WC844 & WC846 info

223 / 5.56mm WC 844 & WC846 history and reload information

(heavy on 55gr & 62gr data)


WC846 vs WC844 – History of development & differences

The M855 was effectively thrust upon the US with NATO's 1980 standardization of the FN SS109. Prior to this, the US Army's 5.56mm SAW candidates were tested with other ammo types. As early as 1969, these experiments were conducted with the 68gr XM287 Ball and XM288 Tracer produced by Industries Valcartier Inc. (IVI) of Canada. In 1976, the XM287 Ball and XM288 Tracer were redesignated XM779 and XM780 respectively. However, by this point, the IVI cartridges were effectively replaced by 'in-house' designs, the XM777 Ball and XM778 Tracer. The latter pair could be used in standard 1-12" twist barrels. XM777 Ball and XM778 Tracer were submitted by the US to the late '70s NATO trials.

The villians in the "Great Powder Controversy" aren't as clear cut as one is led to believe. DuPont's IMR powders predate Olin's Ball powders by two decades. IMR is merely an improvement over DuPont's earlier Military Rifle (MR) series of powders such as Pyro DG. From the mid-'20 until the mid-'50s, IMR powders were the US military's primary choice for loading .30-'06 among other cartridges. During the same time frame, the only major US military use of Ball powder was in the .30 Carbine. The tide began to shift toward Ball powders in the '50s; indeed, as early as 1954, the Chief of Ordnance wanted every small arms cartridge to be loaded with it. This said, other powders continued to be used. For instance, Remington would often load 7.62x51mm ammo with IMR, supplied by its parent company DuPont.

During early (1957) load development for ArmaLite, Robert Hutton used IMR 4198, IMR 3031, and an unnamed Olin ball powder. At this point, the main goal was to show that the 55gr bullet @ ~3,300fps could indeed penetrate a helmet at 500yds. However, all of this testing was performed with a 22" barrel.

When Remington delivered the first lots of .222 Special (later renamed the .223 Remington), the cartridges are loaded with IMR 4475. (Ironically, this is one of the same IMR powder types used by Remington for production of military 7.62x51mm cartridges.) Use of IMR 4475 with the smaller cartridge continued on through to the early '60s with early military production lots.

When the military adoption of the M16/XM16E1 was forced in 1963, Frankford Arsenal quickly found that IMR 4475 could not reliably achieve the quoted 3,300 fps from a M16 without going exceeding with quoted maximum chamber pressures. It was one thing when Remington was turning out small quantities of .223 Remington and could cherry-pick suitable production lots of IMR 4475, and quite another when it faced mass production of the cartridge. The choices were either to lower the velocity, increase the acceptable pressure specs, or change powders. The representatives from the Office ot the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to the Technical Coordinating Committee (TCC) vetoed lowering the velocity specs. It was warned that increasing the chamber pressure specs would be technically unwise given trials in which the cartridges were already prone to popping primers. When the earliest bid solicitations for M193 Ball were released later in the year, the OSD-sponsored specs demanded 3,250fps with a Remington-style 55gr FMJ (instead of the original Stoner/Sierra design), IMR 4475, and no change in pressure specs. In return, Remington, Olin/Winchester, and Federal all refused to bid.

By early 1964, M193 specs were given a temporary waiver. The average chamber pressure limit was increased to 53,000psi, with individual rounds allowed to test as high as 60,000psi. In response, Remington and Olin agreed to supply 500,000 cartridges apiece under this waiver. Frankford Arsenal also received permission to test production lots of 25,000rds loaded with alternate powders. Candidates included DuPont's CR 8136, Hercules' HPC-10, and Olin's WC846. (The latter was then in use by Olin for military production of 7.62x51mm ammunition, just as Remington had once done with IMR 4475.) Soon afterwards, Remington and DuPont complicated matters by withdrawing IMR 4475 for use in future production lots of M193.

HPC-10 was rejected due to low temperature pressure issues along with its propensity for bore erosion. WC846 had been an early favorite in part due to USAF acceptance of ammo lots loaded with the Ball powder. However, the resulting higher cyclic rate was ignored by the USAF, who simply increased the M16's maximum acceptable cyclic rate to match. The Army was more concerned, but issued month-by-month cyclic rate waivers for their XM16E1 instead. Soon after, DuPont's CR 8136 was also approved for use in loading M193. Although it also displayed higher pressure levels at the gas port, CR 8136 did not have as dramatic effect upon the cyclic rate as did WC846. As soon as Remington had production lots of M193 with CR 8136 available, the Army withdrew the month-to-month cyclic rate waivers for the XM16E1. Unfortunately, like IMR 4475 before it, the performance of CR 8136 was not stable from lot to lot, and Remington had a difficult time maintaining the maximum chamber pressure specs. By Decemeber 1964, Remington and DuPont withdrew CR 8136 for the production of M193. In order to finish the remainder of their production contract, Remington sought permission to use WC846, and this change was duly approved. However, XM16E1 acceptance testing at Colt continued with the remaining stocks of CR 8136-loaded M193 cartridges.

Colt's supply of CR 8136-loaded ammo did not run out until the early summer of 1965. When the Army refused to grant additional cyclic rate waivers with the use of WC846-loaded ammo, Colt in turn suspends production of the XM16E1 in favor of the USAF's M16. This led to yet another search by Frankford Arsenal for an alternate powder. While Olin declined to participate, two other powders were submitted: DuPont's EX 8208-4 and Hercules' HPC-11. DuPont's EX 8208-4 displayed moderate fouling, but it also recorded higher gas port pressures than even WC846. Hercules' HPC-11 showed the least visible fouling, but closer examination unveiled that heavy fouling was constricting the gas tube. Frankford Arsenal's final report recommended that EX 8208-4 be approved for use in M193 Ball and M196 tracer cartridges, and that Hercules and Olin reduce the fouling characteristics of their respective powders. Unlike WC846, HPC-11 was not approved for use. However, M193 and M196 cartridges loaded with DuPont EX 8208-4 would not enter the supply chain until June of 1966.

In December 1967, WC846 was withdrawn for use in loading M196 tracer cartridges. WC846 was replaced by DuPont's IMR 8208M (formerly EX 8208-4). Ironicly, production lots of M193 Ball loaded with IMR 8208M are soon withdrawn for practice use only. Reliability problems had been discovered in a new set of performance trials conducted by the USMC at Fort Sherman in Panama. Part of the goals were to sort out the relative merits of Ball versus IMR powders in the reliability of the M16A1.

The issue of allowable calcium carbonate content is not officially dealt with until the Fall of 1969. In January 1970, Olin takes a further step and divides the tolerances of WC846. They have finally discovered/admitted that lots of WC846 suitable for 5.56x45mm are at the opposite end of the tolerance range from lots suitable for 7.62mm NATO. Henceforth, the 5.56x45mm suitable tolerance range would be relabeled as WC844. The 7.62mm NATO-suitable tolerance range would remain known as WC846.

223 (5.56) WC844 & WC846 pet loads – collected from multiple sites

It's my understanding that:

844 = H335
846 = BLC2

You can verify that on AR15.com and other sites.

That being said, 846 and BLC2 are notorious for being temperature sensitive. Didn't Zediker (sp? Ziedecker?) have a chapter in a book entitled 'Scary in the sun' where he singled this powder out for this attribute? (What was that book? 'Handloading for Competition'?)

(from Pat’s page – pulled bullet/powder supplier)

WC-844, 223 Surplus, US Military powder, 8 lbs-84.99, 4-8's-79.99 ea

WC-844T(Tracer) Surplus for 223 Ball or tracer, 8lbs 84.99, 4-8's 79.99 each

Attention: All military 846 is in two types now, For use in Ball ammo with a Heat reduction added to powder and a Tracer type which burns at a higher temp to light tracer bullets

WC846 Surplus for all Ball Tips, 223/308, 8lb jugs 84.99, 4-8's $79.99 each; Government is getting 2-3 times barrel life now with this powder,

WC-846T ( for 308 Tracer) Surplus Powder for 223/308, 8 lbs $84.99, 4-8's 69.99 each

Robert Hutton used IMR 4198, IMR 3031 and an unknown Olin ball powder in development of the round to try to achieve 3,300 fps with a 55 grain bullet.
Remington rounds were used by the military initially using IMR 4475 (a military only version of IMR 3031), but IMR 4475 couldn't reach the 3,300 fps velocity requirement within the pressure limit spec. Mass produced loads using IMR 4475 were also very inconsistant. Pressure limit specs were increased, but the powder was switched anyway to WC846.

WC846 created higher pressures at the gas port and was dirty because of calcium carbonate levels. Olin reduced tolerance levels for calcium carbonate in WC846 from 1% to .25% and renamed it WC844 which is pretty much current production military ball. WC846 was continued for 7.62. Some rounds like 45 grain frangible use WC732. H335 is a commercially available rough equivalent to WC844. BL-C(2) is a commercial rough equivalent to WC846.

Fluffy says IMR 4475 is more reliable than WC846 because WC846 is dirty and produces higher pressures. WC844 partially solved the dirty problem, but the pressure level remains the same.

WC846. Wideners sells 8 lbs for $49 (that was enough to convince me). It's supposed to be equivalent to BL(C)-2, but my chronograph tells me it may be slightly more potent (download by 10% to be sure). The keg shows loads for 55 gr. .223 and 150 gr. .308. I don't load .308, but I've had decent results with it in .223, .30-30 and 7.7 Jap.

We have used WC846 in .223, .308, and 30-06.

As a previous poster noted, it isn’t the same as BL(C)-2 but is slighter more potent. Using military brass 42-43gr gets a 150gr to 2700fps.

I use 846 in .223,.308 and 30/30. It works fine. It tends to show a bit of variance from the suggested data-just like every other powder. Both 844 and 846 are relatively temperature sensitive.

Jeff Bartlett indicated to me that the wc846 was the replacement powder in .223 that caused sooo much angst in the original M-16, primarily due to the fouling caused by Calcium Carbonate used to stabilize the powder. Apparently, wc844 has the same specs as the wc846, except it had far less Ca. Carbonate in it, hence less fouling. Burning rate overlaps, so I suspect that it will work just fine in the .308.

Somewhere on the net I read that 844 and BL(C)2 and H335 were the same critter, just depended on if it was Surplus, which is H335, or new, which would make it BL(C)2. Even if this is not the case, they are all so close to the same that a hand loader will probably not tell the difference.

I have been using WC846 for my 223 for a thousand rounds and have had no problems. I load 25 gr. for a 55 FMJBT in my bushmaster. This powder appears to be not dirtier than the WW748. It is cheep and when combined with RVO prepared brass, is the best value I have found. I have also used it for 30-06 rounds with no problems

My experience tells me what you are saying about them being close is true. I haven't used H335, but was using W748 before trying the WC844 and WC846. The velocity (in the batches I have) range for identical charges is very close; within the ranges of deviation I had experienced with the W748. I'm getting about 2940 more or less with a 55PSP and the same charge of each of the three, with the deviation of the WC844 being a little less than that of 748. I haven't worked with the WC846 as much (in .223) but it appears to be extremely close to the others. I haven't reached the point of seeing any pressure signs with either powder and will work up a bit more. Accuracy is the same for all three. I'm shooting a 16" RRA carbine.

I have load over 11,000 rounds of 223 with WCC844 it is about 10% hotter then H335 and it's very good 24GR of WCC844 with a Hornady 55GR FMJ and wolf primers chronos about 3040fps works just great and cost less then H335.

844 is primarily 5.56 while 846 is 7.62. Tracer or ball the same powder is used for both.

I've been using 24.2gr. - 24.5gr. of WC846 powder with both my 62gr. and 55gr. bullets without any trouble in my AR15 chambered for 5.56x45 NATO.

It appears that WC846 is very similar to BL-C(2). For 55 gr. bullets, starting load is 25.5 gr. and max is 27.5 gr.

Also for 55 gr. bullets, WC844 is similar to H335 with starting load of 23.0 gr. and max of 25.3 gr.

For 62gr.-63gr. SS109 bullet, WC846 start = 24.0 gr. and max = 26.0 gr., WC844 start = 24.0 gr. and max = 25.5 gr.

I like to use 62 gr. SS109 bullets, RORG 92 brass, CCI 400 or CCI 41 primers, and 24.5 gr. of WC846 powder. This load works very nicely in my 20" barreled AR15

Be aware that WC844 and WC846 supposedly have the same burn characteristics, but represent different ends of the spectrum of acceptable calcium carbonate concentration. WC846 is from pulled 7.62x51mm ammunition, which can tolerate much more CaCO3 than is recommended for AR15/M16s. The idea is CaCO3 buildup in the gas tube of an AR leads to poor reliability. WC844 has a lower specified CaCO3 content.

The following is a pretty decent performer in my 'Target AR'. It produces velocity similar to Military Loads. I can pick up (at least I used to) bulk 62 grain FMJ's at the gunshow pretty cheap. Pat's Reloading has them sometimes too.

62 grain bullet. 25.5 grains WIN748. CCI 400 primer.

However, if you want cheap blasting ammo, you can't beat Pat's prices on WC 846 powder, CCI milspec Primers, and surplus bullets. If you buy enough, he'll pay the hazmat fee. In the past, I've usually dropped between $500 and $1000.

I use BLC-2 in both calibers in my M1-A and AR-15. I have had excellent results with both. I use it for both match grade bullets and as you put it surplus type loads. I stay pretty much right in the middle of the load charge from the Speer manual. I use whatever brass and primers I have on hand.

Few loads that I have tried out of my 20" inch barrel AR.


62 FMJBT 25.0 wc846 win brass. win srp. ave vel 2742 fps
75 Amax 24.0 wc846 win brass. win srp. ave vel 2528 fps

seems light will bump them up few grains...but your lot of WC846 maybe faster/slow. So seems like thats a good place to start.

few other calibers with WC846

30-06 150 sp. 48.5 win. win LR. 2654 fps. slow light load
45-70 405 sp. 62 win. win LRM. 1882 fps
45-70 350 sp 65 win. win LRM. 1935 fps
303 brit. 147fmj. 46 win. win LRM. 2550 fps
243 70 sp. 41 rem. win LRM. 3497 fps....TO HOT IN MY RIFLE

With Hornady 55 FMJ I settled on 26.8 of WC846 lot #49948. It makes USPSA minor power factor out of a 20" DPMS with a bit to spare with several different brands of brass.

It works OK, but if I don't clean the bolt and carrier every 100 rounds or so I start having problems. Switched to Ramshot powder and can run 300+ rounds with no problem.

I've loaded WC846 in 30-30, 308, 30-06, 35Rem, 222 and 223 and it works fairly well in all of them, but it's not hard to get better results with other powders in all cases, so when this jug is empty I won't replace it.

WC846 pretty much is BL-C2.

Given the following:

M855 loads up with 26.1grs of WC844 (62gr bullet) 3025FPS@78ft
M193 loads up with 28.5grs of WC844 (55gr bullet) 3155FPS@15ft

M80 ball loads with 46grs of WC846 (147gr bullet)
M118 loads with 44grs of WC846 or IMR4895 (172gr bullet)

I would estimate a reasonable starting load would be in the 22gr range, and working up until a muzzle velocity around 3000FPS is achieved. Personally, I don't like squeezing that last bit of performance out of ammo unless I really have to; slower bullets are usually a tad more accurate anyways. I would guess a final load would be around the 25gr range (25.5?)

Be sure and work up loads carefully from lot to lot. Start low. Chronographing is almost mandatory with surplus powders.

24.0 grains from a lot purchased several years ago gave 3125 fps fom an AR-15 with a 52 gr match BTHP. Hodgdon data suggests 26 gr of BL-C(2), similar to WC846, gives 3090 fps with a 53 gr HP. There is a big difference here.

Loaded most everything mentioned through .223, except VV and Norma powders.

I prefer BL-C2 @ 26.9gr (Though 27.0 is same, my measure throw's 26.9)
This is my go-to load with a Nosler BT seated to 2.25" (50 or 55gr), to test "accuracy" of any .223 Rifle. Bl-C2 is a spherical powder, essentially the same as Win748 which gives same results.

I use match prepped Federal, though Rem. or Win. will do.

Usually have Federal 205's on hand so use those, though CCI's or WinSR will do too!, Especially the CCI-BR's.

H335, at 25.0gr. Sometimes slightly more accurate than the Bl-C2, but usually a dead-heat.

I would suggest if you're loading in volume that you try the Mil-spec surplus powders that are essentially H335 and Bl-C2 in "bulk" military dress. WC-842, or WC-846. Much lower priced

Hodgons H110 a double base powder developed for the U.S. M-1 Carbine.

Winchester WC-820 a double base powder developed for the U.S. M-1 Carbine

Winchester WC-852 a double base powder developed and used in the U.S. M-1 Garand

Hodgons BL-C(2) a double base powder developed for use in the U.S. M-14 7.62 rifle.

Winchester WC-846 a double base powder developed and used in the M-14 rifle, M-60 and M-219 machine guns

Winchester WC-860 a double base powder developed for and used in the U.S 50 Caliber Machine Guns

WC-844 a double base powder developed for and used in the M-16 and M-249 machine gun

I loaded up some test loads (USGI brass, twice-fired) with 62gr projos over WC-846 powder last week. When I tested them, the primers were showing all kinds of crazy pressure signs at what should be less than book-max loads (and velocities were all in the expected range). I bought a bunch of CCI 400 primers long ago as a 2LT (before I knew about 450 and 41 primers) and that's what I have on-hand.

Should I get rid of the 400's and get 41's (or another primer)? Should I hang onto the 400's for another purpose?

Well I'd been having some similar issues lately. Pierced primers in loads that are not at max. In the last 2 years I chipped the tip of two firing pins, one in my NM RRA recently and another last year in my Colt carbine.

CCI 400 pierced with a 69 sierra load with 24.2 gr of BLC2 in a RP case. This load was great in my Colt Hbar but did not like the carbine. For comparison Hornady manual goes up to 27 with their 68 grain hollow point.

CCI 450's pierced with 23.6 RL15 and a 77 nosler in a LC case and IMI cases when retested in different brass.

WSR pierced with tiny hole (new non chromed primer) with Nosler bullet above and IMI cases while trying to sort out a safer load; 23.6 and 23.8 of RL 15 had a couple pierced primers.

No problems with rem 7 1/2 to date.

These are anecdotal comments and not any hard fast rule as all rifles are different as I found out when trying to put my hbar load in the carbine without a workup. And I interpolate data between manuals and bullets (ie 77 nosler and 77 sierra) and work up when substituting any component as is the rule.

I have 4 rifles that have 1-9 twists and my #1 .223 plinking round is the 62gr SCBT from Israeli Military Industries. I use 26.1 grs of WCC 844 which is a USGI clone load.

Accuracy, range, penetration are all there.

I've been using 24.2gr. - 24.5gr. of WC846 powder with both my 62gr. and 55gr. bullets without any trouble in my AR15 chambered for 5.56x45 NATO.

It appears that WC846 is very similar to BL-C(2). For 55 gr. bullets, starting load is 25.5 gr. and max is 27.5 gr.

For 55 gr. bullets, WC844 is similar to H335 with starting load of 23.0 gr. and max of 25.3 gr.

For 62gr.-63gr. SS109 bullet, WC846 start = 24.0 gr. and max = 26.0 gr., WC844 start = 24.0 gr. and max = 25.5 gr.

I loaded up some SS109 test ammo. The projos are 62gr FMJSCBT rounds I got from Wideners years ago. Brass was twice-fired USGI originally prepped by RVOW. Primers were CCI 400 (I know, I was young and stupid and didn't realize that the 450's were any different). Powder is WC-846.

Results out of a 16" Colt 1/9 HBAR, screens approx 6' from muzzle. I only shot for velocity, not accuracy (didn't even glance at the target when I was done).

23.0gr, average velocity 2517
24.2gr, average velocity 2665
25.0gr, average velocity 2759
26.0gr, average velocity 2895

The 26.0gr load showed flattened primers across the board (too hot, unless those CCI 400's are too soft). The 25.0gr load showed some flattening. The 24.2gr and 23.0gr loads showed totally normal primers.

The original loading of 5.56 ball ammo was with IMR4475. It changed when DuPont couldn't make enough of it and then they used the WC846 made by Olin. The cycle rated increased on the M16 but the rates were not exactly what the military was looking for. They loaded ammo for awhile using IMR8206 but there was the issue with muzzle flash and throat erosion for extended service rifles. They are now using WC 845 which is about the same burning rate as BL-C but it has a low burn temp, low muzzle flash, and has a detergent that is ideal for keeping the gas system clean on the M16. FWIW, TAC also has a similiar detergent. All of the above powders are good in the 223 and 5.56. The WC844 is slower than H335, WC846 is faster than AA2460 and faster than 748. The WC 845 is in between so they all are fairly close together in burn rate. If any of you decide to buy bulk military powder, stay away from powders marked with the initial T such as WC 844T. It burns at a much high temp to ignite tracer bullets and shorten barrel life. Also, WC-845 is not to be confused with WCR-845 which is for armor piercing ammo. And powder marked SMP 745 is not for any of the above but for the newer 6.8 ammo. Got a score card- you'll need one if you want to keep up.