My Quest for a 223 Remington Fox Hunting Load
* The load had to be relatively quiet so as to not disturb the neighbors.
* The load had to be able to shoot 150 yards without any hold over.
* The load should be fur friendly right down to 30 yards without blowing a huge hole in the fur.
* The load needed to be accurate and have consistent ignition.
* The load should be on par with the 22 hornet in velocities
My Reduced 223 Loads
11.5 grains Alliant Blue Dot, 40g v-max (velocity approx. 2700 fps)
17g Accurate 5744, 40g v-max (velocity approx. 2700 fps)
18g Alliant Reloader 7, 40g v-max (velocity approx. 2700 fps)
Alliant Blue Dot
I got started playing around with Blue Dot after reading sources on the Internet about reduced loads. Blue Dot is shotgun and magnum pistol powder. It works terrific for reduced rifle loads, but is not to be used for full velocity loads. This powder is a bulky, fluffy, flake powder that lights very easily at all volumes. You won't find any data for rifle loads in any current manuals,. Years ago Hercules (now Alliant) had a manual that listed loads for the 22 hornet and 221 Fireball using this very powder. In more recent years a fellow name James Calhoon published some of his 223 Blue Dot loads on the Internet. Before long it there were quite a few reloaders shooting this powder in their 223's. It has been a very poplar powder to used to create quiet 223 reduced loads. There have been a few horror stories circulating about people who blew up their rifles while using this powder. One guy had a 17 Remington and nearly lost his eye. Another guy blew up his 250 savage. Most of these accidents were the result of extremely hot loads or double charges. It has been said that if you exercise care and stay within the loading limits 6-13 grains for the 223, you should have no problems. Most of the accidents happened with guns other than the 223 and with extremely necked down cases. But if you step back and look at the whole perspective, there have been many reloading accidents with a huge variety of bullet/powder combinations. People have blown gun actions by seating bullets to long, using wrong powder, using too little slow burning powder, etc.. Most of these accidents are because people got too sloppy and absent minded while reloading.
This is the fastest burning powder I have ever used in my rifle. The initial pressure is actually very close to a standard velocity 223 load. The pressure curve rises and falls very quickly compared to standard powders used for the 223. Basically by the the 14" mark the powder is pretty much consumed and the gasses have quit expanding. This is the reason this load is so quiet. Instead of a loud KA-BOOM! from escaping gases, you get more of a sharp supersonic POP! sound. I have experimented with this powder in my 223 using anywhere between 6 and 12 grains. If you want to have lot of fun, create a 22 mag velocity load using about 8 grains of Blue Dot. For a Hornet velocities try using between 10-12 grains of Blue Dot.
Please be very careful while using this powder. It is a very fast powder for a rifle and can get quite peaky with bottle neck cases. Always work up your load slowly in .3 grain increments. If you notice any pressure signs like sticky extraction, flattened primer, loose primer, etc., reduce your load. I believe the biggest danger of this type of load is the danger of double charging your case. To avoid a mishap, I weight each charge, check the powder level with a marked dowel, and seat the bullet right away. There are people who have created loads with up to 14g of Blue Dot. I would not recommend going above 12g. Don't push the limits. If you really need to get 3000+fps use a powder recommended by a reloading manual.
Accurate Arms 5744
This powder is specifically designed for reduced loads and evens states it right on the container. Some of the characteristics of this powder are: it is short cut extruded powder, it lights very easily, it is not position sensitive, and it very provides consistent ignition with low load densities. For rifle use, it is considered to be a very fast burning powder. There isn't a lot of data out there for this powder, but I did find a little bit of data in the latest Speer Manual. This manual lists reduced loads for a large variety of rifle cartridges. In this manual they list a load that is predicted to be around 22 mag velocities using 12g of powder. Accurate Arms manual lists some load data for the 223 with a starting load of 18.5g and a high load of 21g. I emailed Accurate and asked if it is alright to experiment with 14-17g loads. They replied and said that I can use any where between 12-21g of powder with a 40g bullet for the 223 Remington. I immediately got to work and built some loads. For hornet velocities I would recommend 15-17g of powder. When using 15-17g of powder it does have a little more muzzle report than the Blue Dot loads, but it is still less than a full house 223 load.
I even worked out some reduced varmint loads for 243 using 21g AA5744 pushing a 55g Sierra Blitz King which yielded a muzzle velocity of about 2400fps. The muzzle blast was pretty mild. For the 243 loads, Accurate Arms recommended that I stay between 20g(est 2350fps) to 26g(est 3000fps) while pushing a 55 grain pill.
Alliant Reloader 7
This is Alliant's fastest powder recommended for rifle use. It has a burn rate similar to H4198 and is commonly used for smaller rifles (22 hornet, 222 ,223, etc.). One of my favorite and most accurate high velocity load is 22g R7 pushing a 50g Sierra SP. The Sierra manual is the best resource for full velocity 223 loads using R7. As for reduced loads, this powder is not recommended to be reduced much below the starting load of 18.5 grains for the 223. The Speer manual lists a starting load of 18.5g R7 pushing a 40g bullet with an factory test velocity of 2694 fps.
In my testing I dropped the recommended start load by .5g and was very please with the accuracy and velocity. My load was 18g R7 pushing a 40g V-Max yielding a velocity of 2700 fps. I thought the muzzle report seemed quite a bit loader than the Blue Dot and AA5744 loads. Another one of the things I didn't like about the starting load (18-19 grains) was that there didn't seam to be enough off initial case pressure to seal the case. If my cases were full length sized, they would get very black and gritty. Once you get above 19 grains, the case neck and shoulder seemed to seal up real nice. A empty case should only have a little black on the neck/shoulder area, not on the main body. The case sealing issue probably could be minimized by neck sizing only.
Here is an estimated trajectory
muzzle velocity 2700 fps
sighted in 1.25" high at 100 yards
Range Velocity Energy Bullet Drop
(Yards) (FPS) (Ft-Lbs) (Inches)
0 2700 647 -1.50
25 2588 595 -0.30
50 2479 546 0.58
75 2372 500 1.11
100 2268 457 1.25
125 2166 417 0.95
150 2067 380 0.21
175 1971 345 -1.04
200 1877 313 -2.82
225 1787 283 -5.26
250 1700 257 -8.43