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Loading .223 with WC-844 & 55 GR FMJ

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Ej3, Mar 29, 2019.

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  1. Ej3

    Ej3 Member

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    I decided to start reloading .223 and began using 55gr FMJ M193 "Demilitarized” bullets from American Reloading (1000ct was on sale for $56 including shipping). I also bought 8 lbs of WC-844 for $150 shipped. Brass was once fired PPU and primers were WSR. For sizing cases I used Hornady One Shot case lube.

    Dies: RCBS AR Series Small Base 2-Die Set with Taper Crimp (P/N 11107) and Hornady Custom Grade New Dimension Bullet Seater Die (P/N 044102). I had great success with this same die combination for my 300 BLK, and am equally pleased with the .223 dies. For the price, I really like the Hornady seaters as they are easy to fine tune and have the floating bullet alignment sleeve.

    Bullets were seated to a COL of 2.200 – 2.210. I found it difficult to get consistent COLs with these bullets. This COL actually seated the bullet slightly beyond the cannulure. And I used a very light taper crimp. I did not trim any cases, but each round was checked using a Hornady Cartridge Gauge.

    Having learned the hard way about starting too high with my 300 BLK (especially shooting suppressed), I started on low end, minus 10%. I had read that for WC-844 to use a H335 starting load, less 10%. Hodgdon shows the starting load for H335 and a 55 gr bullet at 23 gr with a max of 25.3 gr. So I started at 21 gr (23/1.1).

    My AR-15 has a 16” FN barrel with 1/7 twist and a YHM Phantom QD suppressor. It was a beautiful day today, sunny, low humidity and about 72 deg F. As a test I first shot some Wolf Gold .223 55 gr. Here were my results, 5 shots each at 50 yds:

    Wolf Gold – Avg 3049, ES-84, SD-35, 2.25” group
    WC-844 (21.0 gr) – Avg 2355, ES-17, SD-9, 2.75” group
    WC-844 (21.5 gr) – Avg 2418, ES-40, SD-18, 1.50” group
    WC-844 (22.0 gr) – Avg 2496, ES-42, SD-17, 2.25” group
    WC-844 (23.0 gr) – Avg 2609, ES-50, SD-23, 3.00” group
    WC-844 (23.5 gr) – Avg 2637, ES-73, SD-30, 3.00” group
    WC-844 (24.0 gr) – Avg 2727, ES-45, SD-19, 2.50” group
    WC-844 (24.5 gr) – Avg 2801, ES-95, SD-36, 2.00” group
    WC-844 (25.0 gr) – Avg 2827, ES-66, SD-27, 1.75” group
    WC-844 (25.5 gr) – Avg 2909, ES-31, SD-12, 1.00” group
    WC-844 (25.8 gr) – Avg 2936, ES-65, SD-23, 2.50” group

    A few observations:
    1. WC-844 meters very well and fine tuning the amounts with my Lock-N-Load Powder Measure was easy and accurate.
    2. I had no signs of pressure, including the top end load of 25.8 gr.
    3. While not the most accurate rounds, this combination is very cost effective and works well for general plinking. I read that when using WC-844 you need to work up your loads each time when using a new lot number. So buying this in bulk, maybe 8, 16 or 32 lbs at a time would the way to go.
    4. I am not sure if I will buy the pulled bullets again. I think in the future I will spend a little more money for more consistent bullets. And, considering my 1/7 twist, I am thinking 62 gr to 68 gr bullets might be a better choice.
     
  2. AR-Bossman

    AR-Bossman Member

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    I did some testing Wed. with the same powder. I thought it would be on the H335 side but it wasn't. I'm going to jump to 26gr. on my next test. I don't have any factory stuff to check it against.

    Tested with Magnetospeed

    Powder 23.5 WC844 Series 1 Shots: 10
    Bullet weight 55gr
    Min 2719 Max 2804
    Bullet type FMJ
    Avg 2755 S-D 27.1
    Notes Cycled fine, shot low
    ES 85
    COL 2.22
    Gun AR15 Carbine


    Powder 24 WC844 Series 2 Shots: 10
    Bullet weight 55gr
    Min 2773 Max 2806
    Bullet type FMJ
    Avg 2788 S-D 11.3
    Notes Cycled fine, mild crimp
    ES 33
    COL 2.22
    Gun AR15 Carbine

    Powder 24.5 WC844 Series 3 Shots: 10
    Bullet weight 55gr
    Min 2797 Max 2836
    Bullet type FMJ
    Avg 2818 S-D 13.9
    Notes Cycled fine, mild crimp
    ES 39
    COL 2.22
    Gun AR15 Carbine
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2019
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  3. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    I gave up loading 55grn FMJ generic ammos, however I have gone to loading some generic 62grn BTHP’s... which certainly give better accuracy for the time I spend vs the 55’s.
     
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  4. rg1

    rg1 Member

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    Most all M193 military bullets are seated to 2.250" which puts the cannelure within the case mouth. M193 bullets have a long sharply pointed tip while bullets like Hornady's 55 FMJ have a blunt rounded tip and Hornady recommends a col at 2.200". Does seem you have WC844 that's a little slower than H335. Plus your surplus military bullets are probably from several different lots and the tip shapes will cause the overall length to vary. Your carbine length barrel at 2900 or so fps with 55 grain bullets isn't shabby and you may have to push the charges hard to get to 3000 or more fps. Your 25.5 grain charge looks good for velocity and accuracy with your components and should be safe in various cases and hotter summer temperatures.
     
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  5. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    That's very true... I've found a typical difference of 100-125fps between my 20" -A2 barrel, and my 16" carbine barrels between factory loads (M193, M855) I've also found, in my handloads anyway, to try and match factory velocity in the 16" barrel I'm at max published charges (I typically use H335.)
     
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  6. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Same here.

    Published data when I first started chronographing .223 was different, esp Accurate Arms AA2460 data, and the 55 grain bullets I used in my 16" rifle. Looking over my chronograph logs using time period data, AA2460 and WW 55 FMJ-BT I got an avg velocity of 3185 fps, 3/10's under published max! Whew, that ain't no joke in a 16" barrel.

    The rifle (IMI Galil), did/does have a 5.56 chamber. Typically ran about a grain under max, and it still avg about 3070 fps. Used WW748 a lot too, and recall data for it was a lot stouter than today. High quality NORINCO M193'ish ammo clocked right at about 3045 fps from the same rifle.
     
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  7. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    That statement is an oxymoron... you can't use 'high quality' and 'Norinco' in the same sentence. I had a case of the yellow box Norinco 5.56mm ammo back in the 90's, about every 7-8 round split it's neck on firing.
     
  8. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Hey Charlie... Amazingly so, the case/batch/lot I had in 1993 or so was really good; no splits/cracks, no misfires, perfect feeding of the brass cases which I reloaded w/any problems, and pretty consistent over a chronograph. I did have, and have mentioned here about some extractor groove irregularities, but that was really it... Even the primer pockets gave me no grief.

    I find this article interesting concerning NORINCO 55 gr FMJ-BT bullets, the same used in this cheap yellow box stuff:

    The Norinco projectile is simply the most effective .224” bullet available for hunting lighter medium game and hunters should have absolutely no hesitation in trusting it beyond all other .224” offerings.

    https://www.ballisticstudies.com/Knowledgebase/.223+Remington.html

    Quote is located near the very bottom of the link, with some rather graphic photos of it's effectiveness on game. Charlie, these CJ 92 rounds look familiar :):

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    Same stuff I had, probably the same headstamp... CJ 92 if memory serves. I'm not saying it didn't all go bang, I did not find the accuracy particularly good, not in my 1:7 H-bar, anyway. I was going to use the brass as a source for handloading, but once I found the case neck splits, wound up junking the whole lot.
     
  10. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    I hear ya... I would not have used the brass either. Seems I got Mr. Commie/prisoner brass maker on a good day, and my 16", 1-12" Galil seemed to like it OK enough for plinking in the desert... Never did put any on paper, to see how accurately she printed.
     
  11. Ej3

    Ej3 Member

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    I loaded some more rounds for testing today, all using 25.5 gr of WC-844 with the 55 gr FMJ M193 bullets set with a COL of 2.200 – 2.210. My initial test loads all used PPU brass and WSR primers. Today I mixed it up a little. It was a little overcast today and about 62 deg F.

    PPU cases using CCI #400 small rifle primers – 5 shots Avg 2933, ES – 38, SD-13, 1.5” group
    PPU cases using WSR primers - Avg 2909, ES-31, SD-12, 1.00” group (from yesterday)
    Wolf Gold cases using CCI #400 small rifle primers – 5 shots Avg 2888, ES – 75, SD – 29, 1.5” group
    Wolf Gold cases using WSR primers – 5 shots Avg 2868, ES – 37, SD – 15, 2” group

    The CCI primers in both the PPU and Wolf Gold cases were flat compared to the WSR primers. But I should also note that the factory Wolf Gold primers were flat, looking similar to the CCI primers from my handloads. Note – I checked un-suppressed and the same rounds were 10-25 fps less and primers all looked similar to when shooting suppressed.

    My best combination was PPU brass with WSR primers.
    When comparing the same cases the CCI primers were 20-25 fps faster than WSR primers.
    PPU cases were about 40 to 45 fps faster than the Wolf Gold cases when using the same primers.
    The PPU case/CCI primer was 65 fps faster than the Wolf Case/WSR primer.

    But since these are just plinking rounds, it is not a concern. But I can see why when shooting for accuracy, you need to check every aspect of your rounds, and develop loads using the same components (especially cases and primers).
     
  12. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    It's interesting to note what even a slight difference in case volume can do to velocity. I loaded an identical load in both the .30-30 and .308, using 3 different IMR powders and a 170grn cast bullet; the .308 cartridges, because of the greater case volume, were 150-200fps slower than the identical load out of the .30-30. I just never thought it was that significant... but I sure know better now!
     
  13. NWPilgrim

    NWPilgrim Member

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    Yeah those pulled bullets typically have a lot of variation in weight and ogive. Fine for blasting away. Hornady bulk 55 gr FMJ are very reasonable just under $100/1,000 and are much more consistent and accurate. I think they are pretty good for fun out to 200 yds. I don’t waste the 69 or 77 gr bullets shooting under 200 yds except to work up new powder loads. I would only use the match bullets for competition or at 300 yds and beyond.
     
  14. AR-Bossman

    AR-Bossman Member

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    I went out today to test a WC844 load.
    Powder 26.0 WC844 Series 1 Shots: 8
    Bullet weight 55gr
    Min 2992
    Max 3082
    Bullet type FMJ
    Avg 3025
    S-D 28.9
    Notes Cycled fine, mild crimp
    ES 90
    COL 2.22
    Gun AR15 Carbine

    Didn't see anything indicating pressure. But this is about my max right now. Temp was around mid 60's, so when things heat up I may back it off .5 grain or more.
     
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