AR15.Com Archives
 IMR 4198 in 223: Hot loads? or are they?
spitstickler  [Member]
1/23/2009 4:47:31 AM
I'm new to reloading and am working on finding the right powder charge for a RRA AR-15, 5.56 chamber, 16" barrel with 1 in 9 twist. I'm more of a hunter than I am a bench rest shooter, so I'm not really after a one hole grouping (but that would be cool) I just need something that's fairly tight that I can hunt with. I've been reading a lot of the last 5 or 6 months from books and the internet and have slowly been buying equipment and components. I worked up my first batch of reloads this week and took them to the range; starting with minimum loads and working my way up to max. My first inclination was to just do .5 grain increases from low to high range and take whatever shot the tightest groups and run with it.

However, I ran across this site by Dan Newberry: http://www.clik.to/optimalchargeweight and decided to give this method a whirl. Basically take the max load, back it off 10%, load 1 cartridge at min, load one at min + 2%, load one at +4%, then load at 1% increments until you reach the max load, and then load 1 more @ 1% over the max.

I built loads from 17.2 up to 20.5 grains and shot 2 sets of 3 shot groups from 18.4 - 20.5 at 100 yards... round robin style like mentioned in the link above. All rounds functioned perfectly in the rifle and I couldn't see any problems with any of the brass after it was fired. No bulged primers, cracked necks, or stretched out cases that I could discern. My tightest groups were at 20.1 grains. I didn't have a chronograph so I have no idea on velocity.





Set #1:
6 groups of 3. Blue lines are inches. I think I kinda goofed up here and shot at one of those targets with the 4 smaller targets on the corners so I wasn't getting the view through the scope on two of the shots. I've scanned this in and did a comparison of the groups overlaid on top of each other.






Set #2:
5 groups of 3. I dug out some smaller targets that I could put up together and got more consistent results. Don't know what was up with the 19.2 here. I didn't load enough of the 20.5 to shoot a group in this set.




So, when I left the range I'm thinking "Sweet, 20.1 grains, I've found a good place to start!" But after I've finished compiling all of my results and have been looking over the max loads data, I have some concern about this load being too hot in two of my source data references. If I go by the Sierra data, I'm still a full grain under the max charge and good to go. (but I'm not shooting Sierra bullets. I don't think that should make a difference, but I'm new and still learning so someone correct me if I'm wrong on that.)

I like the way the 20.1 load is shooting, and it's hitting the target pretty much exactly where my 60 grn Black Hills stuff does, but I would really like to be able to re-use my brass as much as possible before I have problems with it and I don't want to be any harder on the gun than I have to. If any one has any input on this, I'd really like to hear it. I don't know if I should stick with this and see how long my brass lasts, look for another sweet spot on the bottom end of the range that I didn't explore, or switch powders and start over.


Here are my components:

  • New Winchester Brass

  • CCI 400 primers

  • IMR 4198

  • Hornady 60 grn SP

  • COL 2.197 with no crimp



  • I had access to load data from the following three sources: Avg max load is 19.9 grains for 60 grain bullet.

    Hornady
    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-
    Rifle used to test: Remington 700, 26" barrel, 1 in 12 twist, 60 grn SP
    Min Charge: 17.2 grains, 2700 fps
    Max Charge: 19.1 grains, 2900 fps

    Sierra (AR-15)
    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-
    Rifle used to test: 20" barrel, 1 in 7 twist, 60 grn HP.
    Min Charge: 19.4, 2700 fps
    Max Charge: 21.1, 2950 fps

    http://data.hodgdon.com
    ––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-
    Rifle used: Unknown, 60 grn
    Min Charge: 18.3, 2795 fps, 42,500 PSI
    Max Charge: 19.5, 2945 fps, 52,000 PSI
    Paid Advertisement
    --
    AeroE  [Moderator]
    1/23/2009 8:37:56 AM
    You're near maximum pressure.

    But, if your gun and brass don't show signs of over pressure, then your load is okay.

    If you are concerned about brass life, all you can do now is shoot the load and monitor the brass, then decide whether to back the charge weight down. Do this trial with a handful of segregated cases so you don't shoot out your entire stock of brass if these have short life.

    H4198 is fast for a 60 grain bullet in .223 Rem cases and I think you should look for a different powder that fills the case better. Shoot the H4198 with 45 and 50 grain bullets.
    FriscoPete  [Member]
    1/23/2009 12:27:06 PM
    I agree with AeroE - there are powders with a more suitable burning rate for 60 grainers. You might find that a powder that is on the faster side, like IMR 4198, is very touchy when you start to approach maximum with it. Powders of a slower rate that fill the case more are normally much less so.
    In addition, I think that you will achieve the better velocities at reasonable pressures with a less abrupt pressure curve with a slower powder under your 60-grainers.

    In addition, I personally don't really care for the way that 4198 meters. I would rather use a powder that has shorter grains like Varget and RL15, or a ball powder like TAC perhaps.
    In addition, these 3 powders are insensitive to hot/cold temperatures, unlike IMR4189 - which I find is a nice plus in hunting conditions for consistent POI.
    spitstickler  [Member]
    1/23/2009 3:01:07 PM
    Thanks for the feedback, guys. I will look into some other powders as I'm certainly not tied to this in anyway other than I have a pound of it now. I will use it to work up some prairie dog loads with some lighter bullets as suggested.

    A quick question on the Varget. I've been looking around and it looks like it can pretty much fill up the case at the higher end of the load data unless you're using a drop tube. My setup is pretty basic... Lee anniversary press kit. Currently I'm weighing every charge with the scale and pouring through the funnel into the empty case. Looking on Midway they have drop tubes for the more expensive powder charge setups but nothing for my Lee equipment.

    Is there any rocket science going on here? Can't I just get a small diameter tube of some sort that will reach the bottom of my cases and pour with the funnel?

    Also, will my cci 400 primers work with a compressed load? or do I need o jump up to a magnum?
    speedballalice  [Team Member]
    1/23/2009 4:18:07 PM
    I use Varget in my 77gr loads. I'm dropping 24gr into WCC military cases. I don't need a drop tube with this load, although there is a crunch when the bullet is seated. Varget works good for me since I only have a single stage press. It doesn't meter consistently enough my my liking out of my powder measure so I use a trickle charger. If I had a progressive I would change powders. Otherwise I really like Varget.

    BTW Although I have reloaded a lot pistol ammo I am beginner to reloading rifle cartridges
    dryflash3  [Team Member]
    1/23/2009 9:55:36 PM
    Originally Posted By spitstickler:
    Thanks for the feedback, guys. I will look into some other powders as I'm certainly not tied to this in anyway other than I have a pound of it now. I will use it to work up some prairie dog loads with some lighter bullets as suggested.

    A quick question on the Varget. I've been looking around and it looks like it can pretty much fill up the case at the higher end of the load data unless you're using a drop tube. My setup is pretty basic... Lee anniversary press kit. Currently I'm weighing every charge with the scale and pouring through the funnel into the empty case. Looking on Midway they have drop tubes for the more expensive powder charge setups but nothing for my Lee equipment.

    Is there any rocket science going on here? Can't I just get a small diameter tube of some sort that will reach the bottom of my cases and pour with the funnel?

    Also, will my cci 400 primers work with a compressed load? or do I need o jump up to a magnum?



    Yes you will need a drop tube for all but the lightest Varget charges.

    I got mine as a powder funnel kit from Midway about 10 years ago. I really like it.



    No rocket science to a drop tube.

    Tube goes between bottom of funnel and case mouth. (Not bottom of case)

    Notice that funnel is "smoke" colored as is the case adaptor.

    The drop tube is the clear piece between the two.

    I would guess that copper tubing and a flare tool is where I would start if I were to build my own.

    Your CCI-400's are fine.

    Magnum primers in 223 are used for the thicker cup.

    Thicker cup for higher pressures and less chance of slam fires.

    Powder charge is not the reason. (In 223)

    You are thinking Magnum rifle cases.
    spitstickler  [Member]
    1/23/2009 10:30:13 PM
    Ah cool. I see that midway does have a couple of option for funnels with a drop tube that aren't that expensive. I will pick one of those up. Thanks for the clarification on where the tube goes too. However, can you explain how pouring though the tubes allows more powder in the case? Since there are different lenghts of tubes available to purchase, I'm assumming that it must not let the powder through quite as fast and therefor it settles more compactly in the case?
    Paid Advertisement
    --