223 wssm ponderings

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by 284STW, Feb 23, 2008.

  1. 284STW

    284STW Well-Known Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    I am currently in a slow build up of a .223 wssm on a super short model 70 CRPF action. I'm hoping to pick some brains for ideas and advice. There are a couple of things I've picked up along the way.

    First issue is the brass. Winchester really went the cheap way out when producing brass for this cartridge and in turn I believe this has been the major cause of annoyance with this cartridge. The neck walls measure around 21 thousandths which I feel is way too thick. I haven't ordered a reamer for it yet and I plan on building up a few dummy rounds and having the reamer built off that. Does anyone have any ideas on the best way to bring all of the necks down to say 16 thousandths or so? What type of neck turning sytsem should work the best etc...? Would you employ a combination of neck turning and neck reaming? I feel that the brass is the weak link in this equation and if I get it to better dimensions I can enjoy the rest of the rifle.

    Second, I have a Kreiger 8" twist barrel for it that I can finish as long as 30". Shooting heavier bullets, around 80gr, can I use the entire length? I really think I can with slower powders and the heavy bullets while in turn keeping the initial chamber pressures somewhat lower than if I were trying to push a 40gr vmax to the limit. I ordered the barrel with an extra long shank to plan for set back later in life so I'll probably go ahead and finish it at 30" anyway but I figured I'd see what the greater minds on LRH thought.

    This should be an interesting project and I feel that it will at the least be definitely unique when it's finished. Here are the planned specs for now.

    Blueprinted and tuned action.
    30" 1:8" twist bbl.
    Russo A-5 Laminate stock.
    Farrel 20MOA base.
    SS 10 power scope.
  2. Varmint Hunter

    Varmint Hunter Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2001
    Two things would concern me regarding the 223 WSSM cartridge.

    1. For whatever reason the WSSM cartridges (as a family) never caught on. This could cause dwindling availability of brass which could be a big problem in the future.

    2. As you have noticed, the quality of current brass may not be that good and it isn't very likely that match brass will become available any time soon, if ever.

    I'd much rather build a rifle around a cartridge that currently has match grade component available. I'm not sure what cartridges your action would accomodate but there may be other .224 hotrods that would work better and be easier in the long run.

    Just a thought & Good luck with the project

  3. 284STW

    284STW Well-Known Member

    Dec 15, 2006
    I really don't think there are many options to build from with that action. Kind of why I'm going that route. Quality of brass is lacking and while it will eventually fade away I would assume brass will be available for a little while. Heck, I can still get brass and loaded ammunition for my .307 Win... Besides, I already have the bbl so at this point I'm committed, to the project, any institutional committment will surely come later.

    Seriously threads on the topic of the wssm always spin this route sooner or later. I'd like to keep it to ideas regarding making this project a success instead. There is an awful lot of knowledge on here that I would like to tap into. I realize you didn't mean any disrespect and I really do appreciate the insight I am only trying to make sure this thread goes where it can help me. I have always leanded towards having something other than the mainstream products when possible. I just like something different. That being said, I agree that my next build will be of a round with easily obtainable match grade components.
  4. fireball168

    fireball168 Active Member

    May 17, 2007
    I've built a .358 wildcat, I call the 358 BFG, trimmed to 1.620" to be legal for Indiana deer as a pistol caliber rifle.

    PTG made the reamer using .012" brass neck thickness, which has been working out well.

    Here's how I would prep my brass(and how I have for the WSSM's I own).

    Full length size.

    You'll likely find .010"+ length varation on average with the brass after full length sizing.

    Trim to length with Wilson trimmer.

    The inside of the necks look like hell on all the factory brass, buy the inside neck reamer from Wilson and cut the inside while its on the trimmer.

    Deburr the flash hole and cut the primer pocket depth.

    Cut the outside neck diameter to your desired O.D. using a Sinclair neck turner with the proper mandrel.

    Neck size with whatever bushing is appropriate.

    I think 28-30" of barrel will be fine, remember you're dealing with case capacity very similar to a 243/308(57.5 grains of water on the .358 version I mention above).
  5. malcarjeb

    malcarjeb Well-Known Member

    Mar 12, 2006
    I have two .223 WSSM. One is a Winchester stealth II that I had rebarreled by Hart with a 8 twist. It is 26" and I shoot the 90gr. SMK with outstanding accuracy. The other is a Browning Varmint Stalker that I also had rebarreled by Hart with a 14 twist for the lighter bullets. It also is a shooter and has a 25" barrel.

    I also load for a friend's and his also has a hart barrel at 26". He loves his too.
    I have watched him shot oranges at 400 yards like it is nothing.

    I have NEVER had any problems or issues with the Winchester brass. It last forever and shoots one hole groups. The key to making the brass work is PRESSURE. This cal. likes to run at the upper end of the pressure curve. The high pressure makes the thick brass seal in the chamber good. If your necks are sooty, you don't have enough pressure.

    Load her hot and let it rip. They have gotten a bad rap and don't deserve it because they real do shoot well.
  6. anachronism

    anachronism Well-Known Member

    Mar 26, 2005
    Winchester used chrome lined barrels in the .223 & .243 WSSMs because they are really hard on barrels. You might keep this in mind. Just a suggestion. A friend has a .257 & really likes it, but that rifle won't see 100 rounds in a year.
  7. B Jordan

    B Jordan Well-Known Member

    Aug 27, 2005
    i built 2 223 wssm last year with fast twist barrels and had several problems i did have problems after a couple firings getting the brass to seal when the rifle went off without having too much pressure and left a black residue about half way down the shoulder so i was talking to fred at SSS one day and he said he had trouble with any 223 wssm with barrel lengths over 26" i rechambered one to a 22-243 and cut the other one down to 25 and1/2" if i remember right and had better luck but there was still brass issues i had to anneal the brass about every other firing so after a while i scraped the whole project and built a 7mm wsm out of the action

    i also want to add that the little sucker shot great just to much work for me

    also you might want to call seirra and ask why the dont supply load data for a 223 wssm they could also help you with you neck thickness they done alot of testing with this cartridge

    I know what its like to want something so good luck with your project