Developing a 223 Rem Varmint Load

This morning I continued with my developing a 223 Rem varmint load.  The load will be tested at the range tomorrow in the Weatherby Vanguard HSP Varmint rifle that I am currently reviewing.

What with the festive season, visitors, local trips and a visit to Japan, this is the first chance I have had for hunting and shooting since early December.  A few readers were kind enough to enquire if I was still in the land of the living!  Yes, indeed, and all is well.

I began my load development, following my standard approach.  That is, I set the bullet seating die to position the 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip at 10 thou off the lands.  Keeping that depth constant, I then tested a range of propellant charges, starting at the recommended minimum and carefully working up towards maximum, always keeping a close watch for any signs of pressure.

I was particularly pleased with the results from the Weatherby Vanguard HSP as it demonstrated a fondness for the 55 grain Nosler BT.  Best accuracy was in the zone of 25 to 26 grains of AR2208 (Varget in the USA).

Handloading for Best Accuracy in a 223 Rem Varmint Rifle

This morning I set my balance for 25.5 grains and charged 30 cases with AR2208.  I then loaded a series of three-shot test lots, varying from 5 thou to 45 thou clear of the lands.  I did that in 10 thou steps.  Based on the first lot of testing, I am hopeful of finding a load that delivers about 0.5 MOA.  For an off-the-shelf factory rifle with a medium weight varmint barrel, that is excellent performance.

With a new rifle, this initial load testing is by necessity slow.  I treat loaner review rifles as I would one of my own.  That means breaking-in the barrel properly.  That starts off shooting one round then cleaning the bore thoroughly.  In the early sessions, I have at least reached the shoot three rounds then clean stage.  After the next, session I should be at the shoot ten rounds and clean point.

When the rifle is demonstrating good grouping, it is a bit frustrating to be spending so much time in just barrel cleaning.  However, breaking-in a barrel properly pays dividends in the life and accuracy of the rifle.  It is very much worth doing, no matter how enticing the results of the test shooting are.

While my main interest is in developing a 223 Rem varmint load for the Vanguard HSP, I will not be neglecting factory ammunition either.  I am expecting that some of the available factory loads will also be good performers, making a great combination for those folks who do not reload.

For the Latest News, Reviews and Stories

Signup for the Aussiehunter Newsletter

In order to keep my readers up to date with the top posts, gear reviews and news I’ve started the Aussiehunter Newsletter. No need to worry about spam and you can unsubscribe anytime. Its easy, just submit your email using the form below.

Bunny Hunting and Bird Photography

Straight after my last hunting trip in mid July, I flew south for some weeks of family activities.  While I was away I had a few calls from farmers experiencing wild dog attacks on their stock and pets.  Since getting home mid last week I have been out and about...

read more

Savage B22 VFSS varmint rifle Review

This review of the Savage B22 VFSS was first published in the SSAA magazine in early 2018. When I was a young fellow, shooting pests with both air rifle and an old Lithgow single-shot 22LR, I was envious of my cousin and his 22WMR.  I cannot now remember what make and...

read more

Weatherby’s Vanguard HSP varmint rifle Review

This review of the Weatherby’s Vanguard HSP varmint rifle in 223 Rem was published in the SSAA magazine in March 2018. Weatherby’s Vanguard HSP rifle is available in 223, 22-250, 243, 308, 270, 30-06 and 300 Win.  With the smaller cartridges, the magazine holds five...

read more

Bergara BA13 Take Down Rifle Review

My review of the Bergara BA13 Take Down Rifle was published in the SSAA earlier this year and is re-posted here. The ethos of hunting is the skilful stalk culminating in a carefully placed shot.  Nothing epitomises that vision better than the single-shot rifle. ...

read more

No Shots Fired

  I have not posted for a few weeks.  In that time I have done a plenty of hunting, but no shots have been fired!  A couple of days ago, I got back from an extended hunt on a large cattle property in the gulf country.  Not much short of 1.5 million acres, with two big...

read more

Where Farmland meets Wilderness

I have been getting out for some dawn and dusk hunts, well attempted hunts, on the local wild dogs.  I have got to see some of the fabulous sunrises and sunsets of late, but no dogs.  Yesterday afternoon I visited one of my favourite spots, where a deep valley is the...

read more

Another Dead Cow

Yesterday afternoon, I visited the dead cow on my neighbour’s farm.  She had been in prime condition, and it was a shame to put her down.  However, her calving had gone terribly wrong, and that had quickly led to septicemia.  The owner had done his best, before coming...

read more

Stalking and Stake-outs

Over the last week, I have been out for a series of early morning wild dog hunts.  There has been no luck with that, so far.  The mornings have been misty and cool, with beautiful sunrises.  I have judiciously called, in good locations, but have not had any responses...

read more

Primos Jim Shockey Gen3 Trigger Stick

Primos Jim Shockey Gen3 Trigger Stick This morning was a good opportunity to begin field testing the Primos Jim Shockey Gen3 Trigger Stick kindly provided by Nioa for product review.  First impressions were most favourable.  It is the most convenient, fast-adjusting,...

read more