Q: I just purchased a Howa 1500 in .223 Rem. The rifle has a walnut stock and fluted varmint barrel. It will see most use for target shooting at 100 yards. Could you give me some information about powder charges and projectile weights? Also, how far to seat the bullets off the lands. Most of my mates at the range use AR2206H. I read in the 9th edition of your reloading manual that AR2206H can be used with considerably reduced loads for target shooting. Should I try a reduced load? If so what weight of this powder should I use?
A: AR2206H is a versatile propellant, it works well in the .17 Rem., .308 Win. and .458 Win., as well as the .223 Rem. It is a tad faster than AR2208 which delivers an extra 100 foot-seconds with top loads. This shouldn’t worry you for target shooting at 100 yards, however, so I suggest you begin with the starting loads and work up 1/2gn at a time until you find the most accurate charge. The Howa is a fine rifle and has the standard 1:12″ rifling twist which works well with bullets weighing from 35 to 60gn and is fast enough to stabilise the 60gn Hornady V-Max.
For your kind of target shooting you’ll need a good quality bullet. The 53gn Sierra HP or the 53gn Hornady V-Max are worth a try. Work up from 25gn of AR2206H which gives about 3160fps, or, if that charge proves accurate enough, stick with it. It may be worth trying the 60gn V-Max too, starting with 24gn of AR2206H for about 2920fps. Throat length varies from rifle to rifle, so you will have to adjust the overall cartridge length to match the dimensions of your rifle’s chamber. Refer to Chapter 12 in the 9th edition of my reloading manual “Seating The Bullet.” It will tell you how to adjust the seating depth. Some bullets shoot best when they just miss touching the lands, while others can be located up to 0.030″off the lands.