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Old November 3, 2013, 09:52 AM   #1
AL45
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Reloading .223 for AR15

I reload .45 Colt using Lee dies and .308 using the Lee Loader. I am planning on using a Lee 3 die set to size, seat the bullet and crimp for my son's AR15. I shoot a Blackhawk .45 Colt and an H & R single shot .308 and have no experience reloading for a semi-auto. Other than crimping and cartridge length, is there anything else I need to be aware of?
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Old November 3, 2013, 02:57 PM   #2
oley55
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small base sizing die

I bought a set of lee dies with the factory crimp die which works great. I did however find that my finished rounds were not chambering well and had to get an RCBS "small base" sizing die.

also you will want to get mil spec primers to prevent slam fires. The CCI 41 small rifle primers are mil spec and have a harder primer cup. My son brought me some brass over a couple days ago and some of them had been previously reloaded by a friend. Upon inspection they had been reloaded with normal nickel coated primers (the CCI #41s are brass colored). They all had very deep firing pin indentations and at least two looked as if the firing pin may have punctured the primer. I sent the lot back with him as I do not load other peoples brass due to not knowing how many times they had been cycled.

I also size by ar15 ammo to .005 smaller than the fired cases from my weapon (DPMS Oracle) rather than down to the prescribed 1.760 to reduce case stretch and extend case life. I use a Wilson case gauge for this measurement. My fired rounds measure 1.769 so I size to 1.764. A friends Bushmaster's fired cases measure at 1.765 so the prescribed 1.760 would be right for him. I guess that means my DPMS Oracle a bit looser than the Bushmaster.
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Old November 3, 2013, 03:41 PM   #3
oldpapps
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AL45,

To me when I here [or read] "the Lee Loader", in the context used, I think of the old 'wacka-mole' Lee Loader. Yet, you also refer to a three die set, so my first impression must have been off.

As for the .223/5.56 having any strange quirks, I haven't found any.

First time processing of brass, military type, will require the removal of the primer crimp. It is a simple hassle to deal with. Also, it is possible the brass may have been fired in some loose chamber (GI full auto SAW type weapon) and as these are generously chambered, full length sizing could be more than normal. Lube well.

I always, with out exception, check the web with a metal paper clip for any roughness (brass to recycle if rough).

After sizing, check trim length. I don't check it, I just trim for consistence.

I have never had a 'slam fire' and have always used standard CCI primers. This doesn't preclude their use, they are made for a reason.

Moving on to the actual loading process. I check and verify fit after each step; cleaned, deprimed, sized, trimmed. Check for easy chambering. All well, continue with the remainder of the brass to be processed. I do an additional check with the first bullet seated. It is very easy to push the shoulder back just a little. This does not do well when chambering the round.

Crimping..... Oh, my. First, if the bullet has no crimp grove (cannailure), don't even try a role crimp! Lee and others make their 'taper' crimp or 'factory' crimp dies. I like them but don't get carried away.

Seating depth is another point of contention. For a long action bolt gun, the ideal is to have the bullet just a 'tad' [not sure just how much that is] off of the rifling. The AR/M4 can't work that way. The original weapon was built around the .222 Remington. Then the rounds were extended in length to what they are now. The magazine wells and magazines themselves will determine just how much length you will be able to get by with. I feed several AR/M4s, so I back off for a good fit with both new and old mags.

The .223 Rem is a slightly different beast in it's loading when compared to the 5.56 NATO. Load for your weapon. If you load for more than one or expect to be feeding other standards, lean toward the lesser, it is safer in the long run. I have a bolt in .223 Rem (with a 1 in 14 twist). I know it can not stabilize heavy bullets. But does well enough with 55 grainers. I have ran my hotter 5.56 NATO loading in this weapon and they do OK. Knowing that weapon, I can feel the difference and it doesn't please me. If you want to push your bullets out at 3500 FPS, move on to a 22-250 or Swift. This is not what the AR/M4 was designed for.

Now off the soap box.

The AR/M4 loading process is mostly just like all others.

Load with care and enjoy,

OSOK
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Old November 3, 2013, 10:18 PM   #4
AL45
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Thanks guys. And yes, Oldpapps, I do use the old Lee hammer loader on the .308 and the Lee 4 die set on the .45 Colt. I will probably get a Lee 3 die set for the .223.
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Old November 3, 2013, 10:29 PM   #5
Valornor
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That's what I've got, and they've worked fine. I haven't had any issue...except for one small incident where I forgot to use case lube...
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Old November 4, 2013, 02:10 AM   #6
JimDandy
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Most of the books and manuals do say for an auto loader you can't neck size, and must FL size. Someone previously suggested a middle ground. That's up to you and your comfort level.

The .223/5.56 has at least three chambers, and multitudinous riflings. Bullet weight range is also fairly extreme. From sub-50 grain bullets to 90 or more. AR barrels are USUALLY rifled 1-9 to 1-7. The rate of the twist will determine your max bullet weight, and will also affect performance for a minimum bullet weight and design.

There is some fear that a faster 1-7 rifling will cause lighter varmint rounds to destabilize and fail in flight with the varmint jacket peeling off or some such.

I don't worry about slamfires, but if I saw the AR primers on the shelf, I'd buy them. Just because I don't worry about them doesn't mean I won't take extra free or nearly free peace of mind.

I wouldn't "crimp" any 223 or 5.56 unless there's a cannelure. I probably won't even crimp the 55 grain Hornady's with a cannelure I picked up. When you size your brass, trim, chamfer and deburr, that should have enough neck tension to hold the bullet for you, even in an auto loader.

I have a 1-7. I shoot factory 55 grain FMJ's for brass, and reload them with Nosler Custom Competition 69 and 77 grain FJ-BT's over RL-15.
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Old November 4, 2013, 06:27 AM   #7
steve4102
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Full Length size only.

Remove primer crimp.

Check sized case (no primer no bullet) to see if it chambers and extracts with ease before loading any real ammo.

Make sure primers are seated all the way and below flush.

Read this.

http://www.exteriorballistics.com/re...sgunreload.cfm
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Old November 4, 2013, 10:13 AM   #8
hoffbill
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Lots of great tips on the thread. I would add that one important thing to test and watch is proper cycling. Some powders, even when loaded to specs in a manual, can cause failure to feed such as leaving the spent case partially in the action, or the bolt not going back far enough to pick up the fresh round. This can occur even though case size is correct. Its a matter of pressure. Some guns have adjustments for gas pressure, some do not.

Be aware that most .223 data is tested with 22-24 inch barrels while most
ARs have 14 to 18 inch barrels. This can cause considerable variation in performance of some powders due to burn rates.


I normally do not crimp and have not noticed any issues.
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Old November 4, 2013, 11:46 AM   #9
NWPilgrim
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Reloading .223 for AR15

Pretty simple for .223.

Full length size, swage primer pocket first time if milspec cases, trim if needed, and seat with no crimp. I use standard SR primers from CCI or Winchester, no slamfires after many thousands of rounds. Like any semi-auto, be especially sure your primers are seated all the way to spec.

I find the 55 gr and 68-69 bullet weights seem to shoot very accurately with a variety of powders. I like BLC2, H335, and Varget powders.
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Old November 5, 2013, 12:15 PM   #10
oldpapps
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AL45,

Feel like I walked off, sorry. Too many grand daughters and Lodge last night.

As I remember, I used the Lee Wack-A-Mole with/for British 303 and it worked fine to a point. As they are neck sizing only (and the rifle was a WWI that had seen a lot of service), it took several loading till chambering became a problem and die with press full length sizing became necessary. For use with the .223/5.56 or 308/7.62 in a self feeder, I don't see going many loadings as being practical. Now straight walled cases are another matter. I loaded, over and over and over the same cases, .38 Spec and 9MM, with the Lee Wack-A-Mole with great results. Granted it was slower.

I feed a number of .223/5.56, .308/7.62, .30-06 self feeders (as well as a bolt or two in the same chamberings) and always full length size for them (and trim each loading). Is this necessary? Probably not but the first time I don't will be the time that I really need that round to function, that's my luck.

I know that I'm OCD. My daughter tells me that all of the time. But, I know of only two (2) rounds that I have loaded that failed to load/fire properly. Not bad for an old f@rt that's been loading since 1963.

Always error on the side of caution. Enjoy,

OSOK
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Old November 5, 2013, 11:04 PM   #11
chris in va
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If you don't want to get a bench mount press, just buy a Hand Press. I've loaded thousands THOUSANDS through mine and makes fine reloads. I even load in my recliner.

Here's my process...

Clean brass
Buzz off crimp using a chamfer bit and drill (cheap and works!)
Decap/FL resize using Unique case lube
Trim to 1.75 if needed (up to 1.76 is OK)
Prime with standard CCI SRP
Charge with appropriate powder per manual
I use 55gr FMJ, but whatever floats your boat
Light taper crimp, gives slightly better velocity spread
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Old November 6, 2013, 12:23 AM   #12
AL45
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Thanks for all the information. I was not aware of slamfires. I have always used a Lee hand primer on my .45 Colt and .308 and I feel each primer to make sure it is below the surface. I also wasn't aware that military brass had a different primer pocket. I use Lapua brass for my .308 and have picked up a lot of range brass and discarded all that has any defects. I guess I need to now check the primer pockets.
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Old November 6, 2013, 07:56 AM   #13
steve4102
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They are not different, they are just crimped, remove the crimp, they are the same.
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Old November 6, 2013, 10:46 AM   #14
oldpapps
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AL45,

The accepted probable cause of 'slam-fires' is in the design of bolts with 'free-floating' and spring supported firing pins. Simply, the bolt flies forward, the round is chambered and comes into battery, the locking lug/s connect and lock... the inertia of the moving firing pin carries it (the firing pin) forward into the primer! I have never encountered a 'slam-fire' but often I will see very small and light dimples on primers of rounds that have been chambered, M1A/M14 type weapons most often.

This does not preclude other actions or failures that may also cause a 'slam-fire'. A 'high' seated primer could be a culprit in this. Personally, I haven't knowingly seated primers 'high'. I did have a .22RF rifle get a small sliver of bullet lead wedged in with the firing pin (more of a bar running the top length of the bolt) and had repeat firings! Pull the trigger once and get 3 or 4 rapid shots. Very unnerving. So, this could be described sort of as a 'slam-fire', stretching my definition a bit.

I have seen entries by a contributor who has studied 'slam-fires' and find his conclusions very compelling and well researched. Always something to keep in mind.

Always error on the side of caution,

OSOK
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