Handloader|February 2021
Rick Jamison

The usual focus in handloading for a rifle is to get good accuracy at high velocity for the advantages the two provide at distance. However, not all shooting is at long distance, and you may have good reason to reduce a bullet’s velocity. Lower velocity is accomplished with a faster burning powder, and less of it. Less velocity and powder make for less recoil and less flinch-inducing blast. Less recoil and blast make for more pleasant shooting. More pleasant shooting results in more shooting, and more shooting improves marksmanship.

Cast bullets were the reason that I started using low-velocity rifle loads nearly 60 years ago. Lyman has always been a good source of cast bullet data and many of the loads included shotgun and pistol propellants such as Red Dot, Hi-Skor 700-X, Green Dot, SR-4759, PB, and very quick burning rifle propellants like IMR4198, IMR-3031 or Reloder 7. The people at Hodgdon say never use a powder slower burning than H-4895 for reduced loads. It can be dangerous. Also, you need to stay above about 1,000 fps or so to avoid getting a bullet stuck in a rifle barrel.

Lyman cast bullet loads produce all the advantages mentioned above. I used them back in the day when hearing protection for shooters was hardly available, and what I liked most was that the loads did not produce the ear-piercing blast of normal high-velocity recipes. Low noise, low recoil loads offer a great way to get really good with your big-game rifle. I used them a lot in a .30-06 and .300 Winchester Magnum.

A .22-250 Remington coyote rifle later became a candidate for lower velocity. At the time, there were lots of jackrabbits in my region and it is a clear advantage to hear the large hares take off when they flush out of dry grass and brush. You can often hear their running foot beats as well. You cannot hear them with non-electronic muffs, nor can you hear them if you shoot high-velocity rounds without hearing protection because your ears are ringing so badly and hurting. Unlike in big-game hunting, pests or varmints can produce a lot of shooting.

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