Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Compact45

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I am starting in this sport and will be reloading 77 and 80 grain SMKs. I've searched and read several posts from forums but would like to know a little more about it. I found most shooters are using combinations of RL15 or Varget powder and CCI BR4 or Rem 7 1/2 primers. General consensus is WSR primers are a no-go do to potential slam fire issues.

Does one powder or primer perform better or just flip a coin because they are close to each other? I will be using a WOA upper with wylde chamber.

Thanks!
 

targetterror

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

The standard load of the guys that shoot at my club is Lake City brass, 24.3 grains Reloader 15, CCI 450 primers, and a 77 grain SMK, seated to magazine length. Many of these guys do absurdly well at Perry, and one of them was even invited to join the US Palma team (so, I trust their advice). I was specifically warned that this should ONLY be used a White Oak Armament upper, as it has a Wylde chamber (kinda halfway between a 223 and 5.56 chamber). My guess is any Wylde chamber would be fine with this, or a 5.56 chamber. I have shot hundreds of this load with no problem, and no pressure signs.

Guys at my club say it yields ~2750 fps or so. I chrono'd the load a few weeks ago, when it was quite hot, and was getting high 2800s. My drop characteristics seem to back that up, but I'm still skeptical. It shoots lights out in my WOA upper if I do my part, which I usually do not!

This load is OVER book max, so be careful and load up slowly! That said, I believe the books are geared to 223 chambers and pressures, and the Wylde can handle higher than that.
 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Thanks Target Terror. I have brass stamped with the nato '+' but is WCC, is it the same? Also, would Lapua 223 brass work as well? Does RL15 perform better than Varget?

Thanks.
 

John L

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

You going to find that for every thing your told works someone will tell you it won't. Varget and RE 15 are the "go to" powders for AR service rifles. N140/540 IMR or Hodgen 4895 plus many other work equally well. Win sr primer will work fine as many use them. Wolf SRM primers are also very good and cheaper than most. There is a ton of info out there for this very question. Stay with components that you can find easy and stock up. I was always told to be a year ahead of my needs as things do run out/dry up from time to time. If you saw my basement I am a bit more than a year ahead LOL
 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Thanks John.

Does anyone have any advise on brass for AR service rifle...Lapua, LC, etc?

Thanks again!
 

John L

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Lapua will work just fine but it is really not needed. I would bet the most used brand is Winchester. LC brass is very good and can be found new at several places. The only one I would really tell you to stay away from is Federal, way too soft. Stick with Win or LC and your good to go unless you have a bunch of Lapua laying around. Your going to loose a fair amount to the "Grass Gods" as I call it.
 

Dylan in AZ

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Win brass. Just load 'em and shoot 'em. It's positional shooting, the miniscule gain in accuracy you might see by going with much more expensive lapua brass will more than likely be outweighed by errors in your shooting position. Spending time weighing/sorting bullets, brass, primers, and all that good stuff is probably going to be a needless waste of time as well. Unless you're already highly qualified and what not, but i'm assuming that isn't the case if you're asking this question
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Heck, even some of the best service rifle shooters don't take all that much time with the reloading process. Verify that the ammo isn't holding you back, and work from there. But i'm far from an expert, so take this all for what it's worth. I am merely just passing along info from much better shooters than myself.
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Have a good one,
Dylan
 

gunsnjeeps

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Welcome to service rifle. I shoot 24 grains of Varget with 77 SMKs and a CCI 400 primer. My choice of brass is WCC in various years, most of it is 07 but I have several gallons of brass from various years between 00 and 07. This combination gives me 2700 fps, 24.5 grains of Varget is 2750 but I didn't get any change in accuracy with it so I went back to 24. My brass is all once fired from match ammo (M262). I've loaded LC and PMC with 52 SMK and 25 grains of H335 and Winchester Small Rifle Primers for 100 yard matches. I may try some out to 300 one of these days. I have not tried 80's. I shoot the 77 SMK across the course.

www.usrifleteams.com has a good National Match Forum.

As TT said, these are over max for .223, but are 5.56 loads. The Wylde chamber is longer throated for heavier bullets than standard 5.56.

Another point for stocking up is to ensure that you don't have a lot or component change mid season for matches. 8 lbs of powder is 2300 rounds of ammo.

Varget is temperature stable, RL15 is not as stable but is very popular for 5.56 loads. My .308 match loads are RL15. Lapua is great brass but overkill for service rifle. If you have a supply of Lake City brass it is good for service rifle. I know shooters using LC and Winchester comercial brass with out problems. I've heard complaints about Federal depnding on headstamp (I don't recall if it is the small or large stamp that is soft.)
 

gunsnjeeps

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

To add to what Dylan said, there are guys that throw powder for 200 and 300 and also guys who load on progressive presses.
 

targetterror

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Compact45</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Thanks Target Terror. I have brass stamped with the nato '+' but is WCC, is it the same? Also, would Lapua 223 brass work as well? Does RL15 perform better than Varget?

Thanks.</div></div>

As everyone has said, any number of components will work fine. You are looking for consistency, an RL15 or Varget (and many others undoubtedly) will get you well within an acceptable range of consistency. Same with brass. I would buy once fired Lake City because it is cheap and fine, but other brass should be ok too (I don't know much about the other brands though).

Reloading for Service Rifle with a White Oak upper is no different from loading for any other rifle - each rifle is unique and will respond best to loads developed specifcally for that rifle. The difference is a precisions upper like a White Oak will tend to be more accurate with a wider variety of load recipes, and any of these differences are likely too small to be noticed in Service Rifle regardless. The club member that gave me the recipe I quoted above said that this was Service Rifle, not bench rest, and to worry about reloading accordingly.
 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Thanks all. I'll take proven components and recipes and tune it for mine. With the proven track records it will take a lot of guess work and experimenting out of it so I can spend more time improving in the different shooting positions and basics of the sport.

Thanks once again SH!!!
 

gunsnjeeps

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Didn't think of it last night but WOA has a lot of info on their website for loads and load developement from their rifles.
 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Thanks Gunsnjeeps. Looking forward to shooting and will probably do F-Class as well. I thought SR was a little easier $ to get started in.
 

Xcount

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Terror! said it exactly, the proven loads with proven components is all the matters. I just went Distinguished with the AR and all I shot was 24gr of RE15 or 23gr of H4895. everything loaded on a Dillon 550. If your not shooting 100's at any yardline it's not the load's fault.

Service Rifle competition is a shooting competiton not a reloading competition. Learning to keep the sights aligned in the X ring and releasing the hammer without disturbing the sights for 50, 80 or 100 shots in a row is what matters.

Time at the range reinforcing good technique is what makes you a High Master not time at the reloading bench.
 

9H_Cracka

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Gunsnjeeps</div><div class="ubbcode-body">To add to what Dylan said, there are guys that throw powder for 200 and 300 and also guys who load on progressive presses. </div></div>

I throw powder for 2 and 300, have a Dillon 550, and it stays set up for pistol while I single stage load 3,000+ 223 Service Rifle rounds each winter.

CCI 450s, REM 7 1/2s, both outstanding primers for this use. Your goal should be to make reloading a necessary task to insure good quality ammo at a reasonable price so you can focus on the primary goal - becoming a more proficient 3 position Service Rifle shooter.

Stick with LC, REM, or WIN commercial/WCC cases. Ignore all the others out there. 77 SMKs will serve you well. RL15 - ignore the "it's too temp sensitive" crowd. I've shot oh 50 pounds of the stuff in the last 3-4 years and continue to buy more. Great metering, clean, great for Service Rifle loads.

 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Thanks for getting me back into perspective. guess I was trying to put too much into reloading. There is no substitute for driving!!! I will find what works best in mine then load a bunch and work on improving the positions. Probably go with LC or WCC brass, Rem 7 1/2 primers since I have them on hand, and RL15.

How many cases would you recommend to get started? 200, 500, 1000, more?







 

2ndPanzer

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

I'd recommend 500. Make a batch of 500 with the components listed above and shoot. Quantity has a quality all its own. Repeat the 500 round lots another 6-8 times, get a new barrel and another 500 cases and start over. I say 500 because a box of 77's is 500, its just easy.

24-24.5 RE15 and 77's plus everything else will work. 1/4 MOA ammo will not help you until you have a few barrels under your belt. HP is a sport where you make more difference than your gear. Take the last guys advice. Just shoot, practice and spend as little time as you can in the reloading room. Even if your 500 rd lot is 2moa ammo, every round out of the 10 ring is still your fault.
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9H_Cracka

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

There are two ways to approach this. One is with a smaller number of cases that well exceeds the amount of rounds you'd shoot while not having access to your reloading bench, and the second is to load for the season and not worry about ammo all year. I've done both, usually both at the same time. I've had a batch of practice/reduced local match cases that I'll load over and over, but at the same time my "real" match ammo is in bulk where I keep good track of how many firings are on the brass.

This is where knowing your headspace dimension, having all rifles with the same chamber, and all with the same headspace dimension really comes into play. The life of your brass is directly related to how much you size the brass relative to the chamber. If you had both a Holliger chambered upper and a factory RRA, then sized all brass to fit the Holliger, you are going to greatly shorten your brass life.

Assuming you stick with the same headspace dimension/chamber reamer in all your uppers (not hard to do since John also sells some nice games type of barrels for your SPR/DMR build you'll inevitably do once you get used to shooting an accurate AR) and moderate loads, you should get at least 6 firings from your "match" brass before it gets put in the "blaster bin".

Keeping the case/loaded round count up will also discourage you from trying to tweak your ammo from one loading to the other.

Before you load ANY ammo, wait until your upper is here. We need to 100% make sure your sizer is set up to the correct headspace adjustment for your upper. Given the tolerances of consumer grade reloading gear, you may have to modify your sizer or shell holder in order to get the headspace back where it needs to be. Honestly you can pretty well plan on needing to take your die over to Lee Wells and have him take a few thousandths off the bottom of it in his lathe. This will be mandatory if you plan on shooting once fired LC brass as the chambers in the NATO M4 and M249 rifles that fire it can be pretty generous, requiring more sizing (due to springback) than say a new WIN commercial case fired for the first time in your Holliger upper.

The reason for all of this diligence is pretty simple. If you do not keep track of your firings or load in such a fashion that you are oversizing the brass, in 223 you will get head or mid-case partial separations when the brass gets thin. When this happens, the case usually will stay intact and eject, however the loss in pressure will result in a 7 out the bottom. A full separation can come up even lower.

The AR takes these separations in stride from a safety standpoint, but they are most certainly detrimental to your score and do nothing to help your confidence for the rest of the match or practice.

The aforementioned points regarding firing count, resizing diligence, and case separations also mean that you must be careful to not mix range brass or other people's match brass in with your match brass. If there is any doubt about a case's origin, throw it in the blaster bin. Load from your blaster bin for a winter match or practice in snow or mud where you don't have much chance of recovering your brass.
 

Xcount

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

You have to remember that your shooting over a post front sight and not a scope. It will take many hours of perfecting positions and perfecting trigger control before you can call your shots to under two moa. so reloading takes a back seat for a bit.

I always thought it funny how people will line up ten deep ready to spend thousands of dollars for a White Oak upper or what not but when it comes to reloading nobody wants to listen to John's advice. His recommended loads are on his website. It does not meniton any highly detailed process to find the magical .25moa load, just use safe and common loads with quality components and get out to the range. That's what it's all about, Shooting!

Service rifle shooting can be a cheaper way to get into shooting if you don't get caught up in the equipemnt race seen on some firing lines. It's easy to think you need a high dollar spotting scope and all the accesories. You need decent equipment but not the lastest and greatest. Plenty of people shot great groups and scores many years ago with what is considered lousy, by todays standards, equipment.
 

gunsnjeeps

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

I generally keep a match or two worth of ammo on hand. This winter I'll probably load up a batch of 500. I had two loads going one for 77's and one for 52's but think I'll drop the 52's. They shot well but I want to streamline things a bit. The 52's weren't planned I got a box of 500 from a friend. I've thought about giving them a try at 200 and 300 this weekend to see how they do.

As far as buying components goes I'd say buy what you can afford. You may pay the same shipping for brass no matter what the quantity is but less per shell for 1000 over 500. I ussually buy powder in 8 lb jugs, but I've seen 1 lb bottles less per pound once in a while.
 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

If I shoot only designated brass in my WOA upper do I FL size the brass or can I NK size. Also, If I buy new brass and only shoot it in my WOA upper do I need to worry about separation? I normally use Redding dies but for 223 I ended up with an RCBS X Sizer from a friend, any thoughts on this die? I have also seen a small base die to load ARs with, is this needed? How do we determine if the sizer is setup for my WOA chamber?

I am waiting on my upper before loading, should be in November. I have a Hornedy COL gauge that I use to check the max cartridge COL with. I should mention I have a Dillion R550B for loading.

I like the idea of 500 cases matching up with 500 bullets or 1000...would be easy to track.

All responses are great thank you. I have not loaded for an AR before only hand gun and bolt rifles so all information is appreciated on does and don'ts.
 

Xcount

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

You cannot get away with neck sizing in a gas gun for long. maybe it would work once. You have to full size each time to ensure proper feeding. I've heard good things about using a RCBS X die but i've never had one. I have used Dillon dies and I don't think they are small base and i've never had a problem using that brass in a Wylde chamber. I did run into problems with non SB (dillon) resized brass in a Compass Lake chamber but it is a bit tighter. Both rifles shot just the same, far better than I could hold.
I've had several W.O. barrels and the Wylde chamber as cut by Holliger does not stretch the brass much over SAMMII minimum. You should only need to resize the body down and neck back about three thousandths and this will usually feed reliably and not over work the brass. I've heard of guys not having to trim their brass at all using the X die for upwards of half a dozen reloads.
Keeping all the brass together in a lot and use the whole lot before resizing it together is probably a good idea. I went to this just this year after several years of just winging it. I ended up with some brass that had more reloads than others which seemed to cause some necks to not resize the same. Never had a case seperation or anything dramatic, just some cases wouldn't size down like others and didn't fit inside the gauge.
 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

I found the article on the Sierra site (http://www.exteriorballistics.com/reloadbasics/gasgunreload.cfm) discussing reloading for service rifle, great article for a newbie or a refresher but more questions from this reading.

Does anyone use the following to set your sizing die to resize the body and set the neck down to your chamber, my guess is this measurement and setting is performed on a fired case? Also, any benefit to a bushing sizing die for service rifle?

RCBS Precision Mic or the Redding Instant Indicator

I am learning a lot about reloading gas guns from all your input. Thank you for your tips and leads to articles and such.

Please keep the discussion going.
 

Xcount

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

yeah, the RCBS mic is what I use to figure out how much i'm sizing back the shoulder. The Mo's guage by Mo Defina at MCS is the original guage for this. Either one is well worth the money. These guages are used to measure more of less exactly the amount of shoulder set back instead of "just turning the sizing die down to hit the shellplate" type setup that some manuals recommend. The "die to shellplate" type of die setup might not be enough on some presses or could set the shoulder back .010 or more and lead to premature brass cracking.
The bushing die is not really needed for service rifle as long as you use quality dies. I believe the bushing die setup came out of benchrest shooters wanting to precisely control the amount of neck size down and bullet to brass tension, i.e. neck tension. Since they use very tight necked chambers, and they usually run a bolt gun the amount of neck expansion if minimal and therefore they only want to size the neck back miminal amounts. Remember they spend hours and hours preparing brass that they want to get the most life out of. Some guys get 50 reloads and more out the 100 or 200 cases they prep. The benchrest and bolt gunners sometimes want a minimal amount of neck tension because their setup might shoot better that way, service rifle has to have more neck tension due to the rounds feeding out of a magazine. With no neck tension on a service rifle the bullet can move foward when chambered and cause the bullet to jam into the lands and this will increase pressure sometimes overpressure. so gas guns usually needs around .003 inches of tension or a little more to ensure the bullet stays where it's loaded to when feeding out of the mag.
The neck tension/ bushing die thing can get tricky because different manufactures of brass have different thickness. so one bushing might give the proper amount of neck tension with one brand of brass but not enough or too much with another. This is where buying a known good setup saves time and money i.e., Regular RCBS dies and Winchester brass.
This is kind of why service rifle shooting is easy to reload for: buy a known good combo, reload and practice. It's not benchrest and if it were I wouldn't do it. I like to shoot more than I am into the reloading science. Reloading is a chore I have to do in order to shoot. Some guys shoot just to empty brass in order to do all the reloading practices they love.
 

jakeb

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

Here is a part of a topic I scraped from the usrifleteams.com forum that has some VERY GOOD information for a Service Rifle reloader...this is also a very good read for any reloader in general.

Another thing to remember is just get a good load to practice and compete with then spend even more time practicing and learning to read the wind & conditions.

One other good resource is the Precision Shooting Reloading Guide by Dave Brennan. In there are two solid chapters on reloading for Service Rifle and High Power...basically saying don't knock yourself out on short line loads.

###

The clinic at Perry was a pretty good course with a lot of basics covered. These are the major take home points specific to service rifle loading for semi autos.

• For short line (200-300 yards) do not knock yourself out with brass prep or even hand weighing every charge to 0. 1 grain. Reason being – 200 yard 10 ring is 3.34 MOA, 300 yard 10 ring is 2.22 MOA. 600 10 ring is 1.91 MOA. IF your Extreme spread in velocity for a load is 50 fps. Your vertical dispersion will be 0.14moa at 200, 0.22 moa at 300 and 0.73moa at 600. You will get away with more and still hold the 10 ring under 600 yards The 0.73 moa shot spread combined with a 1.5 moa ability to hold and you will get top or bottom 9’s. For most powders used in .223 SR (Varget RE-15 N140) it takes more than 0.2 gr to get 50 fps difference. (FYI – my 75’s it takes 0.5 gr RE-15 to gr 50 fps!) For this reason of your powder thrower will throw +/- .2 grain - just spot check and throw the charges.

• The rest of these points are specific to 600 yard single loaded ammo.

• Bullet Run out or concentricity – 0.001 to 0.004” is acceptable. >0.005” you will see corkscrewing at distance. With my Forster die I checked my A-maxes and found with most 0.001” and 0.002”and all to be under .004”. A good seating die with the floating stem will really help a lot versus a cheap die with nothing to hold the bullet in place until it hits the stem. A trick to keeping run out to a minimum is to seat the bullet on a single stage press by running the ram about 2/3 of the stroke to start bullet - drop down - rotate case 180 degrees and finish seating. This compensates for any irregularities in the die or press.

• You can check neck thickness for concentricity (+/-0.001”) but neck turning is a waste of time in a semi Auto.

• Weigh bullets and brass and segregate by similar weights. (remember – 600 yard line stuff only) Bullets within 0.1 grain groups - Brass after sizing and trimming 1 grain groups.

• Lube case necks with graphite or mica to prevent stretching and over working during sizing.

• When you resize – you should only set back shoulders 0.003-.004” No more - No less.

• For .223 – Hornady preferred powders N140, Varget, Re-15 in that order. They use Varget in their factory .223 match ammo and Garand loads. N140 harder to get and more expensive. Federal 205M primers preferred by Hornady with Remington 7 ½ mentioned as good too.

• Weigh long line powder charges to the same weight in every case.

• Once you do a case prep that includes primer pockets, flash holes weighing etc. – keep that brass separate and in a know lot so you do not have to do it again!

• If you have done your job – a good load will produce extreme spreads of 25 fps. SD of around 10-15. This is what you are wanting to reach.

• Keep a record of everything you do.
 

Compact45

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Re: Advise on Reloading for AR15 NM Service Rifle Comp

This thread is really getting me on the right track, I'm all ears. Thank you all for help and volunteering your knowledge and experiences.

I have been looking at the us rifle teams forum but like most search engines the information returned is massive. Your offerings have help place certain things in place and have filled several gaps by removing the "reading between the lines" I previously had. This is very helpful to me. Thank you.
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