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My .17 Predator

by Dave Affleck

Load Work
When I got the completed rifle back from Greg, I found myself with very little time to do load development.  Luckily, I had all of Danís data to start with.  Sometimes on a rifle project, things just seem to all come together and work well right out of the gate, almost with no effort, like it was just meant to be.  I love it when that happens.  My .17 Predator turned out that way.   

My goal for the first range session was to work up a decent fireforming load.  To start with, I simply loaded up a few rounds with the fireforming load Dan had reported getting good results with - 30 Goldís seated into the lands and 24.5 gr. N540.  After using the first three shots to get zeroed, the first pair of three shot groups were both under 1/3 MOA, and the cases were nicely formed with crisp blown out shoulders.  The chronograph showed 3800 fps for these loads while fireforming.  Good enough for me!  With less than 10 shots put on paper, I was done with load work or target shooting for the time being.  I went home and loaded up the remainder of 100 pieces of brass with that fireforming load, and looked forward to fireforming the rest of my cases while stopping beating hearts! 

After getting some more cases fireformed (on rock chucks!), I then tried the two full house loads for the 30 gr. Gold that Dan had reported were working well for him.  One with N550 and one with Big Game.  His Big Game load was a bit hot for my rifle, so I backed it off.  What I ended up with, are two loads that both push the 30 grain Goldís to 4050 fps or so, with superb accuracy.  The N550 load is 27.1 grains and produces 4040 fps, the Big Game load is 27.5 grains and produces 4060 fps.  All loads are using the Kindler 30 gr. Gold bullet, seated to make firm contact with the lands.  The load using Big Game showed slightly better accuracy, along with slightly better velocity.  Itís also a fine grained ball powder that meters well (meaning I donít have to weigh charges), so that is the one I settled on as my working load.  All total, Iíve shot only about a dozen groups with the rifle, and most of those only 3 shot groups.  But only one group out of all of them has been over .5Ē, several have been under .25Ē.  Considering Iím getting the velocity I wanted, and the accuracy I wanted, I simply see no need to continue load testing.  With less than 60 total shots on paper, I was done with load work and ready to go hunting.  Now, a couple years later, I can report that I have one set of IMI cases that have been loaded 8 times now with the Big Game load and the primer pockets are still tight and the brass appears to be holding up well.  Most likely, the only paper this rifle will ever shoot for the rest of itís life will be to check zero!  You can read a long winded description of my short winded load work and see a table of the load data from both mine and Danís .17 Predator rifles by clicking here.

This is an 8 shot group, showing typical accuracy with my .17 Predator.

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The Cartridge
Choosing an action
Choosing a stock
Choosing a barrel
The scope
The Riflesmith
Loading dies & forming cases
Load work
Results in the field
Final thoughts

Rocky Mountain Varmint Hunter

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