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  1. #1
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    Large variation between Varget lots

    I normally use Reloder 15 in my precision ARs but hit a dry spell before the craziness rolled around and managed to scoop up a good bit of Varget. Fortunately I was able to restock my RE15 and then some while I have been using the Varget supply but I just had a very strange (to me) occurrence with it once I used the last of one lot Id had five or six pounds of and opened one of the last six remaining one pound containers. Five of them are the same lot from early 2020 I think and the last outcast pound is only a couple days and digits (lot# wise) from the past ones Id been loading and shooting with much success.

    I loaded up 100 rounds from that one outcast lot# of Varget and my results were very surprising. Depending on the distance (200-700yds) I was anywhere from half a mil to well over a mil HIGH, and probably even more than that at some point.

    Primers and brass are not showing pressure signs like craters, flat primers or swipes.

    I have some of my good loads left and some of the recent loaded ammo left so Im hoping to go to the range to chronograph the two side by side within a week or so to get a better idea of whats going on

    Long story short...Ive never experienced such an extreme variation in powder lots like that. With my RE15 loads, If I switched lots, Id check my zero and maybe adjust it a couple clicks here or there but nothing like this...and I guess with Varget being so known for consistency and temperature insensitivity...I was really caught off guard

    Anyone else experience similar extreme variations with different powder lots?

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    There has been a good discussion lately about humidity stability among powders. Bolt Action Reloading Youtube channel did a good test on this recently. Big contrast in results.

    Basically a lot of people contribute variation to lot number when it could be a result of storage or other factors like that.

    Bryan Litz and Emil Praslik discussed it as well in a great podcast with Sniper's Hide.

    I highly recommend watching the video on YouTube though. It's eye opening.

  3. #3
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    All other factors are consistent. Lot is the only variation in the powder. Ill have to look at the labels but Im fairly sure they were made the same week (ETA: made the same day. Checked the lot numbers) I bought it all at the same store at the same time

    Shooting temps were within 10-15 degrees. Ammo kept in shade

    Powder was sealed and climate controlled at ~70*F until opened one week prior to loading

    Not sure what other factor could possibly be at play here to cause such a difference

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    Yeah, that doesn't match Varget's reputation. It's probably my favorite powder but honestly I don't have enough experience to weigh in on differences from lots.

    My first thought was reduced case capacity in different brass, but if everything else was the same then I got nothing. Might be worth a call to Hodgdon just to see if there are any known variances with that lot.

    The only other thing I can think of is that something was off in your powder measurement and you loaded a hotter charge than you meant / thought. Might be worth pulling the bullets on the new load and the good batch just to confirm your charge weight is the same. When I load I weigh every charge on two different scales to ensure agreement.

    Was this .223 or .308?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BoilerUp View Post
    Yeah, that doesn't match Varget's reputation. It's probably my favorite powder but honestly I don't have enough experience to weigh in on differences from lots.

    My first thought was reduced case capacity in different brass, but if everything else was the same then I got nothing. Might be worth a call to Hodgdon just to see if there are any known variances with that lot.

    The only other thing I can think of is that something was off in your powder measurement and you loaded a hotter charge than you meant / thought. Might be worth pulling the bullets on the new load and the good batch just to confirm your charge weight is the same. When I load I weigh every charge on two different scales to ensure agreement.

    Was this .223 or .308?
    .223

    77gr SMK

    All once fired LC brass.

    CCI BR4 primers

    No pressure signs on brass/primers. Scope not dropped or beaten on...used the same dope and my known load three weeks prior and only missed one rifle shot the entire match (Second attempt on a 2 swinger at 400yds. Hit it the first time so my timing with it moving was off)

    Gonna test the velocities Monday or Tuesday of this coming week and Ill know for sure. Gonna send 10 of my known rounds, ten of my hot rounds and ten new ones from my last pound of the known quantity lot. I am NOT cleaning the rifle before hand. I want it to be exact conditions. Hell maybe the chamber is getting fouling built up or something...but again I feel like if it was a pressure issue Id be seeing signs of it.

    I was shooting an hour away from home so the humidity, while different, wasnt like going from Florida swamps to Montana. Sea level roughly 40 different

    I went through the same calibration process on my scale, loading, brass prep, everything. I use RCBS competition seater dies and Hornady case comparator for ogive vs OAL lengths

    I guess Ill update back in a week when I have velocity data and Ill watch that video

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    I don't have any kind of definitive answer but the video I was talking about is below. Worth a look. I am not at all saying this was the absolute cause, but it's interesting for sure.

    For me I would try to re-create the test and see if you can do it again with the 'hot' powder. Based on me doing some plug n play you need about 125 fps velocity difference to get about 1 mil of variation at 700 yards.

    I don't know but I've seen some tests where people get over 100fps difference with just changing primers. Who knows but maybe somebody slipped a few hot ones in your primers when they were packaged? It could be anything.

    If it's repeatable though that would definitely be a head scratcher. I am not sure if you bought all those bottles at the same time or not or how long you've owned them.


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    Curious..to compare to my load numbers/notes

    Were u using a Powder drop? , if so I never had stellar results with stick powders, if I pulled a few loads to ocd check them on the scale, compared to ball powder they were never as consistent.

    What size charge and oal with the 77s?
    Last edited by mustangfreek; 22 April 2021 at 05:09.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by mustangfreek View Post
    Curious..to compare to my load numbers/notes

    Were u using a Powder drop? , if so I never had stellar results with stick powders, if I pulled a few loads to ocd check them on the scale, compared to ball powder they were never as consistent.

    What size charge and oal with the 77s?
    Powder dispenser (RCBS Chargemaster) that was calibrated and verified with a check weight set. I use a 4 drop tube to make sure it all settles down

    24.3gr Varget at 2.260

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    Was able to get on the chronograph today

    My older go-to load of 24.3gr of Varget shot right where I was expecting (and incidentally, a test charge of the same weight of Reloder 15 was within just a couple FPS and almost identical SD. Wonder if for shits and giggles I could load up 20 rounds with that charge of RE15 and use my Varget dope and see what happens)

    The hot lot of Varget was shooting about 50-60fps faster and my SDs went from low teens to mid 20s. Not a huge difference in terms of avg speeds but since I hadnt seen pressure signs besides MAYBE some primers starting to smooth out (I re-examined the fired brass I had put back in the ammo box) I wasnt expecting like 150fps increases.

    I dont see how things were as far off ballistically but then again, most dope calculators say I should be making larger adjustments than the actual target impacts indicate during practice and matches


    Im still not quite satisfied. Ill be loading up the remaining ~250 rounds this one lot has left in the container, then check my rifle/scope/everything for issues again and the hit the range for half day or so before my next match in about a month

    Obligatory






    To be continued....

  10. #10
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    Is that a 20" barrel? What kind of velocities where you getting and what was your air temp?

    I might replicate your load and shoot out of my 20" Ultra Match this weekend just out of curiosity. I haven't tried that recipe since I rebarreled from an 18" WOA, except I use Remington 7 1/2.

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    It was around 80* when I shot

    20 Proof Research (Stainless not Carbon Fiber but thats pretty apparent from the photo ), 1:7 twist with plain ole rifle gas.

    I normally use BR4s but I have used Federal Match AR and Rem 7.5s with the same charge/bullet combo and I generally load to mag length (2.260) versus measuring to lands

    When I was first shooting the barrel with this load (24.3gr Varget), I was getting about 2695fps. Ive got just under a thousand through it now and its sped up and consistently around 2720fps. I get a small amount of crunch when seating but when you shake a fully seated round you can still hear powder shaking so its not compressed to a wild degree. Not seeing any ejector swipes or other pressure signs other than occasionally a primer looking a little smoother than others so I would call it a warm charge but not hot/unsafe. Ive seen people loading up to 25gr which I dont feel comfortable with at all. 24.5gr was as high as I tested and presently 24.3gr gets to go 800yds at 8 MILs and is still supersonic. Works for me very well

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    I use that exact powder charge (24.3 grains of Varget) to great success with a 69grain SMK. I typically load it using virgin (or at least same lot) LC brass. I have about 4 or 5K pieces of brass that I try to keep segregated.

    I know that is all I want to push mine although I do have bit of wiggle room. That said Hodgon lists a top charge of 26 grains for the 69grain bullet. In their tests out of a 24" barrel they get a velocity of 3,010 fps. Out of my 16" barrel I am getting averages over 2600fps. I figure if you account for barrel length differences I am within maybe 75fps of their top charge using the same bullet and I get really good results.

    With the 77 grain bullet they list a max charge of 23.7 grains and it's compressed so you are over max.

    That being said it's my experience that the closer to the top I get the more sensitive things get. With knowing what I know about my rifle and load I can imagine what you are getting with yours. That said I still can't figure out why that one powder bottle is giving you higher velocity. I am at a loss still.

  13. #13
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    The published load data for that bullet and powder is across the map. Ill look back through my collection of published info from the last decade this weekend some time.

    Nosler, for 77gr lists 24.0gr as highest and not compressed

    Lyman 49th lists Varget and 77gr BTHPs at 22.5 min and 25.0+ as Max (and yes they put the plus sign on there).


    The point is not every rifle/chamber etc is the same, so start at 2-3% below whatever manuals Max charge you feel is ideal, and work up your loads for your rifle.


    Something else Ive read while researching this issue is that while Reloder 15 may be more temperature sensitive than Varget, its more consistent lot to lot. And after using a light RE15/77gr charge for YEARS since I wasnt shooting more than 400yds at that time, my experience concurs with my reading

  14. #14
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    Gorgeous day for shooting here in Washington today, although it got a little windy out at my place (between 65-70 degrees). This thread made me realized I really haven't spent much time on load development for my 20" Rainier Ultra Match.

    Recipes: 77gr SMK, Remington 7 1/2 primers, Lake City brass (twice fired), COL 2.25. Light crimp with Lee FCD. Varget
    24.1 gr Ave 2594 fps
    24.3 gr Ave 2613 fps
    24.5 gr Ave 2641 fps

    I did the same ladder with Nosler 77gr Custom Competition and they generally came in 10-20 fps slower.

    For comparison, IMI 77gr Razor Core (factory ammo) gave me ~2810 fps. That's a hot load and generally gives me ejector marks.

    Shot suppressed with GA Recce 5 and used Magneto Speed for muzzle velocity.

    Interesting that your broken-in Proof is giving about 100fps more than my pretty low (maybe 200-300?) round count UM. At these temps, I'm getting no signs of pressure even a 24.5gr of Varget, so I might push it a bit. 24.5 gr of CFE223 was giving ~2690.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoilerUp View Post

    Recipes: 77gr SMK, Remington 7 1/2 primers, Lake City brass (twice fired), COL 2.25. Light crimp with Lee FCD. Varget
    24.1 gr Ave 2594 fps
    24.3 gr Ave 2613 fps
    24.5 gr Ave 2641 fps
    I find it interesting that I am getting the velocities that I am getting using just a middle of the road load. Out of a 16" barrel I am getting over 2600 fps averages using 69grain SMK bullets with 24.3 grains of Varget. For reference the chart below is for 68 grain Black Hills that shows a similar velocity band as me.

    Just goes to show that every barrel is very unique. I wouldn't think I could get away with doing too much more in that rifle.


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