Posts Tagged ‘.223’

Aug
22

Range Report: New Varmint Build

You may have noticed that I put together a new AR-15 varmint build.

New varmint build - RRA lower, WOA upper, Geissele trigger

New varmint build - RRA lower, WOA upper, Geissele trigger

When I asked John Holliger what he recommended for barrel break-in on this new upper, he simply replied, “I am not a big believer in barrel break-in.”
In WOA’s FAQs, it suggests shooting 15-20 rounds through it, cleaning, and consider it good to go. So that’s what I did.

Conditions: 85 degrees, humid, sunny afternoon, 10-15mph wind.

Heavy stainless fluted 1:12" twist fluted barrel

Heavy stainless fluted 1:12" twist fluted barrel

I shot 19 rounds of 55 grain .223 VMAX to simultaneously break in the barrel and zero the scope. Then I took it inside for a quick cleaning with Bore-Tech Eliminator. You can tell right away when you’re cleaning a hand-lapped barrel like this one – the patches glide down the barrel like butter.

Topped with Nikon Monarch X 4-16x50 scope

Topped with Nikon Monarch X 4-16x50 scope

After that was done, I shot 10 rounds of Thunder Ammo’s 55 grain VMAX in a respectable 1.359″ group.

10 shot group of 55 grain VMAX

10 shot group of 55 grain VMAX

Feeling pretty good about the first 10 shots out of a new rifle after the world’s fastest break-in, I tried some of Thunder Ammo’s 50 grain VMAX, which grouped slightly better than the 55 grain.

The 50 grain .223 VMAX grouped a little better than the 55 grain

The 50 grain .223 VMAX grouped a little better than the 55 grain

I just so happened to have a box of Black Hills remanufactured 40 grain VMAX on hand, which I figured should be well suited for the 1:12 twist rate of the White Oak barrel. Ten more shots gave us the best group of the day – .900″.

Remanufactured 40 grain VMAX Black Hills Ammo grouped at .9 inches

Remanufactured 40 grain VMAX Black Hills Ammo grouped at .9 inches

Did a quick re-zero to the faster 40 grain bullet, and shot a .616″ 5-shot group.

5 shots of 40 grain Black Hills VMAX in .616 inches

5 shots of 40 grain Black Hills VMAX in .616 inches

A short video:

All-in-all, I’m very pleased with this new build. It’s extremely accurate, the trigger is incredible, and the Monarch X scope is nothing short of superb. (Separate reviews for the trigger and scope will come later).

Once we get a few more rounds down the pipe, a less windy day, and a better rest (which will be here in a few days!), I’m sure those groups will tighten up even more.

Happy shooting.

Apr
21

Sig Sauer Sig556

This is the Sig 556. This fine combat rifle is chambered in 5.56mm NATO, which can fire both the military 5.56 and .223 ammunition.

Sig 556 Rifle

Sig 556 Rifle

The barrel has a twist rate of 1:7, which is good for stabilizing bullets from 55 grain up to 75 grain. The Sig 556 uses a gas piston system, which keeps internals much cleaner and is arguably more reliable than the direct impingement system of an AR-15.

The stock is collapsable and folding. The buttstock tube will accept any AR-15 stock built for a commercial tube, so I replaced the stock Sig buttstock with a Magpul CTR.

Sig 556 with folding and collapsable Magpul CTR buttstock

Sig 556 with folding and collapsable Magpul CTR buttstock

The front iron sight is stout and hooded. The rear is a flimsy popsicle-stick popup sight that is practically useless. The front sight mount is different from the AR-15, so you cannot use a standard AR rear BUIS. One must either use a Sig-specific rear BUIS, or replace the front sight with one that is compatible with AR-15 rears (like a Samson). I have a Samson folding front sight and a Matech AR-15 rear BUIS on order.

The Sig 556 has a stout hooded front sight

The Sig 556 has a stout hooded front sight

The intended use for this Sig 556 is close to mid-range combat, so I decided to go with a 1-4 power scope from Millet. I’ll do a separate review of the scope later – for now, let’s just say I’m very happy with my choice.

A Millett DMS 1-4x24 scope tops the Sig 556

A Millett DMS 1-4x24 scope tops the Sig 556

One of the best things about this rifle is its factory two-stage trigger. This is by far the best factory trigger I’ve ever seen on any AR-style rifle. The Sig 556 trigger is clean, crisp and light. It’s not as nice as some aftermarket triggers like Timney, but it is an excellent factory trigger.

Now, I’ve heard from many, many sources on the interwebs that the Sig 556 isn’t all that accurate, with reported groups of 2-4″ at 100 yards. While such groups are acceptable for a close-quarters combat rifle, I suspected that the shooters of these reported groups didn’t share my zest for accuracy.

So my quest begins…

I performed my standard barrel break-in procedure on this rifle. If you’d like the short version, it’s like this:

  • Clean
  • JB bore paste, Clean. (repeat)
  • Fire one shot, Clean (repeat 5 times)
  • Fire 3 shots, Clean (repeat 3 times)
  • Fire 5 shots, Clean

After the barrel was broken in, I fired two 10-shot groups of 55gr VMAX to get a rough zero on the scope and foul the barrel. I then switched to some 69gr Black Hills HPBT match ammo and fired a few:

Not too shabby!

I shot some 3-shot groups that were under 1/2″, but I still think this black rifle can get tighter. Next steps for this rifle will be more shooting and cleaning, accompanied by a run-through with Tubb’s Final Finish system.

Until next time, Happy Shooting.

Mar
24

The Ammo has Arrived

The Big Brown Truck stopped by yesterday and left me a nice shipment of ammo to test. Tracking says the new Chrony should be here today, so we’ll be able to test these loads up right.

A lovely variety of 9mm (9×19mm, for you sticklers) was in the box, and we’re going to see what kind of groups we can get with them the HK USPc.

A wide variety of 124 grain 9mm ammunition

A wide variety of 124 grain 9mm ammunition

A fabulous selection of .22LR match ammo was in the box. We’ll be shooting these through the Savage Mark II BTVS. There’s a certain amount of cleaning and fouling that has to be done to make such a test consistent, and I’ll guide you through that when the time comes.

Nice assortment of high-end .22LR match ammunition

Nice assortment of (mostly) high-end .22LR match ammunition

Lastly, we have some higher-end .223 ammo. These are heavier bullets (62-75 grain) that we’ll be testing through the Sig 556 after it’s properly broken in.

We'll see how this variety of 62-75gr .223 shoots in the Sig 556

We'll see how this variety of 62-75gr .223 shoots in the Sig 556

This should make for a fun and educational day of shooting!

Mar
19

Articles Inbound!

Some new gear is in, and a bunch of ammo is on its way. We’re going to have some exciting articles in the next coming weeks.

First, we have a brand new Sig 556 to break in. We’ll walk through the process of breaking in a new factory production barrel (much different from a hand lapped barrel like White Oak or Kreiger makes).

The Sig 556 barrel has a 1:7 twist, which is well-suited for heavier .223/5.56 bullets. We have a few varieties of match ammunition from 62gr-75gr that we’re going to run through the Sig to see what she likes.

We’ll also be looking at the HK USP 9mm compact as a carry weapon, and seeing how accurate this factory pistol can be with 8 varieties of 124gr 9mm ammo.

Match .22 LR ammo is inbound for a rimfire shootout! The Savage Mark II BTVS is one accurate bolt-action rifle, and we’ll have several varieties of match ammunition from Eley, Lapua, SK, RWS and Wolf to send down-range.

And last but not least, a new Shooting Chrony F-1 is on its way. This will not only help us understand more about the ballistics of what we’re shooting, but it will help us isolate ammunition issues and give us a feel for the consistency and quality of the ammo we’re testing.

Happy shooting.

Mar
13

Range Report: .223 Ammo Shootout

We had a nice, calm sunny day with a very light breeze here in the midwest – perfect weather for a .223 shootout.

The idea behind this comparison is to find highly-accurate new ammunition that the average person can buy. Personal handload recipes are going to weed out a good 80% of the folks out there that don’t have the capability to roll their own, so we’re going to look at some ammo that anyone can go online or pick up a phone and order.

I tested seven high-quality brands of 50-55 grain ammunition, all rated in the 3200fps range – well-suited to the 1:9 twist of the Savage Model 10 Tactical.

The high-quality .223 ammunition tested

The high-quality .223 ammunition tested

The rounds were shot at 100 yards from The Bench. Because neither The Bench nor myself are perfect, I shot 5-round groups of each ammo, and measured the best three of the five rounds, center to center, to calculate the group. Until I get some better bench equipment, this is the method I’ll be using to calculate when talking about group sizes.

The Candidates:

The Federal Premium 55gr Nosler rounds can be found pretty easily at most sporting goods stores. In fact, these came from Cabela’s and were about $24 per box of 20. These are great varmint rounds, and I’ve taken more than one critter out with them.

Federal Premium V-Shok - Nosler 55 grain ballistic tip

Federal Premium V-Shok - Nosler 55 grain ballistic tip

The Hornady TAP can also be found on the shelves, but it is a bit rarer than the Federal. Several online ammunition stores have it in stock frequently. The TAP in question was about $22 for a box of 20.

Hornady TAP - 55 grain Vmax

Hornady TAP - 55 grain Vmax

Georgia Arms is an online retailer, and they also have a brick-and-mortar retail store. Their 52gr HPBT Match is currently $24.50 for 50 rounds.

Georgia Arms 52gr Boat Tail Hollow Point Match Ammo

Georgia Arms 52gr Boat Tail Hollow Point Match Ammo

Their 55 grain Vmax is $28.00 per 50.

Georgia Arms 'Precision Plus' 55 grain Vmax

Georgia Arms 'Precision Plus' 55 grain Vmax

C&C Cartridge is a small loading company in Benton, IL. I had never heard of them until I came across someone at a gun show selling their wares. This high-quality ammo was almost $40 for a bag of 50 rounds (I transferred them to the boxes in the pic). As far as I know, they don’t have an online presence.

C and C Cartridge Company 55gr Vmax

C&C Cartridge Company 55gr Vmax

Thunder Ammo was a new one to me as well. I stumbled upon their products while searching for a good 50BMG load. 50 rounds of Thunder Ammo’s Vmax runs $32 in both 50gr and 55gr., and TA’s ammo is shipped in nice plastic boxes

Thunder Ammo 55 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 55 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

I thought the results were interesting – I was expecting Georgia Arms’ 52gr HPBT to perform much better than it did, and I’m surprised at how well the Hornady TAP performed. The Federal grouped much poorer than I expected.

As far as groups go, the gold medal goes to C&C from Benton, IL. However, from a consumer standpoint, it’s only fair to factor price into the grade, so I’m rating them as follows:

Ammo Type Group Size Price per round Grade
Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax 1/4″ $0.64 A+
C&C 55gr Vmax 3/16″ $0.80 A
Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax 3/8″ $0.56 B+
Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax 1/4″ $1.10 B
Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT 1/2″ $0.49 B-
Thunder Ammo 50gr Vmax 1/2″ $0.64 B-
Federal 55gr Nosler 11/16″ $1.20 C-

Pics of the groups:

A+: Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax

A+: 1/4" group from Thunder Ammo 55gr Vmax

3/16" group form C & C 55gr Vmax

A: 3/16" group form C & C 55gr Vmax

B+: 3/8" group from Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax

B+: 3/8" group from Georgia Arms 55gr Vmax

B: 1/4" group from Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax

B: 1/4" group from Hornady TAP 55gr Vmax

B-: 1/2" group from Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT

B-: 1/2" group from Georgia Arms 52gr HPBT

B-: 1/2" group from Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

B-: 1/2" group from Thunder Ammo 50 grain Vmax

C-: 11/16" group from Federal Premium Nosler ballistic tip

C-: 11/16" group from Federal Premium Nosler ballistic tip

I have to say, I won’t be buying any more Federal Premium – not only do I consider an 11/16″ group unacceptable for premium ammo, it’s also carries the highest price tag.

As happy as I am with the groups from the C&C ammo, I don’t think I’ll be buying much more. The owner of C&C is very friendly and accommodating, but he didn’t offer a quantity discount until the order reached 1,000 rounds – which he offered to sell for $750.00. At $0.75/round, I may buy a couple hundred to keep on hand for hunting with the Savage Model 10, but it won’t be regular shooting ammo for me.

The Thunder Ammo 55gr Hornady Vmax gets my vote. Consistent 1/4″ groups, great  price for custom loads, plus excellent service and fast shipping. I highly recommend.

Happy Shooting.