270 WSM - Shooting 150 Gr. Berger VLD Ladder Test at 300 Yards

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 over bored 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 6mmbr.com 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 sand bags.

View is 270 WSM Berger 150 gr. VLD load.



243 WSSM - 105 Gr. Hornady A-Max Hand Load

243 WSSM 105 Hornady A-Max

243 WSSM 105 Gr. Hornady A-Max


243 WSSM 105 Gr. Hornady A-Max 3 shot groups

243 WSSM 105 Gr. Hornady A-Max 3 shot groups.


243 WSSM A-Bolt Varmint Stainless Laminate Rifle

My 243 WSSM A-Bolt Varmint Stainless Laminate rifle with a 20 MOA EGW Rail with low Four Hole Skeleton Weaver rings and a Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 MOA second focal plane scope. Because the 20 MOA picatinny rail places the scope higher I needed the comb raised to get proper eye, cheek alignment. I recently had Karl McKnight make the fully adjustable comb and add the extra length to the stock I need with a new recoil pad/spacer. Karl did a fine job! I like the look and especially the functionality.

Shot the chronograph.

Oops! This explains why I didn't hit paper.


243 WSSM 105 Gr. A-Max 3 shot group

A 3/4 inch and 7/8 inch group for my first time trying the 105 Gr. Hornady A-Max out of my A-Bolt Varmint Stainless Laminate rifle.


Rick, a friend of mine, worked up a great 105 Gr. A-Max load for his 243 WSSM over a year ago. He has been shooting absolutely amazing groups with this load out to 600 yards. Before he worked up the load both he and I questioned if our Browning A-Bolt rifles with 1 in 10 twists would be able to stabilize such a long bullet. Rick proved that they would with his A-Bolt Varmint Stalker and Hodgdon H1000 powder.

This bullet really intrigues me so I had to see if I could get the 105 Gr. A-Max to shoot myself. I was able to purchase a couple boxes of bullets from MidwayUSA and then trying to get the Hodgdon H1000 powder has been a nightmare. Finally after over a year I was able to purchase a 8 lb. jug of powder after watching on Utah Gun Exchange's website. It cost me $275 for a jug, for powder that Powder Valley sells for $159... that is if they or anyone ever had any in stock. Well the good news is I now have powder. Yeah!

I took Rick's powder charge that he worked up by shooting a ladder of incremental charges. With the powder charge I then seated 10 bullets, 4 bullets at 2.35, 3 at 2.34, and 3 at 2.33 OALs.

I first fired one of the four 2.35 bullets into a clean target to make sure the load would hit paper. I then shot three groups of three bullets each. The 2.35 OAL bullets produced a 3/4" three shot group. The 2.34 OAL bullets produced a 7/8" three shot group and the 2.33 bullets only hit the paper one time??? This didn't make any sense at all until I went to move my chronograph, Oops there was two dings in the metal rods that come out of the chronograph. It was cloudy, then sunny off and on making it very difficult to get the chronograph to give me anything but errors so I hadn't been paying attention to it and oops I shot it, twice. Dummy me!

I'll see about giving my rifle a good cleaning and then load up some more and see how they shoot. Once I'm comfortable with the load I will post the load here on my blog.

Back at the range in June. This time trying to tune the load with a ladder test of powder charges.

243 WSSM 105 Gr. Hornady A-Max 300 Yard Ladder

243 WSSM 105 A-Max 300 Yard Ladder Test.

After having great success shooting my first ladder to develop a load for my 270 WSM with 150 Gr. VLD bullets I decided I should try shooting a powder ladder with the 105 A-Max to see if I could find a powder charge that was tuned to the 2.35 COAL.

The first shot was low and off the paper so I adjusted the scope for the remaining seven shots. Well, there really wasn't any definitive horizontal layer between any three bullets... if shot #4 had of been lower near 5 and 6...

Each load is 0.2 grains of powder greater than the previous load. The idea is that you chose the appropriate seating depth then shoot incrementally different powder charges to locate a horizontal node between three or more shots.

Although, the total vertical distance between all the shots is 2 inches and the group size is only 2 5/8 inches. This isn't too bad for a span of a grain and a half of powder difference at 300 yards. Any of the powder charges is probably plenty accurate enough for me.

I'll keep tinkering on this load.



100 Yard Three Shot Group on June 28, 2014

After shooting the ladder of powder charges last time out I didn't find any real node. The closest node I could find was shots 5 and 6. Given this I probably should shoot another ladder test at even greater distances. Given that I would like to take this rifle and load out to shoot at Spirit Ridge Rifle Golf course in the following week I didn't think I had time to tweak this load any more.

243 WSSM 105 Gr. Hornady A-Max 100 Yard 3 shot group

243 WSSM 105 A-Max 100 Yard Three Shot Group

Shooting load number 5 from the ladder group produced this three shot group at under 3/8 inches.

With little time to prepare for Spirit Ridge I decided to load up powder charge number 5 and see how it grouped at 100 yards. As you can see from the photo it shot really well, right under a 3/8" group. This is plenty good enough accuracy for me.

Now do I take this rifle or my 1885 in 270 WSM with 150 VLDs to shoot at Spirit Ridge? Maybe both?

View load information for this 243 WSSM 105 A-Max load.





Pinkeye Infected Mule Deer - Conjunctivitis

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

While I was out checking my trail cameras and taking photos of mule deer during the rut in November of 2013 I noticed a fair amount of young bucks showing problems with their eyes.

Apparently there are a couple of different things that it could have been, some more serious than others so the Utah DWR came out to investigate what the deer may have.

All of the deer that I found with Pinkeye were within about a half mile radius.

After putting down a yearling buck here is what a very nice and informative biologist with the DWR (or was it DNR?) had to say:

"We removed one yearling buck and I was able to get a close up look at the eyes.  It was definitely conjunctivitis or pinkeye.  There are a couple of other things that it could of been so it was good that we were able to verify this.  Pinkeye is caused by a bacteria, usually a moraxella app.  Pinkeye infections are really common during the late summer months when face flies are most abundant.  Face flies tend to congregate on the eyes and faces of animals and pass the bacteria from animal to animal by continuously landing on their eyes.  You are probably seeing the pinkeye in this little group of males because they probably hung together this past fall.  I did see one doe with a weepy eye while we were looking but she was not nearly as bad as some that Brady has photographed.   In cattle the infection can be treated by puffing a powder into their eyes but there is not a real good way to treat wildlife for this condition so they will have to try and get over it.  Response to the infection will vary from animal to animal and the most severe cases can result in blindness in one or both eyes.  Blindness occurs when the cornea ruptures from build up of fluid underneath the cornea from the infection.  It really isn't likely for the animals to pass the infection from one animal to another, the face fly vector is needed so the number of infected animals should decrease as winter progresses.  Of course, if a deer does go blind from both eyes rupturing it is unlikely that it will survive in the wild."

Mule Deer with Pinkeye, Conjunctivitis

Here is an up close look at the eye of the small buck that the DWR culled to get a better look and tissue sample. Pinkeye looks really nasty.

All in all this fall I found 7 different small bucks that had eye issues and one doe. It did seem kind of odd that it was more prevalent in the young bucks.

I'm no biologist but my thought is that the young bucks sparing with each other were passing it to one another. With small antlers the bucks faces would come in contact with each other more easily while sparing. Larger bucks would be less likely to touch each other's faces because of the larger antlers locking together further away from their faces.

Regardless how they contracted it I hope this all clears itself up this winter. I would hate for these deer to go blind. Would be nice if there was a cost effective way to treat them. Anyway, I found it very interesting to learn about.

Additional information