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 Help with choosing first powder 223 
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Location: Tacoma
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Real Name: Ben
I have been going through all my books and load data trying to find some similarities in powders. It seems like the Benchmark and Varget come up a lot on the most accurate loads which is what I am somewhat looking for. Looking around I also see people using TAC and maybe H335 if I remember correctly? My only problem with the Benchmark and Varget is it seems like in this loading data you need compressed loads for max accuracy and I don't think I want to get into that right off the bat. I plan on using some less expensive Hornady bullets to start I am thinking around 62gr maybe a little heavier. Any help would be appreciated with these or any alternate powders.


Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:44 am
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Bennngeeee wrote:
I have been going through all my books and load data trying to find some similarities in powders. It seems like the Benchmark and Varget come up a lot on the most accurate loads which is what I am somewhat looking for. Looking around I also see people using TAC and maybe H335 if I remember correctly? My only problem with the Benchmark and Varget is it seems like in this loading data you need compressed loads for max accuracy and I don't think I want to get into that right off the bat. I plan on using some less expensive Hornady bullets to start I am thinking around 62gr maybe a little heavier. Any help would be appreciated with these or any alternate powders.


If you aren't going to be using match bullets, I would go for a ball powder that will meter well. I use WC844 which is the military version of H335 (more or less) and have had good results with it and the hornady 55gr FMJ-BT bulk bullets. (1MOA average I would say). You are right that TAC and H335 get pretty good reviews. As does CFE223 from the bit ive seen results wise with it.

Varget is a good option but being a stick powder is a bit more of a pain to get a good charge (ie within +/- .1gr) compared to a ball powder. When I tried it with the 55gr FMJ-BT I didn't really see any increase in accuracy. When using it with 77gr SMK bullets it definitely gives smaller groups than the WC844.


Wed Feb 08, 2017 11:53 am
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I use CFE 223 or BL-C(2) because it performs well and its in plentiful supply where I live.
BL is dirtier.

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 12:26 pm
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One of my favorite plinking loads is 748. If this will be your first batch it may be a good place to start. It's easy to find, and seems less expensive. Plus it is good for other calibers. So is 4064.

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 1:08 pm
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There's so many options with 223, it's absurd. First, the "accuracy load" in the book is rarely what I find to be best in my own rifle and compressing powder isn't that big of an issue. The biggest issue with Varget (and other sticks) in 223 is the small neck, and inevitable bridging. Some powder measures are better than others at this, but you can also use a drop-tube to eliminate the issue.

If you're loading progressive, you'll want to stick with ball powders. H335 is economical, and meters great. It hasn't been the most precise powder for me, but for plinking loads it's great. You can also find WCC-844 pull-down powder(canister grade H335) for dirty cheap, and use the same load data. TAC, CFE-223 and Winchester 748 have also been good to me, with TAC usually having the highest velocities (in case you ever get a wild hair to try and clone MK262).

If you're looking for a cheap load, I reccomend grabbing the Hornady 55gr FMJBT bullets, and any of the above powders. If you are looking for a little more accuracy, go to the 69 and 77 gr bullets, and buy TAC if you're on a progressive, otherwise Varget/RL-15 will likely give you better accuracy.


Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:41 pm
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I like 2230

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Wed Feb 08, 2017 8:53 pm
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I use IMR 8208 but it really depends on heavy vs light bullets.


Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:49 pm
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There are only two upsides to using Varget...

1. You plan to reload .30 cal cartridges (.308, 30-06, etc) later on and you want a powder that is excellent for both.
2. You are loading for a hunt in a colder environment. From what I've read, extruded powders are more resistant to temperature fluctuation which can/will change your zero. Personally I've never payed attention to this when shooting my Varget loads in say, the snow... so take it with a grain of salt.

As others have pointed out, the downsides are the fact that you have to take extra care with accurate metering of the powder drop, and the premium cost of Varget which tends to be 10% more than other compatible powders.

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Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:02 am
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Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:22 am
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What is your intended target? How far do you plan to shoot? How long is your barrel? What is the host rifle? What is your twist rate?

How much do you personally care about velocity?

When you go to your local shop, which powders are actually on the shelf?

All of the questions because there are a pile of factors that can influence a powder choice. Ultimately though, all of those listed in the thread can be considered solid performers. H335 may be better optimized for a lighter bullet than you wish to shoot.

Michael
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Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:53 am
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VantageReloading wrote:
What is your intended target? How far do you plan to shoot? How long is your barrel? What is the host rifle? What is your twist rate?

How much do you personally care about velocity?

When you go to your local shop, which powders are actually on the shelf?

All of the questions because there are a pile of factors that can influence a powder choice. Ultimately though, all of those listed in the thread can be considered solid performers. H335 may be better optimized for a lighter bullet than you wish to shoot.

Michael
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Totally agree.

The rifle is going to determine what bullets it can handle (twist, freebore/throat, gas operated or bolt action, all set the stage for which bullet you will want to use (or will be limited to).

Powder then is selected to match the bullet. There are many, many, choices but for myself I refuse to be limited to just what is on the shelf. There could be a good reason it's on the shelf as it doesn't work all that well for most shooters.

For light bullets, and even heavy, I find that CFE-223 is a good choice. It also does well in .308's as it's a powder that has it's roots in a milspec, non copper fouling, powder. TAC is good too. For any bullet over 69 gr I would use IMR-8208 XBR. I'm loosing my taste for Varget as it's been in such short supply I've found others that work just as well. One of them is IMR-4166 with the older IMR-4064.

Once you've decided on a bullet (with the help of your rifle's chamber dimensions and barrel) then pick a common powder and work with it. A slow and methodical load development will be more productive than trying it with someone's favorite load posted on the net, finding it doesn't work, then going to a different powder. Remember, there are people out there that can shoot really well with just about any powder that is suited to the caliber/bullet. They stay focused, follow a proven formula of "only changing one variable at a time), and keep good notes.

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Thu Feb 09, 2017 11:06 am
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VantageReloading wrote:
What is your intended target? How far do you plan to shoot? How long is your barrel? What is the host rifle? What is your twist rate?

How much do you personally care about velocity?

When you go to your local shop, which powders are actually on the shelf?

All of the questions because there are a pile of factors that can influence a powder choice. Ultimately though, all of those listed in the thread can be considered solid performers. H335 may be better optimized for a lighter bullet than you wish to shoot.

Michael
Vantage Reloading


This is info I probably should have included. The rifle is an AR15 with a 20" SS barrel. I built this one to start at 200 yards and go out from there. For now I am just trying to get respectable groups on paper and get the tighter before I move the target back. Twist is a 1:8 The local shops seem to have a decent selection. Velocity is not a concern at this point.


Thu Feb 09, 2017 1:55 pm
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Ramshot TAC, H335 or AA2230. All of these are granular so they will feed accurately.
AA2520 also works and can be used in 308 too.
The WC844 is available every now and then but I can usually find H335 for about the same price

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Thu Feb 09, 2017 7:36 pm
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