FT/R and 80SMK

Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
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#1
I will (finally) be shooting my first FT/R. I believe it's considered "mid-range", 600yards. I will be shooting a 223 bolt gun.
I am running the 80grain Sierra Match Kings.
If they are running at 2800, is that enough speed? It seems to be a node in my rifle. I will be exploring it further for better accuracy shortly. I'm just wondering if I need to push them faster. Can I get away with slower? Not ideal but if it's showing better accuracy should I go that direction?
Thanks in advance for any help.
 

Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
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#3
Shoot F/O both mid and LR and would stick with the charge that has the best accuracy node and lowest ES. Critical thing is trying to minimize vertical dispersion.
Thank you.
What is "FO"?

Never mind. I got it. F-Open.
 
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Nov 22, 2007
144
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St. Augustine, FL
#4
I will (finally) be shooting my first FT/R. I believe it's considered "mid-range", 600yards. I will be shooting a 223 bolt gun.
I am running the 80grain Sierra Match Kings.
If they are running at 2800, is that enough speed? It seems to be a node in my rifle. I will be exploring it further for better accuracy shortly. I'm just wondering if I need to push them faster. Can I get away with slower? Not ideal but if it's showing better accuracy should I go that direction?
Thanks in advance for any help.

2800 is more than enough for 600y with the 80s. I've shot them as slow as 2600 (really low node) and they did just fine. I had a really nice node at 2820 and another around 2920. When I changed lots of powder that all went out the window so I ended up going with a really slow node of 2600.

No point in chasing velocity if it doesn't group well.
 
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Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
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#5
2800 is more than enough for 600y with the 80s. I've shot them as slow as 2600 (really low node) and they did just fine. I had a really nice node at 2820 and another around 2920. When I changed lots of powder that all went out the window so I ended up going with a really slow node of 2600.

No point in chasing velocity if it doesn't group well.
Unfortunately I won't be able to test. I'm going to go with the (very limited) data that I've collected. Bullets should be running about 2780. I'm happy to hear that they will do well moving even slower. Match is this weekend. I simply do not have time to test further.
 
Feb 17, 2017
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#6
You're fine at 600. I've done that, and it's competitive with the .308's. It's your first match, so you just don't want to look like a total doofuss. Don't sweat it; sweat your wind calls, and pull the trigger. Your bullet will drift 3" for each mph of direct crosswind. The best .308 will drift 2.5" or so. Not a big deal at 600. The advantage is that you will be fresh as a daisy after a 20-shot string, compared to the .308 shooters.
 

Bully

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Sep 30, 2014
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#7
So I shot the match.
I had zero time to tune my load. I shot this load based of a single shot in a 5 shot series.
543/4x in 18mph winds (Cumberland Riflemen). I'm thrilled.
 
Nov 22, 2007
144
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St. Augustine, FL
#8
543 isn't terrible for your first match with an untested load. I'd wager you'll be able to tune that load and your own shooting a lot better and have much better results in the future. That much wind had to have you second guessing everything.
 

Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
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#9
543 isn't terrible for your first match with an untested load. I'd wager you'll be able to tune that load and your own shooting a lot better and have much better results in the future. That much wind had to have you second guessing everything.
That much wind had me freaking out a bit but loving every second. I found the challenge to be quite fun.

The winner, who has shot a perfect 600/39X as a club record, scored a 588/23X with a big ass 284Win. So my score with a .223, in comparison, is not horrible at all. I'm very excited to shoot the next one in July. Should be a hoot. I'm trying to get this load tuned up a bit but will work with one other powder as well.
 
Feb 17, 2017
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#10
Which powders are you using/considering? Most competitors use a heat-stable powder; for .223, Benchmark, Varget, IMR 8208 XBR, and H4895 are reliable. I have not used RL16 or IMR 4166, but they may be useful. Benchmark is the slowest, H4895 is the fastest. Actually, these are the exact same powders that work well in .308 F-class. If you are not shooting beyond 600 yds., I would recommend Benchmark. It is easy to handle, easy to tune, and has given me the best accuracy for 20-shot strings, and that's the goal, right? I'd limit .223 to 600 yds. for competition, anyway. BTW, you aren't competing with the .284 Win shooter. He's F/O, and you're F/TR. What was the winning F/TR score at your match? That's your goal.
 

Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
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#11
Which powders are you using/considering? Most competitors use a heat-stable powder; for .223, Benchmark, Varget, IMR 8208 XBR, and H4895 are reliable. I have not used RL16 or IMR 4166, but they may be useful. Benchmark is the slowest, H4895 is the fastest. Actually, these are the exact same powders that work well in .308 F-class. If you are not shooting beyond 600 yds., I would recommend Benchmark. It is easy to handle, easy to tune, and has given me the best accuracy for 20-shot strings, and that's the goal, right? I'd limit .223 to 600 yds. for competition, anyway. BTW, you aren't competing with the .284 Win shooter. He's F/O, and you're F/TR. What was the winning F/TR score at your match? That's your goal.
I am using CFE223 right now but will be testing Varget again. I had some trouble making Varget work as my testing was not good. I've since revamped my methods and am much more confident that I can attain the consistency necessary for a solid load.

I realize that I'm not competing against the F/Open guys. My mentioning it was to demonstrate what a rough day it was with the wind. Nothing more.

Thanks for all the advice. Much appreciated.
 
Feb 17, 2017
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#12
I don't think there are any temp-stable ball powders. Varget will get you there. You'll get some people to say that Varget burns dirty, but it cleans targets, so take your pick. Shame on me, I forgot Ol' Reliable - H 322. It is everything Benchmark is, but gives Varget velocity. Comparable velocities will be H4895 highest, 50 fps less with Varget, IMR 8208 XBR, and H322, then down another 25 fps and you have Benchmark. Any of them will suffice. If you've got Varget, let it be so.
 
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Bully

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Sep 30, 2014
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#13
I don't think there are any temp-stable ball powders. Varget will get you there. You'll get some people to say that Varget burns dirty, but it cleans targets, so take your pick. Shame on me, I forgot Ol' Reliable - H 322. It is everything Benchmark is, but gives Varget velocity. Comparable velocities will be H4895 highest, 50 fps less with Varget, IMR 8208 XBR, and H322, then down another 25 fps and you have Benchmark. Any of them will suffice. If you've got Varget, let it be so.
Then so it shall be...
 
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May 15, 2011
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#14
For three years now I'm running the 80.5vld at 3000fps in a 26in barrel using cfe223. Nice node below any pressure issue. While not temperature sensitive I cooked off one shot that blew a primer in max summer time last year so I'm careful in that regard. With a wide node I will decreases .1gr as well. Several friends shooting the same load too do well with this combo.
 

Bully

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Sep 30, 2014
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#15
I found what looks to be a node at 2940ish. I couldn't get to the range today to test so it will have to wait another week. I have 25 rounds loaded up to test at 100 and 300 (the furthest I can shoot locally) and get all my numbers.
 

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
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#16
The 80 may be overkill at 600yd.

I live, develop my loads, and practice at 4200ft ASL (Douglas AZ), but did my 600yd F T/R comp at about 1500 (Ben Avery Range, Phoenix-ish AZ). I was running the HDY 75gr HPBT-Match in a 24" 1:9" 5.56 barrel at 2790fps loaded with 24.4gr of Varget. It managed to hold the 9 ring on a switchy day. My Granddaughter was shooting the same load in a 24" 1:8" 5.56 semi right alongside me and she did very well in her first 600yd outing ever.

I chose the HDY 75gr HPBT-Match because of the 1:9" twist, but it worked fine in both barrels. The load was a crapshoot that I didn't have time to develop, but had arrived upon by doing an extensive internet search for 600yd 223 F T/R Loads. I'm still testing factory ammo (HDY 75gr Steel Match and IMI 77 Razor Core) and other handloads, 75HPBTM and 23.5/23.7gr Varget.

I have essentially aged out of the competition, so it's mainly a paper punching exercise at 300 from now on. Will report further if asked to.

It's my philosophy that any load that arrives on target at above transsonic is adequate, and that no matter what load you shoot that can do that will provide adequate performance as long as one has wind skills and develops experience with that load at the distance under various conditions. You're going to need those skills no matter what you shoot. There is no shortcut or substitute for wind skills and experience. High velocity and high BC are good things, but an adequate load can be brought to the target pretty well when the proper care is employed; and your bore will thank you for it, too.

Just something alternative for you to consider.

Greg
 
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Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
194
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#17
The 80 may be overkill at 600yd.

I live, develop my loads, and practice at 4200ft ASL (Douglas AZ), but did my 600yd F T/R comp at about 1500 (Ben Avery Range, Phoenix-ish AZ). I was running the HDY 75gr HPBT-Match in a 24" 1:9" 5.56 barrel at 2790fps loaded with 24.4gr of Varget. It managed to hold the 9 ring on a switchy day. My Granddaughter was shooting the same load in a 24" 1:8" 5.56 semi right alongside me and she did very well in her first 600yd outing ever.

I chose the HDY 75gr HPBT-Match because of the 1:9" twist, but it worked fine in both barrels. The load was a crapshoot that I didn't have time to develop, but had arrived upon by doing an extensive internet search for 600yd 223 F T/R Loads. I'm still testing factory ammo (HDY 75gr Steel Match and IMI 77 Razor Core) and other handloads, 75HPBTM and 23.5/23.7gr Varget.

I have essentially aged out of the competition, so it's mainly a paper punching exercise at 300 from now on. Will report further if asked to.

It's my philosophy that any load that arrives on target at above transsonic is adequate, and that no matter what load you shoot that can do that will provide adequate performance as long as one has wind skills and develops experience with that load at the distance under various conditions. You're going to need those skills no matter what you shoot. There is no shortcut or substitute for wind skills and experience. High velocity and high BC are good things, but an adequate load can be brought to the target pretty well when the proper care is employed; and your bore will thank you for it, too.

Just something alternative for you to consider.

Greg
Hey Greg.
Thank you for that reply. I agree with you completely although I would question your choice of wording, ie: overkill. I don't think it's overkill per se. It's definitely a lot of bullet for a minimally sized case but the rifle seems to like it a bunch and as I'm learning to thread/chamber my own rifles, I'm not all that worried about having to re-barrel a little sooner rather than a little later.
The bullet is still allowing me to learn more about wind than I want to. All in all, I'm glad I made the choice that I have as regards bullet and caliber. It's a ton of fun.
 

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
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#18
Yeah, maybe that wording is kinda overkill... LOL!

I am continually surprised amazed at what that small case can do in an AR when driven with Varget. It's my only powder for the 223/5.56.

I have arbitrarily chosen to limit bullet size in the .224 bore; choosing instead to employ the 260 for applications beyond the capability of the HDY 75gr HPBT-Match.

Sending a 143gr ELD-X downrange going 2850fps at my 4200ft altitude is something similar to launching a cruise missile. It doesn't drop below transsonic until somewhere out beyond 1400yd, and if it encounters some meat somewhere around midrange, it can do something useful about it.

One doesn't appreciate the awesomeness of that projectile until one holds one naked in one's hand. I just whipped up a batch of 50 with a more moderate charge yesterday and another 25 of the same load except for the Nosler 140gr Accubonds; there will be comparisons sometime in the next month or two. Will check drops at 100yd, 200yd, and 300yd, and then plot the rest.

At this time, I only have a single rifle (SAAMI) chambered for the 260, an elderly Savage 10FP custom with a 28", 1:8" L-W Stainless bull barrel. But I also have an unrealized ambition to build something AR10-ish from Stag builder components, and (probably) a dedicated 260 aftermarket Barrel.

Taking a possible lesson from current Valkyrie teething issues, I think a long barrel with a rifle length-plus gas system might be appropriate.

Greg
 
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XTR

F-TR junkie
Sep 4, 2010
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#19
If you are shooting a 223 bolt gun and you are shooting F-TR until this yr there was only one real option if you want to be competitive, and that is the Berger 90VLD. I've won or placed well (as in podium) in a number of state/regional/national level matches over the last few yrs with them.

If you have a 28-30" 7 twist barrel you can run them around 2800 or above with the proper chamber.

That said (and a swear one day I will keep this somewhere so I can cut and paste it):

  1. Get the right chamber. the PTG 223 ISSF reamer with a .169 freebore is the easy button for this, or get a throater and throat it out. You have to get the bullet up out of the case and into the neck.
  2. See #1 above, go no further until you have enough freebore or #4 below is dangerous.
  3. Pic a primer and brass. I've had success with old 90s LC, others run Lapua
  4. Load 24.3gr ±.2 of Varget
  5. Seat jam'd 0.010
  6. That will put you in the vicinity of 2800 ±25FPS
  7. Go shoot Xs
This is the recipe that a whole bunch of F-TR shooters use. There are some that seat longer, run a little faster and don't necessarily jam them.


The 90s give up ~3" of windage in a 10 mph full value wint to the 308s running 200s at 600 yards. They give up nothing but recoil t the 185s, and they shoot inside of the 155s at all yard lines.

I've played with 80 AMAXs just for fun at club matches, but I've never used them in anything "serious". In the above setup you can run the 80s in the high 2800s. I've never shot my 223 past 600. I have 308s for the long lines.

There are a number of F-TR shooters that shoot the 90s in competition, and they win at mid range.

There are some people experimemting with the new SMK95 in 223s that are giving good feedback, but that bullet requires a 1:6.5 or faster and a freebore that is close to .130 longer than the 90VLD, not a good place for a beginner to start. I've experimented with a few 95s. I throated out a chamber for them and my OALs are on the order of 2.730
 
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Greg Langelius *

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Arizona, good place for me...
#20
This is interesting. I'm not clear on why seating bullets below the neck is such a bad idea.

I get it that the effective chamber space is less and that pressures are an issue, but I also pay close attention to primers and case bases for signs of excess pressure, and besides, by the time pressures peak, isn't it reasonable to assume that the bullet is out of the neck anyway?

FWIW, I don't use bullets longer/heavier than the HDY 75gr HPBT-M, and never exceed the loads given for the bullet weight and Varget on the Hodgdon interactive handloading site.

FWIW, I simply cannot envision, for instance, loading the 143 ELD-X in the 260 without seating it with the base very deep.

I would appreciate some schooling on this.

Greg
 

Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
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#21
Less bullet in the case is more room for powder. More powder makes it all go faster with less pressure.

However you would also want your throat cut to accommodate seating the bullets long.

It's a whole "hand in hand" thing.
 

XTR

F-TR junkie
Sep 4, 2010
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48
Lebanon, NH
www.onlinehumidor.com
#22
My current F-TR Berger 215 loads are 3.226 OAL. There is no way that I could get them to the high 2500s to low 2600 FPS with close to half an inch of bullet in the case and not punish the brass. (which would be required to get them back to something approaching mag length.) Even small primer brass has limits, trust me, I've tested them.

I have a barrel for my 308 that when I seat 215s .015 off the lands they will not fit in a standard MTM case. I 'm not using it right now though.

Think about it, bigger cases can run similar sized bullets faster, smaller cases go slower. Putting the bullet in the case where the powder goes is makeing your case smaller.

I suggest you don't try to envision how to seat a 1.8" long 198 Flatline in a 308Win case. It doesn't look natural, that's for sure. (Actually I spend so much time making F class bullets mag lenth bullets don't look right to me) It might make mag length in a 30-06 mag.


I run the 90VLDs at about 2800 FPS, as do most of the guys running them. If you try that poke with the bullet shoved in the case you'll pop primers before you get there. I get half a dozen firings from my LC brass.
 

Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
5,553
806
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Arizona, good place for me...
#23
Thanks, folks; I appreciate your help with this. I'll stick with shorter bullets, and mildly compressed loads. So far, my primers still have a smidge of roundness at their edges, and no ejector swipes. I don't try for max velocities, and take some small advantage from the 4200ft altitude I'm shooting at.

For 600yd F T/R (at 1500ft ASL), I used the HDY 75gr HPBT-Match, seated with .005" clearance in the Mil-Spec magazine, with 24.4gr of Varget, which is .2gr under max according to Hodgdon.

It worked, but for future reference at my higher altitude, all my loads have reverted to 23.7gr of Varget, which was a long time accuracy load for my 24" 223's at shorter distances out to 300yd, and on paper is still above transsonic at 600 and this altitude. I'm estimating 2700fps+ with this load and barrel length, and I'm using a large supply of Starline brass for this effort. I have set my seater stem for the same length as the Hornady 75gr Steel Match, which puts my cannelure about one cannelure width above the case neck. The two loads will be compared at out to 300yd for now.

I don't attempt to use this load for F T/R at 1000yd, but have an identically configured 11VT .308, where I'm trying to develop a load using the HDY 178 ELD-X. Not having a lot of luck (24" barrel, 1:10" twist Savage factory SAAMI barrel), and am abandoning attempts to load this bullet to fit a magazine since F T/r is single feed anyway. One impediment is the Savage 308 chamber's short throat. If my efforts fail, I have a functional load with the 175SMK.

For F Open, my 260 is the firearm of choice, with good performance down low at 1000yd with 142SMK/140A-Max. I'm trying out loads for the 143 ELD-X, and (again) not having great luck. My barrel is a an L-W Stainless SAAMI Savage Varmint Taper 28", 1:8". The ELD-X load development is just a 'what if', and if it doesn't bear fruit soon, I'll be buying more 142SMK's. The ELD-X looks great on paper, but it's the wrong paper; I'm hoping for good paper out at the target.

Greg
 
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Bully

Private, in so many ways...
Sep 30, 2014
194
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#25
So I shot my third FT/R last sunday and did 3 relays of 191 (at least I was consistent) for a score of 573/14x. I'm thrilled at my scores and shooting. The rifle has really come into it's own and I'm learning how to drive it better each match. The state championship is the next match and I expect that some very good shooters will be showing up. I'm hoping to glean a little bit of info from some.