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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Cold temp project - I am sorting a bucket of range brass, separating the .223 and 5.56 brass. I'm aware of the case wall thickness differences between the two, but does that thickness come into play when you are reloading ? Do you separate the brass ? Do you treat the two as one ? My loads and never "hot", and I load for plinking and Coyotes. Just need something to worry about.
 

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I guess it depends on what you are expecting, as far as accuracy goes..
From my experience, Dad, brother and I always reduced our loads, in military cases a couple grains on 308 and 3006, providing we were at the top, of the chart.
If I am at the top, and I seldom am... I make absolute sure that I work up, to the top, and that the components are exactly the same as the the manual states in the load data.
As you said, all cartridges, including 223, or others that have a military heritage, the inside case capacity, will vary significantly, military to civilian.
What I did not first realize is, that even cases such as Federal American Eagle will be different than true Federal civilian brass. That said, like you... my loads are largely plinking, and not loaded real hot, so most of the time I do not sort real carefully.

I will say, that I have noticed accuracy variations, between different head stamps, with the same load. So, in guns that accuracy is important, I sort as best I can, cases by head stamp, in a effort to reduce shot to shot variations.
This, only for loads and rifles that are accurate enough to tell the difference. I have noticed shot to shot point of impact changes, and even pressure changes, as indicated by primer appearance in different head stamped cases.
The run of the mill AR-15 or Ruger Mini 14 are not probably not accurate enough to see any changes. At least in my experience.

I need to do the same thing, that you are doing, as I hope to go prairie dog hunting again, and need all the cases I can get. I will probably sort my with a lighted magnifier, and weigh a few random cases from the sorted piles to get and idea what cases are some what the same. Sorting and loading into lots, in a effort to improve my odds of producing ammo that will be consistent. I have a 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket of it to go through, with mixed up head stamps..
Not sure what the best process would be?
Good luck with your work.. :)
 

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I am not big on sorting brass by headstamp especially in handgun calibers. For rifle I would separate 223 from the 5.56. One thing is a lot of the Military stuff has crimped primers so that is one reason.
There is a lot of variation between brands as far as case capacity due to case wall thickness.
Some will even obsess about the LC brass with different year stamps!? What they do with brass that has no year stamp is a mystery to me.:)

Bottom line, I do sort 556 from 223 and that is about it. If I shoot some new factory ammo, I keep that brass separated.
Reloading is all about reducing variables, so it cant hurt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I guess it depends on what you are expecting, as far as accuracy goes..
From my experience, Dad, brother and I always reduced our loads, in military cases a couple grains on 308 and 3006, providing we were at the top, of the chart.
If I am at the top, and I seldom am... I make absolute sure that I work up, to the top, and that the components are exactly the same as the the manual states in the load data.
As you said, all cartridges, including 223, or others that have a military heritage, the inside case capacity, will vary significantly, military to civilian.
What I did not first realize is, that even cases such as Federal American Eagle will be different than true Federal civilian brass. That said, like you... my loads are largely plinking, and not loaded real hot, so most of the time I do not sort real carefully.

I will say, that I have noticed accuracy variations, between different head stamps, with the same load. So, in guns that accuracy is important, I sort as best I can, cases by head stamp, in a effort to reduce shot to shot variations.
This, only for loads and rifles that are accurate enough to tell the difference. I have noticed shot to shot point of impact changes, and even pressure changes, as indicated by primer appearance in different head stamped cases.
The run of the mill AR-15 or Ruger Mini 14 are not probably not accurate enough to see any changes. At least in my experience.

I need to do the same thing, that you are doing, as I hope to go prairie dog hunting again, and need all the cases I can get. I will probably sort my with a lighted magnifier, and weigh a few random cases from the sorted piles to get and idea what cases are some what the same. Sorting and loading into lots, in a effort to improve my odds of producing ammo that will be consistent. I have a 1/2 of a 5 gallon bucket of it to go through, with mixed up head stamps..
Not sure what the best process would be?
Good luck with your work.. :)
Thanks - I use a older Mini-14, so accuracy is sure not one of its strong suits - but it is good enough to drop Coyotes out to 150 yds with no problem, good enough for my old eyes. In better times, I'd just stay with all .223 and save the 5.56 for future critical times, but I'll soon be running out of the .223. My mental block is using load data / powder for .223 and seeing that dang 5.56 on the case head. Probably looking to hard for something to worry about.
 

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Thanks - I use a older Mini-14, so accuracy is sure not one of its strong suits - but it is good enough to drop Coyotes out to 150 yds with no problem, good enough for my old eyes. In better times, I'd just stay with all .223 and save the 5.56 for future critical times, but I'll soon be running out of the .223. My mental block is using load data / powder for .223 and seeing that dang 5.56 on the case head. Probably looking to hard for something to worry about.

Unless you look under "service load" data there is no specific 5.56 reloading data. Service loads are hotter than most anyone will ever need.

Example look under Hodge load data there is no 5.56 and also there is no data show the use of the Magical #41 primer. Regular SR primers seemed to have worked for many many years!:)
 

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The number 41 primer has slightly thicker base metal to prevent slam fires in semi-auto rifles.

I do separate .223 brass from 5.56 brass. The primary difference between the calibers is in the chamber specification of the rifles themselves. The external dimensions of the case are the same. In the 5.56mm chamber, the distance between the mouth of the cartridge case and the point where the leade in the barrel ramps up into the rifling is longer than in the .223 chamber. That changes the peak pressure profile of the cartridge as it ignites and starts things moving. The 5.56mm cartridge in a 5.56mm chamber has higher pressure than a .223 cartridge in either a .223 chamber or a 5.56mm chamber.

The SAAMI specification for the pressures developed in a 5.56mm chambered rifle are higher than those for a rifle chambered in .223mm. That's why it's safe to fire either cartridge through a 5.56mm chambered rifle. The .223 cartridge develops lower pressure in the 5.56mm chamber, but it's safe because the bullet engages in the rifling and starts moving down the barrel quick enough to relieve the peak pressure and keep it safe.

It's not safe to put 5.56mm rounds through a gun chambered for .223 ammunition.

A .223 round is SAAMI specified to produce 55,000 psi. A 5.56mm round produces up to about 63,000 psi and is proofed at just under 78,000 psi.

There may be further differences on the interior volume of the cartridges based on the thickness of the brass in the lower web and walls. That will change the pressure profile of the cartridge - creating variance even between different brands of cases. That is why precision shooters sort head stamps.

In any case, I would not reload a cartridge head stamped as .223 to the specification of a 5.56mm NATO round simply because someone could mix things up some time in the future.
 

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Western powder lists separate loads for 223/556 but most others don’t. I don’t sort brass and for just every day fun shooting I load CFE223 at the largest opening my Lee adjustable disk will allow pushing 55gr fmj Hornady “blems”. They shoot as good as anything I’ve tried. For hunting hogs with the mini 14. I do hand measure but still use assorted brass and see no difference in accuracy
 
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