AR Reloading Please Help!

rlsmith1

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I've got a 13.9" AR pinned to 16" with a DA flash hider. I'm trying to get a heavier load worked up for it and so far I've been nowhere near successful. Goal is to be as close to a MOA rifle as possible. Have not found an accurate load yet for this rifle with factory or handloaded ammo.

Rifle Specs
I have a MAWL and Surefire light on the end and a LAW folder with a VLTOR EMOD stock so it is about 12 lbs with the optic and mag. Should be very steady. Below are key components:
  • 13.9" Larue Stealth (cut and pinned by ADCO)
    • Seekins adjustable gas block
    • Dead Air flash hider
  • RRA upper lapped with Brownells lapping tool
    • BCM KMR13 torqued to 60 ft/lbs
    • RRA bcg
  • Mark 5 3.6-18 optic with TMR reticle
  • Geissele SSA-E
  • MOE K2+ grip for a more shallow grip angle

Reloading Process
I've been reloading for a while now, and have managed to put a load together for my 6.5 Creed (AR10, 18" Criterion barrel) that shoots 140 HPBT at 2589 fps with an ES of 25 and SD of 9.2. I've got multiple groups right at 1" at 100 yds with this rifle (same scope) so I think my technique is good. I am using the same process (different components obviously) to load for my 556. See attached photo on brown paper for 6.5 Creed groups.

I trim brass (Layman) and measure charges on a RCBS traditional scale. Seating / resizing is done with RCBS dies. My BTO measurements are within 0.003" for each length I have loaded to. Based on what I see on the scale, my charge weights are typically within 0.05gr.


Shooting Setup
Front bag and a set of heavy pants as the rear bag. I find this helps me adjust between rifles and saves me $30 I would otherwise spend on a rear bag. Shooting prone off concrete into a target stapled to a sheet of OSB and held steady by fence posts. Parallax is always checked on the scope before shooting. Conditions haven't ever been perfectly still, but any wind that was there was generally constant and my groups were very rarely seeing more horizontal than vertical spread. I also have a 20" RRA that shoots great and I've shot factory VMAX's into 0.75 MOA in the past.


Results so Far
I've done a ladder test with CCI 450 primers, RP brass, TAC and 77 SMKs. I loaded 0.2gr increments from 23.8gr to 24.8gr (max). Along the way I was able to find a couple good nodes for speed speed (ES of 35 to 50 fps and SD of 8.6 to 20). However, all groups were 2 MOA or larger. I have had similar results from factory ammo (match grade) and even sent the barrel back to Larue when it was still a 16" barrel and they sent it back with a target proving it was under 1 MOA.

After dry firing a bit, I thought maybe my technique was off with the AR15 and somehow I'm shooting the 6.5 better than the 223. I loaded up 2 sets of loads today with the same components as above but I substituted 77gr Hornady HPBTs. I practiced dry fire until my reticle didn't move and then shot the 10 rounds I had loaded up with 25.6gr and 25.8gr of TAC. ES of 41 and 47 with SD of 15 and 16.8. See target attached on white paper. This group was at approximately 80 yards and is 1.66" (2.1 MOA).


Discussion
Is there anything that jumps out to you guys that would cause me to have these issues? Anything else I should be doing or measuring to ensure good results?

As you can see in both pictures, I will sometimes get a group with two pairs almost touching and a fifth somewhere on its own. This leads me to believe I may have a technique issue, but I'm not sure what else I can do to lock things down.

The fact that I haven't found a good factory or hand load leads me to believe I may have a 1.5 to 2 MOA barrel. I could try a different powder, but I've got so much TAC that I would probably be better off buying a different barrel as I was hoping to load about 1,500 rounds of the SMK / TAC combo. I'm very close to having Compass Lake spin up a 13.9" Criterion and have them install / headspace it to this upper and be done with it but want to make sure I'm not missing something before I spend that money.
 

Attachments

  • 2021-04-16 6.5 Creed 140 HPBT.jpg
    2021-04-16 6.5 Creed 140 HPBT.jpg
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  • 2021-05-28 13.9 AR 75 HPBT.jpg
    2021-05-28 13.9 AR 75 HPBT.jpg
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Dogtown

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77SMKs with TAC is good to go, so powder is not your problem. LaRue barrels have an iffy reputation and generally if you can't get decent groups from quality factory ammo, the problem is either your technique or the barrel. Sorry it's not all that helpful, but I can confirm your load is in the ballpark, but I haven't touched anything LaRue in about 15 years so someone else will have to chime in on that issue.
 
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6.5SH

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Try Sierra 69gr MatchKings and approximate a FGGM load. Is what they do their testing with so seems to be what they favor.

I have one 18" Stealth and that is all it likes. The 16" Predatar and Stealth barrels I have will shoot anything well so YMMV.
 

Snuby642

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    So what I hear is the barrel was good before chop job.
     

    rlsmith1

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    Thanks guys. @6.5SH how does your Larue shoot 69's? I have a box of Black Hills reman 223 69 HPBT that were over the 2 MOA mark too. Not match grade but had read the 69's generally shot better.

    @Snuby642 I had issues with it when it was a 16" as well. I shot almost 10 different types of match ammo through it a couple years ago and nothing broke the MOA mark...

    ETA, ADCO isn't know for chop jobs and the other AR barrel I had them thread doesn't have this issue. Could have hurt some but I don't think they are the problem here. If others have had different experiences I could be wrong
     

    nn8734

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    What ammo did a LaRue use to print the 1 MOA test target they user to confirm that it’s capable of 1MOA?

    note: 1.5-2 MOA at 100m is actually typical for most AR CL barrels unless we are taking stainless steel match (ie Douglas mk12, CLE, etc).
     
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    rlsmith1

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    They used 77 FGMM but it was only 3 shots. 3/5 shots for me today with Hornady HPBT were just over 0.6 MOA but the 5 shot group opened it way up.

    I would be okay with 1.5 MOA but would really prefer at least 1.25 as I'd rather be limited by my bullet / cartridge not the systems accuracy. I am fine with replacing with a steel barrel to get the last bit of accuracy but my experience with Criterion has been positive so far (my buddy has a 223 Wylde barrel from them and it shoots great).

    Please keep the comments coming I really appreciate it. I have ordered some 69 SMKs and will try to load those up. Curious what others have found works well for a TAC charge behind a 69 SMK. Thanks
     

    6.5SH

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    Out of that 18" it was around 0.8 MOA based on my notes. Nothing stellar but more than enough to cover their accuracy claim. Is just sad it won't do it with any other projectile for me.

    ETA:
    The exact cartridge was the Australian Outback .223 Rem with 69 gr Sierra HPBT that ADI makes. As best I can tell it is 22.6 grains of Benchmark 8208 which is IMR 8208 XBR in the US. Not the speediest load but it has shot well in everything I've tried.
     
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    nn8734

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    They used 77 FGMM but it was only 3 shots. 3/5 shots for me today with Hornady HPBT were just over 0.6 MOA but the 5 shot group opened it way up.

    I would be okay with 1.5 MOA but would really prefer at least 1.25 as I'd rather be limited by my bullet / cartridge not the systems accuracy. I am fine with replacing with a steel barrel to get the last bit of accuracy but my experience with Criterion has been positive so far (my buddy has a 223 Wylde barrel from them and it shoots great).

    Please keep the comments coming I really appreciate it. I have ordered some 69 SMKs and will try to load those up. Curious what others have found works well for a TAC charge behind a 69 SMK. Thanks

    Was their FGMM 77g load a 5.56 NATO or 223 Remington loading?

    Tac and 69g should be a good match. Try 24.8-25.4; tac and 77g is decent (24.5-24.8g is typical max safe/accuracy node). I have tons of TAC and AA2520 and prefer AA2520 for 77smk. My M4 block 2 is 1.25-1.50 MOA at 100m with 25.2g of AA2520 and about 1.5-1.75 with 24.5G of TAC. Primer is R7-1/2 and case is LC 1x fired. If TAC doesn’t get you what you want , try 2520

    A stainless may get you to 1MOA (maybe even a bit better) but I’ve not had any difficulty hitting 2/3 ipsc targets to 500m with my Elcan 1/4x on 4x (on exceptionally still days I can hit at 600m appx 50% of the time, this if from the prone off my pack).

    How far do you typically shoot this rifle and what size targets?
     

    OREGUN

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    I don’t do a lot of gas gun shooting but if I had a bolt gun doing that I would blame it on technique. You, or sometching you are doing is changing between your small three shot groups and your suddenly bigger 4th or 5th shot.

    That appears to be an issue on both the brown and the white paper targets above.

    Do you have a buddy that will loan you a selection of rear bags (most guys with one have two or three) to try to solidify your position?

    I’d be a little concerned about the crown after the cutoff if the factory .75 group came before the mod. Although if I read and interpret correctly, it sounds like you might be getting some sub-MOA groups too if you stopped at three rounds. I’d revisit your gas gun fundamentals and try some different bullet sizes/shapes before I gave up.
     
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    nn8734

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    I don’t do a lot of gas gun shooting but if I had a bolt gun doing that I would blame it on technique. You, or sometching you are doing is changing between your small three shot groups and your suddenly bigger 4th or 5th shot.
    Maybe he’s breaking his cheek weld after shot#3. I notice a slight POi shift when I do that between small groups of shots, esp with the bolt guns and the overall group is larger.

    Gas guns have even less margin for error fundamentals-wise but I’d also expect a standard govt profile cl barrel to perform that way with decent ammo so it could be a combo of those two things.
     
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    Snuby642

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    I missed the part about trouble before chopping, my bad.

    Sounds like you have been diligent in testing ect.

    Recently I have been running my 223 brass in a mandrell after fls. -.002 Neck tension.

    It tightened up every load and have not seen a problem .

    Using stamp sorted (clean picked over) range brass prepped carefully I have got sub 1 1/2 inch groups consistantly.

    This is with cheaper bullets and a midway barrel.

    The mandrell step is an added time thing but has helped me at a very low cost get a measured improvement.

    I'm trying to treat my 223 loads like an important target load and thier getting better.

    Random 62g

    20210528_173345.jpg
     
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    rlsmith1

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    Thanks guys, I've ordered some 69 SMKs to load up as well as a rear bag to get a better position.

    As for the groups, I actually end up with shots 1 & 2 almost touching and then 3 & 4 almost touching. I hardly see a good 3 shot group open up due to the last 2 shots.

    As for distances on this rifle, I can shoot to 600 and I've got plates 6" to 12" so it really varies. I really was hoping this would be a do all rifle and I'd be able to shoot at coyotes with it as well.

    I'll revisit gas gun fundamentals, I had just gone through those when I got the encouraging groups from the 6.5 Creed. I know there is no substitute for practice, but it can be a little discouraging to practice with ammo that isn't match. I'll step up my dry fire practice as that's easier to spot a bad trigger squeeze when the reticle jumps. I think that is my issue and inconsistent pressure on the stock may also be a factor. I'm just not sure how I managed to shoot back to back MOA groups with a Magpul UBR and that seems to be harder to hold consistently than the EMOD.
     

    Molon

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    sent the barrel back to Larue when it was still a 16" barrel and they sent it back with a target proving it was under 1 MOA . . . They used 77 FGMM but it was only 3 shots


    anim_lol-1959488.gif



    By that standard, I get sub-1/2 MOA precision shooting steel-cased, bi-metal jacketed Wolf ammunition from a chrome-lined, NATO chambered barrel.


    wolf_3_shot_group_at_100_yards_02-1959609.jpg




    ....
     

    Snuby642

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    Shit all my groups just got better by 40% minimum more like 50% tighter .

    If i got to toss just my 1 in five fliers (every f-ing time) I would feel like a champion. Lol
     
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    n0glock

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    I know you have TAC but if you could find a little Varget to try with the 69gr bullets, I would also invest in a good rear bag.
     
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    rlsmith1

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    @Molon that's why I'm pretty dang close to just having CLE make me a barrel and send them my bolt / upper to have it headspaced / fit as they build it. I'm not to the point of shooting 10 shot groups yet because I can't even get 5 to string together. I want to make sure I'm doing everything I need to though before I go spend more money. On that note, any barrels you prefer that shoot reasonably well? I've got a ton of 77 SMKs and TAC to load up.

    @n0glock I may try that but I've got so much tac it would probably be less hassle (maybe less $) to just get a barrel that will shoot a range of loads well enough. Seems to me the higher end barrels will shoot a range of bullets in the 1-1.5 MOA range which should be what I'm looking for. If I end up with something like that 6.5 Creed from Criterion that will do 80% of the shots in a 0.5 MOA group then I'm very happy. I was shooting 6" steel at 425 easily with that last weekend and I'm perfectly happy with that.
     

    n0glock

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    I would at the least buy or borrow a good rear bag, for range work I love my Protektor rear bag, really old school but will last a lifetime and very stable
     
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