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Best powder for loading 55gr boolits in AR 15

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Tinybob, Oct 10, 2017.

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  1. Tinybob

    Tinybob Member

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    I've been to castboolits and no powders are jumping out at me for use in ARs. My boolits are wheel weights, are gas checked, and lubed with Lee liquid alox. The AR is a gas gun with a 1:9 16" bbl. Need some help please!
     
  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I have not used cast bullets for the 223 yet but if sounds like fun. I would probably use Hi-Tek coated cast bullets so I can use my normal powders and not worry about melting the base of the bullets.

    If not and you want to use uncoated cast bullets I would use either H4895 so I can download it safely or a fast powder made for smaller cartridges like AA1680.

    Sorry no first hand info but only my opinion.
     
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  3. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    +1. I would test faster powders around .300 BLK burn rate like from W296/H110 to Reloder 7/H4198.

    55 gr wheel weight lead bullets with gas checks? You looking to spend a lot of time cleaning out your gas system? I think some on Castboolits had some success but used harder alloy around 24+ BHN along with gas checks. I thought about gas checking my "wheel weight" cast 300 BLK bullets for a brief moment and instead decided to powder coat them to keep gas system clean.

    FWIW, Hodgdon lists following loads but it would make your AR single action - http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data/rifle

    55 gr Hornady FMJ Trail Boss
    .224" COL 2.200" Max 4.0 gr (1,074 fps) No pressure data
    55 gr Hornady FMJ Titegroup .224" COL 2.200" Max 3.1 gr (1,064 fps) 4,000 CUP
    55 gr Hornady FMJ Clays .224" COL 2.200" Max 3.2 gr (1,060 fps) 3,700 CUP
     
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  4. pert near

    pert near Member

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    Congratulations on your ambitious project. Experimentation is part of the fun in reloading, at least for some!...LOL

    Perhaps you're interested in the next step - swaging. Cast your cores & use .22 RF cases for jackets. That's not too far a stretch from a gas-checked cast bullet! I get 5.56 & .22 cases free as range pick up & using a 3 cent primer & 3 cents worth of powder the ammo shoots as well as just about anything you can get over the counter. Use standard load data & make bullets 45gr to 65gr & work up to max if you wish. The only big downside is the cost of swaging dies & punches.

    Good luck on your project!
     
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  5. thomas15

    thomas15 Member

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    Some of the older reloading manuals and digests talk about swaging bullets. It seems like it has fallen out of favor these days. A while back I studies Corbin's web site, off the top of my head I think the complete investment new is about $800.00 or so which will buy a lot of .223 bullets ready to go. I would like to see someone in person swage bullets though.
     
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  6. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    I couldn't say what to use, but I have tried 2400 and it could not cycle an AR at safe pressures. You'll need something faster than that.
     
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  7. pert near

    pert near Member

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    You are absolutely right on the cost. After you get other extras like molds, tumblers & annealer you are probably looking at more like $1,000. Also, as you point out, for a guy that shoots in lesser quantity & a slower style (like me), I could have easily bought a lifetime of .224 bullets. But I disagree that swaging has fallen out of favor. As a matter of fact it is gaining in popularity, from what I see. If you take good care of your swaging equipment it loses little to no value on the used market. Also, if you look at the political climate we're in, wouldn't it be nice to know you could make your own bullets? (That's one of my rationalizations at least - LOL)

    I'm guessing that a guy that is casting sizing & wanting to deal with the issues of magazine feeds, action cycling & fouling in an AR isn't only doing it to save on ammo cost.

    FWIW...
     
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  8. thomas15

    thomas15 Member

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    ^^^ I do see the usefulness of the process and haven't crossed it off of my "things I would like to do" list. :D
     
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  9. total recoil

    total recoil Member

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    Amen on the attention to gas tube fouling with lead. On the other hand 3 cent bullets are cheap. Pulls will only cost 7 cents each so you have to weigh advantages of both. Good luck.
     
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  10. Tinybob

    Tinybob Member

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    I've seen a few instances where people are using imr 3031 at 20gr for cycling.

    How much hardness would be added water qinching the boolits dropped, then powder coating, then water qinching the powder coating?

    It would probably be easier just to add antimony wouldn't it?
     
  11. Tinybob

    Tinybob Member

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    This one is a question for the engineers of the forum.

    How does the exposed base of FMJ bullets not lead up anything?

    It sees very high pressure and the hardness is only around 12bhn.
     
  12. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    Its all about sealing and bearing surfaces. With an unjacketed bullet, leading happens when the gasses are able to get around the edge and soften the bearing surface (area touching the rifling and bore). The use of harder alloys helps some as pressures go up (conversely the harder lead doesnt mold to the the barrel as well at low pressure so you can get very confusing results where a hard bullet will lead when going slow). Adding a copper or gilding metal cup (the gas check) helps to keep the gas seal as the pressure rises further. A gas checked bullet can be driven much faster than any plain based bullet, butbthe limitations still exist for the ability of the lead bearing surface to hold together as speeds increase. Once you reach the limit for the lead, the rifling will start stripping the bullet once again giving us a leaded bore. The conventional wisdom i was taught was soft lead up to 1000 or so, hard lead 900 to 1400, then go gas check up to around 1800. There are plenty of folks with more experience that will have bullets over and under, thats just the guides i heard when i started loading years ago.

    As for the OP, might be fun to cast a bunch of 22. A few pounds of lead is going to go a long ways. Let us know how ot turns out!
     
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  13. Tinybob

    Tinybob Member

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    Thank you. That helps me understand a lot better.
     
  14. Tinybob

    Tinybob Member

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  15. Tinybob

    Tinybob Member

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    Guess I'll need to do a lot more thinking and research on this one.

    Starting with a harder alloy?
     
  16. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    I bought 6,000 Hornady 55 gr FMJBT bullets from Mid-South last year for $471.84, and that worked out to @.07 per bullet.
    For the amount it would cost you to set up for bullet swaging you could buy 12,000 bullets. Unless you are Jerry Miculek you'll have a hard time shooting up 12,000 bullets. The other side of the sword is the amount of time it would take you to swage 12,000 bullets which I can assure you will NOT be just a few evenings in the shop. It will be days of very dedicated and focused work. Hardly enjoyable after the first hundred or so rounds.

    Casting for .223 or really any caliber below about 7MM can be problematic. I cast for about a dozen different calibers, but the smallest is .30 and that's because I just haven't gotten any decent results from smaller boolits in anything I have tried.

    When you can buy nice .22 cal bullets for so little money, about $70-80 per thousand, it becomes pointless to make boolits for it. We originally starting doing it when .22 LR ammo prices went thru the roof, but they have now come down to a more reasonable number so we can go back to plinking with .22's instead of trying to morph the .223's into something they were never meant to be.

    I have one standard load for .223/5.56 ammo. 25.0 gr of BLC-2 or W748 with one of the above mentioned bullets. It works in all my carbines and runs perfectly. It is pointless for me to mess with other combinations as this one works perfectly in all my guns. I will however be developing a load for 77 gr bullets for the Long Range Upper for my SCR Rifle when it gets here. It will probably be pretty close to 25.0 gr of BLC-2 or W748.
     
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  17. AABEN

    AABEN Member

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    There is a lot of powder out there I like accurate 2200 2230 2015 & 2460 for the lite bullets I use 2230 and some Winchester 748 & H335 H322 These are good powder The slower burn powder will be better for your bullets I would stay around w748 or A2230 or H355 Good luck
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  18. gojuice101

    gojuice101 Member

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    I tried quenching powder coat, just to see how it would work. In my experience, it does not. The powder coat does bad things when cooled quickly. Had some that cracked and peeled, and others that bubbled horribly (which I honestly expected it to do). Maybe if you let it cool a little before quenching it could work, but I don't see a benefit from quenching at such a low temperature.

    I don't even quench my bullets anymore, now that I powder coat everything. The hardness doesn't seem to be as critical once they are coated.

    As for the OP, I use Reloder 10x for all my 223 loads, jacketed or cast. That's my designated powder for 223. However, I shoot my cast loads much faster than a basic gas checked/lubed bullet could probably handle (25-2600fps). I'm sure it could be loaded light enough to maintain acceptable velocities for lubed bullets, but I'm not sure it would cycle at that point. Maybe I'll have to do some experimenting, just for future reference.
     
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  19. oldandslow

    oldandslow Member

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    tb,

    During the "great reloading component hoarding" that occurred about four years ago I could not find any .224 FMJ bullets at a reasonable price and had to learn to cast for my AR (LMT- 1:7 twist, 14.5" barrel). It took months of experimenting before it became problem free.

    First the myths-1. lead will gum up your DI gas system- No problems with 975 cast lead boolits downrange.
    2. The action won't cycle- no problems once a Wolf reduced power buffer spring was installed.

    To get it to work right you have to realize that your velocity will be limited to the low 2,000's feet/second even with gas checks and water dropping to increase the BHN hardness. Thus I used a heavy for caliber boolit mold- a NOE 70 grain mold that dropped at 72 grains (alloy mixture was 97.18% lead, 2.22% antimony, 0.435% tin). I tried increasing the tin fraction up to 2% and even adding copper but could not get the boolits to a higher velocity to make it worth the cost and work.

    I had to play with the COAL (cart. overall length) to get minimal bullet distortion from feeding from the magazine into the chamber. I pan lubed all the boolits and used a "M" die to open up the case neck for easier feeding and seating of the boolit. The only powder I could find was 4064 and 20 grains gave a velocity of 1934 f/sec. Once I got much past 2,000 f/sec I had bullet fragmentation inside the barrel ( I would fire the boolits into several buckets at 8 feet from the barrel filled with old books to assess velocity, penetration and boolit deformity).

    Once I had the kinks worked out the cast boolit cartridges became boringly reliable. The nice thing about the lower velocities is that the cases did not elongate so no trimming was needed. Once 55 grain FMJ's were available again I stopped casting for the AR. It was too much work.

    good luck- oldandslow
     
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  20. Dudedog
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    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    Lyman 50 lists loads with these powders for use with 55 gr lead bullets in .223
    Red Dot, 700X, Green Dot, UNique, AA 5744, IMR 4227,AA#9, 2400, IMR 4198, Reloader 7 MAX vels all around 2100-2200.
    (They also list PB, SR7625, SR4756, SR4759 but these are no longer in production
    Interesting range Fast Pistol (Red Dot), to Slow pistol AA#9/IMR4227, to fast rifle 4198,RX7
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
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