Reloading for 223/556 Service Rifle Competition (NRA/CMP bullseye)

99mpower

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I reload for Highpower Competition. 223/556 for my 20" Service Rifle AR. Shoot for the Navy Marksmanship Team. 200/300/600yd competition, 50rd course of fire. 20rds at 200yd (10 slow fire standing, 10 rapid fire sitting) 300yd (10 rapid fire prone) and 600 (20rd slow fire)

Currently using either LC or Lapua brass, CCI 450s, and either 8208 or SW Match powder on a 77 SMK, 80 SMK, or 80.5 berger. You MUST single load at 600, which makes the 80/80.5 almost a no brainer.

Curious if anyone else uses anything different I may not be thinking about. Pretty much use MK262 manu, ammo for the 200/300 lines. 77 SMK stuff is great there without really losing anything.

Thoughts?
 

memilanuk

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  • Mar 23, 2002
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    Varget, H4895, N140, N150 are all options in that burn rate window that are known good performers behind 'heavies' in .223 Rem.

    If you have a 7 tw and a long enough freebore, might consider trying the Berger 85.5 to pick up a point or two in the wind.

    But like you said, the 80SMK or B80.5 are pretty much 'easy-button' answers that work good in most guns.
     

    99mpower

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    Varget, H4895, N140, N150 are all options in that burn rate window that are known good performers behind 'heavies' in .223 Rem.

    If you have a 7 tw and a long enough freebore, might consider trying the Berger 85.5 to pick up a point or two in the wind.

    But like you said, the 80SMK or B80.5 are pretty much 'easy-button' answers that work good in most guns.

    reading wind is my biggest issue at 600. I dont get out to shoot like I used to, and looking for an advantage if there is one. I'm a meticulous reloader, and picking up a point or two may be worth a new barrel to specifically run 85.5s. Current CMP rifle has a Kreiger in it, that has unknown # of rounds on it. Its a hammer, but I like having "knowns"
     

    memilanuk

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  • Mar 23, 2002
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    It's been a while since I loaded 80+ gn bullets for an AR... last ones were B82BTs (precursor to the 80.5) for my space gun AR. Pretty sure I ran 80SMKs in my Service Rifle AR, back when.

    Been using mag-length Sierra 77TMKs / 23.2 gn 8208 for shooting 'MR AR Tactical' class (20" AR with a bipod and max of 15x scope, kinda like F/TR 'Lite', shoots on the full-sized MR1 center) for the sake of going by the spirit of the rules, but I'm about ready to say screw it and go with dedicated 'long range' bullets since the rules don't actually require mag-length. Can't use a SLED (which is stupid), but still have to single-load.

    I'm not entirely certain how an 85.5 would sit in say, a Wylde chamber. I've got a WOA 20" SR barrel with that chamber, just haven't gotten around to sticking an 85.5 in it to see.
     
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    smoothy8500

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    Current CMP rifle has a Kreiger in it, that has unknown # of rounds on it. Its a hammer, but I like having "knowns
    Shot a few of the " All Navy, West" matches at MCB Camp Pendleton, San Diego and probably rubbed elbows with you. We know that a cut Krieger will outlive a button rifled barrel, but still if you're north of 3k rounds it may be worth considering a barrel change. You just never know when that barrel will quit hammering and you wonder if that 9 was a missed wind call or the barrel.
     

    Scttschnd

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    If/when you Find H4895 try .2 gr more than your 8208 loads. It works. Not quite a clean burn as the 8208. Meters decent in the powder measure for thrown loads. I like how 8208 meters and shoots. This year I am back to my 8208. Havent been shooting a ton of matches this year so for in lead up to Perry. Depending on brass you said LC. Used 23.4-23.6 H4895 with both the 77-80. I run a heavy brass like Lapua and find I had to lower my charges a touch. I am still running the WOA Shillen 7.5R this year. I found my WOA Kreiger barrels were tight.

    Of course RL15 has been a standard for XTC for many years. I dont like its greasy burn and lincoln log size.
     

    Xcount

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    When I shot the Navy matches you had to shoot what they issued, at first was HSM 69gr then MK262. I saw an officer permanently banned from shooting the matches for using handloads. If you are going to shoot their matches and go for a Navy DRB I highly recommend you reproduce their issue ammo, as close as you can, and learn the wind using that. Why learn wind with an 80 but have to use a 77?
    If you are having a hard time at 600 let me ask you this how is your 300 yard string? If you drop more than a point or two there, along with 50% x-count, then a heavy bullet won't help much at twice the distance. Seemed like everyone worried about wind at 600 but they couldn't hold a waterline group at 300 and didn't consider that an indication of poor fundamentals. First get to a waterline group, don't worry about wind, then the target will seem much bigger since the 3-9 o'clock is the widest part of the circle.
    As far as being a fanatical reloader, well it's not a Distinguished Reloader Badge. After going out I would buy LC primed brass in the bags of 1000. I shot my best 600 scores (199-13) with that doing nothing but pushing a mandrel through the neck and dropping H4895 on my dillon. Honestly my prone scores increased the most due to shooting a 22lr from Compass Lake Engineering. No excuses using a 22 at 100, only fundamentals.

    I know it's get boring but dry firing and ingraining the basics in concentrated training is what gets you pinned. Spend your time at matches, even if that means traveling pretty far, and not the reloading bench.

    Find and attend a USMC rifle team clinic. They tell you EXACTLY how to shoot a service rifle across the course.
     

    99mpower

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    Jul 7, 2022
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    When I shot the Navy matches you had to shoot what they issued, at first was HSM 69gr then MK262. I saw an officer permanently banned from shooting the matches for using handloads. If you are going to shoot their matches and go for a Navy DRB I highly recommend you reproduce their issue ammo, as close as you can, and learn the wind using that. Why learn wind with an 80 but have to use a 77?
    If you are having a hard time at 600 let me ask you this how is your 300 yard string? If you drop more than a point or two there, along with 50% x-count, then a heavy bullet won't help much at twice the distance. Seemed like everyone worried about wind at 600 but they couldn't hold a waterline group at 300 and didn't consider that an indication of poor fundamentals. First get to a waterline group, don't worry about wind, then the target will seem much bigger since the 3-9 o'clock is the widest part of the circle.
    As far as being a fanatical reloader, well it's not a Distinguished Reloader Badge. After going out I would buy LC primed brass in the bags of 1000. I shot my best 600 scores (199-13) with that doing nothing but pushing a mandrel through the neck and dropping H4895 on my dillon. Honestly my prone scores increased the most due to shooting a 22lr from Compass Lake Engineering. No excuses using a 22 at 100, only fundamentals.

    I know it's get boring but dry firing and ingraining the basics in concentrated training is what gets you pinned. Spend your time at matches, even if that means traveling pretty far, and not the reloading bench.

    Find and attend a USMC rifle team clinic. They tell you EXACTLY how to shoot a service rifle across the course.

    Couldnt of got a better answer than that. Thank you! 96-99, 4-6x at 300yd line. I'm a solid shooter, shooting PRS/NRL, and have done the shooting course with Navy DRBs at All Navy/All Fleet at Quantico. Have all the right gear, just putting it all together now. I do a ton of dry fire for USPSA, but probably need to do more with my service rifle with sling, jacket, glove, and a very very very small dot.

    Appreciate it. May have to look into a CLE 22 upper. Great recommendation! Cheap, fun, good practice, almost dry fire, but better
     

    Xcount

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    If you can consistently cut a 99-6x at 300 then I don't think you will have problems at 600. Don't over think it. Really your goal should be to be the guy that is putting his gear down at 600 and only down a couple of points. I never got to that point due to standing but 600 is no big deal once you can shoot X ring elevation.

    If you can use non issue ammo then use 80 Amax or 80.5 bergers. Those two bullets worked best for me and much better in the wind than a match king. A really good shooter from the Phoenix area told me to push an Amax to 2760fps in a service rifle. When I did that the 600 got a lot easier. He said you could go faster but it won't shoot better and he was right. I used 23.2 of H4895 in a CLE Krieger. Like I said 199-13 and honestly I left X's on the table because I would shoot fast and would not always correct into the middle. I would rather shoot ten 10's not correcting for minor changes instead of five X's in the same amount of time. I used half minute sights and if a change wasn't going to move me out of the ten ring I put one downrange. Changing the sight took time and I could screw something else up, move my elbow or change shoulder pressure. F'ing send it, fast 10's will get you Distinguished.
    There is a good book called "the wind book for rifle shooters" and it goes over strategies and how to read flags. The best book i've seen on the subject.
     
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    smoothy8500

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    Xcount

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    The best 18 dollars you can spend for prone shooting
     

    memilanuk

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  • Mar 23, 2002
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    Absolutely not. I thought that book was useless.

    When I was starting out reading SR/MR everybody was recommending those damn things. So, of course I got a copy.

    I'd say that if you're so clueless that all you can tell if the wind is blowing left to right or right to left, it *might* be of some help. Beyond that... it's certainly not the master piece people were claiming. And that's before you get to the part where the book I received looked like a badly Xerox'd copy of a copy.

    The 'Wind Book for Rifle Shooters' is hands down the best printed wind-reading material I've ever seen. In large part specifically because they don't give you just *one* person's opinion; they polled various well-known shooters (or organizations) on specific topics, and published the answers. You got to see how much the different respondees agreed - or not.

    I haven't gotten to spend much quality time with the second edition... it's on the reading list, though.
     

    Xcount

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    The second edition added very little as far as I can tell. I think the second edition was not about adding but more about making more copies because the book was popular.
     
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    sinister

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    I used 24 grains of Varget in Lake City brass for 200/300 pushing 77s, 75s, 69s, and 73s, depending on bullet availability on Commercial Row. Hornady 75s were inconsistent. I still prefer Varget, but if I had a steady supply of 8208 I'd probably use that.

    I size on a single-stage Forster Co-Ax; hand-throw powder out of a Redding; and seat bullets in a Dillon 550 with a Forster Benchrest seating die.

    The "New" Sierra 80s with the closed tip are very good bullets for 600. I have used 23.5 of Vihtavuori 135, 24.5 grains of Varget, and 23.4 of 8208 in Winchester commercial or IMI brass, with a heavy buffer.

    I stopped using Winchester primers when they stopped nickel-plating them, and have used Remington 7.5s, CCI 450s, and BR4s for 600.

    When I started in 1999, everyone at Dam Neck (including us "Other Service" shooters) shot issue HSM 77s off the back of the Navy truck. LANTFLEET and All-Navy East was shot on the 500-yard range until 9-11, when everything moved to Quantico.

    It took four years, but I shot a Bronze at LANTFLEET; a Silver at All-Navy; First Gold (and match champion) at LANTFLEET; and closed out with third Gold at All-Navy 2002 for my Gold Badge (all with irons).

    I use a March scope today for old eyes.