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Range Report- 223 Wylde and 69-75gr Bullets

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  • Range Report- 223 Wylde and 69-75gr Bullets

    This range report is a follow-up to a previous load question I posted a few weeks ago.

    ...and another long read in-case you didn't make it to the library.... so I'll throw in some pictures to keep your interest.

    Long story... I had bought a new AR barrel during a 4th of July sale. Got a very good price on a Faxon 16" 223 Wylde 5R 1:8 Flame fluted gem. I had heard several good things about their barrels and wanted to try a Wylde chamber. All the specs including the fluting looked good to me and they advertised it as their Match series, so I ordered one.
    (yes I know they didn't mean THAT kind of match quality)...

    I put together a new gun and painted it over the course of a couple weeks and rounded up a hundred or so 55-69gr test rounds of various loads I had on hand, and took it to the range... the results were dismal... average 2+MOA out of the best 5-shot groups and lots of carbon and copper ? fouling on the crown.
    The barrel went back.

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    A few weeks later a new barrel arrived and I proceeded to reassemble the upper for retesting. . I decided to pit the new barrel against my 'ol faithful DPMS cryo-bull varmint barrel. In the mean time I acquired a few boxes of heavier 68-75gr bullets and came up with a few other loads to test.

    Since many were VLD or match type bullets, I decided to try loading them .02" off the lands or as close to that as I could. I calculated bullet, OAL and ogive measurements for each bullet in each gun, using a Hornady cOAL gage, a bullet nut and Excel.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Bullet_Selection.jpg Views:	1 Size:	71.0 KB ID:	794515

    The loaded OAL was longer than my magazine, so I cut out the front of an old Colt 20 rounder dating from the Vietnam era, committing sacrilege in the process- I broke a bottom tab.

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    The OAL generally worked out to be 2.34" to 2.37".

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    That's my opinion and I'm stick'n to it...
    ...till I change my mind.

  • #2
    Range day finally arrived and I sighted the Wylde's borrowed Konus scope at 50yd to get on paper and again at 100 to confirm POI. This time I decided to shoot the tests at 100yd instead of my normal 200, as I anticipated a lot of trips downrange. As it turned out more time was spent at the bench dealing with a number of annoyances, which slowed things down....

    All of the 70 RDF and 73 ELD loads fit the cutout mag but most still had to be single fed as they turned out a tad too long for the mag well (palm slap to head). Also, the new adj. gas block wasn't opened up enough for a dozen loads, as the last shot didn't lock the bolt open most of the time - every shot if single loaded. It may not have entirely been the gas system, because the DMPS also failed to lock open on 3 or 4 loads. However, I do run the bolt/carriers "wet" and most velocities were in the 2400-2600 range, which should have been plenty oomph.

    Three OEM loads were used for velocity and group size comparisons. First was Federal Gold Medal Match 69gr SMK and the other heavy bullet was Hornady Match 75gr OTM. 55gr IMI M-193 was included for later analysis. The only one less than 1/2 MOA was the GMM out of the DPMS. The others grouped just OK at 1MOA.

    The fluted barrel performed much better than I expected. Although I am used to waiting for a barrel to cool after 2 or 3 groups (walking downrange helps bide the time) the Faxon could go several strings before getting noticeably warm to the hand.

    32) 5-shot test load groups were shot from the Faxon barrel. Of those only 4 produced groups under 1/2 MOA and another 15 were between 1/2 and 1 MOA. 13 sister loads were shot from the DPMS... 3 of those were under 1/2 MOA and 6 were 1/2-1 MOA. As suspected, none of the 7 interesting loads were common between the two barrels. It was a good tryout overall, but not the results I had hoped for.

    Back at the ranch... more inet research seemed to indicate that loading close to the lands wasn't necessary with the VLD bullets and that loading to magazine length often produced better results, so.... I loaded up another batch. This time I decided to set all the loads to 2.25~2.26" to fit inside a normal AR magazine. I also decided to only shoot the new Wylde barrel to use up the remaining bullets but I added a few new loads to fill in charge range. I ended up with 35 sets of new test loads, so it looked like another fun day... In order to open the gas port 1/4 turn, I had to remove the scope and handguard (a real PITB, not something to be done in the field).

    Then the wind kicked up and the clouds rolled in for a few days.... wait.... wait.... Range day turned out to be Dec 24th. The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky and the wind was 0... perfect. By the time I got out to my secret spot in the desert (MSSITD) it was about 8am and I was finally set up around 9am. Temps were 30F in the morning but quickly rose when the sun started shining, reaching 60 by noon and 70F by mid-afternoon. Humidity was nil and barometric pressure was about 30.10 all day. Normal summer temps are in the high 90's+, so while this time of year is good for testing some of the higher powder charges, some may have to be carefully retested in the summer, in case of temperature sensitivity.

    This time I shot at 200 yds using a bi-pod instead of resting on sand bags. Opening the gas port made all the difference- not a single failure to lock open this time. Even though I R/R the scope and only bore sighted it, it was still +2" and center at 100yd with my M193 clone load.

    The real surprise of the day was the AA-2495 loads. I had added that powder to the mix at the last minute (I was betting on Varget or Re-15 being the star performer). Of the 7 groups under 1/2MOA, 4 of them were with AA-2495 (1-70RDF, 2-73ELD, 1-75OTM) . There were 12 loads that shot between 1/2-1MOA, of those only 1 was AA2495. This powder is now on my radar.

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    One comparison that proved interesting was 69SMK-23.5gr AA-2495 vs 23.5gr IMR-4895, both with CCI-4450/HB brass. AA touts its product as the "same" as IMR but my chrono said AA-2495 clocked 2601fps (SD=15) while the IMR-4895 load was going 2499 fps (SD=30) - 100fps difference. Both of these are less than the various load manuals indicate (2900fps 20"- even compensating for barrel length we all knew that would be the case). The AA load is a full grain higher than their current manual but their '94, '02 and '07 manuals list a max of 25.0. 23.8 and 24.0 respectively so I gambled and went with those in order to come up with a same-same comparison with IMR.

    While I intended on using Rem primers throughout, I already had some HB brass primed with CCI-450 so I segregated those to the new powders being tested and matched up the Rem 7 1/2 with the same powders from the previous set. Because of this, during primer analysis I noticed something odd... Along with the Faxon barrel I also got a BCG from them so it would be wear-mated to the barrel locking lugs. All of the CCI-450 showed a slight 1/8-moon crater around part of the firing pin hole and NONE of the Rem primers showed this deformation. Since the loads were not all that hot, two things come to mind... 1) the Rem primer cup must be slightly thicker, resisting deformation and 2) the hole cutter (man or machine) slipped/angled ...something and Faxon QA missed this. Nevertheless it shouldn't be a big issue, just another QA point to be noted.

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    In summary, a total of 80 test loads and 400 rounds were shot over 3 days of range time (oh the burden I carry ). With this many loads its important to have a good ID system to identify loads during the entire process or when a box tips over spilling the contents (not that that has happened). I use a color sharpie mark on the head, correlated to my range sheet and excel database, which survives firing and comes off during cleaning.

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    The overall results were much better when seating long heavy VLD bullets to mag length. I can't blame any one thing for the improvement as I did a few things different between sessions, but I'm convinced the OAL had a lot to do with it.

    The absolute best group (also in a long while for me) was a 70gr Nosler RDF, 23.2gr AA-2495 CCI-450, HB brass OAL 2.255" shot at 200 yds with a hot barrel...

    String #27 Target #124 (3-shot MOA 0.16") 5-shot MES-0.75", MOA=0.36" Dead center -
    This one is going in my wallet.

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    OK, there it is- I've beat this keyboard enough for one day...

    Note to admin - every time I try to save the post I get the following error...
    Error information: " 0 parsererror SyntaxError: JSON.parse: unexpected character at line 9 column 15 of the JSON data"
    ...ah so, that was because I was cutting/pasting images directly instead of linking to a web host....
    Last edited by Silvertip; 01-04-2018, 15:38.
    That's my opinion and I'm stick'n to it...
    ...till I change my mind.


    • #3
      The amount of effort in this project is impressive. I have been following your other thread but didn't comment. A lot of good advice there. The thing I was going to say and was brought up by others and that I think you proved to yourself was to just load to mag length for AR's. My favorite 1:8 load, 25.3 Varget, 69 SMK didn't work so well for you. I see yours used 68gr but still... My question is did you satisfy your urge to have a one round for three rifles? You never really said what they are for?

      The old farmer with 3 guns would say, "I have a rabbit gun, a bird gun, and a deer gun" Translated = .22, 12ga, and a 30-30. His grandson shoots 3-gun competition, Translated = AR, 12ga semiauto, and a 9mm pistol. Poor analogies I suppose but you realize at least two of them are going to be a compromise. I have 9 .223's and I gave up with six different loads. I use them for prairie dogs, coyotes, deer, targets, and plinking, etc. 1:12 to 1:7 twists. I'm not trying to be negative as I'm sure I'll never be satisfied myself? Always searching for the perfect load.
      Endeavor to persevere.


      • #4
        Like you I have a fair number of guns of the same caliber. Most of my shooting these day is for fun. Neither the 'ol knees don't hike rock piles and the 'ol eyes don't see as far, like they used to. I still like to find that one purpose load that is best for each gun, however I also like to load up a big batch and put it away for use as may come along or be needed whatever I'm shooting.

        An example is my M193 dupe load. In that example I want it to shoot well out of all my 223's since I often use it for sighting-in, breaking in, a chrono check or just practice. When developing that particular load I had 2 criteria in mind (well maybe 3)... first it had to duplicate milsurp velocity in whatever length barrel I shot it from. To gauge that I shot various milsurp loadings from my various rifles and came up with a minimum velocity my load had to make in each. The second criteria was that it needed to be more accurate (precise i probably should say) than the 3-4" MOA common to milsurp. The other bonus factor was if I could get it with different components and not be dependent on one primer or powder.

        After extensive testing I have at least 3 different loads that will achieve this with 1.5 MOA or better in most of my 223 rifles. So this gives me 2 things... 1) I can load up 1000 rounds and have it on hand, assured it will shoot well whatever iron I pick up and 2) the next time there is a component shortage I only have to find one of the three powders my load needs.

        I really want to find an accurate load for the Hornady 68gr since it is about half the price of SMK but throughout the years the SMK has always proved to be more accurate. One of these days... As for loading to mag length for the AR, yes I was very surprised and happy at the same time.
        That's my opinion and I'm stick'n to it...
        ...till I change my mind.


        • #5
          I did about the same thing trying to get close to M193. SS109 is another story. I traded that all off. Also tried to eliminate some powders but I'm creeping back up again. What do you use for M193 type loads?
          Endeavor to persevere.


          • #6
            My main two M193 dupe loads are 25.8 of AA-2230 or 24.6 of AA-2460 and 27.5 of BLc2 also works but not quite as well.

            I can also use 26.0 WC-846 if I can find it but haven't actually seen any in years.
            H335 works well with other 55gr projectiles but for some reason I haven't tried it yet with the FMJ.

            I need to add that these loads are for 5.56 chambers only and not .223 - they have shown excessive pressure signs, including pierced or blown primers in a couple of 223 chambered guns I have tried them in.

            I sometimes use 223 & 5.56 interchangeably in general conversation (like Xerox for copying) and I may also have a 223 that will shoot 5.56 pressures but for general use they are not intended to be interchangeable, I suppose I picked up that habit by calling real milsurp 5.56, commercial loads 223 and reloads also 223 since they are not actually military spec, but my excel sheet does sometimes indicate a 223 reload as 5.56 if the velocity (assumed pressure) is in the right range. That's how I know not to use them in certain guns... clear as mud?
            Last edited by Silvertip; 01-04-2018, 18:42.
            That's my opinion and I'm stick'n to it...
            ...till I change my mind.


            • #7
              Excellent report. Many thanks.
              Homo sapiens, [ˈhōmō ˈsāpēənz] Noun. An advanced primate characterized by a large brain which it seldom uses.


              • #8
                Nice report, a lot of work went into it and documentation of loads was excellent.

                Couple questions on your longer than mag loads.

                How much neck tension were you using?

                I've found single fed rounds, tend to have the highest bolt velocity and unless neck tension is high, bullet can pull slightly. I combat this by jamming single fed or loading where they feed from mag.

                Did you have any issues with steel mag bulging?

                I've tried couple different brands and if I cut more than ten rounds deep, they tend to swell, making insertion and removal tight. As you found out, to load at longest length, you have to lower, your receiver cuts and polish your ramps a bit. They're cut for shorter bullet and you're hitting them low, with longer OAL.
                Columbia Falls, MT
                If we don’t speak out against the infringements of today, it will weaken our ability to stop the next infringements.
                Since it took 26th Amendment to change voting age, expanding rights under 14th Amendment. Why doesn't same requirement, to restrict rights, extend to 2nd Amendment?

                NRA Benefactor Life, NRA Ring of Freedom, NRA-ILA Partner in Freedom, GOA Patriot, SAF, Oath Keepers


                • #9
                  Very nice. Good solid information.

                  Question: what program are you using to measure your groups with in that last photo. I've seen others using it just never could find out what it is.

                  And i I wish I had your excel skills. I used to be able to use it but it's been so long I can barely make a simple spreadsheet now.


                  • #10
                    Thanks for all the good comments.
                    Over time I have automated a lot of the excel sheet. There are 72 columns of data for each load and a few additional for certain tests. Most of the chrono and target accuracy data cells are driven by formulas based on my entering just a few numbers and color is automatically applied based on various conditions. It's getting so big I'm either going to have to split it into Pistol/Rifle files or learn to program with database tables.

                    The program is called ON-Target. You take a picture of your target (I lay them on the floor and use a tripod) then drop the Jpeg into the program. You specify a known distance for scaling- such as across the 8" black bull or 6-1" grids or whatever, then click the aiming point you used. From there you specify the caliber(for the hole size) and the distance in yards or meters to the target. After all that, you just zoom in and place the programs bullet holes over top of the target holes and it does all the calculations. You can also specify a note to be placed on the target, have several individual groups on one target and save the images to Jpegs, the data to excel and of course the entire file in On-target format. It is written by Jeff Block and he has always been responsive with questions and help. He also has a pro match version with a lot more features that he sells.
                    try this link

                    Robert, I didn't have any issues with the aluminum mag I cut up, at least I didn't notice any bulging. As you can see I had 10 rounds in it for the picture and that wasn't supported by the mag well.

                    IIRC I used 1-up in the mag and also tried just dropping them in the ejection port and finger feeding 3/4 way into the chamber before dropping the bolt. Don't know if any bullet creep occurred.

                    When I had everything loaded up I ran every one thru my Hornady concentricity gauge, checking run-out. I only had to straighten a few but then i accept .0025" and try to straighten .003 or higher. My bushing die leaves the case necks at 0.243 and after pushing the bullet in they measure 0.244. Anticipating the bolt slam, feeding from the mag, I used a Lee FCD just kissing the mouths for a light taper crimp.(whatever that means)

                    Keeping track of loads is more important than often thought, I not only color code the head but also write the load on the side of the case and even with all that i sometimes get things mixed up at the range.
                    Last edited by Silvertip; 01-04-2018, 21:57.
                    That's my opinion and I'm stick'n to it...
                    ...till I change my mind.


                    • #11
                      Thanks for update, if cases were .243" before seating bullet and .244" after, I would call that .001" neck tension, at least by how I think of it. I understand what you mean by kissing them with FCD, not really a measurement, just a feeling, just touching them enough to turn edge of mouth.
                      Columbia Falls, MT
                      If we don’t speak out against the infringements of today, it will weaken our ability to stop the next infringements.
                      Since it took 26th Amendment to change voting age, expanding rights under 14th Amendment. Why doesn't same requirement, to restrict rights, extend to 2nd Amendment?

                      NRA Benefactor Life, NRA Ring of Freedom, NRA-ILA Partner in Freedom, GOA Patriot, SAF, Oath Keepers


                      • #12
                        I meant to say something about post #1 at the top of the page.
                        The carbon crud on the crown of the rifle barrel.
                        I get that same exact build up no matter what powder i use on all my threaded barrels when i use a flash hider or muzzle brake or anything other than a thread protector.

                        There is a cavity of air space made into all those twist on devices I have and this is what causes the crud build up..accuracy does suffer from it least from my guns and my testing.
                        I no longer have anything on the end of my barrel except thread protector.

                        Threaded barrel sounded like a good idea until i tried to shoot tiny groups way out with a carboned up crown. Not even worth it.
                        Some others may not have an issue. YMMV


                        • #13
                          Swampratt - Thanks for mentioning it... That was one of the very first things I though of also. When i first started shooting that barrel I started out with a 3-prong vortex style flash hider on it and at some point during the range session I switched to a thread protector after seeing what kind of pattern I was getting. When i got home I compared it with other threaded barrels (with various flash hiders) I have that have hundreds to thousands of rounds thru them without ever cleaning the crown.... just so happens I took pictures to send to Faxon for their comment (which was to send the barrel back). maybe you can shed some additional light on what happened. The last picture is the current Faxon barrel crown after about 500 or so rounds.

                          #1- DPMS No Threads- bought in the late 90's - countless rounds - never cleaned other than a Hoppes rag wipe-off ...

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                          #2 Military surplus 20" A2 barrel w/birdcage FH -Used when I got it in 2001- thousands of rounds

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                          #3- Mossberg CHF barrel w/YHM Phantom FH- between 800-1500 hundred rounds

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                          #4 The new Faxon Barrel after 500

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                          I even used a depth mic to measure the crown to shoulder/washer and the depth to bottom out in each flash hider and all of them had some gap. I'm open to any ideas why the others are so clean. I have a couple others but the limit on pics per post is 4 I think.

                          I'm also wondering if there is any way to clean that crud off there without damaging the crown underneath, short of re-cutting it. If so I may just put a TP on it and call it finished.
                          Last edited by Silvertip; 01-05-2018, 19:03.
                          That's my opinion and I'm stick'n to it...
                          ...till I change my mind.


                          • #14
                            I had the same problem when using a break. It cleans up with some elbow grease a rag and balistol. Soak it is Ballistol, let it sit for a while then rub it with a rag. Rinse and repeat. I noticed that accuracy dropped when using a break after about 50 or so rounds. With a thread protector I have about 600 through it now with no issue.


                            • #15
                              I can't explain it and get it correct..I can guess why it happens but it would be a guess.
                              I have a threaded savage heavy barrel .308 model 10 and it does it with the Jerry Miculek brake as does my Savage Axis Sr that is threaded.
                              I have 3 AR 15 the Palmeto stainless 16" Freedom series 5.56 1:7 twist...they all do it to me with flash hiders or Brakes.
                              Like Scuba1 stated accuracy goes down hill quickly..I noticed after 20 rounds.
                              I found it cleans up quickest with Berryman parts cleaner.
                              But will clean with whatever you have on hand.
                              It is just carbon.. same stuff inside and outside of the fired case.