Pressure Signs For The New Handloader

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Ejector pressure marks
Ejector pressure marks

Q: I haven't done a lot of reloading for my rifles, but have usually stuck with the starting loads in my manual. I thought I might try to gain a little more velocity for my .270 Winchester by working up one grain at a time from the starting load. Can you tell me what are basic signs of high pressure I should look out for?
Justin Williams

A: First, take the condition of the case into consideration. Any expansion of the sold head of the case to the point where extraction becomes tight indicates you should back off at least 2 grains of powder. Scuff marks on the case head made by the extractor or a circular mark made by a plunger ejector are sure signs that your load is too hot. Cratered or excessively flattened primers of course are a good indicator, but only if you use the exact same primer all the time and get to know how it looks. But some primers are awfully hard and some are really soft which makes them hard to read.

Primer pressure indicators
Primer pressure indicators
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