Question regarding bullet types (223)


May 28, 2010, 12:57 AM
I'm a long time pistol reloader, but just recently puchased my first rifle, S&W M&P 15 flat top carbine, 16" barrel, 1:9" twist. I picked up some Lee Pacesetter dies, CCI 450 primers and some BLC2 powder and a couple of boxes of bullets, from Hornady and Speer.

My question is "what are the key performance differences between the numerous bullet types: spitzer, soft point, spire point, hollow point, and any others?" I'm only interested in the 50-55gr range. Is the key difference in these bullets center around penetration depth for hunting? I have searched the forums and I see the v-max is popular for prarie dogs thru coyotes because of there explosive nature on impact, but won't soft points and hollow points do just as good a job on a coyote? Do the rest just provide deeper penetration? What would be suitable size game for 55gr soft points, hollow points, spire points or spitzers?

I get that the heavier bullets above 70 grain are for long distance shooting, but within this 50-55gr range what is the strength of each style bullet? I see the generic soft points and hollow points can be had for around $45/500, and the v-maxs for around $65/500. To me, for $20 more, why wouldn't I just always load v-max bullets?

Next, why would someone want a non-boat-tail bullet? Boat-tail bullets were so much easier to reload (start easier) and from what I read, give flatter trajectory?

Just trying to sort this all out, quite a bit different from the world of pistol reloading.

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May 28, 2010, 01:36 AM
you're on the right track - some bullets (soft points) will penetrate a little better. bullets like v-max's are at their best for prairie dogs. the explosive effect on dogs is part of the reason (turning prairie dogs into red-spraying space cadets), the other part being because there is nothing left of the bullet you don't have ricochets heading into livestock, etc.

many rifles shoot flat base (non-boat tail) bullets better. about 2-3 years ago many of the long range community divided about the boat tail vs flat base at 1000 yards. i think that debate has come back around and the vast majority of long rangers are back on boat tails.

i am a believer in the 223 has only 2 purposes: 1) nra/cmp competition and 2) varmint shooting. thus, the v-max, a very accurate bullet, will likely do fine for both but for competition purposes 52 grain sierras are not easy to beat.

its all part of the fun of loading... maybe your rifle will absolutely love a 60 grain fbsp, which would be reason enough to load it for varmints or competitions...

May 28, 2010, 09:02 AM
The thickness of the copper jacket is whats important. Thin, bullet blows up easy. Thick, deep penetration. The style of the bullet has to do with Ballistic Coefficients & Sectional Density. Sierra lists there bullets with a description of there use. Makes it easy for me. Click pic of bullet for description.

May 28, 2010, 09:49 AM
Soft points have been working for me, and many others, for years before the V-Max was invented. The V-Max is a very good little bullet though.

May 29, 2010, 01:55 PM
I have only used the V-max bullets in 50gr. weight in my 1:9 twist AR and they work fine. I see the for as low as $33.00 online wear as 50gr. Noslers are usually more expensive. I have shot lots of 55gr. Varmint Nightmare Express bullets from Midsouth Shooters Supply and the are a great varmint bullet for the money. I love the 55gr. Gameking by Sierra and want to try the 65gr. Gameking. That bullet if presented with a reasonable shot should be able to take down small deer. The 60gr. Nosler Partition will definately take down deer with a quality shot being available.

May 29, 2010, 05:23 PM
Thanks for all the feedback.. I think loaded up some rounds and compared them to some factory loads... here's the results..

S&W M&P 16" barrel, 1:9" twist, 80 degrees, 700 ft above sea level.
Fiocchi 50gr V-max: 2923fps, 949 ft-lbs
Hornady 55gr Vmax: 2875fps, 1010 ft-lbs
Federal 55gr FMJ (Wal-mart): 2980fps, 1085 ft-lbs
Winchester White Box 55gr FMJ: 3096fps, 1171 ft-lbs
Remington UMC 45gr JHP Varmiter: 3248fps, 1054 ft-lbs

I then tried some of my reloads to see how they stacked up:
50gr V-max, 26.0gr BLC-2, 2758 fps, 845 ft-lbs
50gr V-max, 26.8gr BLC-2, 2882fps, 922 ft-lbs
50gr V-max, 27.6gr BLC-2, 2968 fps, 978 ft-lbs *Note: this load exceeds recommended load by Hornady (26.7), but not Hogdon's (28.0), so use with caution***

I'll probably settle on something around 27.0gr BLC-2

Tried a few Speer & Hornady loads too.
55gr Speer Spitzer, 25.5gr BLC-2, 2669 fps, 870 ft-lbs
55gr Speer Spitzer, 27.0gr BLC-2, 2861 fps, 1000 ft-lbs
52gr Hornady JHP BT, 27.5gr BLC-2, 2946fps, 1060 ft-lbs

For deer hunting, I was going to try the Speer 70gr Soft Point. I got a box on order. Although it is 70gr, it's profile is suppose to be stable in a 1-9" twist rifle. If those don't shoot well, then I'll try those 60gr Nosler Partitions. I don't want to fork out the dough for the Barnes 62gr TSX.. they are very pricey, but I guess that would be an option too.

May 29, 2010, 05:43 PM
The next time that you purchase powder, you may want to try somthing a little faster for the 50gr. Vmax (H335, H322, Benchmark, RL10X). The Speer 70gr. should do the job.

Thanks for the your comparison of the loads.

May 29, 2010, 08:18 PM
I recently purchased the same gun. I had never loaded 223 before. I did some reading here and other forums and decided on AA 2230 with a Mil-Spec 55g FMJ-BT. AA 2230 is like pistol powder in shape and meters great. I am loading 24.2g of 2230 and seating to the cannelure 2.520". I have not taken the Chrony out to the range yet but, I am getting great accuracy at 100 yards that is the max distance at my range.

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