June 12th, 2019

Powder Spotlight — Reloder 15 and Norma 203B

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

In response to a Bulletin story about Norma powders at Midsouth Shooters Supply, one of our Forum members asked: “I’m having trouble finding Reloder 15 for my 6.5×47 Lapua — should I consider running Norma 203B instead?” As we’ve explained before, these two powders, both made by Bofors in Europe, are very, very similar. Here are some hard numbers that should demonstrate how virtually identical these powders really are.

Target Shooter Magazine writer Laurie Holland compared Norma 203B and Reloder 15 using data from QuickLOAD. Laurie also checked load manuals to see how listed charge weights varied for the two propellants. Laurie concluded there was very little difference between Norma 203B and Reloder 15.

Laurie Holland RatonNorma 203B vs. Alliant Reloder 15
Commentary by Laurie Holland

Running [203B and RL15] through QuickLOAD doing a ‘charge table’ run for a 130gn Berger VLD at 2.700 COAL in 6.5X47 Lapua, gives very similar positions in the table [for both powders]. The charge required to achieve 62,000 psi estimated pressure varies by a mere 0.2 grains between the pair, Norma 203B being the heavier of the two. The estimated Muzzle Velocity (MV) also varies by a mere 2 fps, RL15 estimated to produce 2,946 fps MV compared to 2,944 fps for N203B at 62,000 psi (with the parameters I used).

If they aren’t the same thing, they’re so close as to make no difference and as Forum Boss points out, they’re made by the same people (Bofors) in the same plant.

[The Berger Reloading Manual includes data for both powders] for the .308 Winchester and heavier bullets (185 to 230 grains). Maximum charges and claimed MVs are not always identical, but are so close as to be marginally different production lots of the same thing, or maybe the result of minor testing variations.

.308 Win Max Charge Weights in Grains (RL15 / N203B) (Berger Manual)

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

MVs [for the four bullet types] are close but not identical, the largest difference being for the 210s which shows RL15 producing 2,428 fps MV v 2,383 for Norma 203B.

Norma 203B Chemistry
According to the Norma Reloading Handbook #1, Norma 203B has the following composition:

85% Nitrocellulose
7.5% Nitroglycerin
2.0% surface coating
4.6% Various chemicals
0.9% Water

3,957 J/g specific energy
890 g/l specific density

For comparison, the 7.5% NG component compares to 15% in Viht N500 series powders and 10% in Ramshot TAC / Big Game / Hunter.

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September 13th, 2015

Alliant Reloder 15 Vs. Norma 203B — The Numbers Tell All

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

In response to our Bulletin story about the availability of Norma powders at Midsouth Shooters Supply, one of our Forum members asked: “I’m having trouble finding Reloder 15 for my 6.5×47 Lapua — should I consider running Norma 203B instead?” As we’ve explained before, these two powders, both made by Bofors in Europe, are very, very similar. Here are some hard numbers that should demonstrate how virtually identical these powders really are.

Target Shooter Magazine writer Laurie Holland compared Norma 203B and Reloder 15 using data from QuickLOAD. Laurie also checked load manuals to see how listed charge weights varied for the two propellants. Laurie concluded there was very little difference between Norma 203B and Reloder 15.

Laurie Holland RatonNorma 203B vs. Alliant Reloder 15
Commentary by Laurie Holland

Running [203B and RL15] through QuickLOAD doing a ‘charge table’ run for a 130gn Berger VLD at 2.700 COAL in 6.5X47 Lapua, gives very similar positions in the table [for both powders]. The charge required to achieve 62,000 psi estimated pressure varies by a mere 0.2 grains between the pair, Norma 203B being the heavier of the two. The estimated Muzzle Velocity (MV) also varies by a mere 2 fps, RL15 estimated to produce 2,946 fps MV compared to 2,944 fps for N203B at 62,000 psi (with the parameters I used).

If they aren’t the same thing, they’re so close as to make no difference and as Forum Boss points out, they’re made by the same people (Bofors) in the same plant.

[The Berger Reloading Manual includes data for both powders] for the .308 Winchester and heavier bullets (185 to 230 grains). Maximum charges and claimed MVs are not always identical, but are so close as to be marginally different production lots of the same thing, or maybe the result of minor testing variations.

.308 Win Max Charge Weights in Grains (RL15 / N203B) (Berger Manual)

norma 203B Reloder 15 berger load manual

MVs [for the four bullet types] are close but not identical, the largest difference being for the 210s which shows RL15 producing 2,428 fps MV v 2,383 for Norma 203B.

Norma 203B Chemistry
According to the Norma Reloading Handbook #1, Norma 203B has the following composition:

85% Nitrocellulose
7.5% Nitroglycerin
2.0% surface coating
4.6% Various chemicals
0.9% Water

3,957 J/g specific energy
890 g/l specific density

For comparison, the 7.5% NG component compares to 15% in Viht N500 series powders and 10% in Ramshot TAC / Big Game / Hunter.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
June 11th, 2011

Winchester WXR Powder Rivals RL22 at Much Lower Cost ($13/lb)

Here’s a good deal for magnum shooters on a tight budget. If you need a quality, slow burn-rate powder suitable for large-capacity cartridges, check out Winchester WXR powder. Production of WXR has been discontinued, but quantities are still available. PrecisionReloading.com has 8-lb jugs of Winchester WXR for $104.49, which works out to just $13.06 per pound. Grafs.com has 1-lb containers of Winchester WXR for $13.99, on “close-out” pricing (limited quantities, no back-orders). Winchester WXR is a Swedish-made, double-base, slow-burning extruded propellant used in larger-size cartridges. WXR is an excellent choice for the .25-06, .270 Win, .30-06, 7mm Rem Mag, 300 Win Mag, 7mm WSM and 300 WSM cartridges. Some industry observers have suggested that Winchester WXR is virtually the same as Alliant Reloder 22. We can’t confirm that, but the load recipes are similar. Keep in mind that, at $13.06 per pound, WXR is nearly six bucks per pound cheaper than Reloder 22 (in 5-lb containers).

The Reload Bench’s Burn Rate Comparison Chart shows WXR having a burn rate very close to Vihtavuori N165 and IMR 7828. In tests with a .25-06, WXR delivered velocities 30 to 60 fps higher than Reloder 22, with equal loads grain for grain (see WXR vs. RL22 report). In the .25-06, the WXR was slightly more energetic than Reloder 22, so a max load with WXR proved to be about 1.0 grain lower than a RL22 max load. Another WXR user writes: “I’ve been using it for the last three years in my 7 STW, 7mm Mag, 300 WSM, 300 Win Mag, .30-06 and .270 Win. It chronographs nearly identical to Reloder 22, so keep that in mind when working up loads with it. From what I’ve researched about it, the company in Sweden who makes powder for Norma, also makes Reloder 22 and made Win WXR. Remember powder can vary slightly from lot to lot, so start low and work your way up.”

Winchester Catalog with WXR Load Data (PDF File)

Burn rates (faster to slower):
152. H4831 (Hodgdon)
153. MRP (Norma)
154. Reloder 22 (Alliant)
155. WW785 (Winchester)
156. H450 (Hodgdon)
157. Mag Pro (Accurate)
158. N165 (Vihtavuori)
159. WXR (Winchester)
160. 7828 (IMR)

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March 1st, 2011

New AR-Comp Powder from Alliant — Details Revealed

AR-Comp Alliant PowderHere’s the latest info on Alliant’s new AR-Comp powder. We had a chance to talk with Dick Quesenberry of Alliant, who revealed more details about this new propellant. First, Dick explained that AR-Comp is an advanced re-formulation of Reloder 15, a double-base Bofors powder. There are changes to internal and external chemistry to provide much better pressure/velocity stability across a wide range of temperatures.

AR-Comp Offers Uniform Velocities over a Wide Temp Range
Tests were done with .223 Rem and .308 Win ammo, loaded with AR-Comp and maintained at temps from -20° F to +160° F in a controlled test center. The ammo itself was heated or cooled to targeted temps before testing. Across that entire range of temperature, -20° F to +160° F, the ammo loaded with AR-Comp showed a variation of only 20 fps in muzzle velocity. The primary bullet type tested was a 77gr .224 bullet and the secondary was a 175gr .308 bullet.

Burn Rate Like Varget: Though this is a reformulation of Reloder 15, the burn rate of AR-Comp is slightly faster than Reloder 15. Alliant told us: “Reloder 15 is slightly slower, in burn rate, than Varget. The new AR-Comp, with the enhancements, ended up slightly faster than Reloder 15, so it is now very close to Varget in burn rate”. This is the result of the “tuning” of the powder to be much less temp-sensitive.

Meters Like Reloder 15: AR-Comp is a small-kernel, double-base extruded powder like Reloder 15, so it will continue to meter just like Reloder 15. The load density should be the same as Reloder 15.

Loaded Ammo: We asked if any manufacturer will be using AR-Comp in loaded ammo. Dick told us that he is “not allowed to release that information at this time”. Draw your own conclusions, but remember that Alliant is owned by ATK, which makes Federal rifle ammo.

Available in Summer 2011: Allliant hopes to ship AR-Comp in “June or July” of 2011, provided the DOT Classification process moves at a normal schedule. The powder is ready to go, Alliant is just waiting on the DOT to provide shipping authorization.

Reloder 15 Will Stay in Production: Fans of Alliant’s Reloder 15 don’t need to worry. Alliant will keep Reloder 15 in production. “We don’t drop powder lines”, said Quesenberry.

AR-Comp First in Series of New Alliant Temp-Stable Powders
Alliant has been working on AR-Comp for quite some time. This represents a major evolution for Alliant’s powder line. AR-Comp will be the first in a series of “new generation” temp-stable powders from Alliant. Quesenberry noted: “Our goal was to provide a powder that offers stable pressures in all temperatures. Shooters want to be able to stay with the same load in winter and in summer, in cold or in hot conditions.”

Quesenberry added: “We’ve been working on this quite a while. AR-Comp is the first example and we hope to extend this to other rifle powders. It’s a tough job. You have to balance the performance carefully. If you tweak it one way, say to improve the low temp performance, you lose something at the upper end. If you tweak it for the top end, you loose something at the bottom. You have to hit that balance. We worked very hard to do just that and we think shooters will be impressed with the results.”

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