ball vs. stick 5.56\.223


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judge
March 25, 2010, 11:01 PM
A relative who served in army infantry in Vietnam told me to stay away from ball(MIL) ammo in my AR because it gunks up the action quicker? I'm aware that just because the military uses something doesn't mean its necessarily the best:confused:and my old timer's memories are of those early issue M-16A1s but is there any validity to what he's saying? I've used both types and while stick-powder ammo seems to be a little more accurate, does consistently using the ball stuff cause more hassle?

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NG VI
March 25, 2010, 11:52 PM
In Vietnam things were a little different. The rifle was originally designed to be used with stick powder, the Army had it loaded with ball powder because they had a bunch on hand or it was cheaper, probably both, and they also, more importantly, did not issue the rifle with cleaning supplies or manuals. And they told troops that they didn't need to be cleaned at all.

Perfect storm going on right there. Both the rifle and knowledge of how to work it have come a long way since it was first issued in the early-mid sixties.

benEzra
March 26, 2010, 09:09 AM
It's probably a moot point these days. Modern 5.56x45 milspec ammo is probably just as clean burning as civilian .223. I think this was a Vietnam-era problem that is no longer applicable today.

tju1973
March 26, 2010, 09:12 AM
Yeah-- the M16 (especially the first versions fielded) were not issued out with Grunts in mind-- The US beta tested them in a hostile environment..and teething problems ensued.. I have confidence (or had with mine) that my A2 would work anywhere --Just so long as I did my part...

Taurus 617 CCW
March 26, 2010, 09:36 AM
Have your bolt group ceramic coated and you won't have to worry about what powder you use.

Tirod
March 26, 2010, 09:41 AM
He's right - for what he learned in the 1960's. Things change. It's no longer a problem.

Interesting report just surfaced on a carbine used by an instructor as a loaner - after 25,000+ rounds, they finally got around to cleaning it. Literally. It had seen parts replacements as things broke, but it was never cleaned, just lubed and handed out when a student's gun broke down. It was been shot at the rate of about 1,200 rounds a weekend.

Of course, even if was a certified test by Consumer Reports, some folks would still scoff.

GRIZ22
March 26, 2010, 09:49 AM
I have been using AA2230 since 1988 in 223. Being a ball powder hasn't been a problem shooting a few hundred rounds per session. I can't say it's dirtier than stick powder and have used it in a variety of semi autos (mostly ARs) with no problems. I use ARs, M16s, and M4s since 1968.

Cleaning your gun after you shoot it is the easiest way to avoid malfunctioning.

DMK
March 26, 2010, 10:42 AM
The rifle was originally designed to be used with stick powder, the Army had it loaded with ball powder because they had a bunch on hand or it was cheaper, probably both, and they also, more importantly, did not issue the rifle with cleaning supplies or manuals.

Didn't they change the powder again(along with chrome lining the chamber and issuing cleaning kits) after they had problems? Does recent production (from the last decade or two) M193 even use ball powder anymore?

stay away from ball(MIL) ammoDon't confuse "ball ammo" with ball powder. Two different things.

"Ball Ammo" is slang for any military FMJ.

cougar1717
March 26, 2010, 04:51 PM
I have used both ball and extruded (stick) powder in 223 Rem. My experience is that extruded powder is more accurate than ball powder and slightly cleaner, all other things being equal but this is a non issue if you clean you gun semi regularly. OTOH, ball powder is much easier to work with when charging cases.

rcmodel
March 26, 2010, 05:02 PM
I have used nothing but WW-748 Ball powder in AR-15's ever since I started loading for them in 1970.

No problem.

Most comercial .223 & military 5.56 NATO is loaded with ball powder today.

Here is the story on Vietnam era powder issues.
http://www.thegunzone.com/556prop.html

rc

Doug Kennedy
March 26, 2010, 05:21 PM
My ARs like N133.N135,H335 and ww748 just fine

stubbicatt
March 26, 2010, 06:19 PM
IIRC, it was calcium carbonate in the Vietnam powder that clogged up the gas tube.

briansmithwins
March 26, 2010, 07:38 PM
IIRC, it was calcium carbonate in the Vietnam powder that clogged up the gas tube.

Yep. Winchester was re-manufacturing old artillery ammo into ball rifle powder. They added the calcium carbonate (chalk) to neutralize the acids from the old powder decomposing.

Of course, chalk is a bad thing in gas tubes.

BSW

Runningman
March 26, 2010, 08:10 PM
Read all about the past 5.56 powder issues here. http://www.thegunzone.com/556prop.html

Shawn Dodson
March 26, 2010, 09:19 PM
"Ball Ammo" is slang for any military FMJ. It's not slang, "Ball" is official U.S. military terminology. I've been unable to locate a specific definition for "Ball" but it appears to define a common, FMJ lead core bullet, e.g., M2 Ball, M80 Ball, M193 Ball, M855 Ball, Caliber .45 Ball, M882 Ball, etc.

Redneck with a 40
March 26, 2010, 09:28 PM
I prefer extruded powders, I really like IMR-4895, accurate and clean.

wcwhitey
March 26, 2010, 09:28 PM
I have been told and don't know for sure but wasn't the original Stoner loadings based around IMR 3031?

Anyway, it's a bit of extra work having to trickle every charge but I have good luck with 3031 in my .223 loadings.

DougW
March 26, 2010, 09:38 PM
I use H335 and AA2230 (both ball powders) for the most part in .223, but I have also used Varget, IMR 4064, and IMR4895 (stick) in the .223's. It works fine. The ball powder meters better for me.

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