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CFE223 and Hornady 55gr fmjbt testing

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Tony k, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. Tony k

    Tony k Well-Known Member

    Hi All,
    I'm new to THR and to relaoding.
    I've been trying to work up an accurate load with 223 hornady55gr fmjs and Hodgdon's CFE223 powder. So far, I'm not impressed.

    Die: RCBS full length, small base, not crimped
    Brass: LC trimmed to 1.750
    Primers: Rem SRP
    COAL: 2.2
    Rifle: bushmaster ar style with 16" 1:9, Redfield battlezone scope.

    I starting at 25gr and working up at .2 grain increments, I've been testing 10 shot groups at 100 yards. Here are my results so far:

    25= 3 1/8
    25.2= 3 3/8"
    25.4= 3 3/8"
    25.6= 3 1/8"
    25.8= 2 3/4"
    26= 2 1/4"
    26.2= 1 3/4"
    26.4= 2 1/4
    26.6= 1 5/8"
    26.8= 1 7/8"
    27= 1 7/8"

    This weekend, I plan to test 27.2-27.8 grains (max listed on hodgdon's website--but for different bullet). My groups have been disappointing, but eveything is functioning/cycling fine with no signs of high pressure. I was hoping for groups closer to 1" or better, which is what I was able to do with H-322 and this bullet.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?
  2. Beentown

    Beentown Well-Known Member

    What has the rifle done before with good factory loaded ammo? Maybe you have an 1.5" MOA firearm with tailored loads.

    Maybe it doesn't like that bullet? Only time and different loads will tell.
  3. Otto

    Otto Well-Known Member

    1 5/8" may be the best your Bushmaster can do. The first thing I'd do with a Bushy is re-work the trigger pull...makes a huge difference.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
  4. David E

    David E Well-Known Member

    10 shot groups? What are you, made of money?

    Most people shoot 5 or even 3 shot groups when accuracy testing.
  5. Beentown

    Beentown Well-Known Member

    I do 10 shot groups with my loads also. 1 5/8" groups with 10 shots is excellent from a standard Bushy. That why I ask what it does with good factory ammo.
  6. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Well-Known Member

    With 10 shot groups you're testing your shooting as much as the load. I would go back and look at the groups again to see if you have any that are pretty tight with one or two shots that turn what could have been a 1" group into a 2" group. If you find some groups like that and they're close in charge weight, that would be something to re-test.

    Is your seating depth the same as you were using on your H322 loads?
  7. Tony k

    Tony k Well-Known Member

    Beetown: I've never shot "good" ammo out of this gun. The only factory ammo I've shot out of it is Armscor and Olympic. Groups with those were 2 to 3 inches. This isn't exactly a match-grade firearm, so maybe 1.5 moa is about all it can do....but I hope not.

    Otto: You are very right about the trigger. THe trigger pull on this is heavy and not smooth. That's a good idea work on it.

    David E: that's funny because I was thinking the same thing, and getting a little discouraged with the amount of money I've been sinking into these work ups. If I were sighting it in like a hunting rifle, I'd use three shot groups. However, my Speer manual recommends at least 7 shots to test loads.

    Mtncreek: I'm an average shot at best, and I'm testing prone on a sandbag, so yeah, the limits of my shooting skills are definately a factor. If i don't count two of the 10 rounds that look kind of like "flyers," then my group at 27 grains is actually 7/8 of an inch. I'm not using the same seating depth as with the H322. H322 loads were 2.22 rather than 2.2 I used with the CFE223. I decided to go more "by the book" with the cfe223 because it's a pretty new powder, and the only load data i can find is for a completly different 55gr bullet (Sierra and barnes). Plus, I'm a novice reloader, so I wanted to be careful.

    Thank you all for the ideas and suggestions. I'll report back on the next few work-ups. I'll also be searching the web to see how others are doing with this powder.
  8. oldpapps

    oldpapps Well-Known Member

    Maybe I'm missing the point.

    I shoot just to shoot. You, by my count, have tested/fired 110 rounds. Luck dog.

    You stated you have full function (I think that is what I gleamed). The measurements are not what you want.


    Sand bag the weapon with a sampling of what you deem the best and give her a go.

    Try no crimp, heavy crimp. Seat a little deeper and not as deep. Change out powder/primers/bullets to see if that makes any difference.

    The end results is you are shooting and I hope enjoying your self.

    Not all weapons are intended to make one ragged hole. Knowing and understanding this doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

    Also, I don't consider anything less than 15 duplicate test samples to give sadistically valid results. That doesn't mean that I shoot 15 of everything I load. Just of those that show greater promise.

    PS: FMJBTs are not what I expect to get the best of accuracy with.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2013
  9. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Well-Known Member

    I've never had good luck with CFE223. It shoots shotgun patterns instead of groups out of my 3 bolt action .223s. AA-2460 and H-335 have always been my goto powders for .223/5.56.
  10. James2

    James2 Well-Known Member

    I believe I would try a faster powder in that caliber. Something in the speed range of IMR 3031 or H335.

    For sure if you really want to see what the rifle can do, shooters bench and sand bags are needed.
  11. Belmont148

    Belmont148 Well-Known Member

    I had the same results, if not worse with my 1:7 twist colt using the same bullets. I am now trying some heavier 60 and 75 grain bullets to see if I can find a combo that it likes. I figure I will just use the 55 FMJ load for blasting ammo, not bench rest shooting.

    Looking forward to seeing your results as so far my best load was 27.4, but I am going to redo it over again now that I have a scope on the rifle.
  12. Tony k

    Tony k Well-Known Member

    Oh, I'm having a great time Old Paps, and I don't think you're missing the point of my post at all. I guess I'm interested in other peoples' experiences with this powder/bullet combo, and what I should realistically expect. Plus, reloading has added a pretty awesome dimention to shooting and hunting for me since I started last fall. I kinda just wanted to chat with more people about it. I haven't enjoyed shooting this much since I was 12 years old with my first 22. So yeah, you're right... I am a lucky dog having a good time.
  13. oldpapps

    oldpapps Well-Known Member

    Attached Files:

  14. B.W.

    B.W. Active Member

    Ive been doing some testing with the CFE 223 also, I've had pretty good results with it so far. I'm not shooting 55 fmjs though, I'm shooting 69 smks out of 1:9 bolt action 223. I kinda like the powder, I've had good accuracy with it and seems to burn clean. I still wish I had some Varget though but who knows when I'll ever see that again!
  15. SpentCasing

    SpentCasing Well-Known Member

    I just picked up 8lbs of CFE 223 yesterday and havent tried it yet. So take this advice with a grain of salt.

    Based on my research CFE likes heavier loads for tiny groups (60gr+). Couple that with bulk 55gr FMJ isnt very accurate to begin with either due to the open bottom. Id try some heavier match stuff if I were you.

    I have 200 rounds of Honardy 55gr FMJ (as well as 500 SS109) that Ill test also, but I dont have high hopes of it being group shooting ammo. Im using it for just blaster ammo. I like 68gr Honady for that (groups). Good luck and keep us posted!
  16. Tony k

    Tony k Well-Known Member

    I went back out and tested 27.2 through 27.8 as descried in OP
    27.2= 1 1/4
    27.4= 1
    27.6= 3 3/4 (umm...I'll chalk that one up to operator error)
    27.8= 1 1/4

    the gun cycled fine with all loads. Even at 27.8, I didn't see any flat or cratered primers, or brite rings or bright spots. However, I found a cracked case when I got home. They were all mixed at that point, so I'm not sure which load cracked it. The case that cracked was an R P on it's third firing.

    I'll probably play around more with these upper end loads. I think I'll try them at a longer length next.

    I mentioned the earlier results to the guy at the local gun store where I bought the powder. He told me that my results were very much in line with what other people were getting. Like many of you mentioned, he also said people were getting better results using heavier bullets with the CFE223.

    The powder is a ball powder, so it meters smoothly. Plus, it does seem pretty clean.
  17. TexasShooter59

    TexasShooter59 Well-Known Member

    As SpentCasing said, "55gr FMJ isn't very accurate to begin with" out of an AR, as my experiences have shown. I've loaded and shot close to a thousand of the Hornady FMJs, and you can only expect just so much accuracy. I've used H322, TAC and Win 748. I believe the Win 748 does the best for me with TAC a close second. My barrel is 1/7, though. In my experience, the 55gr Z-max does much better in the AR than the FMJ. I have not measured any groups, though.
  18. Tony k

    Tony k Well-Known Member

    Now that's a group to be proud of. At this point, I'm convinced that the bullet/ powder/ firearm combo Im using isn't gonna get me those types of resluts. I've got some 60 grainers and some 65 grainers that should be here next week. I'll try those with the CFE223 next.

    Thank you all for the great discussion and insights.

  19. mike.h

    mike.h Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the timely post, guys. I have a couple pounds of CFE 223, and I appreciate the discussion on this powder.
  20. steve4102

    steve4102 Well-Known Member

    If you want "Accuracy" then you need to start with an accurate bullet, the Hornady 55gr FMJ ain't it. Oh, I know it's a good FMJ bullet, maybe the best FMJ, but it cannot be compared to a quality target bullet like Sierra, Nosler CC and the Plastic tipped bullets like the V-Max and the Nosler Ballistic Tips.

    If you want to shrink those groups, get a better bullet.

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