Handloading for .223 Rem - 18" 1:8 Twist Barrel?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Will_Power, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Will_Power

    Will_Power Active Member

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    Guys,

    I'm dipping my toe into handloading and precision shooting for the first time and could use some advice for my first set of component purchases.

    This is for an AR-15 with this 18" 1:8 twist 410 stainless barrel from BCM.

    Bullets

    Given the 1:8 twist rate, would I be better served by going 68/69 grain or 75/77 grain?

    • Hornady Match 68gr - BC: .355
    • Nosler Custom Competition 69gr - BC: .305
    • Sierra Matchking69gr - .305
    • Hornady Match75gr - BC: .395
    • Nosler Custom Competition 77gr - BC: .340
    • Sierra Matchking77gr - BC: .362

    Powders

    I'm totally in the dark here. Totally.

    Supposedly I should go with a slower burning powder for the "heavier" bullets....?

    I've seen plenty of powders listed, but the frequent ones are:

    • H-4895
    • Reloader 15 (Reloader runs really dirty?)
    • Varget (plenty of people love it, plenty hate it?)
    • IMR 4064 (grains are too big to easily load into the .223 case?)
    Really clueless on this.

    Appreciate your thoughts!
  2. Kooter

    Kooter New Member

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    While I can't give you a very good answer, I'm just getting into reloading my self, I can give you a what I think is the best answer that I have found researching reloding. Be sides reading up on it by reading a whole bunch of books, just copy what you already shoot. Buy a couple boxes of differnt bullet weights and velocities and try an copy it.
  3. deadshot2

    deadshot2 Well-Known Member

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    The issue is that of bullet stability. Bullets have to have the correct balance of Length, Weight, Diameter, Twist, and Speed in order to remain stable in flight. There's a lot of "answers" floating around out there that have been reduced to "rules of thumb" but if you want specifics for each of the parameters I mentioned, here's a great calculator to use:

    JBM - Calculations - Stability

    It's easy to use and you can play with each parameter within a given bulled diameter to see which combinations are best. Just leave the bullet diameter and twist rate constant and play with speed, bullet weight, and Length until you see the results box "turn Green".

    Regardless of what everyone else finds great, it will all end up being what works best in YOUR rifle.
  4. sneakboxer

    sneakboxer Active Member

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    I just started loading for my 1-7 20in AR and found this sight pretty helpful 223 Rem + 223 AI Cartridge Guide . I'm using H335 for pills under 60gr and RL-15 and Win748 for 68-75gr bullets. I'm still developing a few loads but they are all shooting really good at 100yds.
    Best of luck,
  5. jonn5335

    jonn5335 Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    I've had good luck with H335 in small bore rifles cartridges. A good scope,mounts,free floated barrel and decent trigger will go a long ways when BR shooting.
  6. the4thshake

    the4thshake Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I reload for .223/5.56 and regularly shoot it at 600 yards and beyond. Buy the best scope you can afford. A good trigger goes a long way as well. Use a chronograph when testing your loads.

    The three brands of bullets are pretty close in performance. Try them all and see what your gun likes. Give Berger a try if you are willing to pay a bit more. Your 1-8 twist will stabilize the 75-77 bullets just fine. I have found the heavier bullets do better at longer distances. The 68-69 grain bullets have done really well out to 300 yards or so but the wind really pushes them around out further. Seat your bullets as far out as you can and still fit in your mags. I run an OAL of 2.265 but your mags may vary.

    I would add TAC to your list of powders to try. It meters wonderfully and trickling isn't nessecary. On the other hand, 4064 meters horribly. Use a magnum or benchrest primer for its thicker cup. Your gonna loose a little velocity with your 18" barrel vs a 20" barrel so you may want to run your loads a little warm. Be aware that most of the data in the books is for .223 pressure levels and not 5.56. There is plenty of info floating around on the web for charge weights. Remember to start low and work your way up.
  7. humdrum

    humdrum Active Member

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    Having used both Varget and R-15, I can say neither of those two powders are easy to meter. Besides that, both are on the slow side for gas-system rifles in that when they get to the gasport in the barrel they will still be burning at a higher pressure than a faster powder would be. In return you will have a dirtier action, overworked brass, and increased recoil due to the increased carrier speed. This has been my personal experience with a couple rifles, and the aggrevation only gets worse as the loads get faster.
    Again, I feel that Varget and R-15 are much too slow-burning for the AR, regardless of bullet weight. Try sticking with a faster powder like H-335 (my favorite flavor), Benchmark, or Ramshot TAC. Your bolt-carrier will thank you.
  8. deadshot2

    deadshot2 Well-Known Member

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    Do you think that's why there are powders that were specifically developed for the AR-15/M-16?

    Accurate AA2230, H335, and now the new CFE223 are some that were specifically designed for these "Gas Guns".

    Yes, others will work "OK". So will a Crescent wrench but the proper sized wrench still does the best job with fewer problems.

    Also take into consideration that some powder "Names" are repackaged from other manufacturers.
  9. joe dierte

    joe dierte Member

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    I run a 77 grain sierra with TAC and my 16" 1/8 BCM NM stainless barrel really likes it.
  10. ron

    ron Active Member

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    I shoot NRA High Power 'across the course' 200-300-600 yards. The barrels I use are 1/8 and 1/7, 20 inch and longer. I have found that Winchester brass
    produces tighter groups. I like this one book/ one caliber reloading manual you can get at wholesale sports. It has data from all major bullet and powder
    manufactures. Most of the guys I shoot with use SMK about 75% and the rest shoot Hornady. Sierra lists 'Accuracy Load' at the bottom of the chart
    I have found this to always to be very accurate. As always you should check all loads with a reliable manual(s).
    W748 and H335 are ideal for 69 grain and lighter bullets.
    69 SMK 23g- H335 2.250 oal
    69 SMK 25g VVN140 2.250 oal
    77 SMK 23.5g Varget 2.260 oal Best 300 yard load
    80 SMK 23.5 to 24g VVN140 or 24.3g Varget loaded long on the lands. Will not fit the magazine. This is OK since the 600 yard stage is single load. Weighed each charge.
  11. ron

    ron Active Member

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    I shoot NRA High Power 'across the course' 200-300-600 yards. The barrels I use are 1/8 and 1/7, 20 inch and longer. I have found that Winchester brass
    produces tighter groups. I like this one book/ one caliber reloading manual you can get at wholesale sports. It has data from all major bullet and powder
    manufactures. Most of the guys I shoot with use SMK about 75% and the rest shoot Hornady. Sierra lists 'Accuracy Load' at the bottom of the chart
    I have found this to always to be very accurate. As always you should check all loads with a reliable manual(s).
    W748 and H335 are ideal for 69 grain and lighter bullets.
    69 SMK 23g- H335 2.250 oal
    69 SMK 25g VVN140 2.250 oal
    77 SMK 23.5g Varget 2.260 oal Best 300 yard load
    80 SMK 23.5 to 24g VVN140 or 24.3g Varget loaded long on the lands. Will not fit the magazine. This is OK since the 600 yard stage is single load.
    Weighed each charge for the 80s. Measure barrel throat with a Stoney Point gauge. As the barrel wares the 80s are loaded longer.
    80s do not shoot well if they have to jump.
  12. RVTECH

    RVTECH Well-Known Member

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    I am not currently reloading .223 but I am using the Ramshot TAC in my 30-30 with excellent results. It burns very clean with no residue and meters well through my measure with virtually no measurable variance in weight. I am charging the brass straight from the measure.
  13. deen_ad

    deen_ad Well-Known Member

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    Are you loading at .223 or 5.56 levels? The .223 is SAAMI specs and the 5.56 is NATO. The cases are different as is the leade.
  14. deadshot2

    deadshot2 Well-Known Member

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    Please NO, not this argument again
    [​IMG]

    Yes, there is a difference in the chambers. Don't confuse the case size issue of the 7.62 NATO with case sizes of the 223/5.56. The case variations are due to manufacturer, not specification as it is with the 7.62 NATO.

    As for pressure differences:

  15. Tim K

    Tim K Member

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    The 77g SMK has a reputation for inherent accuracy, or maybe more correctly for being tolerant of a variety of powders and charges while giving excellent accuracy. Load development for me consisted of increasing charge weight until I got the velocity I wanted with no signs of pressure. Accuracy was identical in the various loadings.

    I use Varget (24.5g) for no better reason than its also what I use for .223 blaster ammo. Out of my 18" White Oak barrel, I get groups of 5/16" at 100y.

    The high BC is obviously an advantage shooting in the wind.

    I had the opportunity to prove that load last Saturday shooting in a local long range precision shooting comp. The targets are 4" wide, and about half of them are at ranges between 400 and 425 yards. While my score was much lower than my scores shooting my 16# bolt gun (.260 Rem), it was surprisingly high. Considering I was using a scope with only 6x magnification, I thought the results to be outstanding.

    For comparison, I was holding 1 to 1.5 MOA of wind with the AR, which is off the target about 4". Had I been shooting my bolt gun, I'd have been holding the edge of the target or just barely off the edge. Certainly the 77's don't perform like the 142g SMK's in my .260, but they are amazingly good.