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Thread: Powder experts?

  1. #1
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    Default Powder experts?

    So I'm a newbie to reloading and am trying to learn all I can. Powder is very interesting and somewhat confusing, but I am learning. In this day and age of "super duper never been anything better ya can't live without this stuff" marketing there are "new" powders. Well, just how "new" are they? I know technology and innovation can sometimes make better mousetrap but how much can you really do with powder? Winchester has/is coming out with their Supreme 780 ball powder which they claim is the same powder used in their Supreme ammo. They are kind enough to offer this to us now so that we too can load the same supreme rounds they do. Well, I know my factory winchester supreme ammo shoots but just how supreme is it?

    "Winchester Supreme 780, a ball powder, is designed for those wanting an easy-metering propellant that emulates popular factory loads. Tim Vaitekunas, Hodgdon’s director of R&D, notes that “Supreme 780 allows the handloader to duplicate Winchester Supreme factory loads."

    And then there is the new Hogdon 100v with "short-cut sticks with rounded edges". "Hybrid 100V’s unique small grain, part Spherical, part Extruded shape benefits the handloader in two ways — the powder flows accurately and easily through a measure, and charge weights are consistent for ideal load density.”

    Does this mean none of you have ever been able to get consistent charge weights and ideal load density??? How did you ever do it???

    http://accurateshooter.wordpress.com...d-supreme-780/

    What say you all? Educate me.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

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    Well, at last count I had something like 16 different types of smokeless gun powder out there by the reloading bench and have used every one of them at one time or another and I am sure there are guys on this forum that have many more than that. I got powder that is made up of little flakes, little spheres, short rods, long rods and everything in-between. Some of my powder is “new and extreme” and some is………… well, I guess it’s just plain old “non-extreme” powder?! And I guess that each one has is place in a particular cartridge somewhere, but for me, when I am working up new loads I pour over the stack of reloading manuals and dig around on the internet, browse thru my back issues of Reloader magazine and then write myself a short list of possible “contenders” so to speak, that look like they might be capable of delivering the desired results. For me that means a load density of 90% or more and velocities in the upper range for the bullet and cartridge in question. If the loading data makes reference to a powder that “provides best accuracy” I will also make note of that. When it comes to actually using the stuff, I have found that the small spherical powders like Win 748 and 760 tend to be a bit easier to use as far as the powder measure and trickler are concerned, but not so much so that you would say “well that is that, all I use is small spherical powder from now on”. I think the difference in ease of use from one end of the spectrum to the other is so miniscule that it doesn’t really warrant consideration for me at least. In the end, if it delivers the performance you are after in respect to velocity, pressure and accuracy then what more do you really need? Now that is not to say that I wouldn’t give a new powder a try, because if it met my criterion and was priced in the same ballpark as the other powders I would probably give it a shot.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

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    I forgot to mention that my hand loading technique and tooling is rather rudimentary in that I don’t use a progressive press or much in the way of powder measures. I do have a couple of powder measures but they are pretty much reserved for pistol rounds. I have recently started using the Lyman DSP III and can say that it seems to work equally as well throughout the range of powder types. Before that I was using the Lee dippers to get an initial charge into the scale pan and then hand trickeling the rest. I hold myself to a + .2 and – 0.0 grain tolerance for hunting ammo and that has never been a problem with the hand trickeler or with the Lyman DSP III. The cheap old powder measures I have will not generally throw charges that are within that tolerance.
    “You’ve gotten soft. You’re like one of those police dogs who’s released in to the wild and gets eaten by a deer or something.” Bill McNeal of News Radio

  4. #4

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    Good questions Snyd. I'll answer what I can and let others fill in the blanks.

    New powders come along about as often as new car models. At first about all you have to go on is manufacturer hype. Think political candidate spin. It's not till folks have "driven" them for a while or "elected" them that the real truth, good or bad, is going to come out. And there are going to be fan clubs and political parties with opposing opinions about just how good they are.

    Yeah, take what you read with a grain of salt and wait a bit or do your own research for the truth to come out.

    Basically there's two things you need to worry about starting out. Burn rate and pressure spike. They will give you some idea how fast a new powder burns compared to others and how critical the details are as you try to approach max in your particular gun. For existing powders that info is pretty well known, and in fact there are comparative burn rate tables tabulated somewhere in most reloading manuals. It gives you some idea how a powder is going to behave compared to others you might already know or can find in the manual. New powders won't be in the table, but if they say something like "slower than IMR-4350" it will help you figure out approximately how fast it burns.

    Unknown pressure profiles (of which the spike is just a part) are harder to figure. In my case, I get real antsy about max as I work up charges, going very slow in increasing charges while getting really manic about studying pressure signs. And yeah, I'm a real conservative while others are real liberals.

    Fortunately we have this thing called the internet. It's a place the manufacturers can get out the word and loading data for new powders. You won't find all the calibers covered right away, but comparisons will help you start to figure out the details for your own. There are also sites for reloaders to swap data. Back to my observations about conservatives and liberals. You can't believe everything you read on the internet any more than you can on the campaign trail. Reloader sites can provide valuable info, but before trying any load tested, go looking for other loads from the same person and compare them with loads you find in manuals and online from the manufacturer. You'll find out who's a liberal and who's a conservative real fast, in spite of anything they pin on their lapel.

    The most "interesting" thing I see in the info you have provided in your post is the number 780. In years past Winchester has had out two little known powders that wear the similar numbers: 780BR and 785. In the past increasing numbers in the Winchester line indicated slower burning rates. You might guess that the new 780 falls somewhere in the same area as these but, I just don't know. I could probably figure it out pretty close by comparing the loads they post with what I know about the to older ones, but it would still be a guess, even coming from a true-blue conservative.

    But the coincidence of the #'s tickles me in the right spot. While the orginal 780BR was kinda hard to ignite and eratic with anything but max loads, it was nonetheless a useful slow burning powder with heavy bullets in high capacity cases. The newer 785 shares those characteristics, and in fact I like it enough to still be hoarding two 8-pound canisters of it.

    I'll have to see loads from Winchester and no one else before I buy some and start loading with it. I'm guessing that the burn rate and pressure spike are going to be similar to a powder I already like (785), so that's why it perked my ears. But I'm also going to expect it to do its best work at very near max loads, and be pretty darned eratic at lower pressures.

    As for the shape of that Hodgdon 100V and the hype.......excuse me..... INFORMATION about easy loading, that will be good news for anyone using powder measures, whether in a progressive loader or bolted down somewhere else on the bench. But how it shoots and what loads to use? Idunno.

    I do know that my first stop when I finish typing is going to be right here for both powders.

  5. #5
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    Default Some powder basics

    A few basic points about powders that I've picked up over the years. First, there are pretty significant differences in powders. As has been mentioned, one of the primary issues is burn rate. A secondary issue is volume and finally you have metering ability. All come together to some degree based on the cartridge being loaded and the method. Others covered burn rate pretty well, so I just wanted to touch on the other 2 factors.

    The actual size and weight of the grain is important in matching up to your cartridge volume. As a general rule you don't want empty space in the cartridge. In a perfect world, when the bullet is seated it will exactly take up any remaining open space in the cartridge. This prevents the powder from shifting to the bottom side of the cartridge in the chamber that can give burn irregularities. How much you focus on this issue is dependent on the cartridge and what you're doing with it. If you're loading up a couple thousand .38 Spc wadcutters for target practice, you probably won't give this nearly as much thought as you would for loading up a .308 for a 500 yard flyshoot competition.

    The metering ability is completely dependent on how you are loading. The large grain powders, especially long cylindrical grains, don't feed through a mechanical powder measure very well. The smaller grain powders do. If you're running a high-volume progressive loader, you want a powder that will meter through the mechanical volume measure so that every charge comes out with the same weight, or within your acceptable error factor. If you're loading some precision rifle ammo for that flyshoot competition, you're going to hand weigh every charge, so it doesn't need to be metered through a machine and therefore you can pick the powder based completely on burn rate and volume.

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    A book that would SELL:

    - Kinda like the Shooter's Bible, but for powders
    - Lists all available powders in the (western) world
    - Each powder in the table has several columns, including a thumbnail of a grain of the powder ...all photos at the same scale. Columns include info like known components, burn rates (on a fixed scale), powder density.
    - Cartridge by cartridge average volumes (in separate tables, possibly separate sections by manufacturer ...using published volumes from them)

    - Articles by experts in the field (powder discussions, crimps, bullet construction versus loading techniques and chamber pressures, etc etc)
    - Republish every year.

    At least this is a book that I'd buy, and I'd buy a new one each year. The only place that I see some of this is in truncated lists in some reloading manuals and in some books on reloading ...but I think that a book on powders alone would justify itself. Those other sources always seem to leave out one or more key pieces of information ...like powder density. Man, I Googled all over kingdom come to try to find the powder densities of Titegroup versus Trail Boss recently and I couldn't find diddly squat ...and my books/manuals don't give the answers either ...just generalities "slower, faster, lower density ...or density not mentioned at all, etc. I want numbers and photos man! Graphs! Quit with the blah blah blah opinion papers...

    Brian

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    Thanks guys. You have given me more to research and learn about.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

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    In your original post, there appear to be only two things the manufacturers are claiming:

    1. ball powder for more accurate and easy metering through a measure
    2. semi-ball powder for ease of metering.

    "Hybrid 100V’s unique small grain, part Spherical, part Extruded shape benefits the handloader in two ways — the powder flows accurately and easily through a measure, and charge weights are consistent for ideal load density.”

    So what's "new" about the powder is it flows easily, and all the other claims are based on your using a powder measure, which measures volume, rather than a balance, which measures mass.

    Big deal. Read your reloading manual, pick a powder that is listed for your cartridge and projectile, load'em up and go to the range.
    Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. Albert Einstein

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    For some reason I could not edit my post.

    If you want to produce good quality, consistent loads, and want to do so safely, with precision and accuracy, there are two (2) things a reloader viatally needs. The very first item that should be purchased is a chronograph. The second is pressure testing software and hardware. There is a company that manufacturers this much less expensively than Oehler.
    http://www.shootingsoftware.com/pressure.htm
    I have it and it works. No guessing involved.
    Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. Albert Einstein

    Better living through chemistry (I'm a chemist)

    You can piddle with the puppies, or run with the wolves...

  10. #10

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    Ah, just stick to H4350 Perry and call it good!...grin

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    My first loads I have used IMR 4007 SSC for the .325 with 220 gamekings. Last summer I loaded up some 44mag 240gr plinker rounds with Unique. Great practice round. I have some H110 for the 300gr gas check CastPerformance hunting loads but haven't loaded them up yet.

    Have you tried anything besides 4350 for your 300wsm?
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

  12. #12

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    I have some RL-19 but since the results were so good in the WSM with H4350 I never tried it. I am getting 3100 fps with 168TSX's in the WSM and sub MOA accuracy. I am also using H4350 in my 338 and am getting 2910-2950 with it and great accuracy shooting 210TSX's. I did use the RL-19 on the 338 shooting 250 grain A-Frames and got 2660 which will work real well pushing the big 250 grain slug and once again had great accuracy. I have been a little anal about sticking with extreme powders just because we could hunt in such a variation of temps up here and wanted to be versatile, so far my plan is working well.

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    Alright! Sound like you've go it dialed in. If it works don't fix it.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

  14. #14

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    One factor that AlaskaCub hints at can be important when you're starting out, Snyd. Finding powders that work well in a range of calibers that you shoot. If you get too far into special powders for each round, over time you can accumulate a whole lot of powders that aren't useful for much else. I'm willing now to accept a little compromise in one caliber if a powder also works well in three or four other calibers that I shoot.

    Heck, in 40+ years of reloading I have accumulated a stunning array of half full powder cans. I just went downstairs and checked, and I have something like 50 varieties, most of which I seldom use. In my mind that's wasted money, when in fact I could probably get by with a dozen or less, even with the wide range of calibers I shoot.

    And when you settle on just a few powders you can begin to save money, whether buying 8-pound canisters instead of 1-pounders, or really loading up when your favorites go on sale.

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