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Loading Vintage Hornady 55fmj

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Peakbagger46, Oct 11, 2012.

  1. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Well-Known Member

    I recently bought 900 Hornady 55g fmj bullets for only $50 (or $5.56 a box). Not sure how old these bullets are, but the profile is drastically different from the current production rounds I have been loading for my .223. There is no boatail and the point is very rounded.

    After trimming my brass to 1.750", I seated some rounds so the crimping grove was barely visible. The OAL was 2.260" and BARLEY fits in my mini 14 magazine.

    I thought of two options to fix this...

    1. trim brass a little shorter than spec so I can seat to the crimping grove while reducing OAL a hair

    2. Ignore the grove and crimp anyway using the lee factory crimp

    Any thoughts? Given the money I saved on these bullets, I am certainly not complaining.
  2. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Well-Known Member

    Personally I would trim the brass back to 1.750-1.760" and set your seating die to seat them to the middle of the cannelure (crimp groove), then crimp them. 2.260" is the Max OAL. It's probably a sign that it's about time to trim your brass anyways. Both my Lyman and Lee manuals list 2.200" OAL for .223. So as long as you stay in the 2.20-2.260" range you should be okay. My personal loads with Hornady 55gr bullets (SP, FMJ, HP) all come out to 2.190" which is a hair under Min OAL but I don't load to Max charges.
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    If your Mini-14 feeds right?
    And IF you have proper case neck tension?

    There is no reason to crimp them.

    I have loaded .223 since 1970 for a Mini-14 and several AR-15's and seldom if ever crimp.

  4. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    What RC said. Plus...

    Trimming .223 cases more than a 1/100th or so under spec could compromise bearing surface, especially when you're trying to create long-ish rounds with small-ish bullets. Rule of thumb is to ensure that the length of bullet being gripped by neck tension is at least one bullet caliber, in this case, at least .224".

    Don't worry about the cannelure, but consider dropping the powder charge a bit if seating these bullets deeper is required to keep them off the lands. Deeper bullet seating decreases case volume and will raise peak pressure and could spike the curve. With proper neck tension you can skip the crimp, even in a semi-auto.
  5. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Well-Known Member

    My charge (25.5g Varget) isn't hot, so I can seat deeper if needed... how do I know if I have proper neck tension? I am a bit concerned about having bullet set back with this rifle.
  6. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    Unscientific but usually effective method:

    Hold a completed round in one hand with your thumb on the case head and try and push the bullet straight down through the top of your bench. If you do that with one hand and the the OAL shrinks, you may not have enough neck tension.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2012
  7. blarby

    blarby Well-Known Member

    Another unscientific, but effective method for testing :

    Load your mag.

    Tap it reasonably hard ( with the bullets facing down, not the primer....just in case) up and down a few times on a solid surface.

    Eject all the rounds, and measure them.

    Sometimes necks can be tricky- and constant pressure will hold, but those jolts will move a few of the bullets in a mag. Plus , you can test more than one at a time this way, for consistency :)
  8. Peakbagger46

    Peakbagger46 Well-Known Member

    Common sense tests, thank you all for the advice. The bangs on my bench top should give the wife one more reason to wonder what the heck I'm doing in the man cave.
  9. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    An even simpler way then measuring them over & over?

    Take a black Sharpie pen and mark a ring around each bullet / case neck joint when you load them.

    Then go shooting.

    Eject every round after the gun reloads for a while and look at it.
    If the ink ring is still there, you have zero set-back.

    If it's inside the case neck, you have set-back.

    But in general, if your sizing die is in spec, and your expander plug measures no more then .2225", you will have plenty of neck tension to prevent set-back.

    It should take around 60-70 pounds of pressure to slip the bullet in the case.
    You can test that with a leather glove on your hand and a bathroom scale.


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