I am a big fan of the .223 for long range match shooting. In an effort to prove just how effective a properly set up .223 bolt gun can be, I decided to go ahead and post this. I've been an active "tactical" competitor for a couple of years, and it took that long for me to realize that there is no magic caliber/bullet/speed combo for accomplishing top results. The only answer is practice. Pretty simple concept...practice. Terry Cross says (approximately) that "shooting is a perishable skill", and with that in mind I built my 223 as a way to practice without burning up my .260....so here we go:
I first contacted Aaron Roberts (www.rprifles.com) mainly because he was local to me, and I am just around the corner from his shop on a weekly basis. I was surprised that he actually picked up the phone, spent 30 minutes talking to me about the rifle, and generally made me feel comfortable with handing all of my parts over to him. He most definitely exceeded my expectations. I had the rifle together and in my hands in less than 5 days. On the 5th day, I did load development, on the 6th day, I doped it out to 1000 yards. On the seventh day, I rested .
Here is the rifle:
Here is the crown:
Here is a picture of the loaded round, next to a .260 loaded round. It's an 82gr Berger BTHP in Lake City 2011 brass.
Aaron put together the following components:
1) Stiller Tac 30
3) PTG Stealth DBM system
4) Timney 510 (moving to a Huber shortly)
5) Brux 6.5 twist, finished at 26" - I specifically asked him not to cerakote it.
6) HDMR w/G2 (love this scope, it's very well built, and the reticle is a great match reticle)
The listed G1, according to the box of bullets (82gr Berger bthp) is .450, while the Berger website lists it as .444. The bullets are of a very old lot that I bought from a very good friend and well respected shooter, so I cannot speak to whether Berger has changed any of the bullet design. I use "Shooter" as my ballistic app in the field, and there is an option to input Litz tested bullets in the ammo selection. I loaded two bullet profiles, the Litz tested 82gr BT, and the 82gr BT in which I can manipulate variables...most notably BC.
I pointed the bullets right away, and did not do any testing/load development on an unpointed 82gr bthp. I developed my load at 100, looking for the magic pressure/speed/accuracy combo. I settled on 24.4 grains of 8208, LC 2011 brass, wolf SRM primers, and the 82gr bullets at 2.490". It shoots consistently in the .3-.5 range, and the PVM-21 gave me an average velocity of 2904. I rarely, rarely, rarely shoot for groups, but here is a picture of a target I took during load development:
Like I said, I hate shooting groups because I just end up chasing my tail. Rarely do I shoot a group this good.
Using the "litz tested profile" as my baseline my data was as follows (first data point being what Shooter called for, the second data point being what my actual was):
300 - unpointed call - 1.0 mils/pointed actual - 1.0
500 - unpointed call - 2.7/ pointed actual - 2.6
700 - unpointed call - 4.8/ pointed actual - 4.6 (very noticeable here, and this is where I started tweaking my bc adjustments. I had a nice 4 inch group high and right)
900 (DA change to 2500 from 1500-ish)- unpointed call - 7.4/ pointed actual - 7.0
1000 - unpointed call - 9.1/ pointed actual - 8.5 (wind, for reference was shifting quite a bit from 5-10mph, and was swirling quite a bit, but the wind difference between pointed vs non pointed is not quite as significant...differing by only .1 mil at 1k)
The actual BC of the pointed bullet, out of my 26" 6.5 twist Brux, at 2900fps equates to a G1 of .490 perfectly, which surprised me greatly....a gain of approximately 10% over the listed BC of .444. I'll be the first to say that I might have done some calculating wrong, but I highly doubt it. For the type of competing that I regularly take part in, specifically tac matches in the PRS, it is most definitely worth it to point this bullet in this rifle.
In summary, I love my .223, it's more than capable for tactical matches and long range shooting with the proper bullet, and Roberts Precision Rifles is one hell of a gunsmith. Now I need to convince all Match Directors to allow a 223 bolt gun in the matches!