Heavy 5.56 loads

jordanka16

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For a long time I've used Sierra for 77gr .223 bullets, but recently decided to try the hornadys because they are about half the price and just as accurate in my limited testing. I decided to revamp my powder choices as well to see if anything worked better. I've used Tac, BLC(2), and Varget in the past. Tac is my preference for the most part. I was wondering if anyone has used others or if one of these three has been the best in your experience for the Hornadys.
 
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I reload all of my 5.56 ammunition using 77gr bullets and buy from Nosler (Shooters Pro Shop) over-runs, blems/2nds to make it more affordable, cost is typically about $130/1000 if I remember correctly. Also, I stock up on 77gr 2nds from Powder Valley when they are available, cost is something like $78 for 500. PV won't say who the manufacturer is, but the bullets measure exactly the same as SMK. Beats the heck out of paying full retail.
Hornady .224 75 GR BTHP Match have a really good reputation for quality/accuracy but $95 for 600, from Powder Valley wouldn't save me any money. I use Hornady 110gr BTHP bullets for my 6.8 and quality/accuracy on those are excellent, I expect the same is true for the 75gr BTHP.
For powder, I use H322 and Varget. Both are excellent with H322 metering a bit easier.
 
How long of barrels are you guys using? Have either of you chronoed these loads?
 
18"

I chrono for BDC purposes, but when I work up I just shoot groups.
I'm asking because I have an AR with an 11" barrel and am curious about powder selection in such a short barrel. Guess I'll just have to do a little testing myself.:)
 
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jordanka16

jordanka16

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I'm asking because I have an AR with an 11" barrel and am curious about powder selection in such a short barrel. Guess I'll just have to do a little testing myself.:)
You'd probably be better served with faster powders like benchmark or h335, for a long time I only used h335 and it worked well. I get more velocity and better accuracy from the slower powders with heavy bullets, though not in such a short barrel.
 
You'd probably be better served with faster powders like benchmark or h335, for a long time I only used h335 and it worked well. I get more velocity and better accuracy from the slower powders with heavy bullets, though not in such a short barrel.
Thanks. I've reloaded for bolt guns for quite a while and years ago learned that short, in my instance 16.5", barrels don't like the slow powders that I usually use for my hunting rifle with a 22-24" barrel. I was hoping to get some insight as to what powders guys use for pistol length ARs. I'm actually curious to see if I can get enough velocity to use it for close range deer hunting and the heavier bullets are a must, in my opinion.
 

Dyjital

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Thanks. I've reloaded for bolt guns for quite a while and years ago learned that short, in my instance 16.5", barrels don't like the slow powders that I usually use for my hunting rifle with a 22-24" barrel. I was hoping to get some insight as to what powders guys use for pistol length ARs. I'm actually curious to see if I can get enough velocity to use it for close range deer hunting and the heavier bullets are a must, in my opinion.
I'll tell you a 16.125" barrel does not shoot 69gr SMK's beyond 2600fps when using CFE-223.
 
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Not that I would call myself an expert, but I have been shooting "service rifle" for the past five years with a 20" A2 White Oak national match upper and have been a few places around the country shooting at matches, to include Camp Perry a few times. The guys I have met are indeed the experts and shoot far better than me. These guys have told me that load development for the AR-15 is overrated as it has been figured out years ago. I understand that each rifle is different and what shoots well in one rifle may not be the best in yours, but for "National Match" competition, most folks have settled on a general range that has been proven over many years. The best shooter I know shoots 23.5 of Varget under a Sierra 77 loaded to mag lenght for 200/300 and 24 of Varget under a Sierra 80 loaded approximately .30 off the lands for 600. He uses the cheapest primer he can find and loads his 200/300 on his progressive. I have personally watched him win the "Nathan Hale" trophy for the best civilian shooter at the National Matches with this load.

I have used 24.3 of N140 for many years under a 77 with CCI 450s and had great results. I have recently switched to 24.1 of RL-15 with the same bullet and primer due to RL-15 being cheaper and easier to find. I have been extreamly happy with both loads. I also load 24.7 of RL-15 with 69s and they hammer out to 300. I have found no difference between Nosler and Sierra for most applications, and I always look for deals at Shooters Pro Shop for cheap 77s and 69s. I do use Sierra 77s for my "travel" matches as well as Berger 80.5s for 600.

PS, I never use small base dies and have never crimped.

As with most "guys from the internet" I would not take my word as complete gospel, and the normal disclaimer of "start low and work up" would apply.

There are many other good powders for 69s,77s and 80s, such as 8208 and H4895, but I have found great results with N140 and RL-15 and have wathced some great shooters win matches with Varget. For more results, head on over to the US Rifle Team/National Match forum to read how the hard holders load up. Most, if not all, will say that accuracy is best achieved at the shooting bench, not the reloading bench...

Ted
 
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jordanka16

jordanka16

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PS, I never use small base dies and have never crimped.
Do you shoot from a mag or a bob sled with uncrimped loads? I just shoot from a mag so I've always crimped to keep things from moving around but I've never tried uncrimped.
 
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I shoot the 80.5s from a SLED since they are loaded beyond mag length. My 200/300 are fired from a magazine. I have fired 1000s of rounds without a crimp and have never had an issue. I do not know of anyone who shoots NM that crimps their ammo. Maybe some do, but I have not met them.
 

Dyjital

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I shoot the 80.5s from a SLED since they are loaded beyond mag length. My 200/300 are fired from a magazine. I have fired 1000s of rounds without a crimp and have never had an issue. I do not know of anyone who shoots NM that crimps their ammo. Maybe some do, but I have not met them.
If neck tension is kept proper there is more consistency with no crimp. :s0115:

I do not crimp my accurate loads and they are hand fed. My plinking loads I do because I can. I shoot in a bolt rifle.
 

ageingstudent

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If you're having rounds that are oversized, I use standard dies in all my .223 ARs (3) and have no issues.
I'm not sure why small base dies are all the rage. It seems like your average AR chamber shouldn't need them. It also seems like it might be unnecessarily hard on the brass to size it down more than necessary every time. I know I haven't had to use small base dies in any average AR chamber. It just seems like that would be more for competition bolt guns with a tight chamber.
 
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jordanka16

jordanka16

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I'm not sure why small base dies are all the rage. It seems like your average AR chamber shouldn't need them. It also seems like it might be unnecessarily hard on the brass to size it down more than necessary every time. I know I haven't had to use small base dies in any average AR chamber. It just seems like that would be more for competition bolt guns with a tight chamber.
Bolt guns shouldn't need them either, really they just need to be neck sized unless they're being used in different chambers.

The small base dies are made for semi autos, but they seem to be all but useless. The one time I could see them being useful is in resizing brass that has been fired in a loose chamber, like a machine gun. Any well made AR should have a tight enough chamber to work fine with standard dies.
 

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