April 1st, 2014

DOT Approves New 1000-grain (2.3 oz.) Powder Containers

DOT small powder bottlesHere’s big (and small) news for reloaders — get ready for smaller powder containers. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently approved new smaller containers for shipment of smokeless powder. The new containers are designed to hold 1000 grains, exactly one-seventh of a pound. That works out to 2.29 ounces of powder — quite a bit less than you are getting currently with one-pound (16 oz.) containers.

Here how it works out:
7000 grains = 1 pound = 16 ounces
1000 grains = 0.143 pounds = 2.29 ounces

Many products — from cereal boxes to Snickers bars — have been down-sized in recent years. Now downsizing has come to the powder marketplace. The strategy behind the smaller containers is simple. In a market where demand vastly outstrips available supply, the smaller containers allow powder-makers to generate more revenue with a given amount of powder inventory. Will consumers accept the smaller powder containers? Probably so — 1000 grains is enough to load 20-22 rounds of .308 Winchester. In the current marketplace (with many powders virtually impossible to find), most consumers would probably prefer to get 2.3 ounces of their favorite powder, rather than nothing at all. (NOTE: The major powder suppliers will continue to offer popular powders in 1-lb, and 8-lb containers. The new 1000-grain containers will be phased-in over time, as an alternative to the larger containers).

DOT small powder bottles

Why the small bottles? One industry spokesman (who asked not to be named) explained: “We’ve had a severe shortage of smokeless powder for nearly two years. The powder production plants are running at full capacity, but there’s only so much finished product to go around. By moving to smaller containers, we can ensure that our customers at least get some powder, even if it’s not as much as they want.”

Why are the new containers 2.3 ounces rather than 8 ounces (half a pound) or 4 ounces (one-quarter pound)? One of the engineers who helped develop the new DOT-approved container explained: “We looked at various sizes. We knew we had to reduce the volume significantly to achieve our unit quantity sales goals. Some of our marketing guys liked the four-ounce option — the ‘Quarter-Pounder’. That had a nice ring to it, but ultimately we decided on the 1000 grain capacity. To the average consumer, one thousand grains sounds like a large amount of powder, even if it’s really only 2.3 ounces. This size also made it much easier to bundle the powder in six-packs. We think the six-packs will be a big hit. You get nearly a pound of powder, but you can mix and match with a variety of different propellants.”

Less Bang for Your Buck?
We’re told the new 2.3-ounce powder bottles will retail for around $8.50, i.e. about $3.70 per ounce. At that price, it may seem like you’re getting less bang for your buck. Currently, when you can find it, high-quality reloading powder typically sells for $25-$30 per pound (in 1-lb containers). At $30 per pound, you’re paying $1.88 per ounce. That means that the new mini-containers will be roughly twice as expensive, ounce-for-ounce, as current one-pounders ($3.70 per ounce vs. $1.88 per ounce).

DOT small powder bottlesWhy is the DOT getting involved in powder packaging? Well, powders are considered hazardous materials, subject to many rules and regulations. Before a powder manufacturer or distributor can ship any propellant, all the hazmat packaging has to be first approved by the DOT to ensure safe shipping.

Along with the 2.3-ounce containers, the DOT has approved “six-pack” consolidated delivery units that will hold six, 1000-grain containers. Some manufacturers plan to offer “variety packs” with a selection of various powders in the 1000-grain bottles. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a six-pack with H322, H4895, Varget, H4350, H4831sc, and Retumbo?

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January 3rd, 2014

New Diamond Labels Required for Ammunition Shipments

We ran this story in December, but we figure you guys needed a reminder, as we are now “well and truly” in 2014. Here’s the deal — “ORM D” is dead — you must NOT use “ORM D” labels on ammo shipments any more. Effective January 1, 2014, you must use the new DOT Diamond Labels instead.

The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) has superseded the ORM-D ammo labels, replacing them with a larger striped diamond label that does not mention “Small Arms Cartridges”. This change is designed to harmonize U.S. shipping rules with United Nations standards. So, starting January 1, 2014, you MUST use the new “Limited Quantity” striped diamond labels for all ammo shipments.

Ground Ltd Qty Marking
Air Ltd Qty Marking
NOTE: These illustrations are not true to scale. The actual default Ltd Qty Diamond label to be used for ammo shipments is much larger, about 5″ per side. A smaller 2″ per side version of the Ltd Qty striped diamond can be used on smaller packages.

CLICK HERE for PDF Template with Large and Small Striped Diamond Ground Shipping Labels

Download NEW Diamond Label Samples
The Parallax Curio and Relic Forum, has PDF samples of the new Diamond Ltd Qty Labels. The thread explains: “The good news is the new label doesn’t have any indicator that the package contains ammunition. The bad news is the new label is gigantic compared to the old ORM-D label. You are required to use one of the larger labels on one side of any package containing ammunition. If the package is too small for one of the larger labels then you are permitted to use one of the smaller labels instead. Because of the size requirement in the regulations, you only get two of each label on standard piece of printer paper.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News 2 Comments »
December 30th, 2013

Day-Glo (Hi-Viz) Target Dots Starting at Five Bucks per Thousand

Sometimes simpler is better when it comes to targets for fun shooting and load testing. While we normally use test targets from our Downloadable Target Page, it’s sometimes easier to just use high-visibility adhesive target dots.

Hi-Viz Stick-On Dots in Assorted Colors and Diameters
You can order 1″ target dots in bulk from Data-Labels.com. Many colors are available including fluorescent (hi-viz) Red, Green, Orange, and Yellow. These are bright and easy to see even in fading afternoon light. A pack of twenty (20) sheets (1260 dots total) costs just $5.97 (that works out to $4.74 per thousand). For the 1″-diameter stick-on dots you get 63 dots per sheet. Larger, 1 2/3″-diameter fluorescent dots are also available from Data-Labels.com in 20-sheet packs for $5.97, with 24 large dots per sheet (480 dots total). If you want larger, 2″-diameter dots, sheets with 400 Hi-Viz dots are currently on sale for $5.97 per 20-pack.

If you prefer smaller, 3/4″-diameter circles, Staples.com sells packs with 1008 adhesive dots for $3.64 to $8.39 per pack. Colors include Neon Red (item 538041), Neon Orange (item 538116), Neon Yellow (item 538090), and Neon Green (item 538066), as well as dark blue, light blue, yellow, and dark green. We recommend the Neon Red for most uses, or the Neon Yellow for use on a black background. For $4.41 Staples sells a “Rainbow Pack” (item 297705) with four assorted colors: red, light blue, green, and yellow.

Half-Inch Fluorescent Dots for 100-200 Yards
For close-range work, you may prefer 1/2″-diameter dots. Forum member Steve has found these at Uline.com. The 1/2″ dots are available in a wide variety of colors including fluorescent Red, Pink, Yellow, and Green. Price is $12 for a roll of 1000 dots (item S-2063).

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November 20th, 2012

Origins of Pyrodex Black Powder Substitute

Pyrodex certainly sounds cool, but does anyone know where the name came from? In 1972, chemist Dan Pawlak developed a mixture that performed like black powder but was much safer to handle. This black powder substitute was able to win a Flammable Solid designation from the Department of Transportation, which meant it could be shipped like regular smokeless powder.

Dan called this mixture a pyrotechnic deflagrating explosive…or Pyrodex for short.

Pyrodex Logo

Pyrodex Product Photo
Permalink Hunting/Varminting, Reloading 1 Comment »
March 9th, 2012

Diamond Labels Will Replace ORM-D Labels on Ammo Shipments

The days of the “ORM-D: Small Arms Cartridges” labels for ammo shipments are numbered. The Dept. of Transportation (DOT) is phasing out the current ORM-D ammo labels, replacing them with a larger striped diamond label that does not mention “Small Arms Cartridges”. This change is designed to harmonize U.S. shipping rules with United Nations standards. You can start using the new “Limited Quantity” diamond labels for ammo shipments immediately, but they are not mandatory — yet. You can continue to use the old ORM-D “Cartridges, Small Arms” labels until December 31, 2013. As of January 1, 2014 you MUST use the Striped Diamonds.

OFFICIAL UPS RULES — Elimination of ORM-D Classification
In an attempt to harmonize and align with international standards, the DOT has amended the 49CFR regulations regarding the ORM-D classification. Effective January 19, 2011, with the publication of the HM-215K final rule, the hazard class of ORM-D is being eliminated. Those materials may still be shipped classified as a limited quantity (“Ltd Qty”). In conjunction with ORM-D hazard class elimination in HM-215K, limited quantity ground shipments will no longer require shipping papers when prepared under the new rule. This includes those materials previously classed as Ltd Qty that required shipping papers via ground transport.

Ground Ltd Qty Marking
Air Ltd Qty Marking
NOTE: These illustrations are not true to scale. The actual default Ltd Qty Diamond label to be used for ammo shipments is much larger, about 5″ per side. A smaller 2″ per side version of the Ltd Qty striped diamond can be used on smaller packages.

There is a transition period for shippers to comply with the new classification, marking and labeling requirements. Until December 31, 2013 a limited quantity package containing a consumer commodity as defined in 171.8 may be reclassed as ORM-D, or until December 31, 2012 for ORM-D-Air material. UPS began accepting materials with the new markings effective April 1, 2011. Note: To be in compliance with TDG, Standard (ground) Ltd Qty shipments to Canada prepared under HM-215K require the verbiage ‘Limited quantity’ or ‘Ltd qty’ to also be marked on the carton.

Download OLD and NEW Label Formats
On the Parallax Curio and Relic Forum, a thread includes PDF samples of both the new Diamond Ltd Qty Labels and the current ORM-D Labels. The thread explains: “The good news is the new label doesn’t have any indicator that the package contains ammunition. The bad news is the new label is gigantic compared to the old ORM-D label. You are required to use one of the larger labels on one side of any package containing ammunition. If the package is too small for one of the larger labels then you are permitted to use one of the smaller labels instead. Because of the size requirement in the regulations, you only get two of each label on standard piece of printer paper.”

CLICK HERE for PDF Template with Large and Small Striped Diamond Ground Shipping Labels

If you want to still use the ORM-D Small Arm Cartridges Labels until the new Diamond Labels are mandatory, here are links to PDF sheets of ORM-D labels. These PDFs have many rows of labels per page so you can save printer paper. The black version and blue version will use up more printer ink, so you might want to use the white version to be more economical.

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