Low Power Loads for the .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester

By Randy Lewis

This past year has been more than trying for those of us with a passion for shooting. I find my frustration level increasing as my reloading supplies are decreasing. The current scarcity of bullets, powder, and primers is a topic for another day. Suffice it to say, if you want to continue shooting, you shoot what you have.

Recently, at the powder chest, my ''can shake'' tests failed for Varget, Blc-2, Cfe223, and H-380. As I shoot a lot of .308 and .243, these powders are some of my favorites. I did, however, find a couple of cans of Alliant Red Dot and Alliant 2400. This got me to thinking, sometimes a dangerous thing

Many of you are, no doubt, familiar with C.E. Harris's Red Dot research (Reference "the load"). Lower velocity rifle loads using shotgun and pistol powders for cast bullets have been around for practically forever. Not so much for jacketed bullets, however. Now you ask, why would anyone want to shoot lower velocity loads? For me, there are two reasons, trigger time and small groups on my target paper. I'm talking about sub-1/2 MOA at 100 yards from standard "off the rack" production rifles. Interested?

Mr. Harris' (13 grain) Red Dot procedure works pretty well. My Savage Model 10 in .308 likes 12.7grains of Red Dot with 140 grain Nosler Custom Competition bullets and match primers. 1/2 MOA groups at 100 yards off the bench are common. Also, no custom brass is needed. I use Winchester brass for most of my shooting. The newer brass from Winchester has gotten a lot better over the last few years. Of course, case preparation is a must.

I've been using Alliant 2400 in my 45-70 for years. 19 grains of 2400 with a 500 grain cast bullet duplicates black powder velocities. My goal was to find the amount of 2400 for the .308 and .243 over a range of bullet weights. 19.3 grains turned out to be the magic number. I have tested this formula with bullets from 70 grains to 100 grains. The system works well and I am able to shoot without the normal, but unavailable, powders I would otherwise prefer. 1/4" to 3/8" groups are common with Nosler 70 grain Ballistic Tips. Again, I am using match primers.

I have no way to ascertain the pressure of these loads (Use at your own risk! -Editor) and I have not chronographed them, but judging from the considerable bullet drop between 100 yards and 200 yards, the lighter bullets, for both calibers are in the 2000 to 2100 fps range. The heavier bullets seem to fall in the 1700 to1800 fps range. Note that wind is the big enemy here!

The .243 testing was done with a Remington 700, 26" sporter barrel and a synthetic stock. A good coyote rifle, by the way.

Hey, guess what I just found in the powder chest? A pound of Blue Dot and a pound of Universal. More to follow.

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