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Old 10-25-2020, 03:38 PM
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Question Best Target Speed for 16" Barrel AR-15 .223

I tried searching, however, have not found useful information thus far. While understanding that there are numerous variables with powders & bullets, my question(s) is/are:

For the 16in barrel .223 S&W AR-15:
  • What fps-speed (2,800-3,100fps) have you found to be most accurate for this length S&W barrel?
  • What bullets from ~50-55g were used to determine the above "best accuracy"?
  • What understanding of barrel "harmonics" do you have, or would recommend the OP to research?
  • AFTER documenting the above, what advice would/could you offer from your OWN experience?

FWIW, I am trying to minimize wasting rounds (during the pandemic) trying to find out a decent (though not perfect) load for my Sport II. Following the Sierra Manual(v.5) for #1400 .224" 53gr. HP MatchKings, I am planning to use reloads of 24.0gr on the low end and 24.9gr. on the high end, trying to avoid both extreme ends of the Sierra Manual Envelope so to say (Min=23.1gr, Max=25.2gr).

If I really had to sum this all up, what end of the speed spectrum tends to be the most accurate for 16" S&W Sport II Barrels?

Last edited by HorizontalMike; 10-25-2020 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 10-25-2020, 05:59 PM
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Just a suggestion... Whether this will still work well nowadays, I don't know. I used to call Sierra with questions and it saved me a lot of work. The guy I always dealt with, Carroll Pilant, retired several years ago, but it might still be worth a call. Seems there would be others at Sierra that can answer any of your questions, especially since your using their bullet. Good luck-
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Old 10-25-2020, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post
Just a suggestion... Whether this will still work well nowadays, I don't know. I used to call Sierra with questions and it saved me a lot of work. The guy I always dealt with, Carroll Pilant, retired several years ago, but it might still be worth a call. Seems there would be others at Sierra that can answer any of your questions, especially since your using their bullet. Good luck-
Hey thanks for the suggestion... I will indeed do as you suggest, in time... FWIW, I do have safe parameters via "Sierra Bullets" v.5 Manual, what I am truly asking is WHO has personal experience with this load in THIS weapon?... Not looking for perceptions/interpretations.

I have absolutely NO problems with who offer suggestions, however, I am looking for results from those who have actually measured same. BTW, I am not trying to be their "test bunny's" ... as an experiment.
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Old 10-25-2020, 09:35 PM
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When loading 223's, I found a load I liked. That load served well with several semi-autos and bolt guns. For holes in paper I recommend 26.0 of WW748, CCI Sm Rifle Mag primmer, and Winchester 55gr FMJ/BT. COAL was set to the cannular. In my 20" AR (Bushmaster, 1996) with a 20x scope, 5 shot groups average 3/8" @ 100 yards. Plenty accurate for "Run & Gun!"

I know all bullets are hard to find right now, BUT, I found Winchester FMJ's are better by a large margin over Hornady!(Didn't try others) The CCI Sm Rifle Mag primer can be substituted with Rem 7 1/2 (but they usually cost more.)

The above load is an accuracy load from Lyman #45. If you use standard primers, you will probably need to up the powder by 4 tenths.

I loaded 20,000 of these in 1984/5 and still have around 2000, They still shoot good. 2000 of them went to the second son's Stag LH M-4, and performed to his USMC standards!

I hope this info helps.

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Old 10-26-2020, 07:58 AM
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Question

Thanks guys. What I forgot to mention is that I already have onhand:
  • Just a bit less than 16lb of H322
  • Have 3,500 53gr Sierra Match Kings
  • ~4,950 Rem #7-1/2 primers
  • 2K of new brass and ~1,500 loaded OEM rounds all re-loadable
  • I got the powder/charge range for the above bullets and powder, from the Sierra v.5 manual p.217.

Sorry about not specifying this before...
So, I am rather restricted/locked into using H322 and #1400 53gr. Match King bullets while this pandemic drags on... BTW, Sierra used a 20 inch test barrel with a 1:7 twist. My S&W Sport has a 1:9 twist 16in. barrel.

That said, I am STILL very interested in hearing about the best FPS out of the .223 16 inch barrels. Regardless of powders, but bullets close to my 53gr (I'll take any information on 50-55gr). And any info on barrel harmonics too!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-26-2020, 10:14 AM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is online now
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H322 is a great powder! It was designed to be equal to Thunderbird T-32, THE Powder for shoot Bench Rest with PPC and BR cases!

My bolt gun shoot a H322 load into tiny tiny groups! But is a few tenths over max for AR's

My suggestion would be; go to the Sierra and look at the load at the bottom of the section for that bullet, the accuracy load. Find the H322 line and go to that accuracy velocity and use that charge.

I don't believe that bullet has a cannelure, be sure to use a pretty stout taper crimp! COAL on all 223 AR's is 2.25" Max.

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Old 10-26-2020, 10:28 AM
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Asking about accuracy loads is like asking "How long is a piece of string?"

Your barrel will determine what it likes. My load data is similar to one listed above in one 16" AR but not the best in another 16" AR and different than my 20" load data.

Even finding an accurate load and then change barrel tension or recoil device! Barrel harmonics changes affect accuracy as much as load data!

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Old 10-26-2020, 10:52 AM
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With 16 # of powder, 3,500 bullets, and 4,949 primers, plus words of wisdom from Sierra, you should be able to start reloading. Until you load the first 5 rounds and shoot them, your experience base is zero.

Ypu will never run low on supplies if you don't pull the trigger. It is a 223 rifle, not an atomic bomb: close still counts.
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:19 AM
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A very humble man whom I considered a genius was discussing barrel harmonics as I listened in. In general barrels are happiest in harmonics of 800 fps multiples, ie, 800, 1600, 2400 and 3200 fps. Secondary nodes occur at the half points, ie, 1200, 2000, 2400 and 2800. That allows you to go for 2800 or 3200 based solely on harmonics.
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Old 10-26-2020, 11:35 AM
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Never worried about barrel harmonics with an AR. Benchrest rifles yes, AR's no. I've shot matches against some very good shooters and never once was barrel harmonics mentioned. Powder, load and bullet and test, for the 600 line it was about bullet jump as they are too long for a magazine.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:47 PM
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As noted above, your AR will tell you what it likes after shooting groups starting on the low end an working up to a max load with your components.

Is your barrel free floating or is it secured at the end of the handguard as most 16" ARs are? Any discussion of barrel harmonics will need to start with this.

What is your rifling twist? a 1 in 14" is actually the best for your 53 grain SMKs, although a 1 in 12" twist is very good with this bullet also. I've shot a lot of prairie dogs with the SMK 52 and 53grain MK bullets out of a 1 in 14" and 1 in 12" twist rifles. Faster twists can be as accurate, but generally over stabilize these light bullets and accentuate any concentricity issues a bullet might have, thus opening groups up a bit.

Your actual chamber's throat (lead) may also have something to do with the accuracy you obtain with the light SMKs. The GI chamber's throat v. a .223 chamber's throat v. a Wilde chamber with its compromise throat. A long bullet jump can degrade accuracy a bit, but can lower chamber pressure.

All the above can impact accuracy, both positively or negatively. So what's the answer? Just work up your loads till you find one that meets your accuracy and velocity goals.

Let us know what your results are.
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Old 10-26-2020, 03:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scharfschuetzer View Post
As noted above, your AR will tell you what it likes after shooting groups starting on the low end an working up to a max load with your components.

Is your barrel free floating or is it secured at the end of the handguard as most 16" ARs are? Any discussion of barrel harmonics will need to start with this.

What is your rifling twist? a 1 in 14" is actually the best for your 53 grain SMKs, although a 1 in 12" twist is very good with this bullet also. I've shot a lot of prairie dogs with the SMK 52 and 53grain MK bullets out of a 1 in 14" and 1 in 12" twist rifles. Faster twists can be as accurate, but generally over stabilize these light bullets and accentuate any concentricity issues a bullet might have, thus opening groups up a bit.

Your actual chamber's throat (lead) may also have something to do with the accuracy you obtain with the light SMKs. The GI chamber's throat v. a .223 chamber's throat v. a Wilde chamber with its compromise throat. A long bullet jump can degrade accuracy a bit, but can lower chamber pressure.

All the above can impact accuracy, both positively or negatively. So what's the answer? Just work up your loads till you find one that meets your accuracy and velocity goals.

Let us know what your results are.
It seems twist rates are often very generalized when it comes to ARs. Some 1 in 7" to 1 in 9" twist guns will shoot the light 52-55 grain bullets as well as the slower twist bores will, so "over stabilizing" a bullet is seldom a concern with .224" bullets of reasonable weight. I don't know about bullets as light as 40 or 45 grains.

Under stabilizing them is different; they won't shoot well.
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Old 10-26-2020, 03:10 PM
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Without an idea of what accuracy you might be trying to get it's a bit difficult. I mean ARs aren't bench rest rifles.

I've seen very good accuracy slightly over 2900 f/s out of a 16 in barrel. Exact bullet doesn't seem to matter all that much, the 55 gr BK has done well on groundhogs.

A big problem with the 1-7 twist is bullets coming apart on their way down range. Usually happens with really fragile varmint bullets but did see it with some soft points (don't recall brand). 1-9 was found in NRA testing to provide better accuracy.

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Old 10-26-2020, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivan the Butcher View Post
My suggestion would be; go to the Sierra and look at the load at the bottom of the section for that bullet, the accuracy load. Find the H322 line and go to that accuracy velocity and use that charge.
I don't believe that bullet has a cannelure, be sure to use a pretty stout taper crimp! COAL on all 223 AR's is 2.25" Max.
Ivan
Ivan, that sounds like a plan! Accuracy Load = VV N133 @ 23.5gr = 2,900fps

My preloaded (30each) mags have 24.0gr and 24.9gr.
At 23.8gr Sierra says ~2900fps (20in barrel), so... my 24.00gr load may be very close to that 2,900fps. THOSE should be just fine. What I am wondering about is the 24.9gr work-up load. Other than Sierra, all other sources say 23.5gr MAX.

AND YES, Engineer1911 is quite correct that I have zero experience, not having fired any of these loads once at this point. I have valued his advice for quite some time now, and agree. FWIW, I am just a scaredy-cat 68yr old man with prior experience with +55 broken bones, mostly ribs, back, and know all too well about being on a ventilator for over two weeks, less than 5yr ago.
Not wishing to repeat that experience, I am keeping as low a profile as I can. I have even curtailed my Harley riding this year, for the same reason...
Last I checked, Texas ranked number two, behind CA, in having most covid-19 cases...

Accounting for the length of the barrel 20in vs 16in and roughly 100fps loss, load data suggests 24.5gr for 20in barrel at 3,000fps. So, if I figure this reasonably correctly, my 16in barrel will push ~2,900fps at 24.5gr... smack dang between the two test loads I have waiting to shoot... Sounds safe enough to blindly load a batch. Not looking for BR competition, just reliable and reasonably accurate.

All said and done, I have just re-furbed my shot-up HG range target at home, and dug out the lead. At least I can get back to that with gusto, not overly paranoid with a mask, just ear plugs! Trying to keep safe AND keep shooting.
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Old 10-26-2020, 04:04 PM
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Do you have anything that shoots well in your rifle now? For me it is Federal American Eagle Varmint & Predator which is a 50 Grain JHP at 3325 FPS. This will shoot three shots touching in a 4.5 inch bull at 100 yards off the bench. To get reloads to shoot the same grouping a friend and I did some testing (read lots of shooting). We used Sierra 52 grain HPBT's and several different powders. Would pick a loading that approximated the Federal loading (used Quick Load on the computer to get a rough idea of what we wanted). Then we would load groups of rounds (15) that were a couple of 1/10's above and below the recommended. Tossed out the ones that did not group well and worked with the ones that did. Ended up with 25.4 grains of H335 with the 52 grain Sierra HPBT that duplicates the same accuracy in my rifle.
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Old 10-26-2020, 05:04 PM
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In all of my rifles from .22 up to .30 Cal...........
the larger size bullets always did better at the medium or slower speeds for my accuracy target loads, with stock barrel twist.

None were 16-18" in barrel length, so your powders need to be looked up and decided on for your fps area.

Have fun.
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Old 10-26-2020, 06:09 PM
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About "all other sources" max loads. My 2012 Hornaday and an older Sierra manual list H322 max loads with that bullet at 25 grains and a wee bit more.

Back when I was shooting long range I worked up loads in .308, I was under max by the then current Sierra manual. When a new manual came out, I browsed a copy to see if there were any new developments and found the load I'd been using was now way over the line. I promptly called Sierra and they explained the difference was due to a different rifle.

To quote the tech:"If you don't have the velocity, you don't have the pressure." While not entirely true, it's a pretty decent rule of thumb if there's no other factors.

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Old 10-27-2020, 07:50 PM
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Did you pull the trigger on your reloads?
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Old 10-27-2020, 09:11 PM
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There is no optimal load or vel when it comes to accuracy in rifles. Its all about the bullet. Your bbl will tell you what itblikes at what Vel. If you are just punching holes at 100y, anything will do that shoots submoa.
Imo, your reloading technique is out if whack. You work up loads in any rifle for accuracy, not just stab a point in a book & load 100s. Pick a bullet & powder. Start at midrange & load 3rds then 3 more 2/10gr higher & continue until you are about 5% from max. Shoot them in order for groups off a good bench. Your rifle will have a pref. The best 3 shot group gets loaded in 3-5rd batches for final testing, preferably at 100, 200 & 300.
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Old 10-28-2020, 04:21 AM
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I too just got a Sport II & started loading for it too.

As already mentioned, I think you should load up a work-up string from your starting load, in .5gr increments, & see how the AR functions with them (& get it loosened up) & how they group.

Since these are 5.56 NATO chambered, & thus have the longer leades/freebore, I don't see much sense in wasting time/ammo trying to see if COAL" makes a noticeable difference in accuracy. Additionally, my bullets have cannelures to seat to.

Right now I'm limited to shooting at 25yds max anyway & surely don't anticipate shooting beyond 100yds at this time, plus I'm just using a SIG Romeo 5XDR red dot.

I had three powders to play with: RE 10x, Benchmark, & BLC-2 along with a bunch of 55gr, & some 62gr bullets, both FMJ-BT w/cannelure.

Went with a near max load of the RE 10x for the 55gr bullets & the BLC-2 for the 62gr FMJ & 64gr JSP bullets.

.



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Old 10-30-2020, 05:13 PM
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OK, I finally made it out to the local range to sight my Sport II at 25yd and 50yd. That was the good part. Used Frontier 55JHP for sighting and had to raise the front sight by 4-6 turns to bring the POA = POI at 25yd.

Trying to zero at 50yd with iron sights is doable for this old man, but only if POI somewhere on the torso. Not necessarily a bad thing, since all my SD situations/potential, are probably in the range of 40yd or less. And THAT is my goal/focus. Not interested in 300-600yd POIs at all. FWIW, at 200yd my front sight post covers up the target nearly completely.

TRIED to use my reloads at 2.245" OAL, and that was a no-go. Apparently TOO long to cycle. My light reloads of 24.0gr all failed. My higher reloads of 2.49gr fired 3-5rd before they failed to cycle. All said and done with regards to my Sierra Manual's AR Reloading Specs COAL of 2.500" DOES NOT work in my Sport II AR-15, not even 2.245"... And that throws into question the entire load/grain range, particularly when shortening the cartridge.

My concern is just how much can I shorten these cartridges without the risk of an overload?... The AR is not a bolt action BR rifle and never has been by design (throw your darts later, OK?).

Oh, and I managed to not be able to get my Lab Radar to work on the range. TOO many months of resting my brain cells... yada, yada...

Interesting points... I did end up having a light primer strike on one of my reloads (with Remington 7-1/2SR primers). Plus, while trying to cycle reloads, I had the bullet to compress into the brass... NOT good. Suspect too long COAL...

Bottom line, I still need to get some FPS on my reloads to see what I have and can have...

BTW, I wore my N-95 respirator mask for two full hours, and the other three at my unit/range wore nothing... I hate young pups under 50...
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Old 10-30-2020, 06:34 PM
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Trying to zero at 50yd with iron sights is doable for this old man, but only if POI somewhere on the torso. Not necessarily a bad thing, since all my SD situations/potential, are probably in the range of 40yd or less. And THAT is my goal/focus. Not interested in 300-600yd POIs at all. FWIW, at 200yd my front sight post covers up the target nearly completely.
You've go a building with 40 yards in it?
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Old 10-30-2020, 07:12 PM
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OK, I finally made it out to the local range to sight my Sport II at 25yd and 50yd. That was the good part. Used Frontier 55JHP for sighting and had to raise the front sight by 4-6 turns to bring the POA = POI at 25yd.

Trying to zero at 50yd with iron sights is doable for this old man, but only if POI somewhere on the torso. Not necessarily a bad thing, since all my SD situations/potential, are probably in the range of 40yd or less. And THAT is my goal/focus. Not interested in 300-600yd POIs at all. FWIW, at 200yd my front sight post covers up the target nearly completely.

TRIED to use my reloads at 2.245" OAL, and that was a no-go. Apparently TOO long to cycle. My light reloads of 24.0gr all failed. My higher reloads of 2.49gr fired 3-5rd before they failed to cycle. All said and done with regards to my Sierra Manual's AR Reloading Specs COAL of 2.500" DOES NOT work in my Sport II AR-15, not even 2.245"... And that throws into question the entire load/grain range, particularly when shortening the cartridge.

My concern is just how much can I shorten these cartridges without the risk of an overload?... The AR is not a bolt action BR rifle and never has been by design (throw your darts later, OK?).

Oh, and I managed to not be able to get my Lab Radar to work on the range. TOO many months of resting my brain cells... yada, yada...

Interesting points... I did end up having a light primer strike on one of my reloads (with Remington 7-1/2SR primers). Plus, while trying to cycle reloads, I had the bullet to compress into the brass... NOT good. Suspect too long COAL...

Bottom line, I still need to get some FPS on my reloads to see what I have and can have...

BTW, I wore my N-95 respirator mask for two fill hours, and the other three at my unit/range wore nothing... I hate young pups under 50...
Not criticizing, but are you absolutely sure the OAL was the problem? I've only had experience with three ARs and all would easily accept the maximum magazine length of 2.26" with most bullets, particularly with the short Sierra bullets. Is your full length sizing okay and have you run any of the sized brass or loaded cartridges through a gauge? A gauge will insure 100% chambering reliablity. Good luck-
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Old 10-30-2020, 09:45 PM
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Did you seat the bullets to the cannelure? If not the bullets are too long, not for the magazine but for the barrel.
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Old 10-31-2020, 05:06 AM
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Did you seat the bullets to the cannelure? If not the bullets are too long, not for the magazine but for the barrel.
The Sierra bullets 53gr Match King do not have a cannelure. I used a slight roll crimp on them AFTER:
  • trimming brass to length
  • full resizing (Redding Dies) brass
  • Trickle charging to 24.0gr and 24.9gr
  • I measured every brass cartridge for length
  • adjusted my dummy round from 2.25" down to 2.245" and manually cycled the bullet
  • I then reset all 60 reloads to 2.245" COAL

BTW, my Frontier 55JHP (OEM 3240fps)sighted in dead on at 25yd. When I got to the 50yd, after discovering my reloads fail, I still had a magazine of Fiocchi 40gr Hornady V-MAX (OEM3650fps). At 50yd, these were shooting ~4in high. I am assuming faster fps results in higher POI at 50yd...? Correct? Sorry that I ran out of 55gr JHP when moving to 50yd (not a pure apple to apple comparison).

NOTE -- This was at an outdoor range. My home range is only for handguns 7yd--15yd max.

I now suspect that the two compressed OAL occurred when trying to open slide and applying the forward assist. Don't know for sure.

Measured OEM cartridges that worked well:
  • 55gr JHP = 2.176" COAL
  • 40gr V-Max = 2.235" COAL

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Old 11-01-2020, 03:55 PM
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Question How Much To Shorten COAL

I decided to compare the three cartridge's length and shape:
  • Reloads - FTF, except ~4rd of my heavier loads 24.9gr before FTF
  • Frontier 55JHP - These worked great w/no- FTF
  • Fiocchi 40gr VMax - These also worked great w/no-FTF

I Visually lined them up as well as I could, and measured each. From the attached images, you will notice that the Frontier 55JHP are 0.073" "shorter COAL" than the Sierra Manual calls for using their #1400 HP MatchKing 53gr. bullets.
  • How much increase in pressure would there be by changing/shortening the 2.25" COAL down to say... 2.230, 2.200" or 2.2177" OAL?
  • Could I still use the Sierra Loads Range for this bullet & powder?

One thing I noticed is that my #1400 bullets are fatter for a longer distance before tapering... aka taper is shorter.
Maybe this could be causing the hang-up/FTF? Is the throat/rifling too narrow at this point?

Openly wondering if my lightest reloads w/24.0gr H322 would be a safe place to start? Load Range is 23.1gr---25.2gr Max and the 24.0gr is just shy of the mid-point in the range.
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Old 11-01-2020, 06:58 PM
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Measure and look for differences between unfired factory and your loaded cases. Discount OAL but measure shoulder length, angle and diameters. You may have set the shoulder back.
Do the cartridges fail to chamber when single loaded?
Do the cartridges hang up halfway into the chamber?
Have you tried multiple magazines?
OAL is your problem if the cartridges enter the chamber and the bolt will not seat the last 1/2" to 1/8", even with forward assist. If that is not the problem then OAL is not a problem.
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Old 11-02-2020, 09:14 AM
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Measure and look for differences between unfired factory and your loaded cases. Discount OAL but measure shoulder length, angle and diameters. You may have set the shoulder back.
Do the cartridges fail to chamber when single loaded?
Do the cartridges hang up halfway into the chamber?
Have you tried multiple magazines?
OAL is your problem if the cartridges enter the chamber and the bolt will not seat the last 1/2" to 1/8", even with forward assist. If that is not the problem then OAL is not a problem.
My lighter reloads (24.0gr) locked up "in battery"... Very hard to get them to eject.

My heavier reloads (24.9gr), the first 4-5rd fired and cycled, before eventually locking up in battery. Not quite as hard to manually eject but still difficult. This leads me to wonder if a slightly shorter COAL might solve this...

Still wondering about that one cartridge with a light primer strike and FTF and FT-eject.

All said and done, this was a new unfired rifle. I sighted it in with a 30rd magazine of OEM Frontier 55gr JHP, and all fired perfectly. Only when switching to my reloads, using Sierra #1400 bullets, Lapua new brass, trimmed to 1.75in, fully resized, slight roll crimp, and OAL of 2.245in, did I start experiencing FTFs and FT-eject.

"...OAL is your problem if the cartridges enter the chamber and the bolt will not seat the last 1/2" to 1/8", even with forward assist..."
That happened twice and caused the bullet to be shoved back into the brass, as pictured in my previous post #21 above.

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Old 11-02-2020, 12:30 PM
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OK, having experienced some of your issues, let me pass on some experience.

1. Iron sight POI at 25 yards is supposed to be about 1 inch BELOW POA due to bore offset. Your loads didn't have squat to do with that way high at 50 yards thing.

2. From experience, your extraction difficulties (and possible chambering difficulties-like your light primer strike) are likely due to the (excessive) roll crimp causing a bulge at the case shoulder. Break down and buy a taper crimp die. FWIW, I discovered best practice was to have 2. One for cannelured bullets, one for bullets without. Due to the violent cycling of the carbine length gas system, some type of crimp is highly advisable.

BTW, an over crimped bullet supposedly has less contact with the case neck, possibly leading to your issues with bullet setback. Although overly long OAL might have something to do with it.

3. Most load data for the bench rest bullets are for bolt guns. The Hornady manual gives 2.200 in OAL for the 55 gr FMJBT and a max of 23.1 gr H322. For their version of the 52/53 gr JHP bullet, they give an OAL of 2.230 in and a H322 max load of 25 gr. I've had good feeding with rounds with an OAL of 2.240 in and below. I set my seating die long ago and think the OAL on the FMJBT is 2.2.30 in.

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Old 11-02-2020, 06:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WR Moore View Post
OK, having experienced some of your issues, let me pass on some experience.

1. Iron sight POI at 25 yards is supposed to be about 1 inch BELOW POA due to bore offset. Your loads didn't have squat to do with that way high at 50 yards thing.

2. From experience, your extraction difficulties (and possible chambering difficulties-like your light primer strike) are likely due to the (excessive) roll crimp causing a bulge at the case shoulder. Break down and buy a taper crimp die. FWIW, I discovered best practice was to have 2. One for cannelured bullets, one for bullets without. Due to the violent cycling of the carbine length gas system, some type of crimp is highly advisable.

BTW, an over crimped bullet supposedly has less contact with the case neck, possibly leading to your issues with bullet setback. Although overly long OAL might have something to do with it.

3. Most load data for the bench rest bullets are for bolt guns. The Hornady manual gives 2.200 in OAL for the 55 gr FMJBT and a max of 23.1 gr H322. For their version of the 52/53 gr JHP bullet, they give an OAL of 2.230 in and a H322 max load of 25 gr. I've had good feeding with rounds with an OAL of 2.240 in and below. I set my seating die long ago and think the OAL on the FMJBT is 2.2.30 in.

Ans #1 -- Got it. I did NOT have same ammo when going to 50yd, other than the reloads that FTF. I had Fiocchi 40g VMax

Ans #2 -- I will search for such a critter ASAP. That said, I really, really tried to crimp as minimal as possible. Maybe so much that I didn't "crimp" per say.

Ans #3 -- I am aware of the sizable difference in the Sierra load range... "...they give an OAL of 2.230 in and a H322 max load of 25 gr...." Remembering that my 2.245" reloads FTF, I am going to try something like 2.230" OAL. I finally got through to Sierra via email and found out some good news for me!

My #1400 53gr bullet can be seated fully to the Ogive (0.353") and still use the published Sierra load data safely. That means that I could, if I chose, shorten my COAL by as much as 0.156", aka 5/32". I do NOT plan on such a drastic adjustment, but shortening by ~0.015--0.020" looks like a good option. After all, the first 4-5 rd of my higher reloads fired and cycled fine, before FTF. So a COAL of 2.230"--2.235" sounds rather attractive at this point. MAYBE... I am that close.

In closing, I cannot say enough about the Sierra Bullets folks in helping and educating me about better seating of their bullets. A BIG THANK YOU to them for helping us ALL out when we need it!

Maybe a week or more before my next rifle range trip, but I will be ready! In the mean time I think I will fire up my HG range and play with my wheel guns...
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Old 11-03-2020, 04:38 AM
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Add a .223 case gage to your reloading accessory list. Check newly sized cases in it, & then again after you've seated & crimped, to make sure they pass.

Cases with soft annealed necks tend to buckle at the shoulder before the the desired crimp is obtained. A case gage can double check your work.

I prefer Lee's Collet crimp die. You virtually eliminate the possibility of buckling a shoulder & get a great crimp.

To increase your bullet-case tension you might want to check the diameter of your sizer's ball. Polishing it's diameter down a few thousandths can greatly increase the seated bullet's bullet-case tension.

A better crimp & more bullet-case tension should help keep the bullet from being pushed deeper when chambered.

Just curious, what's the 53gr. MatchKing bullet's overall length. My 55gr. bullets run ~.731"

Even my 64gr JSP-BT run ~.825" long & they're seated to 2.242" COAL without any feeding issues in my Sport II.

.
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Old 11-03-2020, 09:04 AM
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Exclamation Updated

The average of 10 Sierra #1400 bullets is... 0.6967" or 0.697"

I am also learning about too much crimp on these .223 rounds, as imaged/linked below... Didn't even know to look for that...
Lesson learned. Out of the nine FTF rounds, just the one shows too much crimp to the eye. Though I am now convinced some or all of the others may have enough flaw to FTF.

UPDATE: I measured all remaining unfired and FTF rounds (51) and found only the one where neck crimp collapsed shoulder.
Neck -- remaining were within spec at 0.253"
Base-to base of neck -- remaining were all 1.557" (within spec)
Will shorten reloads OAL to 2.220" (since Frontier 55JHP were 2.177" and rather accurate). Hopefully, new OAL will work this time.



FWIW, this is the 223 Die set that I use:
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Old 11-05-2020, 02:29 AM
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Quote:
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The average of 10 Sierra #1400 bullets is... 0.6967" or 0.697"
.
UPDATE: I measured all remaining unfired and FTF rounds (51) and found only the one where neck crimp collapsed shoulder.
Neck -- remaining were within spec at 0.253"
Base-to base of neck -- remaining were all 1.557" (within spec)
Will shorten reloads OAL to 2.220" (since Frontier 55JHP were 2.177" and rather accurate). Hopefully, new OAL will work this time.
Okay, that bullet isn't longer than normal. No reason you can't go shorter, say 2.200", without issues, if you want to.

.

I strongly suggest you get a cartridge/case headspace gauge. I've never advocated one for pistols (since you can use your barrel to check that your ammo passes the "plunk" test) but it's a MUST for rifles, especially these ARs.

Just drop the sized case in to verify your sizing operation & again later once you've seated & crimped the bullet to make sure it still "plunks" in the gauge properly.

A lot easier (& more effective) than hoping your measurements translate into a proper fit in the chamber.

Hornady .223 Cartridge Gauge
------------------------------------
Hornady Cartridge Ga 223 Remington

.
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Old 11-05-2020, 12:00 PM
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Bluedot37, just ordered the Hornady gauge you linked, as well as the:
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1012939524?pid=477756
Probably redundant, but what the heck. I may end up ordering that for my Rem .222 as well, but will wait for now...
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Old 11-05-2020, 06:49 PM
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Like I said above, I have ordered what I need to KNOW exactly how I am doing. That said, I decided to hold a Whack-a-mole happy-hour to celebrate my recently enhanced brain cell supplement

Anywayzzz... I decided to start fresh and did the whack-mole-thing...

'Nuff said, but I did actually see a deformation at the shoulder, visual and very hard to measure if any... Looking at these cartridges reflecting in the light ended up as the only clue that this old man's eyes had to see that "something" was not right.

All said and done, for now, I am not initially supporting any such crimping on my bullets without a cannelure.

Got plenty supplies, just need to hone my experience...
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Old 11-05-2020, 07:11 PM
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Horizontal- I won't argue with anyone on this, but I've yet to find a crimp necessary or desirable when loading for an AR, regardless of whether a bullet has a cannelure or not. There are always exceptions, but, if you have any doubts on this, shoot some benchrested 100 yard groups with uncrimped rounds and crimped ones. Go with whatever shows an advantage, if any. Good luck-
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Old 11-06-2020, 10:55 AM
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Horizontal- I won't argue with anyone on this, but I've yet to find a crimp necessary or desirable when loading for an AR, regardless of whether a bullet has a cannelure or not. There are always exceptions, but, if you have any doubts on this, shoot some benchrested 100 yard groups with uncrimped rounds and crimped ones. Go with whatever shows an advantage, if any. Good luck-
I am planning on leaving/shooting with the iron sights only on this AR. The only reason for purchasing same was an "overly large" purchase of supplies to reload my Jan. 1953 Remington #722 bolt action with a K-10 Weaver scope of the same age. It still shoots dead on at 200yd. However, I do know that I will never go through my supply of ~3,500 Sierra MatchKings with my bolt action...

All said and done, I never plan on having to shoot the AR over ~50yd in SD/HD, hence iron sights only. Kind of fun shooting with a bare naked rifle, even with my 68yr old man eyes...
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Old 11-06-2020, 11:52 AM
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then I'm lost some. If only shooting up to 50 yards accuracy and speed are not a factor. If your rounds don't feed or cycle with your loads loaded to with in the proper range and at 2.260 Coal, there is something else wrong.
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Old 11-06-2020, 12:42 PM
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then I'm lost some. If only shooting up to 50 yards accuracy and speed are not a factor. If your rounds don't feed or cycle with your loads loaded to with in the proper range and at 2.260 Coal, there is something else wrong.
I am working on correcting my rounds. My mistake was attempting to put a slight roll crimp on my non-cannelure MatchKing bullets. I ended up damaging (bulge) the brass at the shoulder.

SO... I most likely do NOT have an issue with COAL. I won't know until I can make up some new hand loads and get back to the range and test them, again.

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Old 11-07-2020, 02:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HorizontalMike View Post
However, I do know that I will never go through my supply of ~3,500 Sierra MatchKings with my bolt action...

All said and done, I never plan on having to shoot the AR over ~50yd in SD/HD, hence iron sights only. Kind of fun shooting with a bare naked rifle, even with my 68yr old man eyes...
Quote:
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My mistake was attempting to put a slight crimp on my non-cannelure MatchKing bullets. I ended up damaging (bulge) the brass at the shoulder.
Okay, that sound like a good plan. I have some additional input if you like.

You & I are essentially the same age. I've reloaded since the late 60's. I'm a big handgun loyalist & the only other bottleneck centerfire rifle cartridge I currently reload for is 30-06, since the late 70's.

I'd resisted the AR craze until now when my sons though they each needed one, so, being the reloader in the family I got one too.

Right after my one son got his he bought some reloads (200) from the indoor range I shoot at. I had just ordered the pictured supplies above & was waiting on them at the time. I bought the case headspace gage locally, on a whim. Glad I did.

Long story short, the LGS reloads all had to be broken down, resized & prepped, & reloaded with my powder (theirs was unknown brand/weight) & their bullets reseated/crimped BECAUSE none of them smoothly plunked in the gage & the majority was horribly off (not full length sized/incorrectly sized).

.

I found, in my testing, that it was best to have strong bullet-case tension (by reducing the sizer's expander ball's diameter) & a good crimp to keep the bullet in place when slammed into the AR's chamber by the bolt.

Without those I found that my dummy rounds would either have a shorter COAL" (got pushed in by the feeding ramp) or, more often, a longer COAL" (pulled out by inertia).

Again, I strongly suggest Lee's Factory Collet crimp die. It crimps differently than the traditional 223 crimp die, won't (hasn't for me) bulge the shoulders & is intended for bullets with or without a cannelure.

I've loaded over 1200 rounds in the last 45 days, using only bullets weights with a cannelure, & have not had any issues in the ARs with them.

The Lee collet crimp die I got for my 500 Magnum wasn't too inpressive but this one for the 223 is. Definitely a thumbs up!

Factory Crimp Die 223 - Lee Precision

.

I've never had a red dot on anything but liked the idea after I played with my son's red dot equipped Sport II. I got a Sig Romeo 5XDR because it gives you the option of either a 2 MOA red dot or a 65 MOA circle/dot reticle.

With the circle turned on you can quickly aim the rifle, with both eyes open, & see the circle thru the sight for near targets.

With the supplied extra base the AR's metal front sight co-witnesses in the bottom 1/3 for the red dot sight, does not interfere with the red dot's operation, & you can still use the AR's metal sights if wanted/needed.

Like you I don't anticipate shooting beyond 50yds either & with older eyes I'm sold on it.

.
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Old 11-07-2020, 11:01 AM
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All brands of taper crimps are back ordered, so that will have to wait for now. The sizer gauge should be here mid next week. So, will see what/how my new reloads/hand-loads will work, now that I know my "roll-crimping" was a big fail...

I take that back, finally found a RCBS AR Series Taper Crimp on MW-USA...

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Old 11-08-2020, 03:52 AM
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A taper crimp die is not a collet crimp die.

As I've said twice, they are different.

Best of luck.

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Old 11-08-2020, 01:25 PM
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A wee note about crimping/taper crimping.

Back when I was starting out in long range competition, I spent a lot of time on a bench rest website looking for reloading tips. One of the things I discovered was that the top BR shooters did a mild crimp on their o so carefully made/sorted uncannelured bullets. Despite neck turning for uniform neck wall thickness, careful neck sizing and seating, they found it improved the uniformity of bullet tension and powder burn. And, accuracy. I worked out a crimp method for my long range loads and they shot very well indeed.

Add in the violent feed cycle of the carbine length gas system, some form of crimp is a really good idea. As noted earlier, I've got separate taper crimp dies for cannelured and uncannelured bullets.

Having set up several different taper crimp dies, I found a quick method to establish a base line adjustment.

With a factory round in the case holder, run the press ram all the way up. Then, screw the taper crimp die down until it makes firm contact with the round.

Lower the ram, replace the loaded round with a socket large & long enough to put upward pressure on the die when the ram is raised. Screw the die in just a smidgen (1/16 of a turn or less-this is to take care of spring back of the case/bullet), then raise the press ram to take the play out of the threads. At this point, turn the lock ring down to firm contact with the press frame and lock it in place.

Load a dummy round and check the mouth of the case for size, you should show about 0.001 inches less than an uncrimped loaded round. This measurement may vary somewhat depending upon case wall thickness at the neck. Adjust as necessary. Added note: 1-14 die threads move the die 0.071 in per turn. 1/4 turn is 0.018 inch, 1/8 turn 0.009 in, 1/16 turn 0.0045 inch.

Sneaky old trick for lock rings with set screws to lock them in place: drop a # 6 or 7 1/2 lead shot pellet under the set screw to make contact with the threads. Makes the adjustment much more secure and doesn't ding up threads.

Last edited by WR Moore; 11-10-2020 at 12:34 PM.
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