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Old July 25, 2011, 11:38 AM   #1
Sweet Shooter
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Join Date: June 17, 2011
Posts: 502
Trail Boss in .223

I felt there was a lack of information on this powder, and that which I could find was conflicted. I contacted IMR/Hodgdon and got a reply back which kind of untangles the conflicts. I did try a ladder test with 55gr PSP and saw no sweet spots. The POI was about 12 inches low and stayed there through the whole test and accuracy sucked pretty bad at 100 yards—groups were about 1.5 to 2 inches.

Back to the drawing board. With a 1x12 twist the 55gr were not moving fast enough to stabilize so I went to 40grs Nosler B-Tips and a full case of Trail Boss (not compressed). The POI came up and was only about 6 inches low and groups were right at one inch. At 50 yards the groups were one hole and actually most went through the same hole without the hole stretching (smallest 5 shot group at 50 yards was about .25" so about .5 MOA). Excellent.

With a full case (9grs in a Winchester case) of Trail Boss there were no signs of pressure and brass was sealing well against the chamber walls, but there was a little bit of smoke down to the shoulder. I measured the brass afterwards and it had not stretched one iota and it did not trim back at the bench. There was a guy next to me on the 50 yard range he was shooting a nice Kimber 22LR and was managing what looked like 1.5 inch groups. The de-tuned .223 way out performed it.

The full case of Trail Boss was obviously much more potent than the 22LR and I didn't clock the handloads but switching on and off with regular high-power rounds I'd guess that I was getting just under Hornet levels maybe around 2400fps (40gr B-Tips remember). More than 22 mag I'd say.

Hodgdon say that the 4grs listed on their data site is just an example of a subsonic load and it is a recommended minimum. I do not know if going lower that that would cause a detonation and they did not answer that particular question.

I do know that the full case of TB felt just well... "right". Very quiet (louder than 22LR but much quieter than regular .223), easy on the shooter and easy on the rifle. If all you're up for with the .223 is rabbits and small game to eat, I'd say this load was perfect.

And of course barrel life would be greatly extended and brass almost everlasting.

For what I own a .223 for, the Trail Boss loads can't be beat. I will also take a look at 200 yards to see how that does, but to be honest I can't see rabbits much passed ~75 yards. I was afraid of the idea of Trail Boss in this cartridge, but it is just perfect.

If interested, check out the PDF and proceed at your own risk of course. This worked for me and in my rifle.

Just thought I'd share.
-SS-
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