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4/22/2019 5:32:20 PM
Posted: 12/26/2003 11:59:08 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/26/2003 12:00:32 PM EDT by ABNAK]
As everyone well knows, the original AR15 design was intended to use rounds loaded with IMR stick powder. Supposedly much cleaner burning. When we switched to surplus ball powder all the problems began.

So, I want to know if anyone has fired .223 ammo loaded with IMR powder. Is it really that much cleaner (i.e. is there a lot less carbon residue)? Does anyone commercially load .223 with IMR or do they all use ball powder?


Oh, and WHY is IMR so much cleaner?
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 12:15:06 PM EDT
I may be wrong.... but i think you are bass ackwards. It was originally designed for ball, but they used stick. when they switched back to ball, it worked great. Whether you're right, or i'm right...i've done both. And both worked great. Current 5.56 uses ball powder. However, Varget powder is used by many and it is stick. If you keep it clean, it prolly won't make a difference.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 12:38:03 PM EDT
Remington designed the 223 round, Hence IMR (Dupont) gunpowder was used to develop the load. When the round/specs were sent to Lake City ammunition plant for production, Winchester was running the plant, so they swapped the gunpowder to Olin (but with a twist). Olin/Winchester recycled cannon gun powder into Ball powder to use in the ammo, but in the process of recycling, lased the gun powder with Calcium Chloride to keep the ball powder from caking and neutralize ageing compounds. The original problem with the ammo was not that the ammo used ball or granular (stick), but that the powder was lased with CC, Hence powderized limestone. The solution was to change out the old CC Lased powder, and use ball gunpowder that uses graphite to prevent caking, and not CC. As for using stick powder in loading, it does not flow as steady/fast as ball, and by using ball powder, the loading process is speed up 5x as fast that if granular powder is used.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 1:18:13 PM EDT
IMR-4895, IMR-4198, Varget and IMR-3031 been used in my AR's. No problems at all.
Link Posted: 12/26/2003 10:47:43 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/26/2003 10:49:07 PM EDT by DevL]
My dad was a big handloader. Ball can yeild higher velocities. Stick powder leaves less residue and burns more consistantly. Most hand loaders use stick that I have known. Varget is a favorite of many. My dad only used Varget and IMR in .223 loads.
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 1:19:59 AM EDT
I prefer IMR-4198 for most of my 223 loads-it burns super clean and has plenty of snap. My only bitch is a minor one: When I was shooting in local competitions I had to hand weigh each powder charge. My Dillon powder measure was "close enough" for plinking, but running stick powder through the measure made for minor variations in the weight of the charge. There was just enough deviation in stick powder to drive me nuts when I needed consistency. Ball powder was right on the money every time.
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 5:47:44 AM EDT
Originally Posted By DevL: Ball can yeild higher velocities.
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Yep. Ball Powder causes higher gas presssure. (Higher than IMR.) Higher pressures cause the gun cycle to speed up. No better or worse - just whatever powder a gun is designed to handle. 5sub
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 11:03:36 AM EDT
To go a little further into the original ball powder problem, it was that the powder used was very old and beginning to break down, releasing excess nitric acid. This was neutralized with Calcium CARBONATE (not calcium chloride). It was these deposits that would coat the gas port and gas tube and cause problems, plus the resulting ball powder was a faster powder than the original IMR. The weapon cycled faster and harder than it was designed to. The gas port size was later changed to accomodate this faster powder.
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 12:14:21 PM EDT
I stay away from IMR powders for two primary reasons First, the stuff measures from a powder throw like CRAP and you are always cutting or chopping up some of the powder as the powder throw rotates. This can be a pain in the ass to try to get a consistent charge weight unless you set up a trickler off to the side to bring up the charge weight, set the powder measure to throw a slightly under charge weight then trickle the remainder in. But compared to ball powder, it's just SO much easier to use the ball powder which measures so easily. The other thing, Ball powder might yield the higher velocity but it's my opinion that IMR powders actually burn hotter. Long time ago I noticed that while using IMR 3031 in my 223Remington the barrel would heat up unexplicably fast. I made a switch to playing with H335 and it seemed like I could fire just as many rounds in the same time period and the barrel would not retain as much heat. That was early on in my handloading experience though. Now I've settled on short kernal stick powders like H322 and AA2015, good velocity, good accuracy, and it measures very well from a powder measure.
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 3:29:59 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/27/2003 3:31:09 PM EDT by ABNAK]
Thanks for the responses guys. But....is it noticeably CLEANER when you fire IMR (which I assume is the original specified powder). In other words, when you fire, say, 100 rounds loaded with IMR is the crud noticeably less than with 100 rounds of ball powder? i.e. the bolt/carrier and upper receiver.
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 4:20:49 PM EDT
The vast majority of stick powder I have shot is Alliant RLDR 15. I have also used IMR 4198 and 4320(if I remember of the top of my head). But after firing 100 rds of M193 vs 100 rds of cartridges loaded with stick powder. I do notice a very big difference in that there is not as much carbon buildup and it seems to clean up much easier. I have no evidence to support this conclusion however [BD]
Link Posted: 12/27/2003 4:33:17 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Ridge: The vast majority of stick powder I have shot is Alliant RLDR 15. I have also used IMR 4198 and 4320(if I remember of the top of my head). But after firing 100 rds of M193 vs 100 rds of cartridges loaded with stick powder. I do notice a very big difference in that there is not as much carbon buildup and it seems to clean up much easier. I have no evidence to support this conclusion however [BD]
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Thanks a lot. I may have not been very clear in my original post as to what I was seeking. This type of response is what I was looking for (negative or positive on the cleaning aspect of it). I have read in "The Black Rifle" that the reason that the early M16's were troubled was that the powder was changed ("dirtier", if you will) and that it was marketed by Colt as a "self-cleaning" weapon, and hence didn't have cleaning kits issued with them. I guess what I'm driving at is if you use IMR-type powder (closest to the specs) then the great FOULING and RELIABILITY debate could possibly be put to rest. Or am I crazy? Don't answer that :)
Link Posted: 12/29/2003 4:41:47 AM EDT
Sorry, sport, but I think you've got your priorities a little mixed up. The ONLY reason that IMR powder was used in the original loading was that Remington developed the round. If Winchester had created the cartridge, it would have had ball powder from the jump. Gene Stoner, nor anyone else on the AR team that created the rifle, never "specified" any one powder type. Now if you want to use IMR powder in your loads, go ahead. You'll get less accurate charging from a powder measure, more throat erosion, more barrel heating and probably spend more for the powder per load. But if it's that important to you, please feel free [:D]
Link Posted: 12/29/2003 4:57:32 AM EDT
Originally Posted By shamayim: Sorry, sport, but I think you've got your priorities a little mixed up. The ONLY reason that IMR powder was used in the original loading was that Remington developed the round. If Winchester had created the cartridge, it would have had ball powder from the jump. Gene Stoner, nor anyone else on the AR team that created the rifle, never "specified" any one powder type. Now if you want to use IMR powder in your loads, go ahead. You'll get less accurate charging from a powder measure, more throat erosion, more barrel heating and probably spend more for the powder per load. But if it's that important to you, please feel free [:D]
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The ArmaLite AR-15/M-16 was designed for use with IMR powder. After the Army switched to Ball without notifying anyone, design changes were made to the AR-15/M-16 that allowed the rifle to function with Ball. Original AR-15 design team for ArmaLite: Sullivan and Fremont. Saving the Army's worthless ass by making design changes that allowed function with Ball - for Colt: Foster Sturdevant and Bob Roy. 5sub 5sub
Link Posted: 12/29/2003 5:27:07 AM EDT
5sub, Thanks. That's what I thought, and "The Black Rifle" pretty much confirms as much. BTW, "The Black Rifle" is a really interesting read if you want to spend $45 for a book. It is crammed with tons of technical info (like the stuff being discussed here). Shamalyn, While Stoner didn't "specify" IMR powder, that is the load the AR15 (in it's infancy at Armalite) was developed around using. As was stated above several times, IMR does apparently burn a little cleaner than ball. I'm not saying anything about it's ease of loading or excessive heat. All the early testing (pre-Colt) of the AR15 was done with IMR rounds. That is where the weapon developed it's reputation as being "maintenance free" (which we all know is hogwash, no matter what the system is). When Colt bought the patent and the weapon began to be used more frequently, the gubment sought to save a buck or two and use up old stocks of ball powder which was when the problems began....
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