How do you load your .223/5.56?

How do you load your .223/5.56?

This is a discussion on How do you load your .223/5.56? within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; To this point, I have reloaded only pistol cartridges, but I will soon have shot up enough of my commercial .223 to think about reloading ...

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Thread: How do you load your .223/5.56?

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    How do you load your .223/5.56?

    To this point, I have reloaded only pistol cartridges, but I will soon have shot up enough of my commercial .223 to think about reloading that.

    My AR is 1:7 twist, and I am pretty much set on using Hornady's 75gr bullets for the loads. I have no clue what powder to use, though. What powders do you folks like for your .223 loads?

    The other thing is, I know there will be some extra work in loading for rifle. At a minimum, I will have to start worrying about case trimming right? What else---are there any other rifle specific steps I need to know about? Oh, and how many times can one shoot .223 brass?

    Thanks for your help.
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

    SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.


  2. #2
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    Case trimming usually isn't much of a concern unless shooting hot loads, which normally are not the most accurate anyhow. I loaded 55 grn spitzer boattails in mine with mid-range powder loads with exceptional accuracy. Only needed to trim after about ten reloads, and only a slight amount at that.

    I've never worn out a case with mild loads. Occasionally I'll notice that a primer pocket is getting loose, so I mark that shell with a perm. marker and toss it after the next firing. If you notice a bright ring just ahead of the case base (at the groove), that's a sign of stretching.

    Most of my cases were GI cases, which required the primer crimp to be removed. I used a hand reamer, which may have attributed to the loose primer cups as it's not as precise as a pocket swedger.

    Hornady should have some loads for its bullets, so I would start with that. I generally try to find a powder that can be used with other weights, etc.

    You'll have to lube the cases. Kind of an annoying extra step, but not near as annoying as removing a stuck case!
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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    Probably the best powder for this cartridge is Accurate's 2230. It was designed specifically for the .223/5.56. It meters very smoothly.
    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. - Robert A. Heinlein

  4. #4
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Majorlk View Post
    Probably the best powder for this cartridge is Accurate's 2230. It was designed specifically for the .223/5.56. It meters very smoothly.
    Thanks for that pointer. I just d/l'ed Accurate's load charts. Lots of .223 info, but apparently they recommend Acc 2520 for 75gr 1:7.
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

    SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.

  5. #5
    Member Array Exsimguy1's Avatar
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    Ramshot TAC works great for heavy (or all)bullets in the .223, and also the .308. I used to use Hodgdons BLC2 with equally good results, used and considered WW 748 & TAC, because of pressure and flame temp being lower. Once I determined I would not have cold temperature problems with either, I decided on TAC. It works from 45 gr to the heaviest in .223. It also WAS considerably cheaper, not now though.

    Most case problems are from a large chamber. If you resize to SAAMI, then shoot in a large chamber, the brass will flow, even at light loads, although not as much as heavy.

    Good luck,

    Terry

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazzaerexys View Post
    Thanks for that pointer. I just d/l'ed Accurate's load charts. Lots of .223 info, but apparently they recommend Acc 2520 for 75gr 1:7.
    I just realized you were talking about a heavier bullet/faster twist. Yea, 2520 is better with the heavy bullets. I load for a Mini14 and stay with 52-55 gr bullets so 2230 seems to do better for me under those conditions than 2520, although I have tried that, as well.

    The nice part about both powders, they the flow through a measure like running water with excellent consistency.
    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. - Robert A. Heinlein

  7. #7
    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    My loads are set up for XTC so I won't list them here but the easiest powder to use for the Hornady 75 HPBT (which is very accurate) is AA2520 it will also give good velocity with BLC2 a close second.

    AA2230 will work its a little fast for the 75gr. but accurate. H-4895 is similar in burning rate range but a little more accurate.

    IMHO the 2 best powders for this bullet as to accuracy and velocity are VV N-140 1st with RL-15 right on its heels.

    Do not use WSR primers with heavy loads unless you want to eat up firing pins and the bolt face. I recommend Rem 7.5's with the CCI SR mag second, I believe its the 450.
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  8. #8
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Jem, what exactly do you think are the differences that make AA2520 easier but VV N-140 better? As for velocity, are these loads varying so much in velocity that it would matter as long as they are accurate? I'd think I would want to keep velocity/energy/recoil down as long as I am not compromising accuracy.

    As for primers, I've used and been very happy with Federal primers for my pistol rounds. How are their rifle primers?
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

    SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazzaerexys View Post
    Jem, what exactly do you think are the differences that make AA2520 easier but VV N-140 better? As for velocity, are these loads varying so much in velocity that it would matter as long as they are accurate? I'd think I would want to keep velocity/energy/recoil down as long as I am not compromising accuracy.

    As for primers, I've used and been very happy with Federal primers for my pistol rounds. How are their rifle primers?
    "Jem, what exactly do you think are the differences that make AA2520 easier but VV N-140 better?"

    "It ALL depends on your intended use of the rifle." My interest is holding the X ring at 200-600+ yards. You may be using the bullet for its better energy VS a 55 gr. (when I talk a 55 it is not an FMJ, everything we are discussing here is way past an FMJ) against an adversary at 100 yards and down, with accuracy as a secondary requirement. We are talking .5-.75 MOA but @ 300+ that .5 MOA wins and/or looses matches. It will not miss a humanoid target with a properly sighted shot @ 100 yd. So much for perspective.

    1. AA-2520 is a ball powder that meters very well through a measure and or scale weighing thus your loads are very consistent and easy to reproduce in the shortest time. So once you are "zeroed" your sight settings hold up day to day, hot or cold early morning to mid afternoon with the highest velocity for this bullet. This meets most peoples requirements including the military for "most" situations but is not necessarily optimum and/or exploited everything capable from that particular rifle.

    VV N-140 is a stick powder. Stick powders give a more uniform pressure build, produce less heat and have always been more accurate at long range than ball powder because of this. They do not run through a measure as well and you will need a "trickler" to hand weigh thus taking more time at the loading bench. You will not find any top long range competitor be it Camp Perry or bench rest using a ball powder. Could David Tubb (11 time national champion) out shoot 90% of the competition using AA-2520...yes...could 10% out of the remaining 90%...no.
    As an aside you will get longer "accurate" barrel life from stick powders.
    This is why I stated "IMHO the 2 best powders for this bullet as to accuracy and velocity are VV N-140 1st with RL-15 right on its heels." N-140 and RL-15 swap places with each other regularly.
    Again, it depends on what you are after.

    "I'd think I would want to keep velocity/energy/recoil down as long as I am not compromising accuracy."

    "Are we just having fun/plinking (which is fine) with the AR or going for its full potential?"

    The AR is a combat arm. In combat, distance (and that is relative to the "playing" field), accuracy and knock down are your friend.
    This is why the military/civilian competitions go 600 yards XTC and 1,000 yards for long range.

    Long range accuracy and velocity go hand in hand. If you want consistent/accurate hits beyond 200 yds. you must reduce the time of flight to control the effects of wind drift, pronation and penetration (air is medium the bullet must penetrate). This can only be done by raising the SD/BC and/or velocity. You have pretty much maxed the SD/BC by going to the 75 gr. so velocity is what remains to work with...the faster the better to beat the wind change you didn't pick up on shooting across that little dip at 300 yds.

    There is NO substitute for shot placement but bullet energy covers a "multitude of sins" especially in a high stress situation. Again there are two paths you can follow higher SD/BC and/or velocity. You have the SD/BC covered with the 75 gr. that leaves velocity. The higher the velocity the higher the energy for a given SD/BC and the greater the chances of stopping the threat with the least amount of rounds spent which you may well need for alternate targets...
    Again, it depends on what you are after.

    "As for primers, I've used and been very happy with Federal primers for my pistol rounds. How are their rifle primers?"

    The correct Federal primer is the 205. Do Not use the 200 it is way too light for the AR. That said I have used thousands of 205's in my bolt guns and TC Contenders with great success. IMHO they are not up to the run to battery in an AR but many people I shoot with use them no problem so you can give them a try.

    I hope this answers my reasoning and gives you some insight into reloading for the AR.
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  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Jem,

    Thanks for your detailed answers.

    Right now, I am just starting to get into 3-Gun competitions; from what I have seen so far, most shots would be within 200yds, with the occasional shots out to, say, 300yds. I don't expect to be shooting 500+ anytime soon, though I may get into distance rifle at some point, too. My experience with 200yd shooting so far has been Georgia Arms factory reloads with a 69gr Sierra HPBT, and consistency at 200yds has been...less than ideal. Hence my interest in starting to roll my own...

    Anyway, based on your comments, my intended use at this point, and the fact that I'll be using a Dillon RL-550B and its integral powder measure, I am thinking that the AA2520 is a good starting point. That certainly does not preclude switching to a stick powder and hand measuring at some point down the line.

    Thanks again for all the info!
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

    SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazzaerexys View Post
    Jem,

    Thanks for your detailed answers.

    Right now, I am just starting to get into 3-Gun competitions; from what I have seen so far, most shots would be within 200yds, with the occasional shots out to, say, 300yds. I don't expect to be shooting 500+ anytime soon, though I may get into distance rifle at some point, too. My experience with 200yd shooting so far has been Georgia Arms factory reloads with a 69gr Sierra HPBT, and consistency at 200yds has been...less than ideal. Hence my interest in starting to roll my own...

    Anyway, based on your comments, my intended use at this point, and the fact that I'll be using a Dillon RL-550B and its integral powder measure, I am thinking that the AA2520 is a good starting point. That certainly does not preclude switching to a stick powder and hand measuring at some point down the line.

    Thanks again for all the info!
    Thant plan should work well. By the way the Hornady 75 HPBT is one of the most popular bullets for 200-300 yards in XTC. MANY clean (all 10 in the ten ring with high X counts) scores have been shot with it at 200 rapid sitting and 300 rapid prone. A lot of folks shoot it at 600 with good results but the Hornady 75 A-Max single loaded beats it by a full MOA of wind so I would use it or their 80 gr. if and when you want to get there.
    I think you will find the 69 SMK to be a great bullet as well when "you" load it yourself for the application you are talking of. I have shot cleans with the 69 SMK.
    Who is John Galt?

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Array Ring's Avatar
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    TAC and varget for the heavys

    i have used 748 with good luck as well


  13. #13
    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Any reason to go with moly coat? I am noticing that the Hornady bullets (and, I presume, other makers as well) come both with or without moly.
    “What is a moderate interpretation of [the Constitution]? Halfway between what it says and [...] what you want it to say?” —Justice Antonin Scalia

    SIG: P220R SS Elite SAO, P220R SAO, P220R Carry, P226R Navy, P226, P239/.40S&W, P2022/.40S&W; GSR 5", P6.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Array Ring's Avatar
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    moly has +'s and -'s....

    i used it for years... it will reduce pressure of your load, lower FPS a tad, it may give you better barrel life in SS barrels, but in non SS barrels and in humid environment, the moly if not cleaned out, can cause rusting.

    some sware buy it, others sware agenst it...

    if you have a new barrel, and want to protect it, and dubble its life, i would sugest this.
    http://accurateshooter.wordpress.com...g-for-barrels/

  15. #15
    Senior Member Array Ring's Avatar
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    also, it eliminates copper fouling....

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