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Thread: Is it worth it to hand load for 16" AR 15 ?

  1. #41
    Boolit Master



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    Be aware.........when I loaded for my AR, NONE of the rounds would fully chamber in the gun! This led to some pretty frustrating moments in the field, let me tell you.

    I bought two items that solved the problem: A case gauge to check the assembled ammo, and a SMALL BASE DIE. I had been using brand new RCBS dies but evidently my gun has a rather tight chamber. I ended up pulling about 500 bullets after checking the rounds in the gauge, and resizing the cases with the small base die. Using those two tools gave me reliable feeding and peace of mind.

  2. #42
    Boolit Master Ed_Shot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3006guns View Post
    Be aware.........when I loaded for my AR, NONE of the rounds would fully chamber in the gun! This led to some pretty frustrating moments in the field, let me tell you.

    I bought two items that solved the problem: A case gauge to check the assembled ammo, and a SMALL BASE DIE. I had been using brand new RCBS dies but evidently my gun has a rather tight chamber. I ended up pulling about 500 bullets after checking the rounds in the gauge, and resizing the cases with the small base die. Using those two tools gave me reliable feeding and peace of mind.
    Went thru the chambering frustration phase forming my own 300 BO brass. Bought a case gauge and then SB dies. For my 5.56 upper I went right to the RCBS Small Base dies and saved money not buying a case gauge. So far no issues with mixed range pick-up brass.

  3. #43
    Boolit Buddy
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    I shot about 30 rounds today,and I was pleased with all loads EXCEPT the 70gr Speer ,They would not group,and I had a jam with one.The bent shell is pictured with the target ..The best 5 shot group was with the 63 gr Soft Point Blems,but the others shot pretty good as well considering they are the first loads with each bullet.I had block up my chair because I had my bipod extended,and a wooden block under the butt to clear the mag.I have one metal mag,and three cheap Thermold mags.I plan to cut one down to about 10 round length. ....I do think I need to get a small base sizing die.Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Elroy; 03-03-2020 at 07:38 PM.

  4. #44
    Boolit Buddy
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    I have been looking at case gauges,and small base dies on Amazon,and EBay,and they are all for 223..Is that what I need ,or do they need to be for 5.56Nato.I know it is probably a dumb question,but I need to be sure before I order..Thanks..The dies that I used to size the brass are RCBS standard Full Length 223 .

  5. #45
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elroy View Post
    or do they need to be for 5.56Nato..
    They are supposed to interchange.
    But I'd get ones that specifically said they will work for 5.56.
    If nothing else, the 5.56 ones should be small base.
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  6. #46
    Boolit Grand Master






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    I use small base dies for all my ars that there made for. That and I trim brass after every shooting. I also never push overall length. I don't load ANY 223 to just off the lands on my bolt guns. Its all seated to have room to spare in an ar magazine. I know it sounds like work but with a progressive press and a Dillon power trimmer it goes fast. Yup I wont argue that some guns don't need small base sizing but ive never seen it hurt brass life to any real level or to hurt accuracy to ANY level and dies cost about the same and its no more work. No real reason not to small base size. Ive got 8 556 ar15s and two bolt 223s. I want all my ammo to work in ALL of my guns. These two steps insure it.
    Quote Originally Posted by 3006guns View Post
    Be aware.........when I loaded for my AR, NONE of the rounds would fully chamber in the gun! This led to some pretty frustrating moments in the field, let me tell you.

    I bought two items that solved the problem: A case gauge to check the assembled ammo, and a SMALL BASE DIE. I had been using brand new RCBS dies but evidently my gun has a rather tight chamber. I ended up pulling about 500 bullets after checking the rounds in the gauge, and resizing the cases with the small base die. Using those two tools gave me reliable feeding and peace of mind.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lloyd Smale View Post
    I use small base dies for all my ars that there made for. That and I trim brass after every shooting. I also never push overall length. I don't load ANY 223 to just off the lands on my bolt guns. Its all seated to have room to spare in an ar magazine. I know it sounds like work but with a progressive press and a Dillon power trimmer it goes fast. Yup I wont argue that some guns don't need small base sizing but ive never seen it hurt brass life to any real level or to hurt accuracy to ANY level and dies cost about the same and its no more work. No real reason not to small base size. Ive got 8 556 ar15s and two bolt 223s. I want all my ammo to work in ALL of my guns. These two steps insure it.
    Absolutely! Small base dies are the way to go. Ammo needs to work period. Not being able to chamber a a round has to be embarrassing for those unwilling to do the investigation needed in order to purchase the correct equipment. Small base dies have their purpose and that is to fl resize brass so it can be easily loaded into your semi automatics chamber without failure. The same is true with ANY semi automatic caliber. As Lloyd also mentioned the correct length along with internal and external deburring completes the case prep. No case goes unchecked.

  8. #48
    Boolit Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by 6bg6ga View Post
    Definitely not going to save money once you consider the costs involved in the purchase of the reloading equipment involved. At first wow it sounds good because you can reload a round for xx cents less than the one you buy. You simply have to do it for the love of the sport. You spend xxx number of dollars purchasing a scale, dies, reloading press, head space gauge, vernier caliper and so forth just to save a few cents per round. This doesn't even take into consideration your time, a bench to bolt everything down to, the cost of beer or other consumables, a TV to watch or listen to while your reloading and a few basic comforts such as heat and air conditioning.
    If all someone needs is FMJ blasting ammunition, the savings (if loading on a SS press) are marginal and not worth my time. If someone either wants optimum accuracy and/or specific bullet performance, reloading is warranted. Last price on factory 55 gr FMJ was $300, if you can pick up and sell the brass, sell it for $50...net cost $250/1000. Loading the 55 gr Hornady SP, my cost is $200/1000. $50 savings.

    50/hr on a SS - nets a saving of $2.50/hr
    300/hr on a 550 - nets a saving of $15/hr

    In any case, I expect nearly every one on this forum reloads, so the only added costs are dies and possibly a cartridge check gauge.

    The FMJ bullet does not fit my needs unless the SHTF and two-legged critters are a concern. So, I decided to reload.
    Don Verna

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  9. #49
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    I guess then a guy could make the same argument for 9mms 40s 45acps even 44 mags 357s ect. I guess why even cast bullets. I know ive probably got enough into loading and casting equiptment and supplys that if I spent it on ammo id probably never run out. But id rather stick a hot poker in my eye. I think most of us for the most part already have the loading gear or we wouldn't be on a cast bullet sight in the first place. I think ive bought maybe 4 or 5 boxes of factory ammo in the last 30 years. Theres no way id be convinced I could buy ball ammo cheaper then I can make it myself. Not with bulk ball bullets and brass I get for the most part for free. Plus what the hell would I do with my time in the winter loading and casting and shooting are my passions.
    Quote Originally Posted by dverna View Post
    If all someone needs is FMJ blasting ammunition, the savings (if loading on a SS press) are marginal and not worth my time. If someone either wants optimum accuracy and/or specific bullet performance, reloading is warranted. Last price on factory 55 gr FMJ was $300, if you can pick up and sell the brass, sell it for $50...net cost $250/1000. Loading the 55 gr Hornady SP, my cost is $200/1000. $50 savings.

    50/hr on a SS - nets a saving of $2.50/hr
    300/hr on a 550 - nets a saving of $15/hr

    In any case, I expect nearly every one on this forum reloads, so the only added costs are dies and possibly a cartridge check gauge.

    The FMJ bullet does not fit my needs unless the SHTF and two-legged critters are a concern. So, I decided to reload.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  10. #50
    Boolit Master Shawlerbrook's Avatar
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    Agreed. And for many reloading and casting is just another way to enjoy and participate in the shooting sports.

  11. #51
    Boolit Buddy
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    I would miss reloading if I ever stopped,but I don't exactly enjoy it.I do enjoy shooting,and appreciate accuracy,and was very surprised that a cheap AR15 has the potential for decent accuracy,so I intend to load for it.I just slapped one of those Chinese Weaver branded package gun scopes on it,because I intend to run a red dot,or reflex on it down the road.I thank all you who responded for all the knowledge you have shared.

  12. #52
    Boolit Master
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    I load for the 16 inch ar and for the longer barrels and the different calibers , and because I do like to load myself self sufficiency and I enjoy doing things for myself , besides when I am at work I notice the kids call to get some ammo when they are going shooting , I buy bullets when I see a good buy , stock up when I can as lean times and scarcity come along more frequently in this hobby , buy powder when it is on sale , surplus powders were and sometimes still are a sweet deal , many do not buy the surplus slow powders and miss out on a lot of cheaper shooting ,in my opinion reloading for all my firearms makes sense .

  13. #53
    Boolit Master

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    Specialty ammo is where you can save money hand loading now, or if you buy a lot of components cheap from an estate. The cheap factory ammo you can find will be mostly 55 and 62gr FMJ, which will put holes in paper. If you wanted to shoot woodchucks or other varmints, you'd want a lighter expanding bullet. Your barrel probably has a 1:9" barrel, which may stabilize up to a 75gr bullet, and you could load bullets up to that weight for better wind resistance or deer hunting.

  14. #54
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by NuJudge View Post
    Specialty ammo is where you can save money hand loading now, or if you buy a lot of components cheap from an estate. The cheap factory ammo you can find will be mostly 55 and 62gr FMJ, which will put holes in paper. If you wanted to shoot woodchucks or other varmints, you'd want a lighter expanding bullet. Your barrel probably has a 1:9" barrel, which may stabilize up to a 75gr bullet, and you could load bullets up to that weight for better wind resistance or deer hunting.
    You are correct it does have the 1-9 twist.I ordered a good bit of that cheap Norma Tac from Bud's just to play with a little,and to have on hand for an emergency,and it shoots better than one would think considering the low price..I ended up buying that Howa rifle that I thought was ugly after reading up on it.It is a 1500 mini action,and is a 22" in 1-8 twist.I was wrong about it taking AR 15 mags,but it did come with one ten round mag.

  15. #55
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by FergusonTO35 View Post
    Would you care to explain just what kind of trouble can happen with steel case ammo in an AR? I ask because mine shoots Tula 55 grain .223 really well with no malfunctions. I don't blast away or do mag dumps, I aim every shot. In fact, I don't think the barrel has ever gotten more than a little above ambient temperature. One guy told me that steel case is hard on extractors. All I know is we sell tons of Tula .223 at work and people just keep coming back for more.
    I watched a video where 4 identically built mil-spec AR 15 rifles where each was fired for 10,000 rounds. Remington, Winchester, Federal, and Tula. By comparison each were statistically similar in failure to feed/failure to fire.

    The numbers were something like Remington (2/10000), Winchester (5/10000), Federal (3/10000), and Tula at (10/10000).

    With the steel core Tula ammo the barrel was like a smooth bore after about 2500 rounds. Even at that, 10000 rounds and 4 new barrels was still cheaper. Most folks don't ever put 1000 rounds through their rifle much less buy 10000 rounds all at once. I shoot a lot and most of mine are powder coated plain base cast reloads at around 2250 fps, 2450 from a 24" single shot. Primers: $3/100, powder 4$/100, lead $1.39/100 (last time I bought lead) for powder coating I won't count but $8.39/100 total. I enjoy casting/loading/shooting so it is all well spent time. Besides, it is devastating on tin cans. I hate tin cans.
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  16. #56
    Boolit Master

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    Looks like you pick up your AR in time with the way things are going. Now the time to reload 5.56/.223 pays for itself.


    CD
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  17. #57
    Boolit Buddy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Combat Diver View Post
    Looks like you pick up your AR in time with the way things are going. Now the time to reload 5.56/.223 pays for itself.
    ca

    CD
    Yeah,I guess the guns have been flying off the shelves..I have been enjoying the AR a good bit.I have added a lot of stuff to it,because a lot of it is stuff I had on hand,but I did buy some cheap flip up sights just for it.I now have a little Japanese made Bushnell trophy 1.75-5 shotgun scope on it,and it suits it very well aside from being glossy.I still intend to buy a red dot,or reflex for it,but have not gotten around to ordering one.I honestly know nothing about a red dot,and don't know what kind of accuracy I should expect from a cheap one vs a mid priced one.

  18. #58
    I think it greatly depends on what the purpose of the exercise is for you. If you are just plinking, you can obviously find cheap ammo. If you want more inherent accuracy, reloading is the least expensive way to achieve that goal.

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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