RRA .223 groups from today - what now?


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duck911
December 20, 2009, 12:25 AM
Well, my son and I headed to the range today. We ran some reloads from my new Rock River AR (20" barrel NM lower)

The loads were more or less based on Ramshot's load guide., I used Federal 205M primers, TAC powder, and 55 GR Noslers.

Here were the results:

http://home.comcast.net/~duck911/23.4.jpg 23.4 GR TAC

http://home.comcast.net/~duck911/23.8.jpg 23.8 GR TAC

http://home.comcast.net/~duck911/24.2.jpg 24.2 GR TAC

http://home.comcast.net/~duck911/24.6.jpg 24.6 GR TAC

http://home.comcast.net/~duck911/25.jpg 25 GR TAC

http://home.comcast.net/~duck911/25.4.jpg 25.4 GR TAC

http://home.comcast.net/~duck911/25.8.jpg 25.8 GR TAC

The mediocre groups hover between 3/4" and 1"

I don't have any ballistic software, but it looks to me like I also have two "nodes" around 23.4/23.8 and again around 25.4/25.8 with really good 1/2 inch groups on the high end.

My goals: Reliable prairie dog and varmint hunting loads accurate enough to take vermin out to 200 or 300 yards.

My first question is: Does anyone think I have identified a couple of loads at the top end of my powder charges?

I am new enough at this where I don't know if I have something worthwhile at the 25.4/25.8 loads. I am no marksman and 1/2" groups tickles me pink, to be honest. The loads were seated to SAAMI specs and I have not experimented with seating depth.

My AR has less than 50 rounds down the pipe. Do I load more around 25.6 GR TAC and shoot for groups out to 200 yards, and if they're tight, call it a day?

Do I try to shrink these groups into one-holers?

I believe my AR will shoot better than I will, just not sure what to do from here.

Don't get me wrong though, I am thrilled with the results, considering these are my first .223 reloads and forst with this rifle.

thanks,

--Duck911

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Roccobro
December 20, 2009, 12:33 AM
CONGRATS!!! Those are some fine looking holes.

I'm no help on what to do next though. lol

Justin

45ACPUSER
December 20, 2009, 12:50 AM
You have to take many factors into account. But, you look to have a good start.

First thing is that the COAL is limited by the Magazine Length, and so that is maxed at 2.25" or so. Light bullets are short, and you may well not have enough of the bullet in the case neck messing with COAL. Leave that part of the equation out of it.

Next, Are you using all the same headstamped brass? Did you do a detailed prep on the brass? IE primer pocket uniformed, flash hole deburred, uniform case length?

Next when seatiing the bullet start seating the bullet the lower the rame and turn the case 180 degress to finish seating the bullet.

Next, if you are not a used to using bench technique when testing loads that may well be an area improvement can be made by more load testing!

Next, recheck your mount, rings, and finally scope. Some people keep a high power scope just for load testing various guns.

A possible idea is this......to Benchmark your gun.
get some Nosler 69gr CC OTM bullets or Sierra SMK's in same wt. Get some Varget, load 24.7, 25, and 25.3 with a Rem 7.5 primer in all the same headstamp prepped brass. if that load testing does not nearly one hole then it could be a shooter, gun, or scope problem.

One can always swap out primers and retest....

W.E.G.
December 20, 2009, 12:56 AM
What now?... you ask.

Put away the benchrest and do it from field positions.

duck911
December 20, 2009, 01:16 AM
First thing is that the COAL is limited by the Magazine Length, and so that is maxed at 2.25" or so. Light bullets are short, and you may well not have enough of the bullet in the case neck messing with COAL. Leave that part of the equation out of it.

Noted - I have plenty of mag length left - these were loaded at basic SAAMI length so I have a ways to go (limited by mag length for sure, but as a last resort, I could tweak the length for sure)


Next, Are you using all the same headstamped brass? Did you do a detailed prep on the brass? IE primer pocket uniformed, flash hole deburred, uniform case length?


Yes, no, no, no. The brass is all new Winchester head stamped right out of the bag, inside chamfered, and loaded. I did nothing to the primer pockets, flash holes, or length.


Next when seatiing the bullet start seating the bullet the lower the rame and turn the case 180 degress to finish seating the bullet.


Thanks - something to consider to limit run-out next time. I have never tried this trick (read about it) but it I think it's worth experimenting with...


Next, if you are not a used to using bench technique when testing loads that may well be an area improvement can be made by more load testing!


If you mean user error and technique could contribute to errors, I wholly agree! I figure I am good for at LEAST a 1/2 MOA error in my groups...


Next, recheck your mount, rings, and finally scope. Some people keep a high power scope just for load testing various guns.

Check, check, check. Equipment is quality.


A possible idea is this......to Benchmark your gun.
get some Nosler 69gr CC OTM bullets or Sierra SMK's in same wt. Get some Varget, load 24.7, 25, and 25.3 with a Rem 7.5 primer in all the same headstamp prepped brass. if that load testing does not nearly one hole then it could be a shooter, gun, or scope problem.


Is it realistic to expect that one load is always a quality load in all guns, and if mine doesn't shoot it there's a problem with me or my gear? This seems to go against a lot of what I have read on these forums.


One can always swap out primers and retest....

This was feedback on another forum as well. I may try this.

thanks for all of the great feedback!

--Duck911

duck911
December 20, 2009, 01:21 AM
What now?... you ask.

Put away the benchrest and do it from field positions.

Damn, and blow my groups out to 6 inches? Are you CRAZY?? :neener:

Actually, this is a 13 pound rifle that will always be shot off a solid rest at prairie dogs or paper, so I think this is a realistic test.

Point taken though - I am a realist... I practice shooting my .270 off hand and 4" at 100 yards after a couple of wind sprints is success to me. That's minute of deer after a spot and stalk :)

--Duck911

taliv
December 20, 2009, 01:29 AM
.5" groups is pretty sweet.

if that's a RRA national match, it's probably a 1-8 twist, which (obviously) works for 55g but isn't exactly optimal. aren't most 223 bolt guns 1-12 or something for the 55g and under bullets?

i wouldn't waste money rebarreling right now, but i'm just wondering if that twist will ever let you get smaller than .5

Doug b
December 20, 2009, 02:05 AM
Duck911 one thing you could try is rework your load with a mag primer.Mag primers were made for ball powder.

WNTFW
December 20, 2009, 02:38 AM
Duck911.
My neighbor & I colaborate on reloading. One thing we do is look at the target the other shot & give our opinion of what is the better group and what way to go from there.
I'd go with 25.4/25.8 range. Based on what you posted I would advise this:
Get a load that shoots well by testing a little more. Once you settle on the load don't change anything on the ammo for a while. I bet your groups will shrink just from you working out your shooting technique. Maybe do some 100 round lot sizes.
Don't keep throwing ammo variables into the mix if you think your shooting could improve the groups.
Your groups look good already. Having trouble figuring which loads to choose from is also a good sign.

JDGray
December 20, 2009, 09:18 AM
I have learned a few things from chasing bugholes, you'll never be happy till they all go through one hole, and that shooting position, technique, may be the answer, not the load. My RRA Predator Pursuit has the same barrel as your NM, and .5"-.75" 5 shot 100yrd groups, is all I can muster. The gun is .75" guaranteed from the factory, so I'm good with that;) The most fun I had with my rifle was unloading a 20rd mag on a softball sized rock at 300yrds, the rock turned to very small pieces in no time, no rest or bags, just me and the rifle with a bipod. Your load looks good, but my recipie is 60gr Sierra Varminters, over a 24gr dose of H335:)

Canuck-IL
December 20, 2009, 09:45 AM
My $.02 worth ... those are great targets given that 55 FMJs are just not very accurate bullets. Before I'd waste a lot of components messing with their accuracy, I'd load some 69s from Sierra or Nosler at around 2.255 and try RL-15, AA2460, H-4895 or Varget, the latter 2 not measuring as easily as the first two. All 4 have well proven loads in 1:8 barrels at around 24gr and the 69 match bullets fly much better. Don't worry about OAL as you're not going to get anywhere near the lands while loading to mag length.
/Bryan

LeonCarr
December 20, 2009, 09:55 AM
Those are all excellent groups from what is basically a bone stock AR. You did not mention if your AR had a free float handguard, which would help shrink groups a little more. With the NM lower you should have a 2 stage match trigger. You can get a better trigger, but to beat the one you have will cost $$$$, i.e. a Jewell, Jard, etc. The next step would be fine tuning your loads by using some different varmint or match bullets (Sierra, Nosler), uniforming primer pockets, flash hole deburring, and using a straight line bullet seater (Hornady, Forster, Redding all make good ones) to reduce bullet run out. Finally using good rests and good bench technique will give you the maximum varmint rifle performance you desire.

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

Fatelvis
December 20, 2009, 11:40 AM
Are you using iron sights or optics?

duck911
December 20, 2009, 12:06 PM
Thanks guys... More than one person has mentioned going up to 69 gr bullets. Maybe I will give that a look.

Then I can shoot these 55 grainers out of my 22-250 (which is probably shooting light bullets right now at 40 grains) That might better suite both rifles...

The current loads, by the way, are with 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tips. I have a Nikon Monarch 6.5x20 scope on the rifle (and the rifle does have the free floated hand guard and 2 stage NM trigger)

--Duck911

Walkalong
December 20, 2009, 12:45 PM
The mediocre groups hover between 3/4" and 1"Nothing wrong with that. Good shooting. Nice looking groups overall with one hanging out of a potentially nice group in the first pic.

Until you learn to adjust for slight wind and mirage changes while shooting groups, anything under 1/2" or so is blind luck or a dead calm with no mirage.

Also, as posted, you may want to try heavier bullets for your 1 in 8 twist barrel.

Very nice shooting.

If you want to step into a new world and learn to adjust for wind etc, I can point you towards help. Be advised though, once you do you can never go back. Once you know, you can never forget and go back to blissful ignorance. :)

If memory serves, I held about 3 bullet holes right and 4 bullet holes down for this fly (http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=67672&d=1195602126) after reading the wind/mirage. Wind left to right, quartering away. No mirage to speak of.

JDGray
December 20, 2009, 01:01 PM
Great pic AC! But Nasty:D

Walkalong
December 20, 2009, 01:09 PM
Little bugger was eyeballing me. :scrutiny:

Runningman
December 20, 2009, 02:08 PM
Curious why you are testing loads that exceed maximum published powder charges for TAC according to Ramshot own load guide 4.2.2 edition? The load guide list 25.2 as a maximum charge of TAC using 55 grain Nosler B/T and 205 primers.

NoAlibi
December 20, 2009, 02:16 PM
Walkalong - I had an opportunity to go to the FBI long range rifle course at Quantico in the mid 80s, but attendance at the course was to be on my own time and expense. Time and money was short, therefore it was a missed opportunity never to be presented again.

You mentioned to duck911 that you could point him in the direction of learning to read wind. I would appreciate the same heads-up.

Thanks.....NoAlibi

duck911
December 20, 2009, 02:27 PM
Curious why you are testing loads that exceed maximum published powder charges for TAC according to Ramshot own load guide 4.2.2 edition? The load guide list 25.2 as a maximum charge of TAC using 55 grain Nosler B/T and 205 primers.

I do not have the 4.2.2 edition, but I do have the newer 4.3 edition.

The 4.3 edition actually doesn't list Nosler BT's with TAC. So, I called Ramshot. The advice given to me by their lab guy was to use the load recommendation for another bullet of the same weight (in this case, the 55 gr Sierra BK) in the 4.3b manual, start low, and work up from there:

Starting: 23.4 gr
Max: 26 gr

I worked up carefully from 23.4 (my first target in the thread) to 25.8. I will not go any higher (probably no need to) even though I have ZERO pressure signs.

--Duck911

Walkalong
December 20, 2009, 02:53 PM
PM sent NoAlibi

I'll just warn you though. It's worse than Crack.

taliv
December 20, 2009, 03:08 PM
there's a coaching section where teh USAMU writes articles at odcmp.com. they have good info on wind reading. they also have a decent Small Arms Firing School the weekend before CMP week at camp perry.

45ACPUSER
December 20, 2009, 04:00 PM
Duck,
I have never seen a 223 with right twist bbl ie 1/9 1/8 1/7 that would not shoot the vary best with a 69 gr OTM from Nosler or Sierra with that charge wt range w/ Varget in either an AR or bolt gun. Or you could just buy some BHA Match Ammo as a control/benchmark.

Personally, I would think that keeping things simple contributes to accuracy more than any thing. KISS applies to reloading more then some want to admit. Threre Is no SAAMI spec for specific bullets, but rather SAAMI is for presure purposes for cartridges recognized by them. The best place of a suggest OAL from the specific bullet mfgr ie Nosler in this case. There is no real sense to adjusting COAL with bullets that are not VLD type in an AR at all.

duck911
December 20, 2009, 04:17 PM
thanks 45ACPUSER,

I used the wrong nomenclature as you pointed out - these bullets were seated to a length based on the Ramshot guide :) That's what I meant to say but didn't :o

The more I poke around on some other forums, the more I am reading that nearly all 1-8 twist AR's shoot the 69 gr SMK's well.

I may see if I can find a box locally, load some up, and have a little shoot-off with the 55 gr Noslers. I will try the Sierra's with TAC though, not Varget.

How do the Sierra's do on varmints? I am wondering if the 55 gr Noslers are a better choice on sod poodles?

P-32
December 20, 2009, 05:52 PM
Duck, I don't think it matters much on what bullet you use on P-dogs, if you have solid hits. I've shot quite a few with a .22 rimfire and they were pretty much DRT. There was no problem when I used my '06 on them either.

A tip I'll give is using new brass out of the bag seems simple enough but I do believe a person should at least neck size and uniform case lenght. Recently I neck sized some new Winny 30-30 brass only to discover the brass was not uniform is case lenght. Maybe not that big of deal for MOA of deer at 30-30 range, but I'm loading to shoot lever gun silhouette matches.

I'll also 2nd 69 gr. SMK's, Rem 7 1/2 or CCI BR primers and Re-15 or Varget.

45ACPUSER
December 20, 2009, 06:22 PM
OTM bullets are match bullets and are not a hunting bullet. If you want a test of the accuracy potential of your bbl then do that. Varget is the key with not TAC when testing the accuracy potential.

If you want a heavier bullet for varmints then Nosler makes a 60gr NBT and Hornady as a 60gr V-Max

Brass prep is key, too and doing it before shooting it the first time is always a good idea. Well, unless you buy Lapua.

snuffy
December 20, 2009, 11:29 PM
Next when seating the bullet start seating the bullet the lower the ram and turn the case 180 degress to finish seating the bullet.

If by that you mean you will reduce the runnout of the bullet, it doesn't work. The problem with bullet runnout can only be solved by spending the $$ for a precision seating die. Redding, forster and RCBS sell competition seaters, I found the forster solved my runnout problems.

One thing not mentioned yet is the age of your barrel. I doubt it is ready yet to start producing super small groups. I would buy or load some blasting ammo, go out, shoot a couple hundred, clean the barrel, THEN get down testing groups.

I've never tried TAC, so I can't comment on it's accuracy potential. I've tried Varget, but find it lacking in most applications/bullet weights for my 1-9 bushy. My go-to powder is H-335. I also use a lot of surplus pull-down WC-844, it just plain works! Dealing with a buddies match barreled AR last summer, I came up with a great load using IMR 3031, Sierra 69 MK, and the rem 7.5 primers in lapua cases. Right at " groups @ 100.

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