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.
Before setting foot in the field to go hunting you want to be sure you are loaded up with the best hunting projectiles. Serious hunters put in a lot of time at the rifle range. Even with a faithful old rifle, that shoots a pet load you have not varied in years, it...read more
I use DMT diamond stones for all my knife sharpening. For removing metal quickly, I use the black 60 micron surface. I only do this infrequently, on well-used blades that need to have their shoulder edge cut back, or on badly damaged blades. As described in detail...read more
My hunting knife carry has evolved over the years. When I lived in the territory, I relied on a pair of Filicietti hand-forged custom knives. I used them extensively for butchering buffalo and wild cattle. Until recently, I continued to use these for my deer...read more
Over the last two days I have been busy processing the venison from our hunt. Tomorrow, we will finish off by mincing all the trimings and putting that into meal-sized bags for the freezer. We field butcher our deer and do not leave much for the scavengers. I use a...read more
The last three weeks have been hectic. I had to complete and write-up a number of reviews for the SSAA magazine. I also got in several extended camping-hunting trips. Between times, when at home, I was doing dawn and dusk hunts for wild dogs. Last week, I was...read more
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
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
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
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