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Old January 30, 2012, 06:49 PM   #1
tomhh
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New reloader with a few questions.

I haven't reloaded for 30 years, just hunted. My college son is eating up my wallet for ammo and we want better accuracy, so I have started reloading. I have spent a 6 weeks re-educating myself. My, has reloading changed. It was alot quicker to reload back then as we didn't know about or have all the ways to manipulate a cartridge as we have today. This forum is absolutely great. I have learned so much by reading the postings. I have a few questions to help me get going.

The 2 rifles I am currently reloading are a bushmaster A3 carbine 5.56 and a Savage FL12 .223 (cheap little gun is grouping at 5/16th inch).

In terms of accuracy, where does lake city 5.56 brass stand when compared to Lapua, nosler, winchester, hornady, and federal? Would it just be better to use 223 brass in the 5.56?

Should new brass be annealed or wait for the first 5 firings? How often does one anneal?

I had great results when using nosler custom match ammo. Is it possible to find out what powder they are using?

I got the hornady OAL guages to measure chamber length. Now that I have the data, I don't what to do with it to improve accuracy. I know that hornady makes competition shell holders, but will they improve accuracy?

Thanx again for the wonderful forum and I look forward to your answers.
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Old January 30, 2012, 09:38 PM   #2
m&p45acp10+1
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Ok a few points to cover here.

For accuracy in the bolt action Savage I wold recomend keeping the brass for it seperated from the AR brass if you neck size for it. With necksizing you will probably see a noticable gain in accuracy when you find the right load. (I own a savage Mod 12 LRPV with neck sized hand loads it will shoot 6 shot groups that measure .385 inches from outside corner to corner when I do my part. Load is a 68 grain HPBT Match bullet loaded with RL15, and CCI small rifle primer.) My plinking loads for that rifle group a half inch or better on a crappy day.

For the AR Full lenghth resizing is required with each loading. Use your calipers, or a case length guage to keep an eye on brass length.

With .223 Rem if you are not loading for matches, or depending on loads to cash a check to eat on I would not worry about spereating brass. With FL resizing the case mouth will eventualy develope a split. At that point toss the brass. The good part of .223 is so many people at the range leave the brass for it.

Fancy expensive dies are not required to get accurate ammo. A Lee Deluxe die set will do what you need. Use that money that would have bought the expensive stuff, and buy components, and range time. The man on the trigger is more important to accuracy than any die, shell holder, or piece of reloading equipment made.
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Old January 31, 2012, 09:12 AM   #3
tomhh
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Thanx for that info.
I am familiar with the things you mention. I am going for accuracy and hope to step up to long range shooting after I master short range shooting.
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Old January 31, 2012, 11:29 AM   #4
Scharfschuetzer
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Tom,

I load a lot of .223 Rem for both a Colt HBAR that I use on the National Match course and an old Sako Vixen.

As M&P45acp notes, watch your case length and keep your brass for the rifles segregated.

When using Lake City brass or any other military brass (WCC, FC, TZZ, etc.), be sure to swage or ream the pimer pocket crimp from the head of the case. Military brass lasts for ever and other than reaming the primer pocket and trimming to length the only other thing that I do is establish an average weight for the batch of brass I'm prepping and throw out the heaviest and lightest of the cases. This step seems to reduce the number of uncalled flyers (that darned 8 ring hit at 10:00 that you call dead center) at 600 yards. Some shooters also segregate their LC brass by year of manufacture, but I think the weight is more important.

The M-16/M-4/AR-15 platform is surpisingly easy on brass. If you buy surplus brass, it may have been fired in the M-249 SAW. That weapon can be pretty hard on brass and I stay away from it. As I'm in the military, I'm often issued ammo for matches so I'm able to pick and choose where my Lake City comes from.

I use Winchester brass in the Sako and usually just neck size it until it gets stiky to chamber. I use a special Redding sizer with interchangable internal diameter collets for this.

In the HBAR I generally use 69 grain Sierras at 200 and 300 yards and 77 grain or 80 grain Match Kings at the 600 yard stage. I've been thinking about using the 75 grain Hornady match bullets this year accross the course as that will simplify the loading preparation. Several of my comrades use just the 77 grain Nozler or 77 grain Sierra MK accross the course with good success.

In the Sako, 52 or 53 grain Match Kings work wonders on the vermin that I target with it and hold well out to 300 yards or so, unless the wind is kicking up. Any good quality bullet works well though, but the Blitz type are best for prairie dogs.

For powders I generally use Olin 748 or H 335, but other powders work well as the .223 is pretty ammenable to any powder with a moderate burning rate.

The same applies to primers. I've had good consistancy and accuracy with CCI, Remington and Federals. I just bought a brick of Brazilian Magtech primers, but I haven't got around to testing them yet. If they work well, I'll try them during the match season this summer. I've never bothered using the magnum primers in the 223, even with ball powder. It's a pretty small case and the standard primers seem provide enough spark to get things going. No all of my friends agree though, so test that for yourself.

In your bolt rifle, if the magazine is long enough, you might try loading the bullet out to just shy of the rifling. This will often improve accuracy. In the AR platforms, the magazine dictates the overall length of the bullet, but for the 600 yard slow fire stage of the NM course, I single load them and so seat the 80 grain projos out to touch the rifling.

One nice thing about the 223 is that it is easy on barrels and they last a long time. After almost 40 years, my Sako is due a third barrel and the HBAR seems to be ready for a new one after 20 years of off and on again shooting.

I hope this helps. I also shoot a lot with my son and there is no better sport than shooting and reloading to cement that good relationship.
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Old January 31, 2012, 11:40 AM   #5
m&p45acp10+1
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Oh just a side note. The Lyman case prep tool works just fine for me. I think I paid $17 for it. I know it was under $20. It has the primer pocket reamer for large, and small primer pockets. It works, and takes less than 30 seconds to remove primer pocket crimps. It only has to be done once on cases. I just rund the reamer in all primer pockets, so I do not get surprises later on when seating primers.

I have found crimped primers in the following head stampped brass.
FC (Federal) About 3 or 4 of every 10 seem to have crimps.
PMC Bronze seem to have a high percentage of crimpped pockets
PPU I seem to find quite a few in those.

I have as of yet to see a crimp in R-P brass. Though they seem to be the worst about badly bent rims from firing from AR rifles, and they get screwy in my Lee Case Trimmer. I scrap them when they need trimming. I got tired of skinned knuckles from wobbling cases coming loose.

Hornady brass has since by far been my favorite. I pick it up every time I find it. Cases trim easily, and stretch verry little in my bolt action. I have some with over 12 firings out of my Savage with no need to trim yet.
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Old January 31, 2012, 11:52 AM   #6
Scharfschuetzer
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Oh, one more point.

223/5.56mm rifles come with all different sorts of rifling rates.

The original 1 in 12 rate will stabalize the old military 56 grain spitzer boat tail bullet (M196 load) or up to a 60 grain spitzer flatbase bullet or the old Speer 70 grain round nose bullet.

Ruger's 1 in 9 rate will stabalize bullets up to about 70 grains in weight but nothing much heavier.

The 1 in 7 twist on the military's rifles and the Colt HBAR will stabalize even the long 80 grain Sierra Match King and even the heavier tungston cored bullets.

Check your rifling rate per the manufaturer or by the old cleaning rod method to ensure that you are not using a bullet heavier than your rifle can stabalize.
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Old January 31, 2012, 12:06 PM   #7
m&p45acp10+1
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My 1 in 9 Savage Mod 12 will has done well with up to and including 77 grain HPBT Match Hornady bullets. Though I tend to shoot either 68 grain HPBT Match Hornady, or as of late a whole lot 55 grain V-Max. Due to the fact that I can use them in both my .223 Rem Savage Mod 12, and in my .221 Fireball CZ 527 American with exelent accuaracy from both.
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Old January 31, 2012, 12:24 PM   #8
Scharfschuetzer
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Have your tried it over 200 yards with the 77 grain bullets? Reason I ask is that my recalcitrant Winchester Model 70 heavy barrel varmint model with a 1 in 9 twist in .223 shoots the Hornady 75 grain match bullets into pretty small groups at 100 yards, but at 200 yards the groups are in the vicinity of about 5 inches with most of the bullets showing some wobble or near key hole signatures on the target. It just isn't stabalizing anything heavier than the 69 grain Match Kings.

Rifles can sure be a law unto themselves and that Winchester has been one of those. I built it up for match shooting, but for the most part it stays in the safe as I don't want to rebarrel it. It just won't shoot the heavy bullets I need it to for the NM course with its 1 in 9 twist barrel. Guess I'll just use it for prairie dogs and the early season off hand matches that start the shooting season off.

By the way, a friend that shot with me on a military team years ago has a Savage match rifle in 223 that is an honest 1/2 MOA rifle at 200 yards. I don't know what its twist rate is, but if yours in anything like his you've got a fine rifle indeed.
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Old January 31, 2012, 12:32 PM   #9
m&p45acp10+1
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I am not sure the only distance that I have shot the 77 grainers at was 100 yards. It is too far of a drive to get to the ranges that have longer distances. At 100 yards the 77 grain bullets gave accuracy of .3 MOA with a bipod, and sand bag under the rear. The only long range shooting I have done has been on coyotes out to 450 yads using 55 grain VMax. All fell dead from a single shot each. There were 5 of them preying on goats. By the time the 5th one knew what was going on he was hit.
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Old January 31, 2012, 12:37 PM   #10
Scharfschuetzer
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Ah hah!

I see that you're from Central Texas and that explains the coyotes. I was stationed at Fort Hood in the early 70s and had a great time in the Hill Country down there. Did a lot of deer hunting on Fort Hood and called in a few coyotes. Great place. In fact I bought my ever suffering Sako Vixen down there just for coyotes. At the time, it was legal to hunt deer with a 22 centerfire in Texas and I took a nice 8 point buck with the Sako.

To stay on the 223 reloading topic, I shot that deer with a 55 grain Hornady over something like 26 grains of powder. I loaded on a Lee Loader in the barracks while my platoon sergeant and first sergeant looked the other way.

One shot through the heart at 100 yards from a kneeling position. Wow. That brings back some memories.
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Old January 31, 2012, 12:40 PM   #11
Jim243
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Tomhh

Welcome back to reloading and to TFL. We could spend days just talking about each question you have. There are a lot of posts out there on each of these topics, if you use the search function at the top of the page you will find tons of information that you are seeking.

You are asking about two different rifles that will require different case preperation (unless you are just plinking) for match requirements.

Quote:
In terms of accuracy, where does lake city 5.56 brass stand when compared to Lapua, nosler, winchester, hornady, and federal? Would it just be better to use 223 brass in the 5.56?
I have yet to find a set of 5.56 dies to resize my brass, so anything you will be making will be .223 sized cases. (sad but true)

This is a personal opinion so do not get upset, but I think that any Mil-Surplus brass is junk. Heavier brass harder to resize, crimped primers that break you decaping pins, primer pockets that have to be swedged, less case capicity have to adjust powder loads, ect......

Of the cases you mentioned, Lupua would be the best but most expensive as well, I like softer brass for my 223s and personally think that the Winchester 223 cases are easy to work with and serve me well, as to the number of times they will be useful I can not say but 5 or 6 times should be without any problems. (as always check your cases after each use)

As to annealing, I do not do that since the supply of cases is plentiful and any cases that show wear are tossed. But those that do anneal, do so after the second use of the case.

As to the Hornady LNL OAL gauge use, I use the gauge and modified case in 223 along with the bullet I am using to get the MAX OAL and then back down the OA by 0.050 from that.(that is the jump my Savage likes) This is for my bolt action Savage in 223, for my ARs I load for the mag length so using the gauge is pretty useless. (unless I want to use my AR as a single shot rifle)

Hope this helps a little.
Jim
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Old January 31, 2012, 12:42 PM   #12
m&p45acp10+1
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I live a half hour from the fort gates on either end. I can go to the north or south gate it takes a half hour to get to either. I wish they would open up the ranges to the public again. They were a month from reopening the range to the public when the shooting occoured, and as a result the public got screwed again.

My grampa was a Sgt Maj. folded in from the decomission of the T-Patchers 317th Rangers. He tought me long range shooting on the Ft Hood range with an old Sharps trap door, and a Spencer carbine.

Oh and to stay with the topic. For the OAL guage unless you are going to manualy feed the AR one round at a time loading to just under magazine lenghts should net you consitint results. For the bolt action there is some debate about getting more accuracy from loading closer to the lands. If you use Dan Neberry's OCW method you can get excelent accuracy from standard length ammo in most any rifle.
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Old January 31, 2012, 02:53 PM   #13
tomhh
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Thanx to all for the great advice.

Scharfschuetzer, I am using XM193 ball ammo brass that was new when I purchased it. I will start weighing and culling as you suggested. the deswaging was a PITA and I actually flattened about 1 in 10 primers before I figured it out. I am using CCI 400 primers but I note some say they are to soft to use in a semi-auto.

The Savage and bushmaster both have a 1:9 twist. I haven't tried the heavier (69 gr) bullets yet but have ordered some to try.

When working up OCW on 40 gr NBT's this savage achieved 5/16th MOA at 100 yds. 22.2 gr H4198 powder. Will try 200 yds to see how stable it is.

Are you able to get decent accuracy with the 5.56 brass?

m&p45acp10+1, I am deswaging, reaming the pockets and I am glad that only has to be once.

I tried some federal brass I had saved and the primers holes were horrible to work with. Much worse than the military. So, I tried hornady brass and I agree it is much better.

Thanx,
Tom

Interesting that your 1:9 does well with 77 gr HPBT.
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Old January 31, 2012, 06:02 PM   #14
Scharfschuetzer
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I use an electronic scale and weigh 5 at a time for 3 or 4 weigh ins. I then establish the average weight per case, weigh them individually and then cull anything on either side of the bell curve. I normally prep brass a hundred at a time as the average NM course goes 88 rounds with sighters. Trim your cases first to take any variables out of the equation.

The 1 in 9 twist is perfect for the 69 grain match bullets.

I and many of my shooting team buddies find the GI 5.56 brass to be preferable to most civilian brass in the M-16/M-4/AR-15 rifles. A few guys will use Winchester 223 cases at 600 yards, but I've never noticed any difference in score or performance when I've tried that. I was also a big fan of GI Lake City match cases back when I used the M-14 in 7.62 NATO calibre. That rifle is hard on brass (unlike the AR-15) and the civilian cases that we sometimes used at long range only lasted a few shots before the web thined out and we tossed them. When the Army adopted the M852 round with the 168 grain MK to replace the M118 Special Ball round, we just quit bothering to reload for the M-14.

I wish my 1 and 9 twist Winchester barrel shot the 77 grain bullets well, but they start to wobble between 100 and 200 yards and thus make my Winchester Model 70 a light bullet rifle. It's OK on reduced courses of fire (at 100 or 200 yards) or at the early season 200 yard off hand (standing) matches of usually 100 rounds. I can use use almost any bullet under 70 grains with success then and the wind bucking ability of the heavy bullets really isn't needed until 300 yards or so.
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Old January 31, 2012, 06:13 PM   #15
Jim243
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I had to laugh when you said "I am glad I only have to do it once."

Quote:
Are you able to get decent accuracy with the 5.56 brass?

Yes, you can, but are you ready to trim and anneal and turn the necks??

Like I said, once you resize and prep the case (except for the case walls) you now have 223 brass. Just don't let the head stamp fool you.

My 223 bolt Savage has a 1:9 twist and the only bullet I use is the Hornady 75 grain A-Max. The rifle shoots them like laser bolts right to the target. Less than 1/2 MOA all the time.

Jim

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Old January 31, 2012, 06:44 PM   #16
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I do not turn, or annel case necks. I do neck size with a Lee Collet die after fireforming with LC brass. With all the projectiles I have tested they work just the same as everything else. I get Half MOA on a crappy day out of my rifle at 100 yards. All but 20 pieces of my brass is range pick up. A majority of that being either Federal, or PMC. I have been picking up a lot of LC brass, as the ammo dujoir of the AR shooters has been Black Hills which happens to be loaded in new LC brass, and as far as I have found none were crimped primer pockets.

Oh and for the accuracy of my rifle the accuracy load recomended by Savage for my rifle is the 75 grain Hornady A-Max. The Hornady 68 grain HPBT Match bullets are a tad bit longer than the 68 grain Sierra Match King HPBT Match bullets. Though I use the Hornady they are cheaper, and seem to shoot just as good if not better.
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