Author Topic: Too many powder choices!  (Read 8135 times)

Offline mike77

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Too many powder choices!
« on: January 13, 2011, 08:35:14 PM »
I've reloaded a few rounds under my uncle's tutelage. Now I'm reading The ABC's of Reloading and looking for deals on equipment and manuals of my own. But I'm overloaded by the number of powders! I realize that there is a limited number of powders that will work for any particular cartridge, but how do you all decide which powder to use? Other than what you already have that is? My uncle's preference is to look through the manuals and tend to go for the one that has the heaviest charge. His reasoning is that that will make it more difficult to double charge without realizing it. But that doesn't necessarily mean that that is a good or even fair powder for that cartridge, does it?

Offline SuperDuty

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2011, 07:47:46 AM »
My uncle was my shooting and reloading mentor as well.  I sure wish he was around today so I could keep asking him questions.  I primarily load handgun cartridges, and I don't use a progressive press, so this is where my two cents comes from.  I've pretty much settled on 1 (sometimes 2) powders each for light, medium and heavy loads.  It just keeps things simpler for me.  A heavier charge does make a double charge less likely, but doesn't guarantee it's a "good" powder or charge for that particular gun.

The thing with reloading is that guns are as unique as people.  One load will perform beautifully in one gun and awful in another, so you can end up with a lot or partially used powders as you are experimenting.

What calibers are you reloading for, and what's your motivation to reload?  Is your primary goal accuracy?  Economy?  Power?  Mountains of ammo for practice?  Answers to those things would help me give better advice.  However, assuming we're talking about handgun reloading, I would be happy if all I stocked was HP-38 (WW-231) for light loads, Unique for medium loads, and 2400 for magnum stuff.   That may not be the best answer for you however. 

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 01:01:41 PM »
People use different pwders for various reasons. I tend to use some pretty general stuff for alot of my regular loads, but use all together different powders for my "match rifle" and heavy handgun loads. Read as many manuals as you can get your hands on and research the calibers you want to load before hand. I keep a few lbs of the powders that I use the most of.
There are several powders that will work pretty well in many loads. They might not be the "best" for everything, but they'll work fine in most loads.
I keep IMR 4350, 4895, 4320 and Accurate 2015 for most of my rifle rounds, and Unique, Red Dot, H110, and 2400 around for my handguns. Both Unique and Red Dot also work really well in shotgun loads.
After you get to experimenting, you'll find the powders that will work best for "your needs". 8)

Offline r1kk1

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2011, 05:17:34 PM »
If you ask a 100 different reloaders, you'll get a 100 different responses to which powder. The Lyman manual will highlight the most accurate load THEY found, with bold print. I love the choices. I tried to limit myself to just a couple of powders that were the most versatile. I love 4831, 4895, 5744, the SR series from IMR, No. 9, No. 7, No. 5 and No. 2 from Accurate Arms. There are too many for me to list! You will notice that for the 45 ACP, Blue Dot will fill a case nicely. But Blue Dot is too slow for that cartridge. It is up to the reloader to check for double charges. A LED flashlight is what I use, whether loading on a single stage or semi-progressive. In 40 years of reloading, I've had one double charge - 44 special and a double dose of HP-38. This was fired in a magnum revolver. I went home and pulled the rest of the loads apart but had that one that was double charged. Still load with HP-38. Nothing happened to the revolver or myself but it made me wiser. I inspect each cartridge as its being reloaded. That experience was on a single stage press.

I love the plethora of powders and new ones appear quite frequently! I load shotgun, pistol and rifle and may use powder like Unique to cover all three for certain loads, but there will be other powders that seem to work better. My 30-06 loves 2400 powder using a cast bullet better than Unique or Blue Dot. But Unique works in a pinch when I can't seem to find 2400 locally. Market sometimes dictates what powders are available to me unless I mail order.

take care,

r1kk1

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2011, 01:28:42 PM »
2400 has been a little hard to find around here for almost a year. Kind of a bummer really. I had a real nice 44mag load worked up that I'd been using in my Redhawk for years :-\
I've never used 2400 in my rifle loads though. It must work good with the cast. Do you use gas checks?? I use 4350 alot in my 30-06. I have used 4831,4320 and 4895 too, but in my rifle the 4350 seems to group better. Keep in mind I'm talking jacketed bullets too ;)

Offline mike77

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2011, 04:01:31 PM »
Thanks for the input guys. I purposefully didn't give too many details because I'm interested in the broader range of reloading. In other words, any time I'm looking to start a new load or a new cartridge. I realize that I just have to ask/look around and I'm sure to find someone with a good load for the exact same firearm/cartridge combination I might be interested in. But I also realize that it may not work right for me, so I'm just curious where to start with powder choices. I didn't know that the Lyman manual, and maybe others, point out which were the most accurate for them. I'll look for that as I obtain manuals.
As to what I'm looking at, at the moment I only need to load .308win and .38spl. Mainly I'm interested in reloading for economic reasons, but also to have the skill if factory ammunition becomes hard to purchase in the future.

Offline RacinRob

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #6 on: January 25, 2011, 06:40:27 PM »
I am kind of on a Bullseye run because it seems to work as well as HP-38, it is cheaper and both 9mm 115grn fmj & 45 230grn FMJ uses 5 grains.

For rifle (.308 and .233) I am playing with varget and it did not seem to work as well as H322, so I don't have a favorite rifle powder yet.

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #7 on: January 25, 2011, 07:01:36 PM »
308 is one caliber that I've loaded alot of. I've got two 308s, one is an old Ruger M77 and the other is a M1a (natl match). The Ruger likes IMR4320, but the M1a gets a strict diet of IMR4895. I tried Varget in my M1a, but I like the 4895 better. I use Unique in my 38special most of the time, but I've used Red Dot for that too.
I find that although a powder like 4350 will work in 308, the grains are a little large. So to get the load I really want I'd have to almost compress the powder, and I just don't like that. 4320 is almost the same and is a smaller grain so it fits in the case with plenty of room to spare. I've also had good luck with 4320 in my 243win. ;D

Offline Fyrekat

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2011, 07:35:11 PM »
Unique and Bullseye work great in my 9mm rounds.

But you don't start with the manual's recommendations for the charge.  You start with the lightest load for the powder you've chosen, and increase by 1/2 grain (or 1/4 grain depending on the caliber) until you find the most accurate for your gun.  I typically will load the lightest for 5 and then the next one up for another 5 rounds, etc...

Be sure to fire a few factory loads when you start.  Don't let it get too dirty trying out the rounds either, it will throw off your measurements.

Don't just go with what the book says.  The rifle will have a sweet spot, and it's your job to find it.  Every one is different.

There's a method using water and taking something like 80% of the weight difference for the starting charge, but I'd have to relocate it to determine what it was.

Offline Copesetic

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2011, 01:17:29 AM »
I just registered here, but am on many of the other gun boards (ar15.com, thr, tfl, 1911forum, etc etc)  I have been reloading for about 10 years now.  I learned on my own.  I choose powders based on burn rates, bullet weight, and what I am going to do with that particular round.  I have found that Hodgdon meets my needs for powders.  I have tried other brands (winchester, imr, and alliant) and was not impressed (most were due to how dirty the powders were after shooting) with them as I am with Hodgdon (very clean powders).

.223 55gr FMJ - H335
.223 69gr Sierra Match King - Varget

.308 147/150gr FMJ - H335
.308 168gr Sierra Match King - H4895
.308 175gr Sierra Match King - Varget

.45 230gr FMJ/JHP - HP38/W231 (same powder)
.40 165gr JHP - Longshot
.38 125gr JHP - HP38/W231 or Longshot (for +P loads)

For me it really comes down to what equipment you are loading with.  A stick powder like Varget or H4895 does not run through my dillon powder measure very well.  A spherical or ball powder like H335 flows very well without issue.  At the same time, some powders like Varget offer consistency and accuracy that ball powders just can't duplicate.

You can also choose to go with a different powder if you want a higher velocity.  When I load 175grSMK .308 I often use varget because I can get the velocity where I want it to be with that bullet.  The same applies to FMJ ammo for calibers like .223, if it is too low, the bullet will not fragment as it should.

Also, for a stocking point, it's easier to stick 1 or 2 powders for each caliber so you can build a good supply up.

Offline Stein

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2011, 02:59:11 PM »
Here is how I select charges:

1.  The powder has to be available widely and reasonably priced.  You can pay 15-40 or more per pound and I don't think the expensive powders are worth it - my opinion. 
2.  The powder has to appear frequently in load manuals.
3.  I prefer larger loads so that at least 51% of the case is filled - double charges are then very obvious.
4.  It should shoot well - not much of an issue if you select normal powders for given rounds and aren't precision target shooting.  For a hunting rifle I may try a few, but let's be honest about the need!


Offline r1kk1

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2011, 03:54:32 PM »
2400 has been a little hard to find around here for almost a year. Kind of a bummer really. I had a real nice 44mag load worked up that I'd been using in my Redhawk for years :-\
I've never used 2400 in my rifle loads though. It must work good with the cast. Do you use gas checks?? I use 4350 alot in my 30-06. I have used 4831,4320 and 4895 too, but in my rifle the 4350 seems to group better. Keep in mind I'm talking jacketed bullets too ;)

I have moulds both checked and unchecked styles. 2400 is a wonderful powder to use in the 30-06. I also use some rifle powders for this caliber, 30-30, 375 winchester, 416 Rigby, 45-70, etc. I've ran certain bullets up to 2500 fps with no problems. Bullet fit is everything. I like cartridges that throw heavy bullets in the 1800-2200 fps range on my chronograph. I've recently purchase a NEF 500 S&W that I will have a mould or two made. That one seems to love H110/W296 powders. A lot can be gleamed from retrieval of fired bullets. LBT is another great company who will make a mould using your slugs, chamber casts, etc. Mountain Molds is great too. I think I have a few from every manufacturer.

When I use 2400 in the 30-06, I keep speeds to around 1600 fps as these are the most accurate for my rifle.

take care,

r1kk1

endurance

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2011, 04:05:26 PM »
Another endorsement of HP38 for handguns.  I've found it to be cleaner than Unique (which is what I started with) and less smokey if you're shooting indoors.  Less time scrubbing is worth a lot for me.

For rifles, I generally used H380, using it in .243, .270, and .308 rounds.  Also clean burning and low smoke with excellent consistency for good accurate rounds.

All that said, you're going to find many different powders work best in various caliber configurations.  One powder may be the bee's knees in .308, but might be less accurate in a roomier 30-06 cartridge.

Offline r1kk1

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #13 on: February 24, 2011, 09:53:06 AM »
Another endorsement of HP38 for handguns.  I've found it to be cleaner than Unique (which is what I started with) and less smokey if you're shooting indoors.  Less time scrubbing is worth a lot for me.

All that said, you're going to find many different powders work best in various caliber configurations.  One powder may be the bee's knees in .308, but might be less accurate in a roomier 30-06 cartridge.

Ain't that the truth! I shoot 30-06. I prefer stick powders. The ones that are hard to measure unless you have an electronic powder dispenser, JDS Quick Measure, or patience.

PB is a very clean burner also. Great in 45 ACP and shotguns.

take care,

r1kk1

Offline Duc1

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2011, 08:02:40 PM »
It's nice to see more people starting to reload.  Some see it as a chore but for me it's time well spent.  I usually listen to Jack's podcast on my iphone while reloading.  Don't worry, I'm careful when charging.  Before I started reloading I talked to the guys at Hodgdon and asked for some powders that are pretty universal, and they recommended Universal (go figure).  They also suggest I try Varget for my .223 and .308's.  Varget and H4895 are my favorite powders for my rifles and I've been using Unique mostly for my handguns.

Offline r1kk1

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #15 on: February 28, 2011, 09:13:38 AM »
It's nice to see more people starting to reload.  Some see it as a chore but for me it's time well spent.  I usually listen to Jack's podcast on my iphone while reloading.  Don't worry, I'm careful when charging.  Before I started reloading I talked to the guys at Hodgdon and asked for some powders that are pretty universal, and they recommended Universal (go figure).  They also suggest I try Varget for my .223 and .308's.  Varget and H4895 are my favorite powders for my rifles and I've been using Unique mostly for my handguns.

I reload for the same reasons I garden, change my own oil, built my house, etc. Besides, I hunt with a muzzleloader and that's a reload with every shot!

take care,

r1kk1

Offline hillclimber

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2011, 09:15:09 PM »
Varget is a good powder, as is H4895. Both can be used in many loads. I just found it easier to stick with the powder that my individual rifle likes the best which is IMR4895. If it had been Varget that it liked better, well, I'd be loading that ;)

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #17 on: May 05, 2011, 10:19:42 AM »
Well I might as well toss in my 2cents and save you some time...  DO NOT USE SR7625  >:(  (It's worse than shooting WOLF ammo in terms of dirt and soot!)

My second powder purchase was (IMR?)-700X, which I think I like.  It seems to burn clean and it was about the same price. 

I've heard a lot of good things about Unique, I'll try that next.
~CRCJ

endurance

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #18 on: May 05, 2011, 10:34:42 AM »
Any suggestions on the best powder choice for a 2" barrel .38 special?  Obviously something fast burning.

Offline r1kk1

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #19 on: August 10, 2011, 10:08:21 AM »
Well I might as well toss in my 2cents and save you some time...  DO NOT USE SR7625  >:(  (It's worse than shooting WOLF ammo in terms of dirt and soot!)

My second powder purchase was (IMR?)-700X, which I think I like.  It seems to burn clean and it was about the same price. 

I've heard a lot of good things about Unique, I'll try that next.
~CRCJ

Unique is not a clean powder! Good stuff. PB is. Depending on what you load, some powders burn clean while others dirty or unburned. 9mm and Unique are good. HP 38 and Win 231 in .38 special are good. Clays in .45 acp burn nice. #9, H110, W296 are good in the magnums. I like 700x also and 800x. 800x is pita to meter properly. Doesn't bother me.

take care,

r1kk1

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2011, 11:00:54 AM »
Unique is not a clean powder! Good stuff.

Please excuse my confusion, but I'm not sure what you mean by that?

Quote
PB is. Depending on what you load, some powders burn clean while others dirty or unburned. 9mm and Unique are good. HP 38 and Win 231 in .38 special are good. Clays in .45 acp burn nice. #9, H110, W296 are good in the magnums. I like 700x also and 800x. 800x is pita to meter properly. Doesn't bother me.
take care,
r1kk1

I was reading through my manual the other day and noticed something... if you shoot the pure lead (I'm talking about not jacketed, not the alloy), the SR-6725 works in .45acp, .308 and 30-06.  That seems to me to make it a pretty good general powder to have on hand if the SHTF.  Maybe it burns cleaner in a longer barrel?

endurance

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #21 on: August 10, 2011, 11:23:57 AM »
Please excuse my confusion, but I'm not sure what you mean by that?
I used to load with Unique and it let to a lot longer gun scrubbing sessions than I had with factory ammo or after switching to HP38.  Also, a lot less smoky when I was shooting at the indoor ranges (not really noticable outdoors).

Offline r1kk1

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Re: Too many powder choices!
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2011, 01:52:10 PM »
Unique is a dirty powder. It is an extremely versatile powder. Unique and Bullseye are not know for pretty just functional. I stopped at 5k round torture test in 9mm and 45acp. They were filthy but no misfires, jams or malfunctions of any sort. Powder cleanliness is not an important factor to me as long as it does not cause failures.

You can use Unique in most pistol calibers, albeit the new large magnums as of yet, and some rifle loads. It shines in shotgun loading although I prefer PB for this duty. I shot only cast bullets in my pistols and revolvers and most rifle loads.

take care,

r1kk1