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.223 accuracy w/surplus ammo?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by arcticap, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    I'm somewhat interested in getting a .223 varmint barreled bolt action rifle. I looked at a new Savage (w/o adj. trigger) and recently saw a used Ruger. My son tells me that I'll never get excellent accuracy using surplus ammo & that I would need to reload (which I don't) or buy expensive ammo which would nix the whole idea. He told me that military rifles have larger chambers
    to improve reliability in the field and that surplus ammo is just not as well spec.'d for use in civilian chambers. Does anyone have practical experience regarding accuracy with surplus ammo in varmint guns? What kind of accuracy could one expect @ 100 yards or greater? Any other info. welcome.
  2. jem375

    jem375 Well-Known Member

  3. SpookyPistolero

    SpookyPistolero Well-Known Member

    Your son is right on both counts. The 5.56 NATO rifles do have a larger chamber than a commercial .223 so that it feeds more reliably in when dirty. The 5.56 surplus ammo will also not be as accurate as commercial ammo, since the surplus stuff has been mass produced. Precision is not their largest concern in this case. That doesn't mean it's horrible however.

    I will let someone chime in with more experience of specific types of surplus, but you might see the groups open up by a couple of MOA ( an inch or two at 100 yards) with the surplus stuff.

    But hey, it's not a bad case. You can still shoot lots of surplus for dirt cheap out of your rifle for lots of practice, then you will be eventually be able to do your part to live up to the accuracy potential of your rifle when using commercial loads for the actual hunts.
  4. g56

    g56 Well-Known Member

    Here are two groups, one shot with military grade M193 ammo, it is a 15 shot group so it will be bigger than average, but you can get the idea. The rifle was an AR15 Varminter, 24" bull barrel 1-8 twist.


    Here's the same rifle with my handloads, this is a 3 shot group so it isn't a great comparison, however you don't see this kind of group with military ammo.


    Note: Military 5.56mm should not be fired in bolt action rifles chambered for .223 Remington.
  5. jem375

    jem375 Well-Known Member

    my ar15 shoots the Federal 5.56MM XM193 very accurately with the winchester Q3131A fairly close behind....the Federal American Eagle and Winchester 223 ammo is not as accurate.......there is a difference in 223 and 5.56MM ammo.....the surplus is loaded hotter and there is a small case difference...........again go to this website......
  6. arcticap

    arcticap Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the reference.
  7. swingset

    swingset Well-Known Member

    I shoot XM193 and Win. white box .223 out of my Savage 12FV often, I consistently get 1.25" to 1.5" groups at 100 yards. Not stellar, but certainly good enough to hit shoot at a tennis ball and never miss.

    I guess if you expect to hit a dime at 100 yards, you'll be mad. If you are aiming at a coke can, you'll think your rifle is a tack driver.
  8. Barry2

    Barry2 Member


    Make sure you get the correct twist. Some of the .223's out there have a 1 in 9 twist. These will not shoot 55grain .223 very well. 55grain .223 will shoot in a 1 in 12 so beware.

  9. jefnvk

    jefnvk Well-Known Member

    Actually, g56, I see that group I your top pic :neener:
  10. jem375

    jem375 Well-Known Member

    the 55 gr. bullets shoot very well in 1-9" twists.......
  11. Barry2

    Barry2 Member

    55 grain from 1 in 9 twist

    If by "very well" you mean go BANG and head off down range. Then yes they do.
    However my 700P .223 with 1:9, groups at over 2" with all the ammo I've tried except 69grain. The 1:9 favors the heavier bullet.

  12. vanfunk

    vanfunk Well-Known Member

    Your rifle may favor or disfavor certain brands of ammo and/or handloads, but the performance you're getting from your rifle isn't due to the twist rate. 1/9" twist barrels handle 55 grain ammunition just fine, as do 1/7" twist barrels. Alot of factors influence accuracy, but twist rate isn't generally one of them as long as the projectile is adequately stabilized. My 1/7" twist barrels "overstabilize" 55 grain bullets right into the x-ring everytime :)

  13. swingset

    swingset Well-Known Member

    All my guns are 1:9 twist and shoot 55 or even 45 grain extremely well.

    Matter of fact, one of the most accurate loads I have is a 53gr. SMK in front of Varget, I can print .375" with that in my bolt guns and sub-MOA out of the AR's.
  14. nipprdog

    nipprdog Well-Known Member

    the beauty of the 1/9 twist is that it handles bullet from 45-70 very well. :D
  15. Quintin Likely

    Quintin Likely Well-Known Member

    I like 1:8 for a .223 personally, but that's not a very common twist you'd find in a bolt action rifle off the shelf. With the extra barrel length (24-26" or so), I think you could get away with 75s or 77s with a 1:9 twist bolt gun. I need to experiment on this someday with my Savage.

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