Which Reloading Manual Is Right For You?

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin

Reloading Manual Selection Copyright The Guns And Gear Store

Reloading Manual Selection – Copyright The Guns And Gear Store

This may be an old hat to some of the more seasoned reloaders but it is worth discussing again. A lot of new reloaders have asked about the differences between manuals and what data is correct. The answer is very specific to the set of components that a single reloader is using at the time.

Sierra’s .308” 150 Grain BulletsIf we look at the 30-06 cartridge and 150 gr bullets, we can see a lot of differences even referencing to a single powder like H4350. A 150 grain is a 150 grain is a 150 grain, right? No. Even from our own lineup listed above, you can see several different designs; some have a lot of bearing surface compared to others that don’t. With all other things equal, a bullet with more bearing surface will create more friction therefore more pressure. Since it has the longest bearing surface, we used our #2135 Round Nose bullet to develop the 150 gr load data in the 30-06 cartridge. When you change bullet makers, you’re not only changing the bearing surface length but the makeup of the jacket. This can make a difference in a top end by itself but when you add into the equation the different primers, cases and especially firearms you can see a 3.5 grain top end difference from manual to manual easily. If the other bullet doesn’t have a jacket at all or only has a copper wash on it, that can change top ends also or even what powder is recommended to use with it.

Because of the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) changes in bullets, we always recommend referencing data from the bullet manufacturer, just like we do when someone calls looking for us to quote something. We like to be specific and know at least what brand of bullet a caller is using so we can go to that brand of manual; we do keep other manual brands on hand to reference, as well as the Sierra manual. The reality is the reloader needs to realize that they have a completely new set of components and their top ends will change from ours or others data. That’s why we recommend beginning at the listed start load (from the appropriate manual) and working up in an incremental value appropriate to the cartridge. This will give a shooter room to work up without just jumping on pressure signs immediately.

The firearm used can change the top ends a lot. Let’s look at the 44 Magnum cartridge from a lever action as well as a revolver. Just from our manual alone, this cartridge using our #8610 240gr Jacketed Hollow Cavity and using Winchester 296 powder gave a top end of 24 grains in the lever action. That same powder in the revolver gave a top end load of 24.7 grains so almost a 3% gain. The #9 powder from Accurate went from 20.4 grains in the rifle to 21.4 grains in the revolver so almost a 5% gain. Both of these sets of data resulted in a maximum pressure but it took different amounts to get there. This comes from the rifle using all the pressure to push the bullet out of the barrel and the revolver having a gap between the cylinder and the forcing cone bleeding pressure as it tries to do the same. Going to another brand of data can show even more change but when it all boils down, a top end load will be determined by the reloader seeing pressure signs using his or her own components.

I’ve heard it said that even though someone uses 2 ¼ cups of flour and someone else may use 2 1/3 cups of flour in their recipe; they still make a darn good chocolate chip cookie! The same thing can be said about reloading recipes. As long as the person shooting them is getting accuracy without seeing pressure signs doing it, that is what matters. You can get there by working up from a safe start load – so have fun shooting!

If you have any questions about reloading data from a Sierra Bullets reloading manual or any other please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra@sierrabullets.com.

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Sierra Bullets Infinity 7 Ballistic Software

Sierra’s newly released Infinity Version 7 Exterior Ballistics offers an easy to navigate interface designed by shooting enthusiast and Microsoft® software designer, Rodney Korn. Like Infinity Version 6, Infinity Version 7 allows users to generate multiple trajectory charts and graphics, point blank range, calculate zero, uphill/downhill shooting,
maximum range, minute of angle, profiled wind improved atmospherics, revised print formats trajectory in mils, gun database and more. Infinity 7 computes ballistic data based on the calculations of renowned Sierra ballistic consultants and retired chief scientists Ted Almgren and Dr. Bill McDonald.

Infinity 7 is compatible with Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP, or Win2K. Infinity 7 is available as stand alone software or packaged with Sierra’s 5th Edition Reloading Manual in either a printed or digital format. Software users are encouraged to check the Sierra Bullets website at http://www.sierrabullets.com for downloadable software updates and additions.

Infinity 7 Demonstration Video

Profiled Winds Demonstration Video

Check back for more instructional videos!

User Guide Icon

Download the new 59 page user guide.

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So … What did you do on your day off?

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz

March is a special time of year for me.  One reason, it is my birth month.  Another is it is traditionally when our Missouri weather begins to moderate.  Here at Sierra we get our birthdays off.  Since mine came on a Tuesday this year I took the time to carefully check the weather for the weekend and Monday as well as Tuesday.  The weekend forecast was great, Monday okay but cold and rainy for Tuesday.  Okay 3 out of 4 is pretty good so I took Monday off also.

I got this new IBS Heavy Gun much to my wife’s chagrin.  There was only one problem, it didn’t come with a scope.  Well now, that does present a problem at my house because I certainly didn’t find any support for the purchase of a scope. Especially one that cost as much as a new double door refrigerator.  It is said that necessity is the mother of invention but so is the threat of sleeping outside with the dog.


I unwillingly reviewed my scope inventory.  The Dasher we built last year is carrying the new Burris XTR  34mm 8-40X first focal plane scope that is very large for this dainty little gun.  But I had a spare 8-32 Signature Burris that came off my departed 300 Win Mag that I could use.

In a wonderful “Ah Ha” moment I determined that if I removed the 34mm XTR from the Dasher and replaced it with the older Signature the dog and I could sleep inside at least for now.  So the decision was made, put the big scope on the big gun and the smaller lighter Signature on the IBS Light Gun class Dasher.

So one evening while suffering through a nasty sinus issue I traded scopes and waited to feel better and the weather to be favorable.  Which brings us to a couple of weeks ago, late March.  After two of rounds of Z-paks and 3 weeks of hacking and coughing the scope swap was made one evening.  I spent Friday evening deciding what powder and how much to use under the big Sierra 210 MatchKings (#9240).  Saturday morning I loaded all my match stuff and headed to the range.  Since this was my first “formal outing” of the year and my first with the Heavy Gun I was taking the preparation seriously.  It was cool as I loaded the truck but the bright sun felt good, it was going to be a good day.

So I get to the range and get set up.  Front and rear rest set up is paramount.  A whole new system to me and completely different from my light gun setup.  As I was getting positioned behind the gun I noticed that I had attached the front scope mount to the integral rail in the wrong position.  That meant my carefully torqued bolts and ring screws had to be redone by hand this time.  That done and the scope positioned correctly, leveled and snugged down I was almost ready to shoot.  Almost is the key word here.  As I was bore sighting the barrel looked pretty gnarly.  Better clean this beast before firing.

026025The first patch showed the presence of carbon and copper.  Ten minutes later the barrel was spotless and it was time to fire the first shot.  I slide one of the big 30s in the gun and closed the bolt.  I adjusted the parallax, turned the power down to 25X so I could see any errant bullet impact at the 250 yard impact and touched the trigger.  The jolt of the recoil came immediately but very subdued.  Wow, this thing doesn’t kick at all I thought but the let off surprised me and I really didn’t see the bullet impact.  But I saw debris flying so I guessed I had hit a bit low.  I spun the elevation dial until it was even with the bottom of the target stand and put another round in the tray.  As I closed the bolt I concentrated on the trigger.  Noise level not bad, recoil quite comfortable and “hot dog” there is a hole in the paper.  I adjusted the dot down and over to cover the hole and readjusted my set up back to the single bull.  Another big 30 on to the tray, bolt closed and touch the trigger.  Boom and a hole appeared about 1 o’clock on the 1 inch square.  Excellent but where exactly was my hold!  Now comes the dilemma, do I adjust the dot to the center of the bull or shoot as is for group?  I decided to shoot “as is”even though I wasn’t totally zeroed and I still didn’t remember my hold position.   I couldn’t wait, I x’d up the next shot and let ‘er fly.  Darn that’s close to the first shot.  Okay I remembered my hold this time and let 3 more shots go.  I could see the two holes but where were the other three?

IMG_2772I hopped in Teryx and headed down range.  All shots accounted for and I headed back to the bench so happy I could barely contain myself.   Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me!

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Bullet Selection 101

Written by Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd

When selecting a bullet for a particular use there are several things to consider.


If the selection is for a hunting situation the size and reputation of toughness of the game, cartridge velocity, average distance of the shots taken and expected bullet performance are all averaged to select the best bullet weight and construction. For instance a prairie dog hunt scenario dictates a much different bullet selection than the same gun and a whitetail deer hunt would if optimum bullet performance is considered using a 243 Winchester. Sierra makes bullets which can do both. The 55 and 70 grain BlitzKings® (#1502 and #1507) are definitely prairie dog bullet offerings and excel at this type of game shooting, but would be very poor selections for deer-sized game. GameKing® bullets such as the 100 grain Spitzer boat tail bullets (#1560) would be an excellent choice for deer and while they would kill the small prairie dogs, ricochets may become an issue. Again, balancing the bullets construction to the application ensures success.


When it comes to shooting for accuracy, especially at distance, one must balance the bullet weight with the case capacity of the cartridge in order to achieve accuracy coupled with sufficient velocity for the distance being shot. When shooting extended distance (read beyond 200 yards) the ballistic coefficient of the bullet must also be factored into the equation.  Sheer accuracy of a bullet with low ballistic coefficient characteristics can be outperformed by a slightly less accurate bullet in your gun system.  If the bullet has a higher ballistic coefficient design and the wind conditions cause the less efficient bullet to drift enough more to overcome the accuracy differentiation you will experience better groups or higher scores with the slightly less accurate yet more efficient bullet.


Another factor that needs consideration is the rate of twist your gun system has or needs if you are building a gun for a specific bullet need. The rate of twist if set can limit the bullet selection as longer/heavier bullets require more twist rate than shorter/lighter bullets of a given caliber. If you are going to build a gun twist rate and barrel length should be factored into the bullet selection process for the shooting requirements.

When choosing a bullet for your cartridge/hunting/match put some thought into the intended performance needed with the above suggestions and if you still have questions feel free to contact Sierra at 1-800-223-8799 or by email at sierra@sierrabullets.com.

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Pros and Cons of a Barrel Tuner

Written by Sierra Bullets Product Development Manager Mark Walker


Some people love tuners and others hate them. I use them on my rifles and I’ve had more than one person ask me why on earth I would put one of those things on my barrel. I’ve even had a national long range champion tell me to unscrew it and throw it into Lake Erie on my next trip to the pits at Camp Perry. However, there are other shooters that swear by them and have many match wins to back it up.

It’s an indisputable fact that tuners do have an effect on a rifle’s accuracy, however how much is somewhat open for debate. The large heavy target barrels that we use for benchrest or f-class may not be affected as much by a tuner as a lighter weight sporter type barrel. Each barrel that I’ve installed a tuner on not only showed improvement in accuracy but also displayed a wider load window. The increased accuracy is because of the ability to adjust the tuner to the load, however I believe the wider load window is due to the added weight of the tuner slowing down the barrel vibrations. These are both very important aspects of having a very accurate rifle.

While better accuracy and a wider load window are two areas of improvement, I believe the most important feature of a tuner is the ability to adjust the tune during the middle of a match. This is especially important during matches where you must load all your ammo earlier and cannot make adjustments to the load during the match. If you happen to miss the load, instead of having to deal with a gun that isn’t shooting you can make an adjustment to the tuner and hopefully improve the accuracy of the rifle.

While I’ve laid out several ways that a tuner can help, there are also a few ways that tuners can cause problems. They add weight so if you are shooting a discipline that has weight limits on the rifle, you may not be able to install a tuner and still make weight. Sometimes, a barrel just doesn’t show improvement with a tuner installed. These are few and far between, but it is something to consider. If you make an adjustment to the tuner in a match, you need to make sure you move it in the right direction. Adjusting a tuner in the wrong direction can cause very large groups. And finally, if they aren’t tightened properly, tuners can come loose during firing which will cause a lot of problems as well.

As you can see, tuners have both positive and negative aspects. In my personal experience, the positives far outweigh the negatives so I will continue to use them on all of my competitive rifles. If you’ve been thinking about installing a tuner, hopefully some of the information that I’ve presented will help you make an informed decision.

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Poem About Reloading: Stool Shootin Slaves

Happy World Poetry Day! – from the Bulletsmiths   To celebrate, check out this poem written by By Ola Warren and published on page 7 of the February 1957 issue of Precision Shooting magazine.


Life is not dull with a Stool Shootin Nut,

My gosh no – It’s anything but

My days are not marked with monotony

Neither can they be tagged all efficiency,

But I wonder and wonder why things go awry

When I have tried so hard his wish to comply,

Sense of time disappears each spouse will agree

When a meeting is held by the “Big Three.”

I set a good table with soft candle light

And in comes my darling looking a sight,

No time to shave – No time to change

He’s spent all day at that darned old range.

Later I suggest we go out for some fun

Splendid, he says – we will try out my new gun,

I dumbly smiled to be a good sport

While secretly thinking of a Divorce Court.

Next day he states he has plans for me

How sweet, I think, it’s our Anniversary,

Come on he says, for Heaven’s Sake

We have five hundred bullets to make.

Then ‘ere I get going – I hear his cries

What have you done with my Biehler dies **!!##**,

I give up – but no use rave

I just admit I’m a Stool Shootin Slave.

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20 Lessons From My Youth

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf

I_Learned_My_LessonI grew up in a small town in rural Missouri, where there was usually nothing better to do than head off into the woods with my Marlin model 60 or grab my fishing pole and hit the local farm ponds.  Growing up in that environment teaches you a lot of valuable lessons that I will share with you for free!  Just trust me on these things, and hopefully, you don’t have to learn these 20 valuable lessons the hard way like I did.

(1)  If you cut through a muddy field, your boots will get stuck in the mud, and you will spend the rest of the afternoon with wet muddy socks.

(2)  You will never get all of the cockle burrs and stick-tights off of your favorite hunting jacket.

(3)  The ice on the creek isn’t near as thick as you think, find another place to cross it.

(4) It doesn’t matter how many times you walk around the tree, the squirrel will always keep going around to the other side of it.

(5) It doesn’t matter how you cross a barbed wire fence, if you climb over or crawl through it, you will still rip your pants.

(6) Don’t try to save 50 cents when buying your 22 ammo. You usually get what you paid for.

(7) Before you decide to sit down, make sure you are not in a patch of poison ivy.

(8) If you have to clean the rabbits, make sure not to gut shoot them.

(9) If it looks like a stick, it’s probably a snake, walk around it.

(10) It is a good idea to carry toilet tissue in your pocket. But your socks will work in an emergency.

(11) It is always your favorite fishing lure that gets stuck in the tree.

(12) It takes two full days to get stink bait off of your fingers.

(13) Snapping turtles will usually find your stringer full of fish.

(14) The walk back is always longer than the walk there.

(15) Take off your boots before walking on the carpet.

(16) When you are pulling the spider webs off of your face, the spider is usually on your

(17) Those hundreds of little red specks on you are seed ticks.

(18) When a tree falls across the creek, it is not a bridge.

(19) Buy the good mosquito repellant.

(20) It’s not a shortcut if there is a bull in the field.

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