The quest for precision ammunition is something I never grow tired of. Well that is, if I’m dealing with a firearm of sufficient precision! If I’m not, I may resort to some gunsmithing because precision is just in my veins. So I’m excited to be working on precision loads for the .25-45 Sharps. I can’t wait to find out just how precise my .25-45 Sharps AR-15s will shoot. Will they shoot sub-MOA consistently? Will I find that “magic load” that shoots like a dream? It’s all part of the fun, and part of the journey.
Breaking Down the Precision Loads Process
Loading precision ammunition is not an “exact formula” that you can repeat each time you load for a rifle. There are a lot of factors to consider, and variables that will affect the steps and techniques you perform and use. Here’s a general breakdown of a typical precision loading workflow with notes for this loading session: (as demonstrated in the video above)
- Inspect and clean brass. (I started with new brass before forming, so did not apply here)
- Size and de-prime brass. (we handled this in the case forming part of this series)
- Measure brass and trim if needed. (this brass did not need trimming, I measured after forming/sizing)
- Chamfer case mouths. This was necessary here (see notes below), may also need to swage primer pockets if brass is once-fired military.
- Prime cases. Here I used the LEE Auto-Bench prime tool.
- Charge cases. I used the Hornady Lock-N-Load case-activated powder measure for this step.
- Seat bullets. I used a Redding Seater die for this, which gave outstanding results.
- Crimp bullets. (did not decide to crimp here)
- Inspect completed ammunition. Can include measuring bullet run-out which I did here.
There’s much more that you can do, including turning case necks, annealing, and other processes. These are the first precision loads I’m loading for my .25-45 Sharps AR-15s, so I though I’d “start simple” and see how things go. I’m still in the process of developing load data, so that’s where my primary focus is at this point. I had already formed my .25-45 Sharps brass which included sizing and checking with a case gage- so that part of the loading process wasn’t necessary here. But what I did discover was some slight/small “half moons” of brass: ever so falling out of the seating die when running some test loads through my workflow. Sure enough, when I inspected the brass I saw sharp case mouths- from the forming process. This told me I needed to chamfer the case mouths in order to avoid brass debris and bullet shaving from negatively affecting my precision loads.
For this task I decided to use the Hornady Case Prep center. You can do this kind of chamfering by hand or by machine, it’s all a matter of time, effort, and equipment on hand.
Above you can see the before (left) and after (right) for the case mouth chamfering process. Quite a difference! Chamfering you case mouths is usually a good idea, and typically only needs to be performed once. After performing this process, the results were *much* better. Smooth seating, no shaving, and no brass debris falling down!
As you saw in the video, the combination of the floating shellholder design on the MEC Marksman with the addition of the Hornady Lock-N-Load conversion kit gives you perhaps the best die-to-case alignment possible as evidenced by the bullet runout measurements I performed in the video.
I’ve been loading Speer Hot-Cor 87 grain bullets with great results- this time I decided to try some Speer TNT 87 grain bullets. It will be interesting to see how the results (precision and ballistics) compare between these two bullets with the same underlying load data:
- .25-45 Sharps brass formed from new 5.56 Federal brass
- Speer 87 Grain TNT 25 caliber bullets (Speer #1246)
- Federal Small Rifle Primers (No. 205)
- Hodgdon H335 spherical powder – 28.0 grains
- 2.253″ COL
This data was taken directly from the Sharps Rifle Company 25-45 Sharps Load Data Sheet (PDF).
Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.
These precision loads will help establish some “baseline results” for precision and ballistics that I can iterate on. The process is essentially the same as each successive set of loads are loaded and evaluated. By measuring groups, performing ladder testing, and mixing up components (bullets, primers, powder) as well as varying factors such as seating depth, the “ultimate” set of loads will emerge for the two .25-45 Sharps AR-15 rifles I own. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m going to enjoy every minute! And of course I’ll bring you all along for the journey. Make sure you’re subscribed here (click this link) as well as on YouTube!