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#6208019 - 03/03/16 08:45 AM Bullet Weight!
charlesb Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 1499
Loc: West Texas mountains
After putting in some time assembling a heavy-barreled .223 bolt rifle, I finally got to the point where I was ready to shoot it, see what it would do.

I had some bullets from my previous .223 left over, 68 grain match BTHP bullets which I loaded to a moderate velocity. There were no firm expectations, just hopes. - But I was unprepared to see it shoot all over the target at 50 yards, not really what you could call a group. Then I peeked through the spotting scope and saw the key-holing.

Back at the shop, I belatedly measured the barrel's twist rate, and found it was 1 in 12 inches. Well, that explained the key-holing with the heavy bullets!

So I ordered bullets in 40, 50 and 52 grains. When they came in, I tried a few different powders and loads for each, and a clear trend emerged... The heavier the bullet, the more accurate it was, and the less sensitive about the load. The 40 grain bullets never did shoot well with any of the loads that I tried, but the 50 and 52 grain bullets did fairly well. The 52 grain bullets did best.

I ordered some 55 grain bullets that had done well for me in the past (Hornady 55 grn V-Max) and finally found what that barrel liked. Great groups with several different powders and loads. All were one notch back from maximum, hot but not what I would think of as pushing the edge of the envelope.

My guess is that the 1 in 14 inch twist barrels must do best with the 40 grain bullets. My optimistic hopes of using the 40 grain bullets in my 1 in 12" barrel to approach 22 Hornet performance were dashed by 3" groups at 50 yards with the light charge/light bullet loads.

I am happy to report though that the 55 grain bullets did pretty well at 2,000 fps velocity. - A good thing as I have two pounds of AA5744 en route that I ordered last month. At 12 grains per load, that ought to last me for a while with those mouse loads.

In this case at least, it looks like bullet weight was more of a factor than the powder used, or the velocity I tried for.

Best results with the 55 grain V-Max in this gun came with W 748, H-4895 and Ram-Shot Exterminator. None of these three stood out as being noticeably better than the other two, at least not so far... The Exterminator powder is something new to me, it is a ball powder that is fine-grained, easy to measure and goes everywhere if you happen to spill a little bit of it.

Edited by charlesb (03/03/16 08:53 AM)
Kind regards, charlesb

#6208044 - 03/03/16 09:00 AM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
oldoak2000 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 09/16/07
Posts: 2547
Loc: North Texas
Interesting; what is the barrel length on that puppy?

#6208047 - 03/03/16 09:03 AM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
jdk1985 Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 08/15/11
Posts: 12188
Loc: Waco, TX
Why push it so slow if you do not have a suppressor on that rifle?

#6208048 - 03/03/16 09:04 AM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
redchevy Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 27798
Loc: Texas
Is the twist that picky? Ive shot everything from 90 to 160 grains in a 270 and all grouped well.

Shot 58-100 grain in 243 that all did well and 125-220 in 300 wby and all grouped well. Seems like tinkering with you load may get the 40's to shoot as well.
It's hell eatin em live

#6208210 - 03/03/16 10:51 AM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
603Country Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 07/03/12
Posts: 6154
Loc: Central Texas
I'm with Redchevy, in that your rifle has a great twist rate for light bullets like the 40 grainers. Try them with H335.

My 9 twist 223 shoots the 40's and 55's and 65's wonderfully. That said, I have some lower grade Sierra 40 gr bullets that don't shoot particularly well. It's the Nosler BT's that really group well.

#6208231 - 03/03/16 11:03 AM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
specialed309 Offline

Registered: 01/24/16
Posts: 142
55gr at 2000 fps? Same as above what is barrel length?

#6208302 - 03/03/16 11:35 AM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
Toxarch Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 03/09/11
Posts: 1910
Loc: Parker County
Interesting read. Don't know that I've ever seen a 1:12 twist .223 barrel before. I would have assumed 40g bullets would do great in it.
It is far more important to be able to hit the target than it is to haggle over who makes a weapon or who pulls a trigger.

— Dwight D. Eisenhower

#6208495 - 03/03/16 02:22 PM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: Toxarch]
BigPig Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 08/27/09
Posts: 12059
Loc: Forney, Tx
Originally Posted By: Toxarch
Interesting read. Don't know that I've ever seen a 1:12 twist .223 barrel before. I would have assumed 40g bullets would do great in it.

I got a 16 inch barrel Colt AR15 with one. It doesn't like anything above 55gr. Lowest I've gone was 50 or 52, they were screaming fast
Originally Posted By: bill oxner
Ever spit it out rather than swallow it?

Originally Posted By: pegasaurus
Enjoy it while you can. One day you might be complaining about NOT getting random pop-ups in the morning. grin

#6208598 - 03/03/16 03:53 PM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
charlesb Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 1499
Loc: West Texas mountains
oldoak2000: It started off as 24", but it's 18" now. I was after better handling qualities - and got it. The rifle is actually good for shooting off-hand now. Before, it was just too heavy and ungainly. Another factor is my scope, which is made for an AR, calibrated for a 55 grain bullet at 3240 fps. Once you are set up at that velocity, the top turret has ranges in 50 yard increments up to 500 yards that you can just dial right in. Nikon p-223 4-12x40.

I'm real big on the 11 degree target crown:

jdk1985: The mouse loads are cheap to load at 12 grains of AA5744 per load, so I can shoot a lot more often. Cases last practically forever, too. It's also not as loud, but I'm wearing hearing protection when I shoot so that's kind of a moot point. Pelt damage would be reduced if I were varmint hunting at close range. - I generally just shoot paper though, and the paper doesn't know about the velocity difference. Accurate is accurate. The light AA5744 loads were taken directly from the Speer loading manual.

redchevy: I really expected the 40 grain bullets to do best... But I was wrong about that. With other rifles it always seemed like the powder and load was the big deal. My theory is that the throat on this barrel is longer than usual. To seat the 40 grain bullets close to the lands for example, they are only about 1/16" into the case, so I have to seat them deeper. I am considering a Lee factory crimp die. The crimp gives us some of the same ignition consistency that we normally get by seating the bullet just off of the lands.

603country: My 40 grain bullets are the Nosler Varageddon FBHP. If I can find H335 in this little desert town, I'll give it a try. Thanks for the tip.

Toxarch: The older Howas have a 1:12 twist, more recent Howas have 1:9 twist. I thought the 40 grain bullets would do well too.

BigPig: Same thing here. The 55's do best, but the 50 and 52 grain bullets are not bad, and they do move right along.

Edited by charlesb (03/03/16 03:58 PM)
Kind regards, charlesb

#6209120 - 03/03/16 10:09 PM Re: Bullet Weight! [Re: charlesb]
glocker17 Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 01/03/16
Posts: 404
Loc: RGV
1-12" twist is still very common, Remington used it for decades in their rifles. I have an early 700 Poice that is 1-12" as well. It shoots the Sierra 53match excellent over Benchmark or H335


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