May 19th, 2019

Blood and Gore — Injury After Pistol Powder Loaded in Rifle Case

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

This is a grim tale. A man almost lost the use of his right hand, and did suffer terrible injuries to his fingers. All because he picked the wrong bottle of powder off the shelf. We have run this story before, and we will continue to run it every year, as a caution to our readers. This mistake is easy to make, but the consequences can be dire. Always, always double-check your powder labels before you start the hand-loading process. If you don’t, you may not have a hand to load with next time…

Similar Labels, Disasterous Consequences
The shooter, Denny K., was assembling some rounds for his brand new 7mm-08 Savage hunting rifle. He thought he was loading with Hodgdon Varget. Instead he had filled his powder measure with Hodgdon TiteGroup, a fast-burning pistol powder. The labels are similar, so the mistake is understandable. But the results were devastating. Here’s what 41 grains of TiteGroup can do in a 7mm-08:

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Posting on the Firing Line, in a thread entitled “Lucky to Be Alive”, Denny writes:

“This is the hardest post to post. I know if I had read it a week ago my comment would have been: ‘You have no business reloading’. I had everything perfect, except pouring the wrong powder in the powder measure. I type this slowly with my left hand, embarrassed but … possibly saving someone else a tragedy or, like me, a long drive to the Emergency Room and surgery to save my finger.”

CLICK HERE for bigger, more graphic photo of injury.
Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

The Still-Sealed Bottle of Varget
Denny did not initially comprehend exactly why the kaboom happened. He thought maybe his new Savage rifle was at fault. Then, on his return home, he discovered something…

Denny wrote: “The seven-hour period it took to go to ER, transport to Trauma Center and surgery made me think it was a Savage rifle issue. Brand new rifle, new brass, triple-checked loading data. The next day I was humbled when I realized the Varget powder was still sealed.

I knew what powder to use. I thought [Varget] was what I used. Not until the following day did I realize the Varget was still sealed.”

At that point, Denny realized what caused the accident — “operator error”. He knew he had to warn others about using the wrong powder: “I knew I needed to share my mistake, even though it is embarrassing, just to remind people. I’ve been reloading for 30 years…”

Editor’s Comment: Denny was not a novice reloader. His experience demonstrates that this kind of mistake can be made by any hand-loader, even one with decades of experience. Be safe guys, take your time when you load your ammo. Remove powders from measures after your loading sessions (pistol powders can look very similar to rifle powders). And by all means CHECK the LABEL on the jug. As the TiteGroup label says: “A little goes a long way.”

It’s not a bad idea to separate your pistol powders from your rifle powders, or perhaps even load for pistol in a separate part of your workshop.

Permalink News, Reloading, Tech Tip 12 Comments »
June 5th, 2017

New Clean, Temp-Stable Sport Pistol Powder From Alliant

Alliant Sport Pistol powder polymer bullets temp stable
Pistol Shown from Stan Chen Customs.

Alliant is now shipping an advanced medium-fast burn rate pistol powder that has many important qualities. New Sport Pistol powder exhibits excellent temp stability. That means you can develop a stout load and not worry about hot days at the range. Sport Pistol was also formulated to work with the new generation of polymer-coated bullets. Alliant’s engineers tell us: “This new propellant is very advanced. The chemistry of Sport Pistol is not similar to Bullseye or other older pistol powders. Sport Pistol delivers precise performance with all bullet types, but the low muzzle-flash formulation was optimized for polymer-coated bullets. Other double-base powders can dissolve the polymer coatings at the bullet base, and this exposes the lead to vaporization due to the intense heat during the ballistic cycle.” Alliant says this powder burns clean and gives “extremely reliable cycling, excellent charging/case fill [with] ballistics that lend themselves to a range of popular loads.”

How Sport Pistol Compares to Other Pistol Powders
It looks like Alliant’s new Sport Pistol can be used to replace W231 and HP-38, two popular powders for 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP cartridges. One pistolero notes: “Just looking at the load data for Sport Pistol, charge weights are similar to W231/HP-38 and Alliant advertises it as ‘medium fast’ burning for precision and action shooting competition. I say Alliant released a competing powder for W231/HP-38 that is less temperature sensitive.”

CLICK HERE for Alliant Sport Pistol LOAD DATA »

Alliant Sport Pistol powder polymer bullets temp stable

Along with data for 9mm Luger (above), Alliant has data for .38 SPL, .357 Magnum, .40 S&W, .44 SPL, .44 Rem Magnum, .45 ACP, and .45 Colt.

Permalink Handguns, Reloading No Comments »
November 16th, 2016

IMR Releases Five New Pistol/Shotshell Powders

IMR New Pistol Shotshell Clean powders Blue, Red, Unequal, Target Propellant smokeless powder

Hodgdon/IMR has released a new family of clean-burning shotshell and pistol propellants utilizing “green” technology. This series of five, fast-burn-rate powders will work with an extremely wide range of shotshell and pistol cartridges. Each powder was designed to match current shotshell bushing charts, so hand-loaders will already have the appropriate bushings available for each load.

IMR notes: “This new technology burns clean [and] all of these powders are REACH compliant*, meaning these propellants are not harmful to the environment.”

IMR TARGET:
The first powder in this new family, IMR Target, is a fast-burning pistol powder. This fine-grained, small-flake propellant meters superbly, providing very precise loads in even the smallest pistol cartridges like the .25 ACP!

IMR RED:
The second powder in this new family was designed to be an efficient, clean-burning, 12-gauge target powder. IMR Red also performs nicely in various lead pistol target loads, such as match competition loads and Cowboy reduced loads.

New IMR Red powder is well-suited for light Cowboy Action loads with lead bullets.
IMR New Pistol Shotshell Clean powders Blue Red Unequal Target Propellant smokeless powder
Photo courtesy Uberti.com.

IMR GREEN:
IMR Green, the third in this new family is slightly slower-burning than IMR Red, making it an ideal Trap Handicap powder and soon a favorite with Sporting Clays enthusiasts.

IMR UNEQUAL:
IMR Unequal combines small-sized flakes for uniform metering in all pistol applications and its burn speed accommodates a wide range of shotshell and pistol cartridges.

For loading pistol cartridges on a progressive press, IMR Unequal is a good choice.
IMR New Pistol Shotshell Clean powders Blue, Red, Unequal, Target Propellant smokeless powder
Photo courtesy Dillon Precision.

IMR BLUE:
Having the slowest burn speed of the five new propellants, IMR BLUE is well-suited for for heavy 12-gauge 2¾-inch, 3-inch and 3-1/2-inch field loads.

These new IMR powders will be available in January 2017 at quality reloading powder dealers everywhere. IMR Target and IMR Blue will be available in one-pound (1 lb.), four-pound (4 lb.) and eight-pound (8 lb.) containers. IMR Red, IMR Green, and IMR Unequal will be offered in 14-ounce (14 oz.), four-pound (4 lb.) and eight-pound (8 lb.) containers.

Complete load data for these versatile and useful propellants is accessible on the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center at HodgdonReloading.com.

* Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) is a European Union regulation adopted in December 2006. REACH addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment.

Permalink Handguns, New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
May 2nd, 2016

Pistol Powder in a Rifle Cartridge — The Handloader’s Nightmare

This is a grim tale. A man almost lost the use of his right hand, and did suffer terrible injuries to his fingers. All because he picked the wrong bottle of powder off the shelf.

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Similar Labels, Disasterous Consequences
The shooter, Denny K., was assembling some rounds for his brand new 7mm-08 Savage hunting rifle. He thought he was loading with Hodgdon Varget. Instead he had filled his powder measure with Hodgdon TiteGroup, a fast-burning pistol powder. The labels are similar, so the mistake is understandable. But the results were devastating. Here’s what 41 grains of TiteGroup can do in a 7mm-08:

Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

Posting on the Firing Line, in a thread entitled “Lucky to Be Alive”, Denny writes:

“This is the hardest post to post. I know if I had read it a week ago my comment would have been: ‘You have no business reloading’. I had everything perfect, except pouring the wrong powder in the powder measure. I type this slowly with my left hand, embarrassed but … possibly saving someone else a tragedy or, like me, a long drive to the Emergency Room and surgery to save my finger.”

CLICK HERE for bigger, more graphic photo of injury.
Varget Kaboom TiteGroup Hand injury reloading fingers accident

The Still-Sealed Bottle of Varget
Denny did not initially comprehend exactly why the kaboom happened. He thought maybe his new Savage rifle was at fault. Then, on his return home, he discovered something…

Denny wrote: “The seven-hour period it took to go to ER, transport to Trauma Center and surgery made me think it was a Savage rifle issue. Brand new rifle, new brass, triple-checked loading data. The next day I was humbled when I realized the Varget powder was still sealed.

I knew what powder to use. I thought [Varget] was what I used. Not until the following day did I realize the Varget was still sealed.”

At that point, Denny realized what caused the accident — “operator error”. He knew he had to warn others about using the wrong powder: “I knew I needed to share my mistake, even though it is embarrassing, just to remind people. I’ve been reloading for 30 years…”

Editor’s Comment: Denny was not a novice reloader. His experience demonstrates that this kind of mistake can be made by any hand-loader, even one with decades of experience. Be safe guys, take your time when you load your ammo. Remove powders from measures after your loading sessions (pistol powders can look very similar to rifle powders). And by all means CHECK the LABEL on the jug. As the TiteGroup label says: “A little goes a long way.”

It’s not a bad idea to separate your pistol powders from your rifle powders, or perhaps even load for pistol in a separate part of your workshop.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 11 Comments »
March 1st, 2014

How to Fire-Form Dasher and BRX Brass without Bullets

Many of our Forum members shoot an “improved” 6mmBR cartridge. This might be a 30°-shoulder 6mm BRX, or a 40°-shoulder 6mm Dasher, or the 6mm BRDX, which is very similar to the Dasher, but with a slightly longer neck. This Editor shoots a 6mm BRDX and has found it very accurate, and maybe a bit easier to fire-form than a standard Dasher. Speaking of fire-forming, in our Shooters’ Forum, we often see questions about fire-forming BRX/Dasher brass. For those who need a large number of BRX or Dasher cases, one option to consider is using pistol powder in a dedicated fire-forming barrel. Here’s an explanation of how this process can work.

Forum member Skeeter has a 6mm Dasher falling block varmint rifle. The Dasher case is based on the 6mm BR Norma cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and out to 40°. This gives the Dasher roughly 3.5 grains added capacity compared to the standard 6BR.

A few seasons back, Skeeter needed to form 300 cases for varmint holiday. Skeeter decided to fire-form his brass without bullets. This method avoids barrel wear and saves on components. There are various ways to do this, but Skeeter chose a method using pistol/shotgun powder, some tissue to hold the powder in place, Cream of Wheat filled to within an 1/8″ of top of the neck, and a “plug” of tissue paper to hold it all in place. Shown below are cases filled with a pistol/shotgun powder charge topped with Cream of Wheat and then a tissue paper plug.

To ensure the case headspaced firmly in his Dasher chamber, Skeeter created a “false shoulder” where the new neck-shoulder junction would be after fire-forming. After chamfering his case mouths, Skeeter necked up all his cases with a 0.257″ mandrel (one caliber oversized). Then he used a bushing neck-sizing die to bring the top half of the neck back down to 0.267″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. The photo below shows how the false shoulder is created.

After creating the false shoulder, Skeeter chambered the cases in his rifle to ensure he could close the bolt and that he had a good “crush fit” on the false shoulder, ensuring proper headspace. All went well.

The next step was determining the optimal load of pistol powder. Among a variety of powders available, Skeeter chose Hodgdon Titewad as it is relatively inexpensive and burns clean. The goal was to find just the right amount of Titewad that would blow the shoulder forward sufficiently. Skeeter wanted to minimize the amount of powder used and work at a pressure that was safe for his falling block action.

Working incrementally, Skeeter started at 5.0 grains of Titewad, working up in 0.5 grain increments. As you can see, the 5.0 grain charge blew the shoulder forward, but left it a hemispherical shape. At about 7.0 grains of Titewad, the edge of the shoulder and case body was shaping up. Skeeter decided that 8.5 grains of Titewad was the “sweet spot”. He tried higher charges, but the shoulder didn’t really form up any better. It will take another firing or two, with a normal match load of rifle powder and a bullet seated, to really sharpen up the shoulders. Be sure to click on the “View Larger Image” link to get a good view of the cases.


The process proved to be a success. Skeeter now has hundreds of fire-formed Dasher cases and he hasn’t had to put one bullet through his nice, new match-grade barrel. The “bulletless” Cream of Wheat method allowed him to fire-form in a tight-necked barrel without neck-turning the brass first. The only step now remaining is to turn the newly Dasher-length necks down about .0025″ to fit his 0.269″ chamber. (To have no-turn necks he would need an 0.271″ or 0.272″ chamber).

Skeeter didn’t lose a single case: “As for the fire-forming loads, I had zero split cases and no signs of pressure in 325 cases fire-formed. Nor did I have any misfires or any that disbursed COW into the action of the firearm. So the COW method really worked out great for me and saved me a lot of money in powder and bullets.” To learn more about the COW fire-forming process, read this Dasher Fire-Forming Forum Thread.

Skeeter did have a fire-forming barrel, but it was reamed with a .269 chamber like his 10-twist Krieger “good” barrel. If he fire-formed with bullets, he would have to turn all 300 necks to .267″ BEFORE fire-forming so that loaded rounds would fit in the chamber. Judging just how far to turn is problematic. There’s no need to turn the lower part of the neck that will eventually become shoulder–but how far down the neck to turn is the issue. By fire-forming without bullets now he only has to turn about half the original neck length, and he knows exactly how far to go.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 25th, 2013

NEW CFE Pistol Reduced-Fouling Pistol Powder from Hodgdon

hodgdon cfe pistol 223 reduced copper fouling erraser powderFollowing the success of CFE 223, Hodgdon Powder Company has released a new addition to the CFE (“Copper Fouling Eraser”) line of propellants. Hodgdon’s new CFE™ Pistol, a general purpose handgun powder, is designed to deliver less copper fouling. CFE Pistol is a spherical (ball) powder that meters very well. Hodgdon hopes to have CFE Pistol available in January 2014.

When CFE 223 rifle powder was first introduced, people were skeptical about claims that CFE reduced copper fouling in barrels. In fact, field reports from our Forum members indicate that CFE 223 does deliver on the promise of reduced copper fouling. Our readers also found CFE 223 to be very accurate in a variety of cartridge types. Hopefully CFE PISTOL will perform as well in handguns.

hodgdon cfe pistol 223 reduced copper fouling erraser powderThe secret to CFE products’ reduced copper fouling is a proprietary “Copper Fouling Eraser” chemistry developed for U.S. rapid-fire military systems. Better living (and less cleaning) through chemistry, as they say. Hodgdon states: “Whatever your game is… you will benefit significantly with longer periods of top accuracy with less barrel cleaning time and minimal muzzle flash.”

Load data for CFE Pistol should be available on Hodgdon’s Reloading Data Center starting in December 2013. Hodgdon plans to provide over 100 available loads for 15 pistol cartridges, and 37 bullet weights. Load data will be offered for 9mm Luger, 38 Super, 40 S&W, .45 ACP and many other cartridge types. To find out more, visit Hodgdon.com, see Hodgdon’s upcoming 2014 Annual Manual, or call Hodgdon at 913-362-9455.

Permalink New Product, Reloading 8 Comments »
April 14th, 2011

Duplex Powder Loading Causes Catastrophic AR15 Kaboom

Thinking of combining rifle and pistol powder in a blended duplex load? Well think again. If you want to keep all your fingers, stick with factory powders and established loads at safe pressures. Here’s what can happen with a duplex load composed of both rifle and pistol powders. This catastrophic kaboom of an AR rifle took place at the Phoenix (AZ) Rod & Gun Club (PRGC) range. The photos, first posted on the ArizonaShooting.com forum, show how the AR blew up, ruining the bolt carrier, splitting the upper receiver, blowing out the Cavalry Arms polymer lower, and actually detaching the barrel.

AR15 AR Kaboom Phoenix

Another shooter, who was nearby when the Kaboom occurred, reported: “I was standing 10 feet behind [the shooter], loading mags. The shot was no different than any other shots. I only looked up because the RO was yelling for assistance.”

Obstructed Barrel? Probably Not: “The target showed four hits — the fourth round Kaboomed the rifle. [If there was an obstructed barrel only three holes should be on the target.] A piece of the exploded cartridge is still in the chamber of the barrel. The barrel extension split into three major pieces with smaller pieces cutting the left inside forearm.”

Suspected Cause? “It was a combination of rifle and pistol powder. The rest of the batch was pulled and there were apparently 3-4 other rounds with mixed loads.” It has been reported that these were commercial .223 Rem reloads.

What Happened to the Operator? “The shooter is fine. He got whacked in the face with the charging handle, giving him a fat lip. Minor cuts on his face. His wrist got fragged with carbon fiber/free float tube remains, which were embedded in his skin for a few weeks.”

Parts Ruined: Upper receiver, Cav Arms MK2 polymer lower receiver, Bolt Carrier Group (total loss), forearm, barrel, gas tube, gas block, muzzle brake, mag release, bolt release, custom trigger and take-down pins. Also charging handle is bent and trigger group sustained some damage.

Permalink Gunsmithing, News 21 Comments »