First attempt to develop a load for the Berger 85.5 with Varget - updated with more testing

Discussion in 'Small Stuff--22s, 20s, and 17s' started by dstoenner, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. dstoenner

    dstoenner

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    Thought I would show you my attempts at developing a load for the Berger 85.5. My gun is a Remington 700 that has a 223 Criterion Remage 1:8 heavy Palma profile at 26 inches long. When I started this series of shots I was at 1844 rounds down range on this barrel. The original chambering is a Wylde but the throat has advanced about .065 inches. The rifle is in a MDT LSS-XL chassis with a Golden Eagle scope. I shot all of these at a magnification of 40 due to being indoors.

    At this point I loaded all of the bullets at 2.570 which is about .020 off the lands but also is the longest I would ever load this bullet placing the junction of the boat tail at the shoulder neck junction thereby giving full bearing surface contact.

    I loaded 10 increments of Varget from 23.0 to 24.8 in .2 gn increments. I loaded 4 at each step, 3 to be used for a group and 1 to be used to pressure test how far I would go up. Our weather turned colder by the time I could get to the range, about 45 degrees. This was shot from a concrete bench indoors at 100 yards.

    First up was the pressure test. I did this with my magnetospeed attached and when I saw where shot 1 landed I did no adjustments to the scope. I went through all 10 without any sign of over pressure. These bullets just really shoot. I thought the 80.5's were good but these seem to be even better.

    [​IMG]


    Next were group testing. I started at 23.0 and walked all the way up. I then added 2 groups of my standard load of 80.5 for comparison purposes to finish out the day. I have recorded the average of each 3 shots and the SD for each group on the target. What got me was that some really wild SD's shot excellent groups while the last one with an SD of 8 looked more scattered. Go figure.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I personally see 2 nodes that I am going to test out, 23.7 ( with 24.6 and 24.8 as guard bands) and 24.4 as the widest node. I might also load some at 24.4 with increased jump to see how this bullet would do as the throat advances even more. I usually call a barrel done when the throat has advanced about .100 inches.

    I will append to this my final testing as outlined in the previous paragraph unless anybody has better ideas. That is why I am sharing this data. Also at 2780 or so FPS, I only see this as a good 600 yard bullet, not 1000. The 223 is still pretty limiting as compared to even something like a 22 BR.

    David
     
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  2. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    Heres my seating depth test (all 26.0 gr CFE) Tomorrow I work up powder charges.

    20191109_155918.jpg

    The 0.49" c-t-c had significant mirage, and vertica stringing.... which may be due to my rifle hold. SO I went with 1.781 to Ogive
     
  3. SPJ

    SPJ Gold $$ Contributor

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    What’s wrong with 24.5 ?
     
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  4. dstoenner

    dstoenner

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    Nothing really. My thought about the 24.4 was that 24.2 was basically on the same vertical and its SD was not too bad and 24.6 was still another really good SD and group. so 24.4 puts it somewhere in the middle. And maybe you are right that is where I might end up in the end.

    David
     
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  5. SPJ

    SPJ Gold $$ Contributor

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    I can’t tell ES from BS but it looks like you have a good shooter. I also think your seating depth is pretty close,I might have to get me one of them 223’s
     
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  6. dstoenner

    dstoenner

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    GarandMan

    What are you shooting? My base to Ogive on my loaded round is 2.012. Is this Valkerie?

    David

    By the way, Great moniker. A Garand is what got me into shooting in competition. Carried one for 6 months in the Navy but they would let us shoot them. We had to shoot pistols. Found out in 2001 that i could buy a Garand from CMP. The rest is history.
     
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  7. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    Yes, 224 Valkyrie.


    20191108_212953.jpg

    The Garand was sorta my first foray into firearms, post Clinton AWB. Came out of my research of WW2.

    Got the CMP M1, did some CMP M1 matches, got into service rifle comps, etc.
     
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  8. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    @dstoenner ... still working thru your post. GREAT stuff. Will do my powder testing tomorrow.

    First question... how do you get your 6 bull targets lined up so perfect ??!?!?!?!?! :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019
  9. Ned Ludd

    Ned Ludd Gold $$ Contributor

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    With the [relatively] short 26" barrel, I'd suggest trying H4895 with the 85.5s. It typically will give another 30 fps or so in a tuned load as compared to Varget, it takes up a bit less case volume, and it has noticeably smaller kernels, which I like for weighing powder with the relatively small .223 Rem case. The results you're getting with Varget will certainly work, but you're giving up velocity due to the powder choice and shorter barrel. I did some testing yesterday with 90 VLDs over Varget in a rifle with a 30" barrel. I was getting velocities just a tick higher than what you listed for each charge weight, but with a 90 gr bullet. Presumably, the extra 4" of barrel is the primary reason for the velocity difference. You might be able to gain a bit more velocity with H4895, and it's been an extremely accurate powder in my hands for shooting heavies in the .223.
     
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  10. dstoenner

    dstoenner

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    Ned,

    Thanks for the info. I am going to finish my testing with Varget for the 2 nodes I have identified and the seating depth tries. I will order another box of these bullets and then repeat the whole process with your suggestion of H4895. I have about 4 pounds left so I am set. One way or another I will get a good go to load.

    Quite honestly I am amazed at how well these bullets shoot.

    David
     
  11. dstoenner

    dstoenner

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    Well for sure when I saw the pressure test group complete, 10 bullets with powder increasing each shot by .2 gn and the entire group is about .750, I knew we had a winner here. In fact I am baffled by the 23.0 group. It was the tightest group and yet the SD was the worse of the other 9. I know if this group had been at a distance it would have been horrible but..

    So to answer your question, I think we have found the "magic Bullet":)

    David
     
  12. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    I had some weird SDs on the 80.5 Bergers... it was later in the day... thot my battery was dying... all single digits for the 85.5s..

    But I was more referring to the pics of your targets... mine are all wonky compared to yours.
     
  13. dstoenner

    dstoenner

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    I scaned them from my printer. Makes it nice and easy.
     
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  14. Ned Ludd

    Ned Ludd Gold $$ Contributor

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    David, at distances of 100-200 yd, you are correct that having high ES/SD may not wreck a group; the distance isn't sufficient to have a huge effect. Certainly the effect of high ES/SD on vertical will increase as distance goes up, but I've produced plenty of "clean" practice targets with good X-counts at 600 yd where the ES/SD numbers were in the 40/15 fps range, or higher. Positive compensation may have something to do with it. Nonetheless, F-Class shooters try to keep the ES/SD at a minimum primarily due to the long strings of fire (25+ shots including sighters). Having low ES/SD is not necessarily a guarantee of good precision, as the load still has to be tuned properly.

    Nonetheless, it's not a bad idea to try and keep ES/SD at a reasonable level for long strings of fire. In my hands, the ES values for a .223 Rem with heavy bullets is never quite as good as with the .308 Win. My best .223 loads with H4895 typically end up with ES values somewhere in the upper teens to mid-20 fps range for 10 to 15 shots. I think the smaller case volume has a lot to do with that. Regardless, the other charge weights you tested look like they're behaving very well in that regard. The 23.0 gr group may have had single outlier that contributed most of the velocity variance to the string. It happens sometimes, and it's often very difficult to ascribe any specific cause to a single round velocity outlier, at least with any certainty. From your initial targets, the 85.5s seem to be tuning in quite well. I'm pretty sure that when you select your optimal charge weight(s) and test seating depth, you're going to like what you see on the targets even more ;). Good luck with it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2019
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  15. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    Well... early results with CFE223 were not good atall.... mid teens SD's and 0.75 - 1.5" groups @ 100 yd. Wind was *really* bad, but I don't know it was the cause of the problem.

    Gonna load up some Varget next (had some lying around.... hopefully Hodgdon will actually go ahead and make some more)
     
  16. raptor1ronin

    raptor1ronin Silver $$ Contributor

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    Just out of curiosity but has anyone tried 8208XBR. I used it for 80VLD in the past with great results.
     
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  17. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    If CFE doesnt work out, Varget and XBR are next for me.
     
  18. dstoenner

    dstoenner

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    My personal findings with both an ar15 and rem 700 bolt that 8208 beat varget on light bullets up to 60 gn. Then varget took over for 77 and 80. My next powder to try is H4895 based on Ned’s recommendation. He has the experience with the heavies. But so far varget is shooting better than .5 so i am happy.

    David
     
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  19. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    Yeah...in my AR the 8208 never consistently beat 0.75" at 100y for the 69 - 77 gr Sierra / Berger / Hornady's.
     
  20. garandman

    garandman Bolt Gun Bodacious Gold $$ Contributor

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    I wish there was a forum for 224 Valkyrie, or a greater source of info.
     

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