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Need a little advice on my first load

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by scrappydoo, May 21, 2011.

  1. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    Hi everybody. So I got my press set up today and put together my first load. But I've got a few questions I'd like to ask you guys. (because I'm paranoid and would like to make sure that what I'm doing is safe) This is a really fun, yet frightening hobby.

    First, how do you cross check your information if you can only find one source for your load combination? For me it's AA2230 with a 50gr Sierra Blitzking bullet. All I could find was info from Sierra.

    Second is how can you be sure you have 5.56 brass vs .223? I'm re-using brass I already shot up from HSM. On the head is says LC 08 with the Nato symbol, but the primers weren't crimped.

    Lastly, if that is 5.56 brass, how much less powder should I use for starting loads?

    Here's the load I put together last night. Does anything look out of whack?
    Case: LC 08
    Primer: CCI no.400
    Powder: AA230 @ 24.9gr
    Bullet: Sierra 50gr Blitzking
    OAL: 2.250-2.249
    Very slight crimp

    Planning on shooting this out of my Daniel Defense M4 midlength.

    Thanks everyone.
     
  2. optiontrigger

    optiontrigger Snohomish County, WA Member

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    I assume you checked this loading guide? http://www.accuratepowder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/accurate_load_data_3.5.pdf

    It looks like it has your powder and bullet type/weight. The LC brass looks like Lake City and the NATO symbol is only used on 5.56 MM, as there is no NATO .223. Sometimes it's hard to tell if the primers are crimped, and it's possible that if those are reloaded cases, which I believe are HSM reloads, they've already swaged out the primer pockets. Other than that, find a swager.

    When I start a new load, I'm usually conservative and don't exceed the middle of the min and max load.

    Good luck on your reloading!
     
  3. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    It didn't even dawn on me to check the manufacturer's websites. I just assumed it would be the same as what's printed in the manuals. Thanks a bunch for that, it looks like I loaded that first batch pretty hot according to the Accurate website.

    I think what I'll do is pull the bullets, and start fresh with brand new brass. That way I can be sure it's .223 and I can reliably use what the manuals recommend and not worry about the case dimensions being different.

    One last question. I pulled a few bullets on cases that the OAL was too short, and when I pulled the bullets it took a fair bit of force. Does that mean my neck tension is good and I don't need to crimp?

    Thanks again.
     
  4. optiontrigger

    optiontrigger Snohomish County, WA Member

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    How are you pulling the bullets to determine how tight they are? Is it the bullet gripper in the press or the kinetic hammer type? Since there will be some variation in each loader's operation (OAL, powder charge, etc.) you want to find the consistency that you're happy with. For the first 5-10 rounds, I check each powder charge for the extreme change (ball and flake are more consistent) using a primed case and empty the powder back in the hopper. Then I'll make 5-10 runs of bullet seating for proper depth, using my hammer type bullet puller. Once I'm satisfied with the results, I'll start reloading. I always inspect each round visually and through a case gauge and periodically check the OAL. Because of the possible variations, you don't want bullet setback, where a bullet is barely crimped or not crimped that will be pushed into the case upon chambering. That would cause a high pressure problem and you wouldn't want that and neither would the person shooting next to you.
     
  5. optiontrigger

    optiontrigger Snohomish County, WA Member

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    By the way, it might seem like I'm overly cautious, but I think it's important have fun shooting without having to worry about the outcome. So keep the booze and other distractions away from the reloading bench and enjoy your new hobby!
     
  6. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Your load should be just fine. I am using the same powder and my load is .5 gr more for a 55 gr bullet. No issues whatever and have shot well over 10,000 rounds of this recipe in 3 rifles. One thing to make sure you have in your "AR Reloading Kit" is a case gauge like a Lyman or L. E. Wilson. It gives you the ability to check a finished cartridge to see if it will chamber properly. Nothing worse than a reloaded round not fully chambering and all you get is a "Click" when you pull the trigger. Sometimes those rounds can be difficult to extract.
     
  7. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    Option- I'm pulling the bullets with a Hornady bullet puller die. As for consistency, my Lee Pro Measure has been dead on. I want to get really comfortable with my equipment so I'm using the Lee Measure to drop my charges even though I'm only doing 10 at a time. Their chart wasn't very accurate for my powder, but once I figured out the right disks it worked great. I dropped each charge, then weigh em and every one was the same. After that I seated each bullet and measured OAL. All of them were between 2.250-2.249 except for two of them. Those two were at 2.240 & 2.245, and I can't figure out what happened with those two. Is that much variance safe or was I right in pulling them and reseating them?

    Deadshot- Thanks for the advice on the chamber gauge, I'll pick one up tonight. The one thing that has me worried in the LC brass. Is that what you're using too? I don't know how much more pressure I'll get with that vs .223 brass.

    Thanks for the help.
     
  8. turq

    turq Molino,oregon Member

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    In Modern Reloading second edition by Richard Lee as you stated the load he gives:Min. load 23.4gr to Max at 26.0 gr at 49,800 CUP.
    So I would gauge your load on 1-10 as an 'eight'.
    Why not start a load at say a '4'?
    This is a good reason to start a Library of Reference Books.
    Good Luck
     
  9. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    I was using the one book/one caliber reference for Sierra bullets. They've got min at 24.9gr and max at 27gr. I couldn't find anything else in this book to reference against. Buy thanks to OptionTrigger I now know that the manufacturers have a lot more loads online. Thanks for letting me know how hot that loading actually is. I'll save it for later after I load up some softer stuff.

    Btw, I don't know anyone that reloads so its nice to have knoweledgable people to ask before I blow myself up.
     
  10. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    scrappydoo-

    Something else to watch out for when loading .223 is improper setup of the seating die. Sometimes it can over-crimp the case while seating the bullet. This can often cause a bulge in the shoulder area that's hard to notice visually but will keep the round from fully chambering and the bolt from going into battery. Because of this I prefer to back the seating die off a full turn to turn-and-a-half and then use a Lee Factory Crimp Die to finish the process with a light crimp into the cannelure (if any). Nothing major, just a slight crimp to make sure there's nothing to catch on a feed ramp.

    As for your question on LC brass, yes, that's my primary brass. I have worked up all my loads to take into consideration the slightly smaller case volume. By doing so for my "Military Brass" I can use the same load in all my "Civie" brass. As a general rule, a 5% reduction would place you in the safe zone if starting fresh in adapting data for a civilian case to a military case. My AR's are all "volume shooters" with max loads not being as big a deal as overall accuracy an reliability. In my Bolt Action guns I push the limits more but there absolute precision is more important than maximum or excessive loading. In the Bolt Actions I prefer not just civilian brass but premium civilian brass like Lapua. Not real practical for an AR when an "outing" often includes expending up to 1,000 rounds.
     
  11. turq

    turq Molino,oregon Member

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    From the Sierra Book; you're at about a 2; I was using another source and I was wrong. I'd take the Sierra book as a better/best source. They had it listed esp. for ARs so it is a starting load. I'd shoot 'em. Stay in there we'll figure it out, I need to take in ALL sources. Does Accurate have a load manual for free[via mail]?
     
  12. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    Deadshot- Good info. Is a case gauge a good way to check for a possible bulge in the neck, or could the crimp it causes be slight enough that it won't bulge the case? I kind of want to avoid crimping unless I have to. Last night I had to reseat some of my rounds because of my crimping die. I would seat them, then check OAL, then crimp. I later decided to double check OAL on all my loads again and found a lot of them were shorter. So the next batch I checked OAL before and after crimping and it turned out my crimping die was the problem.

    Turq- No worries man. The Accurate website agrees with the Lee book so I reworked all my loads to reflect that. That first load is now my hottest to test out.
     
  13. turq

    turq Molino,oregon Member

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    I just talked to a friend about the crimping issue in ARs. We came up with a two part plan; load 5 or 10 then shoot 5 check the 6th round for a knife edge 'mark' you earlier put on it....Did it move? then repeat for 20 round mag...check the 20th round for setback. Or send your carefully measured expander ball in or just order a smaller expander ball ie. more neck tension.
    Good Luck

    Edit: Sierra Techsmiths are great for answering questions via phone service or email. Give 'em a shout they actually like to help!
     
  14. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    This is a good procedure for any round that might be a "Heavy Recoil" round but .223 is not considered one of those. The biggest problem I have found with "setback" in an AR is not in the magazine, from recoil, but from the actual jamming of the round into the chamber when firing, especially when rapid firing. When the bullet hits the feed ramp it is subject to a linear force along the axis of the round. If there is insufficient neck tension or this force is high due to fouling on the ramp, the bullet can be set back into the cartridge. It can turn a safe, non-compressed, load into an unsafe load due to increased pressure. Crimping is just a way of adding a level of security to loads shot in AR's. Some do it, some don't. It's a matter of choice as long as you are fortunate enough to not have a problem. As for crimping in Bolt Actions, most don't because there are an entirely different set of dynamics in a hand operated bolt versus a bolt that slams shut with a big spring pushing it.
     
  15. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    So in your opinion, if I chambered a few rounds and OAL is still good, is that a good indicator that neck tension is sufficient?
     
  16. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    I went out yesterday and had a good outing with my handloads. None of my cases showed signs of excessive pressure. I was a little disappointed because the factory loads I shot were still a little more accurate than my own loads. I did notice that the factory stuff had an OAL of 2.205 while all of my stuff was at 2.26. I'm trying to do a little research on OAL and case pressure. What's your opinions on this? If I shorten up my OAL to mimic the factory stuff will it increase pressure a lot? I wanted to see if this factor by itself will increase accuracy on my loads.

    Here's what I ended up with. All targets were at 50m using open sights. 10 round groups averaged over 3 targets.

    Factory HSM .223 50gr v-max = 4.05cm group
    Lake City case, AA230, with Sierra 50gr BK 23.4gr charge = 4.75cm group
    Same load as above with 23.9gr charge = 7.75cm group
    Same load as above with 24.4gr charge = 5cm group

    What surprised me was my rifle didn't like the 23.9gr charge. I ran out of time before I could shoot the 24.9 gr charge.
     
  17. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    You might try what a lot of bolt action shooters do. Make up a bunch of loads, starting at minimum, and increase powder by .2 or .3 grains for each group until you reach a published max for your powder. I load 5 per group for my tests although you can load as many as you want. Loading fewer than 3 will allow for too many other variables and doesn't allow for establishing a group.

    Shoot these rounds, group by group, starting with the lowest and use a different point of aim for each.

    This will show what powder load, and subsequently speed, your rifle likes. Also pay attention to other operating characteristics like feed and bolt lock-back on last round. Light loads will not feed properly or lock the bolt back on an empty mag. Too "stout" a load will show high pressure signs and can cause a "bounce" that will keep the bolt from locking back on an empty mag.

    When you've found a load that groups well, operates the rifle properly, then load a bunch more and find someone with a chronograph to measure the speed. From there you can calculate the external ballistics for the round.

    In time you will find a load that YOUR rifle likes best and that will be the one to use. From what I see, it may be that your rifle likes a heavier bullet. All my AR's like either the 55 gr or 62 gr bullets.
     
  18. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    Much success! My second outing with my handloads was much better. My last attempt I had a hard time getting better groups than the factory loads. Here's my new results:

    Factory HSM 50gr v-max = 4.05cm avg group

    LC case, AA2230, rem 7 1/2 primer, and Hrndy 60gr SP @ 2.235 OAL at the following charges:

    20.99gr = 7.1cm
    21.24gr = 6.5cm
    21.49gr = 8cm
    21.74gr = 7.8cm
    21.99gr = 5.5cm
    22.24gr = 4.8cm
    22.49gr = 2.6cm
    22.74gr = 3.5cm
    22.99gr = 3.5cm

    23.24gr = 5cm

    I'd like to thank everyone again for all the help and advice.
     
  19. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    The work's not done yet, that is if you want to see how much better it can get.

    In the last test it is apparent that 22.5 gr is the best for what you loaded and with an OAL of 2.235 in.

    I would now load 5-10 rounds of 22.3, 22.4, 22.5, 22.6 and shoot again. Take the one load that performs the best of this group and then load another batch only instead of changing the OAL of the cartridge. What you used is pretty much a minimum but you can lengthen a cartridge for a standard AR to 2.260 in.

    Load groups of 5-10 rounds, increasing the length in .010" increments with your last group measuring 2.260". ONE of these groups will shoot better groups than the others, usually the longest but it pays to work up if you're going for total accuracy.

    The process of developing an accurate load is time consuming but rewarding. Keep records and only make one change at a time. For example,if you change charge weight and length at the same time, how will you tell which one made the change?

    Good work so far. Keep it up.
     
  20. scrappydoo

    scrappydoo Federal Way Active Member

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    Wow, that's some good info. I'll work those up in the next few days and see what happens at the range. (I usually make it out every thurs.)