Loading Procedures

The Steps

  • Prepare and clean the brass cases using best practices to include trimming to recommended trim length per SAAMI specifications and chamfering at least the inside of the case mouth.  The standard expander, designed to provide, from the factory, a .002" interference fit on the bullet is ideal.  Some may choose to run a higher interference fit employing a reduced expander or utilizing a die with smaller OD bushings, but we do not recommend either as the crimp is a far better method for achieving the intended result, see later in this guide.  However, those that prefer a tighter squeeze may utilize those methods if they so choose.

  • As far as powder selection, we recommend any reputable reloading manual as a reference, but especially those that have load data for the Barnes TTSX or LRX bullet of similar weight.  Since those are tipped mono bullets with relief grooves and a fair bit of data out there, it's the most representative starting point.

    • For example, in reference to the Afterburner 153 gr .308 bullet, look at data for the 150 gr TTSX​​

    • Within that data, look to the faster powders on the list.  For example, if the data lists both H4831SC and H4350 as good options, H4350 may be the better choice based on case fill.  Any compressed charge with a TTSX may struggle with a like weighted Afterburner to get max performance.  Remember, Afterburners are long and intrude into the powder space more than the TTSX, and they don't do well with overly compressed loads due to inconsistent seating depth caused by minimal case contact with the bullet prior to the crimp process.

    • For starting loads, after selecting the powder or powders most likely to succeed, we recommend utilizing the starting loads listed for the above mentioned TTSX/LRX.  It is very likely, that as a work up load is progressed higher, no pressure signs will be present upon hitting the listed maximum charge weight or velocity.  For hand loaders with limited experience, stop here and enjoy a high performing, well mannered combination.  Only experienced hand loaders should take this higher, and certainly only if utilizing a properly functioning chronograph to verify velocities, and even better yet, pressure sensing equipment as well, as the latter is the only way to truly tell what pressure the loads are experiencing.  Properly executed, it is not uncommon to see faster velocities than listed TTSX/LRX book maximums while still maintaining acceptable pressure indicators.  How much faster will differ depending on many complex interactions too numerous to discuss here.  All that said, every hand loader should be disciplined in the loading approach, and if indicators are showing something unfavorable or close to an edge during a work up load process, it's time to back off.  Desired velocity can't be "willed" into existence without dangerous results when pressure indicators are present.  Consult any reputable reloading manual for identifying unfavorable signs of pressure.

    • The key is to find the combination that gets near case fill or slightly compressed at the ideal charge weight.  A highly compressed charge will not work for Apex Outdoors bullets as the grip from the case prior to crimping is insufficient to keep the bullet from creeping out.

  • On the bullet itself, identify the small, shallow crimp groove band just below where the nose makes it's maximum outer diameter.  The front of this groove at the smaller OD is designed to fit flush to the top of a properly chamfered case when the bullet is seated.  The projection length listed for each bullet coincides with this and will provide guidance utilizing overall length to verify proper seating depth.  It is critical that the correct projection length is utilized so that the bullet performs as intended by design.  Actual seating depth may vary a little, but the key is making the top of the case align with the groove such that a crimp die will crimp into the groove.

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  • If the powder charge results in a slightly compressed charge, besides the use of a drop tube, a common technique used to avoid excessive pressure on the base of the bullet, associated powder crunching, and inconsistent seating depth follows:

    • Halfway through the seating process, as resistance from the powder just barely starts, pull the cartridge out of the die with the partially seated bullet, and turn it on it's nose, flicking or tapping the case.

    • Then gently turn it right side up, careful not to jar it, and reinsert into the die to finish the seating process.  This will allow the powder to cascade around the boat tail due to gravity providing some additional room for the final push into the case relieving the resultant pressure on the base of the bullet that would have otherwise been present.  This works for any bullet, but especially the sleek and slender Afterburner tail section.

  • Utilize a collet style crimp die, like the one that Lee Precision provides, to crimp the bullet securely in place.  Since Apex Outdoors bullets have a shallow groove accommodating this function, we recommend crimping harder than what you might do on a smooth, grooveless bullet.  Lee's standard recommendation for setup of an additional half turn on the die after bottoming it out seems to be about the right starting point.  Please be advised, bottoming it out does not mean hand cranking it tight; it means positively touching the deck.  If your method is cranking it tight at this point, you will want less additional turn on the die, and you've probably already developed your own procedures for this.  From individual to individual, instructions based on bottoming it out have less variation, especially for those that are new to this, and our instructions line up with that advice as do Lee's.  We do not recommend taper or roll crimp dies for our bullets, so if your seater die has this function in it, back it out so it is rendered ineffective, and use a collet style die instead.

  • Any questions beyond this, please refer to our forum or email us for additional information.  Happy hunting!

The Reasoning

       Our patent pending bullets are simple to load, but they have unique requirements.  By design, the bullet barely touches the case at both the front and rear case alignment bosses, with both bosses being separated by a long distance.  For loads utilized in magazine fed rifles, it is imperative to employ the recommended crimp on the bullet to keep it in place.  Even for loads planned for single shot operation, the crimp is still highly recommended as the powder needs initial resistance to load up consistently, shot to shot.  Apex Outdoors bullets do not naturally provide this resistance, or friction, as other bullets do, and the crimp provides a consistent, repeatable way to achieve this vitally important component of the powder burn cycle.  Without it, shot to shot variation will be high, carbon fouling high, and sensitivities to changing conditions, such as ambient temperature will be significant.

       We recognize that the jump into the lands for most rifles will be somewhere between .120" - .280", not unlike most factory ammunition.  This is intentional and another reason the crimp process is so important for proper functionality.  The longer jump, when properly crimped, desensitizes the ammunition to external variables, such as slight differences in powder volume, case internal capacity, temperatures, bore fouling and erosion, bullet weight, etc.  Desensitizing the entire system is important to reliable and repeatable performance, especially in field conditions, which are forever changing and uncontrollable.  Remember, our bullets are hunting bullets first and foremost, and they are designed to perform the same in the face of any and all conditions.  They are not designed to seat in the lands, or really even close to them, and a cartridge case could not effectively support the bullet if the intention is to do so.

 

       When properly loaded per our recommendations, Apex Outdoors bullets will appear very forgiving, and load development should take far less shots than what is considered the norm, especially considering seating depth is mostly fixed.  To fine tune loads, if even needed, we recommend playing with crimp setting, powder selection and/or charge weight, make of primer, and make of case, probably in that order.  Usually, one can ramp a load sequence up, maintaining safe pressure thresholds, and find a sweet spot without too much effort as long as the proper powder burn rate was selected from the beginning providing near full case or a very slight compressed load.  Once at the desired velocity and case fill, assuming safe practices and pressure indicators, this usually results in a high performing combination with no tuning needed.  The best validation of a stable load is a group that has a low extreme spread combined with a tight cluster.