If you’ve tried to buy powder lately, you know that many of the most popular propellants are in short supply. To find out when we can expect powder supplies to catch up with the increased consumer demand, we headed to the Hodgdon Powder Company booth at SHOT Show. There we met up with Chris Hodgdon.
Chris understands that people are frustrated with the current shortages. But Chris assured us that his company is moving aggressively to get more powder on store shelves. Production is being stepped up and Chris said his employees are working “nights and weekends” to increase propellant shipments. But there is no “quick fix”. Chris reports: “We are trying to fill as much of the demand as we can right now, but we have got way more demand than supply obviously right now…”
Try Alternative Powders with Similar Burn Rates
For those customers who can’t find their favorite powder (such as Varget or H4350) right now, Chris suggests trying similar-burn-rate IMR- and Hodgdon-brand powders that are currently available in ample quantities. For example, Chris suggested that Varget users try IMR 4064. This powder offers excellent accuracy and a very similar burn rate. Likewise, if you can’t find H4350 you can try IMR 4350 or H414. Fans of H335 powder will find that Benchmark and CFE 223 are suitable replacement powders.
Of course, when changing to a different powder you can’t simply substitute loads. That’s a big no-no. You need to consult a good load manual or find a safe starting load on the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center. But you may find that, with a little load development effort, your “second choice” or “third choice” powder options shoot just as well as a previous favorite. We know guys who switched from Varget to IMR 8208 XBR in the .308 Win and they liked the 8208 XBR so well they never looked back.
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The new RCBS Summit Press attracted a lot of attention when we first revealed it in the Daily Bulletin earlier this month. Readers wanted to know how well this radical new design really worked. To answer that question, we headed to the RCBS booth at SHOT Show 2013. There our buddy Kent Sakamoto gave us complete run-down on the new Summit. With the Summit, unlike other presses, the case does not move. As you can see in the video, the reloading die comes DOWN to the case.
The Summit’s open-front design is definitely a plus, and we really like the fact that all press operations take place ABOVE the benchtop. There are no linkages running below the bench, which lets you use the Summit on a bench with cabinet-style drawers. The Summit press is definitely beefy. With its massive center column, the design operates smoothly with no flexing issues. RCBS says the Summit has no more head flex than the classic “O”-design RockChucker.
The new Summit Press features a rugged cast-iron frame with all-steel linkages. The handle can be switched from right to left side (good for southpaws), and the open-front design provides good access, facilitating quick die changes. The 4.5-inch opening allows you to work with tall cases. Beneath the shell-holder is a spent primer catcher. The press will accept larger bushings for oversize 1-inch dies. Street Price in the new Summit Press is about $220.00 (optional Short Handle is another $19.95).
RCBS Summit Press Features:
• Bench-top operation
• Massive 2-inch diameter ram
• Ambidextrous handle
• Compound leverage
• 4.50-inch operating window
• Spent primer catcher
• Full frontal access
• Accepts bushings for 1″ die bodies
• Press adapter bushing
• Zerk lubrication fitting
• Made in USA
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