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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I got a dumb question? I'm fairly new to metalic reloading and I'm trying to work a load up for my AR-15. I am using Hornady 55gr FMJBT, H-335 powder, CCI SR Primers, and my own once fired Lake City Brass. I'm not trying to duplicate mil. ball ammo, Just want to work up an accurate target load. Here's my problem with the info.
Hornady Manual lists 20.8 grs min. / 23.2 grs max.
Speer Manual lists 24.0 grs min. / 26.0 grs max.
Nosler manual lists 23.0 grs min. / 25.0 grs max.
Hodgens manual lists 24.0 grs min. / 26.0 grs max.
My questions is which load data do you guys follow? The bullet manufacturer data or the powder manufacturer data?
Do you think if I start out at 22.0 grs I might get a squib load? This is an AR so I dont want to start to hot and wreck the rifle. I also dont want to have to beat a stuck bullet out of my barrel.
Any body have any thoughts on where to start?
The rifle is chambered .223/5.56 mm with a 16" barrel. Thanks Mikal
 

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Go load some and see if it is in the region you're after.
I went over the top with a load for my (malfunctioning) rifle and it shot till it broke. Then I rebuilt the bolt & FCG and now it's fine. No more hot loads.
You must establish your own process for evaluating hand loads.
I always start out in the upper third of the range for any particular powder.
For some I go to the top of the list and reduce by 10%.
I have always gone backward from the listed data and have always had improved results.
Hotter loads don't translate into more accurate loads.
Never had a problem.
I do all my reloading on single stage equipment.
Now stop talkin' and go load some ammo and go shoot it all up.
 

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I have used 25.0 grains of H-335 or AA2230 under any 55 grain jacketed bullet for as long as AA2230 has been called AA2230(it was originally MR223). The powders are identical as far as my experience reaches, 18 years or so. I started using H-335 data with the surplus WC844 back in the 90's. Work up as with any new load, you won't be disappointed.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the replies, I got confused with Hornady listing 23.2 grs as max and the rest listing 23/24 grs as the starting load.
 

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Maybe start with 23 grains and move up in 1/2 grain increments? FWIW that is what I do - move up in 1/2 grain increments when developing a new load. I am of the camp that max load is not always the most accurate. The only way to get an accurate load is to work up to one. Usual caveats apply - watch for signs of excess pressure, blown primers, case head splitting, etc. Since you are shooting an AR, sticky extraction should not be a problem.

Now - go load some up and shoot!
 

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Mikal, the first thing you need to remember is that you are loading ammunition for a gas operated rifle. The whole thing relies on the proper pressures within the barrel and at the gas port. To achieve this one must use the right powders (burning rates) and the right amounts. The 5.56 NATO runs at higher pressures than the .223 Remington. This is why it is recommended that 5.56 is NOT used in a rifle chambered for the .223. It won't hurt anything however to use .223 in a 5.56 chamber. Sierra's reloading manual (mine is #5) has a great lesson in loading for gas rifles. It also has two seperate areas of data for the 5.56 and the .223. I won't quote data here because I am a poor typist and I wouldn't want to mis-type and blow up your rifle, but the same powders loaded in the .223 are 5-10% greater in volume in the 5.56. Any load within the listed specs for the 5.56 will work fine.

Since you say you are new to metalic relaoding, make sure you use small base dies and bullets with a cannelure and tight crimp at the case mouth. It can make a mess if a bullet jumps out of the case when it is slammed into the chamber.

Send a range report. Have fun and be safe.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'll be using the new RCBS small base AR dies. I got them last week but haven't tried them yet. The reviews say you have to watch you don't over lube the cases.
 

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I'll be using the new RCBS small base AR dies. I got them last week but haven't tried them yet. The reviews say you have to watch you don't over lube the cases.
Over lubing tends to dent the shoulder area because the lube can't be displaced. Some of the dry spray lubes avoid this problem but I have found them hard/a pain to clean off the case. I really like the RCBS water soluable lube. After sizing the cases go in a soapy hot water bath and get cleaned and dried. They come out clean as can be.

You will get the hang of it. It is not rocket science, you just have to pay attention.
 

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I usually tend to use data from the bullets manufacturer that I'm using. If using Nosler bullets, I'll use Nosler data.
 

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I would consider two points before reloading the round. If the barrel has a twist rate of 1 in 9 inches - then it is designed to shoot a heavier bullet. The second is the loading manuals are for commercial brass and military brass is thicker with smaller case capacity. The brass was designed for battlefield abuse and is therefore heavier. I would start at the lower end of the scale and work up. Since you are loading a ball powder I would certainly start at a reduced load. Since you want target ammo for accuracy I would start by weighing each case after being cleaned and de-primed. I would keep brass for target that is within 5/10ths of a grain of each other. Back to twist rates. The original was 1 in 10 and shoots the 50 to 55 grain bullet well. The 1 in 9 shoots the 60 and 62 grain well. The 1 in 8 goes from about 65 grains up to 80 grains.
 

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I started loading for my Colt AR in .223 and had similar concerns so I read and read until my eyes were blurry. To make this short, I reload .55 grain projectiles over 24.5 grains of H335 and have been very happy with its consistent shooting and reliability. If you read up on H335, you will find many folks using 24.5 +/- a tad for this same bullet.

safe and happy loading
 

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Back to twist rates. The original was 1 in 10 and shoots the 50 to 55 grain bullet well. The 1 in 9 shoots the 60 and 62 grain well. The 1 in 8 goes from about 65 grains up to 80 grains.
FYI, the original Armalite AR-15 had a 1:14 twist, the M16A1 was 1:12, and the M16A2 was 1:7. Colt backed off to 1:9 on its commercial rifles to be able to shoot bullets in the 55-62 grain range acceptably.

Buck
 

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The first rule of working up a load is:Start with the lowest starting load you can find.Do NOT jump to the load you think you want, work up to it.Pressure developed in your gun will not be the same as in my gun.DO NOT start half-way up the range, start with the starting load. It is named that for a reason.
 

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I will venture to answer your question. Notice primer brand is usually different as is your OAL(cartridge overall length). All of these factors affect pressures to varying degrees, thus the different charge weights usually. SAAMI sets standards for maximums, kept under that, manufacturers roll the dice for their "winning combinations." This has been my observations over 20 years of handloading. Also watch publication dates on sources of reloading info. Hope this helps, and does't stir muddy water.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks for all the info, I just got confussed when one manual said 23 grs was max and the others listed 23 grs as a starting load. I got about $1500 in the rifle and alot more invested in me and didn't wan't to blow either of them up.
 
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