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Thread: 5.56 - 223

  1. #1

    5.56 - 223

    Hi all, right don't crucify me on this question, as im new to reloading but someone advised me that you can re-size 5.56 old military cases to suit 223, ? is that right and if so is that what people use ?, I have also heard that old military spent cases are better as they are thicker ? - P.S I don't have a 223 just wondered if anyone currently used this brass .

  2. #2
    Yes you can resize 556 to use in a 223. The main difference between the 2 is in the chambering the leade in the 556 is a lot longer. Some people prefer thinner brass as they can get more powder in. I use GGG brass and its dam good stuff

  3. #3
    Thanks Danny, just wondered that's all, and wondered why people don't just use old surplus military to reload with as it must be way cheaper than other brass

  4. #4
    The main reason is probably because milspec ammo has crimped primers which is an extra step to get rid of. Also some milspec brass is pretty brittle so will need annealing before reusing

  5. #5
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    Thicker isn't always better in the rifles we have legally permitted in the UK. If we had self-loading rifles thicker would indeed be better.

    But we don't. So the only real advantage is cost.

    If they are cheaper go ahead. But if commercial, good quality, .223 cases are available I'd choose them if they were the same price. And yes beware the difference in capacity.

  6. #6
    Most, not all, 5.56mm is poor quality brass compared to the better commercial products. Even where it is 'good', ie consistent weights, wall and neck circumferences around the case, properly annealed necks and shoulders, it has a lower capacity compared to Winchester, Norma, and Lapua 223. In such a small capacity case, that's generally a bad thing, reducing usable maximum charges and hence velocities.

    However, there is another thing one really has to watch with ex-military 5.56. The Nato spec is very high pressure indeed in the standard 62gn bullet loading, nearly 62,000 psi. That is a punishing level. And gas-powered semi-autos are HARD on brass - they are whipped into and out of chambers in weapons whose headspace adjustments would sometimes give a civilian rifle builder a fit or two. Fired cases with their heads (ie bases) forced out of square to the cartridge axis aren't unknown. Massive cuts into the case-head / rim are often seen, this caused by the case hitting a peg ejector at speeds you couldn't approach in a manually operated firearm, and dents in the case-mouth / shoulder received by the case hitting the edge of the ejection port are also pretty common.

    Then as noted primers are crimped into the pocket (to stop them backing out and causing a malfunction when fired in an automatic weapon with excessive headspace). This has to be reamed out after sizing / depriming before the case can be re-primed, or the entire pocket swaged.

    So, ex-military brass can be good and reloadable, but it is a matter of being very careful as to what it is, where it came from, and looking hard at its condition. Generally, you get what you pay for things and the people who make military ammo churn it out in the millions at the very low prices that miserly governments will pay for it. The surprise isn't that there is bad military brass around, rather that some of it is as good as it is. If you can find once-fired Lithuanian manufactured GGG brass that has been fired in civilian rifles for sale, it has a good reputation.

  7. #7
    Wow thanks guys some really good factual information there guys thanks.

  8. #8
    What about standard .223 ammo (ie Hornady fmj training rounds or Geco fmj rounds) that have been fired through military semi autos? Assuming they look ok are they likely to be ok to resize?

    I've picked up Federal brass fired from a H&K 417 (.308) and it had deep lines and ridges along the length of the case where it appeared to have expanded and been heavily marked by the chamber/extraction process. These looked like they were too far damaged to be worth reloading.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by nun_hunter View Post
    What about standard .223 ammo (ie Hornady fmj training rounds or Geco fmj rounds) that have been fired through military semi autos? Assuming they look ok are they likely to be ok to resize?

    I've picked up Federal brass fired from a H&K 417 (.308) and it had deep lines and ridges along the length of the case where it appeared to have expanded and been heavily marked by the chamber/extraction process. These looked like they were too far damaged to be worth reloading.
    H&K's have fluted chambers.~Muir

  10. #10
    As to the brass thing. I use a boat load of US military surplus brass in my .223 bolt guns and have had nothing but success. US military brass (Federal, WCC, LC) is not thicker than commercial brass outside of normal LOT variations. Also, US 5.56 is loaded to 55,000 psi as is commercial 223 ammunition. This is SAAMI spec and measurement. Due to the way pressures are measured with CIP, the pressures for European 5.56 is at 62,000 psi. In researching military .223 brass to cut down to make 300 Blackout, I found a wealth of information on the subject, including weighing tests of .223 / 5.56. In some lots the military cases were lighter than commercial counterparts.

    Crimped brass is a bummer but tools like the Dillon Power Swage make quick work of them.~Muir

    PS: Throating of 5.56 NATO weapons and .223 weapons are different. The .223 has a tighter, sharper cone.
    Last edited by Muir; 03-04-2016 at 20:14.

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