Great 223 Beginners load


May 24, 2010, 02:52 PM
I have been relaoding handgun calibers for over a year and with great success (and only 2 squib loads) I have sucessfully made the jump to rifle reloading.

After a little research and bargain shopping I was able to aquire the necesary equipment and supplies to start reloading 223 for an AR-15. I caught a deal with a MidwayUSA coupon that paid for shipping and saved a few more bucks on top of deals I already had found.

I have been saving all my 223/5.56 brass for a while now so that part was easy as I had a few hundred pieces available. I got 55 gr FBHP Dogtown bullets from Midway on sale. Recently Cabelas has had a lot of powders in stock so I was able to actually choose the right one for me versus having to go with what was in stock. I had some CCI small rifle primers left over from an order that I placed for a few friends when they were hard to find, basically got them shipped for free by placing a large order at once and having everyone pitch in on it. On top of all that all I needed was the dies and some 223 prep tools.

Again after some research, (most on this forum) I had my brass prepped, my powder selected, bullets in hand, and dies adjusted to spec. After that it was a little fine tuning with the COL and powder charge to get it the way I wanted.

My setup is mostly LEE equipment with some of the prep tools being various manufacturers. I am using the LEE Pro Auto Disc Powder Measure with very consistent results. I know some argue that this is an unreliable tool, while I will certainly agree this is more than true with certain powders I have had great success with it. I weighed the first 20+ charges and all were no more than +/- 1/10 of a grain everytime without me tapping or messing with it at all. Now for those that are accuracy minded this may not be ideal, but for those who are loading mass quantities for target or general use it works great and is simple.

I got these first few rounds to the range shortly afterwards and had amazing results. Sub 1" groups with a good 15 - 20 mph cross wind, very consistent. These shot great and I cant wait to get back without the wind and get my scope dialed in so I can (as the Ronco guy says) "set it and forget it" because Im sure that this round will be my most used.

I really want to thank everyone that contributes to this site, it has not only helped me with information to be safe about reloading it has saved me alot of time and money by not wasting it on things that have been tried and found to be less than desireable.

Hopefully this info will help another green reloader or anyone that was curious about a cheap, accurate, and easy 223 load.

Here is the technical part of my little experiment:

-Ruger SR 556 16" Barrel 1:9 Twist

-55 gr FBHP Dogtown COL 2.25"

-CCI Small Rifle

-Benchmark @ 24.8 grains (Double Disk is needed with .76 on top of the 1.02)

-Varied (R-P, LC 07, FC) trimmed to 1.75"

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May 24, 2010, 04:01 PM
Congrats. Feels good doesn't it.

May 24, 2010, 04:16 PM
congrats on a successful load. I'm getting 1 ragged hole groups with a bolt gun using Varget powder and lee equipment. midsouth has some good deals on their varmint extreme bullets when you run out of dogtown and they're no longer on sale.

May 24, 2010, 04:31 PM
It looks like you're ready for some seriously fun shooting.

The only thing that I would recommend is to segregate your brass by brand as different makes can vary the powder capacity due to brass thickness. That's if you're shooting for a tight group.
If you're plinking, then it won't matter much.


May 24, 2010, 08:36 PM
The Benchmark is good powder for the 55 grain bullets. I also recommend the Varmint Nightmare Extreme bullets by Midsouth Shooters Supply.

May 24, 2010, 09:08 PM
Thanks for all the input.

I do seperate brass by manufacturer, just a habit I got into with my 38. The crimp die can vary a little depending on the HS.

Any suggestions on loads for the 55 grain Varmint Nightmares using Benchmark?

Also, has anyone compared the two bullets with same loads/powders?

May 24, 2010, 10:28 PM
Any suggestions on loads for the 55 grain Varmint Nightmares using Benchmark?

I suggest going back to Hodgdon's 24gr benchmark start load with the VN, and work back up. I've seen these bullets, and I suspect that they both may be made by Hornady, but that's just a hunch.
Both brands are capable of good groups and performance but there is no guarantee that they'll be super in your rifle, but you won't know until you try.
Probably good plinking fodder regardless.


May 25, 2010, 11:19 AM
I did a search on varmint nightmare vs dogtown bullets awhile back and found reports that they are the same bullet. but I also found reports that they are different mfg's, so who knows. I'd try the same load and see how it worked for you.

May 25, 2010, 05:38 PM
So I looked at the VN bullets and they have the 55 grain SP and SP Premium. Any difference other than price or performance I should be aware of?

May 25, 2010, 09:05 PM
The VNE bullets shoot very well in .223 and .22-250. I loaded the 55gr. premium VNE bullets up to 25.0 grains of Benchmark with Rem 7 1/2 primers in Remington or Winchester brass with good results. I loaded the same bullet with up to 25.5 grains of TAC with excellent results. Currently I am loading the 60gr. Nosler Btip with 23.5 grains of Benchmark with Rem 7 1/2 or CCI 400 with fantastic results from my 1:8. or 1:9 twist AR's.

May 25, 2010, 09:22 PM
By the way Griff383, the Benchmark loads are MAX loads and the TAC is right about there. Please be careful and work up to them. I used the SP bullets in the VNE line and am about to give the HP bullets a try soon.

May 25, 2010, 09:41 PM
Any difference other than price

The cheaper VN has a cannelure, and the Extreme does not.


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