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Discussion Starter #1
How do you all go about sighting a new gun as a reloader?

I've got two I need to work on. A 44 Mag and a Ruger 480.

I'm thinking of loading a handful in the middle of the range data and using them to sight the guns. Then loading a typical ladder to develop the most accurate load and then re-sight the gun once the optimum load is found.
 

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Corps Commander NGV
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As long as you are printing near point of aim don't worry about zero until you settle on a load. If POI is so far off that you're not on the paper, or the group is straying onto another bullseye then make an adjustment. You are only concerned with groups size during load development. If you are shooting through chronograph screens you do want to know where the shots are going to protect the sky-screens. Good loads for big bore hunting handguns need to be accurate at longer ranges, not just at 25yds. The chronograph will make sure you are getting the velocity you need as well as providing info on Extreme Spread and Standard of Deviation. Low number values there will give efficient, consistent loads that will group well even farther out.
 

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Retired Moderator & Gunsmith
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nawagner, I know this is going to sound a little like "anti-reloading" but I always start with a box or two of factory ammo just to set a base line for function, sight alignment, velocity over a chronograph, and of course accuracy. Once I know my gun functions properly and deals with these things, I'll do some test loads. Usually I can beat factory ammo in all respects, however my goal is overall performance.

Another issue …. I believe in buying a magnum gun for its intended purpose, which is full power ammo. As an example, I don't buy a 44 Mag so I can shoot light loads. If I wanted to do that, I'd buy a 44 Special so I don't waste my time with target loads for the heavy hitters.
 

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At 15 ' a new gun should hit within a foot of aim with factory sights, but get some big sheets of paper, nothing is more frustrating than not knowing where you bullets are hitting. I used to work in municiple planning and would grab rolls and rolls of superceded plans to use as targets. Many times I would plaster a target stand with 6 sq.ft. of paper so that a fellow shoother could see where their new gun/sight was actually hitting.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the ideas. I thought about starting with some factory loads and will probably go that route.

Also good points on the full power loads for 44 mag and 357. I've got a whole mess of 38 Special brass I can load if I want to shoot light loads.

Love the idea on the size C and D drawing size paper too!
 

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I don't see any major issues with loading down .357 and .44 mags to special levels for plinking. The minor issue I have is how much differently they generally print, than legitimate magnum rounds. Not extreme at 15 yards, but beyond that it is really telling. Sometimes you can be hitting the bullseye everytime at 25 yards with one load and not even be on paper with the other. As others have said, try some decent factory ammo to get a idea of the accuracy of not only the gun, but you. Then go from there.
 
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