"better" 223 ammo

drew_235

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I'm newer to this game and I strive to be student of my efforts - I shoot, I think about what I'm doing, I read, I ask questions, I watch youtube videos, I go shoot some more. I've been shooting my T3x varmint 223 for several months and have finally had a realization that my cheap .223 ammo is part of my problem. I know many of you will chuckle or roll your eyes, but I've been feeding my rifle Wolf Gold and Remington .223, both in 55gr. My groups look something like this at 100 yards with no wind.

20190904_115542 (1).jpg

I thought I was having accuracy issues and the student in me was trying to figure out what I was doing wrong after each shot due to the lack of consistency. That frustration has driven me to do a lot of reading and researching on proper technique. On my last trip to the range, I took my new T3x varmint in 6.5 CR and after shooting the target shown above, shot the 2 below with some not-so-expensive S&B 140gr rounds. The first is 6 shots, the second is 10 shots. After seeing these groups, I concluded that I probably wasn't having an accuracy issue with my .223, rather a precision issue due to my cheap/crappy ammo.

20190904_115527 (1).jpg
20190904_115532 (1).jpg

All of this is to say that I'm open to suggestions for "better" .223 ammo. I've got some AR's, so burning through my cheap .223 ammo will not be an issue.
I am open to feedback and discussion, and I see my options including the following:

1. Keep shooting this ammo. Maybe some of you will look at the top target and tell me I can do better with Wolf Gold. If that is the case, I'm open to hearing that.
2. Find a "better" mid-priced 223 round, preferably in the sub $.75/round range. As demonstrated by the 6.5CR targets, I feel like I can do better with "better" .223 ammo, but I'm not sure I need to get the ultra top shelf stuff at this point.
3. Admit to myself that I was going to reload eventually and purchase a setup for that (if I did this, I'd like to reload for 9mm, .223, and 6.5CR on the same machine). I already have progressive reloaders for 12ga/20ga/28ga, so I'm not new to reloading, I just haven't done it for metallic cartridges before.
 

Snuby642

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The 223 factory ammo is short to the shoulder, probably. 007 or more in your chamber. It is magazine length, long jump to your lands and 55gr is not getting much out of your bolt gun of how it is intended to preform.

Save that brass bump it back. 002 for the bolt gun choose a premium bullet and load carefully from books.

You can stay well within your price point.

Read up on load development on the hide and enjoy that firearm.

I reload 55g for my gassers and it is not hard to outperform cheap ammo for slightly less in the case of the ar.
 

FCS

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Post 23

☎ or PM for options.
 

drew_235

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Post 23

☎ or PM for options.
Got it - I saw that post previously, but reading it again made it sink in that much more.
Thank you.

Now I need to start searching for a tumbler and a progressive - Dillon 550/650/750.
 
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drew_235

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The 223 factory ammo is short to the shoulder, probably. 007 or more in your chamber. It is magazine length, long jump to your lands and 55gr is not getting much out of your bolt gun of how it is intended to preform.

Save that brass bump it back. 002 for the bolt gun choose a premium bullet and load carefully from books.

You can stay well within your price point.

Read up on load development on the hide and enjoy that firearm.

I reload 55g for my gassers and it is not hard to outperform cheap ammo for slightly less in the case of the ar.
Are you implying that you run 55gr for your semi's and a heavier bullet for your bolt action rifles?

And I knew all along that the 55gr stuff that I was shooting was not that great and I intended to cut my teeth with cheap(er) ammo, I just didn't expect to so quickly arrive at a point where it frustrated me so much.
 
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FCS

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Are you implying that you run 55gr for your semi's and a heavier bullet for your bolt action rifles?

And I knew all along that the 55gr stuff that I was shooting was not that great and I intended to cut my teeth with cheap(er) ammo, I just didn't expect to so quickly arrive at a point where it frustrated me so much.
55s can be made to shoot quite well from magazine length, most factory 223 ammo isn’t loaded for a bolt gun but to be safe in an AR, to match time / pressure history curve for gas system.
 
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antithesis

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Guessing that is a 1:8t? If so, consider something above 65gr, even a 77 gr. You are spinning the heck out of that 55 if it is a 1:8.
 
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drew_235

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Dillon makes great gear, depends on what you want the ammo to do.
I don't know what Dillon does well, but I can define what I want out of reloader:
Something that consistently reloads .223, 6.5CM, and 9mm at a good rate. I do not need national competition level consistency at this point or at any point in the foreseeable future. For 9mm it would be 2 - 3k rounds per year. For .223 it would be something that works well in my T3x and something cheaper for my AR's. Between the 2, probably another 2 - 3k per year.
I currently own 3 Ponsness Warren 900 progressives, which can crank out 600 rounds an hour when you get dialed in.
 
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Dolomite_Supafly

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24.5-24.7 grains of Varget under a 69 SMK is a pretty universal load. It has worked in every gun I have tried it in and I have talked to or read about others using it with great success.
 
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Snuby642

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@drew_235
I run the 55g bullets in ar's because they are cheap, I can hunt with them at 50-100yd for head shots, plink and shoot groups for a 200 yd play day.
I use flat base bullets for short ranges on purpose.

That being said they suck past 200yd for precision from bad bc no boat tail and blow in the wind out past that to a point you will soon be able to outshoot them, I can.

Advise on the hide is 62-75g will take you much farther I will default you to many on the hide with more experience than I for that.

I'm loading for 308 and 6.5 for longer distances since our 556s are carbine and sbr length.
One box of factory good 75g stuff will show you what I'm getting at and when you load your own it will be better yet. In the bolt gun.
 

Snuby642

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Side note your bolt gun will need about .002 bump and .004 is pretty standard for gassers so you will end up with 2 different loads no matter what.
 

Codiekfx400

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Federal ae tipped varmint 50 grain is crazy accurate. If you can’t find that try some Australian outback with a Sierra bullet.
 

EricM40

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Hornady 55gr vmax ammo is pretty awesome for accuracy @ 100 yards.

Corbon 77gr MPR is super accurate for factory loads. Uses the 77gr TMK's.
 

Centuriator

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The best results I've had are with a specifically built AR, BCM lower and upper, a 24" White Oak Armory barrel, match trigger, 77gr Federal GMM SMKs. 1/2-3/4" MOA at 100. Banging steel plates at 650 yards, one after another. And of course, a great optic on it.
 

supercorndogs

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You wont get much better than that out of wolf gold. The brass is not very consistent, I have about 2k pieces that I reamed out the crimp and loaded a couple times. Some of the necks cracked on the first and second firing. After the first firing a lot of them were feeling a little loose in the primer pocket, after the second most all of them do, and are headed for the trash can.

I think slapping a 200 yard limit on a 55 is a little short. No, they aren't great in the wind. For 200 in the wind they aren't bad. With light or consistent wind they do ok for 5-600.
 

drew_235

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You wont get much better than that out of wolf gold. The brass is not very consistent, I have about 2k pieces that I reamed out the crimp and loaded a couple times. Some of the necks cracked on the first and second firing. After the first firing a lot of them were feeling a little loose in the primer pocket, after the second most all of them do, and are headed for the trash can.

I think slapping a 200 yard limit on a 55 is a little short. No, they aren't great in the wind. For 200 in the wind they aren't bad. With light or consistent wind they do ok for 5-600.
Following my same thought process, is it worth relaoding my cheap brass at least once to get the feel for things?
 

Snuby642

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I guess I should clarify my 55g stance a little. 50-200yd I use the flat base bullets .
Past that I belive boat tail to work better in my shooting.

If I was chasing distance I would go to the 70g class bullets.

I may be wrong but thought the consensus was that after 200 yards drag on a flat base bullet was detrimental.

Please advise.
 

Greg Langelius *

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My first and only press is a Dillon RL550b that I bought used in the early 1990's. It had even been, for some significant time, a club reloading press.

I like it best for bottleneck rifle cartridges; and honestly, I stopped reloading handgun ammo about a decade ago. Factory handgun ammo does the trick for me quite admirably. Back in my club/team days, a LOT of .45ACP and .308 got loaded on that Dillon. FWIW, our standard handguns were 1911's, and the rifles were Savage 10FP .308's. In the '90's, we were a Marine Corps League (NJ) Detachment Shooting Team, about a dozen strong.

I load .223, 6.5 Grendel, .260 Rem, .308, .30-06, 7,62x39 and 7,62x54R on my press.

I also shoot 9mm a lot, and although I don't load it, I have all the gear I'd need to do so, assuming that the Fecal Matter ever strikes the Rotary Oscillator. Meanwhile, Premium factory 124gr Defensive loads, supplemented by Blaser Brass 124gr FMJ-RN's feed my 9's. My Wife's .380 fits into this scenario somewhere, and I may get one myself.

Save your hair/temperament and get an RCBS Chargemaster Lite right off the bat. My dies are all RCBS 2-die sets, except for my 6.5's, which use Hornady New Dimension dies (no special reason). Once a Sierra Addict, I am now a Hornady user. I've standardized on CCI Primers, and will substitute BR-2/BR-4's for more serious applications. That's for peace of mind; side-by-side test have shown so little difference that it's a tossup. I have long used PPU Brass as available, but now prefer Starline, where available.

The flat base is a detriment at any distance, but that is also probably somewhat negligible at under 200yd. At 100yd, my .223/5.56 55gr bullet is the Hornady bulk FMJ-BT W/C.

For plinking, I use PPU/Prvi-Partizan .223 55gr FMJ, and the brass has worked well, even for my 75gr match loads. For me, bullet choices don't go by type of action, but by barrel length and twist. My AR's and bolt guns have 1:8" to 1:9" twists, and either 24" or 16" barrels. I use the Hornady 75gr HPBT-Match bullet in the long guns, and 55gr FMJ-BT in the short guns (all AR's for now).

One exception, a 16" 1:7" AR, that I'll be trying out with IMI 77gr Razor Core.

The Mossberg MVP .223 has a 20" 1:9" barrel, and I use factory Federal Fusion MSR 62gr in that.

Greg
 
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308pirate

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Option 3 is what you want. All factory 223 is neutered for AR use anyways, once you hot rod it for a bolt gun you'll swear its a different cartridge entirely at longer distances.
+1

When you need the best, you need to make it yourself.
 

spife7980

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I agree to reload for the best you can get for your rifle but if you dont want to go down that rabbit hole I wold try the norma tac ammo. You can get the 55gr for the same 29 cents per shot usually as the wolf gold but it shoots way best for me in every rifle Ive run it through. 55gr will start to get a bit anemic past 500 yards. You can get the 77 grain ammo for closer to a buck per shot but I cant speak to how well it shoots. The 55 gr is my go to factory option for cheap ammo though.

Here are quick screen shots from a snapchat vid I made when running some factory options through my new 223 just to see what affordable option it likes. 1/2" orange dots.

A random 53gr hand load first putting it on paper for the test and then a two verifying shots to ensure I adjusted my zero the correct direction.
1568238171536.png

Norma tac 55gr- stilll not immune to fliers and/or pulled shots
1568237951442.png

Federal American Eagle 55- absolute crap as always
1568237987504.png

Wolf Gold 55- not the worst but far from the best
1568238052602.png



Grab an assortment of ammo and shoot some groups to see what it prefers.
 
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260284

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I have a Tikka Varmint in 223 and it shoots lights out with the 75gr ELDM over H4895 in NAMMO brass. I have loaded some 53gr Vmax and they are accurate, but the heavier bullets shine in the 1-8" barrel. You might try some of the IMI 77gr Razor Core, 75gr Hornady, or the Prime 223 when it is available again. Hand loads make a huge difference in the 223. My son shoots my Tikka in local PRS matches and has taken it to 1400 yards.
 

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drew_235

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I agree to reload for the best you can get for your rifle but if you dont want to go down that rabbit hole I wold try the norma tac ammo. You can get the 55gr for the same 29 cents per shot usually as the wolf gold but it shoots way best for me in every rifle Ive run it through. 55gr will start to get a bit anemic past 500 yards. You can get the 77 grain ammo for closer to a buck per shot but I cant speak to how well it shoots. The 55 gr is my go to factory option for cheap ammo though.

Here are quick screen shots from a snapchat vid I made when running some factory options through my new 223 just to see what affordable option it likes. 1/2" orange dots.

A random 53gr hand load first putting it on paper for the test and then a two verifying shots to ensure I adjusted my zero the correct direction.
View attachment 7145932

Norma tac 55gr- stilll not immune to fliers and/or pulled shots
View attachment 7145928





Grab an assortment of ammo and shoot some groups to see what it prefers.
That Norma Tac looks like good stuff. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I found a case of it with free shipping for $280.

I would be misleading everyone if I said I was never going to reload metallic cartridges. However, I am wildly intimidated by it. I reload shotgun shells, and the idea of choosing 7/8 oz, a pink wad, 18 grains of Titewad, and an STS hull with a Remington primer is so stupidly simple to me. The final crimp is based on "yeah, that looks good." The idea of having to anneal, tumble, de-prime (before or after tumbling?), lube, resize, etc. AND pick one of the bullet weights and styles that varies from 50gr to 80+ grains is daunting. I am not against getting a Dillon 550 or 750, but there is a lot of "stuff" that goes with this endeavor. It also seems like everyone has their own pet recipe or recommendation on what works best.

As I continue to read, learn, and shoot, should I be keeping all of my Wolf, Remington, and WWB brass? Some of it has dents from being ejected from and AR-15.

Thank you again to everyone for all of the thoughts and input on this subject.
 

Centuriator

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Never heard of Norma TAC. I was appalled at the performance of American Eagle/Federal stuff recently. It was just absurdly poor.
 

drew_235

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I have a Tikka Varmint in 223 and it shoots lights out with the 75gr ELDM over H4895 in NAMMO brass. I have loaded some 53gr Vmax and they are accurate, but the heavier bullets shine in the 1-8" barrel. You might try some of the IMI 77gr Razor Core, 75gr Hornady, or the Prime 223 when it is available again. Hand loads make a huge difference in the 223. My son shoots my Tikka in local PRS matches and has taken it to 1400 yards.
The UPS fairy dropped off some ammo today, including some 75gr Hornady.

20190911_151755.jpg
 
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spife7980

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As I continue to read, learn, and shoot, should I be keeping all of my Wolf, Remington, and WWB brass? Some of it has dents from being ejected from and AR-15.

Thank you again to everyone for all of the thoughts and input on this subject.
Save it to sell as bulk 1x fired or scrap recycling. I wouldnt keep absurd amounts just because.

Save the norma though. It’s crimped primer but a sewage or ream and you’re left with excellent brass. Much better quality than those you mentioned.
 
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supercorndogs

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Following my same thought process, is it worth relaoding my cheap brass at least once to get the feel for things?
I would buy some brand new LC, or buy some once fired LC brass that has the primer pockets swaged already. Its a lot of work to ream out the primer crimps to trash it in a couple loadings, but if you have time, you already own it.
 

260284

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The UPS fairy dropped off some ammo today, including some 75gr Hornady.

View attachment 7146027
I load my AR 50 and 53 gr VMax ammo on a 550 with H335 or CFE223. I get really good results with it for my AR. I load all my precision ammo on an old RockChucker that I paid $50 for almost 30 years ago.

The 75gr bthp is accurate, but the ELDM blows it away past 600 yards. See if you can find any of the 73 gr ELDM factory ammo.
 

beretta_man11

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I've found the 73eld hornady factory loads to do very well out of my 700-223. They are still loaded pretty short but I'm getting a decent velocity and an OK sd number and have had fair results on plates at 850 (shooter error plays into that quite a bit). You'll find that the 73eld has a very good bc considering it's 4 grains lighter than the 77smk but has a slightly better BC.
 
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Codiekfx400

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That Norma Tac looks like good stuff. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I found a case of it with free shipping for $280.

I would be misleading everyone if I said I was never going to reload metallic cartridges. However, I am wildly intimidated by it. I reload shotgun shells, and the idea of choosing 7/8 oz, a pink wad, 18 grains of Titewad, and an STS hull with a Remington primer is so stupidly simple to me. The final crimp is based on "yeah, that looks good." The idea of having to anneal, tumble, de-prime (before or after tumbling?), lube, resize, etc. AND pick one of the bullet weights and styles that varies from 50gr to 80+ grains is daunting. I am not against getting a Dillon 550 or 750, but there is a lot of "stuff" that goes with this endeavor. It also seems like everyone has their own pet recipe or recommendation on what works best.

As I continue to read, learn, and shoot, should I be keeping all of my Wolf, Remington, and WWB brass? Some of it has dents from being ejected from and AR-15.

Thank you again to everyone for all of the thoughts and input on this subject.
BE careful buying the Norma Tac the old black box stuff that @spife7980 is using is good stuff. But the new Norma Tac is just Federal AE in a Norma box.
 
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Greg Langelius *

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I load the Hornady bulk 55gr FMJ-BT over 26.0gr of Varget, and Hornady 75gr HPBT-Match over 23.5gr to 23.7gr of Varget (it's a more or less generic load for 24" barrels, bolt and semi, 1:8" and 1:9" twist. at 23.7gr it was fired side by side in 600yd F T/R competition in both rifles.). I will also be trying it in the 16" 1:7" AR.
 
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bunsen27

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Thanks for the heads up. I googled reviews of it last night and everyone (that recently used it) agreed that it was horrible from a precision standpoint.
I've always had good luck with the Norma Match 77gr. It may be slightly above your budget, but it is still short of $1 per round:

 

drew_235

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Same or fewer $ as spent to get ammo in that picture above, OP could have had a load developed, gotten exactly the same load later, would be done and shooting tight groups at distance.

🤷‍♂️
With or without purchasing a reloading press? If you don't count the cost of a tumbler, press, does, and other durable goods, I'd totally agree.
Otherwise, it seemed like a good stopgap to keep me plinking while I chase down everything I need. Maybe I'm just wet behind the ears, but that was my thought process.
 

FCS

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With or without purchasing a reloading press? If you don't count the cost of a tumbler, press, does, and other durable goods, I'd totally agree.
Otherwise, it seemed like a good stopgap to keep me plinking while I chase down everything I need. Maybe I'm just wet behind the ears, but that was my thought process.
Ordered it from a custom ammo mfg’er, then reordered as needed.
 

drew_235

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Post #4 in this thread was a hint.

“CopperCreekAmmo” - Copper Creek Ammo
“Masked” - Smith Tactical
“FCS” - McCourt Munitions
Your hint was subtle enough that I didn't pick it up for what it was. PM sent.