How full of powder should a .223 casing be?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by gobble, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. gobble

    gobble New Member

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    I'm new to this and am doing my first loads. I'm using Hodgdon Varget powder with 55gr remington bullets and new Remington .223 casings. Hodgon's website says a starting load is 25.5 grs and a max load is 27.5 grs. When I measure 25.5 grs of powder, it nearly fills up the casing. 27.5 just about overflows the casing. Does this seem right? Forgetting about weight, how "full" does a normal load look in a .223 casing?
  2. bluesea112

    bluesea112 Active Member

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    Your load info is correct. My book shows 27.5 to be a compressed load, so that means that the powder will completely fill the casing. When you insert the bullet, the bullet will compress the powder.
    No matter what cartridge you are reloading, you should never have a lot of empty space (if any) in the casing. Too much empty space in the casing can cause too much pressure at the time of ignition.
    Start at the beginning load and work your way up, but never load more than your book shows to be the max. If you stick to the load data your book shows, you will be fine.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2009
  3. cycloneman

    cycloneman Well-Known Member

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    Please, please, please get a reloading book. I know you are eager to start but you need to really understand what is going on when the firing pin hits the primer. There are many dangerous things that can happen causing injury to yourself and others. Please be safe. This is a great hobbie and the road is long. That being said, (generally speaking for standard loads), manufactures of powder that I have seen and read about generally aim to fill the case by volume 80 to 90 percent. All powders burn differently and have a different VDM factor. You are loading by volume from what you have said in your post. It is important to weigh your charge to make sure you are in the posted range stated in your reloading book. The disk that you are using is not perfect. You will find that if you weigh the charge the disk throws in volume, it probably is not exactly what it should be in weight.

    You are probably converting the weight charge to VDM by a supplied VDM chart. Are you sure you are looking up the correct VDM for the powder you are using. Use a ruler to make sure you stay on the correct line. The printing is small and a mistake here could be dangerous.

    From your other post it seems that you have Lee equiptment. Why dont you get on the lee's reloading site and view the help videos. This should also give you some wisdom. Search Lee Reloading.

    Again be very careful, and bring all your questions. :)
  4. gobble

    gobble New Member

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    Thanks for your comments. I have read a whole bunch in the last few days and have watched all the Lee videos. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone with experience that can come over and show me how this is done. I believe that I've followed the Lee instructions to a T.

    Having said that, it just didn't look right that the casing almost filled up which is why I started asking questions. Better to stop and find the right answer before doing any more. I'm using the Lee auto disk powder loader and have set it to do a half-fill since I don't have the double disk kit yet. I just load it twice to get the correct amount. From there, I measured on the scale as a check against the volume conversion in the book. I did the weight measure on probably a dozen test fills and it comes out fairly accurate each time. I filled the first casing at 25.5 when the Hodgdon website says I should be at 25.5 - 27.5 for their specific powder with the specific bullet that I'm using.

    Let me throw this out because I really don't know the answer and you guys know a lot more than me. If the fill range is 25.5 - 27.5 and that just about fills the shell, what can go wrong if you fill it completely? It doesn't seem possible to overfill by much because the max load stated by Hodgdon just about fills the shell. I plan to fill on the light side, but what could go wrong if you do overfill given that the volume of the shell won't allow for much of an overfill.
  5. thomas44

    thomas44 New Member

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    I use Varget for .223's myself. I used to use BLC2 and 335, but switched. I love Varget powder, but I haven't been able to get close to 27.5 grains with a 55 grain bullet. 25.5 has even caused some primer cratering from my experience. My new standard load for 55 grainers is 25.2. I'm just going to guess this is due to reduced capacity in my cases, or different chamber dimensions. I don't know for sure-all I know is I've had similar experiences as you. I don't have a chrony, so I don't know what velocities I'm getting, but they're going fast enough to kill groundhogs dead !! Good luck to you, and I hope you learn to love reloading as much as some of us do. It is a really cool thing to make your own quality ammo !
  6. gobble

    gobble New Member

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    The guy at Cabelas that sold me the powder said he loads his at 23.5 which is under the Hodgdon starting load spec. I decided to up it to the bottom side of their recommendation.
  7. cycloneman

    cycloneman Well-Known Member

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    The Hodgon book that calls for 27.5 gr of Varget with a 55 gr bullet is a compressed load. You should see the letter "c" after the 27.5(c). These loads are hard on your barrel. There is a technical explanation for this but I am not the person to do this. Maybe LDBENNET can share some info on the subject. I believe I have seen an explanation from him somewhere but I cant remember where it is.

    I do use compressed loads for special hunting needs when I am really reaching out there. Other than that I never use compressed loads. I would stay away from the compressed loads for now until you find out more about them.
  8. eka

    eka New Member

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    Yep, the advice to get a good manual is right on target. Speer, Hornady, or the like. Loads will be in varying levels in your case depending on the powder used. Stick to the manuals and you'll do fine. Loads of the proper powder that fills or nearly fills the case are usually preferred and tend to give the most consistent ignition.

    Take care,

    Keith
  9. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    gobble:

    WARNING !!!!!

    Data given in reloading manuals is NOT a fill level.You CAN NOT think of a cartridge case as a vessel that you need to fill. The pressures developed to propel the bullet depends on how much powder you put into the case. Too much and you damage the gun. Too little and you damage the gun. What is the correct amount?

    You start at the smallest quantity listed in the manual. In your case you make up test loads for each level at 0.5 grain step differences between the minimum and maximum listed loads. You use EXACTLY the same primer as they use and the same exact bullet. Don't deviate from their recipe and start at their startiing load, NEVER higher or lower. You shoot the lowest level first (about five shots) and inspect each for signs of too much pressure. See the reloading manuals for help with that determination. If you see signs of too much pressure DO NOT shoot the remaining higher level loads or finish the group you are testing.

    The reason for all this testing is to find the load level that gives the best accuracy results with your gun. Every single gun is different and each will have their own sweet spot for load level where they shoot the most accurate....often they will have likes and dislikes for bullet weight and bullet manufacturer too.

    To start out load up some cartridges with the starting load. You should not have any trouble with that level and it will probably NOT be a compressed load. After you have gone through several batches of reloads you then can try to go for better accuracy, if that is your goal. If you just want to have the gun go bang and have no accuracy goals, leave the load level alone (at the starting load level) and just reload at that starting load level and forget about the testing others, altogether. Your accuracy will more than likely be more than good enough.

    Compressed loads are a pain as the compressed powder is always trying to push the bullet out of the case after loading. If the cases are not crimped into the bullet crimp grove (not all bullets even have a crimp groove!) it may succeed and push the bullet into the rifling when you close the bolt and create excessive pressures just because the bullet is jammed into the rifling and not necessarily because the powder charge level is too high. So stay away from compressed loading recipes, if possible, if you want to avoid problems. Lighter load levels are easier on you and your gun, and make little difference to the intended target, whether it be paper or animals.

    To make the variation in loads required in your situation you would have to load 25.5, 26.0, 26.5, 27.0 and 27.5. Your Lee disk powder measure is not easy to use (or even possible??) to get those with the setup you currently have. They make an adjustable powder bar that you would have to have to do these different powder level adjustments. I urge you to not trust conversion charts you have with your current setup but to use a real calibrated powder scale to verify exactly what the powder measure is throwing for a load.

    LDBennett
  10. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

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    the set-up i use is LYMAN 55 measure, and a LYMAN digital scale, set the measure with the scale and check every 5th charge after you start loading. Most loads using suitable powders for specific bottleneck rifle cartridges, including those suited to the .223 will come very close to the shoulder area at starting, and be at the base of the neck at max. When you use a more versatile powder, much like Varget, some charges will be very close to compressed at starting in some cartridges. Varget is a marvelous propellant. its density is just more suited to certain cartridges. my favorite for the .223 is quickly becoming reloder 10X. my rifle shoots quite well with a 22.5 gr. charge under a sierra 55 gr. blitzking.
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