.223 reloading advice

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.223 reloading advice

Postby jcat » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:17 pm

I am on the verge of finally pulling the trigger on a press once I sell a couple things, initially with the intentions to reload pistol. But, with pistol powders being so scarce, I'm wondering if I'm better off setting up for rifle right out of the gate, stocking the components and running off bulk plinking ammo since that'll be the first thing to go through the roof in a panic. With that said, .223 will be the first one I start with and I'm looking for people's pet loads/good starting loads and what powders your guns like. Heritage has a ton of different powders, and all the manuals I downloaded seem to have loads for just about any powder for a 55gr FMJ. This will be shot out of the AR I just built recently, 16" mid length gas CHF BCM 1:7".

I'll be starting out with only .223, but eventually might get into the .300 blackout or .308, so a powder that could do all of those would be nice, since I could stock it in bulk.

So what's everyone using?
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby newportri » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:34 pm

I would start with pistol since it is a lot easier. I honestly almost don't think it is worth reloading rifle (at least .223) unless you do low volume and do it for accuracy.
I had a lot of problems with the brass I had since the primer pocket was so tight. The first time through many of the primers wouldn't seat. I then went through and cleaned them with a brush (I never have to do this with pistol cases). That still didn't work so I bought one of those that you put on the drill that make a little chamfer. It helped a little, but it was still not perfect. I finally ended up getting a Dillon super swager and that did the job. I just wish I had done that the first time around..
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby jcat » Sat Nov 29, 2014 3:57 pm

newportri wrote:I would start with pistol since it is a lot easier. I honestly almost don't think it is worth reloading rifle (at least .223) unless you do low volume and do it for accuracy.
I had a lot of problems with the brass I had since the primer pocket was so tight. The first time through many of the primers wouldn't seat. I then went through and cleaned them with a brush (I never have to do this with pistol cases). That still didn't work so I bought one of those that you put on the drill that make a little chamfer. It helped a little, but it was still not perfect. I finally ended up getting a Dillon super swager and that did the job. I just wish I had done that the first time around..


You probably had crimped primer pockets, common in mil 5.56 brass. Swaging it is one way to get rid of it, or there are specific dies that you can throw in your press to do it. Lots of guys I've heard of get a single stage for just those kinds of operations.
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby Blast54 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:03 pm

I load rifle for accuracy and pistol for bulk which I think Newport is trying to say.
Pistol is generally not loaded for much accuracy...a 3" group is great at 25yds and just about any ammo will do that.
Rifle, unless you are just blowing off mags of ammo for fun is much more intricate. Blowing off mags of 223 you can buy WOLF or similar pretty cheap not really worth it to reload for 223 in that case.
Loading rifle for accuracy, now you are talking single press, ( I also use Lyman Turret press at times ), matching brass to chamber/rifle, different weight bullet heads, different brands of powder.. etc. All these things in pistol hardly makes a difference in results. All these things in rifle is the difference between a one hole group at 200yds or a 10" group at 200yds.

Another thing about loading for your AR is the fact that you can only go out on OAL as much as the mag will allow unless you use a longer magazine follower and shoot single shot. I think factory ammo is about 1/4" shorter ( to allow it to fit inside magazine ) for my AR than it is when I reload for single shot in the same gun. Some ARs will do OK with that 1/4" jump to the lands. Mine loves for the bullet ogive to just be touching the lands.

I recommend if you want to reload to save money, load for pistol. If you want to reload as an art, load for bolt action rifles.
Take a reloading class instead of you tube and internet forums.. lots of bad advise out there.
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby newportri » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:15 pm

jcat, yes the brass was crimped, but it was mostly Remington bulk .223.
I did get a single stage press not long ago that I will set up for rifle. I will probably not use it for .223, but I will at least save my brass in case there is another ammo shortage. Actually, I might load some up with 65-77gr bullets and maybe do some coyote hunting this spring if I have time. I have only used IMR4895 with Hornady 55gr bullets, but I wasn't really loading for accuracy so I can't really comment on whether it is a good combo or not. IMR4895 seems to be pretty popular and good for many calibers though.
I will load mostly .308, 30-06, and 300WM on it though.
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby RImike » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:22 pm

I reload .223 for accuracy, @ 300 yards, my grouping is within 2" and I use shit optics. If your using heavy rounds (i use 77 grn hpbt) you would want a slow burning powder (i use Varget), for 300 blk, from my reading, you would want fast powder. All of by brass is LC and it is sorted via year to keep everything consistent.

You might have to swage the primer pocket as said before, this will accomplish it: http://www.midwayusa.com/product/235832 ... er-combo-2
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby newportri » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:28 pm

But jcat has a good point that it is almost impossible to find pistol powder...
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby Blast54 » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:30 pm

Mike, I never said a 223 round wouldn't shoot accurately at 200+ yards. I have a Savage in 223 that I shoot 300 yd egg shoots with. Single shot ( as I said ) and hand loads that I have worked up for that particular rifle.

If you are shooting 2" groups out of a magazine fed, semi auto, 223 at 300 yds, then you are shooting better than most benchrest shooters that I have ever shot with ;)
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby RImike » Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:56 pm

It's fairly easy to shoot tight groupings out of a rifle with bags both under the stock and for-end. I hand load everything, so that helps, with store bought ammo, the accuracy drastically decreases. It's a Stag Arms Model 6 that has a gissel 2 stage match trigger. Out of the box, it shoots .5" groups @ 100 yards, I helped massage that number with Tubbs bullets and further lapped the bore with it. I wish there were ranges that were longer than 300 yards in RI that I could try it out at to see how accurate it really is.

FYI, I load it to 5.56 max pressure and not .223 max pressure so the 77grn bullets compress the powder and I get a slight "crunch" the last scootch during seating. It really helps with accuracy, as I can get better equalized combustion pressures.

There are some people who claim to get 1 5/8" groups at 300 yards. (not going to link to another forum, but googling it will bring you there)
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Re: .223 reloading advice

Postby demjones » Sun Nov 30, 2014 12:32 am

I have two presses: a Hornady LNL AP for pistol and plinking rifle ammo (although I size and prime the bottleneck rounds separately), and a Rock Chucker with a micrometer seating die for match rifle ammo.

In HP rifle competition (.223) I mainly shoot 69r Match Kings out to 300 yds and either 77gr SMKs or 75gr AMAX at 600 yds. For coyotes I use a 64gr Power Point. I primarily use Varget, although I've had good success with H4895 and CFE223. A teammate uses Reloder 15 with great results. Powder amounts should be in accordance with reputable load books and "tuned" to your rifle. My own loads aren't hot; I find that I can achieve both my best accuracy and extend my barrel life with moderate loads. My .308 load uses 168r SMK or AMAX over a moderate H4895 charge and is a tack-driver. I'm working on replicating the Hornady 30-06 Garand load (I'm getting close), and am starting on a .338 Lapua load (90+gr H1000 - whoa!).

Blast54 has some really good advice about OAL. For my 69r SMKs I load just a hair under mag length, which winds up at 2.255". It should really be 2.250". There's still bullet jump into the lands. For 75 and 77gr heads, which I single load using a delrin Bob Sled instead of a mag, I use the Hornady OAL gauge to see where my lands begin and seat a couple thousandths short of that. This OAL is a moving target, so to speak, because of throat wear over the course of a season (I shoot 2000+/- .223 rounds per season between my service and match rifles).

Brass? I'm happy with LC, Winchester or PPU for my match ammo. For any other purpose I use anything I can get my paws on. Yes, the LC primer pockets are usually swaged. Dillon makes a nice swager. I use the RCBS swager on my Rock Chucker. From what I've read, trimming the primer pockets, while workable, isn't an optimal solution.

Unfortunately, for a semi-auto rifle you'll need to full-length size your brass every time you reload. This wears out the brass faster. That said, I'm usually able to get 7-10 loads out of .223 brass. For bolt guns, once you've fired it once (aka fire-forming) you should only need to neck size for each reload. If treated well, neck-sized brass will last and last. I prefer to use Imperial Sizing Wax as a lube - one can has lasted 4 years so far.

It might be worth latching onto a case length headspace gauge for each rifle caliber you want to load just to verify that you've got things set up right.

There are all sorts of other considerations, and I'm sure that among the lot of us we can answer most questions you have. Good luck, and have fun!
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