The DIY Hunter


270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD 300 yard ladder

270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD 300 yard ladder

Winchester Model 1885 in 270 WSM wiht Vortex Viper HSLR scope

Winchester Model 1885 in 270 WSM with Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 scope.

270 WSM Berger 150 Gr. VLD Ladder at 300 yards

270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD 300 yard ladder and my hand-drawn copy.

270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD 300 yard ladder

270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD 300 yard ladder.

The total vertical distance of all eight shots is only four inches with shots 1, 2, 3, and 4 only 7/8 inch apart vertically.

My friend Rick has been showing and telling me about how he works up loads for his rifles. He is a master at long-range shooting and is always sharing tidbits of information that I love to learn about. One thing that has really intrigued me lately is how he shoots a ladder test of different powder charges to help chose the best powder charge to get the best accuracy.

I decided to try doing a ladder test myself with working up a hand load for the 150 Berger VLD in my Model 1885 270 WSM. I just recently picked up some H1000 powder to use in a 105 Gr A-Max load for my 243 WSSM and looking over the data on this powder I figured it would work well for this 150 VLD load.

H1000 powder is a slower burning powder than my favorite MagPro powder. With its slow burn rate H1000 excels in overbored cartridges with heavy for cartridge bullets and the 150 Gr is about the max that .277 bullets come in. Although there is a heavier 160 Gr. Partition but anyhow the 150 Gr. bullet is a heavy for cartridge bullet as is the 105 Gr. in the 243 WSSM in which I got the powder for.

For this ladder test I took the max charge of 67.5 grains according to Berger, then set charges in 0.2 grain increments. So for even numbers, I went with 67.4 instead of 67.5. My first load was 66.0 then 66.2 and so on until the eighth load was 67.4 grains of Hodgdon H1000 powder. All seating depths are exactly the same with the only thing changed being the powder charge.

When shooting a ladder test the greater the distance the better, of course within reason. For me 300 yards works great and that is the distance I shot this ladder at.

One cool thing about setting the seating depth on my single-shot Model 1885 is that I take a bullet and seat it really long and then slide it into the chamber then see how far it goes in before it stops. I then seat the bullet a little deeper and try it and so on until I have the cartridge fitting fully in the chamber. I'm sure I could get equipment to measure the depth and so forth to get just the exact distance off the lands but for now this method works great for me.

As I shoot the ladder I take a scratch piece of paper to draw the target with and after every shot I examine the target with a spotting scope and mark it on my drawing. After I am finished shooting I can transpose the information onto the real target.

So what am I looking for in the ladder test? As I understand it, I am looking for the least vertical variation in three or more points of impact. I then want a charge that fits in the middle of that. Looking over my ladder shots 1, 2, 3, and 4 are only 7/8 inch in vertical distance apart. Holy crap! Shots 1, 2, and 3 are actually a 1 inch group at 300 yards. I think I am going to like the 150 VLDs! It also made sense that shot 4 went to the right as the wind really picked up at that time. However, for the purposes of the ladder I'm not looking at horizontal shot placement only vertical.

If you are looking for more information on Ladder Testing to develop long-range loads this article on goes into much greater technical depth on the process.

It looks like number 3 is my ticket at 66.4 grains of H1000 powder. I'll shoot this load and see how it goes on my next trip to the range and post the load here on my blog.

270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD 100 yard group

270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD 100 yard group.

Back at the range in June the 66.4 grains of Hodgdon H1000 powder shot this near half-inch group at 100 yards off sandbags.

View is 270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD load on my 270 WSM Handloads page.