.223 Rem / 90 and 1,200 Yards

Discussion in 'Small Stuff--22s, 20s, and 17s' started by Laurie, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. Laurie

    Laurie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Further to the recent information on the Daily Bulletin about my Savage PT action based .223 Rem F/TR rifle and equalling the GB F Class Association 20-round F/TR 1,000yd record at the famous Blair Atholl range in the Scottish Highlands, I was able to shoot the rifle at 1,100yd in competition, and 1,200yd in practice, coincidentally again at Blair Atholl. This is because I'm locally born and bred just down the Great North Road in Perth and was invited to join a scratch Scotland F/TR team to shoot against the USA there.

    The background to this was some members of the US F Class team - including a full F/TR contingent - extending their visit to the British Isles whose primary mission was to shoot the revived Creedmoor Match in Tullamore, Republic of Ireland by coming across to Scotland afterwards to compete in the annual Scottish Rifle Association Long-Range Matches. These comprised six 2+15 matches, three each at 900 and 1,000yd over 2nd / 3rd July. The US F/TR Team also suggested a USA v Scotland Challenge team match to be held on Monday 4th July, a date we understand has some significance to those of you in our one-time colony?

    With arrangements to have the range available all Friday 1st July for practice and zeroing, this was a full four-day shooting festival and at the visitors' request, two practice sessions were included at 1,200 yards, the range's maximum distance. This was a serious amount of shooting - I used nearly 200 rounds over the four days, and I reckon some US Team members outdid that by a good margin. Everybody used .308 Win apart from Tony Robertson (TonyR on this forum) from the USA and Les Bacon of Team Border Barrels (Scotland) who shot F-Class with biggies throughout the weekend in their own private F Class match, and Peter Burbridge and myself (Scotland) who shot .223, Peter for some matches, me throughout.

    Just under half the entry for the Sat/Sun Long-Range meeting were Scottish Target Rifle competitors (sling shooters), the slightly larger remainder made up of our two F Class worthies and then F/TR entrants from both nations. The Friday practices / Monday F/TR international events were fitted seamlessly into the domestic Sat/Sun meeting with SRA / West Atholl Rifle Club officials and shooters undertaking all the administrative and most of the on-the-day workload in setting the range and its electronic targets up, securing everything afterwards, and running /manning the range during shooting. Unfortunately, the date meant that the event clashed with a GB F Class league round at Bisley that weekend which took several Scottish F-Class (Open) shooters away, and just preceded the huge annual Imperial Meeting also at Bisley (Southern England) which deterred several sling shooters from entering, still there were 27 of us all told.

    I had a mixed set of results in the individual matches, my superb short-range 90gn Berger BT LR / VarGet load at a little under 2,800 simply not performing in the two 900s I tried them in for some reason, the 90gn VLD at 2,850 proving its usual effective self. I did win Match 5 on Sunday at 1,000 by a clear 6 points, which was nice! Paul Crosbie the Scottish F/TR team captain dominated these matches taking four of the other five matches, but being just beaten in the final 1,000yd match into 3rd place by the USA's Michelle Gallagher and Stan Pate in that order. Stan shot very consistently throughout, taking several second places. Michelle and mother Nancy produced continuous improvements in their scores, presumably as they got used to the local conditions - which were unusual (very warm by Scottish standards, light but very twitchy winds especially on the Saturday, and frequent bouts of mirage).

    The other business of the four days was of course the international Challenge Match, on Monday 4th July, 2+15 each at 900, 1,000, and 1,100yd shot under full team shooting conditions with wind coaches, record-keepers etc, six shooters in each team. I've got to admit we (the Scots) were very inhospitable by winning this, provisional results: Scotland 1,072.30v points against 1,050.34v for our guests. I'll provide team lists and scores in a separate 'Topic' in the Competitions section. Paul Crosbie (Scotland) took the highest individual aggregate on 191.4v, me second with the .223 on 190.7v (ex225). Our US opposite numbers were Sierra Scott on 186.4v and Michelle Gallagher on 180.6v. (Add 225.0 to those scores to get a US equivalent out of 450 as we shoot for 5 points compared to 10.)

    My 1,100 yd score was 54 ex 75 (US: 129 ex 150) in decidedly difficult conditions with intermittent mirage - this surprised at least one of the Scottish wind coaches who'd told me the .223 just won't shoot beyond 1,000yd. This compared to Paul Crosbie on 59, Michelle Gallagher on 57, and Scotland's Peter Burbridge on 55, none of us getting a V, the other nine scores in the 40s or less. I won't blow any personal trumpets here - this was Hamish Hunter, my wind coach's result! The point is the .223 properly set up for 90s competes with .308W - and that against 210gn Berger VLDs for Paul C, 208gn Hornady A-Maxes for Peter B at hefty velocities.

    However ...... the interesting experiments didn't end there. We had an informal US v Scotland 15 round 1,200yd match late Saturday afternoon in apparently (!! it never really is at Blair) still conditions and with a overcast that killed the mirage. I didn't compete (not enough 90gn VLD ammo), but managed a sight-in and 10 quick string shots before the electronic kit was packed away. One 5, a number of 4s and a smaller number of 3s, somewhere around 37 or 38 ex 50. Superb elevation consistency, mainly within half-MOA. This was with my now standard load of the 90gn Berger VLD over VarGet at 2,847 fps with single figure velocity spreads. Temperature was around 70 F, high atmospheric pressure (1,020 MB) in anti-cyclonic conditions at sea level, but 850 ft ASL countering some of that.

    So .... those of you who say the .223 can never make an efficient 1,000yd round, I'll counter by asking "Why stop there?". It hits the target at 1,100 and even 1,200yd. Yes, if the wind blows it'll be shot about the target frame - but less than any .308W / 155gn bullet combination. It won't stand up to .308W / 208 or 210gn shot from a chamber properly throated for these bullets and achieving 2,600-2,650 fps, but it recoils only around a quarter of that making consistent shooting a LOT easier.

    As noted, I'll do a separate post on this weekend as seen from a home competitor's perspective elsewhere. I'll just say here we all had a ball of a time despite clouds of the dreaded Scottish Highland midges', a tiny bloodsucking fly, regular appearances over the four days every time the wind dropped. The US team members are a really great bunch of guys and ladies, very professional shooters and competitors, and with a great sense of humour. We loved having them over here and hope we'll see them again. They're still in God's Own Country, now sightseeing and shopping, except for Tony Robertson who's looking for his Scottish ancestors in local Perthshire record offices and graveyards. I hope they all have a great remaining few days, even if the weather is reverting to its (wet) norm.

    Laurie,
    England
     
  2. expiper

    expiper

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2004
    Messages:
    2,220
    Hi Laurie...thank you for the great report on the goings on over there.....dont feel too inhospitable because your "yankee" guests would have liked to embarrass you thoroughly--wink--....they are a well funded and group of traveling "pros' who found out people on the "other side" of the pond can shoot toooo...hahahah.....glad to hear of your good shootin .223 / 90 vld combo....the gentle recoil is something that adds to the accuracy and would be easy on us ole' broken down guys.....great shooting on your part.....I would love to have the chance to come over there someday (gotta hav connections,,)....and shoot and visit....Roger
     
  3. Tozguy

    Tozguy

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    846
    Thanks for the write-up and the inspiration! Although you rightly give credit to your wind coach, you did your 'part' and deserve to be congratulated.
    It must have been a heap of fun building up to the moment.
     
  4. effendude

    effendude

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Messages:
    1,245
    Laurie,
    I am scrounging more funds to buy a Barnard S action following your recommendations for a .223 Rem F-TR Rifle. Please share your barrel twist and chamber specs if you can. Your success with the 90gr. bullets is amazing.
    Scott
     
  5. Laurie

    Laurie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    The barrel is a 31" True-Flite (Button rifled job from New Zealand) - 6-groove, 1-7" twist, and Heavy Palma profile. The chamber reamer was specced around a 90gn Berger VLD seated with its base barely above the case body to shoulder junction in a current production Lapua .223 Rem 'Match' case. That needed 0.226" freebore and the PT&G drawing number is 19486. Chamber clearance was based on no-turn necks and is pretty well minimum SAAMI.

    The rifle has only been used with 90gn Bergers, BT and VLD, apart from initial barrel run-in and scope sighting-in when 80s were tried. That amount of freebore just allowed the longer 80s (Berger VLD and Hornady A-Max) to be seated into the rifling. They may not touch now with throat wear - around 20 thou' erosion per 1,000 rounds.

    Although a no-turn chamber, all brass is either batched after measuring necks at three points and/or given a clean-up turn to either 0.0125" or 0.0130" and also batched by weight. I've tried Viht N540, N150 and N550, Alliant Re15 and Re17, Hodgdon H4895 and VarGet, and IMR-4007SSC powders. When the next shipment of IMR-8208 XBR gets here shortly, I'll also try that. N550 gives very high MVs and reasonable groups, but not as small as I wanted, nor would it deliver small enough ES values - in my rig, but others report very good results. N150 looks promising for shorter range loads with 90 BTs, but this powder was found by Jerry Tierney in his Sacramento tests to suddenly spike in its pressures with a 0.2gn charge increase, it's also likely temperature sensitive, so be warned. Re15 has given me the best results, but I'm on the edge for primer extrusion into the Savage bolt-face hole with it and it's temperature sensitive - an insulated sandwich bag just let me get away with my Re15 load in the team Blair matches and primer extrusion was getting into risky territory in the final shots at 1,100 at maybe 22, 23 deg C - not hot compared to those US shooters may encounter. I've shifted to VarGet now and get 2,847 fps MV average with small (<10 fps) ES and this load shoots at 1,200yd as I found at Blair with an around half-MOA elevation spread over 10 rounds in good wind and light conditions.

    The cartridge is MUCH, MUCH harder work to load and get right than .308W. It needs VERY small charge weight variations - I work to + or - 0.02gn (a single powder kernel) using an ACCULAB scale. + or - 0.15gn as used by many shooters is no good as 0.1gn = 10fps MV change. Brass must be perfect and the cartridge is primer sensitive. CCI-450 SRMs work, CCI-BR4s don't in my loads. The PMC / Wolf / Russian SRM is an excellent choice in my rifle and ammunition combinations. I measure and batch bullets for long-range batches, point them, and check bullet seating with a comparator and adjust so every loaded round reading is within 0.001". Loading 300 rounds for Blair took me a long, long time. If you won't do all these things, stick to 600yd with .223 Rem. The upside is that it's a delight to shoot - the scope reticles stay on the target centre as you follow the shot through, and as the only ballistically better .308 Win loads require 200gn and up bullet weights, these guys are fighting their rifles on the firing line which makes it more difficult to get completely smooth and consistent recoil and rifle movement / performance. It's not just recoil - remember how important the effects of torque on the rifle are, especially shooting off a bi-pod. I'll say EMPHATICALLY, you do not need a complex, wide-set big-foot bi-pod design when shooting .223 / 90.

    Barrel life? 2,024 rounds through the True-Flite at the end of the Blair team matches. The last two shots at 1,100 yards, #14 and #15, were a 4.2 or 4.3 with perfect elevation at 9 o'clock and a 4.8 or 4.9 (the electronic targets graduate the score in tenths of a point) at 1 o'clock, so it's still performing. I must get the borescope out and check now though. Quite by coincidence, these sentences were in an email to me yesterday from Vince Bottomley re .308 Win barrel life with the F/TR loads used by top British competitors:

    .......... you know I’ve been struggling with my own rifle – primers popping, rubbish accuracy etc. It’s done around 1200 rounds – I built it just after your tube gun with the 1 in 13.5 Bartlein. After another poor session, I borescoped it – absolutely knckered! I couldn’t believe it. Willie also had a bartlein that stopped shooting at around 1000 rounds – I scoped that – very similar to mine!

    At Bisley, Stuart scoped Andy Bagnall’s [writer's note - Adam is the reigning UK F/TR league champion and uses VERY lot loads, 155s at 3,100 fps and 210s at 2,700 fps] – another one bites the dust!



    I don’t think these new breed of 308s are going to be good for 3-4000 rounds using double-base powders!




    To dispel any possibly erroneous conclusions from the above, this in no way implies any criticism of Bartlein barrel or steel quality, rather most top GB F/TR shooters have used this make of barrel. There are many .308W Bartleins in use over here in 'Target Rifle' shooting 155s at 2,950 or so and lasting forever. I had personally assumed .308W barrel life as maybe 2,000-2,500 rounds with hot F/TR loads and hoped for the same from the .223/90, but it seems the life reduction is drastic when you go past a certain pressure and performance point with the UK's N540 and N550 based loads!


    So, there you have it - there is good and bad news. Some people can't get .223 / 90 to perform at all, some people find it'll only work at shorter ranges. I like the cartridge, love the performance at long ranges, but always warn people of the potential downsides. I have a second Eliseo tube gun stock (an S1 model) waiting for me in CSS in California, a timed and tarted-up Savage PT action also en route from the US, and a True-Flite 32" Match Rifle profile (5.5lb weight) barrel sitting with the UK T-F importer for a 2nd F/TR rifle in .308 Win chambered for 200/210gn bullets for the 2012 season, and I'll use either cartridge as appropriate for the conditions, or according to personal whim, next year.
     
  6. cmillard

    cmillard

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,431
    laurie, when you segregate brass, do you use the lightest of the brass for your loads? have you tried sorting by internal volume? the .223/90 sounds like a headache, but it would be fun and much cheaper vs .308
     
  7. Laurie

    Laurie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Cole,

    I weigh the batch and identify the spread (after any preparation), and decide on the norm for that production lot. I'll normally use any case within a 0.4-0.5gn total range in .223 Rem (case weights around 92-93.5gn). This usually covers around 90% of cases in recent Lapua production lots. It means I have boxes of 'light' cases and others that are 'heavy', but once prepped and batched, all cases are kept in 50s throughout their life and not mixed. Out of the norm weight cases are used for practice, load development, or in other .223 Rem rifles that are not as accurate as the Savage.
     
  8. cmillard

    cmillard

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,431
    have you tried LC brass. i have a sufficient amount of LC brass 2007-2009 stamped that had a lot of internal volume. when weighing some of that brass, they go down to as low as 90-90.5 but around 91-91.5 being the norm. don't know if that would make that big of a difference in adding more powder or getting pressures down.
     
  9. Laurie

    Laurie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    It might do Cole, but we never see it here in the UK. Of those available, Lapua is the only brass we'd consider for this application. It's very strong too so primer pockets will stay tight overall several loadings even with full-pressure loads I run at.
     
  10. cmillard

    cmillard

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,431
    i know widener's--over here in the states--has some 2009 headstamp, never loaded, therefore no crim to deal with, LC brass. $92/500 (U.S.) or $175/1000.
     
  11. ab_bentley

    ab_bentley I fix stuff, sometimes.... Silver $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,120
    What's to stop a 22PPC at 1000yds? Adam
     
  12. Laurie

    Laurie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Adam,
    nothing at all subject to twist rate, chamber throating and bullet selection as per preparing .223 Rem for this range. You couldn't shoot it in F/TR however as the regulations say .223 Rem or .308 win only. You'd be in F-Class proper or 'Open' class up against people with 7mm short magnums firing VERY-high BC 180gn bullets at 3,000 fps and would inevitably end up at the bottom of the results lists. For long-range varminting or informal target shooting, the .22BR, PPC and .220 Swift can be very efficient performers.
     
  13. mysticplayer

    mysticplayer

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    Messages:
    615
    Laurie, thrilled to hear on your results with the 90gr Berger VLD and Varget.

    They mimic my testing and shooting over here in Canada. I haven't had a chance to chronie my final Varget load but suspect I am in the 2800fps range using Win brass, CCI 450 and the Bergers seated out to around 2.6" OAL

    Accuracy has been superb at all distances I have played at.

    Just shot the Western Cdn F class match near Calgary, AB. 800 and 900m Winds were horrid and flags didn't give much info so I spent much of the match just trying to figure out what was going on (many who had never shot there were scrambling too).

    Later in the match when I started to get a handle on the air, hitting 5's and V's were possible. In my last relay, I shot 4 V 's in a row when the air stayed put for a little over 2 minutes (we shot 3 to a target Bisley Style).

    I believe that final relay was the 2nd highest relay score on that day for FTR. That was very encouraging. I think it was one of the higher V bulls for a relay.

    I look forward to reading more on your testing and results. I am excited about what the 90/223 can bring to the F TR game.

    Jerry
    info@mysticprecision.com
     
  14. cmillard

    cmillard

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,431
    laurie, what kind of stock is on that .223? mcrees?
     
  15. manitou210

    manitou210

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2006
    Messages:
    256
    The 90gr VLD out grouped the big 7mms ina 5 shot group shoot at 900m at Eastern Canadian F class Championships July 1,2,& 3/ 2011 6.5 " 5 shots
    Lapua Case/neck turned
    CCI BR Primers VT 550 at 2730fps
    Bullets pointed on a Hoover pointer
    factory Savage 26"
    Nightforce 12 by 42 benchrest

    [​IMG]
     
  16. jonbearman

    jonbearman I live in new york state,how unfortunate ! Gold $$ Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2010
    Messages:
    8,377
    Laurie,yet another interesting bunch of facts to help us beginners get it right. I thank you for your giving back to the sport and admire your writings as I always learn something new being a fan of the .223. It is a really fun cartridge and accurate to if you take the time to load them right.


    Congratulations on your superb shooting!
     
  17. Laurie

    Laurie

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,842
    Jon and others,

    thanks for the kind words. I'm finalising some Viht N150 load tests and will publish results for a range of powders when done. The only other possibles not yet tried are IMR-8208 XBR (waiting a supply of the powder, promised next month by our importer) and the new Alliant AR-Comp for which there is no timescale available for UK availability or even if we will ever see it as Alliant-ATK doesn't seek EC registration / compliance on all products and there is only small market for AR type rifles here.

    Cole,
    yes it's McRees Precision stock - no longer available in the UK after McRees got US military contracts and stopped exports. I also have the 3-inch wide BR forend that I use on a front-rest and various additional buttstock bits should I ever use it without a rear bag and need cheekpieces. Looking recently at the company's website, it seems to be concentrating on the milspec type tactical market and there's no mention of the Varmint / BR type bits that I've used.

    Considering it's a no-bedding job, it works superbly with a straight bolt-in with the Savage 12 PT action. It is heavy though which is an issue with F/TR.
     
  18. cmillard

    cmillard

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,431
    mcrees makes an excellant stock. i have one on my 6BR and love it. have thought about getting the bag rider fore end for F-class, but even with the regular fore end, it does alright. there is another stock maker that makes one similar for f-class--if i remember, i will ask my buddy who they are, he is getting a rifle built with that stock.
     
  19. Matt Pitchon

    Matt Pitchon

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    97
    Although I haven't shot at 1200yds with my 223, I have shot at 1000yds with excellent results. Out of a 30" medium palma 7 twist, 90VLDs will go 2900fps. I was amazed with the velocity. The powder is the key. I have been experimenting and found 2000MR it is superb in this application. It is double base, with a burn rate slower than RL-15, and very dense. The case easily holds 27gr of powder, not compressed. I could probably hold more. I haven't tried. My chamber is a standard Wylde.

    With the low recoil, its easy to shoot this cartridge.
     
  20. SpencerC

    SpencerC

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2010
    Messages:
    114
    Has anyone tried Re-17 in it yet? I have a pound sitting on my bench, staring me in the face and I can't stop wondering what it will do. I haven't had time to do any more experimenting lately and with all my shooting coming up, being matches, I don't want to change anything now. I tried some last year in my old barrel and if I remember correctly it held decent vertical at 500 with the same elevation setting as with Varget @ 2820fps...Will have to try this again...
     

Share This Page