223 Trainer Rifles By the 6.5 Guys

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About a year ago we were hanging out with our gunsmith Travis Redell of RBros Rifles and we asked him what our next build should be. In the back of our minds we were expecting him to recommend one of the more powerful 6.5mm cartridges or a flat shooting 6mm. Instead Travis recommended we both build .223 trainers. His response was interesting but not terribly exciting. Fast forward a bit to the 2015 SilencerCo Quiet Riot when we had a chance to spend some quality time with a very successful shooter Bryan Morgan (Ed was actually lucky enough to be squadded with him). Bryan shared that he spends most of his time practicing with a .223 trainer and only shoots his match rifle for the most part to make sure it's sighted in. Read More...
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brant89

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Jun 13, 2012
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I started out learning on a .223 and once I began reloading I adopted the 75gr AMAX as my bullet of choice. I have since built a 260AI and 300WM and with the AMAX bullets being discontinued I am in a bit of a quandary. I am getting ready to put in a 400yd range behind my house and I'm questioning whether I should switch the rifle over to the new ELD-M bullets for their high BC or downgrade to the 55gr VMAX to better hone my skills at judging wind. The part that has me torn here is that with the high BC bullets this rifle is a known groundhog destroyer out to 600+, but my ultimate goal is ethical one shot kills on big game at 800+ with the new 300WM, and the wind drift of the 55gr VMAX at 400yd would be nearly identical to the 300WM at 800yd. What do the judges think?
 

gj

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Dec 13, 2003
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Idaho
I realize this is a pretty old article, but I think there is definitely some value here. I started out learning on a .223 and once I began reloading I adopted the 75gr AMAX as my bullet of choice. I have since built a 260AI and 300WM and with the AMAX bullets being discontinued I am in a bit of a quandary. I am getting ready to put in a 400yd range behind my house and I'm questioning whether I should switch the rifle over to the new ELD-M bullets for their high BC or downgrade to the 55gr VMAX to better hone my skills at judging wind. The part that has me torn here is that with the high BC bullets this rifle is a known groundhog destroyer out to 600+, but my ultimate goal is ethical one shot kills on big game at 800+ with the new 300WM, and the wind drift of the 55gr VMAX at 400yd would be nearly identical to the 300WM at 800yd. What do the judges think?

Look at the 53 gr V max higher BC if i remember correctly...

73 gr eld match are good but you need a good twist,,, i dont think a 1-9 ,,,,16" will do very well 1-8 better 1-7 best.
20" 1-9 might have a chance at doing well....

As far as i understand it eld match bullets are basically A max with the new non melting BLST tip for the most part ....

Call Hornady and ask them.....800-338-3220
 

brant89

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Jun 13, 2012
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344
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Southern Michigan
I'm aware that I could run the 73gr ELD in my rifle and it would stabilize, and I'm also aware that the 53gr VMAX has a slightly higher BC than the 55gr VMAX. My question was more along the lines of what everyone thought would be of greater benefit strictly from a learning standpoint. Since I will soon have access to a 400yd range on a daily basis, if I intentionally chose a bullet with a lower BC it would help to improve my skills at judging the wind because it will be affected by wind twice as much so I will have to be twice as good at judging it to keep them on target, but it may also limit my range on groundhogs. Although I could always use the 260AI to poke groundhogs at extended ranges. So it really boils down to is it logical to intentionally handicap my rifle for the sake of learning, or will the lower BC not really improve my ability to judge the wind more accurately.
 

blackdog

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Jan 14, 2011
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Portland, OR
It sounds like what you might want to do is develop two loads for your trainer - a 55g training round for your 400 yard range and another with the ELD-M for hunting groundhogs. Although, I personally think simply building a new load with the new Hornady's and running them all the time would be fine. I just loaded up the last of my AMAX stash (although Midway was just selling them again last week) recently and am transitioning to Nosler's new 70g RDF. Initial load development looks good and they're super inexpensive - just what I want in a trainer round.
 

BergerFan222

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Joined
Feb 24, 2015
Messages
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I realize this is a pretty old article, but I think there is definitely some value here. I started out learning on a .223 and once I began reloading I adopted the 75gr AMAX as my bullet of choice. I have since built a 260AI and 300WM and with the AMAX bullets being discontinued I am in a bit of a quandary. I am getting ready to put in a 400yd range behind my house and I'm questioning whether I should switch the rifle over to the new ELD-M bullets for their high BC or downgrade to the 55gr VMAX to better hone my skills at judging wind. The part that has me torn here is that with the high BC bullets this rifle is a known groundhog destroyer out to 600+, but my ultimate goal is ethical one shot kills on big game at 800+ with the new 300WM, and the wind drift of the 55gr VMAX at 400yd would be nearly identical to the 300WM at 800yd. What do the judges think?

Could go either way. I think learning to read wind with a lower BC bullet can be great practice, and I have used the 55 VMAX to good effect. Great bullet and easy to load for. Lots of .223s and .222s love it. Cost effective also allowing a volume of practice. Does well with thrown (rather than weighed) ball powders also as it is not super sensitive to variations in powder weight and speed, especially out to 400 yards. What's not to like? (I've used it out to 600 yards.) Moves tons in the wind past 400.

We love the ELD-Ms in a couple other calibers, but right now the new pointed 80 SMK is proving to have BCs just above 0.500 in several of our .223s, and a couple of our shooters have posted perfect (200-20X) match scores with it. It will likely remain our go-to .223 bullet out to 600 yards unless someone gets a hankering for a mag length (2.260") load or wants something to sing in a 1 in 9 twist barrel. In that case, the 73 and 75 ELD-Ms will be high on the list.
 

brant89

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Jun 13, 2012
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344
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Southern Michigan
I thought about doing two different loads but I hate having to adjust my seater die back and forth all the time. I really could get away with plugging groundhogs with some 140gr ELD-M's from the 260AI. I think my biggest problem is that after years of always choosing the most efficient bullet for whatever cartridge I'm running it difficult for me to commit to inferior ballistics intentionally. I am glad to here that there are other people doing this though. I also like the idea of throwing charges for the 223 since that is the rifle that sees the most attention. I spend a lot of time behind it practicing proper shooting position and form to try to maintain a 1/2MOA cold bore group at 200yds over the course of a week or two. My hope is that if I can extend these cold bore sessions to 400yds with varying winds my long range game will see very rapid improvement.
 
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