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There have been some questions here lately about loads using Varget that approach maximum. I have been wanting to investigate this myself so loaded up 100 rounds in two sets. The first set is loaded in fireformed RWS cases that have already been shot a few times in this rifle. The second set is loaded in fireformed Lapua cases shot once in the this rifle. The rifle is my Sako AII tactical. It is a stock factory rifle that I had pillar bedded and fine tuned couple of years ago.

This first target started out below average with the group on the top left. I focused better when shooting the next group on the bottom right. Moving up to the top right and then the bottom left I shot a slightly stiffer load. Aside from the first group I cannot see a lot of difference in overall size.

After a cease fire and patching the rifle out with some solvent I shot this second target following the same top left. bottom right, top right and bottom left sequence as before. The first group started out very nicely but I screwed it up on the fourth shot. The edge to edge size of the four shots measures .555". The two loads shot on this target merit further testing in my bolt guns. I was very pleased with the ten rounds of Hirtenberger ball ammo I shot as well. I have not seen any ball ammo that shoots as well.

After another cease fire and some more cleaning I shot two groups into the last target. My concentration lapsed once again but I recovered it for the last group. It was getting pretty late in the day so I shot another ten rounds of Hirt and packed up.

I do not have a chronograph so I have to use indirect signs to determine pressure. The cases all extracted easily enough but did require more force rearward force to extract than the new Lapua cases did when I fireformed them. At no time was it difficult to turn the bolt. I have noticed in the past when using fireformed brass that cases require a bit more force to pull them from the chamber. The Hirtenberger cases extracted with no difficulty at all. Careful inspection of the RWS cases showed some faint signs of extrusion into the bolt face. These marks were difficult to see without a loupe or reflecting light off the head of the and may have already been present. The primers showed no signs of extruding around the firing pin.

While I consider these loads fine for my bolt action rifles I would be very cautious of shooting such loads in an M14 pattern rifle. Varget is among the slowest powders suitable for the M14 pattern and therfore places higher pressure on the gas port. I am continuing my tests in the bolt actions next week with once fired Lapua cases and will repeat the tests with new cases and in different bolt actions.
 

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I have a fully blue-printed and accurized rem700 in .308 that I shoot for
f-class and fun matches. It sits in a MacMillan A3 stock with a Kreiger SS tube. The smith that put it together used a Palma reamer to cut the chamber. The load that work the best for me is a 155 palma from sierra with either lapua brass or federal gm match, a CCI brprimer and 47.5 grains of Varget. At 1oo yds it will group 5 in a 1/2 inch or smaller group if I do everything i need to do. Varget has worked very well for me. I am going to the range tonight to try a load with 168 sierra mks and 42.5 grains of varget in the M1A. I will post results on Monday if everything goes as planned.
 
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It's my understanding that Palma reamers are designed to tightly headspace the case at 1.630 but are generous in the body dimensions so the fireformed cases have a bit more capacity. Palma barrels often have a 13" twist and I know of one barrel maker who offers a .298 bore with .308 grooves for Palma rifles. They can get very specialized. If your rifle has the 13" twist you may be disappointed with the 168g bullets.
 

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The bolt rifle has a 1 in 12, 26 inch barrel. There is no problem getting what i need there. How ever the M1A did very well with the 168s. it took about 15 shots for the rile to settle down and after that it was sweet. The last 2 groups that I was able to shoot were very tight at appoximatey 1/2 inch each. These were 5 shot groups shot with open sights and in failing light. I was very pleased with the results to say the least.
 
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These loads and this rifle are performing beyond my expectations. I wish I were up to the same level of performance. The first target shot on Saturday shows me that these loads are consistant in both RWS and Lapua cases. The second target just reinforced these thoughts. I've now tested the load on the third target four times and it is not as consistant. I'll try it again along with another two tenths increment in charge weight. I was hot and tired by the time I shot the fourth target. The load was consistant but I was jerking things up, down right and left so every group has at least one flyer. Considering the problems I originally had with this rifle it's a bit ironic that I am now disappointed with one inch groups. It would probably help if I skipped espresso when heading to the range. :D

Sunday I didn't have as much time to shoot because the range was crowded. See my "Bolt Action Only" post for the first target I shot using a different powder. I followed that up with this continued test. I was a bit distracted by the 300 Win Magnum muzzle blast coming from the bench next to me. After these guys left I shoot my last few rounds and ended the day shooting a .262" Group. I think this rifle could do this every time as long as I am up to the task and it's a good example of what a well tuned factory bolt action rifle can do.
 
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