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This blog is simply intented to share information. It is in no way a loading manual. I'm not an expert blogger or author so there will be typos. If you don't recognize these typos and blindly use ridiculous charges it is your own fault.

Use common sense. Double check all information in this blog with other manuals. Work up your own loads. I'm not responsible for your mistakes, even if you're making the same mistakes as me.
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First couple of outings

Posted 10-16-2012 at 11:54 PM by mroels

Started reloading about 6 weeks ago. My main goal with learning reloading was to simply learn another aspect of the shooting sport and to create long range ammo for my rifles. I shoot an RRA AR 16" 1/9 which nothing fancy, it's a 3/4 moa rifle when I do my part, and I really just want to take it as far as it is willing to go.

Another major consideration for me was space. I live in a one bedroom with my wife and space is limited. We do have a garage but I wanted to stay inside for this activity. Also since I wasn't sure about whether I really would get into this I wanted to keep it cheap. So here was my initial shopping list:

Lee Breech Hand Press
.223 Lee PaceSetter Dies
Lee hand primer
Lee zip trim with .223 gauge
Lee case trim set.
Hornady digital scale.
Lyman tumbler/ corn media
FA caliper
RCBS lube pad
FA bullet puller
RCBS mic

200 68gr Hornady hpbt
100 69 gr SMK
250 69gr Nosler
1lb Varget
1lb Ram TAC
1lb H335
1lb H322
1k CCI #41

On my wishlist:
Turret press

Loading with the handpress is not hard at all, but it is slow because what would be your free hand with a bench press is now holding the handpress. So basically you're working one handed. It takes me about 3hrs/100rnds and that is if I use a dispenser.

My process:
-Seat bullet
-Crimp (Lee FCD, very light crimp)

First outing

Loaded 85 rounds of .223, building up loads every 5 rounds.

PMC brass once fired
69gr Sierra SMK
Ramshot TAC 22.2gr to 23.8gr going up in .1increments every 5 rounds
CCI #41 primers
OAL 2.20"

I really just wanted to replicate the 69gr Black Hills I've been shooting. Everything went smooth. No failures of any kind, except for my brass catcher not catching anything.

I was really surprised by the difference in recoil felt. My rifle definitely liked the lighter loads better in terms of accuracy. Everything up to 23.1 grains was between 1moa to 3/4moa, above that groups started to open up. Maybe it was just me getting tired. But either way 3/4moa out of my rifle is good. I shot some Black Hills too and was getting right around the 1moa mark.

I checked all the brass by the loads and no signs of over pressure or headspace issues. I did notice the ammo fouled up my rifle more than commercial ammo? Indicative of anything?

I've only got a few more SMK's left but plenty of Hornady match bullets so hopefully results won't vary too much on my next loading session.

All in all it was a great experience. It was very satisfying to see my ammo perform as well as BHA (at least at 100yds). Considering I'm loading this at about the same price as plinking ammo I'm happy. I'm happy to have brought home a ton of brass so I can reload more!

BHA ammo

22.5 grains of RAM TAC. I had two flyers because brass flying in my face from my neighbor.

Second Outing
Went out with my second batch of .223 reloads today. Last time I played around with 69gr Sierra SMK and Ram TAC. This time I had 140 rounds, half were the SMK's and half were Hornady 68gr. Used Varget this time around. Since I'm still a newbie I'm not even wanting to go anywhere close to the max, so all the charges are low to medium. First observations during loading, the Varget filled the case to the point of bullet crunching it. Which confused me whilst seating hence my bullet scraping thread. Secondly the 68gr Hornady is an extremely long bullet for its weight. Almost same length as 77gr SMK. This worried me because of my barrel twist.

Brass - Black Hills, once fired
Powder - Varget starting at 24.6 to 25.5 upped .1gr ever 5rounds.
Bullets - 68gr HDY HPBT & 69gr Sierra SMK
OAL - 2.240"
Primer - CCI #41

I fired the two different bullets side by side. The 69gr SMK's way outperformed the Hornady at 100yds. Best groups were 1/2 moa with 24.8 grains of Varget, but as with the Ram TAC they opened up with the hotter loads. (although I'm still so far under max that maybe I just haven't hit the ultimate precision node yet) The Hornadys were terrible with the lower charges and didn't get under MOA until 25.2 grains of Varget. I will have to up the charge for the Horandys as I don't think I got the best out of that bullet yet.

In addition I loaded up 5 rounds of each bullet type at 24.6 grains, 25.0 grains, 25.5 grains to see how they'd compare at 200yds. The SMK's remained solid right around the MOA mark (was pretty windy). The Hornadys really stepped it up with the 25.5 grain load hitting 3/4 MOA.

I don't have a chronograph so this is pure speculation but I think the Hornady will outperform the SMK at distance due to higher BC and being more accurate with a hotter load.

Took my loads out to my favorite BLM spot to get some distance on them.

Loads were:
CCI #41

68gr HDY hpbt
23.5 Ram TAC
CCI #41

69gr Nosler hpbt
25.5 Varget
CCI #41

60gr HDY V-max (untested load)
23gr Ram TAC
CCI #41

I zeroed my rifle on the top load and just made corrections throughout the day. The two loads I was really interested in were the 68gr Hornady loads, the other two were more just for fun. Conditions weren't ideal, lots of wind around 14-20mph. In addition the wind direction was forcing the wind up out of the canyon as well as over the hilltop making it difficult to read.

I ended up shooting from 400yds and 575yds. Since I don't own a chrono I really just plugged average numbers into the ballistics calculator to get close and then dialed to adjust.

My observations were that both 68gr loads did real well at 400yds. The wind wasn't too much off an issue especially since it was coming in at only half value from that position. My initial observation at the target was that the 68gr arrives with a ton of energy leaving tiny craters in my steel targets, something that most rounds don't even do at 100yds. The groups were about 1.25 MOA. Varget did a little better, however the TAC load should be dialed back a little as at 23.5gr at 100yds it was opening up a little compared to lighter loads. I just picked that load because I wanted a bit more velocity as I wasn't sure how far I was gonna go yesterday.

At 575yds it was kind of a crapshoot as the wind was now at 90deg and gusting like crazy so had to adjust my holds constantly. I was still getting consistent hits on target. Surprisingly the 60gr V-max was the most consistent even with the ever changing wind. The Nosler was all over the place.

400yds - 25.5 Varget / 68gr HDY

400yds - 23.5 TAC / 68gr HDY

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  1. Old Comment
    mroels's Avatar
    400yds - 25.5 Varget / 68gr HDY

    400yds - 23.5 TAC / 68gr HDY

    Posted 10-16-2012 at 11:54 PM by mroels mroels is offline

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