.223 & Varget


Art Eatman
April 25, 2008, 06:47 PM
Browsed through brands of powders. Never have used Varget. Decided, per the blurb on the label, to try some with .223.

The label says 27.5 grains max, for 55-grain bullets. The Hodgdon website data says 27.5 grains max for 50-grain bullets. So, that's the first point of confusion.

Hokay, back off max with my proposed use of 50-grain bullets, regardless of which data I believe. Try 27.0.

27.0 makes for a compressed load. But, nothing written about compressed loads.

My questions: Has anybody used Varget with the .223, and are there any pressure problems with a compressed load?

FWIW, this is for prairie dogging. Yes, I did some search. Yes, I know--now--that Varget is extruded, so it's a tad crunchy in a powder measure. :)


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April 25, 2008, 06:55 PM
Have you tried settling the powder in the case by tapping it on the bench? Varget's pretty large for a 223. I'm seeing 25gr (recommended accurate) on a 55gr Jacketed soft point, according to Lyman 48th. The max there is 27.8 compressed. Try settling the powder.

April 25, 2008, 07:04 PM
Okay, I tried it with a 223 case I had lying around. I see what you mean. Even with settling, you don't get much. The 25gr seems better, as that gets it right below the neck.

April 25, 2008, 07:13 PM
As an additional, I love Varget for my Mosins. I also get really nice metering with it, though I use the Lee PPM, which seems to like it. It's also incredibly stable in the cold. I could tell the Winchester factory loads were wimping out a bit at 25 degrees, but the Varget seemed to be perfectly normal.

April 25, 2008, 07:41 PM
hey Art, Varget is the gold standard on the NRA/CMP High Power firing line for 223 (obviously). It's a great powder, but... my impression is it is more commonly used with heavier bullets (69, 77, 80g SMK) and hence, less powder.

I haven't worked up any loads for 50g, or for bolt guns, but I'd be happy to share loads and velocities out of 20" AR15 service rifles.

even though my loads (all varget these days) are 24-25.6 grains, with the much longer 69-80g pills, my loads are all still compressed. i use a long drop tube, which helps, but you know that already.

Art Eatman
April 25, 2008, 08:14 PM
Thanks, all. The reason I was twitchy is that in most books, any compressed loads are noted. Or, there will be a drop-tube comment. It was the absence of comment that had me a bit concerned.

I'd tried the tapping, but no worthwhile settlement. Looks like going with 27.0 grains and a 50-grain bullet will work out okay for what I'm gonna do.

:), Art

April 25, 2008, 08:18 PM
I never had a load with Varget in the 223 that didn't compress. there shouldn't be an issue Art.

April 25, 2008, 09:25 PM
I am using 25.5g varget with Sierra 55g BTHP with no compression (have went to 26g as well and still no compression). When I went with the Hornady 68g match BTHP and 25g I had compression. I don't like compressed charges even though there is nothing really wrong, just the crunching noise that bothers me. I am using only LC brass. Loading to max OAL. Both loads shoot great!

April 25, 2008, 09:38 PM
Use what you got. I found that 25 grains of H4895 and 55 grain bullets is good prairie dog medicine. I would put a scosh more of the Varget in there, and I have used it before, but it is sooty in the low pressure loads. It is a great powder for the heavier bullets.

Grandpa Shooter
April 25, 2008, 09:41 PM
I switched to Varget for target loads in .223 to shoot out of an AR with 20" Colt match barrel. I loaded 26.6g under a 50g Speer soft point with Remington small rifle primer.

Really good load for me.

Jim Watson
April 25, 2008, 09:57 PM
I am loading 25 gr Varget and an 80 gr bullet, 24 with a 90; seated out in a fast twist barrel. It is accurate enough to be worth the trouble. Don't know about varmint loads.

Art Eatman
April 25, 2008, 10:11 PM
Good data. Thanx.

I ran off a few; I'll put up a fresh target maņana and see how they work.

April 26, 2008, 01:10 AM
I think there are a lot of powders better for 50gr bullets. You might look here -


April 26, 2008, 01:40 AM
I run Varget in .223 with 68gr BTHPs. Love the stuff. Use it in all my rifles.

April 26, 2008, 06:17 AM
You will be surprised how much a drop tube helps. 26gr will fit with little to no compression and works well with many 55gr bullets.

evan price
April 26, 2008, 08:47 AM
I use 25.5 Varget with a 55gr in LC brass, sometimes you get a little crunch but by and large it's a most accurate load.

April 26, 2008, 09:12 AM
Heck if you look at the Hodgdon web site the loads for 40gr bullets is 28gr, a rem 700vs I once had would shoot 27.5gr with RP7.5 in WW brass into one hole with 40gr Vmax, 50gr Vmax, and 55gr NBT. The use of a drop tube is the kicker to getting the Varget in the case.

April 26, 2008, 10:56 AM
I use 26 gns Varget with several types of 55 gn bullets....no compression...good accuracy

April 26, 2008, 11:46 AM
I use 27 grains Varget with Hornady's 55gr btfmj in LC and Rem brass
Chrono: 3014 fps avg.

April 26, 2008, 12:50 PM
I've posted this a couple of times. 50 Nosler BT, 26.0 Varget, WW cases, Fed Match primers in my Bushmaster Varminter seated to mag length. 268 yards. Two 3-shot groups. I think accuracy should be adequate.

FWIW, 26.0 fills to about the middle of the neck with WW cases.

There was an article in Handloader a few issues back about the .223. They concluded that the .223 is one of the very easiest rounds to achieve excellent accuracy and there are lots of different powders that work well. I'm using Varget as it's not as temp sensitive and a good friend that shoots Perry uses it.

April 26, 2008, 01:18 PM
Sometimes the 27.0 grains will be compressed in military brass but not so in remi. or win. brass. Most military brass is somewhat thicker walled and, therefore, less capacity.

Al Norris
April 26, 2008, 07:21 PM
Art, for what it's worth...

When I first started reloading, my son was using Varget for his HK and mini-14 (he taught me to reload - buying me the Lee Anniversary Kit).

For 55gr AMax, he was using 26.5gr Varget. It was a lightly compressed load.

I tried some 50gr Speer SP over 27gr of Varget. Worked real well in my little SU-16. This load was also slightly compressed.

In my 2006 Hodgdon's Annual, 27.5gr of Varget are listed as max load for for 50gr and 55gr bullets. It also notes that they are a compressed load. Starting load for the 50gr bullet is 26.5gr. For the 55gr, it's 25.5gr.

Hope this helps.

Art Eatman
April 26, 2008, 07:52 PM
Went out and tried a dozen rounds. Groups okay, half-MOA, in spite of late-afternoon fatigue and coffee nerves. :) Point of impact is the same as other loads with the same 50-grain Noslers.

Look out, prairie dogs!


April 26, 2008, 08:04 PM
I used RL7 once for 45gr Hornet tips.. Since then i have used Varget religeously in everything i can...
I am shooting 50gr Vmax with a 25.5 charge of Varget with no problems and i can cover with a nickle the hole 5 shots make at 100 with it.. My guns(06 and 223) have gotten really tight groups with the lower charge weights of reccomended charges... Upper charges were about 3/4-1" groups...

Varget is a great 223 powder.. I have never had a problem with it being dirty or anything else either..

April 26, 2008, 08:18 PM
I've tried 26.5 grains of Varget with 62 grain Barnes TSX bullets.
That is also a compressed load...no major problems, but it did flatten the primers just a little...and it gave less velocity than the same load of Reloder 15.

April 27, 2008, 01:05 AM
Ah, well... I'm late to the party. Glad you got your answers, Art.

I'm using 25 - 27.5 gr for hi-power matches, also... with similar setup to post above. 20" Bushmaster DCM AR-15, loading on the RL-550B. (I like blue.) I was initially concerned with the compressed loads, as well... I love Hodgdon powders, for handguns, long guns, shotguns. I'd never run into the powder over the top of the case mouth, tho, till the Varget loads for .223.

As noted by others, there have been no negative results with the loads. (Except I'm not a threat to the real hi-power shooters at my club!)

April 27, 2008, 10:56 AM
Varget is above average powder for many calibers. I found compressed loads of Varget, Hornandy 50gr V-Max and CCI primers seemed to have too much extream spread in my Vamint rifle. I switched to BLC2 to get max pressure without compressed loads.

I do use 25.5gr of Varget (non compressed) loads for one of my pet 223 sort range target loads using 50gr, 52 gr, or 53 gr match bullets...keeps them close.

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