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223 lead free reloading


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#1 aczraad

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Posted 12 January 2019 - 08:01 PM

I'm new to reloading for rifles. I have reloaded shot shells and 9mm. I'm wanting to start with.223 for varmints and predators. I have two rifles for this, a Savage axis and a win70, both 1:12. I'm leaning towards 50gr, but smaller would be great too. Anyone out there with ideas on bullets, powders, etc. I've been all over the net and have two manuals, so I have good starting references, but looking for real world experience. Thank you in advance for any pointers

#2 Capitol

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 11:23 AM

I load 50 grain Nosler Lead Free bullets with 25 grains of Varget. They are loaded for an AR15 so I dont pay to much attention to COAL, but mine are set at 2.24. You are loading for bolt guns, so you will want to work on COAL a bit. I get true 100 yard MOA with that load.

 

I pretty much stay with Varget and H4895 because they are less temperature sensitive then other powders. I shoot in 20 degrees in the winter and 90 degrees in the summer.

 

Hope that helps,



#3 aczraad

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 11:28 AM

Capital, that does help because I was leaning towards W748, with varget being another good option. I shoot in weather swings as well from 40s to 100+, did not know about temp sensitivity of powder

#4 Alan

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Posted 13 January 2019 - 05:59 PM

Nowadays, most of my shooting is via airguns. In general, airguns are a bit more finicky about the twist rate vs. the projectiles weight and overall length. 

 

My favorite airgun, is my W.A.R. Cobra, in .25 caliber. The twist is 1:25. It stabilizes 25.39 grainers (880 FPS) perfectly, and the 33.39 grainers marginally, unless the velocity is set above 950 FPS. At that velocity, you use a lot more air, and accuracy isn't as good. 

 

At present, I've tried about 5 different, non lead pellets, and none of them group past about 25 yards, no matter the weight. But there is another issue.

 

I've posted several articles here and on my site (airgungulid.com) about lead in general. If we would take the time to do some research, we'd find that much more lead is in the environment due to lead in gasoline, than was ever deposited due to firearms and pellets guns. I'll buy the need to use non lead shot for water fowl (Rachel Carlson effect), but geez... Do we need non lead shot when shooting prairie dogs of ground squirrels? I think not!


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#5 aczraad

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Posted 14 January 2019 - 04:43 PM

I'm on the fence about lead free. In the true condor zone, maybe, I've read some reports. Otherwise I think it's just more gun control. If you can't realistically start hunting with a .22, most people won't, and it will die slowly by generation. I'm sure the days of lead for target practice are numbered as well. I love the beauty of this state, but the politicians have ruined it, can't wait to get out
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#6 Eric Mayer

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Posted 15 January 2019 - 09:13 PM

I agree with you on the real purpose for lead-free ammo in California.

 

With regards to reloading, I have had great luck with the lead-free Nosler E-Tips 55gr and the Hornady NTX 35gr bullets.  The latter being good on small varmints.  I do not have load info any longer, but do a lot of testing to get your best accuracy.


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#7 Z-MAX

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 06:15 AM

There are so many powders on the market today it's hard to make a decision. For my.223s I like benchmark. It seems to give consistent speeds when shot through The crony. Runs clean in my AR-15 rigs.

#8 Plumas

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Posted 16 January 2019 - 07:19 AM

I load 26 gr, Varget with the Barnes Varmint Grenade 36g gr, lead-free... chrono's at 3400 in a 24" barrel and 1-12" twist...one jagged hole at 100 yards...but all guns have their own best diet so as said before, you must just get out there and shoot enough powders and bullets and COAL's to find your own best safe load.

I started with the Hodgdon on-line manual.

My rifle likes a coal of 2.225 for the 36 gr Barnes. With winds up to 10mph  I can manage pretty well with but with gusts or higher winds I move to the Speer TNT 50 gr. with 27 gr. Varget for 3225 out the muzzle.

 

I did not keep count but I'm sure it took over 100 rounds to narrow down and settle on the load above. 

.

I hate the way Varget measures but can't argue with the performance& accuracy sweet spot. Like Capital, I shoot in all weather and temps, Varget has been a rock for consistency, and 26 gr pretty much fills the case, minor compaction, and therefore no void spots in the case with fired. My chrono work is at 4600' elevation, may vary a bit at lower elevations with denser air.

 

Just sight in for one then sight in for the other and record the clicks so you can move back and forth as weather changes, It is not super precise but works in the field just fine if you have a scope with consistent movement per click.



#9 aczraad

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 08:26 PM

Plumas, I appreciate your and everyone help. I've tried a couple different loads so far, not super happy yet, anywhere from 1.75 to .36" groups. If I could get .36" consistently, I'd be done with that load for that gun, more experimenting to do. The best factory loads give me great groups out of both guns, so I may try to copy it's coal, which is shorter than I've used so far. I thought closer to lands would be better, but I guess I need to keep trying. No bad signs yet, so that's good

#10 mike.h

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Posted 24 February 2019 - 10:36 AM

I'm still working on lead free loads, but I can share what is working so far.  

 

In the  12 twist AR,  40g Nosler with 25.5g Varget at 2.250.  

 

In the Tikka bolt (8 twist) , 50g Barnes with 25.0 g 8208 XBR at 2.225.

 

For what ever reason the lead free stuff works better with a long jump.  I haven't found anything that works well in the 8 twist AR, but I'm not done.

 

Good luck guys and please keep this thread current with your LF loads.



#11 Plumas

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Posted 25 February 2019 - 07:44 AM

The bit shorter COAL is what my 700 likes as well.

Some people with the same shoe size like tight shoes, some loose...rifle chambers are the same way.

 

And yes, my 700 seems to like the Barnes better than leaded bullets also. 

The science is interesting, I'm opinionating that the tad longer body on the lead-free, for the weight, is a good mate for the 1-12".

Maybe someone with more savvy knowledge can answer that one. 

 

Keeping the velocity down with the all copper Barnes I've had no issues with copper fouling.

The accuracy is better (in mine) at 3400 fps compared to the max loads at 3800+ (Barnes manual), go figure. 

 

The added benefit of less than max loads with lighter bullets is the slightly less recoil I have no trouble keeping the sight picture at the moment of impact.

 

Looking at the drop at 300 yards the difference between 3400 and 3800 is not significant either, about 1.5" with a 200 yard zero...easy to manually compensate for so why burn up the powder and barrel. 

It's interesting to print life size squirrels, cut them out and staple to a field target at various ranges to get a realistic rate of hit and miss. if you are on target pretty much anywhere you've got a good hit. It's a great confidence builder, especially if you have a range where you can test out 250-300 yard shots.

 

Keep on the hunt, it's quite satisfying to settle on that 1 load per weight that fits your rifle.



#12 Z-MAX

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Posted 25 February 2019 - 08:36 AM

Regarding the bullet length..and I could be completely wrong about this.
But it's always been my understanding longer bullets are more suited for faster twist rates.
For example.. a 50 grain lead free would be better in a 1.9"

A 40 grain better in a 1.12" ???

Edited by Z-MAX, 25 February 2019 - 08:38 AM.


#13 Red

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Posted 03 March 2019 - 06:42 AM

Regarding the bullet length..and I could be completely wrong about this.
But it's always been my understanding longer bullets are more suited for faster twist rates.
For example.. a 50 grain lead free would be better in a 1.9"

A 40 grain better in a 1.12" ???

 

Longer bullet needs a faster twist. Though there's a misconception that a faster twist will somehow inhibit accuracy with shorter or lighter weight bullets. I've never found that to be true. Additionally the velocity the bullet is fired at is a factor. That is to say, the faster the bullet is moving, the less twist it needs. For example a .224" bullet fired from say a 221Fireball might require a faster twist than the same bullet fired from a 22-250.


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#14 Plumas

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Posted 03 March 2019 - 02:46 PM

I agree with all that...but still the lead-free is more accurate than the lead of the same weight...in this particular rifle, with same powder loads......I just don't get it but I'm giving up trying as long as it works.



#15 aczraad

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Posted 03 March 2019 - 08:08 PM

Ok, here's what I have so far, this may be a little long, I apologise. I will just list best so far, all other groups would be a book. All at 100/yrds, mostly 3 shot group. And by the way, my axis is 1/9, Winchester 1/12, I was mistaken.
Nosler BTLF, 35gr, no 40s local
Winchester
28gr TAC 0.44" 2.26 coal
26.2 H335 0.58 2.28 coal
21.2 H4198 0.96 2.26 coal haven't worked up to Max
Axis
27.5 TAC 0.41, 28.4 0.31". 2.26 coal
21 H4198 0.58
26.6 H335 0.45" 2.28 coal

Barnes VG 36gr
Winchester
27.4 H335 0.69", 2.19 coal
Axis
26.2 H335 0.77 2.19 coal
26 H335 0.69 2.23 coal

Barnes VG 50gr
Axis only, Win won't stabilize
23gr H335 0.27 2.2 coal

These are the best groups so far, I've shot several not nearly as well. I just can't seem to get consistent tight groups, which I feel are attributed to several factors, the biggest being me. My shooting and reloading skills need work. These groups were shot over several trips, temps ranging from 30s to 50s, always a breeze. My portable bench isn't Rock solid nor is my rest.
With all that being said, I'm not too disappointed so far. I have yet to try on any game. I'm going to stick with TAC for now, since I have about 1.5#. I'm also trying to stick with the noslers.
Any suggestions I will appreciate. I will post again when I get some time to continue to experiment. It's been a lot of fun and great learning so far, I'm hooked on reloading and will continue for my other rifles as time goes on. Thank you all for your help. AC