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The .223 Remington is a popular defensive cartridge and an excellent varmint round. But a .20-caliber version of the .223 Rem may be an even better choice for prairie dogs and other small varmints. The .223 Rem, necked down to .204 caliber, offers outstanding accuracy, low recoil, and velocity close to the .204 Ruger. We call this 20-223 wildcat the “20 Practical” because it uses standard .223 Rem brass (available everywhere) and because it is easy to load and shoot (hence “practical”).
The “20 Practical” is a great little cartridge created by simply necking down the .223 Remington to 20 caliber. You can neck .223 cases down in one pass with a standard .223 Rem bushing die, fitted with a smaller bushing. Popularized for bolt guns by Warren B (aka “Fireball”), the 20 Practical is also an excellent choice for an AR-platform varmint rifle. It offers better ballistics than a .223 Rem, with less recoil, and more velocity. Plus the 20 Practical, by all indications, appears to be an inherently accurate cartridge that “wants to shoot”. Our own AR ‘Ultimate Varminter’ project rifle, developed with Robert Whitley, was chambered as a 20 Practical. That gun shot “lights out”, demonstrating how well the little cartridge works.
AccurateShooter.com forum member ‘Dennis in VA’ recently put together his own 20 Practical AR with all-premium components. Dennis took his impressive new gun to the range yesterday, and it looks to be a tack-driver. Check out the target below, shot with Sierra 39gr BlitzKing bullets. That’s three shots in 0.375″ edge-to-edge, at 100 yards. (NOTE:
regarding this H335 load, we advise to start 10% low and work up.) Bullets in the 35-45 grain range work great in the 20 Practical.
Dennis got his upper from Whitley’s AR-X Enterprises. It features a heavy billet upper receiver (with side charging handle), fitted with a 24″ PacNor SS Super Match 11-twist barrel. Mounted to the upper is a +20 MOA, GS-1 Scope Rail from GG&G. Riding on top is a Nightforce 5.5-22X50 NP-R1 scope in Nightforce ultra-light rings.
The lower is equally exotic. Machined from billet by American Precision Arms, it is fitted with with a RRA LPK and a Geissele trigger. The tan, adjustable stock is a Magpul PRS model (Gen II). An Ergogrip tactical deluxe Suregrip completes the build. Dennis in VA has put together a very nice set-up to say the least. And it definitely shoots.
To learn more about the 20 Practical cartridge for AR rifles, visit Robert Whitley’s 20 Practical Webpage. There you’ll find load data, info on dies and reloading, plus advice on hardware and barrel selection.
Robert also has a video showing how to form 20 Practical brass.