Reduced Loads for Rifles
Why reduced loads in a rifle? After all, in today’s market, if I want a softer shooting rifle, I replace my 7mm Rem Mag with a 7mm-08, right? Why bother experimenting with turning a 30-06 into a 30-30? And if I DID want to do that, how is it done? Well, let’s explore both of these questions. In this article, we’ll look at the “Why?”. In part 2, we’ll talk about the “How” in a safe and responsible way.
To start with, let’s look at the recent past for reason # 1. Most of us remember the great Obama Scare of ‘08 and its ugly sister in ‘12. .22LR was nearly non-existent, selling for $50 to $65 on the interweb. .22WMR just didn’t exist. Many of use were used to using these inexpensive little cartridges for anything from a relaxing afternoon ventilating cans to squirrel and rabbit control or inexpensive training. Now what, with rimfire nearing premium rifle ammo prices?
Many reloaders turned to shooting low velocity, cast lead bullets as an alternative. Pictured here is one such load that became one of my favorites using cast .224 bullets, a small pinch Blue Dot and the .223 cases I already had. Depending on the powder charge, I could turn my .223 into a .22LR, a .22WMR, or a .22 Hornet for about the same price as pre-Obama .22LR, and, man, are they accurate! Following the same formula, I did similar things with .243 Winchester, .30-30 Winchester, and several other rifles. For those who don’t cast, the same thing can be done with jacketed bullets, though it does raise the price somewhat.
A second reason for reduced loads reared its head when my oldest daughter decided she wanted to hunt with Daddy - again. The rifles available for her to borrow were not exactly ideal for 5’2”, 110# people of either gender. Buying a new, lighter rifle wasn’t on the agenda. Once again, we turn to reduced loads. This time a .30-06 was made to recoil like a 7mm-08 while still hitting plenty hard enough to allow her to drop a very nice buck in his tracks. I know that Remington now offers “Managed Recoil” loads and they are good, but, by “rollin’ yer own” you have much more flexibility with both recoil and bullet weight.
Finally, it is a fact of nature that people get old. My brain still thinks I’m 25, but my body tells it “that ain’t so, dummy!” I used to enjoy 7mm Rem Mag, 300 Win Mag and the other Big Boys. Due to a multitude of age and health related issues, the recoil from these guys no longer thrills me, but I still like the guns. Reduced loads let “those of a certain age” enjoy the rifles of their youth without the punishment and bruises that seem to accompany advancing years.
There are, of course, other reasons to develop and use reduced loads, but these are the Big 3 for most of us. Next time we’ll look at a couple of SAFE methods for developing reduced rifle loads.