223 Long Range Shooting

Long Range shooting comments for 223

(compiled from various forums)

(heavy on Berger VLD products & N540 load info)

Sean McKenna of Berger Bullets uses N540 with Rem 7.5s for his service rifle loads. He uses 73 grainers to great effect out to 300 yards. I'm guessing he uses the 80 gr. VLD bullet past that. He won the Creedmoor Cup last year with his service rifle, swatting down shooters with match rifles with more "grunt" in the chamber. I'm sure he'd be happy to assist you in working up a load with N540.

The 77 gr. bullet they offer is rather new, but it should be comparable to Sierra's bullet.

Don't be afraid to try different primers as this will often make more difference than you think. Try a speer br-2 primer, winchester and even the Remington, and before doing that, you might try running your charge a little higher, if no pressure signs showing. Use a chronograph.....

Closer tack driving accuracy is often different than long range accuracy. For the long range, you need to pay attention to your standard deviation and extreme spread......you need the chronograph to do that. Plus differences in primer performance is often indicated by s.d. and e.s. so again,,,,,use the chronograph.

Have fired thousands of rounds with N540 and 77's and 80's (Berger and JLK). No problems at all. Good velocity, clean burning, and very accurate. Lots of bearing surface with the 77's, so use less powder than with the other bullets.

Barrel(s): 26" Krieger(s) 1:7.7 twist is subsonic at 1000 yards / both 1:7 twists were all good out to 1000 yards
Bullets: Sierra 77 / JLK 80 / Berger 80 - all moly, shoot 300+ rounds between cleanings
Powder: N540
Brass: Winchester
Primer: CCI 450 (magnum)

The JLK and Berger's are at 2900 fps with from 25-27 grains of N540, depending on the wear of the barrel. The further the throat pushes forward, the more powder it takes. I tested over 3000 fps, but that is too hot. It recoiled "different", it smelled different, and it sounded a little different. 2900 fps is supersonic at 1000 yards. The 77's fly slower, don't remember exactly, but they are fine to 600 yards, but give up windage by a large margin. They are EASY to get to group. Most any powder charge gives 1/2 MOA groups or better. The N540 is super clean burning too. I tried different powders for 2-300 and 600 and had some compatibility issues. Now just shoot N540 for all AR work. Only use about 12 pounds a year, so the cost difference is not significant. Hope this helps.

I get very relatively nice groups at 600yds with 77gr 2600fps out of an 18" Noveske 1:7 twist barrel. When I shot All Army service matches, the 20" shooting M855 was barely good enough for 600yds (fine for 400yds though). 1000yds for .223 is definitely outside the envelope. Sure, you can probably push 80gr hot loads that far, but at that distance you're taking it past extreme. That's like trying to get reasonable groups from a .308 @ 1500m. Sure, you can hit the target at that distance, but luck comes substantially more into play than anything else

The BC on the Berger 22cal VLD 80gr is .471. That's not far off from the Sierra 30cal 175gr which is .495 nominal. The Berger 80 can be shot at or over 2800fps in a 20" barrel. That is probably the same muzzle velocity as the 175gr out of a .308 M14, if not faster.

I don't know what rifle won it last year, but I'm positive a shooter with an M16/AR15 won the Farr Trophy a couple years ago.

Here's another source article:


Green won the National Long-Range Service-Rifle Championship for shooting the highest combined overall score with his M-16 rifle at 600, 800, 900 and 1,000 yards. Green also took third place in the overall National Service Rifle Championship.

Winchester brass / CCI 450 primers / N540 / 77 grain Sierra - moly - loaded to magazine length

I forgot about these two barrels:

26" Pac-nor 1:7.5 twist -
24.0 gr. / .565 group / 2660 fps
24.5 gr. / .440 group / 2728 fps
25.0 gr. / .310 group / 2789 fps
25.5 gr. / .415 group / 2873 fps
26.0 gr. / .300 group / 2917 fps - no pressure signs

20" Krieger 1:7.7 twist -
24.5 gr. / .710 group / 2578 fps
25.0 gr. / .410 group / 2642 fps
25.5 gr. / .480 group / 2694 fps
26.0 gr. / .475 group / ???? slight pressure signs

Chose the 25.0 grain load to shoot in both rifles. The newest 26" Krieger is being finicky, so have not messed with it much over the last year. The last Krieger 26", 1:7 twist gave up shooting 80's at around 5000 rounds. It still shot 77's fine, so I shot them out to 600 at all the matches. Likely gave up some points, but it wasn't too bad.

Getting any bullet to 600 yards is not too tough. The wind will blow the light ones off the target, but they will get there flying straight. Even 800 yards is not that difficult. At 900 things get tougher and at 1000, it is a whole different ballgame. The 80 grain Sierra is difficult to get to go out fast enough to shoot at 1000. The Berger's and JLK's are no problem. You either need high velocity or high bullet RPM's or both.

I've shot a lot of 80 JLK's at 1000 yards. The BC is similar to a .30 caliber 155 grain Palma bullet, so the wind drift is close to the same. BUT, the AR is just a lot harder to shoot good shots with versus a bolt rifle. Don't know why, but that is my experience.


Right now I'm using in a 20" 1-7" twist service rifle barrel:

200/300 yard line: 77gr Nosler BTHP, 24.0gr RL15, CCI BR4 primer, and LC brass

600 yard line: 80gr Sierra Match King, 24.0gr RL15, CCI BR4 primer, and Lapua brass.

Though, I'm going to switch to Berger 80gr VLDs since the price on Sierra 80gr is pretty much the same now.