July 10th, 2016

Powder Comparison Test: H4350 vs. IMR 4451

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Many Forum members have been looking for a good substitute for Hodgdon H4350 powder, which remains hard-to-find in many parts of the country. One of the best alternatives is IMR 4451, part of IMR’s new Enduron line of powders. Last year, top F-Class shooter Rick Jensen did a comparison between H4350 and IMR 4451, shooting the two powder in a wide range of temperatures. His data suggests that both powders show good temp stability.

Powder Comparison Test: H4350 vs. IMR 4451

Rick Jensen, Captain of the U.S. F-Open Rifle Team, has tested some of the new IMR 4451 powder. Rick and other team members were looking for a good powder that could replace Hodgdon 4350 which is difficult to obtain currently. The makers of IMR 4451 claim that it is not sensitive to temperature and that it delivers competitive accuracy. So far, Rick’s tests, done with a .284 Winchester and 180gr Berger Hybrids, appear to confirm those claims. Rick posts:

“I did a little informal powder comparison of H4350 versus the new IMR 4451. Rifle used was a Kelbly Panda with a 30″, 1:8.75″ twist 5R Bartlein barrel [chambered in .284 Win]. All charge weights were 50.0 grains using CCI BR2 primers. I was very impressed with this new powder and I believe it to be equal to H4350 as far as temperature sensitivity.

I did not test for accuracy but I will tell you my groups were pretty much equal between the two and all were in the .2-.3 MOA range. I will defiantly be shooting more of this powder in the weeks to come, assuming the supply chain will allow. It looks very encouraging to finally have a alternative to H4350 that we might actually be able to buy.”

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Chronograph Results with Temps from 23° F to 101°
Here are chronograph results of a comparison test between IMR 4451 and H4350. Rick’s rifle was cleaned and allowed to cool between each test. Five fouling shots were fired before each test. Important: Note that for both Test #1 and Test #2, the powder order is reversed in the mid-temp fields (IMR 4451 first, then H4350). For the low and high temp entries, H4350 is listed first.

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Here are the IMR 4451 fired cases, displayed Left to right, coldest to the hottest (in terms of case temp when fired). All charge weights were the same: 50.0 grains.

Hodgdon H4350 IMR 4451 temperature powder test

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 5 Comments »
June 25th, 2016

Varget 1-Pounders Available at Midsouth and Powder Valley

hodgdon imr varget powder propellant 1-lb Powder Valley Midsouth

Behold… the Holy Grail, Hodgdon Varget powder. Among all the rifle propellants on the market, Varget may have been the hardest to find in the last couple of years. But take heart, Midsouth Shooters Supply and Powder Valley Inc. now have 1-pound containers of Varget in stock for immediate delivery. To get to the PVI order screen, from the PVI Home page, click “Powders” then click “Hodgdon”.

hodgdon imr varget powder propellant 1-lb Powder Valley Midsouth

hodgdon imr varget powder propellant 1-lb Powder Valley MidsouthOver the years, Hodgdon Varget has proven to be one of the most accurate powders ever created. And it is also exceptionally temp-stable. In the .308 Win, 6mmBR, 6mm Dasher and other popular cartridges, Varget has set many records and won countless matches. It meters well (for an extruded powder) and can be used in a very large range of calibers and cartridge types. If you need Varget… don’t hesitate. Supplies are limited. This may sell out by the end of the day today..

TIME STAMP: This Notice Issued at 9:30 am EST Saturday, June 25, 2016.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 2 Comments »
July 11th, 2015

Tactical Transformer: .243 Win Becomes a 6-6.5×47 Lapua

6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

Article by Bill, Editor of Rifleshooter.com
A few years ago I built a custom switch-barrel Remington 700 on an AICS Chassis chambered in .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester. I found the .243 Win finicky during load development and started looking at other options for the 6mm Bartlein 1:8″-twist HV barrel.

6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy InternationalInitially drawn to the 6mmBR and 6mm Dasher, I realized these cartridges wouldn’t feed from an AICS magazine system without extensive modification. I took a look at the 6mm Creedmoor, 6XC, and 6mm-6.5×47 Lapua (aka 6×47 Lapua), all of which feed well from a detachable magazine. At right you can see the 6×47 Lapua in an AICS magazine. It has the “Goldilocks factor” — not too long, not too short.

The ability to simply convert 6.5×47 Lapua brass to 6×47 brass by running the parent 6.5mm brass through a full-length Forster sizing die in a single step was what made me choose the 6×47 Lapua over the 6mm Creedmoor and 6XC (both excellent cartridges in their own right). I also own a 6.5×47 Lapua rifle, so I had a supply of 6.5×47 brass ready to neck-down. Being able to create 6×47 brass easily (one pass and done) was very appealing.

Left to right, below: 6mmBR, 6-6.5×47 Lapua, 6.5×47 Lapua, and .243 Winchester.
Rifleshooter.com6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

I cut the chamber end off my .243 Win barrel, threaded and chambered my rifle for the 6×47 Lapua cartridge. I have written a lengthy article on this cutting and re-chambering process. Home gunsmiths interested in this process can READ MORE HERE.

When the re-chambering was complete, I headed to the range and worked up a set of eight loads using Berger 108 BTHPs, H4350, Lapua brass, and CCI 450 primers.

Rifleshooter.com 6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

Load development was a little trickier than with the 6.5×47 Lapua parent cartridge. The accuracy nodes were smaller. However, once I dialed in a load with Hodgdon H4350 and the 108-grain Berger BTHP, the rest was history. The 6×47 rig is now one of the most consistent rifles I own, holding just above 0.3 MOA for 5-round groups. Below is a 100-yard test target with 108-grain Berger BT in the 6×47 Lapua. Five-shot group sizes are (L to R): .369″, .289″, and .405″. The average size was .354″ or .338 MOA. [Editor: We think that is excellent accuracy for a tactical-type rifle shot from bipod.]

6mm-6.5x47 6x47 Lapua Tactical Accuracy International

Learn More about this 6×47 Lapua Project
I’ve written more about this 6×47 rifle on my Rifleshooter.com website. To learn more about my experience with the 6×47 Lapua, click this link: 6-6.5X47 Lapua Review.


About the author: Bill has been a serious shooter for over 20 years. A former Marine Corps Sergeant, he’s competed and placed in High Power Rifle, ISPC, USPSA, IDPA, 3-Gun, F-Class, and precision rifle disciplines. In addition to being an NRA-certified firearms instructor and range officer, Bill has hunted big game in North America, South America, and Africa. Bill writes extensively about gunsmithing, precision rifles, and the shooting sports on his blog, Rifleshooter.com.

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Tactical 1 Comment »
January 24th, 2014

Powder Watch: N133, LT-32, and Norma Powders Available Now

Vihtavuori N133 powder valleyHere’s good news for short-range benchrest shooters. The two most popular powders for the 6PPC, Vihtavuori N133 and Accurate LT-32, are now in-stock at Powder Valley Inc. (PVI). In fact, Powder Valley even has the hard-to-find 8-lb jugs of N133. If you need LT-32 or VV N133, visit PowderValleyinc.com.

– PVI has 1-lb containers of LT-32 for $24.90
— PVI has 1-lb containers of N133 for $30.35
— PVI has 8-lb jugs of N133 for $196.50.

Consider Norma Powders for Large Cartridges
Can’t get H4350 or H4831sc? If you need slower-burning powders for your .260 Rem, .284 Win, 7mm WSM, or magnum caliber, consider Norma powders. While the popular Alliant and Hodgdon medium-to-slow burn-rate powders are still very hard to find, you can get similar Norma powders from many vendors right now, no waiting.

Norma 217 powder valleyPowder Valley has Norma 204, 217, MRP, and URP in stock. MidwayUSA.com has 204, 217, MRP, and URP in stock. MidsouthShootersSupply.com has Norma 204 in stock. The Lapua Burn Rate Chart (shown below) places URP in the burn range of H4350 and Vihtavuori N150, and Norma says “burning rate for URP is close to our 204 but on the quick side.” Norma 204 is slower than H4350 but a little faster than H4831sc. MRP is close to the original H4831. Download Chart as PDF.

Norma 217 does not show on the Lapua chart, but it is a good powder for the heavy magnums. Norma says that “Norma 217 is slightly slower than the discontinued MRP2. It was developed for the 30-378 Weatherby from start. Matches the .338 Norma Mag and .338 Lapua Mag perfect with heavy bullets. It is also a good candidate for [overbore cartridges] such as 7mm Rem Mag[.]”.

Lapua Vihtavuori burn rate charts

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
May 1st, 2011

Best Wallet Group Ever? 1.86" 5-Shot Group at 1000 Yards

What’s a “wallet group”? It’s a singularly spectacular proof target that entitles its bearer to bragging rights. The wallet group may or may not have been shot in competition, and, by definition, it may not be repeatable. But it exists as incontrovertible proof that, at least once, the stars aligned, and the wind gods smiled on the shooter.

1000-yard record groupFive Shots in 0.178 MOA at 1000 Yards
A couple seasons back, Forum member and F-Class shooter Gary Wood was testing his 6.5-284 rifle at the 1000-yard range in Coalinga, California, getting ready for an up-coming long range match. In practice, Gary nailed a witnessed 1.859″ five-shot group, with four of the five shots well under an inch. Use this as proof to win those club-house arguments about whether it is possible to shoot “in the ones” at 1000 yards. Gary’s group worked out to 0.178 MOA!

Gary reports: “I was load testing with 5-shot groups. Each group was shot on a new F-Class center and pulled by Ret. Master Chief Jerry Pullens and spotted by an other long-range shooter. The second 5-shot load group looked really small … by our reckoning four out of five shots measured under an inch. I was amazed. What’s more, when I shot the group, the 4th shot blew the spindle out of the 3rd shot. My spotter saw that in his scope and Jerry Pullens told me about it afterwards”.

As measured with the OnTarget Software, using a scan of the target, Gary plotted the group size at 1.859″ total for five shots, or 0.178 MOA. Gary noted: “I had everyone sign the target which I saved and photographed.” Yes, Gary, this may be the wallet group to end all wallet groups. You should have that target framed.

1000-yard record group

Gary’s Load and 6.5-284 Rifle Specs
Gary’s load was 48 grains of Hodgdon H4350 and CCI BR-2 primers, pushing 142gr Sierra MKs, in Lapua 6.5-284 brass. The rifle features an F-class, single-shot Surgeon action with a Bartlein 5R barrel chambered with a no-turn neck. Gary says “The barrel only has 70 rounds through it… yep, I think it will shoot.” Gary did all of the gunsmithing and barrel work himself.

Did Gary have any special reloading tricks? Apparently not: “Other than weighing the cases and the powder very carefully, there really were no magical reloading secrets used. The Sierra 142s were moly-coated straight from the box of 500, but they were not weighed or checked for bearing surface. The powder was dropped with a RCBS ChargeMaster then checked with an Acculab scale (to under a tenth). The Lapua cases were not neck-turned, but I did weight-sort them. The five cases for the small group weighed: 195.05, 195.03, 195.03, 195.03, 195.01.”

Permalink News 7 Comments »
July 22nd, 2010

Williamsport Winner Reveals 6.5×284 Reloading Secrets

John Hoover of Accuracy One Shooting Supplies is the 2010 Williamsport World Open Two-gun Overall Champion. Shooting a 6.5×284 in both Light Gun (LG) and Heavy Gun (HG) classes, John shot consistently, placing 3rd in Light Gun class, and 6th in Heavy Gun to win the overall Two-Gun with 34 rank points. It was a solid win. The next closest shooter was Paul Chackan with 59 rank points.

John Hoover Accuracy One

John Hoover Accuracy OneHoover’s Reloading Tips
We interviewed John after his World Open victory, and he shared his World Open-winning load, and some of the reloading secrets that allow him to craft ultra-accurate long range ammo. For his 6.5x284s, John loaded was Sierra 142gr MatchKings pushed by 48.0 grains of Hodgdon H4350, in “white box” Winchester .284 brass. Both rifles used exactly the same load. John revealed: “I have 9 match rifles, and they all shoot 48.00 grains of H4350.” John pointed his 142gr SMKs, using his own Accuracy One bullet-pointing tool: “I don’t shoot anything that isn’t pointed. All the loads we shoot use pointed bullets. I find that bullet pointing, combined with meplat trimming, reduces vertical dispersion at 1000 yards.”

Hoover’s Secret Ingredient? RWS Primers
Hoover lit his loads with RWS primers — the “Holy Grail” of rifle primers. Where did John get these superior German-made RWS primers, which are virtually unobtainable in the USA these days? John explained: “I bought those primers a long time ago, as a stocking dealer. I had about 100,000 at one time before they quit importing them, I kept a fair amount for us to use. I’m down to about 8000. When they’re gone I’ll have to change to something else.”

Hoover Now Anneals Brass “Early and Often”
Recently Hoover has changed his brass annealing procedure; he now anneals his Winchester brass earlier and more frequently: “I anneal more often now. I used to shoot my cases five to six times before annealing. Now before I shoot a case the very first time, I anneal it. That has help keep the ES and SD down. I anneal before I shoot the first time, and then every third firing. I use the Ken Light annealing machine.”

Ace Smiths Built Hoover’s Winning Rifles
John’s heavy gun was chambered by Al Warner of Warner Tools, while the light gun was chambered by 8-time National High Power Champion Carl Bernosky. Both light and heavy guns had Bartlein 1:8.5″ twist 5R barrels. All the stock work was done by Alex Sitman of Master Class Stocks. John credited these smiths: “I had good equipment from top to bottom, I had good smithing help from Alan, Carl, and Alex, who all did excellent work. When you’re walking to the firing line you get peace of mind from having the best equipment.”

READ MORE: To learn more about John Hoover’s successful 6.5-284s, read this Gun of the Week article.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »