My .223 loads don't work!


September 20, 2003, 10:07 PM
My first try at .223 loads for my new AR-15 doesn't work. They either don't eject, or if they do kick out, the bolt doesn't pick up the next round from the magazine. The loads are:

Sierra 55 gr. FMJ-BT
21.5 gr. IMR 4198
CCI 400 small rifle primers
bullets are seated to the crimp cannelure, and then firmly crimped with a Lee factory crimp die
variety of brass, full length sized in Lee .223 Remington dies

The powder is old, maybe 25 to 30 years old. It may be suspect, but it smells fine. The fired rounds that did eject fell right next to me. The primers are moderately flattened, and have cratering around the firing pin strike.

All the factory rounds fired fine. There was no cratering, but the primers are more flattened.

The rifle has a 5.56 chambering, but that shouldn't play into it.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Try half a grain up, or down? Switch powders?

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September 20, 2003, 10:35 PM
Sounds a tad like my earliest attempts at ''fodda'' for my Mini 14!! Seems like a semi is real fussy if loads just sub standard power. The bolt really does have to travel the whole ways back .... which means a full throw eject and relaible strip off the mag of next round.

Can't really comment re your powder condition but you say seems OK. From Lyman #47, your load is only .2 grn away from a max load so perhaps powder is after all suspect.

I use a 24.8 grn Vit N-133 pushing a 55 grn FMJ ... works well ... that is tho a max load from the charts ........ so seems you need to load up somewhat for a semi.

I wonder if another powder might serve you better??

September 20, 2003, 11:02 PM
Try a slower powder. Gas pressures are lower overall but higher at the gas port making bolt speed increase. Varget is a good one to try, as is BL-C2 and 4895.

September 20, 2003, 11:28 PM
Get some fresh powder. Then work up a load. The flavour of powder is fine. Your's is just old and has likely deteriorated to the point it doesn't work properly. The smell means nada.

September 21, 2003, 04:49 AM
I use 20gr. of 4198 and the powder is 25years old, 55 grain bullets and it all works for me. Quantrill

Nero Steptoe
September 21, 2003, 10:05 AM
Despite Lee's claims to the contrary, it's pretty easy to slightly bucklethe shoulders of a .223 during the crimping process. You don't need a heavy crimp. You probably don't need a crimp at all.

(But your problem is most likely related to your geriatric powder)

I bought a bunch of AA2200 @ $47 for 8#, delivered, and use it exclusively for reloading for my Bushy AR. Never have any failures of any kind.

September 21, 2003, 05:01 PM
I did buckle the shoulders of a few rounds at first, and tossed them. Lesson learned there. This afternoon I'll try a different can of IMR 4198, and load a few with H335. I'm going to load some with IMR 4198, but a lower amount, say the 20 grain load. Just a few, to see how they fire. I also have some 68 grain bullets that don't have a crimp ring, and want to try some loads with those. Sounds like a good way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Steve Smith
September 21, 2003, 06:04 PM
Use the fresh powder, and don't crimp them.

John Galt
September 21, 2003, 08:28 PM
If you really want to use that powder up, try .3 grain more for just that can. If it is a little deteriorated then exceeding the published max a touch should'nt matter nor create over pressure.

You've already nailed down the problem. The factory eject lands 10 feet away and these only a foot or two. AR's really toss the brass.

When you use up that can and switch to a newer one, go back to 1/2 to one grain under max for a starting point. One grain under max is often most accurate load.

A light crimp should be plenty.

September 21, 2003, 08:43 PM
I had about 4 different bullet weights and loads for my Mini 14 that did not work AT ALL in my Bushmaster XM15E2. The 60gr HP rounds would not cycle my AR and the rest of my reloads didn't chamber all the way.

I've found ARs to be pretty finicky. The only problem I ever had with my Mini 14 and reloads were a about 5 cases sticking out of 5000rds.

If you want to shoot light loads I would look into buying lighter recoil springs. I don't even know if the exist.

Remember...........its a military style rifle.

September 23, 2003, 11:44 PM
I switched to can "B" of IMR 4198, and the loads still didn't work. They fire, but either don't completely eject, or eject right next to the bench and the rifle doesn't load the next round from the magazine.

But, the loads I made from a new can of H335 worked fine.

I'll make some loads from cans "C" and "D" of IMR 4198, but they're all about the same age. I may try making some with .3 grains more, but all of these cans may end up on the burn pile.

Nero Steptoe
September 23, 2003, 11:46 PM
Sprinkle that 4198 on your lawn. It'll green right up.

September 24, 2003, 12:34 AM
Are you holding the rifle too loosely?......try holding it tighter with more pressure against your shoulder...........

Steve Smith
September 24, 2003, 10:51 AM
Actually gas operated guns are not subject to "limp wrist/shouldering" and would work even if not held at all.

I think all your old powder is bad. You can try the other, but I think you're going to answer your own question.

September 24, 2003, 12:14 PM
I started reloading for my AR-15 earlier this year. My very first batch of reloads was made with IMR4198 loaded to a little below the max charge listed in the Lyman manual (I can't remember the actual charge weight right now). This load would not cycle the bolt on my AR. I then switched over to H335 and the rifle cycled perfectly. I have since switched over to WC844 which is the milsurp equivalent of H335 (at $64 per 8 lb. jug, it was much cheaper too). My current recipe:

Projectile: Winchester 55 gr. FMJ-BT
Charge: 23 gr. of WC844
Primer: Winchester Small Rifle Primer
OAL: 2.22"
Cases: Anything I can find at the range

The above recipe yields good accuracy and case life.


September 25, 2003, 02:14 PM
If your loads are within 100 fps of the advertised velocity, the powder is maybe a bit weak but not "bad" for the burn pile. Perhaps just too fast for that gas system.

If your loads are more than 100 fps less than the advertised velocity, then the powder is definitely weak. Use it for a bolt gun, as long as it shows no chalky dust, red dust, or nasty smell. Acetone/ether odor is normal for most powders and NOT cause for concern--it's reassuring!

In general, extruded stick powders consume their stabilizers and go bad faster than spherical-based powders. BUT, the spherical powders tend to be more temperature-sensitive.

September 26, 2003, 10:01 AM
I have loaded for an AR for about 22 years. 27 grains of Olin 748,CCI SRM primers, WW 55 grain FMJ bullets and an RCBS small base dies have worked quite well. Byron

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