The 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip is a particularly accurate and hard hitting choice in the 223 Remington, in either factory or hand loads. After last week’s testing at the range it seemed that my Savage 11 FCNS light sporter in 223 Remington was fairly indifferent to bullet seating depth. The few slight variations from an average of about 0.6MOA were just random fluctuations, most likely. The best group was at 40 thou clearance from the lands.
Nevertheless, in that case, there was no harm in selecting a bullet seating depth of 40 thousandths off the lands. That corresponds to an overall cartridge length of 2.350 inch. Tomorrow I will be testing that seating depth with powder charges of AR2208 (Varget in the USA) ranging from 26.0 grains to the listed maximum of 27.5 grains.
There is an interesting discrepancy there between the Nosler load data and that by ADI (who manufacture AR2208). The ADI’s reloading guide is not famous for hot load data. In fact, in my experience, it is often cautiously lower with its maximum load data in most calibres.
ADI recommend a starting load of 25.5 grains and a maximum of 27.5 grains (compressed load) for a 55 grain Speer softpoint. Nosler have 22 to 25 grains for their 55 grain Ballistic Tip. Over the years, in a variety of other rifles in 223 Remington, I have used these sorts of ADI loads without any pressure problems. Naturally, as always, I will start at the lowest charge and work my way carefully up through the higher loadings. At any sign of excess pressure I will simply disassemble those higher loads. What works fine in one rifle may not be so good in another, so caution is always a must when reloading.
The bulk density of the AR2208 is such that the listed maximum loads pretty much fill the 223 Remington cases. I used a drop tube, made from two robust drinking straws taped together, to get a bit more compaction of the dispensed loads. As you can see, it does make a difference and the bullet can be seated without compressing the charge.
As always, I placed my three round batches of test ammunition into zip-lock snack bags with a piece of paper detailing the contents. I believe it always pays to be thorough and avoid the mistakes that can occur when you rely on memory.