A little frustrated loading the Remington 223 - Graybeard Outdoors
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Default A little frustrated loading the Remington 223

I am a little frustrated by all the different loads for basically the same bullet for the .223 Remington for an AR platform rifle. Iíve been handloading for over 40 years but just starting loading the 223 Remington. In my earlier days, before the internet, all I had was my one loading manual, and that is the data I used. All the following are for Hodgdon H335 powder and a 55 grain jacketed bullet.

My new 49th addition of the Lyman Reloading Manual lists the loads for a Remington 223, 55 grain jacketed SP for H335 powder, at a minimum 24.3 and a max of 27.0 grains. OAL of 2.260.

My 17-year-old Lyman, 47th edition loading manual lists the same bullet starting at 23.0 grain and a max of 26.5 grains with a OAL of 2.260.

The newest Hornady manual for a 55 gr SP is listed as a minimum of 20.8 grains and a max of 23.2 with a OAL of 2.200.

On-line Speer lists the minimum load of 23.0 grains and a max of 25.3 grains and an OAL of 2.200.

Hodgdon, on-line lists the same load of the same bullet at 23.0 grains minimum to a max of 25.3 with the OAL of 2.2000

For the same weight bullet from Nosler they list the minimum of 23.0 and a max of 25.0 and they only list the maximum OAL of 2.260.

Sierra for basically the same weight and bullet design lists their starting load at 23.6 grains and a max of 25.7 grains and the OAL is 2.250.

This gives a spread of starting loads from 20.8 to 24.3, and a max load spread of 23.2 to 27.0 grains. To me this seems like a huge spread. Some of the max data is almost same as the starting (minimum) data from a different source. Even the OAL has a spread of 2.200 to 2.260. I loaded 30 rounds this weekend and used 24.0 grains of H335 and this would be over the max according to the Hornady manual, and yet just over the min for the new Lyman manual.

Your comments? Maybe I'm over thinking this. Being retired, maybe I have too much time on my hands for research into reloading data.

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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 08:34 PM
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I'd pick the manual you trust and just use that one.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 09:47 PM
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Often the book loads are for bullets of a specific manufacturer, not all of the same weight have the exact same shape. They test with that specific set of components, you vary that 'at your own risk'. Just be sensible.
OAL are generally for feeding from a magazine, etc. then dbl check fit in the chamber. The varying ojive of the bullets affect the fit to the throat. So, if a given OAL fits the mag but wont chamber reduce the cartridge to fit the chamber and it will certainly fit the mag.
You could just average the start loads and max loads and pick a charge weight in the middle. It likely wont be over the most conservative book max load but dbl check. Remember the old adage,'reduce by 10% and work up'? It still makes sense today. FWIW, Ive never had any trouble starting in 'mid-data' and most all my top loads are still about 10% under the max data.

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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-20-2017, 11:21 PM
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In such situations and there are LOTS of such situations I go with what the maker of the bullet being used says first and also double check what the powder maker says but don't take their word over the bullet maker unless their data is for the exact bullet being loaded.



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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 12:51 AM
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I agree with Graybeard. Also, if you have loaded for 40 yrs, find an old Speer Manual and find the article "Why Ballisticians turn gray." It mainly discusses 357 mag variations but the principles apply.

Also you are quoting manuals with a fair bit of age range and I have seen changes in loads over the time I've been loading (since 1977). Some of it is lawyers, some of it is changing lots of powder, primers, some of it is the quality of pressure measuring gear. I think there were some major changes to load manuals when better pressure testing equipment found some old standard loads were not as safe as thought.

I was bugged by major load changes shown in the Lyman books for the 41 magnum over the years.

Then I noticed they used different primers in a more recent manual than old manuals - I think they went from magnum primers to standard and that changed powder weights.

But like Bill says above, Speer 55 gr .224 bullets are different than Sierra or Hornady. If you mic a bunch you may find slightly different diameters, lengths, length of bearing surface and average actual weights.

AND THEN each of those manuals used a different test gun. I have a little experience with statistics and the manuals might be considerably different if each manual would use 10 different guns of each caliber to address variation among guns, chambers, bores, rifling etc etc . Then recommend loads base on an average among all10 guns - it would get really complicated.

Its amazing how well it all works when most manuals depend on 1 or 2 guns, often special test barrels.

But I agree it can be maddening. I've gone down that same route once or twice when the max load in 1 manual is barely over the starting load in another - what is SAFE? Start low and work up.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 06:35 AM
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one thing to watch with the 223 is brass. Theres probably more difference between case capacity of different brands of brass with the 223 then any other round. 308 comes close but the 223 is worse. That and its a small cases so just something like different brands of primers can cause pressures to vary. Just a change in bullet manufacture can drastical change pressures as can seating dept, twist rate of the gun used ect. Add to all that the fact that the newer reloading manuals are pretty conservative because of liability. Now all that said my go to load in my 223 varmint rifle is 26 grains of 335 and a 55 grain sierra bt. It doesn't show a bit of pressure problem and ive loaded the same brass as many as 8 times. At 8 I tend to through all rifle brass away unless its very hard to get brass because its been worked quite a bit by then and theres a good chance of cracks in it occurring. For my ars I go a bit lighter. Usually with 335 my max loads are 24 grains.

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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 07:20 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate all the good suggestions. The AR is still new to me and I have only shot it at one outing with factory loads to sight in the scope. I think I will stop being so concerned about all the different data, take the suggestions posted here and start with a powder charge in the middle. I will look closely for signs of over pressure and find a powder charge that my barrel likes to group tight. I did find that a LE Wilson headspace gauge is required when loading the 223 for a semi-auto rifle.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 08:55 AM
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I guess that is why they call it working up a load... For what it's worth, my most accurate AR load is a 60 gr VMax with 23.8 gr H335 and could easily go higher, but that's around the accuracy node.

I am curious why a headspace gauge is required? I load all of mine to 2.250" which is dam-n near mag length, I think you could get 2.260", but that would be really pushing it. I'm sure not near the lands, I haven't measured chamber length because I have no interest in single feeding an AR.

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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
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Buckskin, I needed the headspace gauge to insure the shoulder was correct so the round would load in the chamber of my rifle (I'm using once fired range brass). All my other handloads for rifles have been for a bolt action. You know right away if the case was properly re-sized by the full length die by how easily the bolt closes; this is not the case with a semi-auto rifle. If the round was not sized properly, when the bolt closes from the spring tension of the buffer you now have a round stuck in the chamber. I found that I need to have the resizing die very tight against the shell holder when the ram on my RCBS press is at the top of its stroke or else the case will not properly fit into the headspace gauge, which means it could stick in the chamber of my gun. Worse yet it could mean the bolt is not fully in the battery and this could be dangerous. Hope I am explaining that right. I check every round with the headspace gauge when I load for the 223.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 01:28 PM
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Are you using a 'small base die' for resizing? That should avoid the issue.
Another thing to try is using the same brand shell holder for a cartridge as the dieset.
You can also 'thin' a shell holder by a few thou' to make it take the case up into the die smidge more. Some shell holders are soft enough to file or put some wet/dry 'sandpaper' on a flat surface like a table saw or such, lube the paper with WD40 and make figure-eights with the SH for a while. Measuring it before and after makes this easier to know how far you are going.

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Many things in life are negotiable but not Honor or Integrity.
Celebrating the 2nd Independence Day of the USA as of Noon on Jan.20 2017, We have thrown off the yoke of bondage of the Dem/Socialists and taken back our Constitutional Republic.
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