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AR-15, H335, Cold Weather=problems?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by FullEffect1911, Mar 5, 2008.

  1. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Well-Known Member


    A while back I was having some short stroking problems with my ar15. Some THR members and myself were able to trace it back to the wolf military classic 55 grain ammo, and my reloads using IMR 4198. Presumably the burn rate was to fast and pressure was already dropping/too low by the time the gas system was being pressurized.

    So I switched to H335 when the weather was warmed and that solved my problems.

    But using 24.3 grains of H335 and a 55 grain spire point bullet, I has some short stroking problems again when the weather got cold (about mid 30's) And similar problems started showing up.

    Is this representative of cold weather shooting? Will a slower burn rate powder solve my problems in both warm and cold weather shooting (such as h4895)? Am i using to little powder?

    I am basically looking for a powder that I can use no matter what the season with a 55 grain pill. I currently have access to H335 and H4895, and my rifle is a 20" bushmaster.
  2. Mike 3-4

    Mike 3-4 Member

    We have the same problem with extreme temperatures here in Arizona and I settled on H4895 & Varget years ago. My chronograph likes Varget better but it seems H4895 performs just as well on the target. I use std Fed primers on all .223 loads but could'nt tell you if it helps or not ? Maybe a little homework in that area will solve your problem.
  3. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Well-Known Member

    Quite honestly having ammo that used to work in one temperature not work in a different one is possible one of the most frustrating things I have come across in reloading...

    Glad to hear H4895 may be a good solution for me.

    Out of curiosity, could the h335 being a ball powder need magnum primers? I was using winchester small rifle primers in those reloads though speer recommends magnums.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Might try bumping up the charge a little more.

    Hodgdon lists a starting load as 23.0, and a max as 25.3.

    So you are smack dab in the middle.

    But they used to only recommend one load with H335 & a 55 grain bullet.
    That was 25.3 grains with a Standard primer.

    Most ball powder does do better in really cold weather with Mag primers.

    But on the otherhand, I have been using WW748 with standard primers in .223 for over 30 years and never had any problems with ignition.

  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Hodgdon has two different classes of rifle powders, their normal powders (Spherical powders) and the powders they call Extreme Rifle powders. The Extreme powders were developed to be less temperature sensitive than the Spherical powders. H335 is one of their Spherical powders so it will be more sensitive to temperature than a powders like H322, H4895, H4198, H4350 and Varget. Of their Extreme powder I would suggest Varget over H4895 because it will perform best in the .223 compared to the other except for one other powder. If you are looking for a powder similar to H335 give H322 a try. It is an Extreme powder with a very similar burn rate to H335 and well suited for loading the .223 cartridge. It's a very accurate powder in the .223 too.
  6. HJ857

    HJ857 Well-Known Member

    I use H335 at 25.0 grains with a 55grain SP at 2.225, and it's been working very well at temps below 20F.

    I normally use a mountain bike synthetic grease in my buffer tube. Very thin coat. One time I applied too much and it caused short stroking. Just an FYI in that the buffer assembly may be worth looking at.
  7. mallc

    mallc Well-Known Member

    H335 at 10 degrees.

    I'm shooting 24.7 gr H335 with Hornady 55 gr bulk from a Colt Sporter HBAR on the outdoor range in Iowa. I'm out about 30 minutes at a time in temperatures down to about 10 degrees and have not had cycling problems - but I'm guessing my Sporter is pretty loose.

  8. Hiaboo

    Hiaboo Well-Known Member

    Haven't had any short stroking problems with ANY ammo.. EXCEPT wolf.. Big surprise!?! I acutally shot 20 rnds of wolf, had problems then shot 23gr H335 w/ greentips with no problems at all, this is my MOA ammo. This was acutally during about 30, 33*F weather. I'm using a 20" 1/8 bbl for the record.
  9. rodregier

    rodregier Well-Known Member

    The WSR and WLR primers are designed to work well with Ball powders.
  10. rundm

    rundm Well-Known Member

    go with either varget or benchmark to make your loads. also you could go with small rifle mag primers. I bought some of them a while back and have been using them now. Wolf small rifle mag primers with the starting loads in the middle of the data sheets and it/they have done me well. The varget and benchmark are much less sensitive than many of the other powders out there. You might not need the small rifle mag primers but they work pretty well for me.
  11. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Well-Known Member

    So far i've consistently heard good things about Varget, however since I already have H4895 i will give that a try first.

    Thank you all for the replies so far. Any other advice or recommendations would be appreciated.
  12. Idano

    Idano Well-Known Member

    I don't think it is your load,I think it it is your gun. I have a 20" Model 1 upper and use DP220 which is faster then H335, but the powder I will be converting to as soon as the 1/2 lb of 220 is gone. Here is a list of things you should check on your rifle first before changing the load:
    • Remove the gas block and see if the carbon circle completely encircles the gas hole on the barrel. Often the hole in the gas block and the barrel don't exactly line up and reduce the gas flow to the carrier
    • Check the gas tube for damage especially at the end at the carrier key
    • Make sure that the carrier key is tight a lose key
    • Ensure that the slots in the three gas don't line up
    • Make sure the gun is clean and that the carbon build up is removed from the carrier and the bolt
    • Also don't use to much oil

    Hope this helps, your gun should function fine with your current load. I have shot my AR in temperature from 20-110 degrees without incidents and I know nothing would be more aggravating then a short cycling gun on a follow up shot.
  13. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Well-Known Member


    I know it has a lot to do with the powder burn rate too. I used H4198 for reloads and they didn't work at all. Every round was a short stroke. When I originally switched to H335 all problems went away.

    I bought some black hills re-manufactured ammo that I will be trying soon. I figured that will tell me if it's the gun or the ammo.
  14. CZ223

    CZ223 Well-Known Member

    My Speer manual

    starts and 25.0 grains and goes up to 27.0 grains. The Lyman starts as low as 23.0 and goes to 27.0. My Hodgdon starts at 25.0 and goes to 27.0. Rather than switching powder I would bump the charge a little and maybe switch to the mag primer as someone suggested earlier. I have no problems with my ARs and 26.0 grains of H-335. I live in Maine so it is plenty cold. I worry more about temp sensitive powders on the other end of the spectrum like max loads of H-380 in 100 degree weather.
  15. Idano

    Idano Well-Known Member

    The burn rate is not the problem here because many AR shooters use Vihtavuori N120 great success, which has a much faster burn rate then H-4198. If you want the load to compensate for a mechanical issue you may never be 100% successful.

    The AR is one of the most simplistic, accurate, reliable, and, forgiving gas rifles available. When building up loads for your AR with any of these widely used powders for the AR: H-4198, N-120, DP-2200, XMR-2015, 3031, Benchmark, X-Terminator, 2230, H-335, 2460, W-748, N135, TAC, or Varget accuracy and consistency should be the only problems you run into not cycling issue. These are the mainstream powders being used by reloaders for the multitude of ARs out there because they work.

    I really hope you resolve your issue but I don't think until you fully disassemble and inspect your gun or have a gunsmith do it you will. I still suspect there is an issue with gas delivery system with that gun. Most, but not all short cycling issue with an AR is either the alignment of the gas block to the port on the barrel, a loose carrier key, or a damaged or plugged gas tube.
  16. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Well-Known Member

    Just to be clear, you are saying that if the rifle works with factory ammo flawlessly, but not with my reloads, then it is still a problem with the rifle?

    I did check the carrier and rings... all seems to be in order. Carrier is tight and staked from the factory, rings were in proper alignment (though ar15.com says that's a myth). Tube in carrier key is nice and concentric. Gun was clean when problems showed up.

    Didn't take the carrier off as I don't want to re-stake anything.
  17. Hoosier Reloader

    Hoosier Reloader Well-Known Member

    I've used H335 for 3-5 years & no problems. Works for me from 10 deg F thru 95 deg F.
    I also like the extreme powders, which are good for humidity changes.
    I recently tried Ramshot TAC and so far I've been very happy with it for winter shooting. Warmer weather is coming so time will tell.
  18. Idano

    Idano Well-Known Member

    I am sorry I didn't see where you said that you didn't have any problems when you used factory ammunition but only with reloads. What I thought you said was that you had cycling issues with 4198 so you switched to H-335 and it worked for awhile but now it isn't so you thought it was temperature related.

    Now if the gun will cycle factory ammo all day long but not your reloads then I am guessing you have a brass sizing issue. Either your not getting a good resize because of the die or setup or the chamber is on the tight side and the casing is hang up on ejection.

    However, if this cycling issue is happing with reloads or factory then check the gas block alignment and the gas tube, because your load of 24.3 grains of H335 with a 55 grain spire point bullet is close to mid load for H335.

    You've stated your experiencing a cycling issue, but is it possible that it is an ejection issue? I just want to make sure we're on the same page, so we are not talking about a fresh round headed into the chamber with a spent casing caught by the bolt correct?
  19. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Well-Known Member

    This is all correct, I have some factory ammo coming my way to test it out.

    The bolt was sometimes failing to lock on the last round, it would occasionally eject a round fine and fail to strip the next round (requiring the bolt to be cycled by hand to re-chamber), and it did manage to strip a round and cause a 3 point jam (that happened twice).
  20. Idano

    Idano Well-Known Member

    This may be a stupid question but you have tried different magazines and preferably a new one? I could still be way off base here but I think this is a gun issue and not a reloading problem. Keep us posted with what you find with the new factory ammo.

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