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Working up my first load (223) Login/Join 
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After a week of searching for components, I finally came full circle and realized that the FFL where I do all of my transfers has a nice selection of reloading supplies, and he even had small rifle primers in stock!

So I'm on the way to working up my very first load, and while I think I know where to go from here after weeks of reading and YouTube, it's still a little baffling how different the various sources of load data can be.

I'm using an old box of 50gr Sierra Semi-Pointed bullets he happened to have on the shelf, but even when controlling for the difference between these and other bullet types in the same weight, I'm getting more variation than I expected to see in the published load data.

As an example, the Lyman Handbook (50th Ed) gives a starting load of 24.8gr and a max load of 27.7gr of H335 powder. Sierra's web-published (5th edition) data says 24.3 and 26.4. Then there is Hodgdon, which says 24.0 and 26.0. Lee's load data that came with the dies agrees with Hodgdon, and just for sake of one more datapoint, a similar weight/type bullet from Nosler also hits those last numbers.

I realize a lot of the difference in loading data could come down to the finer nuances of primer choice and case capacity, but I can't match either primers or cases to any of the published data to control for that.

Just to be clear: my goal for this first round is "doesn't blow up in my face" and "cycles my AR reliably." Eventually I will care enough about accuracy to find the bullet/load that works best in my rifle, but not today.

Normally I would take the advice of all of the things I've read and stick with the starting load and work my way up from there as necessary, and I'm tempted to just pick the lowest number (24.0 grains) and use that. But I wanted to ask the experts here if there might be a reason to go with higher the Lyman or Sierra data instead?

I'm at the point in the learning process where I don't know what I don't know... and while conservative is all fine and good, there are almost as many dire warnings about going under the starting load as there are about going over the max load. When I saw those numbers vary by 0.8-1.7 grains between sets of load data, I started to get antsy...
 
Posts: 235 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: August 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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So.... there are going to be lots of opinions of where to start. First, remember that all loading manuals/data were written by lawyers - and they will always be conservative.
If we take an average of the 3 starting loads, you'll end up at 24.4gr other there abouts.

I'd recommend you start there. Load about 20-25 and try them to ensure they are cycling the weapon and not causing issues. This will also give you the opportunity to verify that your reloading methods are solid, repeatable, and accurate.

Next, I would recommend a ladder test. Starting at 24.4gr and increasing by 0.3gr up to max listed. Again, take an average of the max. Load 3-5 rounds at each charge. Then shoot them for accuracy. See what groups the tightest.

Of course, if you have access to a friend who reloads and is safe, you might watch them or have them help you with the first loads.

Just some thoughts.

Andrew



Duty is the sublimest word in the English Language - Gen Robert E Lee.
 
Posts: 757 | Registered: May 01, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I like the idea of averaging the starting loads, and definitely agree that the first set will all be the same, all be starting loads (for some definition thereof) and all be for function only. I'm not even sure either of the bullets I have will be accurate in my rifle, and I'm only risking my relatively crappy PSA 16" midlength for the initial testing anyway, which is not the most accurate thing in the world.

Your point about being "written by lawyers" is also a good one, and while I hadn't thought about that at first... I realized that it's probably going conservative on BOTH ends of the spectrum.

Thanks for the comments. I'm sure this will all get easier over time, but given that it's the first live rounds I've ever loaded (and unfortunately, I don't know any handloaders to serve as mentors) I'm triple-checking everything.
 
Posts: 235 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: August 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Best to you on your new journey into reloading! Most manuals list the max pressure on bullet/powder combos. This is also a clue for safe results. Somewhere in the middle is a good place to start. As time goes on your knowledge grows...and just when you think you know stuff, you run into a guy that is Mr. technical Tommy...or the opposite. Be safe, enjoy the time spent. Don't sweat the money part, that seems to never stop Big Grin
 
Posts: 1296 | Location: Montana | Registered: October 20, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am happy to report that my first 5 handloads were a complete success! I wasn't looking for anything other than function, neither the rifle nor I is all that accurate, so that will come later, probably on a different platform, but using the average of the starting loads made for some nice easy cycling rounds.



I realize now that I got the exact opposite of the bullet weight that is useful in any of my rifles (50 gr) because they are all 1:8 or 1:7 twist. But the bullet came out the right end, nothing blew up, and they cycles fine. So I'll work though this only moderately expensive mistake and then start loading the 55 gr pull downs I got from Midway, which are also not optimal, but a bit better.

Anyway, my next test is to confirm that there won't be any functional differences with mixed headstamps at this load (something I strongly suspect but would prefer to find out carefully) so I loaded 15 more with three different headstamps.



Those will get tested next time I make it to the range, and if they work I can simplify my supply chain (i.e. stop organizing brass by headstamp) and go into slightly more serious production.

Once I'm confident with my technique overall I may end up shopping around for something that's a bit heavier and more accurate and see if I can load for quality rather than simply quantity. That would take me getting good enough for the loads to make a meaningful difference however, and that takes practice, and practice takes lots of ammo. And so I'm back to where I started.

Thanks again to all for the advice (both on this thread and others). This has been (so far) a rewarding hobby, and even if I never go all that crazy with it, it's really nice to have the skills and equipment to be a bit more self sufficient these days.
 
Posts: 235 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: August 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
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I own three load books.

I use the Sierra book for my recipes.

I think the small differences are due to the different company’s testing, wether their barrel is longer or shorter than the others...and there is a difference in measuring pressure.

With my 223, I load it to match M193.
I have one bolt gun in 223 and I tune that ammo to that gun and use Sierra match bullets for that ammo...it’s got a green tip and is easy to tell them apart, besides being in it’s own little ammo box.



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

 
Posts: 7555 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Lyman's maximum data is too high with H335 powder. Hodgdon's data is best and why I like to compare bullet company and powder company data. I like it when different manuals agree closely and disregard a source that's a full grain or more higher than the average.
 
Posts: 107 | Registered: May 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by MikeinNC:
I own three load books.

I use the Sierra book for my recipes.

I think the small differences are due to the different company’s testing, wether their barrel is longer or shorter than the others...and there is a difference in measuring pressure.

While I was still looking at averages across a bunch of sources, given that the random box of 50 grain semi-pointed bullets I had was a dusty old box of Sierra, I did pay extra attention to their numbers. It happened to work out that the average of four starting loads from primary sources ended up being exactly the same as the Sierra starting load.

quote:
With my 223, I load it to match M193.

Just out of curiosity, how you you know it matches M193? Have you found the specific powder used and matched the amount, or do you mean matching the readings on a chronograph with comparable FMJ bullets? Do you also use the more expensive CCI #41 primers?

I'm not really there yet, but if I were to make a more "serious" plinking load, M93 (or maybe M855 since it's better suited to my rifles) would definitely be my target.
 
Posts: 235 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: August 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by tp1l:
quote:
Originally posted by MikeinNC:

I own three load books.

I use the Sierra book for my recipes.

I think the small differences are due to the different company’s testing, wether their barrel is longer or shorter than the others...and there is a difference in measuring pressure.

While I was still looking at averages across a bunch of sources, given that the random box of 50 grain semi-pointed bullets I had was a dusty old box of Sierra, I did pay extra attention to their numbers. It happened to work out that the average of four starting loads from primary sources ended up being exactly the same as the Sierra starting load.

quote:
With my 223, I load it to match M193.

Just out of curiosity, how you you know it matches M193? Have you found the specific powder used and matched the amount, or do you mean matching the readings on a chronograph with comparable FMJ bullets? Do you also use the more expensive CCI #41 primers?

I'm not really there yet, but if I were to make a more "serious" plinking load, M93 (or maybe M855 since it's better suited to my rifles) would definitely be my target.
 
Posts: 235 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: August 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by rg1:
Lyman's maximum data is too high with H335 powder. Hodgdon's data is best and why I like to compare bullet company and powder company data. I like it when different manuals agree closely and disregard a source that's a full grain or more higher than the average.


Lyman was the outlier on both ends (highest starting load, highest max load) and that's what had me worried initially. But at the time (the 223 Loadbook arrived yesterday) it was one of three printed references I had (the other two being the quick load data that came with the dies, and data on the H335 bottle). The rest I found on the web.

I was somewhat surprised and a little bit disappointed that the loadbook just had photocopies of manuals or prints from the web, though it's handy to have all in one place (and in hardcopy) at least. But I'm glad to have another datapoint, thanks.
 
Posts: 235 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: August 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
semi-reformed sailor
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quote:
Originally posted by tp1l:

Just out of curiosity, how you you know it matches M193? Have you found the specific powder used and matched the amount, or do you mean matching the readings on a chronograph with comparable FMJ bullets? Do you also use the more expensive CCI #41 primers?

I'm not really there yet, but if I were to make a more "serious" plinking load, M93 (or maybe M855 since it's better suited to my rifles) would definitely be my target.


I went to the range and chronographed some M193 and then tested my loads until they match the velocity of the M193 out of my AR.
Doesn’t matter what the components are...as I need the velocity to match. Then the iron sights work on my AR.

I have some recipes for 2230S powder, I have some for BL-C2, and another one...they all copy the velocity of the M193. If I switch FMJs, I re-check the velocity and add/reduce until the velocity matches. This is what the factory does when they change powder or powder lots or components...they just re-work the recipe until the velocity reaches 3260fps

And that’s why my bolt gun gets a custom load. It’s more accurate because it’s been tailored for that barrel.

With the ARs it doesn’t matter to me, because with M193 ammo both guns are more accurate that the military 4MOA requirement....mine shoot around 2MOA.



"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor.”
― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

 
Posts: 7555 | Location: Temple, Texas! | Registered: October 07, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I don't have access to a chronograph, so that's not going to be an option for a while, but it's still an interesting approach, and perhaps something for the future.

If you are working up loads close to that spec, do you exclusively load in 5.56mm brass for consistency, work up loads differently for different (5.56 and .223) headstamps, or use mixed brass and accept that variability?

I'm pretty confident that from a "does it function and hit somewhere downrange?" standpoint my test of 3 different headstamps will be completely successful, but with the starting loads, I assume I'm nowhere near M193 velocities. How close do you need to get to 3260fps to get what you consider acceptable accuracy?

The more I look into this rabbit hole, the deeper it gets. Other than a very limited budget, the only thing saving me right now is that I am a poor enough shot that even pretty major changes in ammo won't have a noticeable effect. :-)
 
Posts: 235 | Location: Pittsburgh, PA | Registered: August 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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