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Thread: WC860 in .223/5.56 - Yes But....

  1. #1
    Boolit Master



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    Talking WC860 in .223/5.56 - Yes But....

    This thread is dedicated to Don Quixote as I begin my latest personal effort in tilting at proverbial Wind Mills. Those who have perused the many pages of our Cast Boolit Forum will immediately recognize that I am off on a Fool’s Errand as I attempt to use an exceptionally slow Powder (WC860) in a case that obviously requires a much faster burn rate. Many will ask “Why, Why would you do this? The answer is: Because it was in front of the WC872 and WC867 jugs in my Powder Locker; and I was too lazy to move it and get something slower. The real answer is because I did not know what the results would be and I was curious.

    (For those who are new and less experienced in Reloading, go to the below posting, and do some Internet searches on Powder Burn Rates to understand my Tongue in Cheek references). http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=133889 .


    Well it was slightly cooler this morning here in the Nevada Desert, just North of Las Vegas, so I sucked it up after feeding the horses and moving the irrigation watering and decided to head to the range. By the time I had loaded the jeep with the targets, rifles, and shooting support equipment it was 07:30 and the temperature had already reached 90 degrees. Oh well; it was an enjoyable, albeit short morning, where I was able to collect some initial data on using WC860 in a .223. Let me assure you, the results would surprise and confound me.

    I had prepared two different loads of four (4) rounds each. Yes; I know that you can’t expect to validate any load and derive any decent statistical data unless you shoot 10 round strings, and repeat each string multiple times, and hand weigh each bullet, and hand weigh each charge, and do a water volume comparison of each case, and ….. Keep in mind; I did not set out on this quest to develop the most accurate, most efficient, most perfect .223/5.56 load; no, I set out on a Fool’s Errand in order to TILT and see what happens. Back to the Loads:

    I had previously selected eight (8) cases with the same LC-78 head stamp from the storage pail of mixed head stamp brass I keep in the garage. All were measured to ensure they were not too long, then sized, de-primed, re-primed, and made ready for loading. I had determined that given the Burn Rate of WC860; it was far below any listing for loads listed in any of my reloading manuals, so a full case would not get me in trouble. I do not have any .224 cast boolits on hand, so I opted to use surplus pulled M855 62 Grain projectiles (For those purists wondering why I didn’t Cast some .224 Boolits for this exercise; did I fail to mention the Nevada Desert North of Las Vegas and that it was already 90 degrees at 0730?)

    For this Tilting event, I thought it would be interesting to see how a Full Charge of WC860 in a .223/5.56 case would fare in a match against one with a “Kicker/Booster” charge, a shameless effort to get better ignition of the powder. Remember, I said there were some surprises, this sets the stage for one of these surprises.


    .223/5.56 Load #1:
    Powder: WC860 - 26.0 Grains
    Primer: CCI 400 Small Rifle Primer
    Projectile: Pulled M855 military 62 Grain FMJ Ball (Actual Weight – 63.5 Grains)

    .223/5.56 Load #2:
    Powder: WC860 - 23.6 Grains
    Booster/Kicker: Unique - 2.4 Grains
    Primer: CCI 400 Small Rifle Primer
    Projectile: Pulled M855 military 62 Grain FMJ Ball (Actual Weight – 63.5 Grains)

    CAUTION: THE USE OF A BOOSTER/KICKER IN A LOAD SHOULD ONLY BE UTILIZED BY THOSE WHO ARE HIGHLY EXPERIENCED IN RELOADING, AND WHO HAVE EDUCATED THEMSELVES EXTENSIVELY IN THIS AREA BEFORE ATTEMPTING. THERE ARE MANY CONSIDERATIONS AND IF DONE INCORRECTLY THE RESULTS COULD BE A DESTROYED FIREARM, INJURY, AND EVEN DEATH.


    So it was off to the range this morning to see what the results would be. My expectations were pretty low, I even thought I heard the .410, 28, 16, 20, & 12 gauges in the safe snickering as I left the house, claiming their groups would be much better if they were allowed to go. After setting up at the range I began to shoot and here are some of the surprises:

    1. Velocities were much lower than I thought for both loads. I was anticipating somewhere in the 1200 to 1400 FPS range. Instead what I got was repeated “Error” messages from my F1 Chronograph. I know it was working because I had just previously shot 30-06 Cast Boolit and Jacketed loads over it.

    2. I was amazed when the Booster/Kicker load was showing velocities in the 377 FPS range; while the pure WC860 load was producing velocities more than twice that rate at about 890 FPS.

    3. I had anticipated that the Booster/Kicker Load would get a more full burn of powder; resulting in a tighter shot grouping; but that did not occur. Instead the WC860 26 Grain Load produced a Shot group of ~ 0.6 x 0.6 inches; while the load with the kicker produced a group that was much larger at ~ 1” x 1.25”.

    4. I was surprised that even with the Booster Charge, there was unburned WC860 all along the barrel bottom from the Chamber to the Bore. Looked like sludge in a sewer pipe.

    My Load and Record Data for both Loads is attached below as Pictures. Hopefully it's readable. Click on the thumb nails below to see a larger image on the screen. Also a pic of the barrel and unburned powder is attached, it is as I could get with my camera. If you enlarge you can see traces of debris in the barrel at 7 O'Clock.











    So what did the Wind Mill tell me? It may be theoretically feasible to only use a single powder for loads ranging from the .223/5.56 all the way up to the 50 BMG; but it is not very practicable. We can explore the what if’s of reloading, and continue to learn from those in this forum, but we need to always remain safe in doing so.


    Best Wishes – Mustang (Don Quixote for the Morning)

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    swheeler's Avatar
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    Mustang I surmise something wrong with your velocity reading, and here's why;

    3-31-2005- 45*F
    55 gr Win SP
    28.5 gr WC860
    wsr primer
    2089 fps

    same day- same everthing
    28.5 gr WC872(pats slow lot)
    1900 fps

    Same-same

    25.8 gr IMR 5010(Pats slow lot)
    1679 fps
    Hell, I was there!

  3. #3
    Boolit Grand Master

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    Did you crimp your bullets? Is it possible that your "kicker" was actually pushing the powder out of the case before it ignited? With that kicker and that light a bullet I would want a heavy crimp. Remember - and this is analogous - When the 45-70 was loaded with the light 405 gr. bullet they found they need a crimp to get complete combustion of the powder (black). The inertia of the 500gr bullet was adequate to do the same.

    Try it again with a crimp.
    Wayne the Shrink

    There is no 'right' that requires me to work for you or you to work for me!

  4. #4
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    I've had some fair success using a similar load in 6x45, around 3gr of kicker, which in my case was Blue Dot, then filled the case with 860. That gave me 2300fps with a 77gr boolit, and around a 1.5moa avg group out of a 1/8 twist Obermeyer barreled AR. Seems to me the kicker makes the total load burn around 4350 speed. There's still some carbon in the bottom of the barrel after shooting some, but no unburned granules. At some point in the future I'll try the load with cast in the .223.
    Last edited by madsenshooter; 07-23-2012 at 09:19 AM.
    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  5. #5
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by swheeler View Post
    Mustang I surmise something wrong with your velocity reading, and here's why;

    3-31-2005- 45*F
    55 gr Win SP
    28.5 gr WC860
    wsr primer
    2089 fps

    same day- same everthing
    28.5 gr WC872(pats slow lot)
    1900 fps

    Same-same

    25.8 gr IMR 5010(Pats slow lot)
    1679 fps


    Thanks. I'll try again at a later date, will take a look at crimp on next cycle. I have a CH Taper Crimp Die that I'll use on the next attempt.

  6. #6
    I like wc867 in my bolt action .223 . I dont need any ear protection. Light loads fun to shoot..

  7. #7
    Boolit Master



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    27Grains of WC860 Load Test

    Well, I got out Saturday morning for some further Range Testing of the WC860 in .223/5.56 using military M855 Ball. For this one I used 27Grains of WC860; which results in a compressed load. About 60% to 65% of the M855 projectile is below the mouth. This results in a portion of the projectile being below the case neck. I mention this because when I migrate Load Testing to .225 Gas Checked Cast Boolit; this might become a critical issue. Not as much of an issue with the Bolt Action .223 I am currently using as the primary Test Rifle; but when I move to the Colt AR-15 I will have to be concerned with the deeper Boolit Seating required; particularly with 60grain and above Boolits.

    I followed S. Wheeler’s (Post #2) & Wayne Smith’s (post #3) comments and used my CH .223 Taper Crimp Die for these loads. The good news is that the unburned powder I previously experienced with the 26 Grain WC860 is practically all gone. I noted only 2 or 3 very small “mummies” (little small flecks of brown partially burned powder) in the entire barrel. This was a dramatic improvement.

    Accuracy was not as good with this 27 Grain test load compared to the previous 26 Grain load. Below is a picture (Click on picture to enlarge) comparing both loads. The 26 Grain Load with four shots (on the right) gave a ¾ x ¾ inch group. The 27 Grain Load with nine shots (on the left) gave a 1 ¼ x 2 inch group. There is the potential for incorrect interpretation of results since the previous test was with 4 Rounds; and this test used 9 rounds (One round failed to fire; primers used are from a large batch I bought back in the mid 1980’s).





    The last test was shot in 106 degree temperatures. I am sure that my shooting was impacted by the heat; and there is the potential for the powder burn to be impacted. I know that the Department of Army and Department of Navy have both had extensive testing and development programs to deal with impacts of high ambient Desert Temperatures on powder burn rates for both the 7.62 and 5.56 loads to be used in Afghanistan and Iraqi theaters. Before moving on; I am going to load 20 Rounds more to load test WC860 in .223/5.56; ten at 26 Grains plus ten at 27 grains. If I get one set that shows better accuracy; then I’ll have a good load for M855 Ball that I can use for comparison. That will allow me to move on to Load Development using .225 Cast Boolits from my RCBS .22-55-SP mold with a higher level of confidence in Load Development.

    My Data Record for this Test is attached as a pdf. I continue to have Error’s, Unregistered Shots, or I believe erroneous readings (e.g. the 885FPS ) from my Chronograph with the .223/5.56 loads. Earlier I had fired about 40 rounds of .30 Cal Cast Boolits over the same Chronograph at speeds of 2000fps to 2550 fps with not a single problem.




    Mustang

  8. #8
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    You might wish to try that 2-3gr kicker, maybe working it up to be an even larger portion of the total (within reason). Some small difference in the crimp may have been the difference in accuracy. I've found, in the 6x45 that the kicker greatly reduced standard deviation, down to 5fps. Changes in the amount of kicker had more of an effect on velocity than did changes in the 860 charge. I would expect velocity with a kicker and enough 860 to equal the full charge you used to produce around 2400fps, with a 3 or 4gr kicker. But, it's your speriment.
    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by MUSTANG View Post
    Well, I got out Saturday morning for some further Range Testing of the WC860 in .223/5.56 using military M855 Ball. For this one I used 27Grains of WC860; which results in a compressed load. About 60% to 65% of the M855 projectile is below the mouth. This results in a portion of the projectile being below the case neck. I mention this because when I migrate Load Testing to .225 Gas Checked Cast Boolit; this might become a critical issue. Not as much of an issue with the Bolt Action .223 I am currently using as the primary Test Rifle; but when I move to the Colt AR-15 I will have to be concerned with the deeper Boolit Seating required; particularly with 60grain and above Boolits.

    I followed S. Wheeler’s (Post #2) & Wayne Smith’s (post #3) comments and used my CH .223 Taper Crimp Die for these loads. The good news is that the unburned powder I previously experienced with the 26 Grain WC860 is practically all gone. I noted only 2 or 3 very small “mummies” (little small flecks of brown partially burned powder) in the entire barrel. This was a dramatic improvement.

    Accuracy was not as good with this 27 Grain test load compared to the previous 26 Grain load. Below is a picture (Click on picture to enlarge) comparing both loads. The 26 Grain Load with four shots (on the right) gave a ¾ x ¾ inch group. The 27 Grain Load with nine shots (on the left) gave a 1 ¼ x 2 inch group. There is the potential for incorrect interpretation of results since the previous test was with 4 Rounds; and this test used 9 rounds (One round failed to fire; primers used are from a large batch I bought back in the mid 1980’s).





    The last test was shot in 106 degree temperatures. I am sure that my shooting was impacted by the heat; and there is the potential for the powder burn to be impacted. I know that the Department of Army and Department of Navy have both had extensive testing and development programs to deal with impacts of high ambient Desert Temperatures on powder burn rates for both the 7.62 and 5.56 loads to be used in Afghanistan and Iraqi theaters. Before moving on; I am going to load 20 Rounds more to load test WC860 in .223/5.56; ten at 26 Grains plus ten at 27 grains. If I get one set that shows better accuracy; then I’ll have a good load for M855 Ball that I can use for comparison. That will allow me to move on to Load Development using .225 Cast Boolits from my RCBS .22-55-SP mold with a higher level of confidence in Load Development.

    My Data Record for this Test is attached as a pdf. I continue to have Error’s, Unregistered Shots, or I believe erroneous readings (e.g. the 885FPS ) from my Chronograph with the .223/5.56 loads. Earlier I had fired about 40 rounds of .30 Cal Cast Boolits over the same Chronograph at speeds of 2000fps to 2550 fps with not a single problem.




    Mustang
    Mustang; try blackening your bullets with a felt tip marker, may help with your chrono readings.
    Hell, I was there!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master at Heavens Range

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    Quote Originally Posted by MUSTANG View Post
    ...... I continue to have Error’s, Unregistered Shots, or I believe erroneous readings (e.g. the 885FPS ) from my Chronograph with the .223/5.56 loads.



    Mustang
    Kernels of unburned powder are going across the chronograph screens behind the bullet and giving the computer fits. Back up the screens 2ft at a time until you get normal readings.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Is there a reason, other than curiousity, for this project? WCC-844 is readily available from at least three sources for less than $100 per 8lb keg. If you like heavy bullets, ditto for WCC-846.

    It's all "Good Time" at the range, but what a mess to clean up after in an AR.

    regards,

    Rich
    Sua Sponte

  12. #12
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    It's about economics and curiosity both. The slow burning cannon/machine gun powders can be had for $39/8lb. I have as mentioned above, found them to be very usable in my 6x45 with cast bullets. 1.5moa @2300fps makes for cheap accurate shooting. 8lb=56000gr 56000/28=2000 223 sized loads. Course there's the cost of the kicker too, but lately I've been using 10B101, which was only $8/lb.
    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Sometimes it is about seeing if something will work. Some people just love to tinker with stuff.

    As for the mess, I doubt it is that much worse than cleaning an AR like normal. Might be a bit more powder fouling and some lube but that all wipes out pretty easily.

    To each their own.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by swheeler View Post
    Mustang; try blackening your bullets with a felt tip marker, may help with your chrono readings.


    Mustang; that tip comes from Chrony, it's in the operating instructions under troubleshooting I believe.
    Hell, I was there!

  15. #15
    Boolit Master



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    SWheeler:

    I have coated the Nose of the M855 Ball for next test, maybe this weekend if weather cools down as forecast. Thanks for the tip. I'll see if it helps.

    Junior1942:

    The F1 Chronograph manual calls for 10 to 15 Feet from Muzzle. I'll make sure I am on the long end of that guidance and see of it helps.

    It is interesting to note that the Army Ammunition Data Sheets (TM 43-001-27 April 1994) calls for M855 velocity specs to be measured at 78 feet from the muzzle, and the F1 Chronograph is set up to read at 10-15 feet. The M193 (55Gr.) Army Velocity Spec is called to be measured from 15 feet away from the muzzle. All of the 7.62 varied Ball rounds are to be measured at 78 Feet.

    I am sure that if I measured velocities at ~75 feet from the muzzle; I would place a round into the electronics somewhere along the way.

    Mustang.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master



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    Back to the range to validate WC860 load in .223

    We had a drop in temperatures Saturday Morning (High 90’s) so I got out to do some follow on testing of WC860 in the .223/5.56. I loaded 10 rounds using 27 Grains of WC860, and another 10 rounds using a 3 grain kicker of H4895 over the flash hole with 23 grains of WC860 over that. Both loads were individually weighed and slightly compressed. After firing the 10 rounds using 27 Grains of WC860, I inspected the barrel and there was a small light trail of unburned powder in the barrel from the chamber to the muzzle. I did the same for the load with the H4895 kicker; and the barrel was relatively clean with no unburned powder trail.

    As discussed in previous posts, I have been having Error and no readings on my F1 Chronograph when testing previous M855 .223/5.56 loads. For these two strings, I had the chronograph 12 feet from the muzzle, and all 20 rounds had the noses painted with a black magic marker as recommended by S Wheeler. This session I was able to get reliable readings on these strings. (I was talking to the wife on the first 3 rounds with the kicker load and failed to record the velocities for those 3 shots). A visual comparison of the two strings follows (Click on the picture to enlarge).




    The 3 grain kicker of H4895 over the flash hole, with 23 grains of WC860 over that, seems to produce a fairly clean load that operates in Cast Boolit velocities; with an average velocity of 2160 fps. I’ll load some of these and see how they perform in my Colt AR for operating the gas system, accuracy, and cleanliness/fouling. At a later date I’ll see how the same charge ratio fares using WC872 powder I have on hand, substituting WC872 for the WC860.

    These tests are a prelude to developing a .223/5.56 load using Cast Boolits from RCBS and NOE molds with WC860 for my bolt and gas guns. Should give me something to do as we move into the fall and winter. http://castboolits.gunloads.com/imag...icon_smile.gif

    My Load Data Sheets for this Test session are attached as PDF’s.

    Mustang.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    In order to get the 860/kicker loads to operate my AR I had to use a Wolff reduced recoil spring. My AR has a rifle length gas system though. I've got my eyes on your tests as I have a NOE 225 62Gr. FN (MX3-22 EX) and a heavy barrel .223 upper to get up and running if things work for you.
    Last edited by madsenshooter; 08-19-2012 at 03:29 PM.
    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

    -Thomas Jefferson

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Mustang, much better chrono readings and 1921 fps about what expected for 62 gr bullet. I just want to add this, don't really know why, my wife shot a mule deer doe with the 55 gr bator cast at about that speed, tasted pretty good.
    Hell, I was there!

  19. #19
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    Try Reloder 7 for a kicker.

    Gear

  20. #20
    Boolit Master madsenshooter's Avatar
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    I use double base powders as a kicker for a reason, their high nitroglycerine content burns hotter than single base powders. Got to remember these cannon powders were meant to be ignited with a primer a lot larger than any LR primer. RE7 is a double base powder, might be a good option.
    "If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."

    -Thomas Jefferson

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check