This article is a conclusion of a multi-part series covering 22 Nosler from “start to finish”. I started with 22 Nosler by shooting a PRS match, and then worked through loads and fine-tuned my setup to get maximum performance, longevity, and reliability out of my loads. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to check out the “other” installments in this series:
- Gavin’s First PRS Match: The Experience
- Gavin’s First PRS Match: The Gear
- 22 Nosler Overview: Cartridge, Ballistics, AR-15 Conversion
Now it’s time to talk reloading for 22 Nosler! My approach here will be to contrast reloading 22 Nosler with reloading .223 Remington (and 5.56 NATO) since I know a lot of you are familiar with those cartridges.
22 Nosler Reloading -vs- .223 Remington Reloading
If you are setup to reload .223 Remington (or 5.56 NATO which is very similar), you are almost ready to reload 22 Nosler. Here’s a summary of the requirements and differences for reloading these two cartridges:
- Shellholder/shellplate: 22 Nosler is same as .223/5.56
- Powder measure setup: 22 Nosler is same as .223/5.56 except charge weight will be increased ~25%
- Bullet feeder (if so equipped): 22 Nosler is same as .223/5.56
- Priming setup: 22 Nosler is same as .223/5.56
- Dies: 22 Nosler specific (can’t use .223/5.56 dies)
- Case gage: 22 Nosler specific (can’t use .223/5.56 case gage)
So if your press is setup for .223/5.56 reloading, you’ll need to do the following to load 22 Nosler:
- Swap dies
- Adjust powder measure volume
That’s about it! You’ll also need 22 Nosler brass and the appropriate bullets (many of which can be used for both .223/5.56 and 22 Nosler).
22 Nosler Brass Longevity
One of the concerns early on with 22 Nosler (early 2017) was the longevity of 22 Nosler brass. Being a “hotrodded” cartridge with ~25% more powder pounding on a rebated rim (same surface area as .223/5.56) 22 Nosler inherently pushes the limits of the AR-15 further than .223/5.56. I heard stories early on of brass being “chewed up”. From what I understand, Nosler made a change to their brass production for 22 Nosler specifically that was aimed at addressing this issue. As mentioned in previous articles in this series, I did have an issue with excessive pressure with my “first PRS load” – and that translated to some case head swipe as well as ejector recess embossing on the case head. Here’s a picture of what that looked like: (please excuse the “diesel mechanic hands” 🙂 )
Above left we see the over-pressure fired case next to a new primed case on the right-hand side. Switching to a slower powder (Hodgdon H-380) not only alleviated the pressure issues, but also yielded higher velocities.
In order to test this load I fired and reloaded the same case 10 times to see how the case would hold up. Here’s what I found:
In the picture above at left we have an un-fired brand new case next to a case that was loaded and fired one time next to a case that was loaded and fired ten times in succession. The case held up just fine, and I would continue loading and firing this case if the need arose. The only visible change of note is the headstamp which is more faint compared to the 0x fired case and the 1x fired case. This is due to the high loading on the case head during firing, but as far as I can tell is strictly cosmetic. Here’s a view from the side showing the case wall and the rim from the side:
From this test, I’m confident that my H-380 load is one that will afford long brass life, and also achieve great performance. This “latest generation” 22 Nosler brass seems to be holding up great.
Gavin’s 22 Nosler H-380 Load
- 30.5 grains Hodgdon H-380 (97% of max)
- Nosler 22 Nosler case
- 70 grain RDF .224 bullet
- Federal Small Rifle Primer
- 2.260″ COL
Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.
This load pushes a 70 grain projectile almost 3000 fps from an 18″ barrel. I’d be curious to see what it would do with a 22″ or 24″ barrel! I was happy with the Standard Deviation here as well:
For a comprehensive collection of 22 Nosler load data, check out the official 22 Nosler Load Data from Nosler.com.
If you are looking for more velocity from a 22 caliber projectile with minimal changes to your existing AR-15, the 22 Nosler warrants strong consideration. With just a barrel and magazine swap you can switch to 22 Nosler, and even build/buy a dedicated 22 Nosler upper so that you can switch and swap easily. I’m going to continue to experiment with loads, and hopefully put this rifle to work predator hunting with 22 Nosler very shortly! Do you have 22 Nosler experiences to share? Please leave a comment!