Author Topic: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load  (Read 1116 times)

Offline Foil

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Hello all.

Obviously, use any of this at your own risk, every gun and chamber is different and I'm certainly not running a standard set-up.

AR: Franken-AR, pieced together.

- Milspec upper and lower receiver, but I lapped the face of the upper receiver so the barrel has 100% contact with the upper when installed. I've had good results with this technique on a previous .223 wylde AR project, didn't reduce group size but it did significantly reduce the number of unexplained fliers I was getting.  I put a Raptor gas-diverting ambi charging handle, an extended mag release and a Magpul BAD lever on it too, but I'm a lefty so those are kind of par for the course if I want to run it well.  I also fab'd up a little clip-on plastic shield that keeps me from getting sprayed in the face from gasses when I run it suppressed (again....lefty troubles)

- Proof Carbon barrel, 22 inch, with an adjustable superlative arms gas block and a titanium JP comp (when it's not wearing a Dakota Silencer Varminter 3.0 .30 cal can)

- brownells Milspec bolt carrier with a JP Rifle 6.8spc match bolt

- JP Silent-Buffer H2 buffer system

- Geisselle single stage trigger, but with the heavier spring, a nice 4.5 pull with zero take-up.  I prefer triggers in this poundage range over a lighter trigger, I seem to get more repeatable releases.

- Midwest Industries 15 inch low-pro m-lock free float tube and barrel nut

- Utility buttstock from MFT, has a bore-snake, a hex key for the gas block, and 2 spare batteries in it

- low profile vertical forend grip, really just there to hold a folded up lens cloth

- Magpul pistol grip with a little bottle of CLP inside

- quick detach bipod mount for a 4oz carbon fiber bipod that stores in a belt pouch

- 2-10x Burris XTR II FFP with mil-dot reticle

- 45 degree offset RMR (the battery free version with a delta reticle, surprisingly VERY accurate out to maybe 200m once zero'd)

- Magazines: I'm running new ASC 6.8SPC magazines, specifically because they offer the largest interior overall length.  I tried the PRI mags - every single one failed after 2-3 magazines worth of load testing.  The feed-lips were just a touch too open and the last round in every mag would pop up into the action before the bolt could come forward, locking my bolt open with a loose round in the action.  Junked them all.  I've had zero malfunctions with the ASC magazines, totally reliable, and more interior length for reloads.

So...yeah.  Its not a low-dollar build, but it is a 1km capable rifle that weighs 8lbs 2oz unloaded and is still capable up close, and I already know from experience that the 88gr ELD-M is extremely effective on deer as well as coyote.  Definitely my go-to do everything bullet.

Load development:

Again, caveats.  I'm not running ANYTHING by book values.  My COAL is significantly longer than standard, with magazine selection allowing me to do so.  My powder charge is significantly higher than Hornady's data, but I believe the longer overall length is helping keep pressures well below what they would be at book-standard COAL.  I have zero pressure signs - but it took a lot of fiddling for me to get where I was happy.

The biggest hurdle I found was that, in my experience, the overall case capacity of .224 Valkyrie is SIGNIFICANTLY overstated.  I'm running starline brass and after firing, they all have 31.7gr of H2O capacity....not the ~34 that I see floating around.  Possibly this is due to a very tight match chamber on my Proof barrel? 

The biggest limiting factor I found was that any temp-stable powder I wanted to use (I live in an area with -20 winters and 95 degree summers, the hodgedon extreme powders might not be more accurate than anything else, but they also don't produce high-temp pressure issues and I don't have to develop hot and cold loads)..... anyways the hodgedon powders used up too much case capacity to even get near max pressures, so I was getting crappy velocities.  RL-17 gave me great velocity but crap accuracy.

If I delved into significantly compressed loads, the bullets were being very visibly deformed during seating.  This problem was much worse with the 90gr SMK, because that thing has a very fragile ogive.  I never got them to shoot under an inch.

I ended up using a power drill and lapping compound to spin the 88gr bullet into the seating stem until the stem exactly matched the bullet...now I have zero bullet deformation even with my very compressed final load.  Hornady sells a seating stem specially made for the 80gr ELD-M....this is very close to perfect and will require less lapping than I had to do with my standard stem.

ALL that said, here's the final load I wound up with (and again, zero pressure signs, not even an ejector swipe on the brass)

24.3gr Varget
Starline Brass (full length sized, flash hole deburred, trimmed to book length)
Federal AR-Match small rifle primers
2.267 COAL (yes this really does fit in the ASC magazines, no issue)

That combination is giving me 2650fps from a 22 inch barrel (in 25 degree temperatures), and single digit standard deviation numbers.  VERY happy with that result.

And.....well, it's accurate.  I've attached a photo of a 5 shot group, off of shooting bags, shot at 100m....and it was snowing at the time.  Not every group is this good....but none of them are far-off.  Suffice it to say the joker behind the trigger was more to blame for any deviation than the gun or ammo.  It was so good that I had to set my scope to hit high because after the previous groups...I couldn't see the dot anymore.  It's easily 1/2 MOA, and consistently so.





« Last Edit: December 20, 2018, 06:35:12 PM by Foil »

Offline Hammerhead

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #1 on: December 20, 2018, 06:50:37 PM »
Gotta love a quality build. looks like you have some great results. I think for a lot of us the accuracy issue was really a
tough one to crack. The velocity gains from RE-17 were great but like you said , the accuracy was not there. I fell into
the mindset with mine that because of the long freebore issue that I  just had a bad barrel that would never be accurrate.
Not being one to give up so easily(I 'm called Hammerhead for a pretty good reason I guess) I'm going back through
all my most accurate loads using a much larger drop tube than I had in the beginning  and getting outstanding results seated at 2.260.
One of my best loads included 88 ELD's and Power Pro 2000MR. Seated at 2.306 they were in the 27000fps range
and half moa. I'm very exited to try that combo at 2.260. The Valkyrie fills a niche for me that none other could. I am a coyote hunter and the thought of an 88 grain bullet with max velocity and half the recoil of a 243 is a dream come true.
Welcome to the forum by the way. 8)

Offline Foil

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #2 on: December 20, 2018, 07:35:07 PM »
Thanks :)

And yeah, I had a hell of a time getting what I considered acceptable accuracy from match bullets and a barrel of this quality.  My .223 wylde AR upper was extremely friendly to load for - it basically shot everything into the same ~.85 inches, no real load development needed.  I just cloned the 77gr OTM military load and got consistent sub-MOA and the same velocities the data predicted.

The valkyrie was the exact opposite, and a huge pain in the ass.  Hardest thing to reload I've ever dealt with.  Following exact book values I was getting ~150fps less than advertised velocity, and 1.5-1.0 MOA.  I tried H4350, CFE223, RE-16, RE-17, and yes, 2000MR as well (what can I say, the rifle just didn't like it).  Every time, I had to choose between good accuracy or good velocity, but never both, because there's not enough case capacity to get good velocities out of the slower powders, and the faster powders just didn't shoot well for me.  And for the powders that were fast enough to produce good numbers (like Varget), load compression was so extreme that I initially wouldn't even consider going further.

I was very wary of going as hot, and as compressed, as I did with Varget.  You know you're pushing things when you have to modify the seating stem so it doesn't destroy bullets due to powder compression.  But.....no pressure signs at all, I'm suddenly getting advertised values, and my group size got cut in half.  I don't own another rifle that shoots as well as this thing with these loads, and it will do anything from varmint to deer with the same bullet, limited only by shooter skill.

So....I love it.  It's fantastic and does exactly what I wanted it for.  And the 88gr ELD-M is HALF the price per bullet as the 90gr SMK!

I just hope SAMMI, and the bullet manufacturers/reloading manual publishers can get their sh1t together.  If they don't, people are going to continue to have blown-primer issues with factory ammo and reloaders are going to get very frustrated chasing performance that is legitimately unattainable given the published data.

Offline Hammerhead

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #3 on: December 20, 2018, 08:03:55 PM »
Man I hear ya Brutha, there was no load data at all when I got in and I thought H4350 would be a good fit and remember
the cringe on my face seating the first bullet and crunching powder half way thru the ram stoke.
The thing that opened everything up for me was an old drop tube I found in a box that was a full 1/2 inch i.d. when the one
I was using was 3/8. Seating to 2.260 is not an issue now. That has shrunk every load I have revisited and hope for the same with the 88's.  I hope the bullet manufacturers step up with more tangent style ogive bullets they for sure perform
better in the Valkyrie and I officially love this thing  ;D

Offline Foil

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #4 on: December 21, 2018, 11:31:46 AM »
I don't have a long drop tube, or at least not one of the correct size, but I'm doing something that produces similar results.  I've got a little platform on my reloading bench that vibrates, and I will set my rounds on that for a couple seconds before seating the bullet - accomplishes the same thing and settles the powder into the case.  Really helps, my varget loads for the .224V have powder all the way up to the neck of the case, and after vibing them for a couple seconds it's halfway down the shoulder.  Probably about the same difference you're getting with the drop tube.

Offline gump1376

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2019, 04:51:29 PM »
The stated velocity is pretty close to my load I'm using of~2650 fps.  I'm using Varget as well due to the extreme temps we have here in Northern NM.  So far I've gotten my load down to 3/4 MOA at 100 yards (0.787" from center to center to be exact).  The rifle I built is as follows:

Ballistic Advantage 20" fluted premium barrel 1:7 twist
Ballistic Advantage upper and BCG with a Midwest industries 15" free float handguard and A2 flash hider
Bushmaster lower, JP silent captured spring, Gissle two stage SSD trigger and magpul grip and stock.

For my load, I'm running:
Hornady 88gr ELDM
Federal Brass
Federal small rifle primers
23.7 gr of H-Varget
COAL: 2.270"

At 22 Deg F I'm getting 2655 fps with SD ~9.5 fps. 
At 40 Def F I'm getting 2656 fps (can't remember my SD but I think it was in the mid teens).

I'm at a fairly high elevation of 5960 ft at my range so I'm supersonic to ~1300 yards at 40-80 deg. F according to Strelok Pro.

I haven't seen any improvement with a COAL of 2.280 or 2.260.  While Loading, I am getting indents on the bullet so I'm going to assume this may be the culprit of the lack of accuracy (if you call 3/4 MOA bad).  I like your idea of using a bullet and lapping compound to get rid of the indentation left from the seating die.  I'm using Lee dies with no crimp right now.  I was thinking of potentially using a slight crimp on my next loads to see if it will keep the SD/ES down to the single digits.  I am noticing the primer pockets getting pretty loose on some of my brass after 2-3 firings. 

I'm also considering potentially using some H-4895, but I haven't seen any data with it so I know where to start. 

Offline Hammerhead

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2019, 02:34:34 PM »
Sounds like you have some good things going on. With your 88's try some BR-4 or Rem 7 1/2  primers. One of them may tighten those groups.

Offline CCW

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2019, 07:31:29 PM »
Thanks Foil.
    Learn what the primer cup crimp ring is really for, and learn to finesse it for reloads up to at least 5X hot loads, using the 88gr ELD-M Match factory brass.

Shame that Federal put primer cup crimp rings on Billions of military rounds but did not put them on their comm'l Val rounds.

The O.D. on my 88ELD Match Hdy factory rounds expands once from first factory firing.   Then it never expands again, that I can detect.  Military primer crimp ring function was to catch fired primers AFTER FIRING even though the case head expanded.

Offline Foil

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2019, 10:41:06 PM »
I gave up on federal brass as I found that after a single firing they expanded enough in the primer pocket that I was not comfortable loading them again.  The chances of losing a spent primer in the fire control group are just too high for my tastes.

I have not been able to detect ANY primer pocket size change with the Starline brass, and I exclusively changed to that.  Haven't had any issues and I've got cases that have been through 5 loadings - not only have the primer pockets stayed pristine, I haven't even needed to trim yet.  Part of that might be due to my adjustable gas block and the +2 inch rifle length length gas system that Proof is using for their valkyrie barrels - chamber pressure is definitely quite low by the time the bolt unlocks.  But the Starline brass has definitely made me a fan.

Offline gump1376

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2019, 06:59:05 PM »
Sounds like you have some good things going on. With your 88's try some BR-4 or Rem 7 1/2  primers. One of them may tighten those groups.

I've tried the BR-4 primers and they didn't produce as good of groups as with the Fed primers.  Winchester primers were the worst of the three.  May look into the Rem primers if I need to see about decreasing my group sizes further.

Offline CCW

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2019, 05:37:45 PM »
Ditto on the case capacity.   I did the water test on several once fired HDY ELD 88 Match cases.   I measured an average of 31.6.  Some powders looked promising but could not get enough in the case.
--CCW

Offline 10 November

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 12:09:03 PM »
Paul Craddock of Craddock Precision told me his go to load is 24.6 Varget w/ 90gr SMK @2.26 COL.
Glad to see a similar load is performing well.

Offline Grant

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2019, 07:03:37 PM »
How do you get 24.6 grains of varget in the case without doing some serious powder crunching?

Offline bpd131

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2019, 04:14:29 PM »
The stated velocity is pretty close to my load I'm using of~2650 fps.  I'm using Varget as well due to the extreme temps we have here in Northern NM.  So far I've gotten my load down to 3/4 MOA at 100 yards (0.787" from center to center to be exact).  The rifle I built is as follows:

Ballistic Advantage 20" fluted premium barrel 1:7 twist
Ballistic Advantage upper and BCG with a Midwest industries 15" free float handguard and A2 flash hider
Bushmaster lower, JP silent captured spring, Gissle two stage SSD trigger and magpul grip and stock.

For my load, I'm running:
Hornady 88gr ELDM
Federal Brass
Federal small rifle primers
23.7 gr of H-Varget
COAL: 2.270"

At 22 Deg F I'm getting 2655 fps with SD ~9.5 fps. 
At 40 Def F I'm getting 2656 fps (can't remember my SD but I think it was in the mid teens).

I'm at a fairly high elevation of 5960 ft at my range so I'm supersonic to ~1300 yards at 40-80 deg. F according to Strelok Pro.

I haven't seen any improvement with a COAL of 2.280 or 2.260.  While Loading, I am getting indents on the bullet so I'm going to assume this may be the culprit of the lack of accuracy (if you call 3/4 MOA bad).  I like your idea of using a bullet and lapping compound to get rid of the indentation left from the seating die.  I'm using Lee dies with no crimp right now.  I was thinking of potentially using a slight crimp on my next loads to see if it will keep the SD/ES down to the single digits.  I am noticing the primer pockets getting pretty loose on some of my brass after 2-3 firings. 

I'm also considering potentially using some H-4895, but I haven't seen any data with it so I know where to start.

What is your max COAL for that barrel? Or do you know what your jump to the lands dimension is?

Offline Randy_Lahey

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Re: New member, finished development of my rifle and my 88gr ELD-M load
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2019, 08:36:35 PM »
I haven't done the water measurement, but I do notice that my Federal once fired brass will hold more powder than my new Starline brass.   That holds true in 6.5 Creedmoor as well, as Stareline has less case capacity vs Hornady once fired.

I wouldn't sweat it..  Beautiful combo btw.