General Purpose Load for .223


April 2, 2008, 10:41 AM
Hey Everybody, I've searched this site for any questions I've had on everything firearms related for years with fantastic results. There is a wealth of information in these forums from people who know what they're talking about. Thank you.

I have not, however, been able to find an answer on a question, hence my first post. I have three Bushmasters in .223 (M4, Competition, and Varmint rig) and got tired of paying 50 cents a round, so I got the reloading bug (it looks like a good time in it's self). I just got a Hornady L-N-L AP for my anniversary and have acquired 2000 LC cases. As I am waithing to purchase the rest of the gear required to begin reloading (first on the list is "The ABC's of reloading") I am in a research stage. I want a general purpose load, one that isn't great at any one thing, but good at all. I'd like to be able to be accurate at 300 yards for target and varmints, good for any SHTF situations, and still relatively inexpensive to reload.

Picking the bullet is the hard part. Boat tail, FMJ, SP, HP, Match Grade, Spire Point, with or without cannelure? And then there is the weight, it seems like self defense stick around 50-65 grain, match grade is 65-80, and I don't know why you would use the super light weight like 40 grain. It's enough to make my head swim.

What about powder and primers?

I'm a single income E-5 with two kids and a house so I don't have piles of cash to throw at working a load up. I'd like to start with something you guys know will do what I need it to do and go from there. Feel free to share your loads. My rifles have a 1 in 9 twist. Thanks again for all the posts in the past, and thanks to any replies I get on this one. Who knows, maybe it will help someone else out too.

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April 2, 2008, 11:42 AM
I would proably go with a M193 style load, 55gr. FMJ boat tail, cheap and effective for most things

April 2, 2008, 11:43 AM
I understand your condition. Since there are a lot of options, here's just one.
Hornady 55 grain spire points, now $48/500 at MidwayUsa. Good bullet and not too expensive. Has a cannelure if you want to crimp, plenty accurate for varmints out to 300 yards, and capable of sub-minute of angle accuracy. It's a flat based bullet and has functioned fine in 4 AR's. For powder choice with 55 grain bullets, my choice would be Hodgdon H335. Loads for 55 Hornady SP or FMJ would be 24-25 grains. Primer choice would be Remington 7 1/2 only. This is suggested just because you don't want too much expense and too much load workups with several different combinations. This combination will shoot and shoot well in all 3 of your rifles.
The LC brass has crimped primer pockets and you'll have to decide how to remove the crimp. Cutting the crimp with your case mouth deburr tool is one option or a Dillion Super Swage for the ultimate crimp removal.
Just my opinion on starting out without too much testing or expense.

April 2, 2008, 11:57 AM
Forget the cheap FMJ-BT for either varmint hunting, or target work.

They are not really accurate, and won't kill worth a darn.
Great for cheap blasting ammo, but not much else.

I second the 55 gr. SP w/c as a pretty fair less-expensive all-around bullet.
You can get them from Hornady (best) or Remington & Winchester. (cheaper)

You might go that route for most purposes.

For all-out longer range accuracy & killing power on varmints however, the Hornady V-Max or Nosler Ballistic-Tips are very hard to beat.

I have loaded 55 grain bullets of any style or brand, over 26.3 grains of WW-748 in GI brass for many years. With excellent results in several types of rifles.

Substitute cheap FMJ-BT-w/c for plinking & blasting, and use the good V-Max or Ballistic-Tip stuff for small groups, and coyote & prairie dog hunting.


April 2, 2008, 02:04 PM
One thing to watch out for when using heavier bullets in a .223 semi-auto is the cartridge overall length. Some heavier bullets cannot be seated deep enough to fit into a magazine.

I agree with rcmodel on using better bullets than just bulk .223 bullets for anything that you really want to hit or kill. Hornady's V-Max bullets may be almost twice as expensive as bulk bullets, but they are more accurate.

April 2, 2008, 05:17 PM
I'm with RC on the powder. W748 is a great powder and also meters very good in the powder measure. Another powder I like is H335. If you want half way decent accuracy stay away from military pulled and most cheap bulk bullets. I do prefer a boat tail bullet though because they are a lot easier to seat. That's all I have been using so far but I will be buying some good bullets for competition this year.

April 2, 2008, 08:14 PM
Thanks for all of the replies so far. This forum is awesome. Has anyone heard that Winchester primers are a lot more forgiving than most other primers in military brass? I can get all of the military brass I want.

So far it looks like Hodgdon H335, and 55 gr Hornady SP will do just what I want. Anyone ever tried max distance on this load?

April 2, 2008, 10:29 PM
Navy Guy

From a fellow (last century) navy guy, welcome to the forum!

Did you get your free bullets when you got your LnL press? Because you can your first 1000 .224 cal Hornady bullets for free! Go to the Hornady website to download the coupon.

Right now you can get AA2230 powder from Powder valley 8lbs for $101 and get your primers at the same time. Buy in bulk and you save on Hazmat charges as they will ship about 50lbs of powder and primers on one hazmat charge.

You'll have to full length resize your brass each time on a small base type die (for best function) and get a good trimmer since you use an AR (lots of threads about this).

I use hornady 55gr FMJBT for blasting. Bought a bunch when they were $38/1000, and they seem plenty accurate for paper and cans.

For years I used AA2230C (a surplus powder) for varmints and blasting because 8lbs was $69! My opinion is AA2230 is very good, maybe not high end, but for me it metered excellently through my LnL powder measure for extemely consistant charges and that is what accuracy is all about!

My pet varmint load for AR and Bolt is 25.8 grains of AA2230C with a Speer 50 gr TNT HP (the bullet comes in 1000 ct. packs for $119, used to be $75!) It is not real fast but shoots plenty good for me (as I am the limiting factor)

Thanks for serving! BTW what is your rate?

Haze grey and ......I forget..:)

April 2, 2008, 10:32 PM
Basic load: Remington brass (no crimped primer pockets), 25gr TAC, CCI #400, and Midsouth bulk 55gr SP (w/ cannelure) Varmint bullets.

I can make 1000 of these for about $120, using my own brass.

April 2, 2008, 10:46 PM
Thanks for all of the replies so far. This forum is awesome. Has anyone heard that Winchester primers are a lot more forgiving than most other primers in military brass? I can get all of the military brass I want.

So far it looks like Hodgdon H335, and 55 gr Hornady SP will do just what I want. Anyone ever tried max distance on this load?
I have shot that bullet and powder combo out to 300 yards ( the range limit ) and was happy with the results. I was shooting prone in a 300 yard match and was happy with the results for as bad as I normally shoot.:D

April 2, 2008, 11:27 PM
Hornady 60 grain HP's and H335 are an awesome combination in all my .223 rifles, bolt and EBR.

Near enough to match grade accuracy as your M4gery will do, smacks stuff with more oomph than a 55 grainer and usually a little cheaper if you shop around.

April 2, 2008, 11:35 PM
Varget and Hornady 52gr BTHP's here

April 3, 2008, 12:27 AM
My "Basic- all-around" .223 load,

Midway "Dogtown" 55gr PtSP.; for optimum accuracy try the Nosler 55gr balistictip;
27.0gr of Hodgdon BL-C2, or Win 748
CCI, Winchester, or Federal small rifle primer.
Winchester, Federal, or Remington cases, trimmed before 1st reloading.

I've found bullet quality to be the most significant variant in this load. It has universally given me the best average accuracy in a large number of different rifles, ranging from "beater" grade AR's to a Remington Custom Shop 40XB.

My "little Rem. M7" shoots this load to under 1/2moa 5-shots if wind cooperates. However, substitute the last lot# of Hornady 55gr SPw/cannulure I got, and the groups go to 1.5-2.0moa. (another! bad batch of Hornady's.......) even the Remington and Winchester bulk packs have given better accuracy, especially a lot# of Winchester's back in the early 90's.

I've found that Reloader 15 runs a close second, but velcity is about 75fps slower. Ditto Varget and IMR4064.

The two different lot#'s of H335 I tried just never did anything for me that the BLC2/Win748 didn't do better.

The Sierra bullets have never dissapointed me either..................

Do be sure to seperate head-stamp (makes). Also, reduce to 26.0gr if using milspec. brass.

~3,000fps 14.5-16.5"bbl (Bushy "shorty-AK" and T/C Contender carbine)
~3,150fps from 18.5"bbl
~3,250fps from 20"bbl
~3,325fps from 24"bbl

April 3, 2008, 08:57 AM
The Dillion Super Swage was mentioned, does it remove the primer and swage? If not, I might buy a single stage just to deprime and resize. It seems like with military brass you almost have to have a workbench for case prep, and a workbench for reloading.

Anyone ever use the RCBS power station? It says it can remove the military crimp, I just wonder how effective it is.

Sommerled - I'm an ET, I'm stationed with E.O.D. right now in the hampton roads area, Virginia

April 3, 2008, 09:06 AM
55 FMJBT ($75 for 1000 from Brassman Brass, shipping INCLUDED)
27.0 grains of BL-C(2)

Powder, primer and bullets = 15 cents each, I've picked up plenty of stuff from the range so brass is free.

IIRC the starting and max loads were 25 to 27.5 grains of B-C(2), 27.0 worked the best in Bushmaster HBAR carbine using 223 brass. The same load shoots ok in 556 brass too but since the internal volumes are different a slightly different load is probably optimal, haven't experimented around with that yet. I can get 1 to 1.5" groups at 100 yards with those and could probably do better if I experimented around with the crimp and OAL. I just like this load because it's inexpensive, I think it's pretty accurate for coming out of a 16" carbine.

April 3, 2008, 09:23 AM
Most sources say stay away from Federal primers for autoloaders.

I have a buddy who almost traded his Bushmaster because of slam-firing. He was using standard Winchester small rifle primers but not seating them consistently. We changed his process to hand priming with a Lee Universal and the problem disappeared.

Lately, I been prepping to load a 30-06 autoloader and read that CCI #41 primers are recommended for the M16. CCI seems to cost about 50% more than Winchester.

H335 at 25 gr works great with a 55 gr bullet. Anything more than 69 gr seems to fall off in my 1:9 Colt.

Good luck.

April 3, 2008, 11:42 AM
resize your brass each time on a small base type dieNot necessary at all if you have a 5.56 chambered AR.

I have loaded nothing but GI brass for going on 40 years using both RCBS & Pacific standard .223 dies.

They work perfectly in every AR and Mini-14 I have shot them in. They also work perfectly in a CZ-527 & a couple of Remington bolt-guns.

All a small base die will do for you is shorten the life of your cases by over-working them every time you load them.


April 3, 2008, 12:09 PM
I'll second the Midway Dogtown bullets. I get much better accuracy with them vs. the Hornady SP's w/cannelure. Slightly more expensive but still reasonable.

I like H335 and Ramshot TAC. H335 is easier for me to find locally so I use it as my primary powder.

One thing I've noticed with my Bushmaster M4 is that it likes hotter loads. 24.5 grains of 335 (in colder weather) will usually not lock the bolt open on the last round, but 25.0 grains will function all the time. I load to 25.1 grains and I'll allow for a +0.1/- 0.0 grain variance. Probably could go hotter, but I don't see a need to do so.

I use the Lee FCD, so no cannelure is ok. If I can get Winchester primers I'll use them and never have had a problem. I like CCI as well.

April 3, 2008, 10:55 PM
I use AC2230 with 26grains & 55grain pill.

April 4, 2008, 07:50 AM
The Dillon superswage is a good investment. It doesn't take up much of a footprint on your bench.

Here's a photo of my setup.

I notice that most here agree with a ball powder in the 24 -25 grain range, and a 55 grain bullet. I like 25 grains of TAC and a 55 grain Hornady Vmax. Great accuracy, easy to load, and it works great.

As far as distance shots, the 223 is not typically a long range rifle, but I shoot prairie dogs with this combination all day at 300+ yards... furthest I hit one was just under 600 yards. Took awhile to walk the rounds in there, but it got him eventually.

April 4, 2008, 08:37 AM
I am with RCMODEL on this one.

I love my V-max's I am currently working on a VV N-133 loads for them as this powder is showing more promis than anyother powder. Granted this powder is costly at $24 to $31 a pound I also use Accurate 2015 and Win 748. I like 748 but it is temp sensitive. In my reloading I have found that 748 is one of the most temp sensitive powders out there. I like it for cool weather shooting. I also like Varget for the 223. It did not show as much promis as n133. but for a good all around powder varget is the way to go. I believe varget workes better with slightly heaiver bullets.

I would work up a good 55 FMJ blasting ammo load with some wolf primers (Cheapest out there).

Then work up some good varmint whackers with Hornady V-max, Speer TNT, or Sierra Blitz Kings. then Do not shoot them unless you want to punch some small holes or holes in small animals.

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