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Reloading .223- Where to start

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by skeet_man, Nov 24, 2012.

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  1. skeet_man

    skeet_man Well-Known Member

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    Just purchased a Remington 700 Varmint .223 yesterday. 26" heavy barrel, 1-12 twist. It is the ADL model, but I've already purchased the BDL trigger plate, and will switch stocks as soon as I can find one I want at the right price.

    I'm completely new to centerfire, so please bear with me.

    Anyways, anybody got pointers on where to start as far as powder and bullets for reloading for this caliber and twist? I did a little searching today and didn't really find any factory ammo to my liking in a reasonable price range. The cheapest non-steel cased ammo that was better than what I'd call "blaser grade" I could find would be $14ish for 20 rounds.

    I already have all the tooling I’ll need to reload .223 from when my brother was reloading it. I’ll be loading on a single stage, but for the volume I’m planning to shoot, that will be a non-issue.

    From what I've surmised going a little research online, Sierra MatchKing 52gr w/ Hornady H335 is a good starting point. Doing some calculating, it looks like I can load these for about $10/20 using virgin brass, and it drops down to half of that if the brass is reused, so it seems like a real no-brainer to reload (even better savings than reloading shotshells).

    As far as buying brass, is there any difference b/w Rem/Win/Fed? At the rate I will likely shoot, a bag of 100 cases will probably be sufficient. Since I don’t need a large quantity of brass, trying to find a deal on fired brass doesn’t seem like it’ll be worth the time. My brother has a large quantity of 5.56 brass, but I don’t think I want to work from that.

    Based on the Hodgdon site, it doesn't matter what brand of primer or brass you use, is this correct or am I missing something?

    Most of my shooting will be 100-200 yards @ a range. Would like to take it hunting at some point, but that's not a major concern at this point.
     
  2. superxjeff

    superxjeff Active Member

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    You have arrived at one of the finest combo's.

    There are lots of powders that will work but in the end Varget and 335 are about the best.

    The Matchkings are great but I load Nosler ballistic tips because they are just as accurate and I can get them as seconds from Nosler for a whole lot less.

    If that gun will not shoot in one ragged hole I would be very suprised. Jeff
     
  3. cunninmp

    cunninmp Member

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    I have the exact same rifle in .223. It loves H335 at close to max loads. It's been pillar bedded and has a trigger job other then that it's stock. Oh, and mine is a BDL built around 1983.
    Took it out to the range with the gunsmith that did the pillar bedding
    (the barrel is floated) and fitted a new 24x scope on it. The bullet was a Berger 50 grain vaminter and H335 at max. All Remington cases trimmed to length with CCI primers. No wind that day and shot at 100 yards.
    The first three shots measured .154" center to center. If I remember right that works out to .140 MOA. Shot again for group and patched with a small amount of Kroil then a dry patch. This time the three shot group was .160" center to center so it showed that the gun and loads were doing their jobs. Not believing it, the smith then shot it and he got a little over 3/16's (.187).
    I've also tried BL-C and Varget. I've also used Sierra and Hornaday in 50, 52, and 55 grain, both flat base and boattail. The H335 is the best in my rifle.
    Your choice of the 52 grain Sierra and H335 should work very well.
    Let me know how you make out with your loads. Opps, one other thing, I seat all bullets at .015 off of the lands. Works in my rifle.
    Mike Cunningham
    cunninmp@hotmail.com
     
  4. skeet_man

    skeet_man Well-Known Member

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    Mike- I've been reading where people are setting the bullet x distance from the lands. How do you go about telling what OAL will give you a certain distance from the lands?
     
  5. mag410

    mag410 Active Member

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    Sounds like you got to Dick's before 2 PM?

    If you can find some in stock, Walmart has the Federal 100 round value pack, .223 55 grain FMJ, $34.97 $7/box. Some lots have Fed Federal brass, some LC Lake City. Good brass either way. They shoot well in my Remington 700.

    Cabelas has Nosler bullets on sale. The 1000 count Custom Completion are cheaper than I can get them wholesale.

    Michael
     
  6. Chichay

    Chichay TS Supporters TS Supporters

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    If your chamber is marked .223 Remington, it is best to stay away from 5.56x45 ammo unless Remington says it's OK (different leade). To optimize accuracy, stay with a single brand of components, i.e. all Winchester brass, all CCI primers, all 52gr Sierra MKs, etc. and keep meticulous records, Since you are using Sierra MKs, consult a Sierra load book for starting, maximum, and most accurate load. As a low volume shooter in search of accuracy, I'll encourage you to weigh every powder charge. After fire-forming your brass in your particular rifle, you may want to neck size only on your 2nd and subsequent reloadings but keep a close watch on brass length especially if you're using hot loads. You're on the verge of an exciting and rewarding hobby. Good luck and stay safe. PM me if I can be of further help. Chichay
     
  7. skeet_man

    skeet_man Well-Known Member

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    MAG- I got there at 11:45, and they opened the doors @ 11:50. They had maybe 7-8 of these guns in the various calibers: 2 .223 1 .22-250 1 .243 3 .308. Everything was GONE by the time I left at 2am except for a shelf 22-250. It was a pain the butt, but I think it was worth it. I ended up getting home about 3am. My mood was if I get one, cool, if I don't, I wasn't worried about it.

    Funny part was that I drove by my local Dicks @ about 11:30, and there was a pretty decent line, so I drove 20 minutes to another Dick's which is VERY close to a VERY large mall, figuring most of the people in the area would be going to the mall instead. Boy, was I wrong, the line was 2x as long, but most everybody was going for something other than guns. I never ended up even standing in line, since they opened 10 mins early, I just walked right in. I spoke w/ one of the sales guys at my regular Dick's today, and come to find out they had 3-4x the 700s that the Dick's I went to did, so my extra drive was kinda a waste.

    My locally Wally only had the cheap steel case and I think some Remington Core-Lokt. Definitely didn't see any that were $35/100 (the best I saw for a box larger than 20 was $35/40 Rem UMC @ Gander). Maybe I'll have to check a couple more Wallys, one of those packs would make good break-in ammo and give me good brass to work from too.
     
  8. superxjeff

    superxjeff Active Member

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    By shooting groups Ian.

    That gun will most likely have a throat so long that it will make very little diffrence. I load mine to reccomended col as my gun has such a long throat that I couldn't load them long enough between the length of the bullet and the excessive length of the throat.

    If you can touch lands a good starting point is 5 thousandths back of that.

    Some guns shoot them great at that length and some shoot great jammed right into the lands. You will not know until you try.

    the nice thing is that if you just load them to col reccomended by the book and you get 1/4 inch groups, you will have more accuracy then you have rifle at that point.

    We all love 1 hole groups but we do not need them unless we are shooting in a match. I don't shoot over 400 yards with a .223. If I feel I will have a chance at a longer shot, I bring another gun be it a 22-250 or a .260 or something else.

    That said it makes no diffrence as my gun shoots in a ragged hole without anything but a trigger tweak. Granted , I use H&S precision stocks and that may help some but I have shot lots of .223 ADL and BDL guns that were stock factory that shot less then 1/4 inch groups with Varget, and 335 and Nosler ballistic tips.

    My advice? Shoot a load of varget and your favorite bullet and see what happens.

    No need on earth to screw with Bench rest primers for a 400 yard rig.

    The BR primers are more consistant not more accurate. 3o FPS means nothing at 400 yards and means a whole bunch at 800 to 1000 yards. You won't be shooting that far with a 223.

    Just like boat tail bullets. They are great and pretty much all I shoot but the mean very little at 250 yards. Once you get out there they can mean more but up close a flatback bullet will shoot 1 hole groups just as easily. Jeff
     
  9. skeet_man

    skeet_man Well-Known Member

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    I'm not married to any particular load at this point, the one w/ 335 and Matchkings was something that popped up as a good one when I did a google search. I don't mind trying a few different combinations, but I don't want to end up with leftovers of a dozen different bullets and a dozen different powders.

    Another question. How do you tell 5.56 from .223 brass? The brass my brother has is marked LC 07 and has a annular crimped primer. I assume this is 5.56 brass, correct. And I'm also guessing the crimped primer makes these more difficult to reload than it will be worth, correct?
     
  10. oz

    oz Active Member

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    335 is gre3at but get hodgdon CFE223 it is just like 335 but is a copper fouling eraser. removes the copper fouling from your barrel.
     
  11. HSLDS

    HSLDS Well-Known Member

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    Wow,

    Big question here... I'm going to bounce around here a bit, but hopefully the info is valuable to you.

    First, below I include a link to Cheaper Than Dirt - they are selling a box of 1000 rounds of Federal 52 grain 223 for about $400. You can get the same at gun shows for around $350. Not a bad value and it gives you 'spares' if you ever pick up an AR-15... perhaps the best brass that is easy to find on the market (Federal or Lake City).

    In terms of reloading may I suggest you check out Sinclair International. They supply bench rest shooters and there is TONS of information available. Flash hole de-burring tool, primer pocket uniforming tool,case neck turning, case length cutting... (more on these later)

    To squeeze accuracy you will want to load fire-formed cases (this means they need to be fired in your gun's chamber first - to take on it's contours). Next you would neck re-size only (typically you full length re-size - this allows the shell to fit ANY 223 - which you don't care about and don't want) - you want the perfect fit for YOUR rifle. This means you set the press to ONLY size the neck portion of the case (different ways to do this) - not touching the shoulder or the body of the case - this helps to better center the case in YOUR camber.

    In terms of powder/bullet combos the truth is that it varies from gun to gun...

    I have seen two identical rifles - bought at the same time (Browning A-Bolts in 223) where one loved a specific load, and the other couldn't hit anything with it. Yes, there should be similarity between two guns, but that doesn't mean they will both shoot the same round exactly the same.

    In other words, you will need to experiment - means more time at the range ;-)

    Another issue is how far forward in the case do you set the bullet?? Easiest way is to take a sized shell and then use a Dremel to cut two vertical slits down the neck. Gently squeeze the case in a bit then place a bullet into the case mouth (you want it fairly far out of the case). Chamber the round and close the bolt. Now open it and CAREFULLY remove the round.

    You can now measure the round with a caliper to now the exact amount of free bore the rifle has... in other words the MAXIMUM LOA you can load to.

    More experimentation here - the distance you set the bullet back from the rifling matters very much for accuracy. How much depends on the specific rifle.

    To really squeeze accuracy you need to look into:

    --- Case length - a tool is used to cut the cases to a uniform length so they load more consistently.

    --- de-burring the flash hole (a special tool cuts all the excess brass out of the inside around the flash hole from when the hole was punched) - this allows for more uniform ignition from the primer flash.

    --- Uniforming the primer pocket (another tool cuts the primer pocket to a uniform depth and diameter) - see above

    --- Case-neck turning (another tool acts like a mini lathe to cut the neck diameter to a uniform thickness all around) - helps to center the round in the chamber which aligns the bullet better with the bore.

    I have a Sako TRG-S in 300 Weatherby. Out of the box is shot 1/2" groups at 100 yrds.

    After above treatment 5 rounds at 300 yrds can be covered with a dime (if I do my part).

    Good luck and welcome to an obsessive sport...

    -

    Cheaper Than Dirt

    http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/product/AMM-272

    Sinclair International

    http://www.sinclairintl.com/
     
  12. superxjeff

    superxjeff Active Member

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    Ian, if you were shooting an AR and hundred of rounds this would be an issue but brass is the least of your worry in a plinking gun or a varmint gun. I like Winchester brass but can tell you personal horror storys about all brands.

    Brass is the least of your worrys and case's stretching will also be a non issue.

    I have never had to neck size .223 to get plenty of case length(life). I use the military brass and factory brass. If using the cases causes an issue it has never shown itself in all the standard ways we judge excessive pressure.

    All the same... a bag of 100 .223 brass will likey last you so long that you will laugh that you were ever worried about it in the first palce.
     
  13. oz

    oz Active Member

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    the 556 brass will have the nato cross on it.
     
  14. warpspeed

    warpspeed Member

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    I'd suggest picking up a box of Black Hills Ammunition 223 Remington 52 Grain Match Hollow Point. They make it in a red box ( new brass ) or a blue box ( once fired ).

    I'd say get the red box and shoot it. Depending on how much you shoot, you may not want to reload. On the other hand, if you do, then you will have once fired brass from your gun ready to reload.
     
  15. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    5.56 brass is 223 brass. 5.56 is military and 223 is commercial. The military brass is a little heavier than the commercial brass and the commercial brass can hold a little more powder. You need a tool to recut the primer pockets on the military brass.

    The 52 grain Sierras are a very good bullet and are just right for the twist barrel that you have. 4198 powder and 4895 powder work great with that combination of bullet and twist. HMB
     
  16. superxjeff

    superxjeff Active Member

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    You are starting to hear from the more accuracy then gun folks Ian. A dime group at 300 yards is great but you don't have a 600 yard gun you have a 400 yard gun.

    a no muss/ no fuss load that will shoot a 1/4 inch group at 100 will wack a groundhog at 400 yards. It will explode a crow at the same range.

    To each his own. The advanced loading techniques I save for the rounds that can make use of it. I.E My .260, 308 and 300 win mag. Jeff
     
  17. grntitan

    grntitan Well-Known Member

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    As mentioned above, the 5.56mm Nato Brass has a crimped primer pocket. Some loaders think its the end of the World and refuse to mess with those cases. I find the 5.56mm to be much more durable and I actually prefer them. The primer pocket on them will have to be swaged. It is just an extra step and not really that complicated. I bought this little swaging tool made by Hornady for a couple bucks and chuck it up in the DeWalt. It makes short work of swaging the primer pocket. Just a few bursts on the drill and they are ready for primers.

    Here is the 5.56mm Nato Brass with Nato Cross.....
    [​IMG]


    My swaging setup.....

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    My favorite powders for .223 although I am not loading for the same rifle as you......

    [​IMG]


    I'm following this thread closely as I'm learning quite a bit with every post. These guys know their stuff.
     
  18. deercreek

    deercreek Well-Known Member

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    I use Varget, Nosler BT's and Federal Match Primers. The best move I made was switching to Lapua brass.
     
  19. timb99

    timb99 Well-Known Member

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    Like HMB said, the NATO brass may have less internal volume.

    That may cause higher pressures if you load them the same as other brass.
     
  20. superxjeff

    superxjeff Active Member

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    I have loaded thousands and thousands and more thousands of them with no signs of excessive pressure. More handwringing from the old wives. It hass less case capacity and with the powders that work best in a .223 I have loaded them to MAX and have never seen any more signs of pressure then you will in any other brass loaded near max.

    In a bolt action rifle you are loading for acuracy. Accuracy seldom comes anywhere near a max load and even if it does you will have safely loaded your way to near max loads so you will know it's coming.


    Do not worry about military brass. You can also buy 1000 rounds that has already been processed for pretty cheap.
     
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