Varget, .223 and compressed load


June 18, 2008, 11:27 PM
I am about to load some .223 rounds using Varget and Hornady 50 and 55 grain Vmaxs.

I have had great accuracy with 25 grains in the past but I want a little more velocity.

My question is how to approach a load beetween 27 and 27.5 grains. I can get the powder to fit
but have not tried to seat a bullet yet. It will definately be a compressed load, something I have never
done before. Are there potential pitfalls such as deforming the bullet during seating or bullet creep after load sits for awhile?

I have 8 pounds of Varget so the choice of powders is fixed. The bullets will be fired from a Remington 700.

Any suggetsting about loading .223 with 27 -27.5 of Varget and Hornady
50 and 55 grain Vmax would be welcomed!

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June 18, 2008, 11:36 PM
I would work up 0.2 grains at a time and see if you even need to get to this target weight of 27.00 - 27.50 gr.

June 19, 2008, 12:23 AM
USUALLY, and ALL OTHER FACTORS BEING EQUAL, compressed charges of smokeless powders tend to produce slightly lower peak chamber pressures than non-compressed. It won't always be the case, it's OFTEN the case. The putative mechanism seems to be that the primer flame ignites the compressed charge in a slightly more regular "from back to front" progression. So compressed charges aren't necessarily a bad thing in and of themselves.
Since you're shooting from a bolt action rifle, you have slightly more flexibility concerning the cartridge overall length. So if compressed charges concern you, you may find that loading to a higher overall length will alleviate this. Paradoxically, your pressures MIGHT rise if the longer overall length allow the round to chamber with the projectile engaging the lands of the barrel (i.e. no "freebore").
I don't have my notes in front of me, but I don't recall ever getting to 27.0/Varget with a 55grain pill in .223. You might be able to do this with the 52 or 50 grain pills, but I'm just not sure.
You'll probably find that your best strategy is to work up loads for optimal accuracy and let the velocities take care of themselves. When I go for velocities over accuracy, I usually end up shooting groups that look like buckshot patterns rather than rifle patters. I've done this enough times that I think I've finally learned my lesson, but I've done it with a variety of rifles. There's also a school of thought that suggests that poor accuracy may be your first tell-tale sign of pressure problems. Again, I'm without my notes, but I seem to recall accuracy falling off just before primers flattened and/or case heads tended to expand. Your Mileage May Vary.

June 19, 2008, 12:34 AM
You can get that much Varget in the case, but you have to use a drop tube to do it! Once fired cases have a tad more case capacity. Make sure the brass has good neck tension as you will have very compressed load. I have gotten to 28gr with 40gr Vmax....

I have pretty much had the best success in several platforms with the 50gr Vmax, although the best combo was with N133 and a Fed 205 primer!

June 19, 2008, 04:59 PM
I forgot to mention that I was using military brass, not commercial. Perhaps the difference lies therein.

June 19, 2008, 05:16 PM
I use an electric tooth brush minus the brush and run the flat on the vibrating shaft up and down the side of the case. It settles the powder nicely and allows more to be shoved in the case if you need to.

I've not experienced inaccuracy in compressed loads the way kosh is describing it. In fact, I generally get my best accuracy with mildly compressed laods and try to find a powder that gives me compressed loads.

You can only compress so much before you chance the powder pushing the bullet out of the case. It will be bullet length dependent but a good rule of thumb is to charge right up to where the slope of the shoulder meets the neck for the maximum amount. Remember, the bullet will displace and compress the powder as it is seated. You will not bend, smush, deform, crease, or experience any other physical change to the bullet. You will hear a slight crunch when the powder is compressing.

June 19, 2008, 08:39 PM
Does the bullet "creep" out on compressed loads? I have loaded a test run of 27.1 grains
of Varget with both 50 & 55 grain Vmaxs?

For instance, if I had the loads for a year or so would the bullet work itself outward?

My OAL is 2.265 and no crimp

Perhaps BLC(2) next time........

June 19, 2008, 08:55 PM
I've had it happen on extremely compressed loads but those cases did not have the best neck tension.

June 19, 2008, 09:18 PM
All I know is that 26 grains is a max load of Varget with Hornady 60 grain VMAX bullets. 2,750 fps from a 16 in chrome lined barrel...chrono'd.

The load above is a 5.56x45mm NATO pressure load (nearly 60,000 psi)...probably not safe in a 223 Remington chamber.

Reloder 15 is the best kept secret about loading 223 Rem. ammo...try it...start at 25 grains and work up...about 27 should be max, but maybe a bit more.

June 20, 2008, 11:27 AM
To determine a safe compressed load, load some up and let them sit for 48 hours. Measure them before and after. If any have moved out at all you have to back off the powder at that point. This is only to determine how much powder you can get in a case, it may not be safe to shoot. With a 223 or 556 I would go up in .2gr increments and carefully check and measure each case all the way through the process.
"I have had great accuracy with 25 grains in the past but I want a little more velocity." Just wondering if you had good accuracy why you would need more velocity? Normally adding velocity does not improve accuracy and uses more powder unnecessarily.

June 20, 2008, 01:01 PM
Start at 25 gr. Load 2 cases. Then go up .2 gr. Load 2 cases, repeat until you get to your goal.

Measure all of them immediately after loading. Wait 2 days. Measure again. anything that's expanded is too full.

If/when shooting, start with the lowest load first. Fire one shot at a time. At the first sign of overpressure (read: "signs of overpressure"), STOP. The load immediately preceeding the load that caused overpressure signs is your maximum.

Personally, I don't think it will be 27. I've loaded some hot loads, but I've never got that far.

June 21, 2008, 04:56 AM
Thank you everybody for the suggestions.
I loaded and shot 27.1 grains of Varget with 55 grain Hornady Vmax.
The five shot group size came out to be 0.896, I did not chrono them.

Based on the fact this load is compressed and near max, I wonder
if I would be better served with a different load. I have a very mild load of
H322 at 21.7 grains that shoots 0.500 very consistently.

I have been shooting at 100 yards and my thought process was as follows.
Bump up the velocity by using Varget versus H322 and it would give me
less bullet drop at250+ yards. Do I need to rethink this one?

Perhaps I am just splitting hairs, I don't know. One thing is for certain, I am not real
fond of compressed loads when the payoff is possibly more wear and tear on the guns
and a marginal increase in performance.

June 21, 2008, 08:09 AM
According to my Hodgdon reloading guide the load range for H322 and 55 grain bullets is 21.0 - 23.0 grains. The max pressue they list is 48,900 cup. If you are at 27.1 grains with H322 you should be way over max.

The range for Varget is 25.5 - 27.5C with a max pressure of 49,700 cup.

I'm not following your argument about more wear and tear on the guns. The pressures are too similar to say one will be rougher on your gun than the other but you do get nearly 300 fps more velocity with Varget.

I've been very pleased with Varget.

June 21, 2008, 11:24 AM
Varget does not give the best velocity with the lighter bullets...Its a great powder, but its shines with the 68 - 77 grain bullets.

I like AA2230 and Reloder 10x for bullets 50 - 55 grains...I can get well over 3100 fps from a 16 inch barrel.

June 21, 2008, 01:11 PM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

The .308 is registered at 60,000 psi, but can be run at 62,000 psi.
The .270 is registered at 65,000 psi, but can be run at 62,000 psi.
The .223 is registered at 55,000 psi, but can be run at 72,000 psi.

If 27.5 gr of Varget and 55 gr Vmax were combined in a .223, Quickload thinks that the case would be 120% full and 3480 fps.
If that somehow got compressed, and the start pressure jammed into the lands is increased to 7500 psi, then the max chamber pressure would be 75,000 psi.

What does it all mean?
I think the pressure is a little high and the case is way too full.

If it is velocity you want with 55 gr Vmax and the .223, I have used H335 in overload mode and got much more velocity than Varget can produce, and long brass life.

June 21, 2008, 01:54 PM
QuickLoad data is based on a certain case volume, trim length and ambient temperature. YMMV.

June 21, 2008, 10:25 PM
It is interesting for me to learn that African Safari guides warn newbies against heavily compressed loads in some of the very large hot calibers because in the hot African tempratures they can and do press the bullet out of the case.

That said my favorite use of Varget for a .223 is under a 50 grain sierra bullet. I have a ballistically matched round using a 40 grain bullet that is propelled by a bit less H335. Both are outstandingly accurate.

June 21, 2008, 10:37 PM

Sorry for the typo. I have corrected it.

June 21, 2008, 10:40 PM
Jut out of curiosity...I crammed 27 grains of Varget under a 50 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip today...I don't think 27.5 would fit.

The powder is well up into the neck with 27 grains. It only got 2,886 fps from my 16 inch barrel (M&P 15) I said earlier...Varget is best with heavy bullets (68 - 77 grains).

Just for comparison...26.5 grains of AA2230 gets 3,100 fps with the 50 grain Ballistic Tip.

June 21, 2008, 10:50 PM
I was able to get 27.1 grains of Varget in with a drop tube and it was about 1/4 inch from being full.
I did try AA#2230 and got the same accuracy as the Varget.

I use AA#2230 for nearly all my AR loads as it meters very well and is $20 cheaper in the 8 # kegs.

Again, H322 at 21.7 grains in my Rem 700
is the most accurate load. The H322 is of course much slower.
How this plays out a longer ranges is what I wonder (250+ yards).

June 21, 2008, 10:59 PM
How this plays out a longer ranges is what I wonder (250+ yards).

How do you mean...retained velocity or accuracy or what?

June 21, 2008, 11:20 PM
The accuracy at 250+ yards is my main concern.

Heck, I shoot more paper than bunny bandits.

June 21, 2008, 11:23 PM
What kind of accuracy are you getting at 100 yards?

June 22, 2008, 12:04 AM
With Varget 27.1 grains @ 100 yards 0.896 with 5 shot group.

With H322 using 21.7 grains, 0.484 @ 100 yards with a 5 shot group.

Both loads are using Hornady Vmax 55 grain.

June 22, 2008, 12:15 AM
That H322 load should be about 1.452" at 250 yards and 1.936 at 300.

June 22, 2008, 12:24 AM
Thanks a bunch Ridgerunner665!!

How did you come up with that bullet drop??

June 22, 2008, 12:26 AM
Thats not drop...thats group size.

I can give you the approximate (but pretty darn close) drop if you tell me exactly what bullets you are using and the muzzle velocity.

June 22, 2008, 12:38 AM
Thanks Rigerunner665,
I will have to chronograph the load. That H322 is smooth stuff.

June 22, 2008, 12:45 AM
Free online ballistics calculator ( have a better program on my PC, but that one is pretty good and its free.

June 22, 2008, 04:53 AM
That ballistics calculator kicks butt!

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