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Thread: New Ruger Ranch 5.56 - newbie ? on 223 Rem & 5.56 NATO reloading

  1. #1
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    New Ruger Ranch 5.56 - newbie ? on 223 Rem & 5.56 NATO reloading

    After shooting with a friend, I became interested in the 223 Remington cartridge and had to “scratch the itch”. I ordered a Ruger American Ranch Rifle in 5.56 NATO and it should be in at the gun shop early next week. I’m having it scoped and will be using it primarily plinking and playing at shooting at longer distances – a range toy as I no longer hunt. The 223 cartridge is entirely new to me – I have loaded 8 X 57 and 30-30 with my cast of different weights – plain base and gas checked – utilizing data form my Lyman CB handbooks. Plinking rounds at slower speeds.

    So as an almost 70 Y.O. "newbie" to .223, I have a couple of questions.

    I have accumulated what I need to reload the 223 but have a couple of questions. I know this is that CB site, but I, perhaps, have a couple of questions that other “newbies” to the round wonder about. I bought some Starline 223 Rem brass and will keep that headstamp for loading cast. The other night, I went shooting with my friend and after a group left, we were able to pick up about 350 5.56 NATO casings – mostly LC from those I have looked at. I’ll FL size them, swage the primer pockets and trim to length if required.

    My questions pretty much pertain to loading the J words. I purchased a number of Bob’s Bullets .224 – 55 grain – FMJ to get started. The powders I have are H335, Varget and IMR4895. My loading manuals are back in Michigan and I am in AZ, but I have gone to the powder mfg. sites to look at data.

    My first question pertains to using 5.56 NATO range brass to load up rounds for my rifle. Even though the rifle is rated at 5.56 NATO, I will stick to 223.

    QUESTION 1 – The outside dimensions of the 5.56 NATO and the 223 Remington are the same, but, it is my understanding that the 5.56 NATO casing is heavier to withstand the higher pressure of the NATO round. To me, this interprets into the NATO casing having a smaller “case volume” than the standard 223 Remington???? While I will certainly start at the “minimum” and work the load up to see what is most accurate from the rifle, is the case volume of a NATO casing enough to have to worry about too high a pressure if you got near the “max” recommended load for 223? i.e. is there enough difference between the NATO casing and the standard 223 casing to worry about or just load up the NATO casings with .223 data and they’ll be fine?


    QUESTION 2

    I realize there are a lot of different J words – boattail, standard straigt base, bullet profile causing OAL to vary as well as seating depth. In looking at the data on the powder mfg. sites, they list at least 3 different jacketed bullets – each with different grain amounts for min and max. The J words I’m using are pretty plain – straign plain bases with gently rounded nose. If you are using a J word in a specific grain weight – say 55 grains – but the exact J word is not listed – do you choose the one with the lowest minimum charge and work your way up from there to be on the safe side? In an older copy of a Lyman reload manual I have on PDF – the list a “55 grain FMJ” with a beginning minimum load of 23.0 grains of H335. In comparing that to what Hodgdon shows on their site, it appears that 23.0 grains would be a good starting point – but it doesn’t say the style of bullet – and in many rifles, the COAL would be limited to what the magazine could handle so a long spitzer pointed bullet could have a deeper seating depth than say, the shorter 55 grain FMJ I am going to use. I’m “old” and prefer to do things the safe way so I am thinking that if a powder mfg lists three different FMJ bullets, you’d start with the one that has the lowest minimum powder charge and work your way up from there? Is that correct?

    QUESTION 3 – With not having access to my loading manuals that I am sure would be of great help besides the powder mfg. sites, if anyone has a decent loading range for a 55 grain FMJ for H3335, Varget or IMR4895, I’d love to hear what works for you – especially if you are shooting out of a Ruger American Ranch Rifle or another short barrel (18” – 19” barrel).

    Thanks very much for any advice you may have.

    Jim
    Last edited by bedbugbilly; 02-24-2020 at 11:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Chad5005's Avatar
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    from Hornady 10th edition 55gr fmj imr4895 22.7@2800fps to 25.1@3100fps
    second load is varget.22.8@2800fps to 26.4@3200fps
    third load is h335.20.8@2800fps to 23.2@3100

    bullet is 55gr fmj-bt w/c col 2.200 item number 2267
    Last edited by Chad5005; 02-24-2020 at 12:41 AM.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master

    rancher1913's Avatar
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    the 5.56 is a great round to learn swagging, you can roll your own jacketed.
    if you are ever being chased by a taxidermist, don't play dead

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    chad gave you the exact same thing I was going to post, good as it gets. For what its worth, I load 25.0 grains of Varget behind a 55gr fmj, or soft point, both shoot really well, and close to same point of impact.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Thank you - greatly appreciate the information!

    Chad - thank you for looking up the data. I hit the wrong key for the beginning load listed in the old Lyman manual that I have on PDF (circa 1967) and went back to my original post and corrected it. For a 55 grain jacketed loaded with H335 it lists that starting load as 23.0 grains - 2617 fps and max load as 26,5 grains - 2967 fps. The bullet is listed as "55 grain jacketed" and no COAL is listed - so no way to know the bullet profile or length - at the top of the listings for all the bullet grain weights it just lists the max overall length of the 223 cartridge with bullet is 2.260". I know that in looking back at older loading manuals, there are often conflicting data for the same powder - possibly based on the test weapon as well as a change in powder over the years combined with "lawyering". I appreciate you taking the time to look up the three powders that I have and the 55 grain jacketed as you data gives a good starting point for the powders - test loads will then prove what works best out of the rifle.

    When I get the rifle, I'll load up dummy rounds to check the max over length with my particular bullet to see how it comes out where the bullet just touches the rifling and go from there. The rifle I'm getting utilizes the AR style magazine (they have changed form the previously used rotary magazine) so that may determine COAL more than anything else.

    Thank you again - it's all a learning process!

  6. #6
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    Larry Gibson's Avatar
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    bedbugbilly

    Not sure where Hornady gets the loads for H335 or the velocity they list. I have been shooting 5.56/223 since early '65 and have been reloading 5.56/223 with h335 since '69....mostly with 52 - 55 gr jacketed bullets. I have shot thousands of Hornady 55 gr SXs and 55 gr FMJ (Hornaday, Winchester and milsurp M193s) loaded over 26.5 gr of H335. That will get you 3100+ fps out of 18 - 20" barrels. The current max Hornady load for a 55 gr bullet will not get 3100 fps. In your ranch rifle it will get you 22 Hornet velocities.

    BTW I have also pressure tested the 26.5 gr load (LC and R-P cases with WSR and CCI 450 primers) under and it runs 58,000 psi +/- at 3180 fps out of a 21" test barrel. Numerous different lots of US 5.56 NATO made from '82 through '07 test at 56,000 through 61,000 psi running 3200 - 3250 fps.

    Your Lyman manual is much closer to reality than the Hornady data. The current 50th Edition Lyman manual shows 27 gr H335 (Remington cases with Remington 7 1/2 primers) as max under a 55 gr jacketed bullets at 3270 fps (24" barrel) at 49,100 CUP. That coincides with my own testing as a max level 5.56 NATO load. Keep in mind that Hornady's loads amy be at 223 Remington SAAMI levels which has a MAP of only 55,000 psi. US NATO MAP is apparently close to 62,000 psi as determined by actual psi measurement of current M855 5.56 NATO Lake City produced ammunition.

    As to "The outside dimensions of the 5.56 NATO and the 223 Remington are the same, but, it is my understanding that the 5.56 NATO casing is heavier to withstand the higher pressure of the NATO round", that is a myth in regards to 223/5.56 cases. It does generally hold true with 30-06 and 7.62/308W cases though. With 223/5.56 case the difference is mostly negligible but sometimes we find commercial cases thicker (heavier) than milsurp and then sometimes visa versa..... Best thing is to separate the cases by headstamp and then test/work up your load in each. Frankly I gave up on that years ago and simply just keep the separate headstamps as "lots" and load 26.5 gr und 55 gr Hornady SXs, Speer 52 HPs for shooting in my 12 and 14" twist rifles. In my 9" twist rifles I use the Sierra 55 gr Blitz King. The Blitz King is a BT'd bullet with a long bearing surface and thicker jacket to hold up to the high RPM of the faster twist. I load it over 26 gr H335.

    My standard M193 (55 gr FMJ US Nato spec 5.56) is the 55 gr FMJ loaded over 26.5 gr H335 in LC cases with a WSR primer with the bullet seated to the canalure groove and crimped with a Lee FCD.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  7. #7
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Larry - thank you very much for your kind response - I greatly appreciate the "education" you provided and I have copied off your info and it is in my reloading notebook.

    I am processing the 5.56 brass that we picked up the other night and it all appears to have the same headstamp so that is a plus. I found you comments on the comparison pf the 5/56 and .223 interesting and it cleared up my questions in rearerds to that. As I go along on this project and am able to pick up various range brass, it will be interesting to compare the different headstamps and I may even slice a few open just to take a look and compare out of curiosity sake.

    Thanks again as your info has been a big help and I appreciate you taking the time to respond!

    Jim

  8. #8
    Boolit Man Xringshooter's Avatar
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    bbb, if you really want to see if there is a difference in the case capacity of a headstamped .223 and and a headstamped 5.56, get about 6 of each and FL resize them but don't deprime. Then fill each case to the rim and then dump the water into a container and weigh the water. That will show any difference. Or, fill them and if you have an accurate liquid measuring device, see how many milliliters of water each hold. That will also show the case capacity in volume. I say use 6 of each cases to get an average. I really don't think you're going to find a difference that will really matter to the average reloader. I reload for my Ruger American Ranch and don't pay much attention anymore on the cases (if I find/get military cases I deprime and swag and they go in with all the other .223/5.56 cases.
    Ron
    USAF Ret (E-8) (1971-1997)
    NRA Benefactor

  9. #9
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Thanks bring - that's a good idea. I am guessing that I was much more concerned about there being a difference than I needed to be but being a new cartridge to me, I wanted to make sure. I am just finishing up processing the 350 military brass that we picked up. I have swaged the primer pockets, FL sized and deprived 'em and have run them through the tumbler - they look like new! I haven't had a call fro, the LGS that the rifle is in yet - it may be and they are scoping it and bore sighting it. I'm going too be using 55 gr fmj form Bob's Bullets and figured I would like to get a couple hundred down the barrel and then get serious about getting it fine tuned as far as sighting in goes once I get used to the rifle.

    I have a guy sending me a bunch of civilian 223 that are range pickups and I figured,. just for fun, I would separate a half dozen of various head stamps and weigh the cases after de-priming. FL sizing and verifying that they are all trimmed to the same length. I know it's not necessary now but I am curious about it enough to see and compare - weigh each one out on the powder beam scale and then go from there. I'm retired so it will give me something to do just for fun. If I find a variance of note, I'll post the results.

    Thanks again!

    Jim

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
    TNsailorman's Avatar
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    I have been thinking here lately(causes headaches) about getting the wife a little .223 Ranch Rifle. I have a bolt action .223 myself and I think she would enjoy one of the Ranch Rifles this summer. Bunch of you guys probably think I would be buying it just for myself--but if she decides she doesn't really want it--well. james

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I think the 5.56/223 was designed around IMR 4198. It's worth a try, and it will burn cleanly.

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    Boolit Master murf205's Avatar
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    BedBug, It has been my findings as well as Larry's that the military cases are no heavier than civilian cases and, in fact I have some Federal .223 cases that weigh more. I am not surprised by that though because I have found Federal cases in many calibers to weigh heavy. If you stay away from the absolute max loads it probably wont matter pressure wise. Mid South
    Shooters Supply has 500 packs of .224 in 55 gr at a reasonable price and they shoot as well as anything else from my Mini 14. It's not a tack driver with anything but it does shoot in the 2" @100yds range and it's hoot to shoot. Mine does best with Ramshot TAC. Your bolt gun will most likely do a lot better.
    Last edited by murf205; 03-05-2020 at 03:45 PM.
    IT AINT what ya shoot--its how ya shoot it

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    Boolit Master
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    I use WW748 with 69 grain match bullets, haven't tried H335 with the same bullet. I used to use H335 with the 55 grain FMJBT's and got good accuracy as well. IMR 4198 iused for the 222 or triple duce with either 52 or 55 grain match bullets. So should be good with the 223/5.56. Frank

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    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Thank you charlie b for those links They are a tremendous help - especially the one for bolt action. I have saved them and also run them off to put in my 223 loading notebook. Greatly appreciate you posting them!

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I always liked the Sierra manuals so I was happy to find those on the accurate shooters web site.

    You might also find them to be a little conservative. I use a lot of Hogdon powder so I use their data to cross check. Most powder mfgs post data for Sierra bullets.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Tripplebeards's Avatar
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    I resize all my 5.56 brass in my RCBS 223 full length sizing dies so I can run them in my AR or my LTR bolt gun. After picking up a bunch of NATO range brass and wasting ALOT of time running them through my Dillion super swage twice and still having inconsistent swaging between the cases I just buy bulk virgin LAke City brass. I bought a 1000 last year for $114.00

    My tightest grouping loads are with benchmark powder. My LTR and POF P415 both will shoot .3” groups at 200 yards. The POF with 25 grains of BM and a 60 grain hornady vmax (with 5.56 lake city brass) and the LTR shoots just as tight with 27.5 grains of BM(with Remington 223 casings) and a 40 grain Nosler ballistic tip. I don’t remember the 60 grain vmax load for the LTR but it shoots just as tight with rem 223 casings. Its loaded around 2950 FPS. Both are tac drivers. I keep the lake city brass fir my AR. Matter a fact my avatar was shot at 100 yards first time I tried the 60 grain vmax with 25 grains of benchmark. The next three shoots were .3” at 200 yards. I put the gun away after that and got on plane the next day with it headed to AZ for predator hunting. I dropped 9 coyotes that week DRT with the load.


    Hopefully you ordered the 223 that takes AR magazines and not their proprietary plastic one. If not do yourself a favor and make sure you have them get one that excepts the AR mags.
    Last edited by Tripplebeards; 03-26-2020 at 02:58 PM.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master trails4u's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xringshooter View Post
    bbb, if you really want to see if there is a difference in the case capacity of a headstamped .223 and and a headstamped 5.56, get about 6 of each and FL resize them but don't deprime. Then fill each case to the rim and then dump the water into a container and weigh the water. That will show any difference. Or, fill them and if you have an accurate liquid measuring device, see how many milliliters of water each hold. That will also show the case capacity in volume. I say use 6 of each cases to get an average. I really don't think you're going to find a difference that will really matter to the average reloader. I reload for my Ruger American Ranch and don't pay much attention anymore on the cases (if I find/get military cases I deprime and swag and they go in with all the other .223/5.56 cases.
    I ran this experiment years ago, after having acquired a mountain of Armscor brass for a song. Many said trash it, it's junk...so being me I said, Is it?? Long story short, determining consistency of case volume was part of my testing, and my findings very much support Larry's comments, and others. I'd have to dig through my notebooks to find all the details, but of the 5-6 headstamps I tested, they were all pretty consistent and did not favor reduced case capacity in 5.56 NATO brass vs. civilian brass.

    (Completely unrelated....but with 'science' applied to the Armscor brass....I love that stuff!! Still using it....prob will be 'til I'm dead and gone.)
    "Do not follow where the path might lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail" Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    Rattlesnake Charlie's Avatar
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    Ammoland just posted "Pennsylvania: Gun Shops Allowed to Reopen on a Limited Basis".

    Our gov here in NM order gunshops to close, and is sending state police to enforce it. I already sent her a communication.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    Tripplebeards - the rifle I ordered accepts the AR magazines. I picked it up a couple of weeks ago - very happy with it - but then all this corona virus got started and my wife and I have not gone far but remained holed up. I processed the 350 rounds of military brass that my friend and I pieced up - evidently fired from there different ARs. THAT was a good learning experience - some processed well and others - not so well. My biggest problem was that even FL sizing some of them a number of times, the base was expanded just enough that they wouldn't go into the case gauge or would they chamber in the rifle as dummy loads. I know that there are the AR dies and the X die - but for what I am going to be doing with the rifle, the headache of trying to make them work isn't worth it. I had a guy give me 250 starline brass - so I have loaded up rounds of various stepped loads to try out. Unfortunately, we need to get back to MI at some point so it will all have to wait until we get back out here next fall. I also obtained 1500 pies of civilian headstand brass - at the price I got them for I can process them and if I have to cull some out, it's no big deal - I'll end up with plenty on had to feed the bolt rifle. In the meantime, I'm going to pick up at least 4 of the 10 round magazines for the rifle which would give me 50 rounds loaded when I get out to shoot - I don't anticipate needing any higher capacity than that as they would just be in the way when shooting from a bench.

    My first project when we get back here next fall will be to make a small portable shooting bench with folding legs to take with us when we head to the desert to shoot - and this summer, I'm going to make a couple of cross sticks as well to try out.

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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