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Old September 21, 2012, 05:23 PM   #1
MrMitus
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Reloading .223 for an AR-15

I am new to reloading and could really use some input. I recently took my first batch of reloads to the range to test them out. Right off the bat my first round jammed in the chamber (still live). After getting it out, I put maybe 50-60 rounds of new ammunition through and had no problems at all. I then tried again with my reloads.. first shot no problem, 2nd shot jammed again.

I feel as though maybe the case neck was possibly getting stuck, but again I'm new to this any really not sure. Upon further inspection I realize I did miss a step and I had not trimmed the case necks to the proper length (not smart I know, but hey I'm new).

Before I start prepping for my 2nd run I had a few questions.
1) Is it necessary to crimp these rounds? - the two die Hornady set I have, does not crimp
2) What length should the .223 cases be trimmed to?
3) In what instance would one use primer sealer, instead of just seating the primer in without it?
4) Is there a difference in a 223 casing and a 556 casing?

Also... When I knocked the stuck rounds out of my barrel, the few taps that I gave them, pressed the bullet head inside the casing. I just don't get the feeling that I am doing this right because I can't image the bullet should go inside the casing that easily.

Press = Hornady Lock N Load Progressive Press
Dies = Hornady .223 two die set
Powder = H335
Casing = picked up from range
bullets = Sierra .224 55gr HP
primers = Federal small rifle

Thanks a lot for reading my post and any suggestions or input is more than welcome.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Hornady LockNLoad Press.JPG (139.5 KB, 74 views)
File Type: jpg Hornady .223 two die set.JPG (78.7 KB, 67 views)

Last edited by MrMitus; September 21, 2012 at 11:23 PM.
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Old September 21, 2012, 06:18 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Asylum. You seem to be learning from your mistakes... very good. It's the hard way, but you never forget it.

Quote:
Before I start prepping for my 2nd run I had a few questions.
1) Is it necessary to crimp these rounds? - the two die Hornady set I have, does not crimp
2) What length should the .223 cases be trimmed to?
3) In what instance would one use primer sealer, instead of just seating the primer in without it?
4) Is there a difference in a 223 casing and a 556 casing?
How is your barrel marked... .223 Rem or 5.56 NATO (Or, .223 Wylde)?

1. Yes, unless you are firing them singly, as one might with long seated bullets just off the lands, (not from the magazine) you want a taper crimp to hold the bullet firmly in the case.
2. 1.760" is the SAAMI max. case length. See here.
3. Only for long term storage or extended extreme wet conditions.
4. Yes and no. The .223 Rem & 5.56 NATO are externally the same, occasionally give or take a few thousands in non-critical areas. The primary difference is brass thickness... the 5.56 NATO brass being thicker than .223 and for a given powder charge, you will have higher pressures. Refer to you're reloading manual.
5.56 NATO brass also has a crimped primer pocket and must be swagged or reamed to fit a new primer.

Quote:
Also... When I knocked the stuck rounds out of my barrel, the few taps that I gave them, pressed the bullet head inside the casing. I just don't get the feeling that I am doing this right because I can't image the bullet should go inside the casing that easily.
See response #1.

Cheers,
C
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Old September 21, 2012, 06:23 PM   #3
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The Hornady two die set should crimp. I have the same set. Put you dummy round in the shell holder with the die up that way it doesn't hit the case. Lower your handle and then slowly screw the crimp part of the die down until you feel it touch the case raise handle a tad and then slowly start screwing the die down until you get the crimp you want.
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Old September 21, 2012, 07:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Right off the bat my first round jammed in the chamber
Do you realize that when you resize your brass, if you don't properly size them (moving the shoulder back the proper amount) the bolt will not close and result in the "round jamming in the chamber"?

If you don't use either a cartridge gage or a device to measure the amount you are setting back the shoulder, you might not be properly sizing your brass. So don't be too quick on jumping on the cases as being too long.
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Old September 21, 2012, 07:50 PM   #5
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Do you have a caliper? What length did you seat them to? Trim length is 1.750. You do not need to crimp for the AR. You do need to properly size the brass, and you may need small base dies (I did). You sound like you don't have a manual. (go get the manual!). How much H335 did you use?
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Old September 21, 2012, 08:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
How is your barrel marked... .223 Rem or 5.56 NATO (Or, .223 Wylde)?
@Creeper - Thanks a lot for your quick answers! I will use that link as reference on the dimensions. My barrel is labeled "5.56 Nato"

Quote:
The Hornady two die set should crimp. I have the same set. Put you dummy round in the shell holder with the die up that way it doesn't hit the case. Lower your handle and then slowly screw the crimp part of the die down until you feel it touch the case raise handle a tad and then slowly start screwing the die down until you get the crimp you want.
@jwrowland77 - I do not own a dummy round. Is that the same thing as a "snap cap" like at this link?
http://www.amazon.com/A-Zoom-Precisi...3+dummy+rounds

Quote:
Do you realize that when you resize your brass, if you don't properly size them (moving the shoulder back the proper amount) the bolt will not close and result in the "round jamming in the chamber"?

If you don't use either a cartridge gage or a device to measure the amount you are setting back the shoulder, you might not be properly sizing your brass. So don't be too quick on jumping on the cases as being too long.
@jepp2 - This sounds like exactly what happened. How can I make sure to dial in my sizing die correctly?

Quote:
Do you have a caliper? What length did you seat them to? Trim length is 1.750. You do not need to crimp for the AR. You do need to properly size the brass, and you may need small base dies (I did). You sound like you don't have a manual. (go get the manual!). How much H335 did you use?
@Edward429451 - I do have a caliper.
To be perfectly Honest I seated them to be the same height as some factory made ammo I have.
Here is a link to the die set I purchased, I'm not sure if they are "small base dies" like you mentioned.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...ls_o05_s00_i00
I just got Hornady's Reloading Handbook (8th Edition) in the mail today.
I used 25.3gr of H335 powder.
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Old September 21, 2012, 08:29 PM   #7
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No, make a dummy round with your specified OAL that you are using. I have a dummy round for all the different bullets that I am using for my 7mm rem mag and for my .223, since each bullet has its own unique design. For me it makes for quicker adjustments to my die for each bullet profile.

You make one using nothing but one of your cases and one of you bullets. No primer no powder. They help with quick adjustments when going from one bullet profile to the next in same caliber.
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Old September 21, 2012, 09:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
No, make a dummy round with your specified OAL that you are using. I have a dummy round for all the different bullets that I am using for my 7mm rem mag and for my .223, since each bullet has its own unique design. For me it makes for quicker adjustments to my die for each bullet profile.

You make one using nothing but one of your cases and one of you bullets. No primer no powder. They help with quick adjustments when going from one bullet profile to the next in same caliber.
@jwrowland77 - Thanks for straitening that out for me.

Could you or anyone else explain how to set the sizing die? I understand that I may have been using it incorrectly and not "moving the shoulder back the proper amount."
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Old September 21, 2012, 09:54 PM   #9
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Two options for checking your shoulder setback on sized brass:

Wilson cartridge gage

Hornady Lock-N-Load headspace gage

If you use the Wilson gage, make sure there are no burrs on the rim of the brass before you check them. I drop them in the gage head first to check for burrs, before checking the shoulder datum.

Make small adjustments. The following picture via UncleNick shows how little movement changes shoulder setback. For semi autos, I goal for about 0.003" setback.

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Old September 21, 2012, 11:04 PM   #10
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I really appreciate everyone's feedback. Thank you so much.

So when trimming for a case length of 1.760 I seem to be over trimming. I'm using a Hornady Camlock Case Trimmer. I've tried to every so slightly make adjustments and I keep over doing it or under doing it... I guess it's gonna take me some time to get this set right.

In regards to the "shoulder setback" I have to be completely honest and tell you that I'm confused now... I'm not sure I even understand which part of the casing is the shoulder.

What adjustment to my sizing die determines the shoulder setback?
(I can either set the screw lower/higher that has the decapping pin on the end of it or I can set the die itself lower/higher into the press.)
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Case Trimmer.JPG (107.5 KB, 35 views)
File Type: jpg RCBS Case Prep.JPG (137.1 KB, 32 views)

Last edited by MrMitus; September 21, 2012 at 11:25 PM.
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Old September 21, 2012, 11:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
In regards to the "shoulder setback" I have to be completely honest and tell you that I'm confused now... I'm not sure I even understand which part of the casing is the shoulder.
Go back to the SAAMI drawing. See the tapered area just behind the neck that starts at .253" and tapers to .3542"? That's the "shoulder". The .330" in between is called the "datum line".
Headspace is the measurement from the bolt face to the location of the datum line on the case shoulder. There are inexpensive measuring fixtures designed to make this measurement accurately, with a dial caliper, for practically every cartridge.

As you can see, the measurement to this line is 1.4666″ maximum. Now look at the chamber drawing... note that the minimum dimension at the datum line is 1.4736"... or a difference of .007". If you measure a fired case with a headspace gauge, you'll have an idea of the headspace measurement in your chamber. Remember that after a cartridge fires, the case expands, in both length and diameter, to the chamber dimension, then shrinks back a small amount... sometimes nearly unmeasurable unless you have the appropriate length .0001" micrometer, and sometimes as much as a few thou.
The idea is that you want your resized case headspace value to be less than the chamber value. What amount is arguable and may depend on the individual shooters needs, knowledge and the intended use of the gun. Until you understand the difference, stick to the SAMMI drawings and the recommendations provided in your reloading manual.

Cheers,
C
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Old September 22, 2012, 03:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Go back to the SAAMI drawing. See the tapered area just behind the neck that starts at .253" and tapers to .3542"? That's the "shoulder". The .330" in between is called the "datum line".
Headspace is the measurement from the bolt face to the location of the datum line on the case shoulder. There are inexpensive measuring fixtures designed to make this measurement accurately, with a dial caliper, for practically every cartridge.

As you can see, the measurement to this line is 1.4666″ maximum. Now look at the chamber drawing... note that the minimum dimension at the datum line is 1.4736"... or a difference of .007". If you measure a fired case with a headspace gauge, you'll have an idea of the headspace measurement in your chamber. Remember that after a cartridge fires, the case expands, in both length and diameter, to the chamber dimension, then shrinks back a small amount... sometimes nearly unmeasurable unless you have the appropriate length .0001" micrometer, and sometimes as much as a few thou.
The idea is that you want your resized case headspace value to be less than the chamber value. What amount is arguable and may depend on the individual shooters needs, knowledge and the intended use of the gun. Until you understand the difference, stick to the SAMMI drawings and the recommendations provided in your reloading manual.

Cheers,
C
@Creeper - Thank you, that definitely helps me understand what the shoulder is much better now. I'll be ordering the Hornady Lock N Load Headspace Gauge Kit this weekend.
I see mention of Hornady Lock N Load Overall Length Gauge (straight) and Hornady Lock N Load Comparator Set Body & 6 Inserts on Amazon.com when I go to order the Headspace Gauge Set. Are either of these items something I'll also need?

I'm starting to kind of get the hang of my Hornady Camlock Case Trimmer and wanted to go ahead and make a "dummy round" as mentioned in one of the previous posts. I was able to trim my casing to 1.750 , but when I go to seat the bullet it pretty much floats freely in the casing. I could press it all the way inside the casing or shake it and let it fall right out.

Obviously the case mouth is larger than it should be?

Is this the result of me using the sizing die improperly or is this from the chamfer/deburr during case prep on my RCBS Trim Mate Case Prep Center?or both?

The bullets I am using are Hornady Varmint 22 CAL .224" 55gr SP w/ Cannelure
(got 500 of these for free when I bought my press)

So again I'm returning to the question... How do I properly set the sizing die? Or do I have the wrong die?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Hornady Varmint 55gr SP.JPG (104.3 KB, 24 views)
File Type: jpg casing.JPG (86.2 KB, 25 views)
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Old September 22, 2012, 07:03 AM   #13
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Those are exactly the same bullets I use.

I have the Hornady OAL gauge and Hornady comparator and love them.

When I make my dummy rounds, I go through everything I normally would, just not put in a primer and no powder. To make sure your sizing right when you lower you handle, the shell holder should be just kissing the bottom of the decapper/sizing die. This should give you enough neck tension to hold the bullet.

Ps. If you don't have a good manual and the ABCs of reloading, get them, and read them. The ABCs of Reloading helped me quite a bit. Plus if you can find a local mentor, that would be even better.
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Old September 22, 2012, 11:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Those are exactly the same bullets I use.

I have the Hornady OAL gauge and Hornady comparator and love them.

When I make my dummy rounds, I go through everything I normally would, just not put in a primer and no powder. To make sure your sizing right when you lower you handle, the shell holder should be just kissing the bottom of the decapper/sizing die. This should give you enough neck tension to hold the bullet.

Ps. If you don't have a good manual and the ABCs of reloading, get them, and read them. The ABCs of Reloading helped me quite a bit. Plus if you can find a local mentor, that would be even better.
@jwrowland77 - I did actually buy "The ABCs of Reloading" and "Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading 8th Edition." I'll have to settle down this evening and start reading. I sometimes lack the patience to sit still and read a book haha.
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Old September 22, 2012, 12:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
@jwrowland77 - I did actually buy "The ABCs of Reloading" and "Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading 8th Edition." I'll have to settle down this evening and start reading. I sometimes lack the patience to sit still and read a book haha.
Stop, go no further. Read, read, then go slow to COMPLETELY understand every step. What I put in bold type is a very bad thing for a reloader. You MUST have patience, there's no shortcuts to good ammo.

HA-HA???¿¿ There's nothing funny about blown up guns, missing fingers, or destroyed eyesight. All of which could happen if you don't relax and pay attention.

Is this your first attempt to load any ammo? You picked a very demanding cartridge to load, made worse by not understanding the process.

We're here to help, but you need to do your homework. Do you know anybody that is an experienced loader? The best thing is to go watch the process done while you watch, then to sit down and do a few rounds while he/she watches.
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Old September 22, 2012, 12:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Stop, go no further. Read, read, then go slow to COMPLETELY understand every step. What I put in bold type is a very bad thing for a reloader. You MUST have patience, there's no shortcuts to good ammo.

HA-HA???¿¿ There's nothing funny about blown up guns, missing fingers, or destroyed eyesight. All of which could happen if you don't relax and pay attention.

Is this your first attempt to load any ammo? You picked a very demanding cartridge to load, made worse by not understanding the process.

We're here to help, but you need to do your homework. Do you know anybody that is an experienced loader? The best thing is to go watch the process done while you watch, then to sit down and do a few rounds while he/she watches.
@snuffy - I appreciate your concern. I can assure you that I practice safety in the use of my reloading equipment. I am in no way looking for any injury to myself or my firearms. I understand that this will take time to learn and I don't plan on taking any short cuts or doing things half-assed.

I chose to reload this type of ammo simply because that is the kind of ammo my rifle shoots. I understand that their may be simpler cartridges to work with, but they wouldn't do me any good if I don't have a gun to shoot them with.

Yes, this my first attempt at reloading or 2nd rather. My first batch didn't go well as mentioned in the above posts.

I do not personally know anyone else that reloads, which is why I joined this forum.
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Old September 22, 2012, 12:49 PM   #17
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As of now I am trying to understand what I did or didn't do to end up with case necks that allow the bullet to just fall strait through into the casing.
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Old September 22, 2012, 12:59 PM   #18
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Quote:
4. Yes and no. The .223 Rem & 5.56 NATO are externally the same, occasionally give or take a few thousands in non-critical areas. The primary difference is brass thickness... the 5.56 NATO brass being thicker than .223 and for a given powder charge, you will have higher pressures. Refer to you're reloading manual.
This is not necessarily true. Sierra makes no mention of this difference in their 223 bolt and AR articles, while they certainly do for 308. In 223/5.56 there happens to be very little spread between brass makers, including commercial and military.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...2&d=1344393550
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...2&d=1326064897
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...9&d=1326576578
Further, here are some actual measurements to demonstrate this is not true at all, at least not consistently among different manufacturers of military cases (Radway is UK, Hirt. is Austrian, etc.). You will see that Lake City 06 actually have the highest capacity.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...4&d=1336880187
If you study that table you will note that both the weight and capacity of the cases is markedly similar, within ~2% for case weight, and water capacity, with military cases interspersed throughout the spread. IMO there is no need, or reason, to use different loads between military and commercial 223.
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Old September 22, 2012, 01:09 PM   #19
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Quote:
This is not necessarily true. Sierra makes no mention of this difference in their 223 bolt and AR articles, while they certainly do for 308. In 223/5.56 there happens to be very little spread between brass makers, including commercial and military.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...2&d=1344393550
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...2&d=1326064897
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...9&d=1326576578
Further, here are some actual measurements to demonstrate this is not true at all, at least not consistently among different manufacturers of military cases (Radway is UK, Hirt. is Austrian, etc.). You will see that Lake City 06 actually have the highest capacity.
http://thefiringline.com/forums/atta...4&d=1336880187
If you study that table you will note that both the weight and capacity of the cases is markedly similar, within ~2% for case weight, and water capacity, with military cases interspered throughout the spread. IMO there is no need, or reason, to use different loads between military and commercial 223.
@Marco Califo - Thank you for the response and for those PDF files. I'm off to Kinko's to go print out all the material I massed up over the last few days

I'm going to set aside the gear this week and dedicate my free time to reading and watching the instructional videos I've gathered off youtube and other various sources.
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Old September 22, 2012, 01:51 PM   #20
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Two more things no one has mentioned:

Two more things no one has mentioned:

1. For AR's and similar you should (need to) full-length resize every time. Forget about neck sizing fired cases: that is for bolt guns.
2. If #1 does not work, and you continue to have sizing/feeding issues, you may need a "small base resizing die". These size the brass a little smaller. Typically, only match (tight) chambered guns may need this. My Mini-14 does NOT.
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Old September 22, 2012, 02:22 PM   #21
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Quote:
Two more things no one has mentioned:

1. For AR's and similar you should (need to) full-length resize every time. Forget about neck sizing fired cases: that is for bolt guns.
2. If #1 does not work, and you continue to have sizing/feeding issues, you may need a "small base resizing die". These size the brass a little smaller. Typically, only match (tight) chambered guns may need this. My Mini-14 does NOT.
@Marco Califo - The Hornady die set that I have does say "full length" on it.
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Old September 22, 2012, 04:02 PM   #22
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Progress!

So after some reading I found that I had not set my sizing die far enough into the press. As a result I was not really resizing the case necks. This has now been corrected though and seems to be working well. Now I'm working on dialing in the seating die with some empty rounds.
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Old September 22, 2012, 04:03 PM   #23
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Awesome!
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Old September 22, 2012, 06:08 PM   #24
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Trimming

I am having trouble getting the length exactly to 1.750 . Is there a margin for error on this? Could 1.751 be enough to cause a problem?

Also, I wanted to double check... I should trim after I resize, is that correct? I get the feeling that some of these are stretching after being resized.

Do any of you have a preferred method or tool(s) for trimming .223/5.56 ? I'm not sure the Hornady Trimmer I have is working out, but it could also be user error
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Old September 22, 2012, 08:32 PM   #25
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Possom Hollow with Drill attachment best 223 investment I have made. Trim about 250 cases to exactly 1.750 in about 15 minutes.
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