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Getting started with 5.56 reloading

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Shrinkmd, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. Shrinkmd

    Shrinkmd Well-Known Member

    I am feeling more confident after rolling pistol ammo, so I am ready to get going with making up some 223 Remington for my AR.

    A quick online shopping trip:

    1) Dillon Super Swage 600 for fixing the military brass crimp problem
    2) Wolf's new "SR223" Small rifle primers at Widener's
    3) Accurate 2230 Powder
    4) Hornady 55 gr FMJ
    5) L.E. Wilson 223 Remington Headspace Gauge

    I already had the Hornady New Dimension dies from a while back.

    So, after much research in Lyman manual and online, does this sound like a good place to start?

    I have once fired Prvi Partisan 5.56 brass from their M193 load (fired in my rifle)

    Then I will:
    1) deprime
    2) primer pocket swage
    3) tumble clean
    4) brush neck/primer pocket
    5) lube
    6) resize
    7) wipe off
    8) measure and trim the whole batch to the same length

    At this point, can I run them through my LNL AP for the priming, powder, bullet seating/crimping just like I'm already used to? Would it make more sense to batch process all the brass first on a single stage, and then put them into the progressive once they are ready for priming and everything which comes after? Is that more efficient than taking each piece of brass off the press for trimming, then putting it back on and then priming it, pull the handle, and do the next one?

    And finally, I know that the Wolf "223" primers are supposedly neither fish nor foul, regarding hardness or being "magnum" or not. I will keep looking on the net for data, but for starting out (and yes I do have a chornograph) can I just start loading these (again, 5.56 M193 brass, Wolf SR223 primers, AA2230 powder) at 22.5 gr for starters (per latest Lyman manual)

    Sorry for all the questions, but I was hoping to start a thread which sums up what is currently available out there, especially regarding powder and primers.
  2. ny32182

    ny32182 Well-Known Member

    The primers should be fine; never heard a bad report about them, really. You will resize/deprime in the same step. What I do for ARs is the following:

    -Tumble, then wipe off cases.
    -FL resize/deprime
    -Tumble again to get the lube off
    -Measure length and trim/chamfer/debur if necessary
    -Cut out primer crimp if necessary.
    -Clean primer pockets.
    -Check for proper size in LE Wilson gauge.

    They are then ready to load. Progressive from there if that is what you do.
  3. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Same here, but I usually don't clean the primer pockets any more than the tumble to remove lube does, which isn't much.
  4. jfdavis58

    jfdavis58 Well-Known Member

    Fundamentally you're sound, but...

    How much has the brass elongated from the first firing and resizing? There is a range of acceptable lengths. Are you inside the range with enough left to suffer another firing? Are you just making plinking ammo--just testing the process? Or are you making match ammo, or very good training ammo?

    If the Prvi ammo was at or very near minimum length when it was loaded (the case, not the whole cartridge) and the loads were just standard faire, you might get away with a straight-up full on progressive cycle--no trimming. Lube'm up and do the whole operation, round and round again. On just good ammo loaded to acceptable function and decent accuracy charge levels, I get at least two full cycles (reload/fire) and sometimes three between trimmings. Obviously, YMMV.

    Also a question on the headspace gauge. You want a cartridge gauge used for setting the headspace/shoulder bump on the die and not a headspace gauge used for go/no go on the chamber/barrel---got the right gauge?
  5. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Well-Known Member

    You need one of these if you are handloading bottleneck cartridges.

    Throw the bullet-looking thing in the lake. Its useless.
    The micrometer part is what you absolutely need.

  6. Radaray

    Radaray Well-Known Member

    If he's only loading plinking or practice rounds for his AR, he would be well served with a Small Base resizing die, like the RCBS. This full length sizes the cases and eliminates any possibility of cases not sized properly. If the gauge said they are too long, there ain't a lot you could do about it now, anyhow. Only thing needed then is a caliper to check his COL.
    Perhaps if he's loading for match grade ammo, then he might elect to match the cartridge dimensions to his chamber. But that's a lot of extra work for plinking ammo. And he could still end up with some that are too tight to chamber.
  7. Shrinkmd

    Shrinkmd Well-Known Member

    And on doing more reading...

    I haven't actually loaded any yet, just ordered everything today after researching and dreaming about it for some time.

    Is it possible to incorporate the RCBS X-Die into the Hornady LNL AP to go full progressive with your loading? If the X-die is in station one, you should wipe off the lube and then put it back on the press prior to priming, right? Then its station 2 for powder, 3 for powder cop (no double charges with 22+ grains of powder, but nice to know you're not making a squib), 4 for seater, and 5 for a separate crimp die if you wanted.

    Have people used this setup successfully? The more I read about the X-die it seems a modern miracle, assuming it works as advertised. No more trimming, ever? Or obsessive measuring and remeasuring?

    And does it really improve case life as well. Better than sliced bread!?
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    .223 / 5.56 ammo for an AR-15 must be loaded to an OAL of 2.260" or less to fit in the magazine.

    So, you for sure don't need to buy an expensive chamber guage to figure that out.
    Just measure it with calipers.

    Or seat to the crimp cannulure on the 55 grain FMJ Hornady bullets you plan to use.
    Thats sure to work!

  9. Shrinkmd

    Shrinkmd Well-Known Member

    I found some more info surfing around. Someone made a video of their Hornady LNL doing just what I plan/hope to do http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MO6EDKsXA8

    His setup is as follows:

    I will try emailing this guy and asking him about how he handles the lube situation. I guess now I understand all the threads about "Is it safe to tumble loaded ammo?" What lube is best for not contaminating the powder and primer to use this method?
  10. NuJudge

    NuJudge Well-Known Member

    The constant problems with priming mechanisms on progressive presses bothered me so much I stopped sizing and priming on progressive presses. I do that work before the progressive press.

    I also bought a Giraud trimmer, so that chore lost its terror also.
  11. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    Dr Shrink -
    Yes, the X-Dies will tend to let you automate your reloading of 223 (that is, skip re-sizing) much like your pistol ammo, but here's the catch.... the first sizing with X-dies has to be followed by a trim to minimum case length. So it is not faster on Reload #1, but it is much faster on Reload #2, 3, 4, etc.

    Using X-Dies also means you need to shoot with a AR "brass diaper" to collect all your "once upon a time" X-Died brass. If you intend to shoot in the woods and loose your brass, or mix your brass with other "range pickup brass", then the X-Dies are not worth the added cost. But if you intend to manage your brass and reload each until they split out, then X-Dies will work great with an LNL AP system.

    The LNL AP my buddy has does not do a great job of belling, which can be an issue with pistol ammo. Hope you bought "boat tail" bullets to smooth out that part of the rifle reloading process.

    Hope this helps!

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