Hey everyone, I just got back from a 4+ hour range session working up a new load. I was using once fired r-p brass, cci 400 primers, hornady bulk 55gr fmj and spt projectiles. I used aa 2230 powder in ladder intervals starting at 22.5, 23, 23.5, and 24 grains of powder. They were all loaded to 2.20 col with some slight variations.
Rifle is a Colt MT6700 H-BAR 20" flat top with a riser rail and knock off aimpoint (tac-point) red dot, dpms mangonel buis.
During testing slow fire (min between shots) I concluded that the 23.5 grains of powder gave me the best groups. During smei-rapid fire (6 shots 3 mins) the only ones that grouped well were 23 grains and 24 grains.
I noticed 22.5 grains the primers looked good, 23 grains the primers looked flat, 23.5 grains the primers looked good-same as 22.5grains, and 24 grains the primers were flat with some backing out.
With this in mind, I would like input as to where load development should go, 23.5grains with the charges going up and down in .1 incriments? like 2 up and 2 down? I'm a little confused as to what I should do at this point.
Also correct me if i'm wrong but I think the primers flattened at 23 grains because of lower pressure while the primers at 24 grains backed out and flattened due to high pressure? ( I think 24 is near the upper limits in the lyman loading manual, 47th edition )
I have also established that my rifle is more accurate with the softpoints rather than boat tail fmj (the base comes into play yes?) Any input would be appreciated.
Also, I don't have a chronograph, but can muzzle jump be a clear indicator of different velocities? Even at 24 grains of powder, those loads did not feel quite as strong as factory fmj, rem umc 55gr. the factory also didnt group as well.
Thanks all - Jay
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September 21, 2008, 08:37 PM
I wouldn't put too much stock into reading primers. Primers are notorious for giving you false feedback. Accurate Arms manual shows 25.0g as max load for 55 grain jacketed bullet at 2.230" overall length. As long as you're not over the powder manufacturer's published max, don't worry about primer signs. If your bolt locks up or the cases get bulged, you know you have a problem. Otherwise, stick within the manufacturer's data and you're good to go.
Keep developing, this time at 0.2 grain increments. Maybe load at 2.230" to keep with Accurate's load data (online at http://www.accuratepowder.com/data/Accurate%20v322%20web%20publication.pdf).
If those are the Hornady bulk fmj, they are good bullets but not match bullets. All bulk fmj will give you group size variance that is unrelated to your powder charge (or primer or brass). That doesn't mean you won't find a good load, it just means you shouldn't expect match-grade accuracy.
September 21, 2008, 08:51 PM
There are many ways to approach this situation. As you have already found, the Hornady FMJ/BT are not the most accurate choice. Many threads here mention that problem. I realize they are well priced but for better accuracy, a good SP or match type BTHP will generally give you what you need to compete in matches. What do other good competitors use? Your loads seem to be inline charge-wise for that weight bullet. The Accurate powder site actually lists 25gr. as the max for 55gr., but not all guns are the same, and your work-up is good. What is the twist rate of the barrel? I would get one or two other bullets to try, based on your barrel twist rate before deciding on a "best load". If the twist is relatively fast then perhaps a heavier bullet would work better. Also is that the only powder you have? AA2230 is good, don't get me wrong, but there are many good powders for the 223.
Also correct me if i'm wrong but I think the primers flattened at 23 grains because of lower pressure while the primers at 24 grains backed out and flattened due to high pressure?
It's not likely. If that's the case then why do the 22.5 & 23.5 charge look fine?
Trajectory would be a better indicator of velocity than muzzle jump, if you have a range to test to maybe 300 yds. Zero at 100 and shoot to 250 or 300. Ballistic tables can give you velocity based on bullet drop with correct bullet BC.
September 21, 2008, 09:46 PM
I use 25.0 gr. AA2230 in LC brass with all 55 gr. bullets. Works very well in semi-autos and bolt guns.
September 21, 2008, 09:58 PM
The bbl is 1 in 9 sorry, forgot to mention that. Also this is not for match use, however match type accuraccy is no a bad thing. I use the bulk because I try to stay within a budget. I have found however at 100 yds the softpoints have grouped very well.
I have used h335 as well. I switched because I was having primer flattening issues even at the low and high ends of published data so I decided to step away and try a different powder.
September 21, 2008, 10:37 PM
Just for the heck of it, I'll repeat. Don't let primers alone dictate your reloading program.
Primers lie. Seldom do they take an oath to tell the truth, and when they do they have their fingers crossed behind their backs.
Both H335 and AA2230 are known to be excellent .223 powders. You can't lose with either. Reloader 15,
IMR/H-4995, and W748 are also excellent choices along with a host of other powders mentioned in these Forum pages.
September 21, 2008, 10:57 PM
So what other signs do I look for? I have been checking the headstamp and rim for wear/shiny spots where the ecector and extractor come in contact and cannot find any. I don't really know how to tell if the bolt is unlocking roughly or if it is sticky because its a semi... I also don't want a primer to back out completely and lock up my rifle.
September 22, 2008, 10:10 AM
JRadice45, as it has been noted, the flat primers within the powder range that you list is not indicative of high pressures. Are you having an issue with the bolt? Is the bolt going to battery after each shot?
From what you say, you're looking for problems that are not there. I would use the 23.5gr. of AA2230 with a 55 gr. bullet. Do you crimp the bullets with a cannelure? H335 and AA2230 are nearly identical in burn rate, with 2230 the slower of the two. If the brass primes too easy, discard it. Not every piece of brass is going to be perfect, and you need to weed out the bad stuff. Pop out the primer and reuse it if there is little resistance when you prime a case. I use a Lee hand primer and you can feel the differences when priming. Eventually you will need to trim the case length to spec.
September 22, 2008, 10:33 AM
AA2460 + 55 FMJ bullets in .223 = Fantastic in my experience. Really hard to go wrong with it, H335, WW748, etc for trying to duplicate M193 loads.
September 22, 2008, 11:15 PM
Smitty, the bolt was going into battery after every shot, even rapid fire.
I do crimp the cartridges, both the fmj, and spt have cannelures on them.
I also use the lee hand primer and can feel the difference between a good and bad primer pocket.
I also trim my brass when it is out of spec. I'm just wondering why then are my primers backing out at low loads...? wierd.
Anyhow I looked at my book and 25 gr is the max charge so i'm probably going to load 10 of 23.5, 23.7, 10 of 24.2,.4,.6 with the soft point projectile and see what happens.
September 25, 2008, 12:14 PM
Well for this sunday I made 30 rounds of fmj boat tail (for sighting fodder) also bought a cheap scope for some more accurate testing.
I chose to load 10 of each; 23.5,23.7,24,24.2,and24.4grains, all with 55grain hornady bulk softpoints loaded to 2.20oal with a crimp, r-p once fired, cci400 to be shot out of my 1in9 colt 20".
During resizing I noticed the cases actually grew, I am assuming this is due to the fact that I don't lube the case necks.
How can I check for case head seperation on my brass with basic tools, as I notice a ring on some of the brass, but it seems like it is the die scratching the brass.
As for adjusting the die per my rifles chamber... that didnt go too well. Most of the fired brass I had would fit in the chamber, but not drop in with the "rattle fit" however it would go in with a bolt assist to snap over the rim, as factory cases would so a little more detail as to how I set up my sizing die would be appreciated as well. Thanks guys - J
Edit- Also would polishing up the decap pin/neck expander with a dremel, buffer wheel, and some jewlers rouge help out in lieu of lubing the case necks, or would the two combined be better? I'm using a lee die and when I had it apart I noticed the expander has machining/turning marks all over it which gets left in the necks of my cases.
September 25, 2008, 01:19 PM
I've never gotten great results from 55gr FMJs no matter what powder or primer combo I tried. I found a decent load that was warm and ran the gun well, and just stuck with that.
If you want match level accuracy, there are plenty of good choices. Sierra is a good choice, if you want a lighter bullet, their 53gr Match King is supposed to be excellent, and if you want heavy, their 69gr Match King fits the bill. Either should run fine in a 1:9 barrel. I've heard really good things about the Hornady offering, although I must warn you that their 68gr OTMs don't seem to run so well in a 1:9 barrel, I think you need a 1:8 or 1:7 to make them behave.
September 25, 2008, 02:22 PM
OTM? I have seen this before but cannot seem to figure out what it means... probably something simple. Anyhow for accuraccy I'm shooting 55gr Softpoints. FMJ for fodder/plinking.
September 25, 2008, 02:23 PM
Open Tip Match. A hollow point by another name. :)
September 26, 2008, 12:18 AM
OTM = Open Tip Match which is designed for absolute accuracy but does not guarantee any expansion.
October 1, 2008, 01:59 PM
bottleneck rifle cases usually grow with firing and resizing even if the necks are lubed, but neck lube is a good idea. Be sure to check case length and trim as it gets near max or you'll get high pressures.
Most full-length dies I've ever used didn't go all the way the the extractor groove, and you can see on the case a sort of bright area where the die stopped sizing. That's not a problem. If case head separation is developing, there may be a narrow and quite bright ring around the case, but the best way to check is to feel inside. Near the base on the inside will be a groove developing around the case wall, and you can feel that with any slim slightly curved probe such as you could make from a paper clip. If you're getting that, you have headspace problems.
I've sized to match the chamber for my M1 but not my AR. For that I use a case gague, which I recommend.
I use the RCBS X-Die for my semiautos now. It has a special design that prevents case growth and works well. Others here have been happy with it.
I agree with the others about 55 gr bullet accuracy.
October 1, 2008, 06:51 PM
I run 25.4gr of A2230 with Hornady 55gr FMJ bullets and OAL of 2.23". I don't have the reloading guide in front of me but it lists a load max of 26.0gr. It has been an accurate load out of my RRA Stainless 16" barrel.
October 1, 2008, 08:18 PM
ZXD9- My manual (lyman 49th?) lists aa2230 with 55 gr fmj max charge at 25 with starting charge at 22.5
I bought 200 69gr Sierra Match Kings to play around with and see what happens.
K Hornet Thanks for the explinaton between sizing ring and stretch ring.
How does the X-die work exactly? and how is it set up if any different compared to a standard fl die. I ask this because my club's VP,gunsmith,experienced shooter also reccomended the x-die or other small base die to me. I was under the impression small base was used to bring brass shot in a machinegun back to normal spec. He said it sizes the base better without pushing the shoulder back as much as my lee fl die.
October 1, 2008, 08:55 PM
I guess I am in the "Hot and Fast" crowd. My .223 load for my AR w/16" Disapator Barrel is 25.7 gr of AA2230 and a Winchester 55gr FMJ-BT. It runs down range at 3140 fps (Avg) and my groups at 100' are 50 Cent sizes.
FWIW, Lee 2nd Edition shows 26 gr as max load with pressures far lower than NATO loadings for this round.
October 1, 2008, 09:00 PM
I'm out of town but called home and had someone check on this for me. The Lee manual 2nd Edition has the following ranges:
Min 23.4 Max 26
EDIT: I see someone beat me to it. That's what I get for starting a thread and then talking on the phone too long.
October 2, 2008, 12:00 AM
Well assuming I can sneak out for a few hours on sat I will test my new loads plus some match kings if I can load a bit on friday (this is why I keep brass prepped) and see what happens.
October 2, 2008, 07:48 AM
Primers lie.Yes they do, but they more often tell the tale, so we must not completely ignore them. :)
It's sort of like children, you kind of get the feeling when they are lying. :scrutiny:
October 3, 2008, 07:08 PM
Okay guys... new question.
I got my order of 69 Gr SMK in and I loaded up 24 (one I crimped wayyy too much and killed it))
I seated the average length bullet (.910") to a depth of 2.250 and some of the cartridges went over the length and bound up in my mag (though they miked about 2.26-270)
Question 1- Can I seat this long bullet down to 2.23 without causing too much trouble. I have read that seating the bullets too deeply can cause pressure spikes etc.
Question 2- Should I crimp these cartridges slightly with the Lee FCD or forget the crimp and let neck tension alone hold on to them?
Thanks guys - Jay
October 3, 2008, 07:53 PM
JRadice45, what powder and charge are you using with the 69gr SMK?
October 3, 2008, 11:38 PM
Powder is AA2230 Charges are 23.5, 24, 24.5 as a ladder to check where I should do further testing. They are seated to an avg of 2.250 but I want to see if it would be ok to seat 2.230.
October 4, 2008, 10:27 AM
Powder is AA2230 Charges are 23.5, 24, 24.5 as a ladder to check where I should do further testing.
According to the Accurate powder site, those loads are ok for 55gr. bullets but 22.5gr of A2230 is the listed MAX for a 64gr bullet. I believe you need to go to a slower burning powder for the 69gr. SMK. You are way over MAX with your loads that you mentioned, according to the site.
October 4, 2008, 01:25 PM
Thats odd because my book says 22.5 is starting load and 25 is max for aa2230. Lyman 49th I believe. I will check out accurate's site though... good thing I didnt go shoot today eh?
-edit- I emailed the tech over at accurate powder and gave them the specs of my load and the loadbook I obtained my info from. Will let you guys know what he/she says. Good thing I only have to pull 24 bullets...... ugh!
October 6, 2008, 03:13 PM
Well I pulled all 24 rounds *sigh* and I got an email from Johan at Ramshot powder... here's what he has to say -
We suggest the following.
Caliber: .223 Remington.
Barrel length: 24”
Powder: Accurate -- 2230.
Bullet weight: 69 grains.
Start load: 20.0 grains (2475 – 2575 ft/p/sec)
Maximum load: 22.3 grains (2775 – 2875 Ft/p/sec).
Tel: (406) 234 04 22 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Powders Inc -- Miles City – Montana."
Armed with this information I am going to do another load workup on this. I figure 5 rounds in each weight -20, 20.5,21,21.5,and 22.
Will I run into problems if I seat the bullets at 2.23" instead of 2.26"? The measureable difference does not seem like much to me.
October 6, 2008, 03:24 PM
I did a test load using AA2230 under 69 grain Sierra BTHP Match King bullets starting at 19.5 grain of AA up to 24.5 grain at .5 of a grain intervals and with a COL of 2.20" (+/- .10") and didn't find one that I really cared for in my AR.
But, then again, all guns are different and someone else's might love any of those loads.
BTW....FWIW...all of my primers were flatened also. But I see that as no consequence since I know the loads I loaded were within specs.
October 6, 2008, 04:06 PM
thats good to know. I'm hoping for something accurate as I would like something heavier than 55gr so I can shoot longer distances, however the 55gr softpoints I feel I'm getting close to the sweet spot soon and will definately make a bunch more of those. Just have to load and see.
October 6, 2008, 09:48 PM
Well,JRadice45, you finally got info you can sink your teeth into. Thanks to NavajoNPaleFace's workup info and Ramshot's confirmation email, you can make a more informed decision which direction to go. I believe the 69gr. bullet might be the ragged edge of your barrel twist. There are some good 60-62gr. bullets that may work the best in your rifle. Here's a site that you can buy samples of bullets to try so you don't have to buy a whole box. Check it out.
October 6, 2008, 10:47 PM
I exclude all other powers I've tried in .223 Remington Prowess from 36 grain Barnes Varmint Grenades through 60 grain Nosler Partitions. With 1-in-12" twist rifling, RL-10x can exceed the need, whilst nothing else to date can. 3400 fps muzzle velocity with 55 grain fare is easily obtainable with Alliant's contribution to perfection, and this at a mere 70 degree Fahrenheit ambient temperature. Grains of powder weight will be crucial to development. I have specific loads for my rifle dependent upon ambient temperature in ten degree increments and bullet grain weights. I only accept the best performance, so please don't make 10x scarce by over-purchasing. CCI 450 primers merely top-off the extreme performance scenario. I avoid compressed loads, since they only exacerbate perfection. Compressed load can NEVER best my top .223 accuracy loads, yet compressed loads prove positively that one chose poorly. Choose wisely and challenge me at the 100 yard range. cliffy
October 10, 2008, 01:01 PM
Well I tried all of my loads and it was an experience. The range I went to went to only 75 yards but from what I learned there I made up a smaller range of final test loads to see which round is going to be cranked out of my little lee.
The 69 grain bullets did not do badly at all. On a few targets two impacts would touch, one double impact was one ragged hole, with the other rounds not far away. I do believe however it was me and my bench technique as I didnt have a nice platform to be firing from.
Overall I liked the 55gr softpoints the best, those groups were in essence MONEYSHOTS!!!! and for what I paid per 500 of them, $47.99 that is truly awesome plinking ammo.
Anyhow the charges I went with are as follows;
55gr softpoint flat base - AA2230 23.7gr and 24.2gr with a slight favor of the 24.2 because it should go a little faster and the group was nicer, although my technique sucked so that is why I'm having a face off with these two charges.
69gr OTM BT - AA2230 21gr and 21.5gr I am not sure which of these I favor yet because both had some two impacts touching or being 1 ragged hole.
Overall all of my test rounds for that day had no pressure signs. I used brass that I had sized AFTER I readjusted my resizing die so I believe all previous loads used had the shoulder bumped back more than nessecary causing the primers to flatten and back out.
Well I'm looking forward to heading to the range next sunday to see what happens.:neener:
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