Most people who reload do it for the same reasons: Cut the cost of shooting, have pride in the end result of your effort, and develop the perfect round for your rifle.
Developing the perfect round can be a drawn-out process.
It usually starts by deciding what velocity you would like to have your bullet travel, then match a powder that creates the velocity without the hazard of creating more pressure than the rifle can handle.
This is where the work begins.
When developing the round it must be fine tuned in order to tighten your group. This may entail loading and firing many rounds in tenth of a grain increments of powder. With each tenth of a grain the velocity may vary 4 to 10 feet a second, depending on the burn of the powder.
Another factor is the vibration that is created in the millisecond when the powder is ignited by the primer.
This vibration travels down the length of the barrel faster then the bullet itself, creating what is known as "minute of angle." Simply put, this is the angle of trajectory that the bullet leaves the muzzle.
When the charge in the load is changed it not only changes the velocity, it changes the vibration. By working the charge up or down you can arrive at a point where the vibration and the velocity of the bullet are harmonically balanced so that the bullet leaves the muzzle at approximately the same angle of trajectory each round.
The object, of course, is to have the tightest group possible at the distance you sight in at, whether it's 100 yards, 200 yards or farther. The reason is the pattern will spread out the farther the bullet travels.
After the process is complete, and you're satisfied you have the perfect round and your rifle is shooting right where you want it, you may decide you need a heavier grain lead for big game or a lighter grain for small game. At this time you will have a place to start, but will have to repeat much of the process in finding the best charge for the new grain of bullet.
To a reloader who likes to tinker with loads, this isn't much of a problem. It can be a problem for the casual shooter using factory ammunition. This was probably what lead Browning to develop the Ballistic Optimizing Shooting System, BOSS, that is offered on many of their rifles.
The BOSS is a weighted main body with a indexed lock ring that matches a index on the barrel. The whole assembly threads on the end of the barrel. Each system comes with a chart supplying starting points for different calibers and assorted bullet weights. By shooting groups and moving the weight in tenth increments from the start point you can dial in the harmonic balance of the barrel and the shell being fired. This ensures a consistent angle of trajectory with each round fired, which tightens the group at the point of impact. With this technology it allows shooters to change bullet weights without readjusting their scope.
I have never had the opportunity to shoot a rifle with a BOSS, and it's not a new product. In 1995 it won Popular Mechanics Design and Engineering Award, and it's an innovative concept. With the endorsement of many top shooting and outdoor writers, such as Grits Grisham, Steve Comus and Al Miller, it certainly would deserve a look by anyone considering buying a new rifle.
Frank Dixon is a press operator at the East Oregonian who also is an avid big game hunter and reloader.