I hope you are doing well these days! I have been having fun shooting my .221 Remington Fireball in the Remington 700 Classic that you accurized and re-barreled with that 24" Douglas chrome moly 1 in 14"twist sporter barrel from Stanley Taylor. I have been very pleased with that barrel! It never copper washed! I cleaned between each shot for the 1st 27 rounds with Butch's Bore Shine and Sinclair patches and never saw copper wash traces on the patches or bore for that matter. After that I said that barrel is broken in and I'm not looking back! I shot it last Thursday for 90 rounds straight before I cleaned the barrel. Still no signs of copper wash! Of course the .221 Fireball is very kind on barrels. I am running 50-52 grain bullets with maximum velocity coming from Hodgdon Lil'-Gun powder at 3150 F.P.S. with only 14.6 grains. Running such small amounts of powder and staying well under the 3400 F.P.S. "copper wash rule", I believe the throat will last for quite a long time.
I have experimented with bullet seating depths and that barrel likes the SAAMI maximum C.O.A.L. of 1.830". It will shoot good with the bullets kissing the lands, but it despises mid range depths between touching the lands and SAAMI seating. That barrel likes for the bullets to jump from factory seating depths the best. Go figure??
I went back and studied articles on match loading for it's mother case, the .222 Remington since not much is written about the .221 Fireball since it was really a pistol round and not a target rifle round. As you said, the old standby favorite for the .222 Remington that won the matches for years was with IMR 4198 powder. It looks very promising in the .221 Fireball. I went to the range on Thursday, October 22, 2009 and tried out some loads at 100 yards and chronographed each round. I tried a load with Berger 52 grains F.B. target bullets loaded with 17.5 grains of IMR 4198 powder with Federal 205M match primers. They were seated at the SAAMI maximum C.O.A.L. of 1.830". The cases were neck sized and "bumped" using a Redding Competition die set with a body die to bump the shoulders so they were firm even pressure on the bolt handle. No neck reaming was done. The velocity on the chronograph was slower than factory 50 grains bullets by about 75 FPS. I was using my Leupold 6.5-20X E.F.R. Air Rifle target scope in it and started getting nervous after the 4th shot. I fired the 5th round and I still only saw one hole. I reckon Saturn, Mars, and Venus must have lined up in a row because it was the best five shot group I have ever fired from anything at 100 yards! With my dial calipers the widest part appears to be around .257". Considering that the bullet is .224" that is a pretty small hole. The average velocity for that load was only 2918 FPS. The extreme spread was 34.45 FPS and the S.D. was 15.39. I fired two fouling rounds from the clean barrel and this group was rounds 32 through 37 after cleaning. Proof positive that the .221 Fireball does not need to be cleaned every twenty rounds to be accurate!
I am going to load some more Berger 52 grainers with 17.5 grains of IMR 4198 and see if it was just a fluke, but I believe that is going to be an accurate load for that little Fireball. Tell Stan Taylor that I like that West Virginia Hillbilly barrel pretty good after all. Of course you make sure to remind him it took somebody good to chamber it and screw it in too! Now I wonder what would happen if you were to take a BAT Action, Tracker fiberglass stock, and a Douglas, Krieger, or Broughton heavy stainless steel match barrel and use that .221 Fireball reamer again? I wonder what size groups you could get? With that super short powder column I believe it would be a pleasant shooting 100 yard powder saving tack driver.
Here is the target and I sent it in both an Adobe PDF file and a JPEG photo for viewing.
May God richly bless!