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I loaded and shot my first rounds. Now what do I do?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by zippygaloo, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    I loaded and shot my first rounds of .223 using Hodgdon H335 and Hodgdon CFE .223. I used the Hornady Manual data and loaded some H335 at 22.4 gr and some at 23.0 gr. I loaded the CFE .223 at 26.0 All the loads went bang. All of the loads cycled fine. All the loads were just as accurate if not more accurate than XM193 5.56mm and Remington UMC .223 (which I also shot to compare). The H335 at 22.4 left the cases a little sooty. The 23.0 didn't. Does .6 grains really make that much of a difference in sootiness of cartridges?

    Anyway, I'm not quite sure what I'm supposed to do now. Do I keep loading closer and closer to max until accuracy suffers? Or do I just find a load that is clean burning and accurate no matter how close to max I am?

    What do I do?
     
  2. JO JO

    JO JO Vancouver WA Active Member

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    I dont load .223 am sure someone can give you advise on that, I load 308 with Varget,or 4064 but I also load a lot of semi auto pistol I look for what functions well and is best accurate. I try to stay in the mid range of data, since these are your first reloads I would try to stay away from MAX loads just starting out on this OVER PRESSURE can get you into trouble. Just my opinion its a fun hobby.
     
  3. Key-Hay

    Key-Hay North Carolina Active Member

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    Have noticed the soot thing too with Cowboy action loads. were shooting really light loads (light bullets at 600 fps) and I don't think the cases get expanded like factory loads so soot can back down the chamber.
     
  4. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    there is no reason u HAVE to push up towards the max loads in the books.Find an accurate load and hopefully it will be a 'clean' load.there is a lot of experimentation in reloading.after 20 years I"m still experimenting ,<grin>

    a few tenths of a grain here and there can make a huge difference..or very little.ur gun will tell u which way it's going,and they are all different.
     
  5. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    With an AR, it's a good idea to work the load up to where you have minimal soot bleeding back along the case. There's enough of that already with the Direct Impingement Gas System and for some reason it all ends up in your face. It also means that you're not getting full use out of the gasses. Move the load up a little. The Hodgdon "Max Load" is pretty safe for a 55 gr bullet in an AR load but I'd just move up enough to reduce the soot to a minimum. Make sure to clean the chamber regularly while doing this so you don't have any mess from a previous load giving you a false reading.
     
  6. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    55g bullets???? If so, you should be up around the 25.0g charge for H335. This load (Ballistic Tips or Remington Powrlokt bullets, benchrest primers) is highly accurate in my AR.
     
  7. jake2far

    jake2far Portland Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    What chamber does your AR have? .223 or 5.56, it makes a difference.
    The .6 change in powder makes a difference in your case more than say a 30.06, and yes in a .223/5.56 case .6 is a significant powder change.
    Most weapons react to changes in powder charges based on pressure curves, an increase in powder until over pressure is achieved, somewhere in the increase in pressure curve a node will be hit where the barrel produces its best accuracy.
    Handloaders are trying to hit the accuracy node to get better than factory accuracy, for a less expensive shot to shot cost.
    The soot indicates low pressure, low enough that case expansion is minimal resulting in gas leakage around the case. Is your barrel chrome lined? Gas leakage can damage your chamber if enough rounds are fired, if your chamber is chrome lined the gas leakage won't harm your barrel.
    I suggest you increase your powder charge until the soot stops, it would be very helpful if you could crono your rounds this data would help confirm your powder charge is correct.

    Jim
     
  8. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    My AR has a chrome lined 14.5 inch barrel with a 5.56 chamber. I don't have a chronograph. I chose load data from the Hornady Manual because it was the only manual that listed my exact bullet (55gr FMJBT W/C). Hornady's start load was 20.8 and it's max load was 23.2. Hodgdon's start load data was 23.0 and max load was 25.3. I had to choose a starting point, so I went with Hornady's. Now I just need to figure out where to go from here.
     
  9. elsie

    elsie Way over there on the left Well-Known Member

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    It all depends on what you want as an end result. If you are looking for a more consistent or accurate load, pick a starting point and increase the powder load gradually. I usually go in .5 grain increments and load 5 of each. I use a Sharpie and put a hash mark for each step on the bottom of the round (1 hash for step 1, 2 for step 2, etc.). After each round, I would recover the case and check for pressure signs. If I started seeing flattened primers or had difficult extraction, I stopped. I found that my 30-06, which I was using a middle of the book range load for, actually like being up at the top end of the range. It cut my group size in half at 200 yards.

    If you want to go full goose bozo on finding the most accurate or consistent load, you can develop a matrix of load variables and load 5 of each. This usually ends up powder charge, bullet weight, and seating depth. You can easily end up with several hundred rounds to fire. B-)


    elsie
     
  10. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    What do you mean by "had difficult extraction"? And how does that apply to pressure signs?
     
  11. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    If the pressure is too high, the case can expand in length to the point where the bolt will not unlock without excessive pressure. If a bolt action sometimes it's necessary to use a mallet to open the bolt. On an AR, it can retard the bolt opening enough to cause a short stroke of the carrier. The best way to tell is to check the case head for the "U" shaped imprint of the ejector plunger and for "wiping signs" of the bolt face scraping against a case that's firmly expanded into the chamber.

    Of course one could just keep on shooting until the firearm hollers "Enough"! It usually sounds like "KA-BOOM":cool:
     
  12. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    Zippygaloo--you should be shooting with a chronograph, for one. For two, to answer your question: Yes. But, it depends what your end goal is. Accuracy, speed, fun, save money? For me, it's all of the above. When I work up a load I go for the fastest load I can make with the best accuracy--which is almost completely subjective--for hunting rounds. For plinking, target loads I don't care about speed as much as accuracy. Further, every gun is different so reloading is more of an art with a modicum of science thrown in, kinda like alchemy.
     
  13. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    It's kind of like "Witchcraft":cool: When you are loading successfully it makes you feel like a Wizard.
     
  14. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    I'm a weirdo and I'll admit it to save ya'll the trouble, LOL. In that caliber and bullet weight I'm more concerned that I get correct bullet speed than I am extreme accuracy. I'll give up "a little" accuracy for significantly more speed all day long. Much of the terminal value of that round is found in the speed.

    I don't want to make too big of a deal about it, but then I'd been hanging my head if I found out I had sub MOA accuracy but 2800 fps speed. I'd opt for 1.5 MOA if that's what it took get 3200 fps.

    If I were building target competition loads, it wouldn't be for an AR. It would be a bolt. For the AR I want dependable cycling and something close to the original round's speed.

    $.02 and you don't have to pay me, LOL.
     
  15. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    I've been accused of sharing the same psychological profile as well:cool:

    As for speed vs accuracy, yes, there is more terminal value in a fast round but there is ZERO terminal value in a miss. For CQB, 1/2 MOA accuracy is pretty much a non-issue. Beyond that, it becomes a factor.

    Just for some fun reading, here's a bit on the "rounds per kill" from Vietnam.

    I'm one that tries to balance both. I find that there's not that much difference between a max velocity round and an accurate round in my AR's. For my bolt action, there is only one set of criteria. Accuracy and remaining supersonic at the max range of my round.

    BTW, I sure wish I could buy the M-118 LR rounds that the sniper's use for only $0.17:laugh: I might put my reloading equipment in mothballs if I could get all the .308 ammo I needed at that price.
     
  16. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Funny stuff. :)

    Wow, shots per kill. I suppose those guys could afford to spray and pray and then get resupplied.

    Of all the people I've had the opportunity to kill with my AR-15's, I've never once done an autopsy, LOL. I just have to suffer with what I read about the M193 round. What I read about its terminal ballistics and what the bullet does when it enters an "animal" has a lot to do with its speed. I'll admit I can't prove it.

    If I shoot a factory M193 it will chrony at about 3200 fps. A .223 will be more like 2800. That not withstanding the writings about how pressures were rated.

    Until I find out differently, I want that 55 gr traveling close to 3200 so it will do its thing upon entering an animal.

    I look at the AR-15 as a 400 yard gun. Sure it can hit farther out but hold over and wind and all becomes a factor. In battle or if hunting, I don't expect to have time to set up like a sniper would. I also don't have 50,000 rounds to expend, LOL.

    Bottom line for me: If I need to settle for 1.5 moa I'll have a 6" pattern at 400 yards which makes the gun very useful. I'd rather have that at 3200 fps than a 3" circle at 2800 fps. My trajectory and terminal ballistics will be enough better to to be worth the difference to me.

    That said, that's just me and anyone else can choose a different philosophy. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone else.
     
  17. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Since this has taken a little of a "tactical flavor" I'll toss this in. An old drill sergeant hollered regularly at the range "The idea is to shoot that @#$%^& before he gets close enough to shoot you!" With that message burned into my brain, I'll always have a nice accurate Bolt Action with me if I ever have to "take to the hills". Doesn't mean it will be my only one though;):)