I need some "outside the box" .223 recommendations


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dc.fireman
August 22, 2011, 10:06 PM
OK my fellow highroaders, I'm looking for some starting points for a new .223 loads. Here's my quandry:

I have a new target rifle - a Savage VLP in .223 1/7 RH twist with a heavy fluted barrel. I'm planning on trying my hand at some 300 yard plus shooting.

I've loaded for bolt actions before, but was limited to my mag-length rounds of 2.262" (that was the max I could get into the Steyr magazines).

Using my once fired factory brass from my barrel break-in session, has left me with 200 fire formed cases of PMC, and Federal .223 brass.

The headspace readings (from the once fired brass) according to my RCBS Precision Headspace micrometer, are 1.434", which is .002" less than the SAAMI minimum of 1.436".

Using the same RCBS instrument, I figured out the lands measurement to be:

2.336" using a Hornady 68 gr. BTHP

2.345" using a Sierra 69 gr. HPBT

I figured that I would try 100 rounds of each bullet, using the once fired cases, which have been sized back approximately .0015", using the same RCBS gauge to measure.

I'd like to use my standard CCI 400 primers, and the powder would be Ramshot TAC, or AA2460.

I would really like to seat these at about .003-.005" off the lands. I'm really pursuing the best groups I can get at 100 yards, from the bi-pod, before I continue to push on towards the 300+ mark. Will I be 'OK', using the starting loads from the books, or is this something to call the powder company on?

FWIW - After my break-in, I used some of my Hornady 68's, with AA2460 @ 23.7 gr.'s, in Remington pre-primed cases. It was one of my best shooting experiences to date. My best group came in at .94" group size, @ 100 yds., with two rounds nearly through the same hole. Had I not gotten excited, I wouldn't have have jerked the trigger on the 3rd round, and spread the group out... Not using the books standard COL is what's giving me fits. I sincerely believe that this rifle is capable of nothing short of phenomenal results, if I can find that sweet spot.

Any ideas?

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GLOOB
August 23, 2011, 04:03 AM
I suggest you try some heavier bullets over Varget. 75-77 grainers, maybe. That's not exactly off the beaten path, but it works well for a lot of people with the faster twist barrels.

MtnCreek
August 23, 2011, 08:25 AM
I agree with trying a heavier bullet.

You bullet seating depth is not going to make a big difference in powder charge weight; just work them up as normal.

Funshooter45
August 23, 2011, 10:22 AM
I'm not sure why you're wondering if using the starting loads will be "OK". But it never hurts to be careful. If it has to do with your COL, you'll be fine. Lots of BR shooters either seat the bullet to touch the lands, or in some cases actually jam the bullet into the lands. Not that it necessarily improves accuracy mind you, but it's not uncommon to do it. Some folks think that any unnecessary jump between the bullets and the lands is a bad thing. It may or may not be.

If you're going down the accuracy path, no doubt you'll eventually start worrying about all kinds of things you didn't worry about before. Bullet "runout" is an item that keeps BR shooters awake at night, wondering how to do better. That is the term that describes how much the bullet is sitting at an angle to perpendicular when seated in the case. Other things like uniforming the flash hole is important, trimming everything down to very precise lengths is likewise important. And they are religious about the brass manufacturer, generally preferring names like Lapua or something. And even amongst the premium brass, they typically weigh a lot of 100 pieces and sort them all by weight, preferring to load each batch of ammo into brass that weighs the same.

redbullitt
August 23, 2011, 02:00 PM
Id go heavy as possible with that quick twist. I mean, I have a 1/9 and I shoot 69 and 70s very well.

Sierra has an 80 grain smk I think that may be worth a look.

JDGray
August 23, 2011, 03:33 PM
I really like Varget with the heavier .224 bullets, and usually find the best accuracy under a max load. Groups always open up for me at max loadings(YMMV)

dc.fireman
September 6, 2011, 02:21 PM
So... I've tested my initial load:
http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j246/dcfireman/SAV1242.jpg

The lowdown:

Savage Model 12 VLP 1/7" Heavy Barrel, 26" long, in .223 Remington

69gr. SMK-HPBT
23.4gr of AA2460
CCI 400 Primer
Federal cases, 3x fired. Shoulder bumped back .002" using the RCBS Precision Micrometer. Primer pockets uniformed, flash holes deburred/uniformed. Cases trimmed to 1.750", chamfered & deburred.
COL= 2.340" (.005" less than the to the lands measurement).

So, where would you go next? Increase the COL? Or increase the powder charge in .2 gr increments? It seems like simply deburring/uniforming the flash holes worked very well - but I also made several other changes at the same time ( shoulder bumped back, increased COL, flash holes), so it's difficult for an apprentice loader to tell...

-tc

JDGray
September 6, 2011, 03:45 PM
So, where would you go next?
I'd try 24gr Varget with those 69gr SMKs @2.260"

wanderinwalker
September 6, 2011, 05:19 PM
So, where would you go next?

Varget, RL-15, H4895, AA2520, just off the top of my head...

Seriously, as an experiment try pushing those 69gr Sierras to magazine length from your Savage and check your group size. We use these in Service Rifle competition at 2.26" out of AR-15 magazines. Believe me, they're jumping a loooong way in our chambers and they'll shoot MOA to 300 without any issues.

Sierras and Noslers seem to be pretty jump-tolerant in my experience. I run my 600-yard loads between .010-.015" off the lands with 80gr Noslers and get accuracy that's equal to or better than what I can hold. I've also had them running up to .040" or more (hey, the box of ammo was loaded before a couple of thousand short line loads went down an old barrel! :o ) and found them to shoot well.

As to shooting 75s or 77s, they're worth trying. The general consensus among Highpower shooters is that the 69s might have a bit of an accuracy edge while the heavy bullets have an edge in wind resistance. I've never had any trouble getting either to shoot, YMMV.

Curator
September 6, 2011, 05:42 PM
Cartridge concentricity is important for serious accuracy. I have found the Lee Collet die gave me the most concentric reloads (when I followed directions) Once you find the sweet spot for powder charge/bullet, try varying the distance off the lands by .002 or even .001. Most Sierra bullets in the 68 to 75 grain group shoot best just touching the lands in my Savage 112 (one in 9 twist) Groups open up as they are backed off. Of course, the most accurate length cartridges won't feed through the magazine.

dc.fireman
September 6, 2011, 07:16 PM
Thanks. 24.0gr. of Varget is usually my 'go to' load, but it didn't work out this time:


http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j246/dcfireman/sav12varg.jpg

I've had decent groups so far using IMR4895 - but ran out of it. I used 2460, because it was what was available. I didn't have the unburned powder problems many seem to run into using the double-base powder; maybe this is due to the longer barrel length?

@wanderinwalker - "Seriously, as an experiment try pushing those 69gr Sierras to magazine length from your Savage and check your group size. We use these in Service Rifle competition at 2.26" out of AR-15 magazines. Believe me, they're jumping a loooong way in our chambers and they'll shoot MOA to 300 without any issues."

I can't actually load to magazine length in the this rifle - The room in the detachable box magazine is in the 2.5" range (I'm going from memory here, I don't have that exact number written down). The maximum COL I could go, using the 69 SMK's is 2.345", putting the ogive directly up against the rifling.

I can honestly say, that the powder charge changes with this particular load + rifle combination were more than I expected when it came to results -

I started with 23.0 grains of AA2460, and they shot 1/2" lower on the target than the 23.4 gr. charge, both fired at the same distance.

My LGS doesn't regularly stock Reloader 15 - but they do have several containers of Reloader 10X. Does anyone have experience using this powder?

At the end of all of this, I may be chasing my tail - realizing the fact that I still need more shooting practice, to help bring group sizes down...

-tc

dc.fireman
September 6, 2011, 07:43 PM
Cartridge concentricity is important for serious accuracy. I have found the Lee Collet die gave me the most concentric reloads (when I followed directions) Once you find the sweet spot for powder charge/bullet, try varying the distance off the lands by .002 or even .001. Most Sierra bullets in the 68 to 75 grain group shoot best just touching the lands in my Savage 112 (one in 9 twist) Groups open up as they are backed off. Of course, the most accurate length cartridges won't feed through the magazine.
Just saw this - Thanks for the advice Curator. A quick question for you:

When you increased the COL, did you increase the powder charge, to compensate for the increased COL, thereby keeping the pressure consistent? Or did changing the COL require working up the load from the starting point all over again?

Galil5.56
September 6, 2011, 08:03 PM
Might try CCI 450's/similar with that AA2460... Love AA2460 and CCI450's in .223, and it may be worth trying the mag primer, and see how they fly.

helotaxi
September 8, 2011, 05:40 AM
When you increased the COL, did you increase the powder charge, to compensate for the increased COL, thereby keeping the pressure consistent?

The difference in the case volume from a difference in seating depth on a bottleneck case like the .223 is inconsequential with regard to pressure. Instead, seating the bullet closer to the lands (longer) will increase pressure. The seating depth to pressure relationship is exactly opposite that for a straight-walled cartridge.

Having the 1:7 barrel means that you can shoot pretty much any weight of bullet, it doesn't mean that the heavier bullets will shoot better. That said, I wouldn't go any lighter than the 68gn Hornady HPBT match bullet. The higher BCs of the heavier match bullets will help minimize wind drift. Since you don't have to worry about fitting within the constraints of a 2.26" mag length, the 75gn AMax is definitely an option as well.

I've never seen or heard of TAC being used in an accuracy load, FWIW. 2460 comes pretty well recommended. I personally like 2520.

wingman
September 8, 2011, 08:43 AM
Having the 1:7 barrel means that you can shoot pretty much any weight of bullet, it doesn't mean that the heavier bullets will shoot better.

I think this is key,I've owned 4 or 5 223 rifles all were 1/9 twist all were most accurate @100 yards with the 52gr match bullets I never seen consistent accuracy out of 68-69-74 however again shooting @100 yards.

My Savage 12BTVS will shoot consistent groups of .600 or lower if I do my part with 52 gr match so I know your rifle will do same or better. Simply try other bullets if shooting at 100 yards may be surprised 1/7 twist or not.;)

rodregier
September 8, 2011, 11:44 AM
CCI 450's were developed for higher-pressure cartridges like .223 Rem. The CCI 400's with their thinner cups are not recommended for .223 REM.

ArchAngelCD
September 8, 2011, 12:52 PM
CCI 450's were developed for higher-pressure cartridges like .223 Rem. The CCI 400's with their thinner cups are not recommended for .223 REM.
Ummm, no...
The Remington 6 1/2 primers aren't recommended in the .223 and you should use the Rem 7 1/2 primers. There is nothing wrong with using CCI400 primers in the .223. For semi-auto .223 rifles, the CCI #41 NATO primers were made for that application. At 55,000 psi the .223 is no higher in pressure than most others. As a matter of fact there are many with higher pressures.

NCsmitty
September 8, 2011, 01:00 PM
If you haven't already done so, review Accurate's load data and you'll see that they have data that ranges up around 62,000 PSI for bolt and auto rifles with NATO certification, (5.56). It will at least give you the full spectrum of loads available, especially with heavier bullets.

http://www.accuratepowder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/accurate_load_data_3.5.pdf

I may be chasing my tail - realizing the fact that I still need more shooting practice, to help bring group sizes down...

In the end, I believe this will be prove to be your greatest asset, as the search for the perfect load can be tedious at times, and may actually be in your trigger finger.



NCsmitty

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