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papajoe222

Reloading Anyone?

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I'm going to get my feet wet starting with .223 Rem.  I have a single stage press and all the other components and tools on order. I've read and watched a ton in an effort to educate myself as much as I can. Seeing as this site is about sharing information, I was wondering if anyone reloads and if so, do you have any tips on avoiding mistakes or just tips in general?

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I shoot local pistol competitions as one of my hobbies and started reloading about a year and a half ago. Lee's modern reloading book is a good read for someone just starting out. It has about 90 pages of general reloading information followed by reloading data for any caliber you will shoot. If you aren't going to get any reloading books you can get load data from every powder manufactures website. 

 

I started out on a progressive press and was a little worried at first because I read a bunch of stuff online about how I can blow my self up, but after trying it I figured out that it's pretty easy. You aren't going to blow your self up by being off by a few tenths of a grain or even a grain or two off. You will blow your gun up by throwing a double charge or no powder at all. One guy I shoot with doesn't even weigh out his charge. He just looks at how much powder is in the case and calls it good (I don't recommend this method). My biggest tip is to look inside every case before seating a bullet and if the powder amount doesn't look right, set it aside and weigh it later.  If you have a round you just loaded that you aren't sure about you can use a bullet puller to save the components or just toss it. Don't try to multi task while reloading, this is where people make mistakes. 

 

Every match I shoot, at least one person has a squib and I have even seen a guy blow up his gun. When I talk to these people after the match they almost all mess up when first setting up their press. They say that they were trying out some new loads and probably let one slip by without powder. When setting up a progressive press most people will run a few rounds without powder to get the bullet sizing and seating correct then they will open up the powder dispenser. The guys who end up with a squib probably weren't paying attention and let one of the test rounds end up in their completed bullet pile. 

Reloading may seem complicated at first but once you load a few rounds you will realize that it isn't that difficult. Visually inspect every powder charge and every round. If something doesn't feel or look right just pull the bullet and start over. 

 

 

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First you have to answer, What is your objective?  This dictates how you will be reloading. 

If want to reload to save money because you just like to go out and play shootem up bang, bang with an AR.  That's about the most basic form of loading you can do.  You just want them as cheap and easy as you can and still be safe, chamber and fire.

If you just want to punch holes in paper with the smallest group possible, that gets a whole lot more involved and requires a different skill set and more of a financial investment.

Now, if you are a hunter, and want to load the most accurate hunting load for your rifle, another different skill set is involved and a lot more time and effort into load development.  I consider good hunting loads to be the hardest to develop.  Reason being, accurate loads just to punch paper, don't have to get very concerned about velocity, just accuracy.   Good hunting still have the target load accuracy, but normally at much higher velocities.  Sometimes you have to give up some accuracy to get good velocity.  Finding the key to that combination can require trying numbers of different powders, primers and bullets, and a whole lot of trigger time. 

I bought my first reloader in 1965 and have loaded for just shooting, competition bench rest and hunting.  I am an accuracy freak, no matter what I'm shooting, pistol, rifle or shotgun.  Everything is custom tailored for accuracy.  My hunting rifles and hunting loads are close to competition bench rest accuracy, and I put about the same amount of work into case prep and load development for a hunting load as I do for a load that I wanted to shoot bug holes in competition with.

So, back to my original comment, figure out what you initial objective is, because if it's the very best possible accuracy, you have a lot of money to spend on specialty items and a huge learning curve to get there.  If you want to be able to just load up some bullets and go shoot, then there are only a few basic items you need.  

A 223 is a good rifle to learn on.  It's about as cheap as anything you can shoot to load for.  Get the right rifle in it and they can be inherently accurate right out of the box.  Just make sure you do your homework and know what you plan to use it for.  That dictates the type and make rifle you should plan on getting.  If it's a hunting rifle, you don't really want a big heavy, bull barrel, but a target rifle, you don't really want a small thin hunting barrel.  If you are going to be shooting small targets at closer ranges, you want faster twist barrel.  I you want to shoot a lot of 400+ yards, you want to slower twist barrel for heavier bullets. 

Don't go into it blind and figure out after the fact you screwed up. 

 

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5 hours ago, Way2slow said:

First you have to answer, What is your objective?  This dictates how you will be reloading. 

If want to reload to save money because you just like to go out and play shootem up bang, bang with an AR.  That's about the most basic form of loading you can do.  You just want them as cheap and easy as you can and still be safe, chamber and fire.

 

 

That describes my reloading to a "t" LOL

Before I can give you any advice based on the stuff I have learned papajoe222, knowing what  you want out of it, and where you want to go with makes a diiference, because loading blasting/plinking ammo, is way different than loading precision ammo.

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Thanks guys. The only reason I'm getting into reloading is to improve accuracy. My rifle will shoot 1in. groups @ 300yrd. with factory ammo. That may be the limit of my ability, IDK, but I'd like to believe I can get more out of the gun using custom ammo. I know that developing a load is time consuming and isn't done to reduce costs. I also know there is a big learning curve.  

Im just looking to eliminate some pitfalls like bad habits, through other's experiences. 

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28 minutes ago, papajoe222 said:

Thanks guys. The only reason I'm getting into reloading is to improve accuracy. My rifle will shoot 1in. groups @ 300yrd. with factory ammo. That may be the limit of my ability, IDK, but I'd like to believe I can get more out of the gun using custom ammo. I know that developing a load is time consuming and isn't done to reduce costs. I also know there is a big learning curve.  

Im just looking to eliminate some pitfalls like bad habits, through other's experiences. 

Your 223 shoots 1" at 300 with factory ammo?

I'm assuming that's a bolt action so you won't need to worry about OAL so I'd try a 69gr Matchking and try ten thousandths of freebore. If I remember correctly Varget worked good for me 

 

what twist? 

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1" groups at 300 is a pretty good group, even if it's just three shots, for an out of the box factory rifle with factory ammo.  My 223 very regularly shoots 3/4" - 1" five shot groups at 400 yards and it's a full custom build with match grade loads developed for it.

I'm pretty tied up right now, and half crippled where I've had Basal joint surgery on my left and (and I'm left handed) so it's almost useless to me for a while, but I will try to type up a detailed discretion of what all I do and how I do it but you have to be serious about it.  It's going to required high quality dies, a way of checking run out, chamber depth, throat depth, bullet seating depth to the .001" inch, case OAL, neck turner, primer pocket conditioner, good brass (Lapua) several different powders and primers and other stuff I'm sure I haven't thought about.  In other words, it's going to be a little expensive to get set up if you are wanting to get serious about accuracy. 

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.333 moa is about as good as it gets.  you may eek out a little but the cost is going to go up a lotttttt.  Some great information can be found on 6mmbr.com with loads bullets and other recommendations and information. 

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Thanks again guys. 

7 hours ago, Hi Salenity said:

Your 223 shoots 1" at 300 with factory ammo?

Yea, it took a while to find the right one, but Hornady offers a .75g HPBT that this rifle seems to really like. There was a world of difference in accuracy when I switched to their 68g offering and when I found a box of the 75g, I had to try it. A little pricy, but worth it. 

Honestly, I have no idea what the twist rate is on the barrel, but with it liking the heavier bullet, I'm guessing it isn't mil spec. Could I get that info from Savage?

Edit: twist is 9 per Savage website

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Get the Lee loading book.  Read it before starting.  I like loading by volume (not mass) with the Lee dippers and their manual.  I do not load a many at one time so  I find this method simple, very accurate, and cheap.

 

DO NOT use loads that folks recommend on the Internet.  You should use the Lee manual, or other accredited manual, and start at the minimum load.  As each gun (even the same make) will be different.

 Like anything it will take some practice to get use to the tools and become an accurate andconsistent  loader.  So don't judge the results of your recepie until you have some time into it. Once your hit a good stride for the process you will be able to work up a load.  

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1 hour ago, papajoe222 said:

Thanks again guys. 

Yea, it took a while to find the right one, but Hornady offers a .75g HPBT that this rifle seems to really like. There was a world of difference in accuracy when I switched to their 68g offering and when I found a box of the 75g, I had to try it. A little pricy, but worth it. 

Honestly, I have no idea what the twist rate is on the barrel, but with it liking the heavier bullet, I'm guessing it isn't mil spec. Could I get that info from Savage?

Edit: twist is 9 per Savage website

A 1:9 twist is average for a .223. 1:9 is one revolution in nine inches. A 75gr bullet is near the upper end of what that twist can stabilize. A faster twist will do a better job of stabilizing heavier bullets. 

.33 MOA is about as good as it gets. if you want to shrink your groups even more, you are getting into the sorting your brass by weight territory. 

 

You could also mess around with your rifle by pillar or glass bedding the stock if it isn't already or free floating the barrel. 

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Bullet weight is not as critical a bullet length.  A 1:9 is more suited for the 69 grain Jacketed Lead core bullets but some do shoot the 75 grain A-Max very well if you can keep the velocity up because they are not quite as long as a lot of the hollow point target bullets in that weight.  I shoot a lot of the 75gr A-Max's at 500 and 600 yards.  As for pricey, A-Max's and V-Max's are prices bullet to start with.  Don't even bother trying the longer Barnes triple shocks in anything much heavier than the 62 grain, they are just too long for a 1:9 twist to stabilize.  Just for general shooting out to 500 yards, I shoot a lot of Sierra 69gr BTHP, and it's also the main load I use for coyotes because where I hunt them, most shots are 300 to 500 yards.

One thing mentioned above I want to comment on.  Loading by volume or loading by weight, powders that flow and meter well, do ok loading by volume.  Not all powders meet that bill and I find they do much better loading by weight. 

Also, bedding the action.  If not done properly, it does very little to improve accuracy and can actually hurt accuracy.  It's not something I recommend someone try on their own without some proper guidance and very few I've come across know how themselves and the guidance they give is junk.  A proper pillar post bedding job requires a lot of very exacting work.  A lot of so called gun smith's I've seen do botched jobs. 

One suggestion I will make that will help as much as anything, is how you resize your brass.  I DO NOT neck size only and don't advocate it, especially with hunting loads that you don't want to be trying to chamber a round and the bolt won't close.  I full length resize all brass with a .001" bump on the shoulder.  I say do not neck size, to prevent chambering problems but at the same time do not full length resize to the full depth of the die.  That makes a case so small, it actually flops around in the chamber.  A .001" bump down on the shoulder keeps things nice and smooth and very accurate loads.

Next, don't get wrapped up in the bullet seating depth game.  It has very little affect on accuracy and is the very last thing you even want to try for that final little tweak after everything else is dialed in.  I always start with my bullets seated .020" off the lands, and many times that never changes.  Some rifles and bullets want even let you get that close without having to shoot single shot.  Again, don't fret it, it's just not that critical, especially if everything else is right.  Understand also, as I mentioned, all mine are custom builds with custom chambers and custom cut throat depths so I have not problems getting my seating depth .020" off or jammed into the lands if I so wish. 

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:annoyed1:  A lot of great info, but as I said, I'm just starting out.  Once I get comfortable with being able to replicate a load, I can start experimenting with different bullets, powders, etc.

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OK, exactly what all do you have now?

Scales?  What kind, make and model

Dies, What make.  Also in 223, make sure you don't get the SB dies, there are for the AR guys that have chambering problems. 

You said you have a single stage press, what kind?

Do you have a good set of calipers, either digital or dial?  Those are a must have.

A set of Redding S Bushing Dies are pretty much required.  The size bushing is to be determined by brass prep. 

A set of Hornady bullet comparators that fit in a dial caliper is needed 

If you by chance have access to a lathe, you can make you a shell holder, if not you need to order the $50 set of Redding competition shell holders, so you can set up you resizing die

A gauge to check run out is required.

Case neck trimmer is required

Case length trimmer, adjustable, not one of those Lee peg things

A throat gauge to measure the barrels throat depth.

100 pieces of Lapua Brass to get started with

A piece of brass shot in the rifle chamber but not resized with a hole drilled through the primer pocket a cleaning  rod will go through. 

This is just some of the stuff you need for developing accuracy loads.  If you are serious about accuracy, these items are not optional. These are just the things to get started, with more to follow but just about all of this is required to either prep the brass or to measure and check you loads when done.  If you don't think you need it or want to spend the money for it,  then don't think about loading precision loads.

In your first post you mentioned avoiding mistakes.  The biggest mistake you can avoid if wanting to load accuracy loads is starting off cheap.  Almost everything you buy will have to be bought again.  Cheap stuff loads cheap bullets, but not much good for precision bullets for the most accuracy.

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After six weeks of trial and error, I believe I've finally found the Rx for my rifle. Brass is LC, TTL 1.750, 68gr Hornady Match BTHP, 23.5g Varget and the length from the ogive is 1.770   Using H4895 produced a slightly larger group with two rounds almost touching, but the Varget was most consistent.  Temp. was 58 and there was little to no wind. Rifle is a Savage Model 25 Lightweight Varmint 1.9 twist 24in. barrel and the scope is a Weaver 6X24X50mm (I think). From a bench with a sandbag rest.

Of the three groups, 11/16in. was the best.15/16in. the worst and the third was a shade under 3/4in. 

Needless to say, I'm a little pumped!  If anyone has a recipe they'd like to share, please do. 

Now I just need to figure out how to attach a pic

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The primer will lodge the bullet in the barrel. 

 

Its the the next round fired in a plugged barrel that does the damage. 

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