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Finding New "The Load" for .17 Remington
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Old 03-03-2020, 02:38 PM
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Default Finding New "The Load" for .17 Remington

I purchased my Remington model 700 chambered in .17 Rem back about 1980. (Sheesh! 40 years ago! Time flies when you're having fun.) I started out using Hornady's 25-grain spitzer, and 25.0 grains of H414. That load gave me an average muzzle velocity of 4112 f/s. At 100yd, the rifle shot nice little, 10-shot, 1" groups. These groups were consistently very interesting: They cut almost a perfect circle 1" in diameter. Since my personal standard for HUNTING ammo is 1 minute-of-an-angle, and I 'liked' the 4100+f/s MV, I made no effort to 'improve' that load. Unfortunately, Hornady quit making those bullets - of course - and I didn't use the H414 for any other cartridge, so when the last pound of it was gone, I didn't get any more.

A few years back, some of you may recall that I made a rifle chambered in the .17 Predator. (http://www.thehunterslife.com/forums...ad.php?t=17859) While I have shot many big-game animals with the .17 Remington, there's very little 'varmint' hunting opportunities in Alaska. What few there are, are located off the road system, meaning significant logistic and cost considerations. The net effect is that, with few exceptions, my .17 Remington has been neglected for the past couple of decades. I LIKE that rifle and cartridge, so I'm going to document in this thread, the work-up of the new "The Load" for this rifle.

While Hornady makes a 25-grain bullet - an HP - I don't care for it like I did their exposed-lead-point spitzer. Also, that "10-shot circle" always niggled away in the back of my mind. Such consistency HAD to have a rational explanation, and I think I have figured it out, and doing so forces me to make some additional adjustments to my thinking about "The Load".

Back in the first years after Remington commercially released the model 700 in .17 Rem., there was a lot of talk about the twist rate of the barrel being too slow to gyroscopically stabilize the FACTORY ammo loaded with 25-grain HORNADY bullets. Since I was producing those 10-shot, 1" circles, I didn't find that to be "true" for my rifle. HOWEVER, after doing more research on gyroscopic stability in bullets, AND giving LOTS of thought to bullet flight characteristics, it occurred to me that my CONSISTENT 10-shot, 1" circles were very likely the result of the bullet being on the ragged edge of gyroscopic stability. Being on the "ragged edge of gyroscopic stability" meant that the bullet was 'not quite' stable. That meant that it was "wobbling'. How would that instability manifest itself at the target was the $64,000 question? Well... it would cause the bullets to 'disperse' RANDOMLY around a central point of aim or impact. Because of the RANDOM nature of the dispersal, the typical 3-shot or even 5-shot group would not reveal the "ragged edge" of gyroscopic instability. However, a 10-shot group would, and DID. The 10 shots would not 'walk around the clock', but rather would disperse themselves randomly around the point of aim creating A CIRCLE. For example in one group, the first shot might occur at 1 o'clock, the second at 5 o'clock, the third at 9 o'clock, the forth at 2 o'clock, etc. In the next group, the order would completely different. HOWEVER, the net result of TEN SHOTS would be a CIRCLE. I'm reasonably convinced, (until someone comes up with a more plausible explanation), that all of those 10-shot, 1" circles were a function of being on the ragged edge of gyroscopic stability. "Good enough" for hunting purposes within the ranges suitable for using the .17 Rem cartridge, but nevertheless, "unstable" and unsuitable for benchrest shooting.

Now, armed with that assumption, I intend to address that "ragged edge of gyroscopic stability" as I work up a new load for this rifle. Therefore, I am going to start with a shorter bullet that does NOT require a twist rate faster than the early-model 700 has in order to stabilize it. I'm also going to up the muzzle velocity A LITTLE BIT. Not much. I'll let precision determine the final MV, but I am going to target 4200 f/s as the goal. If I still shoot 1" 10-shot circles, then I'll know my "ragged edge of gyroscopic stability" theory was wrong. I'll document the development in this thread.


Paul
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Last edited by gitano; 03-06-2020 at 12:02 PM..
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