European companies themselves load both the 7mm and 8mm at what you call modern pressures, I think it's a matter of lawyers.

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from Mark-1 wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I confuse *wildcat* with *improved*, then *improved wildcat* cartridges. I believe the only *improved* cartridge I fiddled with was the 22 K-Hornet. That cartridge may have had a future at one brief moment.

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I've never figured out how to "improve" cartridges like the 257Robers or the 30/06. They did the job they were designed to do and did them well.
Actually Steve, reloading makes sense if you want to save a considerable chunk of change on ammo or tailor a cartride to a particular firearm or purpose. Or, be someone like me who likes old, obsolescent cartridges (example: 6.5X54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer)where if you want to shoot the rifle, handloading is really the only option.

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from davidpetzal wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

To AP: I am indeed. I tried and tried to get that thing to do significantly better than a standard .280 and could not. And this was in the early 1990s when there were very good slow-burning powders around. I'm aware that other people use it and like it, but you have to go with your own experience, and what that told me was, that if you want to exceed .280 velocities, get yourself a 7mm Weatherby Magnum. It's my observation that if a wildcat really has something to offer, the factories pick it up. For example, the .22/250, 6.5/284, .35 Whelen, .458 Lott, and a whole bunch of others. But none of the big ammo makers has touched the .280 Ackley Improved.

To Steve in Virginia: You're drawing the wrong conclusion from what I've written. Wildcatting is a separate part of handloading, whose advantages are so colossal as to beggar description.

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from Jim in Mo wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

Dave I'm so glad you posted this. From the embarrassing amount of reloading data I collect I never did see the advantage of the "improved" cartridge. I do see the good from factories making +P ammo. To bad forward thinking companies like Federal or Hornady doesn't make a 7x57 Mauser +P.

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 48 weeks 10 hours ago

All . . .

I've been handloading the .257 Ackley Improved, 7x57 AI and .280 AI for close to a decade now, maybe longer. I've gone through several .257 AI barrels and one 7x57 AI barrel.

Observations--

If any of the above AI cartridges are loaded to the traditional (low) pressures of their parent cartridges, then the AI velocity improvement over the parent cartridges is, in barrels of the same length, generally only 50-100 fps faster. Not that much. Accuracy, ease of chambering, reuse capability and similar factors typically match the original cartridges.

However, if one takes an AI cartridge and pumps it up a bit to "modern" (but still safe, in good bolt actions) chamber pressures of 60,000-65,000 psi (and I've read that Weatherby factory rounds typically load to at least 65k, possibly even 70k), then the AI velocity improvement over the (far lower pressure, a bit less powder capacity) parent rounds is significant.

My 257 AI rifles with 24" barrels safely and reliably match 25-06 rifles in the same barrel length, including handloads. The .257 AI rifles hardly kick at all and consume slightly less powder than the 25-06, but match it.

My 7x57 AI rifles with 24" barrels safely match most .280 Remington factory loads in rifles of the same barrel length, but will be pushed too hot to match well-crafted .280 Remington handloads. The velocity difference, however--50-75 fps--is typically (and ballistically) irrelevant.

My .280 AI rifle with its 26" barrel and good handloads is a significant improvement (around 150 fps, sometimes a little more) over a .280 Remington factory load in the same barrel length, and a bit more improvement over a factory load out of a 24" barrel.

Conclusion--

When a person goes to the expense of rechambering barrels to AI calibers, purchasing the dies, obtaining a chronograph (and a replacement for the one that will get perforated)and spends time and money at the range fireforming parent cartridges to AI offspring, the whole exercise and adventure comes down to whether the handloader likes to experiment, likes to revisit the past (via P.O. Ackley's books, which, by the way, contain loading data that should not be relied on or used with modern powders), likes to tinker in the reloading room and at the range, and is willing to put in the time and money to do so.

I have no regrets about my years with the AI cartridges. I handload for and shoot my AI rifles as much or more than any of my standard cartridge rifles. I've found properly loaded 257 AI and 7x57 AI cartridges to be supremely efficient, accurate, deadly, light-to-moderate recoil rounds. I wish the factories would load for them, using modern pressures and powders such as H-100V, Reloader 17, Varget and VVN 550 and 160. If I ever do go on the elk hunt I've long dreamed about, I'll take one of my 7x57 AI rifles and some of my carefully developed loads.

But I'll also take my .270 or 30-06 as backup.

Good aim and fair shooting to all.

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from deadeyedick wrote 48 weeks 6 hours ago

Since I like my body parts just where they are I'll let someone else fool around with improving rifle cartridges and stick with relaoding manual data

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Mr. Happy, Mr. Harold, Mr. WAM, thank you for the kind words. It has been a while since I've been here.

Mr. Harold, I concur with your comments about the 7x57 Mauser. It has traditionally been (vastly) underloaded (as has the 257 Roberts). The excuse the manufacturers use is that somewhere in the world there exists a shooter with a Mauser 95 or other "weak" action that can't handle "modern" (as in 60,000-65,000 psi) factory loads common to probably 95% of all the other centerfire rifle rounds in use today.

I think that's a poor excuse. Nearly pathetic, actually.

A warning on the side of a cartridge box--"Do not use this ammunition in a Mauser 95. Do not use this ammunition in any rifle made before 1960 unless that rifle is a good condition Win. Model 70, Rem. Model 700/721, Savage 111, Sako, Weatherby, or other well-established strong bolt action."--is more than sufficient.

I dislike (intensely) the apparent assumption by ammunition manufacturers that we shooters are too stupid to choose the right ammo for our weapons (and, conversely, the right weapons for our ammo).

Finally, for those shooters who genuinely are too stupid to use the correct ammunition (or, again, the correct weapon for their ammo), then hmm (and I know this is not politically correct), their application and entry into the Darwin Award Competition is duly noted, and may the stupidest shooters win it by having voluntarily removed themselves from the human gene pool.)

I've probably handloaded 4000 rounds for the 7x57 Mauser. It is a fabulous (and fabulously classic) cartridge. When properly handloaded in a good rifle, it produces muzzle velocities within 100 fps of the .270 Winchester/.280 Remington. In my (admittedly biased) view, it is a better round than the 7mm-08 when handloaded--because it has more powder capacity--and should be a better factory round (but see above comments).

Some people complain the 7x57 is not an "accurate" cartridge--but this isn't the fault of the cartridge, but rather of the chambering/throating in a given barrel, meaning it is the fault of manufacturers who produce barrels that are throated excessively long. A proper chamber, a proper throat, a good barrel, a properly bedded action in a rigid all-weather stock, and a good factory load (sad there are almost none) or, far better, a carefully developed handload, will give you a supremely accurate 7x57 rifle.

Although he wrote the following back in 1961 or so, P.O. Ackley's words still bear the ring of truth today about the 7x57: "No better choice could be made for North American hunting if a commercial cartridge is desired." (Handbook for Shooters & Reloaders, vol. 1, p. 387, Ackley, P.O.)

On a related note, I highly recommend gunwriters and gun magazines to be quite a bit more demanding--and quite a bit less tolerant--toward and with ammunition manufacturers and firearms manufactuers. Excuses or reasons for poor performance (by a cartridge or rifle) today are poor excuses and poor reasons. SAAMI should not be a manifesto or legal decree.

TWD

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I'm wondering if some of our "Improved" smokeless powders are filling the niche of "Improved Cartridges". I am getting pretty amazing velocities using Reloader 17 in 30-06 and 240 Weatherby Magnum without signs of pressure. I wonder if any of the other handloaders are getting these kinds of velocity gains just using modern powders.

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from AP wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Mr. Petzal, are you referring to the 280 ackley improved? Everything I have read about that cartridge has been full of praise, so I'm surprised to see that you have different feelings.

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I've never figured out how to "improve" cartridges like the 257Robers or the 30/06. They did the job they were designed to do and did them well.
Actually Steve, reloading makes sense if you want to save a considerable chunk of change on ammo or tailor a cartride to a particular firearm or purpose. Or, be someone like me who likes old, obsolescent cartridges (example: 6.5X54 Mannlicher-Schoenauer)where if you want to shoot the rifle, handloading is really the only option.

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from buckstopper wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

The "improvements" from handloading come from customizing bullet, powder and velocity to what your rifle likes at the same time saving about 50% of ammo cost. Though rifles are sometimes like women. You gotta spend money on them to make 'em happy.

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from O Garcia wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

The other great improved cartridge is also a Weatherby. Just as the .375 Wby. is an improved .375 Holland, the .300 Wby. is essentially an improved .300 H&H. Nothing wrong with the performance of the H&H rounds, and they feed and extract without fail, and they're "classy" but the "improvement" in ballistics by the Weatherby rounds is substantial. Especially when it's Weatherby(Norma) factory ammunition.

The H&H cases were ripe for improving because they had pronounced body taper to ensure reliable extraction during the days of poor quality brass and spiking pressures (the Brits insisted in cordite for nearly everything, including battleship guns, and it stayed that way as long as the Empire stood). Once the quality of brass and powder improved, there was no longer a life-and-death need for that pronounced taper.

In his many mail exchanges (pre-email, obviously) with his friend Robert Chatfield-Taylor, Jack O'Connor expressed his opinion on improveds and wildcats, saying one can indeed tweak a standard case and claim an improvement in performance, ESPECIALLY if it's loaded to 70,000 psi. Not only were chronographs rare then, so were calibrated pressure barrels. By the time a primer pops, you're already in .270 Weatherby territory.

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from Ol Krusty wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

The one thing I like about the improved rounds, especially the 243, is that they just look sexy. Its like the old farmer going to the big city for the first time and seeing an elevator. He watches an old lady walk in the elevator, the door close behind her, and a minute later a beautiful blond comes strutting out. The farmer yells at his son and says "Hurry, go get your Ma!". That's kinda the same was I look at improved's. I know I'm screwed up.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

I shunned the magnum mania until a few years ago when I found a 7mm Weatherby Magnum for sale at the right price. Just bypass all the other .277 and .284 wannabes and grab the gusto of a real 7mm magnum. No sense pussy-footing around with the 7mm Rem Mag or WSM. 7mm RUM doesn't make barrel life sense either.

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from O Garcia wrote 48 weeks 23 hours ago

Sometimes, people go for an improved version for other reasons. The .35 Whelen Improved is chosen by those who feel the .35 Whelen's shoulder doesn't provide secure enough headspacing. (I did say "feel" so don't flame me.) Otherwise, ballistically, the plain-vanilla Whelen is fine.

The .425 Westley-Richards Improved simply eliminates the "rebated rim" situation by increasing the rim diameter. No other major changes.

The .280 Ackley Improved certainly has its fans even among gunwriters. Nosler has chambered its high-dollar Model 48 for it, so I guess that qualifies for endorsement. Not a lot, but still... On the other hand, there wouldn't be so many fans of the .280 A.I. if the 7mm Remington Mag weren't so underwhelming.

I just read an article on the .280 Ross yesterday. When you really think about it, the 7mm Rem. in its current SAAMI factory form is not the 7mm Mashburn Magnum, but the .280 Ross.

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from FirstBubba wrote 48 weeks 13 hours ago

Just saying magnum makes me flinch! LOL!
At one time, I thought "speed" was THE answer and stuffed various cases with copious quantities of assorted propellants.
Now?
I still load several different calibers, but, no more flattened primers or pressure problems. Other than wringing a bit more out of my .30-30 Win than "factory" offers, most of my loadings replicate factory loadings.
Improved, to me, is cheaper ammo tailored to a specific rifle.

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from Drew McClure wrote 48 weeks 10 hours ago

In the local hardware a guy came in asking the workers about a countersink. I thought he was building a deck, but then he pulled out a military 223 and said he was reloading ammo and needed to remove the "edge" around the primer cup that military ammo has, and this guy said that he had read all about it and guys online were removing it with hand drill bits. I pointed out that the countersinks he was looking at were for wood and I suggested he call brownell's and get the proper tool so he doesn't eyeball the work and produce accuracy impacting variations in his reloading. When someone says "it's easy" sometimes I think they don't know how ignorant they actually are, which is dangerous.Cheers to not producing junk in your basements, oh wait Southerners don't bother building basements, so "man cave, or "garage".

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from Clay Cooper wrote 48 weeks 8 hours ago

I'm not to hot on the idea of manipulating case dimensions, but as for caliber I find where the real rewards are. 30-06 Lake City annealed military brass makes fantastic 25-06 as the bountiful amounts of 7mm Rem Mag and 300 Win Mag makes beautiful 338 Win Mag. 300 Win Mag I'll get 3 or 4 reloadings out of it, but who cares when it's free!

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from Amflyer wrote 48 weeks 5 hours ago

WAM, you are of course welcome. Funny thing about knowing everything; I didn't even have to own the two calibers I knew everything about to know everything about them.

Virginia sounds like a nice place. If they ever recover my body. I'd like to be put out to sea, Viking style. Hard to find beach in Nebraska though.

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from Tim Platt wrote 48 weeks 3 hours ago

Harold I have a Ruger No. 1 in 7X57 and have often wondered the same thing. I believe I could fill the case with powder and the gun would be fine...

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from Harold wrote 48 weeks 2 hours ago

There might be another reason here too. For many years and for several editions of their reloading manual, Hornady stated that with a certain loading of DuPont/IMR 4350, one could safely propel a 140gr. bullet from a 7x57 at about 2900fps. Just after the 7mm/08 came out its data suggested that the 7x57 had more velocity by a small margin. Suddenly, the next edition of the Hornady (as well as several other manuals)suddenly downgraded the 7x57s top velocity by about 200fps. Therefore the 7mm/08 looked pretty good. Hmmmm...I wonder.

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from Carney wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Dave, this article reminds me of the old saying:
"Did you hear about the tragic murder of a beatiful theory by an ugly gang of facts?!?!"

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from Mark-1 wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

@AJ: Removing crimp on military brass--Best is a RCBS swagger for 223, 308 & 30-06. On the cheap: A person can also use a 13/64 drill on 223. For 308/30-06 I believe a 1/4"[.250] drill bit can be used although I've heard a 3/8 drill used. I do know large rifle primer pocket is .210. AND Yes, a counter sink #84 bit can be used. Oh: Hornady has a hand tool to remove the crimp for $10 [?].

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from T.W. Davidson wrote 47 weeks 6 days ago

Mr. Happy, Mr. Harold, Mr. WAM, thank you for the kind words. It has been a while since I've been here.

Mr. Harold, I concur with your comments about the 7x57 Mauser. It has traditionally been (vastly) underloaded (as has the 257 Roberts). The excuse the manufacturers use is that somewhere in the world there exists a shooter with a Mauser 95 or other "weak" action that can't handle "modern" (as in 60,000-65,000 psi) factory loads common to probably 95% of all the other centerfire rifle rounds in use today.

I think that's a poor excuse. Nearly pathetic, actually.

A warning on the side of a cartridge box--"Do not use this ammunition in a Mauser 95. Do not use this ammunition in any rifle made before 1960 unless that rifle is a good condition Win. Model 70, Rem. Model 700/721, Savage 111, Sako, Weatherby, or other well-established strong bolt action."--is more than sufficient.

I dislike (intensely) the apparent assumption by ammunition manufacturers that we shooters are too stupid to choose the right ammo for our weapons (and, conversely, the right weapons for our ammo).

Finally, for those shooters who genuinely are too stupid to use the correct ammunition (or, again, the correct weapon for their ammo), then hmm (and I know this is not politically correct), their application and entry into the Darwin Award Competition is duly noted, and may the stupidest shooters win it by having voluntarily removed themselves from the human gene pool.)

I've probably handloaded 4000 rounds for the 7x57 Mauser. It is a fabulous (and fabulously classic) cartridge. When properly handloaded in a good rifle, it produces muzzle velocities within 100 fps of the .270 Winchester/.280 Remington. In my (admittedly biased) view, it is a better round than the 7mm-08 when handloaded--because it has more powder capacity--and should be a better factory round (but see above comments).

Some people complain the 7x57 is not an "accurate" cartridge--but this isn't the fault of the cartridge, but rather of the chambering/throating in a given barrel, meaning it is the fault of manufacturers who produce barrels that are throated excessively long. A proper chamber, a proper throat, a good barrel, a properly bedded action in a rigid all-weather stock, and a good factory load (sad there are almost none) or, far better, a carefully developed handload, will give you a supremely accurate 7x57 rifle.

Although he wrote the following back in 1961 or so, P.O. Ackley's words still bear the ring of truth today about the 7x57: "No better choice could be made for North American hunting if a commercial cartridge is desired." (Handbook for Shooters & Reloaders, vol. 1, p. 387, Ackley, P.O.)

On a related note, I highly recommend gunwriters and gun magazines to be quite a bit more demanding--and quite a bit less tolerant--toward and with ammunition manufacturers and firearms manufactuers. Excuses or reasons for poor performance (by a cartridge or rifle) today are poor excuses and poor reasons. SAAMI should not be a manifesto or legal decree.

TWD

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from Harold wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

Actually, etexan, I don't think there was much in the way of handloading in those early years of smokeless powder cartridges. W. D. M. Bell's hayday was in the early 20th century before WW1. I believe he used Kynoch 175 gr. round-nose solids, a duplicate of the standard military load in that round. He also used military loads or their civilian duplicates in 6.5x54 Mannlicher Schonauer carbine as well as a 303 Enfield and a 318 Rigby. All killed elephants well enough for him, but only the 7x57 (275 Rigby) and the 303 cartridges had enough quality control in their manufacture to suit his exacting requirements.

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from Steve in Virginia wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

Every year or so Dave writes on article on the pitfalls, limitations, etc of handloading, which only reinforces my desire to be happy buying factory ammo.

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from Canadian Lurker wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

What are those Cat Ridges you are writing about?

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from Safado wrote 48 weeks 1 day ago

I just don't have the patience for all of the fire forming required to shoot the improved rounds. Why bother when I'm getting conservatively 100 to 150 fps just by using Reloader 17.

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from kudukid wrote 48 weeks 12 hours ago

"which also had the effect of getting ammo makers to load to their advertised velocities."

Maybe not...

A few weeks ago I got some fresh 130 PSPCL 270 ammo directly from Remington's Tech. Folks. Gave average 2715 chronographed in a 20" barrel Ruger Ultralight.

Good luck if you think you can use factory trajectory tables for your long range targets.

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from duckcreekdick wrote 48 weeks 10 hours ago

Something else to keep in mind is the dismal resale value of improved or wildcat chambered rifles. They appeal to only a small segment of shooters.

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from Happy Myles wrote 48 weeks 8 hours ago

T.W.
So good to hear from you. As usual, you have articulately stated the plus and minus's for AI calibers. Have enjoyed my 257 Ackley Improved over the years. I believe Mr Ackley wrote it was one of his most successful improved rounds.

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from Carl Huber wrote 48 weeks 7 hours ago

The good old days; I guess you can't go home again. Myself I try to concentrate and improving myself. Offhand shots, I can't live up to the accuracy and range of today rifles and ammunition time and again. Most any rifle shoots about 1 MOA at a hundred yards. I can't stand up and put a bullet in a 5 inch circle at 500 yards.

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from WA Mtnhunter wrote 48 weeks 4 hours ago

'Flyer

Everywhere/nowhere is nice when you are dead....

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from kudukid wrote 48 weeks 3 hours ago

Harold is correct.
SAAMI pressure requirements are based on the worst actions that were ever available for any given cartridge.

Let me illustrate by quoting Nils Kvale from The Norma Gunbug's Guide..."When the 308 Norma Magnum cartridge came out there were no factory guns chambered for it, and we naturally received lots of inquiries about rechambering. The by far most popular rifle for this purpose seemed to be the model 03 Springfield in .30-06 caliber, and to obtain a background we started trying out a couple of these rechambered rifles. They were of course high number actions in excellent condition and the rechambering job was properly done by our Gunsmithing Division. Following is a survey of the punishment we passed one of these guns through.

70 rounds standard proof loads, 35% excessive pressure.
15 rounds special proof loads, 50% excessive pressure.
One round with 75% excessive pressure.
One round with 100% excessive pressure.

The last rounds of course destroyed the case and the action was hard to open, but set-back of the locking lugs was not severe, and we could not locate any cracks or deformation of the action. This makes us assume that rechambering of good Springfield 03 rifles to .308 Norma Magnum caliber is entirely possible".

Handloaders need to make certain loads are not excessive for the brass cases we use. A blown case can, depending on the action, result in a face full of hot gas that might singe your eyebrows and dry your tears. If that gas includes bits of brass from the case or sand or other particles in the action, they may end up penetrating your eyes...not good. Any modern action from the 98 Mauser and the high number 03 Springfields should handle highest pressures SAAMI lists for any modern cartridge.

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from kudukid wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

O Garcia:

Yes, a matter of lawyers, and way too many of them! Also a matter of uninformed jurors who believe bullets are cartridges. Also a matter of liberal jurors who hate firearms and want to punish us and the manufacturers.

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from etexan wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

Do you suppose W.D. Bell killed all those elephants with hot handloads in his 7x57

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from DaleM wrote 47 weeks 5 days ago

My introduction to the Ackley Improved cartridges was via a 98 Mauser that someone had rebarreled and chambered in .257 Ackley. I developed a handload which reliably put rounds into about 1 MOA. I wasn't looking for extreme velocity, just accuracy. The most surprising thing about the chambering (at least with the load and brass that I was using) is that I could reload the brass between ten and twelve times without the need to trim cases. I was shocked, but I carefully measured cases and sure enough there was no need to trim. I don't know how you guys feel about trimming cases, but I find it the most tedious part of handloading, so being able to avoid it made me REALLY LIKE the .257 Ackley.

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from Kachok wrote 46 weeks 6 days ago

I don't agree with the vibe of that, I think there are some cartridges that strike a better balance with an improved shoulder most notably the 280, and yes it is indeed quite a bit faster then the original and we have published load data to support that. My Nosler #6 lists the maximum speed of a 160gr 280 Rem at 2929fps while it lists the AI version at 3045fps, and as a side perk the 40 degree shoulder reduces case stretch considerably, not to mention slightly reducing throat erosion by moving the flow vortex rearward into the neck of the case, so to jump to the conclusion that Ackley was some kind of hack is nonsense. Has anyone else noticed that 1,000 yard benchrest shooting has been dominated by sharp shoulder cartridges for the past 20+ years?

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from Doug Doty wrote 45 weeks 5 days ago

Personally, the "improvement" you get from loading 150-200 fps faster isn't woth the effort. The advantages aren't significant enough to make any real difference. The game you shoot, if you do your part, isn't going to be any deader. If I was able to reload again, I would load for accuracy, period. That, in the end is what's most important.

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from Amflyer wrote 48 weeks 9 hours ago

I have been experimenting with a Weatherby 7mm Magnum improved. I swage the case head down a bit and set the shoulder back and trim the case. I load with an 139 grain SP and a sensible charge of medium burning powder.

Oddly enough, it also chambers and fires just fine in a 7 X 57 Rifle.

And before the mtnhunter gets testy, it's not my damn fault that he hunts so far away from everything! If you hunted in a sensible state, like New Jersey, those wapiti wouldn't stand so far away from you.

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