Saturday, February 15, 2014

1000 .223 rounds loaded!

My first batch of .223 rounds are now loaded.  There are just under 1000 rounds here.  It's the kind of thing you just have to take a picture of before they are all gone.  I need more stripper clips!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Krebs Extended Safety

The stock safety on the Sig 556 is just too small.  My hands aren't huge, so I had a hard time engaging and disengaging it with a normal grip.  The Krebs extended safety is great.  I installed it last night and it's perfect.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

.223 Update

So I went to the range today. Yeah, I'm a fool.  It was 22 degrees and windy.  It was crazy cold.  My hands were hurting after about ten minutes of exposure.  Fortunately, it didn't take too much longer than that for me to chrono and group my new test .223 rounds in my SIG 556.  

I only shot about 25 test rounds.  They all cycled and went bang, even the 5 or so that had questionable case gauge results.  Cool.  I'll take that.  Groups were okay.  About 1/2 inch at 25 yards. I didn't have access to anything longer than that today.

They chrono-ed at about 2700 fps.  I think that's about right for a 16 inch barrel.  All my reloading manuals say 26grs of W748 should yield about 2900 for a 55gr bullet at an OAL of 2.215.  But they are all using a 24-inch barrel for the tests.  So I think I'm just about right. Besides my factory 55gr ammo crono-ed at about 2800 the other day.  I'm not too far from that.  My load is 25.8gr of W748 under a Hornady 55gr FMJBT bullet with an OAL = 2.215.  I my up the powder load a grain or two.

The next batch of bullets I buy, however, will be 62gr.  My rifling has a 1-7 twist. That's a bit fast for a smaller 55gr bullet.  I notice that the 62gr factory ammo groups a little better for me.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reloading .223 rounds

So I started the process of learning to reload .223 ammo this week.  This included, of course, laying out the cash to purchase all the extra crud I would need for these rifle rounds.  I've been loading 8-10 thousand rounds (a year) of 9mm and/or .45acp for some time.  But rifle rounds are new to me.

I needed to add the necessary stuff to my Dillon 550B to be able to start the project.  So I got the Dillon .223 caliber conversion kit (shell plate, decap & resizing die, bullet seating die, and crimping die).  I got two new tool heads so I could recap and resize quickly without the brass having to pass through the other dies before the necessary case prep work.  I also got the Dillon Super Swage 600.  It's an expensive tool, but it works really well and quickly to remove the crimp from the primer pocket of each case.  Of course, I needed a Dillon .223 case gauge as well.  For case prep (de-burring, chamfering, etc) I bought the Lyman Case Prep Express.  It's well worth the money.  It saves a lot of time.

The other time-saving tool is the World's Finest Trimmer.  That contraption works great.

So once all this new stuff was delivered I spent an afternoon and evening setting it up and working with it all.  There was a lot of trial and error involved—a lot of error.  But I finally figured it all out.  Here's the process:

- clean the brass
- lube the brass (Dillon case lube)
- decap and resize the brass
- clean the lube off
- check the head space with case gauge
- swage the primer pocket (w/Dillon Super Swage)
- trim the case (w/Worlds Finest Trimmer)
- run the case through the Lyman case prep stages to debut and chamfer the primer pocket
- remove from the reloading press the toolhead with the decap & resize die
- insert the toolhead with the powder drop, bullet seater, and crimper dies.
- run the brass through these three dies
- case gauge the rounds and check OAL

Viola!  Here are my first 20 or so rounds.

Now I need to head to the range and make sure these work so I can load a bunch more.