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Thread: 223/5.56???

  1. #1
    Boolit Master XWrench3's Avatar
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    223/5.56???

    do any of you guys run cast boolits in your ar15? or is that a recipie for a major disaster? I have run them thru a Handy Rifle with no ill effects. but there is no gas port or dumping particulate matter (unburnt powder, boolit pieces, lube, etc.) directly into the working mechanism of the gun. also, if this can be done, without the need for constant fiddling with the gun to keep it working. what kind of changes did you have to make to make, to keep the gun functioning (buffer, buffer spring, adjustable gas block, etc.)?
    Silver and Gold are for rich men. Lead and Brass is MY silver and gold! And when push comes to shove, one of my silver and gold pieces will be more valuable than a big pile of actual silver and gold.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    It is not a recipe for disaster. Most of us who have done it run at lower speeds and finding a window for accuracy and full operation can be frustrating for some. I have found W748 to be a good powder with a 70 grain boolit at around 2000fps. I have put a few thousand down the barrels of my AR's without issue. There a bunch of threads covering this subject and the ways to do it.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy Wolfdog91's Avatar
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    I'm doing it right now and honestly I'm doing much better then most people said I would. What I'm finding so far to get good results is
    Powder coating with a gas check
    Size to a minimum of .225 not .224
    Harder lead like 18-21 bhn
    Find YOUR RIFLES COAL/CBTO
    Weight sorting your bullets
    10rd test groups
    Don't crimp
    I have an entire little series on YouTube you can watch and it shows everything I've done it o this point. And I've been getting 1.2-2.5" groups a 50yd and 3" @100yd with complete functionality with a stock budget AR with repeatability.
    A wise man will try to learn as much from a fool as he will from a master, for all have something to teach- Uncle Iroh
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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    Lot's of us are shooting cast boolits troublefree in 223/556 AR's.
    There is lots of threads full of various information, including loads.

    There are plenty of Pitfalls, more so than some other calibers, but if you cast perfect looking boolits, use a GC, load 'em with a medium-slow burn rate powder (like H4895, that my fav) and don't push them too fast (I keep speeds under 2Kfps), then you will likely have success.
    Good Luck
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “If someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun.”
    ― The Dalai Lama, Seattle Times, May 2001

  5. #5
    Boolit Master XWrench3's Avatar
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    initially, my main concern is lead shavings going back to the bolt face area. i don't know if thats an issue or not. i think that the 20" barrel and rifle length gas length, will probably not hurt. is the Lee .225 Diameter 6 Cavity Mold C225-55-RF bullet mold a decent choice? I have had mostly pretty good luck with boolits from their molds, but some of them are sheer garbage as well. I would rather have something heavier, as the barrel has a 1 in 7 twist rate.
    Silver and Gold are for rich men. Lead and Brass is MY silver and gold! And when push comes to shove, one of my silver and gold pieces will be more valuable than a big pile of actual silver and gold.

  6. #6
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    I run Lee's 55gr through my AR carbine. I cast WW +2% tin, GC, powder coat, and size .225". I push them with Shooter's World Tactical Rifle powder, at about 2100fps. I have a 1-8" twist 16" barrel. No lead fouling, no misfires, cycles clean and smooth. Reasonable accuracy at 100 yards, 3-4 inches.
    I DO use Lee's Universal Expander die to very slightly bell the case mouth, then use a very light factory crimp to remove it after seating.
    YMMV, but it's not too hard to find a decent load combo.
    if it doesn't fit, don't force it. Get a BIGGER HAMMER!

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    It seems most here have been successful with this, but not me. I tried to do this a few years back. I gave up eventually, I just couldn't get satisfactory results. I foun I could get decent accuracy (3" or so @100yds) or reliable functioning, but not both. This was with a 20" HBAR Colt. I tried most of the suggestions I got here, just nothing worked. And I am fairly accomplished with cast, I could make everything else I own shoot cast well, even semi autos in other calibers, like the Garand and the M1 carbine.

    I don't know, maybe my particular gun was just not cast friendly. Its a moot point now, I no longer own an AR. Just passing along my experience. Good luck!

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    The leading i got was caused by a burr where the gas port hole was drilled. Other than that a .225 boolit lubed with Ed's Red and then rolled in liquid lube did fine. 4895 gave full functioning for me. I'm sure I could tighten this up a bit with brass sorting and load development.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master


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    First thing is how someone defines success.

    Second thing is how someone defines accuracy.

    Third thing....does their definition match yours?

    I went part way down this rabbit hole a few years ago. Even bought a group buy mold for the 5.56 NATO. Then I found this:

    https://www.armorally.com/shop/horna...r-spire-point/

    I wanted a bullet for varmints that was accurate (defined as 3" at 200 yards for five 5 shot groups) and I concluded it was not worth the hassle to cast. Those Hornady bullets were $420/6k then and they are now $525.

    You will invest $120 on a mold with handles. If you make 6000 bullets that costs $.02/bullet. Using a good alloy like 92-2-6 will cost about $2/lb...so cost of alloy is $.02 for 65 gr bullets. Then add a GC at about $.03. Total cost of cast bullet comes to about $.07...or $70/1000. $420 for 6000 bullets.

    Add in that you will "waste" about $50 of primers and powder searching for a cast load that may shoot 3" at 100 yards, and you are at $470. For something that has about half the accuracy of the Hornady SP at 80% of the velocity.

    But you have "saved" $55!!! Not too bad a saving if your time is not worth anything...or you actually enjoy casting. I am not one of those folks...casting is a PITA.

    When I looked at it, these are the numbers I estimated to make 6000 bullets. I assumed I would reject 33% due to defects or weight tolerances. Cast 9000 bullets...15 hours. Weigh/inspect 9000 bullets....10 hours. Add GC, lube and size 6000 bullets with a Star...10 hours (figure more time without a Star). Total time to produce 6k cast bullets....35 hours.

    BTW, if someone says, "That is not realistic...I only need to make 2000 bullets." Then their mold cost comes out to $120/2000 and that is $60/k. Add the cost alloy and GC and their cast bullets are at $110/k. Those Hornady bullets are $90/k in lots of 2k.

    "Oh, I don't need an expensive mold...I use a Lee " Well, even a $60 lee will cost $30/k if you cast 2000 bullets and 2000 cast bullets cost $80/k.

    Any way you look at it, casting for an AR in 5.56 is a labor of love...emphasis on labor. You will never produce as good a bullet as you can purchase, and your savings are minimal. For me....a total waste of time.

    So why do I still have that expensive custom mold that has never been used and a few thousand GC's? JIC (Just In Case). We do not know what is coming down the road. Someday, I may be thankful for a 3-4 MOA AR bullet I can make myself. Until then, I will stay stocked up on jacketed bullets that do the job. This retiree would rather shoot than spend time over a casting pot, weighing/sorting, or cranking on a sizer. And I am too cheap to plink with an AR shooting cast bullets when I can sell primers for $100+/k. I plink with a 2 MOA PCP rifle that costs $15/1000 to shoot.

    Bottom line...you can shoot cast in an AR. Is it worth it to you for the effort and compromises you will make?
    Last edited by dverna; 12-09-2021 at 01:26 PM.
    Don Verna

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  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Dverna, you make good points and your math looks correct. However, when I can't buy those Hornady bullets, or any others for that matter, I can still make my own boolits and shoot. This is the big thing for me. And it certainly is a labor of love. Thats prolly my singular reason for casting 22 cal boolits, that fact that I can have them when I want them.

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by sigep1764 View Post
    Dverna, you make good points and your math looks correct. However, when I can't buy those Hornady bullets, or any others for that matter, I can still make my own boolits and shoot. This is the big thing for me. And it certainly is a labor of love. Thats prolly my singular reason for casting 22 cal boolits, that fact that I can have them when I want them.
    Yes, that is why I kept my mold and gas checks. I stock up on things that I may need, and the 5.56 is an essential member of my little arsenal....4 AR’s and two bolt guns. I now have about 10k .224 jacketed bullets so it is unlikely I will ever need to cast, but nice to have a back up plan. I will buy another 6k when my inventory gets to 5k. I agree with you that having the means to be self sufficient is important, but that does not mean I need to waste time making bullets I can purchase inexpensively.

    Those Hornady bullets were available about 4-6 weeks ago and I nearly bought more but at my age (71), I may already have a lifetime supply.

    I presented the numbers so folks can make an informed decision. Not everyone “works the numbers” and I expect most people do not. That is about the only rationale I can see for casting for the 5.56 as the economics are not there. Lots of work, for poorer performance and little savings.

    One could say I “worked the numbers” to make casting .224 bullets look bad...but I think I am pretty close. Thank you for confirming that.
    Last edited by dverna; 12-10-2021 at 02:46 AM.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I cast for my AR because I can! And others have told me I won’t be successful! Considering I have a lot more time than I do money, I get my wheel weights for nothing, i’ve managed to secure a decent supply of tin and linotype casting my own is economical for me. I cast a Lyman 225415 with Lyman #2, gas checked and powdercoat. Sized to .225. As it is still a work in progress I won’t post any loads until I thoroughly test them myself. I will tell you if the zombie apocalypse happens and all I have left is my Cast Boolets I’ll be just fine out to about 100 yards. As I’m limited to a private range I don’t have access to anything past that distance. Yes it’s time consuming and a pain casting those little boolets and putting gas checks on them. But as I said time I have plenty of them personally I like the challenge.
    Long, Wide, Deep, and Without Hesitation!

  13. #13
    Boolit Master


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    dverna, all I can say is not everyone weighs things purely by dollars and cents. Or as you say, the "definition of success."

    Everything you say is 100% correct, but some of us truly enjoy projects. Doing things just to learn what we can learn along the way. Almost every project I ever undertook could have been done easier, cheaper, or better, with a lot less labor. Cost me a lot of time and money over the years.

    Regrets? Not one.

  14. #14
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick L View Post
    dverna, all I can say is not everyone weighs things purely by dollars and cents. Or as you say, the "definition of success."

    Everything you say is 100% correct, but some of us truly enjoy projects. Doing things just to learn what we can learn along the way. Almost every project I ever undertook could have been done easier, cheaper, or better, with a lot less labor. Cost me a lot of time and money over the years.

    Regrets? Not one.
    I agree 100%. For many people this is a hobby to be enjoyed, and the "work" is not work....it is fun. For folks like you it works!!! I was once one of you...but things changed.

    On another forum, a gentleman was surprised that I hated reloading and casting. For 15-20 years I shot 15-20k rounds a year. I flew over 100k miles a year and had little time. When I needed (wanted?) to shoot 3-400 rounds a week, casting and reloading stopped being fun. The Star and 550 were too slow...get a 650...then get a 1050...then another 1050 so I did not need to change from SP to LP or even do caliber changeovers. I stopped casting and would buy bullets in lots of 10-50k to get discounts.

    Like I said in an earlier post. I am a shooter. I reload and cast to save money. There are guys here (I suspect J. Morris, L. Gibson, etc) who are high volume shooters who also enjoy casting and reloading. I am not wired that way. I am not alone, and that is who I was "preaching" to.

    If the man who started this thread is getting into casting for his 5.56 AR to save money, he should know he will not save very much. If he wants a project and a challenge, then what I shared is not germane and I wasted my time...but at least I did not waste it over a casting furnace...LOL.

    BTW, it was refreshing to see Wolfdog and sledgehammer sharing more realistic accuracy data than I usually see on the topic. I suspect 3-4 MOA at 100 yards is closer to reality than 1-2 MOA.

    It will be interesting so see what the OP decides to do.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  15. #15
    Boolit Master Jack Stanley's Avatar
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    Well said Don , I have Hornady for the gas ports and gas checks for the bolt rifle ... or in some cases don't use the gas check .

    Jack
    Buy it cheap and stack it deep , you may need it !

    Black Rifles Matter

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy Wolfdog91's Avatar
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    From someone who's trying alot more on this then most I have to say this.
    If you a "plug and play" Type of caster/ reloader , meaning you like to just be able to to ABC and get MOA or less @100yd it's not gonna be for you. I've tried doing all the " all you gotta do is" plug and play Type of advice on this project and your gonna end up with 3-4" groups. It's just what it is. And honestly if where all being honest if your just popping cans and slapping plates @100yd that's good enough most of the time. Heck my .22lr patterns about 3" @ 100yd and I routinely take crows and varia other varmits with it out to 150yd and most of the time it's a bang flop but I digress..If your just wanting cheap bullets that give you 1" and less groups @100 without too much effort don't cast because your gonna end up hating it get frustrated ect.

    HOWEVER! if your more like myself and some others and you really enjoy tinkering ,trying new things and constantly discovering thing then I'd highly recommend it because it's a done of fun if your like that. With all the stuff I'm trying I'm feel I'm gonna have constant 1" groups @50 and 2" @100yd in another two or three range trips. But I'm doing alot more then just casting and rolling in some Alox and calling it good.
    I'm being really careful with my alloy ,bhn testing , double quenching, powder coating ,weight sorting to .1 grain batches ( 56.6 seems to be a really good one so far),throwing charges to the .1grain, seating to my rifles cbto ,sizing to .225 instead of .224 and a few other things . Honestly it fun for me though. So if your down for that that get you some molds ! If not, well BULK !
    A wise man will try to learn as much from a fool as he will from a master, for all have something to teach- Uncle Iroh
    MS Army Guard 2016-2021

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master


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    WD91...you are refreshingly honest...and we need more men like you.

    I hope you can achieve your goals, and I suspect you will not post one “wallet group” and tell the world...”2 MOA with my AR was easy!”

    BTW, two of old farts I follow here are OS OK and Tazman in their journey shooting .22 LR. And I am not into what they are doing. But they are honest. They show the good, and the disgustingly ugly groups. REALITY!!!

    You are not an old fart...yet...but your honesty is appreciated. I am not into cast 5.56 but look forward to following your journey. Good luck!
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    dverna,

    I agree. I wish I could say "I save money by reloading." Actually I do on some things, but mostly I spend a ton of money, but I shoot 10s of thousands of rounds annually (granted I do a lot of clay target shotgunning, that really racks up the round count) and it sort of seems like I have an unlimited ammo supply. Of course I don't, but it seems like I do.

    I'm also one of those guys that questions whether I reload and cast so I can shoot, or shoot so I can reload and cast. I'm weird like that.

  19. #19
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    Lloyd Smale's Avatar
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    im with dverna. I cast and load to shoot. Staring at 2k of 556 brass does not make me smile. I smile when its all done and im at the range. The rest is just work. I fooled with cast in the ars. I got to the point i could get 3 inch 100 yard groups and said good enough. What they are for me is some way to feed the ars if i cant get jacketed bullets. In a shtf senerio ive got a couple molds and some lead and even a few thousand ready to go. But ive stock piled enough loaded ammo and jacketed bullets that i doubt it would ever come to that. I used to spend countless hours at the range with handguns and rifles trying to cut a .10 of an inch off of group sizes and wasted countless dollars doing it. Today i get a new gun and look at it and say "what will i use it for" I then work up a load thats going to cover that senerio and then load a bunch and have fun shooting them. Getting powder and primers is tough today and expensive. If i have a rifle that shoots a one in group at a 100 yards and the farthest im going to shoot a deer with it is 300 yards going deaper into load development is just a waste of time and money. Time and money id rather spend having fun at the range or out hunting. Ive got stacks of factory bullets sitting on the shelf that might not ever be used. All bought to find that exclusive and sometimes unobtainable holy grail of loads. I wish i had all the money I wasted when i was younger obsessing over accuracy. I could probably buy a new truck. Then i have a dozen different ars. If i took each one and looked for that holy grail load id waste a ton of money and the fact is 90 percent of the rounds i shoot after i would do that are at steel plates under a 100 yards. I pretty much grab a can of powder that i have lots of some primers that i have the most of and some ball bullets and load a book load and blast them up in all of my ars. I might sit with a new bolt gun and try two or three bullets and a couple powders but the minute i find something that is at the level i would be happy with i stop. I then load a couple hundred of them and stick them on the shelf for future hunting and go back to having fun.
    Soldier of God, sixgun junky, Retired electrical lineman. My office was a 100 feet in the air, closer to God the better

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick L View Post
    dverna,

    I agree. I wish I could say "I save money by reloading." Actually I do on some things, but mostly I spend a ton of money, but I shoot 10s of thousands of rounds annually (granted I do a lot of clay target shotgunning, that really racks up the round count) and it sort of seems like I have an unlimited ammo supply. Of course I don't, but it seems like I do.

    I'm also one of those guys that questions whether I reload and cast so I can shoot, or shoot so I can reload and cast. I'm weird like that.
    I was into Trap so understand. I am so cheap I would reload to save $1/box on shells. But I could turn out 20 boxes an hour so it made sense...and I shot 600-800 boxes a year. Bought shot by the ton..etc etc.

    My best (worst ??) day was one winter day when I loaded 4000 shells. That was NOT fun. I was running a PW800+ with a hull feeder and Auto Drive. It was shortly after that I ditched the hull feeder. The hull feeder was great when it worked but a PITA when it hiccupped. I also had a Spolar but the PW was my main trap load press.

    For anyone who doubts that reloading is work for some of us, here is a picture of my shotshell supply when I was competing. About 75% are reloads and you can see some 5 gal pails on the floor. About 28k shells and about 21k of them reloads. BTW I started using 5 gal pails to store shells and save time boxing....ever boxed 4000 shells??? I have a counter on the PW and Spolar and would put 525 shells in a pail. When the hulls were fired, 525 would fit back into the pail. For you guys who shoot a lot of shotgun, pails work great. Waterproof shortage if you store where things might get wet, and they can be stacked four high in a square foot of space without having to build heavy duty shelves like in the photo.

    So that should explain my love/hate relationship wrt to reloading. Love saving money...hate the work.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Don Verna

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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