Q: I’ve always wanted a Sako L461 Vixen, but alas, could never afford one. Finally, a mate who had one, sold it to me. It is chambered in .221 Fireball and fitted with a Leupold VXII 3- 9x50mm scope. The stock was pretty sad looking, but after sanding and two coats of Danish oil, it looks absolutely beautiful. I have 90 cartridges loaded with Nosler bullets and 75 once-fired cases. What is you opinion of the .221 Fireball? Could you give me some info on setting up the resizing die? Can you suggest a couple of starting loads for me? What length do I trim cases to?
A: The Sako L461 is a good rifle. I have one in .223 Remington. The .221 Fireball is a nice little cartridge based on the .222 Rem. Mag. case shortened. Remington originally developed the .221 Fireball for use in their XP100 handgun, but it operated pretty well at rifle pressure levels. Two powders that work very well in the .221 Fireball are AR2205 and Re-7. I’d forget using really light bullets and use 50 to 55 grainers which hold up better over the long haul. Seventeen grains of AR2205 drives the 50gn Nosler Ballistic Tip at 2850fps; and 18gn of Re-7 gets it out at 2950fps.With the 55gn Nosler Ballistic Tip 16.5gn of AR2205 gets 2700fps and 17.5gn of Re-7 does 2800. These are listed as maximum charges, so I recommend you work up from one grain below 1/4gn at a time. The Trim-To length is 1.39 inches. I’ve advised readers how to adjust the full length sizing die many times. Screw it into the press until it just touches the shellholder, then back it out half-a-turn and try the case in your chamber. If it won’t go in, screw the die down a little at a time until the case chambers with a slight feel as you turn the bolt handle down.