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Barnes .223 TSX Load Question

jetech

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Minuteman
May 29, 2008
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I just loaded a few 70 grain TSX rounds to try, every round sounded like it was compressing the powder when seating the bullet.
The Barnes manual calls for the following:
COAL = 2.250
Varget = Min 22.5 Max 24.5c
I loaded three test rounds each at 23.0, 23.3, 23.5, and 23.7 and used LC brass trimmed to 1.750. The COAL gave me a CBTO of 1.844

Is this "crunch" sound normal even for non-compressed loads with this long bullet? Thanks for any help.
 
Copper solids are less dense than their equivalent lead cup-core bullets by weight. As a result, they are longer for the same weight.

If you try to seat a copper solid deep, you will find you get compression much sooner than with regular bullets due to this density difference.

If you feel or hear crunching of the powder charge, you must stop and study the seating depth issues, the runout issues, and the possible bullet creep issues (some compressed loads will push the bullet out with time).

This situation is where concepts like drop tubes, vibration, and others, come up in order to help with minimizing the compression.

I will suggest the following study if you are interested.

Using a mandrel to open a case mouth to where your candidate bullet can slide in and out, use this modified case as a dummy (plug with a dead primer) to see what the seating depth is per grain of charge. You can also try to settle the powder or use vibration from an old toothbrush to see what happens up in the charge range of interest.

If you can't get enough powder in the case for your desired seating depth, you will have to consider a different seating depth, different bullet, or different powder. There are limits to compressed charges and they carry a burden in the loading process but they can perform if you want to do the extra work.
 
I am thinking that even the minimum charge weight of 22.5 would have the same result and I don't want to go below the recommended minimum. All charges were down below the shoulder. I am not sure there is a way to avoid this without going way below the minimum charge weight.

I don't think that loading to a COAL of 2.260 would have a different result either.

This is my first-time loading Barnes bullets, only the max charge is listed as compressed.
 
Like RegionRat posted, the all copper bullets are much longer than their lead core counterparts. That 70 gr. TSX is about the same length as a 90 gr. lead core bullet. If you're trying to load that TSX to mag length, you're going to have issues. you can load to the lands, but you'll have to single load. Varget fills a 223 case pretty full.

You might be able to get the starting load to work @ mag length, but your velocity will be low. See how it works.

In an AR / 223, you'd be better off using Varget with a 50- 62 gr. TSX.

I load a few Barnes TTSX's in 260, 270 & 30 cal. In my 270, I use a 110 TTSX which is about the same length as a 130 gr. lead core. I can get 3250 FPS out of it. It has already worked well on an Antelope @ 300 yards. In 300 WM, I use a 168 TTSX @ about 3100 FPS. That 168 is about the same length as a 180 lead core. That 168 took a nice Elk @ 250 yards.

For my 260, I loaded the 120 TTSX, I would have preferred the 100 gr, but they weren't available at the time. The 120 TTSX is about the length of a 140 gr. lead core.

The thing with the all copper bullets for hunting game is you need to keep impact velocity @ about 1800 fps to get expansion, that will limit your maximum range. Doesn't matter too much if you're shooting Coyotes, but it does with bigger game.
 
I am thinking that even the minimum charge weight of 22.5 would have the same result and I don't want to go below the recommended minimum. All charges were down below the shoulder. I am not sure there is a way to avoid this without going way below the minimum charge weight.

I don't think that loading to a COAL of 2.260 would have a different result either.

This is my first-time loading Barnes bullets, only the max charge is listed as compressed.
No harm in trying new stuff, that is the only way to really learn about your rig and yourself.

I will throw out an opinion and observation about my own experience with being force by CA to use non-tox bullets for hunting in state.

When I first tried the Barnes TSX and TTSX for pigs in the Condor Zone many years ago... I discovered a pattern that looked like they always grouped best when seated deeper than I anticipated.

Now that I have done load developments for many friends in several different calibers and rigs, that pattern still holds true. For whatever reason, I will suggest that you keep an open mind when it comes to seating depth on the TSX and TTSX and let the target speak for itself. It looks to me like these bullets want to jump.

I also used to think that because the copper density was low, that I should use heavy ones. Because they tend to want to be seated deep, I backed off on that after I found that it was counter productive in most calibers. These will penetrate pretty well, but will also want terminal velocity for expansion, so keep that in mind if you shoot at something you want to keep.

Nothing wrong with your 70 grain in 223, but try something lower some day and see if you don't get a better effective range over all.

Good Luck and in for the range report.
 
Thanks for the input. The rifle is a 700 LTR and I normally shoot RMR 69 grain bullets under IMR 4166 with a COAL of 2.260.
I am looking for a good hunting bullet and thought I would try the Barnes.

What confused me is I loaded to Barnes specs but didn't expect them to sound like they were compressing when seated. I know LC brass can have less volume than others that is why I started low to mid-range. The bullets seated with ease; I expand the necks .002 under.

I sent an email to Barnes asking about this also.

I may try a few at 2.260" COAL and see if that makes and difference. I am hoping these loads are safe and shoot well. I may have to try a lighter copper bullet.
 
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What's the twist rate on you LTR barrel? If it's 1/9 or slower, the 70 gr. TSX may not stabilize. On Barnes web site, they recommend a 1/8 twist or faster for that bullet. You need to try them and see.
 
It's a 1/9. Yea I know they may not work, I decided to give them a try. I will post the results.
 
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Below is a response from Barnes
Thank you for choosing to shoot Barnes Bullets. Powder compression can be a very normal thing. Some think it’s unsafe. It is safe. Where it rears it’s ugly head is seating depth consistency. Compress the powder enough and the consistency suffers. Varget, in a 223 Rem case and that 70 gr bullet can have issues. If the neck tension is sufficient it works great. Try seating ½ dozen, measure their COAL and let them sit a day, week, month and remeasure. If they got longer, try either a smaller powder charge, different bullet or powder.

So, I shot four different charge weights, three rounds each. I couldn't get near the center or any tight group.
20220703_145241.jpg

I can get good groups with a 69 grain bullet but 70 is having an issue. I neck size to .002 under so I may tighten that up and try the same loads and see what happens. They just may not work with a 1:9 twist.
 
A Standard lead core 69 gr. bullets work fine in a 1/9" twist as you found out. Your issue isn't the 70 gr. weight of the Barnes bullet in your 1/9" twist, it's the bearing surface of that all copper bullet. That bullet is as long as a 80 gr. lead core bullet. It needs a faster twist to stabilize.

The 50 or 55 gr. Barnes TSX should work well in your 1/9" twist. Try to find some of them.
 
Thanks, that makes sense. I will give the lighter bullets a try. In this rifle the 55 grain lead core bullets don't shoot as well as the 69 so maybe the longer bearing surface of the 55 Barnes will shoot better.
 
A little crunch never hurt anybody. When I load the 80 eldms I get quite a bit of crunch just keep a eye out for pressure signs
 
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You really want a 1/7 twist for those 70gr. 1/8 will work, but isn't ideal.
 
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Yep, it was wishful thinking for the LTR, but I thought I would try. I loaded a few with greater neck tension as Barnes suggested just to try. If they don't shoot well it's no big deal. I have a rifle with 1:7 that will shoot them.
 
If anything, I think the Barnes 50gr is a better fit for 223 gassers regardless of barrel twist
Extra velocity
Still expands out of SBR
Still barrier blind
No worries about coal/seating/compression
 
I just loaded a few 70 grain TSX rounds to try, every round sounded like it was compressing the powder when seating the bullet.
The Barnes manual calls for the following:
COAL = 2.250
Varget = Min 22.5 Max 24.5c
I loaded three test rounds each at 23.0, 23.3, 23.5, and 23.7 and used LC brass trimmed to 1.750. The COAL gave me a CBTO of 1.844

Is this "crunch" sound normal even for non-compressed loads with this long bullet? Thanks for any help.

The Barnes 70 grain TSX is a very long bullet for its weight and caliber. At a nominal length of 1.037” it is longer than the heavier 77 grain Sierra MatchKing and significantly longer than the 69 grain SMK.

70_tsx_02-2269166-2446985.jpg




barnes_70_tsx_vs_sierra_69_matchking_003-2446981.jpg




If you're hearing "crunching" when seating the bullet, you're compressing powder. The 70 grain TSX can still produce acceptable accuracy for self-defense (and hunting) when loaded to 2.260". The 10-shot group pictured below was fired from a semi-automatic AR-15 at a distance of 100 yards.


70_grain_TSX_handload_group_01-2446978.jpg



....
 
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They just may not work with a 1:9 twist.

The first 10-shot group pictured below is with the 70 grain TSX fired from a a 1:9" twist barrel at 50 yards. Accuracy looks acceptable for its intended purpose.

70_grain_TSX_at_50_yards-2446977.jpg




However, at 100 yards accuracy has gone to hell and there is obvious key-holing.

70_grain_TSX_keyhole_at_100_yards_01_res-2446980.jpg



70_grain_TSX_keyhole_at_100_yards_01_clo-2446979.jpg




Give the 62 grain TSX a try. It won't win any bench-rest contests, but it can produce sub-MOA 10 shot groups at 100 yards when fired from a semi-automatic AR-15 and the 62 grain TSX still has good terminal ballistic properties.


barnes_62_tsx_handload_resized-2447003.jpg



....
 
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Your issue isn't the 70 gr. weight of the Barnes bullet in your 1/9" twist, it's the bearing surface of that all copper bullet.

It's not about the bearing surface. The four relief bands cut into the 70 grain TSX drastically reduce its bearing surface. The 70 grain TSX has less bearing surface than a 77 grain MatchKing, which can stabilize in a 1:9" twist barrel.


70_tsx_02-2269166-2446985.jpg



all_about_that_length-2447028.jpg



...
 
A reminder that some 1:9s will shoot heavier bullets that other 1:9s won't. It is a case-by-case occurrence, and you can't guarantee that what works for me, works for you and vice versa.

Example: My 1:9 wouldn't shoot the 75gr A-MAX when that bullet was all the rage 15 years ago. Accuracy got better with higher charges, but I always ran into pressure before accuracy got below 1.5 MOA. I tried a load test once with 77gr Noslers in the same rifle, and the results were abysmal.

For comparison, that rifle shot a 5x5 that averaged .502 MOA with the 69gr SMK over Re-15, and almost identical accuracy with the 68gr Hornady over Varget...charge weights were identical at 25.5gr in Lake City brass. COL was 2.280 for each too.

I still have some 55gr Barnes TSX loaded for that very rifle using Varget. Accuracy was around 1 MOA for five shots, and the 55gr TSX is perfectly capable on deer. 62gr would be better though in my worthless opinion.

Amazingly, this old SPS Tactical that I'm talking about recently shot Mk 318 Mod 0 bullets into a 1 MOA group at 160 yards. I loaded more up and I'll be damned if it doesn't hold that to 250. Powder is CFE-223...and I just realized...25.5gr like the Varget and Reloader 15 charges with other bullets. Crazy. It's been given new life as my varmint rifle again.
 
So it looks like Barnes has moved to copying the form of the Hornady 70 grain GMX without making it quite as long as the GMX. I might have to pick up a new lot of the TSX to see if it's any more accurate than the original generation.

70_gmx_vs_69_smk_003-2447724.jpg



....
 
It looks like they were still stable at 100 yards, I just couldn't get them to group well. I may be able to fix that by adjusting the load.
 
26.0 of TAC
70gr TSX
LC brass and CCI 41
Colt M4 with 1/7” twist
I use this load in my Colt M4 for Caribou under 100 yards or less !
9FAA56F5-3A93-4435-8F68-8516E45AF99E.jpeg
 
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The first 10-shot group pictured below is with the 70 grain TSX fired from a a 1:9" twist barrel at 50 yards. Accuracy looks acceptable for its intended purpose.

70_grain_TSX_at_50_yards-2446977.jpg




However, at 100 yards accuracy has gone to hell and there is obvious key-holing.

70_grain_TSX_keyhole_at_100_yards_01_res-2446980.jpg



70_grain_TSX_keyhole_at_100_yards_01_clo-2446979.jpg




Give the 62 grain TSX a try. It won't win any bench-rest contests, but it can produce sub-MOA 10 shot groups at 100 yards when fired from a semi-automatic AR-15 and the 62 grain TSX still has good terminal ballistic properties.


barnes_62_tsx_handload_resized-2447003.jpg



....
You need a 1:7 twist for the 70gr TSX
 
A reminder that some 1:9s will shoot heavier bullets that other 1:9s won't. It is a case-by-case occurrence, and you can't guarantee that what works for me, works for you and vice versa.

Example: My 1:9 wouldn't shoot the 75gr A-MAX when that bullet was all the rage 15 years ago. Accuracy got better with higher charges, but I always ran into pressure before accuracy got below 1.5 MOA. I tried a load test once with 77gr Noslers in the same rifle, and the results were abysmal.

For comparison, that rifle shot a 5x5 that averaged .502 MOA with the 69gr SMK over Re-15, and almost identical accuracy with the 68gr Hornady over Varget...charge weights were identical at 25.5gr in Lake City brass. COL was 2.280 for each too.

I still have some 55gr Barnes TSX loaded for that very rifle using Varget. Accuracy was around 1 MOA for five shots, and the 55gr TSX is perfectly capable on deer. 62gr would be better though in my worthless opinion.

Amazingly, this old SPS Tactical that I'm talking about recently shot Mk 318 Mod 0 bullets into a 1 MOA group at 160 yards. I loaded more up and I'll be damned if it doesn't hold that to 250. Powder is CFE-223...and I just realized...25.5gr like the Varget and Reloader 15 charges with other bullets. Crazy. It's been given new life as my varmint rifle again.
I have about 200 of the MK 318 bullets what is a good load for them in my Colt M4 ?
 
I have about 200 of the MK 318 bullets what is a good load for them in my Colt M4 ?

I run 25.5gr of CFE-223 behind those. CCI #41 and COL of 2.250 IIRC. That load is 1 MOA out of my bolt gun, but 2 MOA out of my ARs that I've tried it in.

Since barrels are different animals I'll simply suggest a medium-burn powder that you know works in yours, and load it near max.
 
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I run 25.5gr of CFE-223 behind those. CCI #41 and COL of 2.250 IIRC. That load is 1 MOA out of my bolt gun, but 2 MOA out of my ARs that I've tried it in.

Since barrels are different animals I'll simply suggest a medium-burn powder that you know works in yours, and load it near max.
Thanks for your data
I have alittle of CFE 223 I bought right after introduction ……..I notice it has a small pressure curve between min and max.
 
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So it looks like Barnes has moved to copying the form of the Hornady 70 grain GMX without making it quite as long as the GMX. I might have to pick up a new lot of the TSX to see if it's any more accurate than the original generation.

70_gmx_vs_69_smk_003-2447724.jpg



....
I have found no difference in BC or accuracy with the new TSX 70gr ammuntion. I use chrome lined, hammer forged barrels and LPVO's and SBR's. All of the TSX I have shoots 1.75moa or so for 10 shot groups. This is some of the latest stuff fired from my KAC barreled 11.5" carbine at 100m:
1701238096281.png


The thing I like about the 70gr TSX is that it penetrates insanely well, and is plenty disruptive. I sent this round end-to-end through a small white tail buck at 95m from my 11.5" SBR:

1701238150987.png

1701238156630.png

1701238166271.png


I shot him in the chest. Here is a video of me digging the projectile out of his hind hock:
 
Usually, you can tell if the diaphragm was punctured since everything below it tends to be a mess when that happens.
The liver will show evidence and the paunch is obvious when the bullet runs through there, but in the dark it can be missed unless you make it a point to study the issue with your light.
It is also possible the exit from thoracic cavity to the end was where you split and so it wasn't obvious, and then ends up running along the hide to where you found it. Either way, all is well that ends well. Congrats.
 
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Usually, you can tell if the diaphragm was punctured since everything below it tends to be a mess when that happens.
The liver will show evidence and the paunch is obvious when the bullet runs through there, but in the dark it can be missed unless you make it a point to study the issue with your light.
It is also possible the exit from thoracic cavity to the end was where you split and so it wasn't obvious, and then ends up running along the hide to where you found it. Either way, all is well that ends well. Congrats.
It was getting dark and I had to leave for work in an hour from when I took the shot. I wished Id had more time to be more analytical about the process. I did note the intestine seemed to have been punctured, and for sure the liver.
 
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