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Subject Topic: loading for AR 15/5.56x45 Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Montana Griz
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Posted: September 18 2011 at 5:39pm | IP Logged Quote Montana Griz

Newbie here...getting back into handloading after a 10 year "hiatus" from doing any. Just sold some firearms that I'll never use any more & acquired instead an AR 15:(LMT Upper & CMMG Lower)...(5.56, 20" S.S. barrel, 1 in 8 twist, free float hand guard, 2 stage trigger, 4.5 to 14 scope & BiPod.)....

At 79&1/2 I still have 20/20 vision with Rx lenses and I've got a 100 yard range on my place (live out in the boonies)......so "why not"?

Got some questions that maybe you'd be kind enough to answer.......thanks in advance.

1/...Got some un-opened 1# containers of the following:
     H-380, H-414, H-4895, H-450, & VARGET.
also: W-W760, IMR-3031, IMR-4320 & IMR-4064.
......It's all about 10 to 15 years old.....do you think it is safe to use? (if it smells right, looks OK & has no "rust" in it--some of it is in metal cans.

2/...What "case lube" do you recommend? I understand this is real important for the 5.56 brass to avoid any stuck cases.

3/...Regarding Dies:....A friend suggests I get a: Lee "Pacesetter" 3 Die set that includes a "factory crimp Die" to get a "taper crimp"....all my other dies (from many years ago) are RCBS...but I have no problem with Lee, if it's the way to go for the .223 )5.56x45 NATO).

4/...My brass to reload will be: "once fired in my AR", from a carton of 500 "Federal American Eagle-55 gr FMJ/BT" that I just bought.

5/...What Primers should I buy:...all I've got on hand are Large Rifle(reg & Mag), Large Pistol(reg & Mag) & Small Magnum Pistol.

6/...I've got about 1000 Rem 55 gr H.P. bullets (from about 10 yrs ago), that I was loading for my .22/250 bolt action.

I'd appreciate any: comments, suggestions and opinions that you'd like to offer.




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Paul5388
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Posted: September 18 2011 at 6:25pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

Welcome to the forum Don!

As long as your powder doesn't have an acid smell and still smells like solvent you should be OK. I use Lee dies quite a bit now, but used mainly RCBS in the past. I don't use a factory crimp die and instead depend on good neck tension to do the job. Sometimes I'll use a full length sizing die and then come back with a Lee collet neck sizer for a little better neck tension and maybe better accuracy.

If you use any of those ball powders, it might be a good idea to use a small rifle magnum primer. Varget and etc. doesn't need anything other than a standard small rifle primer.

Keep an eye on the primer pockets of that Federal brass, I've seen it loosen up faster than some of the other brands.

You might want to try 25.0 gr of Varget with those Rem bullets and work up to a max of 27.0 gr.

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The_Shadow
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Posted: September 18 2011 at 8:59pm | IP Logged Quote The_Shadow

Montana Griz, Welcome to the forum!

I'm not much help with the .223/5.56x45 as this is one that I haven't jumped on yet! Many good loads exist but the barrel twist seems to be crucial for the weight/length of bullets to be used. Also clean burning powders are said to help from fouling things up.

Best regards!

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yyz
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Posted: September 19 2011 at 5:57am | IP Logged Quote yyz

i use cci small rifle primers with out any problems. the lee FCD can be nice to use with an ar as they are known to double feed once in awhile and when they do if you don't have a good crimp the bullets will get shoved back into the case. the only problem i see is the 1 in twist with 55gr bullets. the lighter the bullets the slower the twist. ie 55gr bullets like 1 in 10 or slower 62gr like 1 in 9 and faster. if you have trouble with grouping with the 55gr bullets try some 62, 65, 68, or 70gr bullets.

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swampshooter
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Posted: September 19 2011 at 6:27am | IP Logged Quote swampshooter

I would suggest a military small rifle primer in order to protect against slam fire, such as the cci #41. Of the powders you listed as available, varget would be my first choice. Considering the fast twist in your barrel I would suggest a heavy for caliber bullet, a 69 grain bullet should be good, but whichever bullet you choose I would try to stay at or above 55 grains. Theoretically the heavier bullets of 69-80 grains should provide the best accuracy in your barrel.

I like the Lee dies with the factory crimp die (this die used to be called a taper crimp die). I full length size for my AR and use Hornady's One Shot spray lube because of the convenience of it. Be sure and read and follow the instructions on the can in order to avoid stuck cases.

I would try shooting those 55 grain bullets that you already have for sure. If they don't shoot good enough to satisfy, maybe you could sell them and replace with a heavier bullet that is more suited to your fast twist barrel, but a too fast twist doesn't hurt accuracy near as bad as too slow does.

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NVcaster
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Posted: September 19 2011 at 8:52am | IP Logged Quote NVcaster

Your powder should be fine, Ive used H4895 and Varget with
success but considering benchmark. I use regular primers in
a bushmaster without problems, don't forget to check for
primer crimp and remove if its there. I have a 1:9 barrel
the 55 grainers shoot shoot fine in it, the 1:8 should be
OK.
I have forester dies, I like the way the expander works. I
use Redding imperial size wax and really like it.

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TexIndian
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Posted: September 19 2011 at 9:31am | IP Logged Quote TexIndian

Welcome Griz.

I'm just starting to get into serious AR loading myself. I've been loading plinkers for one AR for a few years but am now waiting for delivery on a new LaRue OBR in 5.56, so it's time to get serious. BTW, that's a nice brand of weapon you've got there.

I see Varget and 4895 mentioned a lot for the heavier bullets. I've used a lot of Win 748 and IMR 4198 for my .223s over the years with good results with lighter bullets. Those are faster burning powders than the others. Most newer loading manuals have special recipes for the black guns so you might check that out.

I use Imperial Sizing wax as a lube. I need to figure a good way to apply it in bulk situations. I've been thinking of smearing it on my old lube pad.

I do like Paul does - let neck tension take care of holding the bullet. I haven't crimped a bottleneck case in 30 years, incl for the AR, M1A, or Mini-14. Too many things can go wrong - if case lengths aren't exactly the same you get inconsistent crimps, if you apply even a tad too much taper crimp the case will bulge at the shoulder and won't chamber, etc. I used RBCS dies for years and years on semi-auto rounds and now use Redding. I don't use Lee dies. Just a personal bias.

Still on the crimp issue, if you start getting 4-5 firings on brass without annealing, you may start to get neck tension issues and crimping may be more important.

As mentioned, Federal brass has a reputation for being a tad softer than others, and primer pockets tend to open up sooner with hotter loads. That doesn't mean a lot of it isn't being used.

I've used lots of small rifle primers in .223. Since most ARs have a floating firing pin, the #41 CCI primers are often recommended (that's what I use). The primer cups are a little thicker to avoid slam fires from the floating firing pins. These primers run just a tad hotter than regular so you need to be watchful when using a max load. I've never really had any issues in that regard.

I've used only 55gr bullets so far in my AR, but like I mentioned I've only been making plinker loads so far. I plan on experimenting with the heavier bullets as soon as the new gun gets here. Just because the faster-twist barrels are designed for the heavier bullets doesn't mean those guns can't shoot a lighter bullet well. I will say my 55gr plinkers shoot a lot better than the 55gr military surplus rounds I've run through it.


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Montana Griz
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Posted: September 19 2011 at 10:49pm | IP Logged Quote Montana Griz

............Thanks for all the responses to my post (questions)......I appreciate it.

As of a few hours ago, I now have my "new toy" & other related goodies all cleaned, assembled & ready "to go".

I am thrilled with the way everything worked out as related to the deminsions and how every thing "went together".

The 15 1/8" LOP of the Magpul ACS stock on the CMMG LOWER assembly just happens to be "perfect" for me....(dumb-luck.....I certainly didn't know it would work out that way.)

And with the scope mounted on the forward end of the flat-top receiver.......the resulting distance from the eyepiece to my eye happens to be just right for a "full-field-of-view"......again, just 'dumb-luck'.

OAL of the rifle (20" barrel) with the stock (not extended) is 37 1/4".

I'm glad I got the "Midwest Industries" "T" Series, 12" long, 'free-flosting' Hand Guard w/ the "4" Picatinny Rails. Plenty of room to mount a BiPod and any other "goodies" in the future......Plus the potential accuracy enhanceing advantage of a "Free-Floating Barrel".

As soon as I try some of the 55 gr FMJ (Federal American Eagle Tactical AE223)ammo (locally available: 500 for $150.& no tax in MT) , I'll post what kind of groups I'm getting. ...   Then I'll have some brass to load up some handloads with some Sierra 63 gr on top of VARGET, and see if this barrel likes the 63gr better than the 55gr.

Anyway guys......I'm "a-happy-camper" so far .......doesn't take much(at this age) to make this 'ole Fogey act like a "kid-at-XMas".

Thanks again.


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gotsig?
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Posted: September 20 2011 at 8:39am | IP Logged Quote gotsig?

Of the powders you have listed I'd go with Varget. I use 26.0g with a 52g Speer JHP getting 5-shot 1/2 MOA groups. I have a 1:9 twist and it does NOT like anything over 62g. Every rifle is different... generally speaking a 1:9 should be good for up to 69g, but mine doesn't care for them at all.

In this order I'd use Varget, H335, W748 and BL-(C)2- all with magnum rifle primers. I have used H322 with good success, but with a standard primer.

I use a firm crimp and not the Lee FCD- I don't like the grooves it leaves on the mouth. Just use a good taper crimp die turned in about 1/2- 3/4 turn after it makes contact. Loosen the crimp die, then pull the handle on you press to get the bullet in place to crimp. Now turn the crimp die down till it makes contact- let the handle down and set the crimp die another 1/2- 3/4 turn and leave it.

I use Dillon case lube. Put my cases in a ziplock bag... spray and shake em around. Hornady One- Shot sucks IMHO... might as well use spit.
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Yeti
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Posted: September 20 2011 at 7:28pm | IP Logged Quote Yeti

Welcome to the dark side! I love my EBR!

Your 1:8 barrel should be just fine with the 55gr pills.

In my 20" 1:8 twist barrel I have been hard pressed to beat a 60gr vmax
over 25.8 gr of Varget with CCI 400 primer. Even the 69gr smk has yet to
beat the 60 gr vmax in my gun.

The Lee FCD is a great die when loading for the 223. I have recorded
slightly tighter consistency in loads using it vs not crimping. I now crimp all
my AR loads.

Run your bolt "wet" and clean the carbon out when things start to slow
down. If you get the kind of accuracy I am getting you will be very happy
with your new gun.

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swampshooter
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Posted: September 21 2011 at 11:32am | IP Logged Quote swampshooter

Hornady One Shot definitely sucks, when you don't read and follow the directions. I have a very tight match chamber in my AR. I load range brass on a Dillon 550 with small base dies adjusted just as tight as I can get them. Hornady one shot spray lube works fine,,,,,, but you have to read the directions.

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gotsig?
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Posted: September 21 2011 at 4:56pm | IP Logged Quote gotsig?

swampshooter wrote:
Hornady One Shot definitely sucks, when you don't read and follow the directions. I have a very tight match chamber in my AR. I load range brass on a Dillon 550 with small base dies adjusted just as tight as I can get them. Hornady one shot spray lube works fine,,,,,, but you have to read the directions.


I know how to read... I just graduated high school yesterday

One-Shot doesn't hold a dime against Dillon lube. I'll give you the rest of this POS can thats sitting on my bench for shipping.
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Rigmarol
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Posted: September 21 2011 at 7:33pm | IP Logged Quote Rigmarol

I use simple mink oil from the shoe polish section of your local grocery store.

Wipe my fingers across then handle the case as I work with them and all is good.
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Rootie
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Posted: October 01 2011 at 6:15am | IP Logged Quote Rootie

Hi everyone, this thread was very interesting for me. I'm starting to reload
223 as well, Armalite M-15A4, and I have been looking for some of this info.
I haven't loaded any yet, but after a lot of reading I'm thinking Varget, small
rifle primers, 62 gr. and my once fired assorted cases. My rifle has a 1 in 7
twist but it seems to be plenty accurate with the 55gr. rounds as well. I have
about 500 rounds of 62 gr. green tips that I will be using for cases after I
shoot them and they have been annealed. Would it help to anneal my
assorted cases before loading them to extend their life? And if so could
someone refresh my memory on temperature and cooling time, etc...
Thanks!
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Posted: October 01 2011 at 8:26am | IP Logged Quote Rigmarol

Welcome Matt!

Just starting reloading I suggest not worrying about annealing just
now. Too many other things to get right before you even need to work
on getting cases to last longer.

Personally, I've never needed to anneal .223, but that's just m
experience, others may have different suggestions.

Best of luck and be sure to share as you go forward!
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Rootie
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Posted: October 07 2011 at 5:51am | IP Logged Quote Rootie

Thanks for your reply RIG, I'll let you know how they turn out!
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