I have a Savage 11VT in .308 Win. I have been shooting 168 gr ELD Match and 178 gr ELD-X bullets. While the factory rounds seemed to shoot good (<1MOA) I was have trouble meeting those while reloading. Originally I shot a buch of ZQI M80 for the brass. Then resized, trimmed to length, deburred the flash holes, removed primer pocket crimps etc..... However due to the overly thick brass and uneven construction, lee trim tool would bottom out in brass before finishing the trim leaving them uneven, the brass would only shoot 2.5-4 MOA like the original loading.
This lead me to start buying brass. Locally available Hornady 308 Match was then used with IMR 4064. This got me down to 2 MOA or less but still not too good. Also below top loads by 1.5 grains was blowing out primers and seeing cratering. However my Hornady book's loads were max below this vs others and the Hodgdon website itself..... Also primer pockets getting loose in 1-2 loadings... As felt loading with hand primer and NO resistence even if they stay in case after firing still very leary. Had one seperate under recoil leaving a charged case with no primer.
At this point I bought a Hornady Bullet Comparator. Also based on Rex's answer on a Live Q&A I decided to try Berger Hybrids as well. Upon measuring the chamber with the Bullet Comparator I found the max length for the 168 should be 2.735" (very short) and the 178 can go all the way to 2.835". The Bergers can go all the way to 2.914" all of which are .015" off the lands and fit my magazine. Also noted that Berger loads are much lower too comparable to Hornady. Hmmmm
I have found that while doing a ladder work up using the data from the Berger reloading manual for their 185 gr Berger Hybrid Match bullets and Varget that set at .015 off the lands (per Brian Litz) of 10 five shot loadings .3 gr between groups it shot <1 MOA on all but 2. one of the 2 was only 1.1". Two groups 40.7gr and 41.6 were under .75 MOA (.6 and .7 respectively).
Now the question is anyone have experience loading rounds out this far and working up over max? Like how far to expect to go over book max?The book figures are 2.810" COAL where as mine are now 2.914" COAL. I have loaded a box of 50 with 20 at 40.7 gr and 41.6 gr my two most accurate loads and then two sets of 5 at 41.7 and 41.8 gr. to experiment. Not yet shot them. Also of note from the ZQI and the Hornady (also some freedom munitions) I now know what a non-sticky bolt feels like. Up until now even factory loads gives me a sticky bolt. Seem to be hot. However the Berger loads were a dream easy bolt lift.
I have a box of Hornady 168 gr ELD Match that I will probably not shoot now as the COAL is 2.800 and my measure max with that bullet is 2.750" lands so that is .050" crush. Yikes.