Journey to Find a F-Class Load: .223 Rem

Written by Jeremy Rowland of Reloading Podcast

223 Savage Axis Heavy BarrelMy oldest daughter has been to several matches with me, and has even competed in several, using her .243. I decided this coming season (2016), she would compete with a .223 Rem in FT/R. After numerous hours on trying to find a good starter rifle, I settled on the Savage Axis Heavy Barrel since it has a 1:9 twist. This would be a great little rifle for her to learn on.

Next came finding the components I wanted to use for her match loads. After spending hours and hours running numbers on JBM stability calculator as well as in my iPhone Ballistic AE app, the 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing® (TMK®) looked really good. So that’s what I decided to go with. I jumped in head first and ordered a bulk pack of the Sierra 69 gr TMK’s. I had settled on CFE 223 since it shows to give good velocity. I decided to go with once fired Lake City brass with CCI BR4 primers.

Next came the testing. I decided to run a ladder test (one shot per charge from min to max looking for the accuracy node).

Ladder Test

Equipment Used:
Rifle: Savage Arms Axis Heavy Barrel (as from factory, no modifications)
Bipod: Sinclair F-Class w/micro elevation adjustment
Rear Bag: Protektor
Mat: MidwayUSA Competition mat

Load Information:

69 gr Tipped MatchKing BoxBullet: 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing®
Case: Lake City (mixed years, sorted by case capacity)
Primer: CCI BR4
Powder: CFE 223 (one round each from 23.5-25.6)
OAL: 2.378”
Base to Ogive: 1.933” (this is .02” off lands in my rifle)


Conditions:
Temp: 59.4
Humidity: 63%
Elevation: 486
D.A. (Density Altitude): 222
Wind: 5-12mph

After getting my target stands in place, I made sure to range the distance using my rangefinder to verify it was indeed 400 yards.

I fired a couple of sighters I had made up to make sure I had elevation correct. Normally I use my MagnetoSpeed chronograph, but decided not to this time, because it will slightly cause a POI change. Here are the results:

69 gr tipped matchking
Here is a closer look and measurements for my accuracy node of 25 gr through 25.6 gr:

69 gr tipped MatchKing Ballistic AE Screenshot
After the ladder test, I decided to go with 25.2gr for load. Next came the fine tuning. I loaded up 5 rounds each of, .02” off lands, .015” off lands, .01” off lands and .005” off the lands. I had forgotten to load an extra round to get a ballpark muzzle velocity, so when I shot this second test, I shot 4 rounds for the test, and shot the 5th round to check muzzle velocity I was getting. Here are the results from the best group for OAL/Ogive fine tuning.  As you can see, I think I’ve found a winner in these 69 gr Sierra Tipped MatchKing®.

Conditions:
Temp: 36.3
Humidity: 73.8%
Elevation: 486
D.A.: -1485
Wind: 5-7 Right to left

69 gr Tipped MatchKing Ballistic AE Screenshot2

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12 Responses to Journey to Find a F-Class Load: .223 Rem

  1. Pingback: Journey to Find a F-Class Load: .223 Rem | Rifleman III Journal

  2. firstriverbend says:

    Great article! Very easy to see and understand how everything comes together. 🙂
    Thanks.

    Like

  3. NORM says:

    NORM–VERY GOOD EXPLANATION. NEW RIFLE NOT BROKE IN SO FURTHUR RESULTS SHOULD BE BETTER USING THE SIERRA 69 GRAIN TMK. THE WINDAGE IS RELATED TO THE CONDITIONS AND THE ELEVATION IS ATTRIBUTED TO THE SHOOTER. GOOD STARTER LOAD AND SHOULD HOLD THE F-CLASS X-RING. ADD WOLFF +4 # SPRING AND SET THE FIRING PROTUSION TO .060.

    Like

  4. David Ruppel says:

    Nice data sheets and good job working up the load!

    Rupe

    Like

    • Jeremy says:

      Thank you sir. I hope my daughter does wel with it. Heck, I may even use the rifle from time to time when I don’t want to take a beating.

      Like

  5. Phil says:

    Can I ask how you came to 25.2 grains of powder and not 25.1 or 25.4. Was it a best educated guess or is there something I’m not seeing.

    Very good and informative article by the way.

    Like

    • Jeremy says:

      Phil, Jeremy here.

      In my first testing, I had a accuracy nose spanning 25gr, 25.3gr and 25.6gr. Most the time you go with the middle charge, in this case it would be 25.3. Since testing was done in cooler weather, and it gets pretty dang hot here in Arkansas, I decided to go down to 25.2. My scales will never be worse than .1gr variance. So as you can see, I’d still remain within my accuracy node.

      I had previously tested this combo using OCW method, and found that 25.1gr was my best load. The ladder testing verified this, and let me know I could go higher as well.

      Like

      • Phil says:

        Thank you for that Jeremy, I understand now and all taken on board. I’m about to sort out a 223 Tikka T3 so very good informative read, I will also be using your method on the 6.5 creedmoor as I can’t get it shooting much better than .54 moas at 200 meters so have switched to match kings and out testing again this weekend using your method. Thanks for it insight

        Like

  6. J. Michael Lengyel says:

    If you don’t mind, what scope were you using? Nice article.

    Like

    • Jeremy Rowland says:

      On this particular rifle, I’m using a Weaver 8-32. Most the time I just keep it on 32 power.

      Thank you sir.

      Like

  7. thomas sparks says:

    Is the distance critical for the ladder test? I’m guessing the grouping would be tighter say at 100 yards making it more difficult to sort the data?

    Like

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