Knowing When to Quit

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by DMW1116, Apr 6, 2022.

  1. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    I recently tested some 223 loads in a 16” barreled scoped AR. These are soft points and would be for whatever sort of varmint hunting I might find myself doing. I’m using TAC powder and started at the minimum charge. The first charge shot really well and things went downhill from there.

    So I have an accurate, easy shooting load that cycles well and doesn’t beat up brass or my gun. The issue is velocity is low, relatively speaking. I still have over a full grain worth of range to try if I want. The question is do I kneel going or should I stop and just go with what works?
     
  2. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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  3. Bfh_auto

    Bfh_auto Member

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    For me. Accuracy beats velocity. But I will change powder to find a faster accurate load if I'm not getting the velocity I want.
     
  4. ParallelCode

    ParallelCode Member

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    I know you said the velocity was low @DMW1116, but do you have a specific number by chance?
     
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  5. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    This is going to sound crazy but, keep going. Not just UP in charges but DOWN, too. You have a full grain up according to a book - their testing was done with something different then you're using - and you should also have a full grain down. The starting load is the lightest charge that was tested for pressure specifications, not the minimal safe or most accurate load for every platform. I would say, save powder and hassles, go for the lowest possible charge that delivers good accuracy and enough punch for your intended purpose, and leave it at that but with an AR shorty platform, if you can find a powder-saving combination that gets pretty much any vermin/varmint job done and cycles the action, go for it. Look up the ladder and down a grain. Who knows? Maybe 1/2gr less will be just as accurate, cycle as well, b close in velocity and let you get an extra few rounds out of every pound.
     
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  6. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    It really depends on the application for me. If your after a nice range load and find one that your gun really likes likes that is a good place to stop. If your terminal ballistics are super important and 100 fps is as well then some more testing is in order. A note that advertised velocity of very often different from actual. There are so many variables, barrel length and twist are a few. Also if the data is from a stationary barrel there is no gas venting like on an AR.
     
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  7. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    I’d keep testing. Maybe the top end is just as accurate? You won’t know til you test’em.
     
  8. Axis II

    Axis II Member

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    I generally run whatever shoots the tightest groups.
     
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  9. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    I started at Ramshots minimum, which is 21.6 grains. I went to about 22.9. They test from a 24” barrel so I SWAGed a 30 fps loss per inch and get around 2700. I haven’t had to use this rifle for any sort of varmint hunting but every once in a while the opportunity comes up. If going lower would keep it viable for that use maybe it’s worth exploring. I figure 2600 to 2700 is enough for raccoons, ground hogs, or coyotes. This is a flat base bullet in the wooded southeast so I doubt I’d try a shot past 200 yards.

    These are the Hornady 55 grain soft points. They were readily available and I bought some and then hid them from myself. I figure every 223 rifle needs a varmint load so here we are.
     
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  10. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    I'd keep going since it's for hunting. The higher velocity is must for good expansion. With that said if it test to be the most accurate, that's what I will go with. Accuracy trumps velocity in my book. I've got several loads with TAC where there is room to move up. But the accuracy drops off.

    What kind of velocities were you getting?
     
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  11. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    Ramshot says 2880 fps from a 24” test barrel. I’m guessing 2700 give or take 50.
     
  12. Bazoo

    Bazoo Member

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    I pick velocity over accuracy, as long as the higher velocity load is accurate too. If the low velocity load is 1/2” and the high velocity is 3/4”, I’d make notes but I’d go with the full power load. But I’m the odd duck I guess.
     
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  13. Archie

    Archie Member

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    The only problem is the velocity? Normally, the only limitation with lower velocity is a shortened range. So now, the question is do you have the effective range you need (desire)? If you have that range of activity, you're done. If not, then move on with that aspect.
     
  14. kmw1954

    kmw1954 Member

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    Also shooting a 223 load I have so far tried 5 different bullets and 4 different powders. of all that I have been able to find a number of workable loads. Of that I also loaded and shot about 10 75gr bullets only to find very quickly that my barrel does not like heavy bullets. Same it doesn't like really light bullets.

    With these 4 powders I have loaded from start to max in .3gr increments with each of them and have always found at least 2 loads that work well.
     
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  15. ParallelCode

    ParallelCode Member

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    I load Hornady's 55gr FMJ (same page in Hornady 10th) to a higher charge than that with TAC with good results (staying within published data).

    If it were I, exploring further up Hornady's stated charge range for that combo would be my course of action. For hunting purposes I personally would want to ensure a harder hit and range than I imagine 22.9 yielding.

    Obviously workup, follow published data, be safe, etc
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2022
  16. 2ndtimer

    2ndtimer Member

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    I am a huge fan of TAC in .223/5.56. And, I too have settled on less than published maximum loads for optimal accuracy and consistency. I found some loads close to max, while other bullets preferred more middle. Our AR’s with the Hornady 62 gr BTHP all seem quite happy with 24.5 gr of TAC, while Ramshot’s 5.56 data goes up to 26.7 gr with the Barnes TSX bullet. My Remington 700 with 26” 1 in 12” twist barrel loves the Hornady 50 gr SPSX bullet with 26.0 gr of TAC, where Nosler shows a max charge of 27.0 gr with their 50 gr bullets. (I am a former Nosler fan boy, until even their blems became too expensive). As others have stated, accuracy first, as long as velocity is sufficient for the intended purpose. I confess to using 40 gr tipped bullets in my bolt gun with 27.5 gr of TAC at over 3600 FPS for gophers and prairie dogs in Montana for the aerial effects. Even though they are slightly less accurate than the Hornady 50 gr SPSX, but the effects compensate for the 3/4” groups rather than the sub half inch groups of the 3200 FPS 50 gr bullet.
     
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  17. kalielkslayer

    kalielkslayer Member

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    I wouldn’t stop until I hit the max. In my experience (with bolt guns) the groups will continue to shrink, until they don’t.

    I don’t ever think my pet load was the last one I shot. Moving up I eventually got a bigger group, or pressure signs.

    Then I went back to the most accurate, made sure it wasn’t a fluke by shooting several more groups. If the accuracy was confirmed, then I built a bunch and shot them out to the farthest I’d use them. Still accurate, I built a bunch, and wrote the recipe everywhere; log book, cartridge containers, note in loading manual.

    Thought about tattooing my 7mm load on my arm!

    I once had to recreate a load for my .280. What a waste of time and components!
     
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  18. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    I use TAC for range ammo with the FMJ bullets. It’s a hotter charge in the upper 23.xx range. I shoot that from my A4 with a 20” barrel and iron sights so the accuracy requirement/ability is reduced some. I’m out of those anyway and won’t pay what Hornady want for more.

    I think I’ll test a couple more increments up and maybe one lower. I won’t use these too frequently so a huge stash isn’t necessary.

    For reference the good load shot right at 1 MOA. The others started at 1.5 and got worse from there. The 1.5 was just the next increment up so not a huge increase in velocity.
     
  19. GerryER

    GerryER Member

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    What is your barrel twist; it will determine the best bullets for accuracy and velocity. Most 1:12 twists are somewhat limited to 55 to 60 gn max, though I understand that there are manufacturers that are making shorter "heavier" bullets, but I haven't figured out who yet. AR's are usually 1:7, 1:8 or 1:9 for carbines; not sure for the 20" barrel. Just a thought.
     
  20. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    They are both 1/7 twists. I've tried this bullet in the 20" but used CFE 223 instead. The best group was about 1.75" at 100 yards. I never tried that load in this rifle and sort of forgot I'd even tested it. I found one of the boxes open and had to look back to see where the missing ones were used.
     
  21. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    Which chamber to you have? 223R, Wydle, 5.56?

    I had a 1:8 twist Wydle chamber 20" that would not shoot light bullets accurate, period. Once I got above 60gr it started to shoot. The 69gr SMK would shoot 1/5 moa. The best I got with the 55gr FMF-BT was 1.5-2". I used 6 different powders, and 4 different mfg of bullets including match grade bullets in the light weight. No good it just did not like the light pills. Shoot the heavier bullets and every thing was good.
     
  22. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    These are both 5.56 chambers. My original loading manual (Lyman 50th) did not have 5.56 data in it, so I've just stuck with 223 data. Hodgden's site doesn't have 5.56 data either that I've been able to find. My first load for this rifle (16") was a 75 grain Hornady (not listed in the manual), IMR 4064 (not listed in Hornady data), Hornady's COAL value, and a CCI BR4 primer. Quite the Frankenstein load, but it shot just over half an MOA during testing. I don't think I've tried any 5.56 loads, even though both chambers should handle it fine.
     
  23. sfl_gunner

    sfl_gunner Member

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    What is the main goal you are trying to accomplish with this load? Hunting, competition, or just plinking?
     
  24. DMW1116

    DMW1116 Member

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    It’s intended as a varmint load and short range target load (200 yards and less).
     
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  25. Akula69
    • Contributing Member

    Akula69 Contributing Member

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    As a general rule of thumb, for every inch of barrel you go down (from the test barrel length) you lose 7 FPS. However, it is not a linear curve.. gas block orifice, tube length and wear on weapon system can have an effect as well.
     
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