Enough Is Enough by Lyndon Combs
When I purchased my Ruger M77 MKII in 7mm Remington Magnum. I knew from the start that I wanted to make my own ammunition, not only to spare my wallet injury, but to make sure I got the best loads for the hunting I would be doing with this rifle cartridge combination. Having lived in the same area all my life I had a pretty good idea as to the conditions I would be facing in the field hunting White Tailed Deer. You have a choice of hunting on mountainsides or on flats with tall grass that used to be mountains. I usually hunt in valleys and on the mountainsides. Knowing the animal and the conditions I set out to tailor a load to my needs. I wanted a load that was inexpensive, accurate, and was easy on my shoulder. To me the most practical thing to do first was to search my local area and the web to see what was available. A load is no good if you can’t get the components when you need them. I then had to match these findings to a recipe from a manual.
I checked with the local shops. They had plenty of primers, and powder, but the brass and bullet selection wasn’t good, so I checked on line to see what I could find. I found everything, but the powder and primers would have a $20.00 service charge added for shipping hazardous material. No problem my local shops had plenty. I found Winchester Power Points in 150 grain, 500/ $55.99. Yes, this is an old design, but a very proven design in my book, and with a sectional density of 0.266 adequate for Deer, so at this price I snapped up the deal. Next I found Remington nickel cases 20 for $10.49. I didn’t want to cut corners on the brass but it is the area you really can save money. I can reload these cases at least four times. Good brass is worth the extra money, and having always liked Remington brass I snapped up the deal on the brass. I had my bullet, and the case now I needed to choose a powder. I went with Alliant Reloader 22. It is a good powder for the 7MM Mag. plus it was not only less expensive than other powders, but more plentiful locally. I decided since I would be going for a lighter load I would use Winchester large rifle primers, they were also plentiful locally. I had just about everything I needed to load a round for my Ruger. The only thing I didn’t have was a charge weight. I searched the books, and the web, but no recipes for the powder I had decided to use. They had plenty of 145, or 160-grain loads, but nothing in the 150-grain. I would have to come up with my own charge weight. I sat out to do my homework. Always do your homework when working up new loads. Especially when dealing with the powder charge, or primer choice.
I used one of my favorite manuals as a reference. I found a 145-grain jacketed bullet load that used 59.1 grains minimum, and 64.5 grains maximum of Reloader 22 at 58,000psi. pressure at max, and a 160-grain jacketed bullet load that used 59.5 grains as a minimum, and 65.0 grains as a maximum of Reloader 22 at 58,000 psi at max. pressure. Both loads were developed to use any jacketed bullet. Using this information I decided to start with a beginning charge of 59.0 grains of Reloader 22. Being well within the reduced charge range for either load, and the fact that I was using a non-magnum primer. I felt safe in my conclusion that 59.0 grains would be a safe beginning charge for my load. I am also using a new Ruger firearm. I have also been reloading for some time. Beginners please stay with the recipes you find in manuals until you have a good understanding of ammunition reloading.
I loaded a total of five cartridges using this charge, and as I expected they were weak for this caliber. I inspected the primers they were conducive with a weak load. I decided to increase the charge and test again. In testing like this it is always recommended to move slowly. One grain at a time. I did this until I reached the charge of 63.1grains of Reloader 22. This load is still a reduced load, but it gives me the performance I was looking for in a load. A muzzle velocity of 2906fps., recoil in the 24ft.lbs. range, muzzle energy in the 2813ft.lbs. range, and I can reload it for $9.00 for twenty rounds. I figured this estimate on using the fact that I can use the same twenty cases to load 100 rounds compared to store-bought where a box of ammunition for this rifle would cost $19.99 for twenty rounds at the cheapest. I found that this load is just fine for hunting deer.