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Old 07-11-2017, 06:58 AM
Hotshot9 Hotshot9 is offline
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Default 223 for plinking and target

I'm considering adding 223 to my hornady lock and load press. This would be my first time loading rifle, so I'm looking for some of your expert advice.

First is your recommendations on dies and case trimmers and anything else i might need.

second would be your favorite loads and the best powders, bullets and primers.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 07-11-2017, 08:34 AM
Triggernosis Triggernosis is online now
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I shoot approximately 3,000 rounds of .223 per year as a Service Rifle competitor.
For .223, I wouldn't worry about case trimming. Buy some once-fired Lake City brass, load it, shoot it about 3-4 times, and then throw it away.
For dies, I use an RCBS sizing die and Lee bullet seating dies. I never crimp.
For plinking and 100 yard target shooting, I prefer 52 gr. BTHP bullets - I use the boat-tail bullets simply because they're easier to seat than flat-based bullets.
24.0 gr. of TAC with any primer will work well for the 52 grainers.
300 yards and out call for 77-80 gr. bullets - also with 24.0 gr. of TAC, Re-15, H4895, or Varget.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:16 AM
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I load and shoot 55gr FMJBT. Its all I load and it can be had pretty cheap. Brownells is running a sale now for 6k bullets at $410. I like varget but lately Ive been pushing them with 20.5 of reloader 7 and it works great. Out of a ruger american predator it shoots a 3/4" group at 100 yds very easily.

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Old 07-11-2017, 09:18 AM
n8rfastback n8rfastback is offline
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My brass is all mixed headstamp, and I'll use whatever primers I can get on sale. If I was really trying for accuracy I'd be picky with my brass and primers, but I'm just loading to be able to plink on a budget.

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Old 07-11-2017, 09:21 AM
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I've loaded .223 for many years for a Rem. 700 bolt rifle and an AR. I've found that I only need to neck size for either rifle. I use W748 and Varget powders and mostly 55gr. fmjbt bullets. All my reloading equipment is from Lee.
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:04 AM
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In .223 I load mostly Hornady 55 gr FMJ BTs. Based on some (but not extensive) objective data I think they provide a very good balance of good quality FMJs (as far as FMJs go) vs price. They can be had very reasonably. I also load Hornady 53 gr Match bullets. (All my .223 loads are being shot out of an M&P 15 Sport.)

I use CCI primers, H335 powder and mixed headstamp brass.

For plinking I find these components provide more-than-adequate loads. (Sorry - I decided a while ago to not put specific powder charges in posts.) In fact just yesterday I was at the range and these loads were effectively pinging steel out at 400+ yds very consistently.
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Old 07-11-2017, 10:12 AM
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My only .223 is a heavy barrel Savage 112-V. After considerable experimentation, I have found the best load for it is 21.5 grains of IMR 4198 and 50 grain Remington bullets, 5-shot groups at 100 yards are typically 1/2" or less. The case headstamp does not seem to matter. I neck size only, but I do trim them to length when needed. Don't forget that the bullet seating depth will have a significant effct upon grouping performance, so you must experiment with that also.

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Old 07-11-2017, 10:57 AM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is offline
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For plinking I bought 21,000 Winchester 55 grain FMJBT surplus when the Army went to the green tip bullet. I have experimented with the Hornady 55 FMJBT and the Winchester's are so much better.

For a plinking round powder, I like WW748, it meters very well and produces very accurate rounds with CCI primers. In the 80's we used Sm. Rifle Mag. primers, now most loading data is regular Sm. Rifle, be sure of the data!

For target/Varmint rounds I use H-332 with 50 gr Sierra BlitzKings with Federal 205M Primers Winchester brass. 1:12 & 1:10 twists Remington 700 and Cooper 21

For 600 to 1000 yard rounds I use Varget, 75 grain A-Max and Remington 7 1/2 primers In virgin Lake City brass. 1:9 twist Savage Bolt gun

I believe that any round I load needs to fit any rifle of that cartridge, so I full length size all ammo! My dies for the plinking ammo were a RCBS small base FL die set with a carbide expander button by Hornady. Today I would try the RCBS black box carbide dies and a carbide button. The dies still require a small amount of lube, so I would spray One Shot every 3rd to 5th case.

If using military brass, I swage out the primer crimp instead of cutting! I use the RCBS set (I misplaced one, and thought so highly of it ,I bought a second 30 years later, I now have 2!)

For precision ammo I use Redding Competition dies with changeable neck bushings and no button for the neck. These are very expensive dies but are worth it, IF your rifle is up to the challenge.

Case trimming is a personal thing. I use a L.E.Wilson trimmer. But I think the Lee system will serve most people better and save you lots of money. Set it up for a drill from the start! save you fingers!

I loaded my plinker ammo in 1984 and still have about 6500 rounds left. I used a Dillon 450 press, and the above dies and equipment. My ammo will outshoot anything I could find: 1/4" 100 yard groups from a very good bolt gun (Cooper 21). 1/3-1/2" 100 yard groups from my 1994 Bushmaster AR-15. Both guns have 6.5-20x scopes. Just like storing you guns, store your ammo clean and dry and it will last decades!

Ivan
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:14 AM
otisrush otisrush is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan the Butcher View Post
For plinking I bought 21,000 Winchester 55 grain FMJBT surplus when the Army went to the green tip bullet. I have experimented with the Hornady 55 FMJBT and the Winchester's are so much better.
Thanks! I'll give these a go when I need to get more.

OR
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Old 07-11-2017, 11:44 AM
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The 223 is a pretty versitile cartridge. I load them anywhere from .22 lr like 40 grain "quite loads" to 80 gr long distance powerhouses.
Best loads depend on your intent and your rifle.
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Old 07-11-2017, 01:02 PM
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Use a case gauge if you'll be loading for any AR. It will eliminate jams and malfunctions due to out-of-spec case and cartridge dimensions. I found out quickly that cartridges with partially neck-sized brass I used in a .223 bolt-action would not work properly in an AR. Even what appears to be full-length sized brass may require the size die to be screwed in a little more to work in an AR.

As for case trimming, it will be required periodically. A too-long case may function in an action, but it's not a safe practice. It takes only a split second to check case length after sizing brass.
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Old 07-11-2017, 05:58 PM
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Default About 4895

It's close to a 'universal' powder for bottleneck cartridges. And you can greatly reduce loads down to the point your rifle action won't function, if you want to I use it in a bolt rifle for more quiet and comfortable loads.
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:03 PM
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Default I chuck the Lee hand trimmers......

Quote:
Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post
Use a case gauge if you'll be loading for any AR. It will eliminate jams and malfunctions due to out-of-spec case and cartridge dimensions. I found out quickly that cartridges with partially neck-sized brass I used in a .223 bolt-action would not work properly in an AR. Even what appears to be full-length sized brass may require the size die to be screwed in a little more to work in an AR.

As for case trimming, it will be required periodically. A too-long case may function in an action, but it's not a safe practice. It takes only a split second to check case length after sizing brass.
I chuck the inexpensive Lee trimmers into my drill press and trim like nobody's business.
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Old 07-11-2017, 06:16 PM
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I don't shoot a lot of rifle rounds. Probably load around 500 .223 a year. RCBS dies work great for me. I size using Imperial sizing wax. I run all cases through a L.A. Wilson case gauge. Lets you know the shoulder has been rolled back enough and when you need to trim. When I do need to trim a CTS engineering trimmer was cheap and works great. When I started this caliber I bought a huge bag of Hornady 55gr. FMJBT's cheap along with H335 powder. Both work pretty good together out of my AR.
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Old 07-11-2017, 07:48 PM
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I'm another RCBS fan. For plinking, and varmint hunting I've been using the Midway 55 gr. "Dogtown" JHP. Groups at 100 yds are about half the size of 55 gr factory ammo, just under an inch from my DPMS stock rifle. I don't shoot it much, a few hundred per year, I load it with Varget, because it's my favorite powder for this size case.
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Old 07-11-2017, 09:32 PM
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As for case trimming: my brass always splits at the neck or shows a ring near the base indicating incipient case separation long before they need any trimming; thus, I discard them and haven't needed to trim in forever.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:50 AM
Hotshot9 Hotshot9 is offline
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Lots of great information guys. So much appreciated as always. Looks like Varget is a popular powder for 223. Ok going to start shopping around for supplies Thanks again!
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Old 07-12-2017, 08:01 AM
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I'd be looking at powders like these to use with 52gr/55gr bullets:
bl-c2
h332
h335
tac
ww748

I'm sure there's more out there. I've personally used all of those powders listed above and they all meter extremely well in progressive presses. And more specifically hornady powder throws. Yes, I use a hornady powder throw for pistols and rifles.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:34 AM
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IMR-4198 and Hornady 55-grain SPBTs work for me.
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Old 07-12-2017, 09:57 AM
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I must have missed it, but what kind of rifle/ pistol are you going to use? Barrel twist has a huge impact on what weight bullets will shoot the best. I believe in case prep. That means removing the crimp (if present), trimming to minimum length and of course deburring the case mouth inside and out. I case prep around 500 pieces of brass at a time. I like using tools that can be power driven (electric drill). I use a Forster case trimmer with attachment that I connect my electric hand drill to. I sometimes use my Possum Hollow Kwick case trimmer, as well (Kwick Case Trimmer Power Adapter) I use a case deburring tool with power adapter from Sinclair (SINCLAIR INTERNATIONAL SINCLAIR CASE MOUTH DEBURRING TOOL HOLDER | Sinclair Intl). I use the Dillon .223 dies. They are small base dies (better for loading for semi-autos IMHO). They have a carbide sizing die, but the cases still need to be lubed.
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Old 07-12-2017, 10:31 AM
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Loading for an AR (or similar) is different from loading for a bolt action. If you are using only a bolt action, it is FAR better to neck size only. That way you always have zero headspace (and perfect chamber fit), and cases will literally last forever. I have around 100 .223 cases (mixed headstamps) I have reloaded dozens of times. For about any semiautomatic rifle, you will probably need to full-length resize fired cases, and you won't get long case life.
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Old 07-12-2017, 11:49 AM
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When I can get it, I prefer IMR-4198 for my 223 loads. 19 grains will put a 55 grain bullet into the 3,000 fps range while a similar velocity would require 23 grains of Benchmark, 25 grains of WW-748 or 25 grains of Varget. And since those powders all sell locally for about the same price per pound, the ability to get nearly 100 extra rounds for the same money is important to me.

I buy range brass from various internet sellers. After I clean, size and (if a bottleneck cartridge) trim it, I sort the cases by headstamp (and year if applicable) and when I have 50 matching cases, I will load them.

I use whatever small rifle primers I can get.

I use Hornady 60 grain spire soft point or spire hollow point bullets for serious work and cheap 55 grain FMJ for playing.

I have an RCBS single stage press and I use standard (not small base) dies to load for two Ruger Mini-14s and two S&W M&P-15 rifles. In all cases, small base dies have not proven necessary.

I use a Forster case trimmer. I trim all "new to me" brass when it is first processed into my reloading stream. I know from past experience that it will be "lost in the weeds" before it needs to be trimmed again.

Quote:
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...would be your favorite loads...
No. No. No.

My "standard" load of 20.3 grains of IMR-4198 under a Hornady 60 grain bullet (per Hornady Handbook #4) is NOT a load you should start with. It is, in fact, ABOVE maximum load per Hornady Handbook #8.

Consult your manuals and recognize the lower loads on the lefthand side of the table are called "STARTING" loads for a reason. Start there and then increase subsequent loads by 1/10 or 2/10 grain each time until you either get a load that shoots consistently and works the action of your gun OR if you start to see pressure signs.

Doing anything else is just a recipe for acquiring the nickname "lefty" or "one eye".
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Old 07-12-2017, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Hotshot9 wrote:
...your recommendations on dies and case trimmers...
I will tell you what I personally use, but I suggest you never ask for recommendations of what someone thinks is "best" because what you will get is what someone would buy for themselves if they could spend your money.

If might drive a Ford, but if you're buying I'll tell you to get the Cadillac.

Instead, I suggest you make it a habit to ask people what it is they use and why they made the decision to buy it. If they tell you they bought Hornady because it's the only brand the LGS carries, that's much less of a ringing endorsement than if they bought it because they used other equipment from the same manufacturer for 40 years and when they had a problem, the manufacturer went above and beyond the call of duty in standing behind the product.
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Old 07-12-2017, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
DWalt wrote:
If you are using only a bolt action, it is FAR better to neck size only.
DWalt makes a very good point.

Neck sizing offers the bolt gun shooter the twin advantages of having brass that already is a custom fit for the chamber of their gun along with less cold working of the brass.

The "downside", if someone owns both a bolt gun and a semi-automatic gun is that they have to keep the cases for the bolt gun segregated from the cases that will be loaded for the semi-automatic.
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Old 07-12-2017, 12:23 PM
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My thoughts are that it is an efficient/accurate/low recoiling/inexpensive to reload caliber. I only own 2 rifles in that caliber, both single shots from opposite ends of the $/quality spectrum. The 40x I always wanted & never thought I could afford fell into my lap right after my hand issues developed, so that fine sweet trigger is wasted on me. The inexpensive H&R Varmintmaster with a bull barrel & NO COMPARRISON trigger shoots about the same (for me) once it's warmed up. Long story short, a great caliber every rifle shooter/reloader should have, be it single shot/bolt/semi. I won't waste either of our times with load info, as what works for me very likely WILL NOT be the "BEST" for you. I neck size for both & separate the brass.

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Old 07-12-2017, 01:41 PM
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"When I can get it, I prefer IMR-4198 for my 223 loads. 19 grains will put a 55 grain bullet into the 3,000 fps range..."

As I earlier mentioned, my favorite load is the 50 grain Remington bullet (actually closer to 50.5 grains) with 21.5 grains of IMR 4198. The last batch I chronographed from my 24" Savage had an average MV of 3228 ft/sec with a SD of 32 ft/sec.
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Old 07-12-2017, 01:44 PM
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BTW, if your loading for an AR, you might be better to look for small based dies. I've owned two AR's that wouldn't reliably cycle loads made on anything but. Your results may/ may not differ.
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Old 07-12-2017, 04:42 PM
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The first thing before you buy a lot of bullets, is to find out what
the twist in in your barrel.
14:1 down to 9:1 are all possibilities and each handles light to
the heavier bullets better than the other......... usually.

The 55gr is the middle of the road do every thing bullet if you
can't find a special bullet for your weapon.
A "Ball" or full metal jacket is a lower priced bullet that works
well for plinking and testing out loads and comes flat base or boattail
as well as a spritzer lead tip or hollow point.

The heavy 70gr Speer might not settle down in some rifles but
in my 14 twist it will give me groups under 1" with H414 or 4895.
However I am shooting the larger cased 22-250 for the Nevada winds
and wide open spaces that is home.

Enjoy your 223.
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Old 07-12-2017, 06:30 PM
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Lots of good info here. I have bullets from multiple manufacturers and each has their own qualities depending on the rifle they are shot out of. Generally, the Hornady 55 grain is reasonably priced and accurate. I have some 55 grain Speer that shot great in my Winchester bolt. Interestingly, the Hornady V-Max is terrible in my bolt but good in my two AR's. Also have some Winchesters, Nosler Ballistic tips, and some Extremes all in 55 grain. The point is, and I believe, stated previously, what works for one person and their powder/firearm won't always work for another.

I use both Varget (not temperature sensitive) and H335 with good results. Have also used 748 many years ago but have not for years. I pretty much stay with CCI primers although I do have a few thousand of the Tula's that I have zero problems with.

I too have the LNL but prefer to load rifle on my single stage. I have both RCBS and Hornady dies and both work well. I do check my brass for length and use an old Lyman to trim but the differences are often extremely very small and maybe not even worth the effort.

Like any reloading, finding the right combination for your rifles is the challenge. Good luck.
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Old 07-13-2017, 06:01 AM
Hotshot9 Hotshot9 is offline
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Someone pointed out that I didn't mention what I would be using to put my reloads down range. I will be using a M&P 15t w/ 1 and 8 twist and a Ruger Ar with a 1and 9 twist so I see no problem using say 55 GR or 62 gr. bullets I have used both in each rifle before with no problems.
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:01 AM
Steve K Steve K is offline
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A local gunsmith built an M4 style AR for me,and others, with a 1:8 twist. I was fortunate in that my first hand loads I shoot sub MOA. I used 55 grain FMJ bullets, LC brass, and 26 grains of WW748.
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Old 07-13-2017, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Hotshot9 View Post
Someone pointed out that I didn't mention what I would be using to put my reloads down range. I will be using a M&P 15t w/ 1 and 8 twist and a Ruger Ar with a 1and 9 twist so I see no problem using say 55 GR or 62 gr. bullets I have used both in each rifle before with no problems.
One of my AR's is a carbine (m4) with 1:7" barrel and the other is a match rifle with 1:8" barrel. Both really love 75 gr. fmjbthp bullets. I have used Varget and now use Reloder 15 with great results. I really don't care for "plinking" ammo. If I'm going to the trouble of reloading, I like the bullets to impact where I want them to regardless of the distance. I understand that many folks like to do "magazine" dumps and other "fun" things, but it isn't for me. I think Col. Townsend Whelen wrote, "Only accurate rifles are interesting!" I'm in his camp.
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Old 07-22-2017, 09:21 PM
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I shoot a lot of .223 in several bolt guns. There are a lot of AR's out there with 1 in 7 twist. My rifles are 1 in 9 so I shoot 55 grn Hornady FMJBT. A faster twist will like heavier bullets.

I shoot mixed head stamp range brass. LC is probably the best but it's tough stuff. Most of it has crimped primers also. You will need a way to swag or ream those primer pockets. I swag mine but you can cut them out also. Get a case gage and check your brass after you size it. An out of adjustment sizing die may leave your cases too large to chamber in your rifle. Been there, done that. A gage will also tell you if you need to trim your brass. I haven't trimmed any yet because it's all once or twice fired. It might stretch tho after a few more loadings, don't know.

I don't crimp.

I'm using 23.5 grns of AR Comp powder and 55 grn bullets as I previously stated. That's the load I worked up and it does everything I need it to do. I've heard that AR Comp is Alliants answer to Varget. Both are extremely versatile rifle powder.

I just use small rifle primers but some say a harder primer should be used with an AR. Don't know anything about that.

.223/5.56 is a piece of cake to reload.
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Old 07-23-2017, 09:30 PM
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LostintheOzone wrote:
I just use small rifle primers but some say a harder primer should be used with an AR.
40 years ago when I started reloading, "harder" military specification primers were not readily available. In fact, about the only primers I could get my hands on were CCI. In 223, I used small rifle regular, magnum and bench rest primers interchangably and fired the rounds in rifles with and without floating firing pins with zero primer-related issues.

I can't (and won't) say not to use the military specification primers - they exist for a reason - only that in four decades, I have not encountered the conditions the military specification primers were made to address.

Last edited by hdwhit; 07-23-2017 at 09:34 PM.
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