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Got this in about 3 weeks or so ago from Oregon, and had some brass prepped for a couple weeks, but haven't gotten around to finishing the loads til tonight. This is one of the new-ish Bergara Ridge rifles with heavy-ish threaded barrel. Mine is chambered in 7mm-08 with 1:9.5 twist with 24" barrel. I thought these would be heavier guns than they are, but mine seems to handle quite nicely. I added a tactical 30mm Nikon scope, a steel Warne Picatinney rail, burris steel Zee rings and after inserting the bolt with slightly oversized tactical knob, it still didn't feel bad. Much lighter than the last rifle I test fired, which was the custom Savage 6.5x47L.

I may have gotten lucky. I think zi've read where the B14 triggers are adjustable from 3-5 pounds, with closer to 5 being the normal factory setting. However, mine breaks like glass at 2 5/8 lbs on the scale. Tried it multiple times to verify, because it surprised me the first time. So I don't need to do a thing to the trigger. I've read where guys go in and reset the trigger and epoxy bed it before going to the range. Well, the trigger is fixed. I always give a rifle a try before I try to bed it. If it's plenty accurate enough, leave it alone. What's accurate enough? For me with a 7-08, I'd say 1/2 MOA. It's a target round. The potential is there. If it were a 270, I might let it get away with 5/8 MOA or so, but a 7-08 ought to be capable of half MOA if you have good custom ammo. And I do! I got a real good lot of Hornady brass. I have all cases within a group within a half grain or less in weight variation, and only one is as much as a whole grain apart. Also, all groups are built with cases having .002" or less of run-out at the neck. My 2 fouling shots are both loaded with 4451 and 130 grain Speer Hot-Cor bullets. They are a couple or more grains difference in weight and both .0035" of run-out - too much for top quality target ammo (which is kinda what I made, since the intent is to see what the rifle will do). I will likely clean several times, as this is the "break-in" period, but I'm not a huge believer in break-in ritual. Some barrel makers (most) have a formula for their barrels, but not all. I.e. Barrett doesn't recommend a break-in period with the Fieldcraft. They make they're own barrels in-house. I was able to pull my 25-06 from the box and instantly shoot 1 round to get on paper and make scope adjustments, then everything I put through it went about 1/2 MOA, without cleaning. I do believe you won't see your best groups for about 40 rounds or more, especially if you have a factory barrel. I believe break-in rituals may get that number down to 15 or 20 rounds, or even less, depending on the barrel. My advice is do what you do. I've had some stellar results, and I've had crappy results, and usually, it's been somewhere in between. Some folks say fire lap any factory tube with a Tubbs lapping kit. Never tried one, but I believe they would be beneficial for new Savage, Remington, or Winchester, for sure.

I digress again. I am also trying the new Staball 6.5 Winchester powder. Designed for the Creedmoor, it has been found to work MUCH better in the 7-08! 3200 f/s with the 120gr Sierra, and even breaking 3000 f/s with a 150gr Sierra! That's MOVING for a 7-08! That bests velocities normally attainable in a 270 for those weights! It was good in the 6.5x47L, but not stellar like my old standby. I have made 2 out of 3 of the same loads identical except charged with my old standby for comparison. I am using a combination of components and loading techniques proven to produce exceptional accuracy. In other words, if the gun is going to "shoot," it will "shoot" one of these loads! I divulged my fouling loads, and in addition, I am testing 120 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips, 140 grain Woodleigh Weldcores, and 150 grain Ballistic Silvertips. I like the Ballistic Silvertips because they go faster with the coating, and the coating is much easier to get out of the barrel than, say, moly. Woodleighs are consistently one of the most accurate bullets out there IF you stick them in the lands, which I have done. If the StaBall 6.5 powder is as fast as the data shows, I will try some of the 160 grain Accubonds and Trophy Bonded bullets I have lying around. They should go up to 2850 - 2900 f/s, which is beyond all previous expectations for this cartridge. I only use Federal large rifle Gold Match primers for accuracy testing, and all ammo is mechanically straightened to within .001" prior to having a light crimp applied. Bullets are all weight sorted to the same tenth of a grain. Charges are poured by hand to the same tenth of a grain. Flash holes all reamed uniformly and deburred, and all cases trimmed and deburred to less than a thousandth difference in length. Overall length measured from the ogive is identical on each round of a given group. The only thing I didn't do that some do is uniform the primer pockets, which all felt good when seating the primers. Also, dry lubing the inside of the necks. That didn't matter last outing, so we'll see if that's the case again.

I had the rail installed prior to shipping. I installed the scope myself, so we'll see what we have in a few hours. Looking forward to some trigger time during all the panic and uncertainty!
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Looking forward to seeing your results.
From your post it sounds like you have studied a lot of benchrest loading techniques and take the time to exercise them.
Just curious, you seem to sort your brass by weight, have you sorted any by volume?
And, have you measures case wall thickness uniformity? Often times brass will have a thick side and a thin side. A trick some long range shooters use to do (years ago anyway) was mark either the thick side, or thin side, and then as they loaded the round orient the case into the chamber the same way --- thick side up or thin side up for all cases.... ? Just wondering
Years ago I had a 7x08 barreled by David Tubb. While he had my pre64 M70 out there, I had him install an Anschutz 5018 trigger..... the gun shot really well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Looking forward to seeing your results.
From your post it sounds like you have studies a lot of benchrest loading techniques and take the time to exercise them.
Just curious, you seem to sort your brass by weight, have you sorted any by volume?
And, have you measures case wall thickness uniformity? Often times brass will have a thick side and a thin side. A trick some long range shooters use to do (years ago anyway) was mark either the thick side, or thin side, and them as they loaded the round orient the case into the chamber the same way --- tick side up or thin side up for all cases.... ? Just wondering
Years ago I had a 7x08 barreled by David Tubb. While he had my pre64 M70 out there, I had him install an Anschutz 5018 trigger..... the gun shot really well.
I don't bother with those sort of dimensions for hunting ammo. Even "match grade" hunting ammo. I've done it in the past, and turning necks for uniformity netted nil on side by side comparisons. I have never even considered sorting by volume. This would seem quite tricky since you can't see the bottom of the meniscus through the brass. 1 half extra drop of water will be quite heavy. in comparison to most powders. If I were competing at ranges of 1000 yards or more, I might use some of these techniques, and more, but just to see what a hunting rifle will do at 100yds, going to that much trouble is superfluous. Besides that, weight is a good indicator that one of those parameters might be off, especially volume. I notice variations in neck wall thickness of .001 - .002" on most all brands of brass, just haven't had it make that much difference for the kind of shooting I do.

If I had to use different brands of brass together, then this becomes huge, because everybody knows if you change brands, your POI and group size will almost always automatically change as a result of pressure variation as a function of case volume differences.

I tell folks to do what they do, but in my experience with testing these parameters side by side, case neck run-out is the single most crucial factor in consistent accuracy (or lack thereof). Weight plays a part, but the difference is in weights has to be fairly significant to make a noticeable difference. Even then, weight doesn't make as large of a difference as run-out over .003 - .004". So much so that I won't even attempt groups with cases having over .003" unless I'm fireforming or performing break-in, for whatever crazy reason. Sometimes, full-length sizing gets some of the run-out to an acceptable level. Sometimes it makes it worse. Sometimes it doesn't change. It depends on how you orient the case in the shell holder before sizing. You can turn it one way, and if it doesn't get better, spin it 180 (or even 90) degrees, and repeat.
If you want to get into it that in depth, you probably ought to anneal, too. I've done it on select wildcats, but I learned through experimemtation in side-by-side comparisons that annealing brand new brass COULD be detrimental to accuracy. So when it's been worked and reworked several times, then by all means anneal, but my experience with SOME brands suggest that annealing new cases is not only unnecessary, bit detrimental. Likewise, we can get into the argument of full-length sizing vs neck sizing, and they both have a place. Buddies of mine use to use body dies and then neck dies to accomplish what a good FL sizer ought to do in one pass. There are arguments for that method. Just never tickled my fancy to try it. I guess for me, bottom line is if what I do produces 1/2 and sub-half MOA, and I'm struggling to get to that or even 1 MOA in one particular gun, it's simpler and less time consuming to trade guns or swap barrels and start over with the same loads, which generally gets me to where I want to be.

I thought the primer pockets seemed pretty uniform on the 7-08s, but I don't bother checking this either except if I'm using really sketchy brands, like Quality cartridge, Winchester, or Prvi Partisan. I USE to would have said the same about Hornady, but Hornady's quality has come a LONG way in the past 3 or 4 years or slightly more. There is a little more sorting to do. You don't have to worry about run-out or many inconsistencies at all with the likes of Norma, Nosler, and Lapua. There are other upstarts that are made VERY well, also. I didn't even trim the batch of Lapua I used to shoot the groups with the 6.5x47L I posted the other day. That is pretty much unheard-of, but if I get a batch that good, I'm all for the least amount of work possible.

I guess to summarize, it depends on what brand of brass I'm using as to how much work goes into it. I try to get the best that I can afford, bit if I'm looking for 270 cases or 243, etc, I will generally grab Hornady every time because it's a fraction of the price, and I know I can make it perform very well. If it's a target or hard-to-find kind of deal, I may grab 100 Lapua or Norma if I find them available, ergo 6.5x284 where I pretty much used Nosler exclusively. I was surprised when Hornady 280 AI got me down to 3/8".

All I've said applies to NEW cases. That's predominantly all I load. I run the sizer button through them to true up any dents in the mouth, and help with uniform drag around the bullet's shank, and sometimes use graphite dry lube to ensure uniform drag coefficient, especially when the trimmer pilot has done a number inside the necks. The final 2 steps are the key to the whole thing: Mechanically straighten them so they are perfectly aligned with the bore (you hope), and crimp with uniform pressure. A bushing die does the same thing, but is more expensive and more difficult to set up til you get it where you want it (though not difficult, just more difficult than screwing down a Lee factory crimp die and being done with it).

Lol, I know guys that go WAY beyond what I do. They may out shoot me, too, but if we swapped guns and they use my rig and handloads, I'd wager they'd STILL out shoot me. I never professed to be a great shot, but I did pay for a PhD in load-ology with all the crazy wildcats I made and then had to try to figure out how to get to shoot. I.e: Why won't this work? Why do I have to do this? Which way makes the most difference? etc. I toiled for YEARS trying to visualize concepts and understand the physics and mechanisms of handloading accurately. Finally, I realized there are certain components that just work better across the board in any rifle of a given chambering, and sometimes, even broader across chamberings. Not 100% of the time, but 9 times out of 10, for sure. I've had factory guns that 1" is all I can get out of them with the most preferred load. Then again, I've had $250 rifles shoot 1/2 MOA when properly loaded, bedded, and given a trigger job, having the correct amount of torque on the action. If I get a rifle that won't hold 1 MOA with anything, I get rid of it or rebarrel it. There's something messed up in that barrel, either bore dimensions, crown, or chamber/throat.

It is fun to talk to others who share the passion for accurate loads. I went back to school a couple times and even went to the home of some forum members on another site to learn what they do. I am always learning, amd by NO means do I profess to know it all. Or even half of it. lol. Other times, I see a guy's loads in a hunting rifle and am envious, so I send a pm and ask, "Hey man, your handloads are kicking my butt consistently. What are you doing that I'm not?" I can get most of them to go down the entire list. I check what I do compared to what they do. I make changes where necessary.

You learn your way, you get input from others who do better, and you modify your way. Their way may not work for me all the time, so I have to develop my way. I incorporate lots of things from their rituals, but ultimately put my spin on it. I had one guy who would prime cases before trimming. He said it prevented any deformation during the exercise. I don't do that. I trim first, right after straightening case mouths. Some guys use expanders to blow the neck out a little and then bring it back down with a sizer. This is to accomplish consistent neck tension. I think that over works brass unnecessarily, and I choose to use a $13 Lee crimp die to accomplish the same thing. Arguments can be made that method is better for other reasons, but as ling as I get 1/2 MOA, I couldn't care less if the gun is capable of 15/32" if I do differently. Not worth the extra hassle. Good reloading is WORK! I throw every charge by hand, manually. I don't own a trickler or powder dispenser. I seat every primer with a hand primer. (Oh, have to uniform and deburr flash holes in the Hornady brass). This is something I incorporated from a guy who always bested me- (deburring and uniforming flash holes). I may at some point do more primer pocket uniforming, and have done it, bit don't generally do it now unless I sense the primers seat with different amounts of force. or depth. Some brass cases just won't accommodate the Federal Match primers unless you do uniform them. Generally, I just switch to CCI bench rest or regular old Rem 9 1/2s (or 9 1/2M, depending) and call it good. Rarely, changing primers from the Federal Match ones yields better results. If I get a load that shoots 3/4", you bet I'm going to remake it and just change the primer. In addition, I'll go back and add or detract a half grain and then a whole grain to see what makes the most and best difference. And I'll usually have results from 1/2" better to 3/4" worse. Or more. Let me quit typing and start shooting! Man ya got me started! lol.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
This scope has a finer reticle than the one I had on the 6.5x47L custom, so maybe I can aim better, albeit, I'll be shooting off the tailgate from that old flimsy plastic lawn chair where I do a little dancing around the bullseye because I'm neither comfortable or solid.
 

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Nice rifle, love the bolt handle.
 

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Nice rifle, love the bolt handle.
Well, not this one. It doesn't group, it patterns. And I can't speak about the powder either because I had some crazy issues with the chronograph I've used for 17 years. I got nothing from today except to know the rifle has issues. I really thought I might have forgotten to tighten my scope down, but it wasn't that simple.

I'll do a bedding job and see if that makes that much of a difference. Very disappointed. Any run of the mill Savage Trophy Hunter or Axis beats this.

This is real-world, guys. You don't have perfect success every time you go to the range with a new gun. You take the bad with the good and work with it or replace it. I do know there is some issue with the gun. One or two of these loads would have shot well in a normal rifle. Forget MOA, I barely sniffed 2 MOA!

Last Bergara I had shot really good, but not great. This one is a 1/4" from laughable. I may stick to my Savage builds from now on.
 
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