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Old February 4, 2013, 09:02 AM   #1
Nossliw
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New to forum, .223 powder/primer/ OAL questions....

Hi all.

Like the title says I'm new to the forum and a fairly new reloader...

I started a few years back with my grandfather who taught me the basics for pistol reloading and then we mooved onto rifle cartridges, however he passed away before we could get too in depth into rifle rounds, and that's where I am today.

I am starting off with .223 and going to follow with .308. Both of these loads are for Ar's.

.223 load will be using once fired brass with benchmark primers, vargat, and 55 gr. boat tails. I will be using a Dillon 550, but will start on a single stage till I find what works best in the rifle.

My questions:

First- Is there a big difference between benchmark primers vs normal primers? Will this affect my load? It was all that was available when I first purchased about a month ago, and looking back on it I sure wish I would have bought more. Just twice the cost. I can't find any between ND, SD, CO, and WY. I'm going to have my brother look around in MT.

Second - Bullet seating depth. I'm having a hard time to properly choose my seating depth to provide a sufficient OAL. Any pointers here how much it too much depth? Do I want to go past the knurling on the bullet, or is this a common crimp zone? I'm aiming for 2.190 for my OAL with a 1.745 case length.

Third- regarding trimming. I am trimming to 1.745 after sizing. I feel this is a good length from the research I have done. Any suggestions or comments regarding this?

Fourth - Due to the extremely low availability of components and the fact I'm just starting off with rifle rounds I had to take what I could get for powder. I only have a lb of H-Vargat and 2lbs of H-Benchmark till I can find some more... I have gone through quite a few manuals, but would like to hear a few of your personal loads done with either of these powder with 55 gr BT.

Lastly - I also have 500 rds of tracer ammo I picked up way back in the day. I will probably only shoot it during the winter months, but I was wondering if the benchmark or vargat will burn hot enough to ignite the bullet. I heard poking a pin hole on the back side of the bullet will assist in ignition, but I just wanted to see what you all used for powder in any tracer loads you have done in the past. I figured it would be a powder that wouldn't be saught after too much but I have not been able to find much 846T, 844 OR 846.

Feel free to rip me apart in my thought process. Any valuable info is much appreciated. I want to get it right the first time...



Also, Does anybody have comments or experience using HERCO for 230 gr HP .45? Just thought I'd ask in regards to powder experience and accuracy.

Last edited by Nossliw; February 4, 2013 at 12:41 PM.
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Old February 4, 2013, 09:26 AM   #2
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In bolt guns you can play with OAL when loading 1 at a time, but in AR's stick with listed OAL for AR's do to proper feeding form magazine,always FL sizing will illiminate feeding & chambering problems. I would seat to the knurling on the bullet to hold bullet in place during recoil. Both powders are good for the 223 & 308, primers- both are good. Shot tracers in VN, don't know mush about reloading them, but I don't think it's good on your barrel. Hope I helped in some way, Ba Safe Chris
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Old February 4, 2013, 12:39 PM   #3
Nossliw
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I understand that....there is no "listed OAL" fro .223. an overall case length yes but most manuals do not provide a max and min. I understand the sizing for a magazine load vs bolt action. I want the bullet as close to the rigfling in the mouth as I can get it without feed issue.

I know the knurling is there for a reason for the crimp, but it a rather large range I can crimp on...I'm not going to guess. I'd like to know a precise depth measurement.

Both are good primers??? I'm asking whats the difference between benchmark and a typical CCI or TULAmmo small rifle primer... not if they are sufficient. I know CCI primers and mag large rifle primers are "good" I'm just wondering what the difference is...if any from a benchmark primer, and typical small rifle primer.

I'm also asking about exact grain loads on .223 for Benchmark... what has worked best for 55 gr BT, not so much if they are a good powder. I know many use vargat, I couldn't find anything else except benchmark....

I have read extensively on barrel wear and tracers.... thats an entire different can of worms.
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Old February 4, 2013, 02:08 PM   #4
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I'll try not to muddy the waters too much.


"... difference between benchmark primers vs normal primers? Will this affect my load?..."

In to days marker, get what you can get. As you will be building your load/s for each weapon, safety should not be a concern between the two. Who your weapons/loads like each primer many be different. Only testing will tell. Some only like brand/type XXX and think all others are trash. I think the makers are wanting to make the best product they can for the least cost and greater profit. This demands that the products gain a good reputation. Just try not to switch from brand/type indiscriminately.

"... Bullet seating depth..."

The bullet must be seated deep enough that the round will fit and feed into and from the magazines used. Also and very important, unless you know exactly what you are doing, keep the bullet out of the lands and groves of the barrel. As both weapons are AR types, this will not be much of a problem.
The canalure, the ring pressed into the bullet, can be used as a guide for seating depth. My opinion, unless you are having neck tension problems, don't crimp. Load you're first round without any crimp. press the bullet, nose down, into your work bench. Did the bullet slip into the case? Didn't think so.
Remember to keep each bullet types seating depths uniform.

"... trimming..."

I trim everyone of my bottle neck cases (maybe not everyone but close) for uniformity. For safety, the brass can not get too long. I tend to trim a little on the short side and have never had any problems. Yes, it is a hassle to trim but the greater the uniformity of the loaded round, the better the chance for accuracy.

"... availability of components..."

Again, get what you can get and work with it.
I have used Varget in .223/5.56 loads with heaver bullets. It give velocity and does well. I don't like it overall. I think it creates excessive concussion (out of a 16 inch barrel.) I prefer 748 and one of the 4895s for both .223/5.56 and .308/7.62s.

Adding in your question about Tula and CCI primers. Tula are imported from the old USSR (someplace) and CCI are US made. Price differences, I would think are connected to the point of origin. As to quality.... I only use CCI, Winchester and from time to time Remington primers. Which is better, not a clue, I'm stuck in a rut and like what I get for no enumerable reason. Again, get what you can get, then deal with it.
Only you weapons will know what works best.

"... tracer(s)..."

I don't load tracers and can't help with them. I do like you view of using them in the winter, as you appear to be in the Inter-Mountian West area and would generally be shooting over snow.

Always error on the side of safety,

OSOK
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Old February 4, 2013, 03:15 PM   #5
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Primers: what are Benchmark primers? Benchrest? For 223 in an AR, I like CCI #41's. in the current shortage, I would use any Sm Rifle Primer. Primers don't matter much in an AR, except in preventing slam fires which the #41 does best.

Powder: I would not use surplus powders. I would use Benchmark, CFE223 and the like. VARGET does not meter well, but is a good powder. It also give compressed charges...which sometimes overflow the case neck. This is why VARGET is not used by me.

Do you have bullets? If not, I would hang this project on a hook for 3-6 months.

Your trimming sounds excessive, but fine.
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Old February 4, 2013, 04:35 PM   #6
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If I am not mistaken, SAAMI recomends a Max COAL of 2.260" for all semi-auto .223 rounds.

Personal experience shows that 2.260" is absolute max for standard AR15 mags.

Hope this helps.
http://www.saami.org/index.cfm
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Old February 4, 2013, 05:39 PM   #7
Unclenick
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Nossiliw,

Welcome to the forum.

The specific SAAMI standard drawing for .223 Remington is here. Case length standard is 1.730"-1.760". Note that all dimensions for the cartridge are maximums with a minus tolerance. All chamber dimensions (lower drawing) are minimums with plus tolerance. Cartridge diameters that have no specified tolerance are maximums with an assumed tolerance of -0.008".

SAAMI standard COL is 2.125" to 2.260". This is a spec used by commercial ammunition manufacturers to ensure magazine fit and feed in all SAAMI compliant guns chambered for the round. If you use a bolt gun or are single-loading, you do not have to follow it. You can customize to your own gun's limitations. The bullet curl is called a crimp cannelure and is indeed the normal case mouth location when seating that bullet. But whether or not it is the best location for accuracy in your gun is another matter. See this.

Benchmark is an excellent powder for your 55 grain bullet. Varget is a little slow for it and will be less efficient.

Benchrest primers are made by the most skilled workers in the plant and are more consistent, on average, than their standard counterparts. That is not to say one particular lot of standard might not be randomly better than one particular lot of benchrest, but it might also be randomly worse. The idea is the benchrest primers, overall, have less variance than the average lot of standard primers.

As to differences, there is no standard benchrest primer type. Some are mild, like the Federal 205M and 205MAR (harder cup to resist slamfires in AR or other floating firing pin guns), and some are more like magnum primers, like the Remington 7½. I've seen up to 5% velocity difference with a fixed powder charge between different benchrest primers documented (Charles Petty's 2006 Handloader article), so you want to assume it could be worse in some instances. If the primer is the only thing you are changing, back your established powder charge down 5% when you switch primers, and work back up while watching for pressure signs or while measuring pressure relative your last component combination.

If you are looking for a beginning place for how to work loads up, try this system.

A lot of places don't allow tracers to be fired at all because of fire hazard, so check with your local sheriff to see if it's OK with him. I doubt the type of powder will matter to igniting them, but I don't think I'd be anxious to drill holes in them. That increases ignition surface area and could conceivably increase their burn rate and heat. Not sure if there would be any consequences or not. Not knowing the tracer composition, I would treat a bore that fired tracers as if it had been fired with corrosive primers, cleaning with water-based bore solvents, like Boretech Eliminator or KG-1 and KG-2.
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Last edited by Unclenick; February 5, 2013 at 09:35 AM. Reason: typo fix
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Old February 4, 2013, 06:29 PM   #8
Wyoredman
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Unclenick,
Quote:
SAAMI standard COL is 2.125" to 2.760".
I think you meant 2.260" didn't you? That is what the drawing that you posted says. Or am I all wet and not reading it correctly?
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Old February 4, 2013, 06:30 PM   #9
NWPilgrim
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Quote:
SAAMI standard COL is 2.125" to 2.760". This is a spec used by commercial ammunition manufacturers to ensure magazine fit and feed in all SAAMI compliant guns chambered for the round.
I think Unclenick meant to say 2.125" to 2.260", not 2.760" The drawing nick linked to shows it as maximum of 2.260".

Unclenick has a ton of great knowledge but he still has human typing fingers.
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Old February 5, 2013, 09:26 AM   #10
Nossliw
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Hey all,

Thank you very much for your info. My questions are answered and I guess I'll go about building and testing my own loads. I just wanted to make sure for what components I was able to obtain for .this round I would be able to properly play around with to get a solid firing load built. Like I said I want to go as long as possible to keep the bullet as close to the rifling as possible without feed issues with the magazine or bolt. I just needed a bit of advice on startup...not sure why i didn't call it a cannelure, I knew that :-)

I really wish more components were available... If anything I have the brass, but not enough of the other components, hopefully after the rush they will start to appear again!
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Old February 5, 2013, 09:36 AM   #11
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Yep! Apologies for the fat fingers. I never can figure out how typos with such separately located keys happen, nor why they are invisible to the writer on cursory inspection, but they happen that way. I've corrected my original post. The drawing is right, of course.
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Old February 5, 2013, 10:05 AM   #12
Nossliw
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Thanks again! You links were super helpful!
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Old February 5, 2013, 10:13 AM   #13
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Re: 223 COAL....

You will generally find the recommended COALs in the loading manuals, associated w/ each bullet type/shape. (See here):
http://accurateshooter.net/Downloads/sierra223ar.pdf

Those measures are usually derived from a combination of a needed shank depth in the case neck, and the bullet nose curvature. Do not expect the distance-to-rifling to be the same for different bullets even though the COAL might be the same. Case in point w/ my Krieger-barrel AR: The 77gr SMK seated to 2.26" will be 10 thousandths off the rifling. The 52gr SMK seated to that same 2.26" will be 15 thousandths into the rifling.

Cannelures (if on the bullet) are generally placed to accomodate recommended OAL for that bullet w/ nominally trimmed cases. Seat to mid cannelure to start. Adjust from there. (FWIW: I and many others do not crimp as a rule. Neck tension more than suffices for consistent ignition and cartridge handling)

(Note: Precisely determining optimal bullet stand-off from the rifling is another kettle of fish altogther. Best start w/ reliable functioning as a design basline)
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Old February 5, 2013, 01:20 PM   #14
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OP, what does your manual say? Surely you have a manual or something to go buy instead of asking others and just going by hear say Im sure.
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Old February 5, 2013, 02:04 PM   #15
Nossliw
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I have 4 manuals.... non of which provide much info regarding tracer rounds. Non of which specify a load for benchrest primers. I am giving a broad range for OAL for certain loads for different bullets/powders and so on... I was trying to get more exact info that was all.. I was originally asking my questions for specifics on what components I had. I found my answers, and thank you!

Last edited by Nossliw; February 6, 2013 at 08:41 AM.
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Old February 5, 2013, 05:15 PM   #16
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I think you mean benchrest primers. Benchmark is the Hodgdon powder.

AFAIK all powders burn plenty hot enough to produce tracer ignition. There is some information culled from technical manuals, here. It claims WC844 (H335 is the civilian version) is used in military tracer rounds, as is IMR 8208M (IMR 8208 XBR is the civilian version). This tech manual (Chapter 10, p. 10-7) reports the charges as 28.5 grains and 25.3 grains for WC844 and 8208M, respectively, but this would have been for some particular bulk lots whose burn rates don't match the canister grade for reloading precisely and so can't be trusted as load recipes. Anyway, if I were in your shoes I'd look for some IMR 8208 XBR and start at 23 grains and work up slowly. The fine grain stick powder will be a little easier to ignite and a little warmer for igniting the tracers and will play more nicely with the light bullet than H335 will.
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Old February 6, 2013, 08:40 AM   #17
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Unclenick,

Once again I want to thankyou for the response. I was able to find all my answers off your links. The linked manual is a big help. Unfortunately I can not find any H335 at the moment to purchase for the tracers, so I guess I'll hold off for the time being.

Not sure why I was calling them benchmark...I meant benchrest :-) Thank you for the clarification. I have plenty to go from from the responses and will start to see what I can devlope that the rifle will like. Thank you once again!
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:36 AM   #18
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Then get the IMR8208 XBR if you can. It's a powder favored by benchrest shooters over the spherical propellants anyway. If the military liked it for tracers and the benchrest community likes it for accuracy, it's probably a more versatile powder for you anyway.

Have fun.
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