Saturday, June 18, 2011

.224" bullets

Like many others, I shoot a variety of .22 caliber cartridges.  .22 Hornet, .218 Bee, and .223 Remington/5.56 NATO.  I'm not into the big .22s like the Swift, .22-250 or .225 Winchester.  I've no use for them.  These are the bullets I'm currently using in my .22 caliber rifles.  I initially took this photo because I thought it would be interesting to compare them to the current and former standard military bullets.

Starting with the littlest on the left we have the Hornady 35 gr. VMAX.  A "ballistic tip" bullet, you can see it isn't as aerodynamically shaped as the others.  In fact, I've heard it referred to as "a brick" for its lack of aerodynamic shape.  The ballistic coefficient (BC) for this bullet is .109 and the sectional density (SD) is .100.  However, this bullet seems to be a good one and fairly popular.  It will give me 1-1/2" groups in the .22 Hornet even with mixed brass.  It also provided an instant kill AND complete penetration on a ground hog at only 10 yards.  I don't think this bullet opens too quickly and yet it certainly opened quickly enough.  Over 13 gr. of Lil'Gun it gives about 3000 fps from the Hornet. All together that's plenty good enough performance for me.  However, when I've shot up my stock of these bullets I'm going to switch to the next bullet for the Hornet, just to reduce the number of different bullets on the shelf.

Next is the 40 gr. VMAX.  As you can see it is quite a bit more aerodynamic than the 35 gr.  What a difference just 5 gr. in bullet weight can make in bullets of this diameter.  The BC is up to .200 and the SD is .114.  I've been loading this bullet in the the .218 Bee over 14 gr. of Lil'Gun which, if memory serves, moves it along at about 3100 fps.  However, speed isn't the only thing and this bullet is pretty accurate in my custom Contender barrel.  Groups from the bench unsupported position average around 1" and some-times I can manage tiny cloverleafs at 100 yards.

Third from the left is the standard 55 gr. FMJBT for the 5.56mm cartridge.  I bought 5000 of these in bulk for loading for my old Colt SP-1 sporter carbine.  This is the same bullet used in the military's M193 cartridge.  I don't suppose there's anything really wrong with it.  This bullet is what my old gun's barrel twist rate seemed to demand and I was only using it for practice so the FMJ design wasn't a handicap.  However, FMJ bullets are illegal for hunting in many places, even for forbearing animals, and so a better solution is needed for my current 5.56mm AR-15 type rifle.  BC is .243.

Fourth, with the remnants of tar is the 62 gr. green-tip bullet.  Pulled from loaded ammo this is the current standard bullet in 5.56mm M855 cartridge.  BC is .304.  I got this ammo just to compare it to my own handholds with the next bullet and so I haven't shot it much.  I really have no use or need for an FMJ bullet if I can get soft points at a low enough price.  By the way, the U.S. military is shortly going to (they may have already done so) introduce the M855A1 bullet.  The weight is the same but the new bullet is politically correct and lacking lead (and green tip) so that it doesn't pollute the poor schmo a soldier might shoot with it.

That cheap and bulk packed bullet is second from the right (fifth from the left) and it is the 64 gr. Winchester Power Point.  I've been told this is the same bullet the California Highway Patrol uses in their ammunition.  As those patrol rifles have to take care of a number of scenarios, I expected this bullet to be a pretty good one and it seems to be.  Of course I'm using it in the 5.56mm/.223 Rem cartridge (yes, I know they aren't exactly the same).  In some states (maybe even Virginia in the near future) it will be legal for deer.  BC for this bullet is .234 and SD is .182.

Last is the 77 gr. Sierra BTHP.  With a cannelure this is the bullet that is specially loaded for certain military applications.  Due to this "elite" cachet it is quite in demand, cannelure or not.  I bought 100 to try in my new AR-15 carbine.  Even though that gun has a 1 in 9" twist rate I was concerned that the bullet wouldn't stabilize.  Most seem to think that the 1 in 7" twist is necessary to stabilize this bullet.   Then again, just because a barrel is labeled with a particular twist rate it might vary a bit, fast or slow, depending on how it was rifled.  The barrel in my gun seems to stabilize this bullet but I'm going to do some more testing at 150 yards just to be certain.  I like the looks of the long slender bullet but it does intrude below the shoulder of the .223/5.56mm case and that concerns some people.  I have been using WW748 for all my loads in this cartridge and it works just fine.  I don't think I want to change.


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