Selecting First Bullet

Discussion in 'Main Message Board' started by Phil3, Jan 4, 2019.

  1. Phil3

    Phil3

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    When developing a load for a new cartridge you have no experience with, what criteria do you use to select a bullet to start with (from a subset that has the proper weight, tip, base, ballistic performance, and reputation)? When I first started reloading (223), my eligible list of bullets was still long, leaving me to apply the selection process of "eeny meeny miny moe" and/or whatever is on sale. Not exactly an informed process. Just wondering if there any other selection criteria I should be considering.


    Phil
     
  2. DarkStar

    DarkStar There are those who have crossfired. . . Gold $$ Contributor

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    I don't know if your "reputation" category would cover the first two I have listed here, but. . .

    Also, the first two assume that you are not breaking new ground:

    What are the winners using?
    Known performance bar.

    If all ballistic performance seems to the be the same (similar BC and the like), which one is the easiest to make loads for? This is based upon what other people are using. .223 example: the Sierra 80 gr is a pretty well known 600 yard/single load bullet for NRA/CMP service rifle. It's shape (tangent vs a VLD's secant) lends itself to requiring less experimentation/testing to get a well-performing load (pretty well known and utilized recipes for this bullet from a service rifle). A VLD may be more finicky, requiring varying ogive OAL lengths to give its best performance. The VLD may fly better, but you might shoot the Sierra just as well, score wise.

    Which is the most reliable to get? This can be mitigated by "buying cheap and stacking deep" when availability allows.
     
  3. DirtySteve

    DirtySteve Gold $$ Contributor

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    What are you using the rifle for Competition or Vermin?
    What twist rate?
    For Competition if you have a fast twist I would go for 90 gr Berger for long range. Mid Range some thing around 75 grains.
    For vermin "What is on sale!"
     
  4. MikeMcCasland

    MikeMcCasland Silver $$ Contributor

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    I think it depends on what you're going to use it for.

    For competition work, look to see what's winning.

    For just messing around at the range, I look for designs that appear more forgiving on seating depth, and have a reputation for accuracy.

    For hunting, that might as well be pandoras box.

    The reputation of the bullet maker also plays into it; opinions obviously vary here.
     
  5. AJC

    AJC

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    If i were picking a first bullet for a 223 i would look at something with history of being easy to tune and very reputable. I think something like the 69gr matchking is well known easy to find, reasonably priced and just performs. One of the current tuning problems IMO is the progressively aggressive ojive's. Your skill and experience in a caliber or overall would obviously impact your decision.
     
  6. Shynloco

    Shynloco You can lead a horse to water, but ........ Gold $$ Contributor

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    Phil3,
    Like the others above have said, depends on what you are going to use the bullet for. Also remember, just because a specific bullet or load works in one rifle, doesn't mean it'll perform the same in another. Barrel make and twist rate do matter and that is coupled with the distance you are going to be shooting. If it's for competition, I'd recommend you take a look at some of the scores and details of that the shooters (arsenal) are using. By that I mean pay attention to the bullet make, weight and the powder they used. Remember, there are no shortcuts if accuracy is your game. That mean consider pairing your list to two or three bullets and start testing. Even post details on your rifle/weapon so that other member can tell you what they've had success with and what were duds. But even there, the idea is to get educated info from those who've found success. I personally usually end up testing three or four bullets whenever I do a rebarrel, just to see if there's been a change in accuracy or if what used to work in the old barrel, is not much cared for by my new barrel. And when you go to test, only change one aspect of a load at a time. Load three to five rds and see how they group at 100 yds. You can load groups of bullets and take a look in the bullet manufacturer's reloading manual and finding out what the "Accuracy Load" was for their test. That might give you a good starting point. And do not load into the "jam." Start with the recommended AOL and work from there once you've figured out which bullet your particular rifle likes. And if you don't have a specific bullet you want to test, ask someone up here for a few so you don't end up box bullets that you won't use. I've got bullets of all sorts that I bought that are good for hunting and fireforming load, but worthless on a BR test for competition. Last of all, there is a ton of info here in the list of calibers (index page) and often the loads that have had great success. Hope all that helps.

    Alex
     
  7. clowdis

    clowdis

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    It all depends on what the twist rate of your barrel is. In match shooting (with AR's) most are using the 69-80 grain bullets with 7-9 twist barrels and they are what's winning, but if you bought a varmint style rifle it will probably have a 12 twist which will not shoot the longer heavier bullets. You're going to have to use something in the 55 grain weight range. What rifle do you have and what is the twist rate in the barrel?
     
  8. Phil3

    Phil3

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    Thanks for the replies. They are all helpful.

    Intended "use" was asked more than once. I am after accuracy, as measured in group size and score on a paper target in a short range, non-competition bench environment only. By "short range", I mean 100 yards, 300 once in a great while (range availability), and 1000 if I am somehow fortunate. The majority of experience, advice, recommendations, what wins, is mostly applicable to longer ranges in the cartridges I have. Who competes at 100 yards with a 223 at 100 yards (or even 300) much less with a 6mmBR or 6.5 x 47? Bullets for long range are not applicable for my use. If there is the question of why build such rifles for short range, I can speak to that separately.

    I consulted http://www.6mmbr.com/223Rem.html and have used some of the 52 - 55 grain Sierra and Berger bullets recommended there. Those have worked well at 100 yards. The 69 grain Sierra MatchKings did not, but who knew what the barrel would like.

    Bullet availability is a concern for sure, and good advice to buy a lot when available. I am keeping any eye out for sales...my credit card is now endangered!

    Seems like an earned reputation is a good thing to watch for, so will continue to explore that. The 6.5 x 47 I am building now and comments on bullets is pointing me to the 123 grain Scenar. Reasons for that include:

    1) Surprisingly good ballistic performance, even at longer ranges (if I can ever get to shoot that far).
    2) Earned positive reputation that seems to far outweigh negatives I have found.
    3) Length makes for an easy fit into a magazine even as OAL lengthens while chasing the lands.
    4) Lighter weight (vs 139 - 142) minimizes recoil.
    5) Apparently, easy to load for (based on info I have read).
    6) Ideal for the short freebore reamer my gunsmith has.

    Not sure anything else should be considered.

    Phil
     
  9. MikeMcCasland

    MikeMcCasland Silver $$ Contributor

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    The 123 Scenar is a perfect starting point for a 6.5 for that use case; you don't need all the aggressive secant bullets for that kind of work. I'd be surprised if it didn't shoot very well; that bullet is consistently the most accurate across most every 6.5 barrel I've run.

    You could also give the 123 SMK a try as well; both have very forgiving profiles, and are consistently available in quantity for a relatively low cost. The new 130 TMK might be good to try too.
     
  10. Phil3

    Phil3

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I am well aware of twist and bullet selection, and for my AR-15, knowing it would be confined to 100 yards, I asked Krieger to use a 1"9 twist. From what I could learn at the time, that appeared to be a good twist for 52 - 69 grain bullets. I read that flat based bullets tend to do well at short range, saw that Sierra and Berger were well regarded, and so were the A-Maxes. The AR loved the 52 - 53 grain FB Sierras, putting 5 holes inside 1/2" at 100 yards off a bipod, more than once. It was less enthused with the 69 grain Sierras. The other rifle I have is a Howa 223 varmint action with the 1:12 twist and will try the 52 - 53 Sierras out of it. I tried a box of Hornady soft points just to run the barrel in, before doing my hand loads, but guess what. A good number of the Hornandys would not chamber. Can't close the bolt. Measured in a Wilson case neck gauge, they are clearly too long.

    Phil
     
  11. Phil3

    Phil3

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    Mike, thanks for the vote of confidence on the 123 Scenar and the 123 SMK. There are really not all that many choices out there in this weight range for a 6.5 vs a 6mm or 22 bullet, so it was easier not to be overwhelmed by so many choices. With the others, it was like being in a Chinese restaurant with 100 menu items!

    Phil
     

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