A friend of mine who collects Mosin-Nagants purchased a sniper mosin a while ago. To get into reloading cheap, he picked up a Lee Loader in 7.62x54R. He was given some powder by my dad, and bought the other supplies. The Lee Loader just neck sizes rifle brass so it works well enough for most of his Mosins, but makes it unsuitable for reloading for a semi auto. Also, we tried at one point to load using .308 instead of the normal .311 diameter bullets for a Fin Mosin, but the Lee Loader wouldn’t crimp the cases enough to hold the .308 bullets securely. The capabilities of the Lee Loader are limited, but it works well enough for low volume reloading like what my friend is doing.
This sniper mosin had a non-matching scope and mount. This had to be shimmed to allow for proper zeroing. Small slices of a soda can made for a functional temporary shim.
The next thing is ammo. Most of the cheap 7.62x54R surplus is not that accurate, rather dirty, and corrosive. My friend bought the only .311 sized bullets in his local area, Sierra 180 grain pro hunters. Not a bad bullet, but these soft points are not the best for accuracy.
My friend was using Lee dippers to measure the powder for his reloads. I brought a cheap Hornady electronic scale so we could see how accurately and precisely he metered out the powder. The dippers, which measure by volume, were not bad for consistency, but the electric scale allowed for greater precision and consistency in measuring powder.
Checking various loading data charts, we found the minimum loads were starting at 43 grains of powder and max charges of 46.5 grains. So I suggested that my friend try some loads of 43gr and 45gr to see how his rifled liked those. This is an old rifle, we certainly are not going to try and go above recommended max loads.
Now I see and hear many reloaders say that they get the best groups at or near the max pressures. While this is sometimes the case, I have met a few 1000 yard competition shooters that found the sweet spot for their rifle well below the max load. Regardless what ends up working best in your rifle, it is best to start low and work your way up.
I spotted for my friend when he fired his first 5 rounds groups with each load. He pulled his last shot with the 45 gr load, you can see it noticeably lower then the rest of the group. No sight adjustments were made between strings, so it is interesting to note the left-right shift between the two loads(identical loads other then powder charge).
So the first impression would be that the 43gr load is horrible and the 45gr load is the way to go. But not jumping to conclusions, we repeated the test.
So, then we had a better result with the 43gr load, and a different result with the hotter load. What does this mean? Could mean any number of things. My friend might have needed to warm up to shooting the Mosin, or his rifle might have liked being a little dirty better. By the second set of groups the Mosin’s recoil may have been beating him up. In any event, he now knows the best thing to do is to repeat the test and see what happens. That first group from the 45gr. load shows potential. I look forward to seeing what sort of groups my friend will manage to achieve as he experiments with reloading.
Reloading can be a hobby on its own. You can choose to produce cheaper ammo, or you can use reloading to fine turn a load for your firearm.