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243 Win / 95gr Berger reloads

06 Mar 2011
@ 08:03 am (GMT)

Jim Moseley

I have a Savage model 11 w/22"barrel, 9 twist. Looking to reload some 95 gr Bergers. Anyone have a good recipe for this rifle. I have H-4831sc and H-414 on hand. Please state seating depths and primers, MV's. Will be shooting USA southern whitetails which weigh 90 to 180 lbs. What should be the max killing range for the Berger. Also, will the 9 twist stabilize the 105 A-max?? Really enjoy your site.


06 Mar 2011
@ 11:30 pm (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 243 Win / 95gr Berger reloads
Hi Jim, I am away from my reloading folders so I can't get access to my own or client COAL's. I have some general notes here on my laptop, summaries regarding client rifles. Very sorry for the lack of exact detail below.

I found that H4350 was very versatile and it has been my go to powder for the .243 for many years. In general, 44 grains with 95 grain bullets produced the balance of highest possible velocity combined with optimum accuracy. Velocity is always right around 3050fps from 22" barrels. With 105 grain bullets, 42 grains struck the balance, giving 2980fps. I have always stuck with a 40 thou bullet jump, regardless of bullet brand and have been fortunate enough to achieve good accuracy with 105 grain bullets in 1:10 twist barrels so your 1:9 will be fine. Looking at the Hodgdon manual now, looks like I have on average been 2 grains over max with client rifles using H4350 with 95 grain bullets and 4.5 grains over max with 105 grain bullets. Obviously, you will need to start way lower than my average loads.

Its been several years since I used H4831sc in the .243. Its also been many years since I used H414 but its definitely an optimum powder. Both H4350 and H-414 powders are of a similar burn rate. Some authorities state that all ball powders need to be ignited with a magnum primer to create uniform burning, low extreme spreads (velocity). You'll will need to experiment with this yourself, see how it alters the burn rate and what actual effect it has on ES.

I am not a fan of the .243 at long range. Some people use the cartridge to great effect so I do have to qualify. When I have studied the .243 at long range, one of the aspects I wanted to test (either deliberately or due to existing environmental conditions) rear lung shot placement as a result of wind/shot placement error. With rear lung shots, killing became slightly delayed at 200 yards and beyond, then immensely delayed at 350 yards and beyond, even though wound channels were of a good diameter. I made this note in my word doc scribblings in capitals: MUST ALWAYS ATTEMPT TO BREAK FORELEG FOR FASTEST POSSIBLE KILLING. I never had problems with penetration except on pigs and in my experience, one of the traps people fall into, is thinking that the small .243 projectiles won't penetrate light game/deer very well, so they had better take rear lung shots.

I have taken game out to 600 yards with the .243 and shot placement was the most critical factor. The current bullet designs we have are all capable of fast expansion at low velocities, from the old 87gr Hornady BTHP to the Nosler 95gr BT to the new low drag bullets. The new low drag bullets like the 95 grain Berger are incredible in that they cleave to their velocity, aiding fragmentation at long range. As an example, the VLD is still travelling at 2000fps at 600 yards. Even though energy is an abysmal 869ftlb, mechanical wounding is assured.

Another note to myself that I came across reads- the cartridge and this rifle are so accurate that I am always wanting to push the range out further and further. Realistically, the wind is the major limiting factor of 'fast killing' at long range with the .243 on lighter bodied game.

So, to answer your question about 'how far'. Well, you are going to be keen to test the .243 at long range regardless. So work up some good fast accurate loads, study your ability to read the wind in conjunction with the cartridge (field test it out long), then study its performance for yourself on game. Try to get shots/ results at between 500 and 600 yards, study the carcasses, take photos and record impact velocities. If you are happy to push the ranges further after these first set of results, then do so. Whatever you do, just make sure you take photos and make notes. Remove the lungs and heart, place them beside or on top of the carcass and take good clear photos from up close and about a yard away. That way, you can look back on results and have a solid record regarding the performance of the cartridge versus your target game in your locale. And don't forget to send us pics!
08 Mar 2011
@ 03:16 pm (GMT)

Jim Moseley

Re: 243 Win / 95gr Berger reloads
Thanks Nathan! I'll have a chance in May and June to test the 243 during some depredation shooting. I'll will be interesting to see the results between the Berger 95gr and the 105gr A-max.
01 Apr 2011
@ 10:57 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 243 Win / 95gr Berger reloads
Hi Jim, best results will possibly be found at around 44 grains of H414 but ofcourse, you will need to work up loads carefully as Hodgdon state a max load of 42 grains. Also keep an eye on velocities during changes in both ambient temperatures and chamber temperatures.

Regarding finnicky performance of the VLD. Do not entertain this as an expectation, otherwise, it may cloud your judgement i.e, as soon as you see flyers, you may question the bullet unnecessarily.

Seat the VLD 40 thou off the lands and don't play with seating depths, just leave it at that. The current VLD design varies in length from ogive to ogive by some 20 thou so its best to set it right back to remove any problems/ variables.

Work up your loads and study velocity spreads and study the bore at intermittent periods by cleaning it and checking it via visual inspection of the muzzle, viewed at a 30-45 degree angle. Often, the smaller bores do have minor burrs between the lands and grooves which will cause fliers which if left unchecked, can lead to the view that the bullet is at fault.

Good bedding, basic load development, study the bore very carefully. Load development and study the bore, load development and study bore. this is the simplest method to start out with.


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