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CFE-223 in .308

Brian in Montana

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Ever use it? Since I wussed out yesterday on account of the weather I spent a little time planning some loads I want to try this winter. Never tried cfe-223 but the published info seem to indicate pretty high MVs in .308 and 7mm-08. Seems interesting.
 

Durango Mike

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Jul 25, 2020
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Tried it first in my .556 in an AR, metered well, less fouling, accuracy with a tactical scope very acceptable with 62 gr FMJ bullets not known as tack drivers (1.5 MOA 10 shot at 100). Loaded some 308 and in both a bolt gun and AR 10 was excellent, very consistent velocity, less than 20fps extreme spread. For sure give it a try. I liked the results enough to get some CFE pistol, have not loaded any 45 acp with it yet as the Dillion press is set up fot VV310, when that lot runs out I will switch.
 

std7mag

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I've tried it in 7mm-08, and 308.
Didn't care for it at all.
Velocities were good. But couldn't get it to settle down.
Over the chrono the ES/SD were real high. 40s ES, 20s SD.
Many people have said about having issues when temps started coming up too.
Do load development in the summer, not winter.
 

Brian in Montana

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Ramsay, MT
Tried it first in my .556 in an AR, metered well, less fouling, accuracy with a tactical scope very acceptable with 62 gr FMJ bullets not known as tack drivers (1.5 MOA 10 shot at 100). Loaded some 308 and in both a bolt gun and AR 10 was excellent, very consistent velocity, less than 20fps extreme spread. For sure give it a try. I liked the results enough to get some CFE pistol, have not loaded any 45 acp with it yet as the Dillion press is set up fot VV310, when that lot runs out I will switch.
What bullet were you using in the .308 bolt gun?
 

Durango Mike

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What bullet were you using in the .308 bolt gun?
168 gr Sierra and 165 gr Grand Slam, had a bunch of those I bought as seconds. By the way went back to my notes and the ES was in the 30's and SD in the 20's, the AR 10 liked the Sierra match bullets and was in the 3/4 MOA, a pal has used some with 180's and had a positive experience in a Ruger.
 

ImBillT

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Oct 29, 2018
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It’s almost identical to BL-C(2) in terms of loads. BL-C(2) is excellent in a .308Win. I’ve chronoed 155’s in excess of 3000fps with CFE223. Ball powders can be tricky to get good SD’s with. You need near full cases, and near max pressure, but when pressure gets too high it’s common to see them get finicky again, AND attempting to compress them can make things very erratic. It throws great. I doubt many people here are shooting groups small enough or at ranges far enough for bad SD/ES to really matter. It’s a good powder.

If you’re trying to shoot F-TR or Palma(about the only reasons to compete with a .308Win) then you’ll have an easier time finding a perfect load with RL-15/Varget/N-203B, but only because they ignite easier and are slightly more temperature stable. BL-C(2) and CFE223 both have nearly identical burn rates and energy densities to the three stick powders everyone shoots in a .308Win. They actually produce more velocity with light to mid weight bullets because they pack tighter in the case, allowing you to fit more powder. With heavy bullets(175-200+) you end up with about the same charge weight and hitting max pressure with all five of them.
 
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Durango Mike

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You are spot on on the similarities with BL-C2, the performance of ball powders seems to be optimized around density near max in the case WITHOUT compression. I loaded some 6 PPC with 60 gr bullets to bring to the range and shoot when another gun is cooling off. Pretty close to the same density as my old favorite H322, filled case to base of neck. This rifle shoots inside .25 at 100 with the H322 load so it will be an interesting comparison as all else is identical.
 

ImBillT

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You are spot on on the similarities with BL-C2, the performance of ball powders seems to be optimized around density near max in the case WITHOUT compression. I loaded some 6 PPC with 60 gr bullets to bring to the range and shoot when another gun is cooling off. Pretty close to the same density as my old favorite H322, filled case to base of neck. This rifle shoots inside .25 at 100 with the H322 load so it will be an interesting comparison as all else is identical.
If you own a PPC you probably know what you’re doing, but I’ll throw this out there for anyone reading. I don’t always have good luck shooting one powder over another, so I clean when I switch powders. Also, it’s important to match velocity. If you’re on a node, with a certain powder, and change powder and you’re groups go bad, it’s usually just because your velocity changed, not because your new powder doesn’t work well in your rifle. One of the problems with trying to do that with ball powders is that the window within which you get good SD/ES numbers may not land on a velocity node. So it’s possible to match the velocity of your great load, but you get bad SD/ES numbers. That shouldn’t be a problem at 100yds because a good node is usually highly insensitive to high SD/ES at short range. The farther from the bench you get, the more important SD/ES numbers are.
 

Durango Mike

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If you own a PPC you probably know what you’re doing, but I’ll throw this out there for anyone reading. I don’t always have good luck shooting one powder over another, so I clean when I switch powders. Also, it’s important to match velocity. If you’re on a node, with a certain powder, and change powder and you’re groups go bad, it’s usually just because your velocity changed, not because your new powder doesn’t work well in your rifle. One of the problems with trying to do that with ball powders is that the window within which you get good SD/ES numbers may not land on a velocity node. So it’s possible to match the velocity of your great load, but you get bad SD/ES numbers. That shouldn’t be a problem at 100yds because a good node is usually highly insensitive to high SD/ES at short range. The farther from the bench you get, the more important SD/ES numbers are.
Again you are correct, I clean when changing bullet composition or powder. I think finding the balance point with ball powders takes some effort, the good news is that out of my measure I am consistently within .1 grains with an old Culver measure so easy to replicate a load without a lot of grain dribbling. I was just planning on an easy test as this rifle shoots around .25 moa almost no matter what I do and BL-C2 shot well in some test loads. This is the fourth 6 PPC i have had and was built for longer range prarie dog and coyote shooting so lighter at 8.5 lbs than my old bench rest rifles. Trued 700 action with a Shilen barrel and a 2oz trigger easy to minimize human factor off bags.
 

holeytargets

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Oct 27, 2020
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I've had some success with CFE223 in .308 loaded for a friend a few yrs back. He supplied the brass (FED) and I used some back shelf components to get him a deer hunting load on the cheap. I used old 165gr Nosler solid BT , some (don't try this at home) pulled Fed 210 primers, and a dusty bottle of CFE223 bought during the last shortage for .223 loads.

I ended up at 47.8 grs with repeatable groups in the .3's, but had ran it up to the top where I was getting bolt click @ 48.4. His gun was a Weatherby or Howa, and according to my records had a generous mag box @ 2.873. My load ended up at 2.866 C.O.A.L or 2.250 to the ojive. Always work up to any shared or listed data... The longer C.O.A.L I used in this load isn't possible with some S/A rifles. Mix that and a different cases capacity and you could find pressure quick like. It's not a temp stable powder, so work your load in like conditions it'll be shot in.
 

FLS

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Jan 10, 2019
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I used it in 223 and 308. It works, but not my favorite in either. I tried it because it was available at the time.
TAC has given me the most consistent results of any ball powder I’ve used. 8208 XBR has been the most accurate and consistent 308 powder I’ve used. Varget gives me slightly better velocities with 180 and up.
 

Brian in Montana

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Ramsay, MT
I've noticed that generally, my best loads - accuracy, ES, and SD - tend to be the ones with casings near capacity, where the base of the bullet is touching the powder, or slightly pressed in.

The only ball powder I've tried in .308 was Big Game and that didn't go so well. All loads were compressed and MV was all over the place. I just shot a 12 shot ladder test, but didn't follow up with any test groups.

I might give BL-C2 or CFE223 a try at some point though. I like pushing velocity as long as accuracy doesn't suffer. I rarely shoot farther than 300yds so I don't worry much about ES until it's over 35 or so.
 

Gunner46

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Dec 6, 2003
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Frigid Ohio
I can tell y'all this....All 308's are Not created equal. My little carbine (16th BD present) was a finicky little witch! Had to go through various cans & cans of powder, sleeves of primers and boxes of different bullets just to get it to shoot inside 3" @ 100 yds. Finally did a strip job, free float, glass bed receiver and started again. Varget, or RL-15. Hands Down, no contest. Inside an inch with 165's or 180's regardless of bullet brand with just a few grains of tinkering. (30 yrs service, she's retired to being a safe Queen)

Now, I use both in my 7/08 with equal satisfaction from 120-150's. My only 100% 1st shot....tagged filled rifle I've ever owned.
 

std7mag

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Aug 23, 2016
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central pa
I'm using Alliant PP2000MR in my wife's bolt 223 Rem with 69gr TMK.
ES/8, SD/3.
Same powder in 7mm-08 &7mm-08AI with up to 150gr bullets.
ES/6, SD/2.
Too slow burning for 308 though.
Again, Varget & RL15.
 

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