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Questions about reloading .223. And does my process for .223 sound reasonable?

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by zippygaloo, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    First of all I'm not trying to load for precision shooting, but I do want accurate ammo. I have an AR15 with a chrome lined 5.56mm chamber and a 14.5" barrel that I'm working up a load with CCI 400 primers, Hodgdon H335 and Hornady 55gr FMJBT W/C bullets.

    I started with the published start load of 22gr. My last trip to the range I took 23.6gr and 24.3gr. (in Lake City Brass). Everything cycled fine and the groups were getting closer with more powder. Between the two loads the accuracy of the 24.3gr load seemed to be acceptable for me and I think I could be fine calling it good at 24.3 grains. However, for both the 23.6gr and 24.3gr loads 1-2 cases LOOKED like they MAY have flatten primers. I was a bit surprised by this since a lot of people load 25+grains with no problems and the published max load is 25.3gr. Maybe my evaluation of the primers is wrong and they weren't actually flattened, I don't know. Anyway, to my questions...

    NOTE: I'm more focused on safety than anything else.


    POWDER:

    I'm using an RCBS Uniflow powder measure (with pistol rotor) that seems to throw variances anywhere from plus or minus .1 to .3 grains. I've been hand pouring the powder with a funnel, but would like to just put each case up under the powder measure to speed up the process. Is it reasonable for me to just accept the slight variances in powder from the powder measure? Say for instance dial in 24.3gr and then accept whatever it throws me plus or minus .1 to .3 grains? Even +.3 grains would be under the published max of 25.3gr.

    BULLET SEATING:
    The published OAL is 2.220 and I'm stopping at 2.225 because my seating die (just like my powder measure) seats plus or minus. That way if it's minus I'm not under 2.220, but the OAL length of each round isn't exactly the same.

    CASE TRIM:
    I trim my cases to 1.751 and at an OAL of 2.220 the cannelure isn't below the case mouth rim, it's about half way which means the crimp is being applied below the cannelure or at best the very bottom of the cannelure.


    Does this sound like a reasonable process for loading .223?
     
  2. speedtriple

    speedtriple Vancouver, Washington, United States Member

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    H335 usually meters very well. Plus or minus 3 grains? .3 grains would be about all I would expect in variation. I am not familiar with the RCBS powder measure, but I would check it over well. Are you possibly using a pistol rotor? Are you getting full rotation of the rotor so that it is consistent? I powder building up in the bushing where it drops into the brass so that sometimes it all drops, other times no?

    Normally I would think you should be able to get +/- .001" -.002" with most seating dies. Looks like you have some work there as well.
     
  3. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    If you using a Uniflow the normal variance is what speedtriple said, .3 gr max. If you get the technique down of tapping the handle once at the bottom and once at the top, you can be down to .1g regularly, especially with this powder. If your measure doesn't have one, definitely install a powder baffle. There are "patterns" published on the net for DIY baffles. Check out Uncle Nicks Powder baffles for an example.

    As for OAL, I load to 2.255". This is just under the magazine max length of 2.260. No pressure issues at all with a max load of either AA2230 or H335. It also puts my case mouth right in the middle of the cannelure of a typical 55gr bullet and then I use the Lee Factory crimp die to finish it all off.

    FWIW, that "published OAL" is really the "Minimum". You would be better off going a little longer and never go shorter. Pressures can go way up with short rounds.
     
  4. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Florence,Ore ah gone Well-Known Member

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    things to try with your powder measure,because your variances are unacceptable,imho.
    keep the hopper full or nearly so.
    when u fill the hopper,give it 3 or 4 knuckle raps to 'settle' the powder.
    pull the handle down 'smartly',and hesitate at the bottom of the stroke,I might even gap the lower half of the despenser as they don t have a 'knocker.

    in reloading,for most calibers.1 to 3 grains is HUGE,and accuracy will suffer quite a bit.
     
  5. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Yes, Yes, and Yes toward the suggestions from these three experienced guys. speedtriple was right where I was, questioning if the rotator is appropriate for the amount of powder desired. (A Uniflow most normally comes with two: one for small capacity amounts, and one for larger capacity amounts: or at least they did in the oldentimes). I have made this error myself, and have found that if my rotator (and corresponding piston: the threaded moving "plunger" that determines amount) is not compatible for the relative amount of powder I am measuring, consistency will suffer.

    A baffle is never a bad idea. A consistent operation of the handle is very important, and deadshot's technique of a consistent tap (and hold) at the top of the stroke, along with a consistent tap at the bottom of the stroke not only serves to fill the rotator chamber properly, it automatically settles the powder in the reservoir. Some guys actually hook some sort of vibrating device to the reservoir during the process (but then have to explain its absence from the bedside to inquiring minds). I avoid such investigations by merely drumming my fingers on the reservoir prior to beginning the powder throwing stage (then, as mentioned, the singular tap at each end of the handle stroke serves to further settle the powder during the process).

    I'm also in the ballpark with these guys regarding what one SHOULD see for variance (especially with an excellent metering powder such as H335). .3grains would be telling me I need to work on technique. .1 grains is obtainable if everything is done right. One to Three full grains of variance would frighten me, or at least tell me all needs to be examined.

    I'm in deadshot's living room again for his OAL preferences. I checked my documents, and find that I do load for my AR at 2.26" This gives some wiggle room in the magazine, pushing the envelope a bit (5 thousandths) more than deadshot does, and since I do not crimp (most normally load the 55g Ballsitic Tip: no cannelure), case mouth/crimp/cannelure relationship is not an issue for me. I would not fault anyone for choosing to crimp (especially for a semi-auto gun), but I extensively tried torture tests to make my bullets "walk" in the case, and was unsuccessful. Happily therefore, I can avail myself of the sleek-sided projectile offerings.
     
  6. jquirit

    jquirit Forest Grove, OR Member

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    Zippy just an fyi: I'm using H335 as well and the Speer #14 reloading manual is recommending the usage of magnum small rifle primers (CCI #450s) with this powder. The loads will more than likely work, however you might see more variation in velocity if you regularly chrono your loads.

    To be quite honest you might not even notice the difference between the #400 and #450s in your loads.

    I'm also new to handloading/reloading, so some of the more experienced gentlemen here might provide more insight into this.
     
  7. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Zippy: you are doing what I do wih 223 loads. 24.3gr H335, Hornady 55gr FMJBT/cannalure, 2.255 on OAL. Been doing that for lots of years now.

    I have used both magnum and small rifle primers and do not notice any difference between them. I have not chrono'ed them though.

    Unless you are using a trickler and a nice digital scale I think you're going to see some small variances in loads. I see 0.1 to 0.2 variances. 0.3 always makes me re-check things. I would recommend some Hornday dry lube and cleaner and clean your powder measure assembly. I do mine about every 800-1000 rounds.
     
  8. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    To what length do you trim your cases? And does the crimp fall on the cannelure of your completed cartridges at an OAL of 2.255?

    Even though some reloading manuals publish the use of magnum primers (Speer #14 as noted by jquirit), I've avoided them in fear of pressure spikes. Plus the CCI 400 function in my rifle without issues.
     
  9. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    If you are somewhat interested about the few recommendations for magnum primers with H335 (I really don't believe such is necessary for the amounts in a .223), you may consider benchrest primers. I have found they seem just a tad hotter than standards, but well away from the hotness of a magnum primer. Chrono results indicate this, as well as some more velocity consistency. Federals are my favorite.

    I'm using them now exclusively in everything where I am striving for precision. (One recent session where I reverted to standard primers was loading a "do-all" universal load for all my .30-30 levers: not sure I could ever realize a documentable benefit from a benchrest primer used in an iron-sighted '94.)
     
  10. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    The "Magnum Primer" recommendation for .223 loads, when used in AR's is more an issue of primer cup thickness. Magnum primers are stouter than regular primers due to increased pressures. It's another way of preventing "slam fires" in AR's rather than going with the CCI Nato Primers.

    Wolf has been marketing the .223 small rifle primer for years. It's their small rifle magnum primer packaged in a different box.

    As or H-335 needing a magnum primer to light it off, not really. The plain vanilla ones work just fine. However, I buy the Wolf .223 SRP's when available at my supplier because they're real inexpensive and work great.

    I don't go to Benchrest Primers unless I'm going for the "neuter a flying gnat" type load. You'd be amazed at how good standard primers can be if the shooter just does their part.
     
  11. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Just went and measured .... trim length is 1.754 (a thousandth less than what I had the trimmer set for) and OAL is 2.218 (had it set for 2.220). Perfectly crimped in the cannelure.
     
  12. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    Is that with a Hornady 55gr FMJBT W/C bullet? Also, what is your Powder/Charge for your TRIM 1.754 /OAL 2.218 cartridges?

    The reason I ask is because I just trimmed some cases to 1.755 and loaded Hornady 55gr FMJBT W/C bullets in front of 24.3 grains of Hodgdon H335 and set the bullet to OAL 2.210. I am attempting to get the cannelure properly placed for the crimp, and that combo seemed to do the trick. However, Hornady's published Max Load is 23.2 grains at OAL 2.200. If you read my earlier post you will see that I'm already safely using 24.3 grains of H335, but that is at OAL 2.225 with the Hornady 55gr FMJBT W/C bullet.

    I'm starting to think that my OAL 2.210 might not be good. Especially after I measure a factory LC round at OAL 2.250.
     
  13. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    There are several confusing issues in published loads for .223 ammo. Some loads are for bolt guns, some for "gas guns" like the AR, and some are for "pistols" like the XP-100 or TC's. Some books have separate sections for each and others don't. Another confusing point is the OAL listed in the manual. Is it the proper OAL or is it the minimum OAL to prevent overpressures? If the manual doesn't specify "Minimum Length", just assume that that number IS minimum.

    I would consider it a good practice to use the longest length that feeds properly in an AR, especially if you are approaching max load. For bolt guns, follow the accepted workup practices, looking for pressure signs along the way. A bolt gun can take a lot more than an AR which tends to beat itself to death if pressures get too high.
     
  14. zippygaloo

    zippygaloo Oregon Member

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    In regards to published load data, do I get a little more wiggle room (in terms of pressure) because I have a barrel chambered for 5.56mm?

    Also, with my Hornady 55gr FMJBT W/C bullets, if I go longer there is no way possible to crimp on the cannelure. Check out the picture of two different 55gr bullets (Montana Gold vs Hornady) in this thread and you will see what I am talking about. I have over 1000 of the Hornady 55gr bullets, so I want to the best solution for that bullet.
     
  15. Trailboss

    Trailboss Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Spot on advise here, tap at top, tap at bottom for repeat precision.
     
  16. Kevatc

    Kevatc Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I hear you. IMHO, the Hornady bullet in this caliber and weight is the best there is.