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Phil3
12-04-2009, 10:31 AM
I have been told it is probably a good idea to shoot various factory ammo in my AR15 to learn what it "likes", before investing into reloading components. A few questions.

1) Does the testing need to be done with very high quality ammo or average quality stuff? Expensive stuff can cost 3X what plain vanilla ammo does ($0.50/shot to $1.60/shot).

2) How many groups and rounds per group do I need to shoot to draw any real conclusions about performance? If just 20, I would try to buy a box of 20 only.

3) Reverse engineering factory ammo is easy for the case, powder weight, bullet weight, and seating depth, but what about powder used, bullet make (if not indicated on ammo box) or primer used?

Thanks.

- Phil

Larry Elliott
12-04-2009, 02:20 PM
Since, aside from bullet weight, not much from a factory load is transferable to a handloaded cartridge I can't see much point in shooting a bunch of factory loads to see what the rifle likes. Duplicating a factory load is nearly impossible.

If it's got a 1 in 9 twist barrel bullets heavier than 68/69 gr aren't likely to stablilize well, so you're limited there on the upper end, and probably 40 gr on the lower end. Decide what bullet weight you want to use, buy some in that weight, and a suitable powder and start loading. Soft point bullets are probably not the best choice in an AR, but hollow points, plastic tipped bullets (A-Max, V-Max, Ballistic Tip, Blitzking) and FMJ's should feed well.

The part that nobody seems to want to do is the work or developing a load. In an AR there's a limit to how long loaded rounds can be, 2.26" absolute maximum, so seat the bullets to less than 2.26" OAL. Use a powder of suitable burning rate for the bullet weight you've chosen, and load some up.

Nobody can tell you what load will work in YOUR rifle, you'll have to figure that out.

Phil3
12-04-2009, 02:45 PM
I am not expecting anyone to tell me what load will work in my rifle...just wanting to do load development in the most sensible way.

69 grain would be my upper limit...Krieger (the barrel maker) said it should those without trouble. They recommended a range of 55 - 69 grain for the 1:9" twist. I have no real preference on bullet weight, but thought about using a 53 grain Sierra MatchKing flat base bullet, hollow point with Vihtavuori N133 powder (23.6 grains), Winchester brass, and either Remington 7-1/2 or CCI 400 primers. The bullet/powder combo is straight from Sierra as an "accuracy" load for the AR15. Supposed to deliver 2900 fps.

- Phil

Larry Elliott
12-04-2009, 02:52 PM
A lot depends on what you intend to use your AR for too. What Sierra says is their accuracy load may or may not work well in your rifle. Sierra's load is a good place to start. If you're going to shoot the 53 gr Sierra's you might also want to try Benchmark which works well in my AR with 55's, and is easier to find and less expensive than N133 if it works in your AR.

Phil3
12-04-2009, 03:55 PM
My objective is too shoot the tightest groups possible at 100 yards (and rarely at 300), using mag length ammo, off a bench (bipod), at paper targets. There are so many powders that supposedly work well, hard to know where to beguin. How much performance difference can one typically expect between powders? Should I buy several bottles? Or is it more of how much a powder and other variables that make more of a difference?

- Phil

MarkR
12-04-2009, 04:03 PM
Ranshot TAC is a good all around propellant for the 5.56/223. After talking to Sierra, I tried some Norma 201 with the 69 gr SMK and it is good...and fast too, nearly 3000 fps. I also use IMR 4895 and BL C on occasion. since I have switched to Mag primers only there is no sense in telling you that I got better results with BL C using mag primers :D. I'm starting to really like the Wolf SR mag primers the more that I shoot them, but I still use a lot of CCI SR Mags and CCI #41's as well. I also uniform all of my primer pockets for the AR platform.
Mark

Larry Elliott
12-04-2009, 04:20 PM
My objective is too shoot the tightest groups possible at 100 yards (and rarely at 300), using mag length ammo, off a bench (bipod), at paper targets. There are so many powders that supposedly work well, hard to know where to beguin. How much performance difference can one typically expect between powders? Should I buy several bottles? Or is it more of how much a powder and other variables that make more of a difference?

- Phil

Unless you're independently wealthy buying more than more than a pound of each powder you're going to try can pretty soon break you up in business. There are differences from lot to lot in powders, but if one lot of powder works other lots will work, but might need slight adjustments in charge weight from lot to lot.

Once you find a powder that works with your bullet of choice buy as much as you can afford, and hopefully all of the same lot. Larger cannisters are less expensive (per lb) and handier to store when you've figured out what works.

Phil3
12-04-2009, 05:05 PM
I was just going to buy several different powders, each in a 1 lb. container.

- Phil

Gerry
12-04-2009, 05:21 PM
I would first by a reloading manual.
You have to learn the basics of reloading first, several of the manual have really good lads. I like the sierra although mine are quite old they still help me get a good start on a caliber i'm going to try.
4895 is one of the mose flexable powders out there . It's a good start.
You will find the new hodgdon short cut really good.