5.56 and .223 Bullets

5.56 and .223 Bullets

This is a discussion on 5.56 and .223 Bullets within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I got some free bullets with my Hornady die set and since you only have a few to choose from, I opted for some rifle ...

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Thread: 5.56 and .223 Bullets

  1. #1
    Member Array Spovik's Avatar
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    5.56 and .223 Bullets

    I got some free bullets with my Hornady die set and since you only have a few to choose from, I opted for some rifle bullets. I got Hornady #2266 which are .224 SP 55gr with cannelure.

    When I look in my Hornady Cartridge Reloading Handbook (9th Ed), and look under .223 Remington, it lists that bullet with load data. However when I look at at the 5.56 section, the bullet is not listed at all, and only boat tail bullets are listed under 5.56.

    When I compare the powders for each cartridge with the same bullet weight, there are some where more powder of the same type is listed for the 5.56 and some times more powder is listed for the .223.

    Is this bullet not listed under the 5.56 because it doesn't adhere to some NATO standard? If I do load this, using 5.56 brass, would I use the 5.56 data or the .223 data? Or am I just being dumb and over-complicating this?


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    You're not dumb, and there are small differences between the .223 and the 5.56x45 which add to the confusion. The good news is that as long as you're not operating at the outer limits of pressure, you need not worry about splitting hairs.

    A couple of things to pay attention to. First, true 5.56x45 mil brass has slightly lower case volume due to thicker walls, as it operates at higher pressures than the .223. Next, the maximum cartridge overall length (OAL) for the 5.56 is 0.010" shorter than that of the .223, most likely because of tolerances in AR magazines vs. fixed magazines of bolt-action rifles. With a 55 grain bullet, you won't be anywhere near max OAL.

    Which leads me to the next detail. My Hornady manual is an 8th edition, but the loads shown for the ".223 Remington Service Rifle" are for heavy/long bullets (68-75 gr) which are typically used for formal competition. The powder charges have to be different (and even the choice of powder may be different) because the long bullets are seated more deeply into the case, reducing the available volume. Powders react differently to the available volume.

    To simplify things, simply follow the load data for .223 Rem with the 55 gr bullet you have. The nice thing about the Hornady manual listing specific Hornady bullets is that the OAL won't be at odds with where the crimping cannelure is. Thus in your case, you'll aim for an OAL of 2.200".

    Remember to start off at the low end of the recommended charge weights, and work your way up. In this caliber the difference between min and max loads is in the range of just 2-3 grains, so depending on your patience and available range time you might load in 0.3 grain increments.

    Let us know how you made out!
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    Member Array Spovik's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. The 9th edition also separates .223 Rem and .223 Rem Service. I was just curious if there was an explicit reason Hornady wouldn't have specific loading data for any bullet bedides BTs.

    I felt relatively comfortable based on what I had known about 5.56 and .223 to assume it would be ok, but contrary to what I tell others, I don't know everything. :) I'm going to practice with some .38 special rounds today (first time actually reloading) before I get to rifle, just doing a bit of homework ahead of time. Thanks again, I appreciate it!

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    5.56 cartridges are usually loaded with heavier bullets than .223 cartridges. It would be natural for 5.56 to list only the heavier bullets. All the brass I use in my Rem.223 is 5.56 brass loaded with 55 grn spiral point boattails. Not a problem. Commercial .223s rifles "used to" have a slower twist rate (Mine is 1-12) and wouldn't stabilize the heavier "5,56" bullets. Both use .224 diameter bullets, not .223 as some might believe in the .223.

    I've always found my best accuraty with less than max loads, usually around the mid-point of the powder load range. Even with the barely thicker case of it 5.56 brass, it doesn't make a significant difference at those loads.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spovik View Post
    Thanks for the reply. The 9th edition also separates .223 Rem and .223 Rem Service. I was just curious if there was an explicit reason Hornady wouldn't have specific loading data for any bullet bedides BTs.

    I felt relatively comfortable based on what I had known about 5.56 and .223 to assume it would be ok, but contrary to what I tell others, I don't know everything. :) I'm going to practice with some .38 special rounds today (first time actually reloading) before I get to rifle, just doing a bit of homework ahead of time. Thanks again, I appreciate it!
    .38 Spl is a good place to start, but I'll warn you that the cases are relatively thin-walled compared to something like .45 ACP. If you're using a progressive press and you're not exactly indexed under a die, you'll get a crushed case (ask me how I know!). In particular, I had problems on the bullet seating/crimping stage, but that's all squared away now. The other caution I'll mention is that .38s don't take a lot of powder - my loads are around 3 grains. The .38 is a tall, narrow case and if you're using a progressive, you can't easily tell if you've thrown any powder (or worse, a double charge) into the case without deliberately looking. Just go slowly and deliberately and enjoy the ride!
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    Smitty
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  6. #6
    Member Array Spovik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gasmitty View Post
    .38 Spl is a good place to start, but I'll warn you that the cases are relatively thin-walled compared to something like .45 ACP. If you're using a progressive press and you're not exactly indexed under a die, you'll get a crushed case (ask me how I know!). In particular, I had problems on the bullet seating/crimping stage, but that's all squared away now. The other caution I'll mention is that .38s don't take a lot of powder - my loads are around 3 grains. The .38 is a tall, narrow case and if you're using a progressive, you can't easily tell if you've thrown any powder (or worse, a double charge) into the case without deliberately looking. Just go slowly and deliberately and enjoy the ride!
    Thanks. I practiced with some .357 Magnum brass and made up some dummy rounds to get a feel for the equipment (and crushed a case myself). I watched and read a bit more about the seating/crimp die and I have it dialed in now. I made up 10 rounds and went to the range and they performed well. (4.6 gr W231). I was concerned about the powder charge and safety as well smitty so i invested in a Powder Cop die. I've already charged one case with no primer so hopefully that is out of my system, too.

    This really isn't healthy. I now want to reload more, as well as more calibers. This is just as addicting as actual firearms! No wonder you don't really save any money when you reload!

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    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    I believe the main reason being you have soft point bullets which are not normally fired in "Military" configuration ammo designed for gas guns. But load data is pretty close. Soft point bullets "usually" have more bearing surface than BT FMJ's so load density for the same weight bullet with the same powder may very slightly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spovik View Post
    I now want to reload more, as well as more calibers. This is just as addicting as actual firearms! No wonder you don't really save any money when you reload!
    As you have found, handloading can be a fun and relaxing hobby unto itself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jem102 View Post
    I believe the main reason being you have soft point bullets which are not normally fired in "Military" configuration ammo designed for gas guns. But load data is pretty close. Soft point bullets "usually" have more bearing surface than BT FMJ's so load density for the same weight bullet with the same powder may very slightly.
    That depends. My soft point BTs are the same shape and weight as my FMJ BTs.
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    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OldVet View Post
    That depends. My soft point BTs are the same shape and weight as my FMJ BTs.
    Yes weight will be the same but soft points usually have more bearing surface because of a shallower ogive than an FMJ causing a slight rise in pressure with some, but not all, powders. Translates to a few 10th's less in some loadings. If you have good calipers measure the bearing length between the two bullets just to see what you get...May be the same, may be different.
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