I had a really good day at the range Tuesday afternoon. A couple weeks ago I ordered 3, 8 pound jugs of WC-844 Ball Powder to work up some .223 / 5.56 MM loads with. Along with it I bought another 2,500 cases from Brassman Brass out of Las Vegas. WC-844 is one of the last really good buys in reloading. Itís not always available because it is generally obtained as a demilled, pull down, military Ball Powder. This stuff goes for around $85.00 for an 8 pound jug, which is really reasonable when compared to the $140.00+ they are getting these days for H-355 which it is very similar to. In fact you can cross reference loading data directly from H-355.
The thing about military Ball Powder is that it varies from lot to lot, so itís always best to start out low and work up. I got up early Tuesday morning and I loaded up 20 rounds starting at 23.5 grains, then 20 more at 24.5 grains, and finally 20 more at 25.3 grains, which I hoped would be my final load I would settle on if everything went good. All loads were with Lake City 55 Grain FMJBT bullets seated to 2.200 O.A.L. and given a good, solid crimp with my Lee Factory Crimp Die.
I went to my club range and took along my Bushmaster A-1, M-4, and my Colt 6940 to run my first experimental loads through. All cycled well except for the 23.5 grain starting loads which would not cycle the Colt 6940 reliably. They ran well in the Bushy, kicking the brass out into a nice uniform pile about 6 feet away. This didnít surprise me with the Colt because I knew from the get go this would probably be too soft of a load. Still, I wanted to play it safe. The 24.5 grain load ran well in both guns, but was still a bit on the soft side. The final 20 rounds that I loaded to 25.3 grains were the best. Zero signs of any over pressure were noted, and the accuracy was very good with all rounds grouping solidly with both weapons, with the Bushy grouping just slightly better. Both weapons were shot with factory irons at 100 yards. The Vltor E-Mod Stocks I had installed a few weeks ago on these guns worked out really well. They are a marked improvement over the factory stocks they supply with these guns.
After I got home and cleaned both weapons, I decided on a final ďproductionĒ load of 25.5 grains kicking it up just a bit. The only disappointment in the whole day was after bringing, and setting up my chronograph, I discovered the 9 volt battery was dead. My fault. I should have checked it before I left. I didnít. According to the H-335 data, Iím running right around 3,150 FPS give or take. So yesterday I hit the press and cranked out an even 800 rounds on the Dillon.
Iím going to order another 16 pounds of this powder as long as itís available. Itís availability has been spotty in the past. It seems either no one has it, or else everyone does. At present Wideners and Patís Reloading has the best price I could find at $85.00 for 8 pounds. If you buy 6, 8 pound jugs theyíll pay the Haz-Mat fee, which makes it an even sweeter deal. I might just do that. Between my wife and I we go through a lot of .223, so the stuff will get shot up in fairly short order. Wideners also has Hornady 55 Grain FMJBT bullets available for $474.00 in a 6,000 bullet case lot with free shipping. That comes to only $7.90 a hundred. Iíve shot Hornady FMJ .22ís before, and theyíre good, consistent, accurate bullets. I think itís wise to stock up on this stuff if yet another buying frenzy starts, which appears to be the case. Even though the majority of the ninjas don't reload, this stuff will sell fast. If youíre looking for good quality components in bulk to load .223 / 5.56 MM check out WC-844. This stuff is very good powder, and youíll never beat the price the way powder is going up these days.