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Questions about loading .223 for the first time

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Matt Dillon, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    I have been reloading for ~10 years, but have never had the occasion to load .223, as I don't own an AR nor any other arm that uses this cartridge.
    One of my sons, however, purchased an AR last year (before the craziness) and as everyone else, has had a devil of a time finding any ammo.
    I have a set of Lee Dies for this caliber, because I purchased a large lot of reloading equipment a long time ago on eBay, and these dies were included. I know I need to purchase the cartridge length no-go gauge for trimming the case, and probably the Lee Factory Crimp Die, and I think that's about all the equipment I will need to start loading it.
    The components, however, are a different story. Does anyone have any suggestions regarding specific powders and loads that might be appropriate for this caliber?
    Also, what about availability of brass and projectiles? I have some CCI 41 primers (the hardened SR primers) so I'm set there, but I'd like to find some not too expensive projectiles for plinking, as well as a hunting projectile, something like Nosler ballistic tips, in a similar weight, and set him up with two practical loads where hopefully the POI would be similar.
    Any suggestions, sources, or ideas on going about to load for this caliber are VERY much appreciated, thanks so much in advance!
  2. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    Brass and bullets are getting hard to find. Check at The 10 Ring on Jones Road to see what they may have. PM is on the way to you also.
  3. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Well-Known Member

    A few things to consider if you don't already load for rifle.
    For a semi-auto you will need to full length size.
    You will need to lube the cases before full length sizing.
    A case gauge is useful in setting up your full length sizing die but not used much after that.
    I personally separate my brass by headstamp and double check with the gauge when going to a different headstamp just to ensure I'm still within spec.
    Once you full length size you can use a set of vernier calipers to check if you are beyond maximum case length and in need of trimming.
    You must also check to see if the cases have a military crimp ring on the primer pocket which must be removed by either swaging or cutting.
    To crimp you must have consistent case length. Even though I trim over 1,000 cases per hour using a Dillon Rapid Trim I don't see the necessity in crimping YMMV.
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator


    H-335, BLC(2) W-748, H-322, Benchmark, N-130, N133, AA 2230, AA 2460, H4895, IMR 4895, R-10X, Tac, X-Terminator, AA 2015, etc.

    Anything along those burn rates will "work", and everybody has their favorites. I am using a surplus powder (SRB 118) that I bought cheap for blasting/plinking ammo. I'm using H-322 for more accurate stuff, because I have a lot and it shoots well.

    Same point of impact?

    Pick a hunting bullet and work up your load. You mentioned Ballistic Tips. Lets say 55 Gr. That way it will be easy to find a 55 Gr FMJ load (Generally the cheapest .223 projectiles available) that will hit the same POI.

    You can do it with bullets of dissimilar weights, but it will take more work.

    Sizing for an AR?

    Use a full length sizer. Some like the small base sizer, and swear by them, but I use a standard one. Size to fit a case gauge like this Wilson. Don't just screw the sizer all the way down and call it good. Load as usual.
  5. soloban

    soloban Well-Known Member

    Try to get your OAL around 2.250".
  6. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Well-Known Member

    h335, IMR4895, AR-COMP, CFE223 are the powders that work for me.

    55gr projectiles are few and far between right now, but most places on the net are getting them back in slowly but surely.

    No-go gauges are nice, but all you need is your reloading manual and calipers. since you already reload im sure you have calipers.

    right now brass is a panic price. durning the fall i was able to get a 1k for 50 shipped. now people are haveing brass for sale at 300-500 for 50 plus shipping or more. i seen on GB 1k 223 brass go for over 200.00.

    I hope you can find compenets for your son.
  7. Onewolf

    Onewolf Well-Known Member

    Here's a lesson I recently learned. Last week I loaded my first batch (100) of 223 for my AR using RCBS full length sizer die (I couldn't find any small/AR 223 sizing dies). I subsequently loaded a couple magazines with these rounds and found that they suffer from the dreaded 'too fat' for ARs condition and they will not chamber properly. D'oooh! I measured them and they conform to SAAMI specs but when I measure my factory 5.56/.223 ammo I can see that it is well under SAAMI spec size wise for the case diameter.

    Lesson learned: Produce several rounds and verify they will chamber before making 100+ rounds. :)

    Currently trying find a .223 small/AR sizing die.....

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    I found that Armscor 55 grain FMJ pills are not expensive and shoot well for distances out to 100 to 200 yards.

    I don't think they would win any accuracy prizes and, when seating in identical-length cases, you can see a bit of difference between them where the cannelure is located with respect to the case mouths -- possibly due to variance in cannelure location but could also be due to variance in ogive, making them not all seat perfectly the same.

    However, they are 'good enough' and are most likely better than some factory ammo projectiles.
  9. Trent

    Trent Resident Wiseguy

    Heh there's nothing worse than "single feeding" a hundred or so 223 rounds because you find out when you get to the range, they won't fit in the damn magazine. :)

    Or, worse, that they're so damn light loaded and underpowered that they short-stroke the system and jam every shot, which also forces you to single feed them.
  10. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Well-Known Member

    Was your brass previously fired in a machinegun with a generous chamber?

    I pickup thousands of pieces of .223/5.56 brass and have never had one not chamber due to base size.

    What you need are called small base dies.
  11. thump_rrr

    thump_rrr Well-Known Member

    For powder I like IMR XBR(8208).
    It's temperature stable has virtually no flash and practically fills up the whole case. It's not cheap and may be a challenge to find in these turbulent times.
  12. Tim the student

    Tim the student Well-Known Member

    I also like 8208 quite a bit. I wish I had several more pounds of it.
  13. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Well-Known Member

    OK, Due to the magnanimous generosity of one of our fellow High Roaders, I have some .223 cases coming to the house. As mentioned above, I have never loaded .223, and as such I'm concerned with decrimping the primer pockets, which I have never had to do for any of the other calibers for which I reload.
    I assume this is something I need to do after I de-prime this brass? Is there a specific tool that I need to use?
    For my rifle brass, I have always deburred the flashy hole and uniformed the primer pocket. Will these tools work to remove the crimp from .223 brass? I have the Lee primer pocket cleaner as well as the little Lee chamfer tool. Will any of these work?
    Also, how deep do I need to ream the primer pocket? The last thing I want is a loose primer pocket.
    Any advice is GREATLY appreciated, thanks so very much!

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