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.222 Rem accuracy problem

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by OrangePwrx9, Mar 5, 2013.

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  1. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    This problem cropped up quite awhile ago and I set the rifle aside until I had time to deal with it. So now I have time.

    The rifle is a (then) new Rem 700 in .222 Rem. All it's ever shot is handloads. If the handloads were loaded in new unfired brass, it shot very well. Easily sub-MOA. Cases were resized before first usage in an RCBS Full Length Competition sizing die. Loads were mild. Cases were nickel plated.

    Repeating the same loads in the once fired brass with the same reloading tools, the rifle would shoot no better than 1.5 MOA.

    I'm thinking the chamber is out-of-round enough that the sizing die can't bring the cases back. What thinks the HR brain trust?

    I made some notes at the time. If I find them and there's anything pertinent, I'll post a follow-up.
     
  2. James2

    James2 Member

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    I suggest you tighten up the bolts that hold the stock to the action.
     
  3. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

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    The chamber can't get "out of round" by not shooting the rifle, it can't go from sub MOA to 1.5 MOA for the same reason. If scoped, has the scope been banged or bumped hard enough to knock it off dead center? How old is the powder you're using? Maybe try a new pound and see if that makes any difference. I also see you'd mentioned the problem cropped up quite awhile ago, is the barrel free floated? I've seen guys not have their barrels free floated, doing that can make a big difference. Screws in the action tightened too tight? Just trying to eliminate the most frequent problems that can occur.
     
  4. kyhunter

    kyhunter Member

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    have you tried a neck sized fire formed case and seen how it shot?
     
  5. ironworkerwill

    ironworkerwill Member

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    try neck sizing only, then you'll need to work up a load again because your case capacity and dimentions are slightly different causing lower pressure.
     
  6. Skyshot

    Skyshot Member

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    I would agree to try neck sizing also. If you have tight throat, you may want to neck turn the cases also.
     
  7. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    Maybe I wasn't clear. The accurate/inaccurate performance occurred within a few weeks after I bought the rifle back in the '90s. It hasn't been fired since and I have finally decided to get to the bottom of the issue. It's too nice a rifle to just sit.

    Besides, .222 brass is getting easier to find than .223.

    Bedding screws and scope attachments were checked at that time. It has a low-end (Vari-X1??) Leupold 3-9x scope on it that was bought new at the same time.

    It literally went from sub-MOA to 1.5 MOA with the only difference (that I'm aware of) being that the cases were once-fired.

    Neck sizing is a good suggestion. Might see if I can find an NS die for it. If I'm right about the chamber, neck sizing will probably make accuracy worse. OTOH, if things straighten out, there may be something going on with the original sizing die.
     
  8. Fatelvis

    Fatelvis Member

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    When you're sizing your brass make sure to loosen and then tighten the lock ring on your expander/decapper stem as you are pulling the expander through the neck. That will center your expander in the neck, so it won't tend to pull the neck out of whack. Just a thought.....
     
  9. 351 WINCHESTER

    351 WINCHESTER Member

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    Maybe your wooden stock has accumulated some moisture and warped over time.
     
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It would take a really wacko .222 Rem to not shoot 1 MOA or less with anything you put in it.

    Whatever it is, it isn't something neck sizing is going to be a miracle cure for I betcha.

    Maybe copper fouling in the bore?
    Maybe you got some bad bullets and are still trying to use them up?
    Maybe a damaged barrel crown?
    Maybe stock bedding changed?
    Maybe the scope went south?
    Maybe the shooter did?

    But I would lay big money it isn't the chamber out of round, or resized once-fired cases causing it.

    rc
     
  11. NCsmitty

    NCsmitty Member

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    +1

    You likely have copper in the throat from many rounds when new, without proper cleaning. Tool marks in a fresh chamber throat will sometimes collect copper rapidly. I have a cleaning regimen when I break in a new barrel.

    rcmodel pretty much laid out the other possibilities.

    Get some Sierra 50gr bullets and try them, after a good cleaning.


    NCsmitty
     
  12. JLDickmon

    JLDickmon Member

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    you probably have the only triple-deuce in existence like that..

    box it up and send it to me for proper evaluation and disposal.. :neener:
    before you shoot yer eye out, kid...
     
  13. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    OK, there's more to this.

    Found my notes from 2001 and about 30 rounds that I reloaded after firing once in the rifle. Also found a .222 Wilson case gauge that I bought at the time. There's definitely a problem with the cases, some much more than others. I'm not sure I can catch it in a photo, so I'll have to describe it as best I can.

    From the notes regarding reloads in once fired cases:-----
    "Some cases did not slide easily in and out of the case gage. Case body near head showed evidence of non-uniform expansion during firing that was NOT removed when sized. Cases were full-length sized."
    ---------End of note comments.

    The worst of the cases (about 15) will not slide completely into the gage. They hang up about the thickness of the rim short of seating. Looking at the cases, it's apparent why. About .225" up from the head (about where I'd expect the thicker brass for the case head would end), a part of the circumference of the case is slightly bulged out. The opposite side of the case shows no such bulge with a completely straight case wall. The portion of the circumference affected appears on the order of 180 degrees, maybe a little more.

    The remainder of the cases will seat in the gage; but if you look closely you can see the beginning of a bulge on one side that is definitely absent on the other side.

    All of these cases (the ones that won't seat in the gage and those that will) chamber easily in the rifle..regardless of how the bulged/pushed-out area is oriented.

    What got me thinking about an out-of-round chamber is a Savage 24F with a .223 barrel that I reload for. Resized cases wouldn't seat in a case gage for that rifle either. Fired brass exhibited something similar and reload accuracy was poor. Finally determined the chamber was out-of-round (or the rear of the chamber was) and got Savage to replace the barrels. Accuracy got much better after that.

    The .222 cases are Federal nickel (to help keep them separate from brass .223) and the load was 20 Gr. of IMR4198 behind a 50 gr. Hornady SP. My older loading manuals show this as a mid-level load; some that I have now indicate it's upper-end. Cartridge OAL was 2.145" or greater on first firing (kept the bullet off the lands).

    In writing this, I realized this could all be explained by a lot of bad brass. Think I'll try to find some new brass and give it a try.
     
  14. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Load to hot. Cases bulged at the web area. Check for loose primer pockets. Scrap brass, start over with lighter load using data at the Hodgdon website.
     
  15. James2

    James2 Member

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    You really need to shoot the rifle again. What I said about checking the bolts is important. You see if it is a wood stock, wood will take on moisture or dry if it has a change in the humidity. Once the rifle has been in your place for a time it should settle down, but the tension on the screws may change. This could explain the change in impact in the few weeks you mention on your opener.

    I took my 222 action out of the stock and put it back in and tightened up the screws again and the pattern tightened up. No change in ammo.

    As alluded to above, this is a great caliber and usually a tack driver. Hope you get it working right. Keep us posted?
     
  16. Kerf

    Kerf Member

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    Just three suggestions...

    OrangePwrx9

    First, I would suggest you cut to the chase with a chamber cast, since you seem to think there are chamber issues with the rifle. Casting a chamber is very straightforward and inexpensive. I’ve had to resort to a chamber cast trying to figure out what I just bought. Just follow the directions that come with the product. (Cerro-safe?) If I can do it, I’m sure most anyone can.

    Secondly, I would suggest a good cleaning (scrubbing, scrub the heck out of it) of the bore using JB Bore cleaner, or similar product. (Again, just follow the directions.) Remington factory barrels years ago were somewhat noted for their excessive fouling and simultaneous loss of accuracy. My .222 HB would shoot .5” after a scrubbing and open up to about 2.5-3” at thirty rounds. (I speak from experience X’s about 6; tried fire lapping, hand lapping, bore scopes, etc) I have heard that their OEM barrels have improved over the years in terms of quality, and I do believe that, but still, a half inch group for five shots from a .222.…

    Thirdly, if the chamber is out of round or the bore fouls to the point of losing accuracy, the easiest route is to have it rebarreled by a competent gunsmith, other than Remington. If you return it to Remington, they’ll just give you more of the same in terms of material and workmanship. Whereas, an independent ‘smith can only stay in business by delivering first rate workmanship and using first rate materials, which usually equals top notch accuracy at a reasonable cost. Once you have that experience, there's no going back.

    Hope this helps,

    kerf
     
  17. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    Sounds like your sizing die may not be in alignment with your shell holder and ram. Do you remember if you had a case in the die when you locked it down? Could the shell holder not be fully seating in the ram?
     
  18. OrangePwrx9

    OrangePwrx9 Member

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    OK, I'm going to drop back to square one on this. First thing is putting together some reloads with a currently recommended starting load. Most everything I see now shows 20 gr. of IMR 4198 as being upper-end for the .222 with 50 gr. bullets. Maybe drop back to 17 or 17.5 gr. if I stick with that powder. It may be as simple as 243winxb suggested.

    My primers looked OK and the pockets stayed tight, but I may have gotten into some weak brass. I found some Norma brass on Midway and got some coming. While I was at it I picked up a Lee RGB die set; they're cheap enough, have always done well for me, and will provide a check against my RCBS dies.

    Will also lock down my sizing die with a case in the die (thanks, Sport). Can't remember if I did that back when this started.

    Other than the hassle, there's no problem with getting this rifle rebarreled, Kerf. As you said, Remington would probably be a poor choice. Might be an opportunity to have a really top notch barrel installed...if that turns out to be what's needed.

    Cleaning? For the first 50 rounds, that barrel went through a lengthy break-in and was cleaned (from the breech) after every shot, gradually working up to every 5 shots. After break-in it was babied, never got hot, and cleaned religiously. It's fired less than 120 rounds. I'll certainly run a few patches through it before shooting, but, if it needs better treatment than it's gotten, it's too fussy for me.

    Stay tuned; I'll report back when I learn something. Thanks to all for the input.
     
  19. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I dug out my old .222 Rem + Model 722 load data from 1960 something.

    50 grain Hornady SX + 20.0 grains IMR-4198 was shooting 1-ragged-hole 10-shot groups.

    rc
     
  20. James2

    James2 Member

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    2nd that.

    I have loaded for 222 for a good many years and never drove it that hard. My 1967 Hornady manual redlines 4198 at 20.00 gr 4198, but my load was 18.1.

    The Hornady 7th manual shows 19/21.0 for the 50 gr bullets,

    Things can change from time to time and different manuals will show different loads. They only show what they found in their testing. It is up to us to do our own workups and find what works for our rifles. The data in the books gives a safe starting point. Start Low!
     
  21. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Last edited: Mar 8, 2013
  22. Rangemaster

    Rangemaster Member

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  23. Krogen

    Krogen Member

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    I shoot 'zactly the same load in 3 different .222s and get tremendous results. The .222 is almost "no fun" because it's so easy to load accurate rounds - ordinarily.
     
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