Varget .223 - your experience needed!


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tikkat3
December 8, 2006, 06:30 PM
I have just had to try Varget, as my dealer is out of H335 and does not have any other powders that I wanted to try out.

I would be interested to hear your recipes/experience with varget in .223. Below are the results of my initial testing. The results were not the best in my opinion and I have not really found a good, consistent load.

All were shot from a 1-8" twist Tikka T3 Lite with a Harris bipod at the front and sandbags under the stock, over a Land Rover bonnet. The rifle was absolutely steady for all shots. It was rodded through with a brass jag only after every 10-15 shots. Here are some of the groupings (5 shot groups):

AT 100m (all with either 55gr Speer FMJ, or 55gr Hornady V-Max, set approx 8 thou off the lands)

26.0gr - 3 shots at 0.468", 2 flyers, self-induced .(FMJ)

26.3gr - 3 shots at 0.732", 1 flyer, one just off paper target (shooting high towards top of target). (FMJ)

26.6gr - messy. 2 shots within 0.440", other 3 at 1.309" of eachother, overall spread 2.5". (FMJ)

27.0gr - again, scope set too high. 3 shots at 0.757", 2 off paper, but appear to be under 1", judging by entry holes on wood above paper. (FMJ)

27.3gr - 1.7" spread. (FMJ)

27.5" - 0.841", but 1 flyer extends this to 1.3". (FMJ)

27.5 - 0.987" with 1 flyer to 1.498" (V-Max)


AT 200m (4 shot groups)

27.5gr - 3 shot group at 0.449" plus a bad flyer. (V-Max)

26.0gr - 4.8"!!! (FMJ)

Overall, I was not too happy with the charges. They did not seem to be consistent enough, especially later in the day when some of the charges gave very different results. Some of the flyers were definitely the result of shooter error, but most shots were rock steady on the sand bags.

I found that the 27.5gr loads gave significantly more recoil than the equivalent max charges in H335 gave. Some of the recoil was hefty for a .223 in my opinion.

What do you guys Stateside think?

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dakotasin
December 8, 2006, 06:41 PM
in 223 i have had good luck w/ varget using 60 grains and heavier bullets (the more heavier, the better it works). lightweight bullets have been ok w/ varget, but nothing great.

tikkat3
December 8, 2006, 06:47 PM
Thanks Dakota. Varget seems to be ok, but nothing special. I have read elsewhere that it is a good all-rounder through the calibres, but not special for most.

dakotasin
December 8, 2006, 08:34 PM
i've had good luck w/ varget in: heavy-for-caliber 223, and 243. it has done well in all bullet weights in 7-08 and 308.

essentially, i keep varget around for my 308's, and were it not for my 308's, i'd probably never shoot the stuff myself.

waumo
December 8, 2006, 08:47 PM
I was on the Varget bandwagon for awhile until I concluded it was OK for
a lot of different catridges but not the best for any cartridge.

I gave away/traded the remainder of my supply.

I've had good results with Benchmark in the 223 with 52/55 grain bullets.

Walkalong
December 8, 2006, 09:24 PM
Hard to beat H335 in the .223. Only thing better is maybe W748. Varget did OK for me. Not real excited about it. I also shoot H335 & W748 in my heavy barrel Sako in .222 Mag. Sweet shooter!

BsChoy
December 9, 2006, 12:01 AM
Varget works well for me in 223 with 26.2 grains under a 60 grain vmax...usually arounf 1/2 inch...it works well periodically in my 30-06 and not well (so far) in 308, though I have not tried it with heavier bullets only 150's.

YodaVader
December 9, 2006, 12:11 AM
My 26" Savage with a 1 in 9" twist barrel likes Varget and the 69 MatchKing. These targets were with 25.0 grains with the loading manual listed OAL.

My 20" barrel 700 also with a 1 in 9" twist likes H335 with 52 - 55 grain bullets. Also H322 with the 69 MatchKing.

Grump
December 9, 2006, 12:54 AM
All were shot from a 1-8" twist Tikka T3 Lite [snip], over a Land Rover bonnet.

You really shouldn't be surprised at the flyers you're getting. Vehicles are just too bouncy for reliable testing.

Get on the ground or on a solid bench for your ammo testing.

That said, and a great big BUT... I'm amazed you've done so well with the FMJ bullets--I've never had great groups with them ever. 2 MOA is about the limit, though I've heard of some folks with Uber-match barrels getting barely 1 MOA.

Seems like the big attraction of Varget is your zeros are hardly affected by temperature changes. I've used some but haven't really tested it for that. Works okay for me.

wanderinwalker
December 9, 2006, 10:28 PM
As an AR-15 shooter, a Highpower shooter and a reloading nut, when I load bullets under 60gr in weight in .223 I stay well away from Varget. Win 748 and others are better suited for light-bullet .223 loads, IMO.

However, for reliability of zero, and consistent, reliable accuracy (if not bench-rest quality) shooting 69-80gr bullets, I have found Varget to be wonderful. It works so well in that application in .223 I haven't tried but one other powder (H4895) and that was a short-lived experiment. RL-15 is supposed to work equally well in the same role, but I've never tried it (the local guy doesn't stock it reliably... BUT, he ALWAYS has at least one pound of Varget).

But after trying it in a .30-06 1903A3, I'm inclined to side with the "Okay in many, not superb in any" crowd. Of course, I believe the test of a rifle is to get off of the sandbags and shoot, so Varget shoots well enough for that use! :p

nitesite
December 9, 2006, 10:59 PM
My XM15-E2 20" stainless barrel really likes H335 when shooting 55-gr JSPs. Varget has not shown any better results for me. But I shoot 200-yards and under, so perhaps Varget shines at longer distances.

Dark Helmet
December 9, 2006, 11:52 PM
I'd try a heavier bullet- you have the twist and burn rate for it.

Jim Watson
December 10, 2006, 12:16 AM
My LR AR does very well with 23.5 - 24 gr Varget and a 90 grain JLK or Berger VLD. Last time out, a best of 5 shots in 4.2" at 500 metres. Half inch at 100 is pretty common.
It has a 28" 6.5 twist barrel to handle those heavy bullets.

Re15 is so nearly the same I cannot tell a difference except in price and availability; lots more Varget hereabouts at lower cost. I have some VV N550 I will try, it did not work with 90 gr SMK but then nothing did, not well enough to get them to 1000 yards.

dakotasin
December 10, 2006, 11:25 AM
fwiw- i find that varget and rl-15 are nearly interchangeable, too... the one difference i noted is that rl-15 seems to get better velocity than varget out of longer barrels, and varget gets more velocity than rl-15 out of shorter barrels. the difference is minimal, though, at maybe 50 f/s - but has been consistent for me...

tikkat3
December 10, 2006, 06:57 PM
I have trouble over here in the UK getting heavier varminting bullets (V-Max, SPs). Target bullets are no problem, but I would not weant to use them for hunting varmints (fox, rabbits etc). My local gun stores tend to always have a range of 40-55gr expanding bullets, but never anything above that. It is a simple matter of no demand for heavier expanding rounds in my part of the world, combined with stringent firearms purchasing laws/requirements in the UK.

55gr V-Max is therefore my ideal varminting bullet. I think I will next try N133 and H322, if I can get hold of any. Varget does not seem to be the ideal powder for my rifle. It is not bad, but also not good. H335 was far better.

Black Snowman
December 10, 2006, 07:40 PM
My best luck with Varget has been in 308 with 168 and 175 gr Hornday A-Max Moly. I can't say I've found ANY 223 loadings that I can really write home about, but then I don't have a precision 223 rifle either.

langenc
December 11, 2006, 12:10 AM
Have been using Relaoder 10x. It was made esp for 223. 50 grain bullets can use 24-25 gr. Start out at 21 or 22 and work up.

ranger53
December 11, 2006, 05:50 AM
I've only shot Varget in a 270, that's right a 270. It performed pretty good. As far as a 223 I choose IMR 4198 or 3031. But my rifles like different things. The Varget is gone and I'm using IMR 4350 in my 270.
tommy

callgood
December 11, 2006, 07:53 PM
I have trouble over here in the UK getting heavier varminting bullets (V-Max, SPs). Target bullets are no problem, but I would not weant to use them for hunting varmints (fox, rabbits etc). My local gun stores tend to always have a range of 40-55gr expanding bullets, but never anything above that. It is a simple matter of no demand for heavier expanding rounds in my part of the world, combined with stringent firearms purchasing laws/requirements in the UK.

55gr V-Max is therefore my ideal varminting bullet. I think I will next try N133 and H322, if I can get hold of any. Varget does not seem to be the ideal powder for my rifle. It is not bad, but also not good. H335 was far better.

Not the best for your situation. If you tried approx. 25.3 grains Varget with either a Sierra Match King 69 grain or a Hornady 75 grain BTHP I think your groups would improve. Doesn't help you with your varmint situation, but I think a more correct statement would be your rifle doesn't like Varget and lighter bullets.

Lennyjoe
December 11, 2006, 09:36 PM
My buddy likes Varget out of his 20" H-bar and I prefer H-335 out of my 16" Oly SUM barrel. Tried varget myself but didnt care for it. Would rather use Varget in my 22-250 which shoots great with that powder.

dcloco
December 12, 2006, 12:02 AM
Get some 69 gr Sierra HPBT's or 60 gr Sierra's....and try another powder...any powder.

For some reason, Varget does not shoot accurately through my 1:9 twist Savage either.

I can shoot 40's to 69's through it with excellent accuracy with AA2230-c, IMR4198, etc, etc.

redneck2
December 12, 2006, 07:24 PM
Might want to click on this link. 268 yards lasered. Two consecutive 3 shot groups. Bushmaster Varminter AR. Fluted match grade 1-9 barrel , 2-stage trigger. 6.5x20 Leupold VX-III scope, off solid bench.

http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e283/Indianaoutdoorsman/Gunpix-1.jpg

26.0 Varget, Nosler 50 BT, WW cases, Fed SR match primers. Loaded to mag length.

IMO, accuracy is in your bullets and primers, not your powder. Dump the FMJ's (especially if they're cheapies) and get good bullets.

Trying to get excellent accuracy out of mediocre bullets is like trying to win the Indy 500 on street tires.

Dark Helmet
December 12, 2006, 07:58 PM
I was going to mention trying a different primer before giving up.:uhoh:

Jim Watson
December 12, 2006, 09:35 PM
Two consecutive 3 shot groups.

Why did you quit shooting so soon?
I am a target shooter and have to make 20 shots in a row count.

g56
December 13, 2006, 12:30 AM
I prefer to use ball powders in 223, but I have experimented with Varget. Chrono out of a 24" barrel AR15, this load rips along pretty good.

26.5 gr Varget in IMI military case
55 gr Winchester FMJBT
CCI primer
Avg 3223 fps
SD 16.4
AD 12.3

toecutter
December 13, 2006, 07:14 AM
I've been loading varget for a while after being recommended it for my .308. I now buy it in the large 8lb'ers regularly. I often do 45gr of varget behind a sierra palma 155 bullet and have shot 5-hole clovers at 200 yards.

I also load it in .223 for my autoloaders. It works very well in my M4gery usually shooting 1-3" at 100yds off the bench. But I usually use this load for mucking about making a mess of steel plates. I think offhand rapid fire groups are 5-10" at 100yds.

The thing I like about varget is that at 25gr it does a good job of filling up the case, and I really don't fear an overcharge in it. I have also found it to be cleaner burning than H335. My normal load is 25gr behind a 62gr SS109 bullet.

redneck2
December 13, 2006, 10:23 AM
Why did you quit shooting so soon?
I am a target shooter and have to make 20 shots in a row count.

This is my hunting load. I don't typically get 20 shots at one groundhog or coyote Besides, I was using too little of the target. Continuing to poke bullets thru the same little hole wouldn't mean much to me.

I felt I was getting cheated and not getting my money's worth. Paid for the whole target, might as well use it all. Gotta get a different gun to do that.

AS a note, Varget sometimes tends to bridge. Watch your charges.

MikeWSC
December 15, 2006, 02:03 AM
tikkat3,

Your 1 in 8 twist is probably going to shoot better with heaver bullets.
The club I belong to has comp. matches out to 600 yards, most of the
guys are using 75 g. Hornadys with the fast twist barrels.
9 twist barrels will shoot a 53 - 69 grain bullet and 12 twist barrels will go
down to 40 g.

My 1:12 AR-15 and Win Mod. 70 handle 50 and 52 grain bullets extremelly
well and my Rem 700 in .221 Fireball really holds tight groups with 40 g
V-Max.

wanderinwalker
December 15, 2006, 09:54 AM
The fast twist .223s will shoot OK with lighter bullets too. My own 1-7 twist AR shoots great at 100 yards with 52gr HPBTs. Another shooter's fast twist long range .223 likes the same bullet, out to 300 yards. (And he's ready to chuck the barrel into the scrap heap because it WON'T shoot well with heavy bullets.)

The simplest solution to getting the light bullets to work may be just switching powders if possible.

bouis
December 15, 2006, 09:59 AM
I like the way Varget shoots okay, but it's extremely messy to reload. It ends up everywhere and the sticks are big enough to interfere with the machine.

Lennyjoe
December 15, 2006, 10:33 AM
I can hardly get a full load of Varget in LC brass without compressing the hell out of it. Thats why I prefer H-335. Easier to use on my progressive for bulk .223 range ammo.

tikkat3
December 16, 2006, 06:23 PM
I can get 27.5gr Varget into Lapua match brass with just the lightest touch of compression. The standard previously-factory loaded Lapua brass need serious compression (powder full to overflowing) to get the same amount in. H335 is a better powder so far in the rifle. Judging by the trajectory, Varget shifts the bullet out at a far greater pace (I do not yet have a chronograph).

I have come to the conclusison that Varget in my setup is not the best. I am not able to try suitable heavier loads as the bullets are not easily available in my area of the UK (strict laws prevent easy internet/mail order purchasing). Also my T3 magazine will not allow loner.heavier bullets to be loaded without much of their length being shoved down the case!

I am going to have to stick to H335 (when the next batch comes in) :banghead: or try something like N133.

slickshot
December 16, 2006, 10:50 PM
Have several rifles from 1-7 to 1-14 twist---varget only shoots well in the faster twist with the heavier bullets, 60 gr and up. In my experience when you have fliers it is a sign of the wrong powder and or seating depth. I would suggest, as indicated by the other posts, that in your case the powder is the issue. However it might be worth your time to experiment with seating depth, maybe not so close to the lands. Some rifles like the bullets seated a little deeper than others, you may have one. Make sure when you begin to change settings that you keep good records of the changes and do not make more than one change at a time.
Good luck
Merry Christmas!

taliv
December 17, 2006, 02:27 PM
doesn't sierra still list varget as their accuracy load?

i use it for high power 69-80g

cherryriver
December 20, 2006, 01:52 PM
Just have to throw this in-
I got some Varget to try for my .223 but noticed a listing for .303 British.
After a couple of hundred rounds with a 174gr. FMJBT, I'm prepared to say Varget is the most accurate of the four powders I've tried in the old Limey.
Oh, yeah, it's okay for .223 but Winchester 748 does seem to be the ticket, at least for the Winchester 55gr. pills I usually use.
Bill

threefeathers
December 21, 2006, 10:46 PM
25.5 grains of Varget driving the Hornady 75 grain bthp is a sub one inch load at 100 meters with the Arms Tech USR. I use it to demonstrate eyeball shots for police marksmen.

jeepmor
January 19, 2007, 01:19 AM
I saw this one listed across a lot of rifle loads, so thought it a good place to start. I started with pistol loads and have rolled about 5K of my own thus far. In my pistols, if I can hit the 10 ring at 21 feet, that's fine. In rifles, I foresaw the tuning process and figured I'd get accustomed to my reloading equipment with my pistols before I went for the accurate loads expected of rifles.

From my readings here, I will have to load it for the .270 to be more in tune with its optimal application from my rifle pickins. I have 223s in a 1 in 12 24" HB gun and a 1-9 semi auto and this is where I am starting. Experimentation is in order and it will behoove me to build an "at the range" reloading box to speed things along in regards to accuracy. Unfortunately, all the match grade in 68gr bullets and up (Hornady and Sierra) in 223 reloading was OUT at the Portland area Sportsman's Warehouse today.

Regardless of my purchase, I now know what to expect thanks to the THR community. With Varget, I think I should not get my hopes up in .223. Nice to know up front instead of trying to force it later. But still fun to send it downrange. :D I will go get the .223 recommened powders for uber accuracy before I run out of this Varget.

And now I know I should be using it for heavy bullets in 223 realm, and it works well in 308 and 270.

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