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Old 10-04-2011, 03:28 PM   #1
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Default 5.56 reloading question

I'm currently doing some research and ordering a book or two to take a crack at reloading. In this research I have not found a single manufacturer of 5.56 NATO dies. I realize that there are slight dimensional variations between 5.56 and .223. So my question is can you reload 5.56 with .223 dies? If so what are the precautions? Does it lessen the life of the brass with changing dimensions with the .223 resizing die due stress and fatigue on the 5.56 dimensions?

Or would it simply just be more beneficial to start buying .223 instead of 5.56 and reloading the .223? With a 5.56 chamber do you lose any accuracy when firing .223 due to dimension variations?

I appreciate all feedback and I'm sure I will look to you all more as I get into reloading. Thanks!

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Old 10-04-2011, 04:16 PM   #2
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The majority of my .223 brass started out as 5.56mm NATO rounds. While there are some very minor dimensional differences between 5.56 and the commercial .223 Remington, the real difference between the two rounds is in the chamber pressure, 5.56 being the higher of the two. Reloading formerly 5.56 mm rounds using .223 Rem. dies is no problem and is frequently done among reloaders.

As I understand it, 5.56 chambers are slightly larger than .223's allowing for the various differences in manufacturers of the 5.56 NATO ammunition around the world. Firing .223 Rem. in a 5.56 chamber causes no problems because it is designed for higher pressure than .223 offers. Dimensionally also not problem there. Conversely, firing a 5.56 round through a .223 Rem. chamber is not advised due to the higher design pressure for the military round. Some guns, the Ruger Mini-14 (except the Target Model) for instance are chambered for either round. There are others, but I'm not aware of which ones can also handle both rounds.

As far as using .223 dies goes for reloading, the dimensions of the reloaded rounds will work in either caliber of chamber, the pressure you load the round up to is a matter of choice depending on what weapon you are loading for.

ETA: The dimensional issues of wear & tear on brass life and loss of accuracy between the two calibers of brass that you mention are non-issues from my 30 years experience of reloading and I'll be very surprised if anyone says they are.

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Old 10-04-2011, 06:45 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback.

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Old 10-05-2011, 10:20 PM   #4
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Snakedriver is correct.

The physical differences between a .223 and a 5.56 is not noticeable, brass wise. The 5.56 chambering has a longer throat, the distance down the barrel before there is rifling. This allows for heaver/stronger loadings that relate to higher velocities with lower peak pressures.

You may fire commercial .223 ammunition in a 5.56 chambering with no concern. The reverse is not the same. The concerns are the potential for pressures being greater than prudent. This is not to say that I have not ran many 5.56 loading into the chamber of my .223 bolt action and I do see flattened primers.

Accuracy differences between the two, I think, are minimal. Unless you are into precision shooting, you won't know the difference. I have found that the 'sweet spot' for each weapon is seldom at or near the hottest loadings.

As for buying a .223 over a 5.56, well that would be more of a personal option. I would go with the 5.56 simple because you can use both loadings.

FYI:
my .223 loading is 50 grain HPs over 25.5 grains of 748 for 2800FPS
my 5.56 loading is 55 grain HPs over 26.6 grains of 748 for 3013FPS
These are all loaded in mixed military brass with the same primers and to the same OAL. I always full length size and trim.

These loadings work well for me in my weapons, always refer to more than one leading/quality loading manual before using anyone's loading data. It is always better to error on the side of safety.

OSOK

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Old 10-05-2011, 11:15 PM   #5
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Yep, I'm a big fan of W748 too. With once fired military brass, standard small rifle primer, and a 55 gr. bullet, my favorite load is 26.5 grains of W748.

H335 and H4895 have also proved to be good powders for reloading .223 Rem. rounds whenever W748 can't be found.

I agree that fastest loadings shown on the load charts are not the most accurate.

Testing in your own particular rifle is necessary to determine what works best. Things like barrel length and twist rate, along with the type of action are some of the factors that determine the most accurate loading for your weapon.

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Old 10-05-2011, 11:55 PM   #6
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After many tests and adjustment I worked out the 'sweet spot' loading for my Remington 600 re-chambered to .223 rem.
This is a sample of what I can get at 100 yards.
bang-19small.jpg

My 5.56 loads are not as precise, but I'm pleased with it. The weapon is my build, Mega lower, RR 20 inch upper, Bill Springfield trigger, and a Hawk Endurance 3.5X10 glass.
Again at 100 yards.
image070811small.jpg

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Old 10-06-2011, 12:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldpapps View Post
After many tests and adjustment I worked out the 'sweet spot' loading for my Remington 600 re-chambered to .223 rem.
This is a sample of what I can get at 100 yards.
Attachment 33570

My 5.56 loads are not as precise, but I'm pleased with it. The weapon is my build, Mega lower, RR 20 inch upper, Bill Springfield trigger, and a Hawk Endurance 3.5X10 glass.
Again at 100 yards.
Attachment 33569

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Real nice shooting oldpapps! I'm currently waiting for delivery of my RRA upper for my AR build. I hope it shoots as good as yours.
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Old 10-06-2011, 03:28 AM   #8
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In my experience the largest factor to consider is case length. 5.56 brass starts life a little longer than .223. Because of the more generous dimensions of many 5.56 chambers and the high pressures, the brass tends to expand more than .223 brass on the first firing. The resizing process will cause the brass to grow in length. It is ESSENTIAL one checks the length EVERY time a case is reloaded (especially the first time) and trim to length.

An overly long case can and will be disasterous to your rifle. I have seen first hand the results. A nice Colt A-3 turned into a nice Colt lower with a fragmented, formerly nice A-3 upper. Cracking a barrel extension is very hard to do on one of these. An untrimmed case caused a severly cracked extension.

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Old 10-07-2011, 12:40 AM   #9
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The SAMMI specifications for .223 Remington outside dimensions and the
MIL-SPEC outside dimensions for 5.56 NATO are the same; within the same
manufacturing tolerances. The difference when reloading this round is that
5.56 NATO specification rounds allow for a thicker case wall so the ammunition can handle more storage abuse than civilian ammuntion. The
thicker case wall makes for a smaller volume in the case and as a result higher case pressures.

The same is true for .308 Winchester vs. 7.62 NATO.

I like 24.5 grains of Accurate 2230 behind a 55 gr FMJ myself. Clean powder
low residue.

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Old 10-07-2011, 02:55 PM   #10
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For those of you that reload 5.56, I have not found a 5.56 bullet for reloading. So do you reload 5.56 brass with .223 bullet within the .223 charge range or .223 bullet with 5.56 charge?

These may seem like elementary questions, I'm just a newbee trying to learn.

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