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.223 handload suggestions for new Mini 14?

This is a discussion on .223 handload suggestions for new Mini 14? within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; My .223 loads shoot great through my AR and print good groups out to 300yds. I use H4895 and Speer 55gr SPT bullets. I haven't ...


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Old February 27th, 2017, 06:38 PM   #16
 
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My .223 loads shoot great through my AR and print good groups out to 300yds. I use H4895 and Speer 55gr SPT bullets. I haven't tried shooting them at longer ranges due to the limitations of the 1.5-4.5x variable scope mounted on my rifle. The OP says he is using a 2moa red-dot sight at 100yds. I think his groups are fine at 2.5" for twenty shots. I'd mount a decent scope and shoot five shot groups. I'm betting his current loads will surprise him. Developing hand-loads for accuracy with a combat sight seems like a waste of powder and primers.



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Old February 27th, 2017, 06:40 PM   #17
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacky View Post
Yeah its strange like that here. It comes in spurts at my secret honey hole where I get my powder. A couple months out of the year it will be around, then missing once it gets sold out until next year. Its the same with h335, varget, benchmark, and a few others. I usually stock up on my favorites when I am able. I could buy 8lbs of it right now, but since I do not have loads worked for them, and a few pet loads, I am reluctant to start over with 8lbs. Why i have 4 or 5 pounds of varget, h335, and 8lbs of benchmark. I keep imr 4831, w760, 780 supreme around as well. My only 3 pistol powders i use are w231, h110 or w296. Usually see more hodgdon powder than IMR, very slim on alliant and accurate.
Yes some of these are used in a new mini the target model, and my older mini 14, 1988 model. As well as rounds I have used in many of my other .223 rifles. The mini target likes the 40 vmax with h335, the older standard likes the 75 bthp with h4895.

You are correct that many variables have to be undertaken and worked through when finding a round a rifle likes. I have done that many times. But I also think that just because many broadcast that the mini is not a 1 moa rifle, thats not always the case, and its not set in concrete somewhere among the firearm gods. I happen to be optimistic and believe it can be possible given that right circumstamces even though thats not what the rifle was designed for. But that just my opinion, and everybody knows what opinions are like.

The other loadings have been proven in other rifles, but giving more options for the OP to try. They may set the right circumstances that could create 1moa possibly.
My 582 Tactical out shoots my buddies Colt AR and certainly his Tavor. In the Bass Pro #1 tube I've got moa out of my rifle with handloads.
The loads between H335, 4895, TAC, 2230 and CFE 223 have varied greatly.
I've been called names in here with my claims of how my Mini shoots. I know what it is and have nothing to prove to anyone.
I have yet in my old age not understood the near required hatred for the Mini 14. Good old little Garand that would have made a great service rifle.
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Old February 27th, 2017, 06:57 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Sr40ken View Post
My 582 Tactical out shoots my buddies Colt AR and certainly his Tavor. In the Bass Pro #1 tube I've got moa out of my rifle with handloads.
The loads between H335, 4895, TAC, 2230 and CFE 223 have varied greatly.
I've been called names in here with my claims of how my Mini shoots. I know what it is and have nothing to prove to anyone.
I have yet in my old age not understood the near required hatred for the Mini 14. Good old little Garand that would have made a great service rifle.

I have shared that shame here as well. I also agree that I have nothing to prove either. I just state the facts of what I have personally seen or done, good or not so good. I never understood the hatred either, its as bad as a chevy ford argument. Both the mini and ar are great rifles, why I own more than several of both. My mini target will outshoot some of my other ar rifles that costed 2 to 3 times more. But with some shooters you cannot dispute its value no matter what you say, or how well you shoot it. I to agree that it would have made a great rifle for troops. What kind of world would it be if the mini had been the blessed one, and ar had been passed on. I ponder.
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Old February 27th, 2017, 07:36 PM   #19
 
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Me personally, I have no Mini 14 hatred. I could care less what others choose to spend their time on. If that's what they like, that's what they like. I have actually owned several myself, just never owned one that shot well.

Sure, I hear stories of sub MOA Mini's, but I have never owned or seen one. Doesn't mean they don't exist. Just like the stories of 1/4 MOA Number 1s. Doesn't mean they don't exist, just never owned or seen one myself and I have owned likely 50 NO1s over the years. So all that means is that it is RARE to come across an exceptional shooter, not impossible.

I can rattle off some .223 loads that have shot less then .200 groups in my 40X, but that does the OP no good. I can also list some loads that shoot good in my AR. Are they the "best" loads..........no idea because I just don't spend much time trying to ring target accuracy from rifles that were not meant to do so

Last edited by msp3903; February 27th, 2017 at 07:41 PM.
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Old February 28th, 2017, 07:49 AM   #20
 
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Old February 28th, 2017, 08:22 AM   #21
 
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I personally really like my old pencil-barreled 197 series mini. It is more accurate than I am, and I'm not too slouchy a shot. It helps a lot that I had GunDoc slick up the trigger. I especially like that it looks VERY unlike an evil black rifle, yet functions the same.
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Old February 28th, 2017, 09:57 AM   #22
 
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Originally Posted by msp3903 View Post
Me personally, I have no Mini 14 hatred. I could care less what others choose to spend their time on. If that's what they like, that's what they like. I have actually owned several myself, just never owned one that shot well.

Sure, I hear stories of sub MOA Mini's, but I have never owned or seen one. Doesn't mean they don't exist. Just like the stories of 1/4 MOA Number 1s. Doesn't mean they don't exist, just never owned or seen one myself and I have owned likely 50 NO1s over the years. So all that means is that it is RARE to come across an exceptional shooter, not impossible.

I can rattle off some .223 loads that have shot less then .200 groups in my 40X, but that does the OP no good. I can also list some loads that shoot good in my AR. Are they the "best" loads..........no idea because I just don't spend much time trying to ring target accuracy from rifles that were not meant to do so
I didn't intend for this to become a 'how can I get benchrest competition accuracy from my Mini 14' thread. I have been handloading for over 30 years. I have never owned a .223 rifle because I never had enough need or desire for one to spend the money on it. I won the AR in a raffle almost two years ago. I proceeded to acquire the loading supplies to feed it, shot it a few times, and then decided that I was 'meh' about the AR platform. Last summer, I saw an opportunity to sell the AR to a co-worker and use the money to fund a new Mini 14. I've always had a fondness for the Mini, and now I had a chance to get one with minimal expenditure.

I am not expecting 'sub MOA' performance from my Mini 14. I have a scoped bolt action 7mm08 rifle for that. It seems like a 'Mini that shoots well' is a very subjective thing, depending on what one expects from the platform. I am hoping that epoxy bedding the action will take that variable (receiver to stock movement) out of the equation, so that any improvements in load development can be seen. I don't have much experience with loading for .223 or the Mini platform, so that's why I came here to avoid "re-inventing the wheel" for handloading for it. I know that 'every rifle is different', but I've found that most rifle types/configurations have certain loads that generally work better (2" groups vs 6" groups) in them than others. In coming here, I was trying to find out about some of those better loads in the newest Mini 14.

As far as developing handloads using a 2 moa red dot sight at 100 yds being a waste of primers and powder, I'm not so sure. Some people work up loads with iron sights. I don't have an extra scope, and I currently have no desire to scope my Mini. Maybe borrowing a scope would be good for trying out loads...

On the light vs heavy bullet in the .223: When I started into loading for the AR, I did my research on twist rate and bullet weight relationship. The consensus was pretty much that within 200 yards, matching bullet to twist rate was a wash, and there was no practical difference between faster/slower twist barrels and lightest/heaviest bullets through them. But with a fast twist barrel and 75-77 gr bullets, the 500+ yards 'best accuracy' factor is pretty much a given, compared with bullets in the 50-68 gr range. I'll shoot these 77 gr ones up, maybe trying them at the 300 yards line at the range or on a steel 'way out there' at my friend's ranch.
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Old February 28th, 2017, 12:38 PM   #23
 
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One point I was trying to make is..........it's HARD to screw up 223 rounds. It's just an inherently accurate round. Just like a 222, a 22-250 and several other varmint rounds. The point being, you can probably just pick any published load, with about any powder or bullet and it is going to shoot well. I have been loading and shooting 223 for a long time and don't think I ever tried something that was just really bad, nor bought any factory ammo that was terrible. It's just not a round that goes from 3" groups to 1" groups with a slight powder or bullet change. That's why I said the Mini would not be accurate enough to really wring out loads, because it's likely that most any 223 load has the potential to be more accurate than the rifle. Wasn't a Mini knock, it's just a fact, because we are dealing with a round that can shoot in the .100s in a benchrest rig. And also why I said I thought you would be better off just picking a powder and experiment with bullet weight and charges amounts that matches your twist the best. Doubt you will find any one powder to be much better than another in your rifle.

My 22 inventory includes a 22 Hornet, 22 K-Hornet, 218 Bee, 221 Fireball, 222, 222 Mag, 22-204, 223, 220 Swift, 223 WSSM, 22-250 and a 22-250 Ackley. There likely isn't many different usable powders and bullets that I haven't tried over the years in these various rounds. So just pick a powder, it won't be a bad choice............LOL!!!

You also say you are shooting from bags, at 100 yards with a 2MOA red dot and getting 2" or so groups. To me, that sounds pretty damn good. So your ammo may already be more accurate than your optics anyway. I am sure that's why someone else mentioned much load development being a waste of time, as you might not be able to see much if any improvement, given the shooting conditions.............and I would likely agree. Really want to dial it in? Put an optic on it and shoot it from a rest, you can always take optic back off

Last edited by msp3903; February 28th, 2017 at 12:55 PM.
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Old March 1st, 2017, 08:58 AM   #24
 
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I generally start building a load by selecting a suitable bullet for the task. For my mini, the task is varmints, typically close-range (<100yds) 'yotes, but maybe 2-legged varmints and possibly an occasional close range deer. Good performance on paper is great, but minute-of-chest is adequate for me. So that meant going with the heaviest (highest energy) .224 bullet that would work with my twist, and that was designed to perform as desired on-target. I like the cheap and readily available 64gr Winchester PSP (soft point).

Then everything else falls out from published recipes with some testing to see what powder and amount the gun likes best. I used to play around a lot with different powders and amounts. Very time-consuming, but enjoyable. Lately, I have been taking Iowegan's advice and aim for the closest to a thoroughly tested factory load that I can get. This really narrows down the options.
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Old March 1st, 2017, 01:19 PM   #25
 
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GONRA uses IMR 3031 (extruded powder) for any .223 semiauto that hasa tight chamber
(Howa AR-180 for example) were
some ball powders "unburned ball" can jam the partially chambered cartridge,
preventing complete chambering. !@#$%^

Must be lottsa other extruded powders that are suitable.
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Old March 1st, 2017, 02:06 PM   #26
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msp3903 View Post
One point I was trying to make is..........it's HARD to screw up 223 rounds. It's just an inherently accurate round... ...The point being, you can probably just pick any published load, with about any powder or bullet and it is going to shoot well. I have been loading and shooting 223 for a long time and don't think I ever tried something that was just really bad, nor bought any factory ammo that was terrible. It's just not a round that goes from 3" groups to 1" groups with a slight powder or bullet change. That's why I said the Mini would not be accurate enough to really wring out loads, because it's likely that most any 223 load has the potential to be more accurate than the rifle. Wasn't a Mini knock, it's just a fact, because we are dealing with a round that can shoot in the .100s in a benchrest rig. And also why I said I thought you would be better off just picking a powder and experiment with bullet weight and charges amounts that matches your twist the best. Doubt you will find any one powder to be much better than another in your rifle...

...You also say you are shooting from bags, at 100 yards with a 2MOA red dot and getting 2" or so groups. To me, that sounds pretty damn good. So your ammo may already be more accurate than your optics anyway. I am sure that's why someone else mentioned much load development being a waste of time, as you might not be able to see much if any improvement, given the shooting conditions.............and I would likely agree. Really want to dial it in? Put an optic on it and shoot it from a rest, you can always take optic back off
Ok. Now that's something I can digest. My 7mm08 is inherently accurate. I'm still using the first powder/basic load I worked up in 1988, and it can still produce sub-MOA groups at 100 yds.

I can stick with the Benchmark powder, as I still have 7+ lbs of a jug remaining.
I just asked one of my co-workers to borrow his unused Bushnell 3x9 scope for a bit of load development.

On the subject of max loads: With several of the larger cartridges I load for, I've found the best accuracy at a couple to several grains below the book maximum. With the .223 in the Mini 14, have you found near-max to max loads to shoot better than loads several grains lower?

On the subject of bullet seating depth/C.O.L.: I have been seating the 52 gr Hornadys out a bit from the book COL. With my 7-08, I seat the 140 gr bullets out to max length to fit the integral magazine box, which still keeps the bullets well off the lands. Have any of you found better accuracy by seating the .223 bullets out enough to just function in the Mini's magazines and be a bit over the book COL?
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Old March 1st, 2017, 02:29 PM   #27
 
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The Mini has a sloppy chamber, as most military rifles and seemingly most Rugers do as well. Seat them as long as will fit in the box and it is still going to have a lot of jump. All my experience with 223 says they want to be hot to be accurate. A "couple of grains" in a 223 is a huge move and in most cases will result in 200-300 fps less on the velocity. The Benchmark is fine for the lighter bullets. Its' not the powder I would use from your stash with over around a 63gr bullet. I would use the 4064 or 4895 for anything over 63s. Benchmark is too fast for heavy bullets and is in fact one of the fastest powders you would ever want to use period. It's right there with 3031 and 4198 as far as burn speed. I like the 4064 with heavy bullets, because a hot load nearly always results in a slightly compressed load. That's about as good as it gets for load density

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Old March 1st, 2017, 02:38 PM   #28
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On the subject of max loads: With several of the larger cartridges I load for, I've found the best accuracy at a couple to several grains below the book maximum. With the .223 in the Mini 14, have you found near-max to max loads to shoot better than loads several grains lower?

On the subject of bullet seating depth/C.O.L.: I have been seating the 52 gr Hornadys out a bit from the book COL. With my 7-08, I seat the 140 gr bullets out to max length to fit the integral magazine box, which still keeps the bullets well off the lands. Have any of you found better accuracy by seating the .223 bullets out enough to just function in the Mini's magazines and be a bit over the book COL?
I have also found the best results working up from the bottom, and getting close to the top of what the book states as maximum. Work from the bottom for safety reasons, check for split cases, extractor marks, blown primers etc. But for the most part the top load usually has done the best for me. Neck tension, uniform case length, and taper crimp all play a role.

I have found that the ar magazines max is 2.260" longer than that and it will not feed through the magazine. However it can be loaded longer but it will have to be hand fed singly. Check out the hornady manual and loading for the service rifle with an 80 grain bullet its over 2.260, best I remember close to 2.280.

In my testing my rounds do best between 2.250 and 2.260. They feed through the mag without issue. Thats for the ar and the mini. The 40 grain vmax I shoot is shorter, due to the bullets length being shorter and flat based. Think it was 2.200, but I would have to look.
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