.204 vs .223

Discussion in 'Small Stuff--22s, 20s, and 17s' started by mattri, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. mattri

    mattri

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    It sounds like two big issues that keep coming up are bullet selection and practical range.

    It's true that the vast majority of pds are shot within 300 yards, what Im looking for is the ability to shoot out to 400-500 yards with reasonable expectation that the cartridge is up to the task. I will not be shooting this gun at 1000 yards.

    Bullet selection goes to the .223 without a doubt. How big of a difference does this make when shooting will be done within above parameters and no very long distance shooting or larger varmints are concerned? Paper and pds are 99% of what this rifle wil be used for.

    The .223 sounds like the easy choice, but the .204 could be better.
     
  2. jo191145

    jo191145

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    mattri

    I'm a big fan of the 204. There is one problem with them reaching long distance though. The standard factory 12 twist is minimal for the 40gn pillls with the BC needed to fight that wind you speak of. Yes, many factory 12 twists really like the 40's and would make you very happy.
    Some just can't shoot them though.

    Most can get the 39bk to shoot well. thats a really good bullet for p dogging anyway. Light jacket and core construction offer good splat effect and a high BC too.

    Theres no quarentees on a factory tube what it will prefer. Now if you do decide to go with a 204 I would suggest the Sav LRVP you spoke of. If that particular tube won't shoot 39's or 40's you can screw on an custom tube in 11 or 10 twist for relatively cheap ($300 or so)
    Barrels are a expendable commodity anyway. If after 200 rds you can't get it to shoot 39 bk's wrench it off and sell it as a takeoff. Screw on a custom with extra twist.

    The 204 really comes alive when you tighten the twist just a little ;) I shoot factory tubes in competition out to 300 yds. Usually the 35 Berg is most accurate for short range paper work.
    I have one 11 twist tube. All those bullets that never worked all that well in a 12 twist suddenly became capable of extreme accuracy.
    I've been hoping savage would be the first to offer a tighter twist tube in 204. They did with the 223 and 22-250 but seemed to drop the ball with the 204.

    Theres no doubt a 223 with heavy for caliber bullets can shoot long distance. Thats fine for targets at a known distance. In the field bullet drop is a different consideration. Heavy pills going slow usually don't kill as cleanly either.

    The 39's usually like around 3850fps for a sane node. Run them through a ballistics calculater and compare them to any 223 bullet you might consider. Be sure to not only compare wind drift but bullet drop also. Chose whichever you think would work best for you.
     
    ratbuster likes this.
  3. Rodbolt

    Rodbolt

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    I too was a naysayer on the 204 until I started using it for prairie dogs in South Dakota. The 204 quality loaded with 39gr Blitzkings will out perform all the 223's, 223AI's, 22BR's, 22-250's, and run with the 22-250AI and Swift, out to 500 yards. Yes that includes in the wind. The 204 has less muzzle jump to see your hits, less barrel heat then the bigger 22's, and muzzle blast out of my longer barrels is comparable to the smaller 22's listed. Informal target shooting and small varmints out to 500 yards was the question/parameters that started this thread, but many folks think target shooting at predetermined distances some way translates into shooting at various and unknown ranges. Further more long range, high BC target or big game bullets at least take the fun out of shooting varmints and may even wound. The trajectory is worse then lighter bullets at shorter ranges. At very long ranges (1000 yards with a 223 & 308), sure you can shoot paper at a known distance but move back a few yards or past and miss by feet. On a good day in a steady wind I've cleaned mounds of PD's ranged with a good finder at 600 yards and 204, give me a day with changing winds/rotors and it's tough at 350 yards. IMHO it gets tough to hit PD's consistantly with a 223 at 400yards in better conditions.

    I like the 223 and the AI version even more and would chose it over a 204 if I needed the extra bullet diameter/killing power for say coyotes (prefer a 6mm mid bullet for those 'dogs) but for crow, ground squirrel, prairie rats, informal shooting etc. the flat shooting, wind bucking 204 (and my several 20BR's) rule. As far as accuracy, any experienced rifle smith will tell you it's more about the bullets, barrel and driver then the cartridge in like class. The dozen or so 204's that I've worked with or own all shot well but then so do 223's. The 204 isn't nearly as finicky as a 22-250. The 20BR, 22BR both have exceptional paper accuracy as do the PPC versions that I'm not as familiar with, not sure that means much under field shooting as concrete bench are few and far. As with all factory calibers you can get a dud barrel but compare a good custom barrel in a 204 vs the same in 223 with equal hand loads and you may be surprised. At three hundred yards or less shoot a 6ppc or 6BR with 55-65gr match bullets and you will beat either the 204/223 but that wasn't the question here. Merry Christmas from Missouri
     
  4. RugerRalphie

    RugerRalphie

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    Well said, Rodbolt!
     
  5. okbob51

    okbob51

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    I shoot em both....when the 204 came home the 223 has become boring. The 204 is one flat-shooting hombre. I shoot 32 grainers at 4050 fps. and let grandpa shoot the 223.
     
  6. mattri

    mattri

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    More .204 supporters calling in, interesting.
     
  7. SS427

    SS427

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    Put me down for a .223.

    If you gauge a caliber by which has less bullet drop and drifts less in the wind, the .204 is probably the winner, considering the indicated application.

    But the fact remains at the distances you are talking about, all shots will have to be adjusted to account for drop and drift. In the hands of someone who can read conditions and knows how to shoot, both are capable of pretty much the same hit percentages at long distances.

    I like the bigger .224 bore .223 because I don't think it fouls as quickly. The .223 doesn't require a special diameter cleaning rod, meaning one less thing to haul to the range or pd towns. There is very high quality Lapua brass available. The .223 is not usually picky about reloading components. Finally, there are so many more bullets and bullet weights available to the hand loader.

    So even though technically the .204 might be a little better, I will stick with the .223 and count on my skill as a shooter to make up the difference. I actually think this helps me be a better shooter because I do have to pay a little more attention.
     
  8. jrkotz

    jrkotz

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    Great thread guys. I just ordered a 24" 204 barrel and can't wait for it to get in. I have done MONTHS of reading on similar posts/forums. With my experience, the 204 becomes the obvious choice. Fast, flat and efficient. With the most important part being, You'll be able to see your hits through your scope!!

    Last PD trip I took a 17 HMR, 223 and .22-250. My most enjoyable shooting was out of the 17 because I really enjoyed seeing my hits. The .224's didn't let me do that, I found myself using the 17 about 3-4 times as often as the other rifles.

    With the popularity of the 20's increasing and bullet selection getting more vast, a 204 is the way to go. As with all calibers, reloading is key if you plan to shoot alot. Good luck!
     
  9. rfair

    rfair

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    Hi Fella's,
    Iv'e been reading this thread and was wondering how many rounds will the throat of a 204 take at 4000 fps before you change the barrel? why I ask is because if your on a budget, you wouldn't want to replace a barrel every 1500 - 2000 rds. I would rather get something that I'd get 4-5000 out of.
    Now I'm not saying not to get a 204 { I'd like one } but I think he's looking for a great little rifle to shoot inexpensively! So if you can't get 4000 rds out of a 204 barrel, I'd suggest the 223!
    Mattri, You should read the 20 cal section on the home page. Great info!! If I went by that, I'd get the 20 practical because it says the barrel will last longer than the 223 but it says nothing about the life of the 204 barrels compared to the 223.
     
  10. fdshuster

    fdshuster

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    I don't have an ax to grind here, I understand there are those who are very happy with their 204 Ruger's, and I'm sure they are good rifles for those who have had success. And I will not get involved in the "which is better" debate: I see the 204 and the 223 both being very good rounds. My "hands-on" experience with a 204 Ruger chambering (Hart 1-12), was one of carbon fouling/buildup to the point of accuracy being anything from 1/2 moa to 2 moa with 5 shot groups. All the recommended powders were tried, and could never overcome the carbon buildup. First 5 to 15 shots out of a clean barrel (as seen with my "Hawkeye") would be in the 1/2 moa category, then as carbon built up groups went downhill-- fast. At 500 rds. fired I saw the beginning of some very serious firecracking in the throat, and by 810 when the barrel was pulled off, it was starting to look really ugly, with heavier copper fouling and longer cleaning times. In my barrel, the 35 gr. Berger HP was the most accurate, and the entire v-max choices were the worst. Sierra 32 & 39 gr. BlitzKings were "good". Just my experiences, for better and for worse. ;)
     
  11. kkeene

    kkeene

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    I shoot 3-400 rounds and still get 1/2 MOA in my Savage 204 VLP's before I clean. I have not had a bad fouling problem out of either of my factory 204's. I shoot 39 gr BK at 3,850 fps (H4895, BR4 primers, 26 inch barrel). IMHO there is not a better 500 yard PD caliber. Shoots flatter and less wind drift than the other common PD rifles. I can spot almost all of my shots which is very important for making corrections for follow up shots if needed.

    I don't have any use for heavy 223 bullets with the poor trajectory, you need a balance of flat shooting and good wind drift characteristics for PD shooting at variable distances.

    I have about 1,800 rounds thru my first factory barrel and still shooting well. Don't know how long that will hold up but I am happy so far. On a good day I still see the ocasional 1/4 to 3/8 inch 5 shot group. I have a brand new pre-threaded and chambered Match 1:10 twist barrel in 204 sitting in the closet but I haven't needed it yet.

    223 with 50 gr V-max's run out of steam at about 350 yards for me, 204 runs out of steam at about 500 yards for me. Much, much easier to hit the dogs with the 204 due to the flatter trajectory.

    I still get some expansion out to about 500 yards with the 39 gr BK but not much after that distance.

    Don't get me wrong, I still take a 223 with me for the out to 350 yard shots at PD's and to let the two 204 Ruger's cool down. You need 2 to 4 rifles on a good PD trip anyway!

    Now if you are talking bigger critters like a coyote then I will take out my 223 or a 243 with thicker jacket bullets. IMO the 39 gr BK in 20 caliber MIGHT (no personal experience with the 204 on coyotes) be too explosive. I want to get a bullet through the shoulder of a coyote to drop it right there. There are better bullets in 224 and 243 for coyotes than are currently available in 20 caliber.

    THERE IS NO PERFECT VARMINT RIFLE FOR EVERYTHING!

    Keith
     
  12. mattri

    mattri

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    Good points all. Really appreciate people keeping the thread active with new perspectives.

    rfair- great to see another Vermonter. I live in WY now but grew up outside of Montpelier.
     
  13. rfair

    rfair

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    As liberal as VT is getting , I would rather live in Wyoming but there are still alot of great people here!
    Best of luck to you on whatever you buy, I bought a Tikka T3 lite in 223 rem and it is a 1/2" gun with reloads! { honestly } out of the box and for the money it would be hard to beat with a custom! but the stock sucks.
     
  14. gube

    gube

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    This has been a very interesting thread. I spent a lot of time researching for a new varmint rifle and ended up choosing a Savage 12 VLP in a 204. I had so much fun with its laser trajectory and wind bucking abilities that I now have 3 204's for my p-dog arsenal. as for being hard on barrels, my VLP now has over 3000 rounds through it and still shoots 1/2 MOA.
    Here is an example of what you will be able to see through your scope at impact due to the lower recoil.
    Warning** Graphic**
    http://www.204ruger.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=6770
     
  15. Laurie

    Laurie

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    Gube,

    re the images. Well, it's quick - bet they never felt a thing! We don't have an equivalent to ground squirrels in the UK, crow species being the nearest equivalent size-wise. The .204 has never really taken off here as a result, as most vermin shooters have stuck to .22LR / .17 rimfires for rabbits, and .223 / .22-250 Rem for foxes which are our only four-legged varmints. (Badgers and just about everything else are legally protected.)

    Laurie,
    York, England
     
  16. MarkS

    MarkS Silver $$ Contributor

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    mattri,

    The only thing I can say, is do like I did. I got a Savage in 204 then got a 223 barrel, now I have both.

    Mark Schronce
     
  17. mattri

    mattri

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    Thanks again to all who posted. As is so often the case, in the end I listened to the two things that I usually listen to: my wallet and my wife. We found a great deal on a Savage in .243 and she said buy it so I did.

    The suggestion re the barrel swap is interesting though.
     
  18. fdshuster

    fdshuster

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    gube; Great set of pics, made me feel like I was there looking thru the lens. A big thank you! fds
     
  19. MarkS

    MarkS Silver $$ Contributor

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    mattri,

    You can find barrel at these places. And the custom guys will have new takeoffs barrels

    Check on this board, http://www.varminthunters.com/forum/index.php,
    http://www.saubier.com/forum.html
    http://savageshooters.com/SavageForum/index.php/topic,1076.0.html
    http://www.sharpshootersupply.com/
    http://www.stockadegunstocks.com/testimonials.html

    Mark Schronce
     
  20. MarkS

    MarkS Silver $$ Contributor

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    mattri,

    sent pm

    What is you barrel? Small shank or large? I am looking for SS varmint weight 243 small shank. just let me know. I would shoot this barrel before selling it.

    Mark Schronce
     

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