223 Rem with SMK 69g and Varget


April 12, 2009, 07:56 PM
After reading some of the comments here in my other thread I was persuaded to use Varget rather than Winchester 748 for building up 223 Rem rounds using 69g SMK bullets.

I am using once fired Lake City brass, trimmed to 1.750" amd CCI #41 military primers. I made 2 batches, one with 24.0g of Varget, and the other with 24.5g of Varget. Overall length was 2.260".

I fired out of two AR's, one with a 16" barrel, and the other with a 24" barrel.

Here are the results:

24.0g avg velocity: 2506 fps (16") ------------- 2788 fps (24")
24.5g avg velocity: 2555 fps (16")-------------- 2859 fps (24")

Both rounds functioned perfectly in both guns. There was no sign of pressure problems. I think the load with 24.0g was shooting about 1/16" better at 100 yards than the 24.5g load, but it might have just been me. I was surprised my velocities were as good as they were, as I thought my Varget load was a little low at 24.0 and 24.5grains, but since I was using military brass, I wanted to make sure I did not go too high.

What is your critique?

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April 12, 2009, 11:23 PM

I am a rank newbie but started with 21.5 grains Varget behind 69 SMK in a bolt action Savage 12FV. I don't have a chronometer but all the rounds made it out of the barrell and even reached 300 yards. I believe this load is below what is considered acceptable for a semi-auto. (For a bolt, this is at the low end of recommended in the Sierra reloading manual for that bullet.)

Have you considered doing a "ladder test" on your rifle to find where you have the least sensitivity to powder charge?


April 13, 2009, 08:14 AM
any other thoughts?

Dave P
April 13, 2009, 08:18 AM
I think I use about 24.5 grain at the 200 yard line. Very accurate - dont know velocity.

QL predicts 2799 fps in a 20" barrel.

April 13, 2009, 08:30 AM
Are you using LC or commercial brass?

April 13, 2009, 09:59 AM
My standard load is 25gr Varget with a 69gr SMK or Hornady 68gr BTHPM in mixed brass.

Hoosier Reloader
April 13, 2009, 08:30 PM
I like 24.0 gr of Varget under a 69gr #1380 Sierra in my 16" & 24" AR's (1:9 twist). I'll dig up a target & post it.

You might also want to consider using Ramshot TAC powder under the same bullet. Here's a target I shot almost a year ago using TAC. I know it's almost a year old, but I've continued to have very good results since then.
I continue to use Varget, it's one of the most versatile powders out there.

April 14, 2009, 05:20 AM
My 600 yard .223 load is a smk 77 or a 80 (out of the mag oal) is 24-24.2 reloader 15.
Now for real accurate 69 gr smk's I use 24 gr of 2520....With a 1x8 twist and a 18" barrel I can shoot 1/2" groups at 100 yards on the bench. When I go a bit hotter the groups open up.

April 14, 2009, 07:20 PM
Lone Gunman,

Those look about right. IIRC I used 24.5 of Varget when I shot 69s, using LC cases. I don't recall the exact speed, but I think they were in the neighborhood of 2700-fps (+/-) out of a 20" barrel.

Now I use a grain less and a 77gr Nosler HPBT. This gives me a little over 2600 (maybe 2625) fps and great accuracy.

What headstamp are your LC cases? Recall that I posted some lots I've used were lighter than commercial brass, thus giving more powder capacity.

Actually, weigh them and some commercial cases side by side and go from there. Otherwise, everything looks fine.

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