View Full Version : Favorite powder for .223/5.56?

January 1, 2011, 01:55 PM
The wifey said I was a good boy this year and bought me a new Rock River Arms LAR-15 - I love my wife!!! :)

Anyhow, I'm a relatively new reloader (I've reloaded about 4,000-5,000 rounds for 9MM, .45 ACP, 30-06, etc.) and will now start reloading for my AR-15.

My range requires softpoint bullets, so I'm ordering up a 1,000 55 grain Hornady's and some Remington brass. I will be reloading *MOSTLY* for range shooting and hoping for 1.5"-2" groups with my Red Dot, and probably doing some hog hunts with it too. I'm not looking for hyper-accurate rounds, just good, solid groups that will save me some dough in the long run.

So my question is, what are your favorite powder and charges for the .223?

thanks guys,

January 1, 2011, 02:17 PM
With 55gr bullets I'd start with Winchester 748. It has always been my go-to powder for bullets under 60gr in .223. My favorite is 26.5gr of 748 and a 52gr Nosler HPBT seated to 2.26" OAL for the AR-15 magazine. Check your data books though; in some this is over max, in others it's solidly mid-range.

Congrats on the new rifle! Hope you did something nice for the wife too!

Pat T
January 1, 2011, 02:48 PM
I just put some loads across the chrono yesterday, loaded up 21 grains of Alliant RL 10x with a 55 grain armscor FMJBT, CCI small rifle primer running around 2650 fps from my Bushy M4gery. This is a starting load and runs the gun fine, and gave me 5 shot 2" groups with iron sights and my suspect eyesight.

January 1, 2011, 04:00 PM
I have loaded quite a number of these rounds, and the best performing powder for me has been H335, with the 62gr penatrator. Using 25.5 gr. of this powder cycles my Mini 14 without any malfuntions. But ... this is a ball powder and according to what I hear it can be temperature sensitive. I guess this would be imporant when using max loads, but I have not had any problems with the cases showing signs of too much pressure.

January 1, 2011, 04:05 PM
Thanks, guys - so far, 3 posts, 3 different types of powder. ;)

P990 - any problems with the Winchester 748 being dirty powder? I've not had good luck in the past with Winchester powder (dirty and greasy), but haven't shot 748.

And yes, the wife got some nice things too. Iron, ironing board, laundry basket... Just kidding. :)

January 1, 2011, 04:35 PM
Lots of good powders for this. I like a full charge of Varget for best accuracy. H4895 is also good.

January 1, 2011, 04:48 PM
P990 - any problems with the Winchester 748 being dirty powder? I've not had good luck in the past with Winchester powder (dirty and greasy), but haven't shot 748.

748 is not particularly dirty to me. H4895 always seemed dirtier when I was using it for Highpower match loads. Varget and RL-15 can run pretty clean too, but only with certain loads in my experience.

Part of the issue, I think, is how much pressure you're generating and when the bolt opens during the pressure curve with the AR. Example: Running 23.5gr of RL-15 with a 77gr bullet at 2.26" gives me dirty cases. Swap to an 80gr match bullet seated .025" from the lands and the cases come out clean, same charge weight. All I can figure is it alters the pressure curve just enough.

Now that I think about it, near-max loads with Varget and heavy bullets seem to give me the cleanest cases, and even then some come out sooty.

The big reason I don't use Varget with the under 60gr bullets is I could never get satisfactory accuracy and speed. I was simply running out of case volume (how in the world you get a max charge of Varget under a 55gr bullet in a .223 case is beyond me! :confused: ). 748 solved that issue, but it is too temperature sensitive for reliable gunning with the 65gr+ bullets in my experience.

January 2, 2011, 07:49 AM
Ramshot TAC is probably my favorite (better be, I've got 8lbs of it). I also like H335.

January 2, 2011, 09:24 AM
My Rock River shoots 5 shots into 1/2" at 100 yards at 3300 MV with 25.3 grains of Benchmark and a 55 grain Nosler BT or 55 grain V-Max. The max load is 25.6 grains, so this load is very near the top. Proceed with caution.

Benchmark is one of Hodgson's Extreme powders, so it is nearly unaffected by temperature and atmosphere changes, and the small grain size lets it meter like ball.


January 2, 2011, 09:28 AM
You are getting some good advice in this thread.
I run 748 exclusively, for all wieghts of bullets. It shoots 50's, 52's, and 55's great. I've tried a 68gr Hornady BTHP-M, with limited success. But I use CCI 450 small mag primers, I think a primer change in this load might help, am going to try it soon.
748 is a ball powder, which means you can throw a chargre with a powder measure with relative ease. If I was shooting a 600 yard competition, with 75gr bullets or heavier, I probably would switch powders and weigh each individual case, but I don't.

Here are some of my loads; 748, CCI small mag pimers, any case
26.7 gr-50gr Nosler BT
27.5 gr-52gr Hornady BTHP
26.0 gr-55gr Sierra Blitzking
I seat all bullets at "2.230" to 2.235", maybe the hp's a little deeper.
None of these loads are barn burners by any means. I will up the powder on the Nos Bt's if I'm going to a dog town, up to 28gr's, but it is hot.

I think the mag primer gives a more efficient burn, so I say 748 is a pretty clean powder. But it IS temperature sensitive, if the temp drops below 45 degrees, and the cartridges cool, it doesn't burn as well. Expect a loss in velocity, and it gets to be really dirty, but I bet it is not alone in that catagory. Just keep them warm, but don't let them bake in the sun on a hot day either.
I have a friend who uses BL-C2, loves it, another that only uses Benchmark.
So you see it's just an opinion. There are alot of variables in reloading.

I use adjustable gas blocks on most of my guns, this helps in keeping them clean. Plus I crimp the majority of my loads, taper crimp only. I think this helps the burn rate also. Don't try to crimp with a standard die, unless all your cases are trimmed to the same length, but even then I wouldn't recommend it.
Enjoy your Rock River, it won't be your last, and safe shooting.

January 2, 2011, 09:35 AM
I load TAC and AA2495. Either will do what you want along with maybe a dozen other powders.

January 2, 2011, 09:51 AM
I like Hodgdon H-335. (25.0 grains with a 55 grain bullet. COL of 2.260) My Savage will shoot that load better than 99% of all shooters (myself included) can hold.

January 2, 2011, 11:42 AM
Varget (Hard to overcharge)
Tac (Cheaper)

Thinking about trying benchrest.


January 2, 2011, 12:51 PM
This is all great feedback, folks - thank you!

Lots of great options here. I think I'll end up picking up a few 1lb kegs of a few different types and try them out (e.g. TAC, H-335 and 748). I've also always like Alliant so I might pick up a 1lb keg of RL10X too.

P.S. I received about 4 PMs talking about the 1.5-2" groups at 100 yards. I forgot to mention that my scope is an Aimpoint Comp4 with a 2MOA dot (and a 3X mag behind it). I know the gun, with an appropriate scope, can shoot tighter groups than this, but I'm not looking to make a match grade / tack driver gun out of this rifle. It will be mainly used for hog hunts, range shooting, plinking, killing zombies, etc. ;)

Thanks again folks - much appreciated.


January 2, 2011, 07:40 PM
WC844 pull down.

January 2, 2011, 07:50 PM
Plus 1 for H-335 and Varget.

Try this one once
25gn Varget
55 gn V-max
2.25 COL
Rem 7 1/2 primer.

Very accurate load in my gun.But all guns are different. Hornady V-max bullets are very accurate bullets,you just need to find out what your gun likes,There like women all different and what pleases one does not apply to the other:D Did i just say that??,Shame on me.ha ha

January 2, 2011, 07:52 PM
Ramshot TAC is probably my favorite (better be, I've got 8lbs of it).

Thats what Im shootin too...

... and Ive got 24+ lbs of it Toolman.:cool:

January 3, 2011, 12:33 AM
If your new AR is a 1/9 twist barrel, which is a very common factory barrel, you can push heavier bullets than those 55s and maybe see some better consistency in grouping. I've found that mine likes 63 to 69 gr. good quality bullets pushed by either IMR 8028 XBR (at least this lot on hand) or N-135 (any lot I have used) or H-335 ( any lot) for the best groups time after time.

The nice thing about the 1/9 twist is that it does pretty well with almost any weight bullet from 40 to 70 gr. or so. The best group I ever shot in a 1/9 barrel was with a 52 gr. Berger, but I never managed to get day to day consistency until I started using the heavier bullets. So far this has been the case in 5 1/9 barrels that shoot .224 bullets I have used. This both in ARs and bolt guns.

January 3, 2011, 12:45 AM
W748 and Ramshot Tac.

January 3, 2011, 10:50 PM
Another vote for WC844 pulldown powder. Lots cheaper than new commercial powder but very good metering and accurate powder. Get it while you can! I still regret not buying a lot more of RG4895 when it was cheap.

January 4, 2011, 10:26 AM
Thanks guys - as usual, lots of great info on these boards. Much appreciated.


January 4, 2011, 10:57 AM
Ramshot TAC is probably my favorite (better be, I've got 8lbs of it).

You say that as though 8 lbs is a lot of powder. ;)

January 4, 2011, 05:56 PM
AA2230 is also a good powder with my mini in several weight bullets,and the way mini's and ar's like to shoot up the ammo 2230 being ball powder meters really good.

January 4, 2011, 06:49 PM
BL-C and 4895

January 4, 2011, 07:21 PM
8 lbs is nothing compared to what I go thru every year. I only meant I was pleased with the results considering I bought 8 lbs of it before giving it a good test. The deal was too good to pass up, especially when powder & primers was hard to get.

January 4, 2011, 07:35 PM
+1 for 4runnerman's Varget recipe. On post #16. Varget and Hornady 55 gr. V-max's, What a great combo (in most guns that is)

January 12, 2011, 11:27 PM
My best group was with Ramshot X-Exterminator
21.9 g behind a sierra 69 g HPBT Match.
out of a Sig 556 1 in 7 twist

Linear Thinker
January 13, 2011, 07:43 PM
AA2230 for 55gr bullets, AA2520 for 62 grainers, Vihta N140 for Sierra MK 69gr. Those are AR loads. I adjust the powder weight based on the kind of brass I'm using: less powder for thick military cases, more powder for commercial cases.

For 223 bolt guns, Varget is my favorite. I use only Norma brass. My loads:
27 grains with 52gr (or was it 53?) Hornady Boat-tails
26 grains with Sierra 69 MKs.

January 13, 2011, 08:31 PM
I prefer NOT to use Accurate 2230. It's a really dirty powder which closely resembles a military surplus powder in my opinion.

Any of the following are good powders for .223 ...

Accurate 2520 works well with heavier bullets in the range of 68 - 80 gr.

Reloder 15 is a favorite among a lot of .223 shooters for a broad range of bullet weights.

Hodgdon H335 and Benchmark are great.

IMR 8208 XBR has been unsurpased in my book by anything other than Vihtavuori .

Vihtavuori powders surpass any other powder sold in the US in my opinion. I have had cleaner barrels, and better groups out of Vihtavuori powders than anything I've been able to get commercially here in the US. ;)

January 13, 2011, 08:37 PM
as you can see everyone has their favorite. just pick one and go with it.

January 14, 2011, 08:41 AM
Started re-loading .223 ammo in the mid to late 1960s. After experimenting with the powders available at the time, i settled on IMR 3031: Still use IMR 3031 almost exclusively for my loads: Those loads are limited to bullets no heavier than 55 grains. Several of my 5.56mm/.223 rifles make 1/4" to 1/2" three shot groups at 100 yards using my IMR 3031 loads.

January 15, 2011, 09:02 PM
I use AA2230 for my 223, which is a new Ruger Hawkeye. I have to admit that I used 2230 mostly because I had an excess of it, and wanted to shoot it up. And I noticed in my Lyman book that with the 55 grain bullet, the suggested 'most accurate' load was about the fastest velocity shown for any of the powders, though that fastest powder wasn't the 2230. Still, AA2230 also pushes the 55 grain to about that same velocity, so why not give it a try. I loaded up 100 rounds, with new Nosler cases, and it shot real well at 24.5 grains, with CCI BR4 primers. After necksizing and reloading, I've found that it shoots a real nice round group, with no flyers, and the grouping is about .75 inches at 100 yards, and might get better if I can beef up my shooting bench to reduce wobble. It might not be the absolute best powder for that caliber, but it is pretty darn good. I might go to 25 grains (which I think may be the indicated max) and see how it shoots. And I might dust off the can of IMR 3031 which is also in excess on my shelf. And...just for info, I like the Ruger Hawkeye. I think it's going to turn out to be a real good shooter.

January 16, 2011, 01:08 PM
For 55gr bullets I like H335.

For 75gr bullets I like Varget.

Varget seems to get its best accuracy and consistency with the heavier bullets. H335 meters very well, I have had great results with it using lighter bullets.

January 16, 2011, 10:19 PM
Varget is good for me but recently have gotten better groups with Benchmark I will probably choose Benchmark over Varget in the future:D

January 17, 2011, 06:50 PM
One of my best loads for the last 30+ years of loading 5.56 is the Hornady 55 JSP and H335. You can substitutre WC844 if you can find it. A2230 and TAC are also good.