As an Amazon Associate, this site earns a commission from Amazon sales.











September 1st, 2021

Bloody Disaster — Loading Pistol Powder 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 3 Comments »
August 6th, 2021

Get Reliable Load INFO at Hodgdon Reloading Data Center

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powder

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powderLooking for a good load for a new rifle? Or perhaps you want to try a new powder and bullet combo for an existing rig. One of the best places to start for load data is Hodgdon’s online Reloading Data Center for pistol, rifle, and shotgun reloaders. Check out the Reloading Data Center at www.HodgdonReloading.com.

In the Data Center, you’ll find thousands of load recipes for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Rifle shooters will find dozens of loads for their favorite Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders such as H4198, H4895, Varget, H4350, and IMR 8208 XBR. And Hodgdon’s Reloading Center is “mobile-friendly” so it works well with smartphones and tables. Navigation is easy, and you can set the search criteria easily choosing your favorite powder or bullets. After choosing a cartridge, you can pre-select specific bullet weights and powder types. That quickly delivers just the information you want and need. You won’t have to scroll through scores of entries for bullets or powders you don’t use.

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powder
NOTE: This shows results for two bullet weights and two powder choices. With more powders and bullets selected you will get more results. The “BUY NOW” buttons link to the Hodgdon webstore.

Reloading Center is Smartphone-Friendly
Mobile users will notice that the current Hodgdon Reloading Center is “user-friendly” for smart-phone and tablet users. Controls have been optimized for touch-screens, and buttons are large and easy to use.

How to Get Started with Handloading

Getting started in Reloading? Ultimate Reloader offers a helpful introductory video that covers the basics. In addition, a recent Ultimate Reloader article reviews the types of reloading presses, plus the other gear you’ll need, from dies to powder dispensers.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading No Comments »
July 21st, 2021

Changing Primer Type CAN Alter Pressure and Velocity

Primer Wolf CCI Federal Muzzle velocity FPS reloading

We are often asked “Can I get more velocity by switching primer types?” The answer is “maybe”. The important thing to know is that changing primer types can alter your load’s performance in many ways — velocity average, velocity variance (ES/SD), accuracy, and pressure. Because there are so many variables involved you can’t really predict whether one primer type is going to be better or worse than another. This will depend on your cartridge, your powder, your barrel, and even the mechanics of your firing pin system.

BE SAFE: Be cautious when changing primer types. Glen Zediker recommended decreasing your load ONE FULL GRAIN when changing to a different primer type, one that you haven’t used before.

Interestingly, however, a shooter on another forum did a test with his .308 Win semi-auto. Using Hodgdon Varget powder and Sierra 155gr Palma MatchKing (item 2156) bullets, he found that Wolf Large Rifle primers gave slightly higher velocities than did CCI-BR2s. Interestingly, the amount of extra speed (provided by the Wolfs) increased as charge weight went up, though the middle value had the largest speed variance. The shooter observed: “The Wolf primers seemed to be obviously hotter and they had about the same or possibly better ES average.” See table:

Varget .308 load 45.5 grains 46.0 grains 46.5 grains
CCI BR2 Primers 2751 fps 2761 fps 2783 fps
Wolf LR Primers 2757 fps 2780 fps 2798 fps
Speed Delta 6 fps 19 fps 15 fps

You can’t extrapolate too much from the table above. This describes just one gun, one powder, and one bullet. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) as they say. However, this illustration does show that by substituting one component you may see significant changes. Provided it can be repeated in multiple chrono runs, an increase of 19 fps (with the 46.0 grain powder load) is meaningful. An extra 20 fps or so may yield a more optimal accuracy node or “sweet spot” that produces better groups. (Though faster is certainly NOT always better for accuracy — you have to test to find out.)

WARNING: When switching primers, you should exercise caution. More speed may be attractive, but you have to consider that the “speedier” primer choice may also produce more pressure. Therefore, you must carefully monitor pressure signs whenever changing ANY component in a load. Glen Zediker recommends decreasing your load ONE FULL GRAIN when changing to a different primer type, one that you haven’t used before.

Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
June 13th, 2021

Beat the Heat — Keep Ammo Cool During Hot Summer Days

Heat Map USA color chart

The Summer Solstice is June 20, 2021, just a week away. And July is nearly here. That means “peak heat” summer conditions. It’s vitally important to keep your ammo at “normal” temps during the hot summer months. Even if you use “temp-insensitive” powders, studies suggest that pressures can still rise dramatically when the entire cartridge gets hot, possibly because of primer heating. It’s smart to keep your loaded ammo in an insulated storage unit, possibly with a Blue Ice Cool Pak if you expect it to get quite hot. Don’t leave your ammo in the car or truck — temps can exceed 140° in a vehicle parked in the sun.

Ammo cool storage

Bosch Insulated tool caseTo learn more about how ambient temperature (and primer choice) affect pressures (and hence velocities) you should read the article Pressure Factors: How Temperature, Powder, and Primer Affect Pressure by Denton Bramwell. In that article, the author uses a pressure trace instrument to analyze how temperature affects ammo performance. Bramwell’s tests yielded some fascinating results.

For example, barrel temperature was a key factor: “Both barrel temperature and powder temperature are important variables, and they are not the same variable. If you fail to take barrel temperature into account while doing pressure testing, your test results will be very significantly affected. The effect of barrel temperature is around 204 PSI per F° for the Varget load. If you’re not controlling barrel temperature, you about as well might not bother controlling powder temperature, either. In the cases investigated, barrel temperature is a much stronger variable than powder temperature.”

This Editor had the personal experience of 6mmBR hand-loaded ammo that was allowed to sit in the hot sun for 45 minutes while steel targets were reset. The brass became quite warm to the touch, meaning the casings were well over 120° on the outside. When I then shot this ammo, the bullets impacted well high at 600 yards (compared to earlier in the day). Using a Magnetospeed, I then chron-tested the sun-heated ammo. The hot ammo’s velocity FPS had increased very significantly — all because I had left the ammo out in the hot sun uncovered for 3/4 of an hour.

LESSON: Keep your ammo cool! Keep loaded ammo in the shade, preferably under cover or in an insulated container. You can use a SEALED cool pack inside the container, but we do NOT recommend H20 ice packs. And don’t have the container do double duty for food and beverages.

Powder Heat Sensitivity Comparison Test

Our friend Cal Zant of the Precision Rifle Blog recently published a fascinating comparison test of four powders: Hodgdon H4350, Hodgdon Varget, IMR 4451, and IMR 4166. The first two are Hodgdon Extreme powders, while the latter two are part of IMR’s Enduron line of propellants.


CLICK HERE to VIEW FULL POWDER TEST RESULTS »

The testers measured the velocity of the powders over a wide temperature range, from 25° F to 140° F. Hodgdon H4350 proved to be the most temp stable of the four powders tested. [NOTE: New Alliant Reloder TS 15.5 has also proved very temp stable in AccurateShooter’s range tests.]

Precision Rifle Blog Temperature Stability test hodgdon varget H4350 Enduron IMR 4451

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
May 8th, 2021

Long-Term Powder Storage — What You Need to Know

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

SUMMARY: Powder can have a very long shelf life. You need to watch for changes in smell and color. A reddish tinge, almost like rust on the powder, is a bad sign, as is a foul odor, not to be confused with a normal chemical smell. Either of these signs indicate it is time to dispose of your powder by means other than shooting.

Ever wondered about the stability of the propellants in your reloading room? There are some important things you should know about powder storage, to ensure consistent powder performance and safety. On its website, Western Powders (vendors of Accurate, Norma, and Ramshot powders) published an informative Q & A series entitled Dear Labby: Questions for our Ballistics Lab. Here are some excerpts that pertain to powder storage and shelf life. Worried that your powder may be too old? Western’s experts explain how to check your propellants for warning signs.

Proper Powder Storage

Q: I live in southern Arizona where it is very hot. I am told powders will become unstable if stored in an area not air-conditioned. My wife says no powder or primers in the house. Can powder be stored in a refrigerator? What about using a fireproof safe? I would appreciate your ideas. — M.C.

Lab Answer: SAAMI guidelines are pretty clear on issues of storage. They recommend storing smokeless powder in containers that will not allow pressure to build if the powder is ignited — ruling out gun safes and refrigerators.

CLICK HERE to Read SAAMI Guidelines for Powder Storage (PDF)

In their original containers, the lifespan of smokeless powders is quite long, even in hot, arid climates. In fact the lifespan is typically longer than the average handloader would need to store them. Stored safely in a garage or outbuilding, your powder should last years. If you see the powder developing a reddish tint, or giving off a foul odor, it is time to discard it.

Clumps in Powder Container

Q: I ordered some of your Accurate 1680 powder back about in December. I just now opened it … and it is full of clumps. My knowledge tells me that means moisture. Am I wrong? I just now broke the seal and it has been stored in a ammo can with desiccant packs around it and a dehumidifier running 14-16 hours a day. I can’t imagine this being my fault, if this does indicate moisture. I don’t know if the pink part on the label is suppose to be red or not, but it is definitely pink, so if it was red I am wondering if I was shipped an old container? I hope that this isn’t bad and I am stuck with it…

Lab Answer: All powder contains a certain amount of moisture. When the powder is stored or during shipping, it can go through temperature cycles. During the cycling, the moisture can be pulled to the surface and cause clumping. Clumping can also be caused by static electricity if too dry or the powder has limited graphite content. You can break up the clumps before metering and they shouldn’t be a problem. This will not affect the powder performance, so your product is fine. Accurate 1680 labels are designed in Pink. As a side note, specification for testing powder is at 70° F and 60% humidity.

Shelf Life and Packaging Dates

Q: Does powder ever get to old to use and what identifying marks does your company put on the canister for when it is made, You have helped me out a while ago when I asked about keeping my cowboy shooting under 950 fps and it works great less stress on the hand and the recoil is very minimum. — R.B.

Lab Answer: On one pound bottles, the number is on the corner in a silver box. If the powder was poured today, it would read 012815 followed by a lot number. The whole number would look something like 012815749. Eight pound bottles have a sticker on the bottom with an obvious date code. The lot number appears above the date.

Western Powders Blog SAAMI Storage

Permalink - Articles, Reloading, Tech Tip 3 Comments »
April 1st, 2021

Can’t Find Reloading Powder? 1000 Grain Bottles Coming Soon!

DOT small powder bottles

We all know reloading powder is in VERY short supply these days. And the most popular propellants, such as Varget, H4350, and Reloder 16, are almost impossible to find at reasonable prices. Thankfully, there is a new solution in the works — smaller containers. This should give handloaders a whole new way to source those precious powders needed for a day at the range. And even if the volume is limited, something is ALWAYS better than nothing, right?

The big (and small) news for reloaders is that the major powder suppliers plan to start shipping powders in more compact, easy-to-ship containers. Instead of buying a pound of powder, you will be able to purchase an efficient, handy 1000 grain container. These are light weight (just 1/7th of a pound) so they are convenient to transport and carry. And you’ll never have the problem of over supply. A 1000-grain container with load approximately 33 6mm BR rounds — that should be plenty for a day at the range. We’re blessed to have this new compact powder option thanks to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

DOT small powder bottlesThe 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).

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 $11.99, i.e. about $5.21 per ounce. At that price, it may seem like you’re getting less bang for your buck … but hey, something is better than nothing, right?

DOT small powder bottlesCurrently, when you can find them, quality reloading powders are going for $45-$60 per pound (in 1-lb containers). At $45 per pound, you’re paying $2.81 per ounce. That means that the new mini-containers will be roughly twice as expensive as current one-pounders ($5.21 per ounce vs. $2.81 per ounce).

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?

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, News, Reloading, Tech Tip 8 Comments »
February 26th, 2021

Hodgdon Powder Update — Why Are There Shortages?

Hodgdon Powder report supply pricing shortage

As any handloader knows, popular reloading powders have become difficult to find. And when you do locate the powder you want, the price might be twice what you paid a year ago (or even more on auction sites). Across the nation, shooters are asking “What gives? Why are powder prices so high? And when are the shortages going to end?”

Hodgdon Powder Company (“Hodgdon”), supplier of Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders*, has attempted to answer these questions with a “Powder Update” posted yesterday. Along with addressing the shortage issues, Hodgdon explains the challenges involved in increasing production in the USA and/or increasing imports from overseas. The ultra-popular H4198, H4895, Varget, H4350, and H4831 family of powders are produced by ADI in Australia**. So Hodgdon can’t ship more Varget or H4350 in the USA unless Hodgdon can get more from Australia.

In the Powder Update reprinted below, Hodgdon answers many key questions, and debunks some misconceptions. For example, Hodgdon is NOT selling its powders on auction sites such as Gunbroker. That is completely false.

POWDER UPDATE from Hodgdon Powder Company

Hodgdon Powder report supply pricing shortageWHY CAN’T HODGDON SHIP MORE POWDER?
The current powder situation is due to a record demand for all reloading components and NOT a reduction in the supply of powder. With long-time handloaders looking to stock up and new gun owners looking for ammunition, there is an unprecedented demand for powder and other reloading components. We shipped a record amount of powder in 2020 and will ship even more in 2021. We are doing everything in our power to get the most powder into consumer hands this year. We are running overtime in our facilities, have hired additional staff and have leveraged relationships with shipping partners to add new shipping options.

WHY CAN’T HODGDON BUILD ANOTHER POWDER PLANT?
The “normal” powder demand for the United States would not support an additional plant. Hodgdon, like most companies, cannot afford to build a new production facility then have it sit idle until demand spikes.

WHY IS HODGDON SELLING POWDER TO THE GOVERNMENT?
Hodgdon does NOT sell powder directly to the government. We sell some powder to manufacturers making ammunition for our military, but that is a small part of our business.

WHY IS HODGDON SELLING POWDER TO AMMUNITION MANUFACTURERS?
The heart of our business is smokeless powder for the handloading enthusiast. Yes, we sell some powder to ammo manufacturers, but that is a small part of our business. Every day, we receive calls from potential OEM customers looking for powder to load in ammunition. We politely decline so we can focus on our long-term, handloading customers.

WHY IS HODGDON SELLING POWDER ON AUCTION SITES?
We don’t. Period. We recently began selling a limited amount of powder on our OWN websites but prioritize our shipments to our traditional sales channels to maximize powder availability at sporting goods and gun shops. [Editor: If you see Hodgdon powder on auction sites, that is listed by third party vendors.]

WHY IS THE PRICE OF POWDER SO HIGH ON THE INTERNET?
We do not set sale prices or MSRPs for the price of our powders at retail, nor do we encourage any of our retailers or dealers to sell on auction sites, but we cannot control what happens AFTER we sell to our traditional sales channels.

Hodgdon Powder report supply pricing shortage


* Hodgdon also sells certain Ramshot, Accurate, and Blackhorn powders along with Goex black powder.
** Here’s a list of ADI to Hodgdon Powder equivalents from the ADI FAQ Page:

ADI / Hodgdon Propellants Equivalents
ADI Powder Hodgdon/IMR Name
Trail Boss
AR2207
AR2219
BM2
Bench Mark 8208
AR2206H
AR2208
AR2209
AR2213H/AR2213SC
AR2217
AR2225
AR2218
Trail Boss
H4198
H322
Benchmark
8208 XBR
H4895
Varget
H4350
H4831 / H4831SC
H1000
Retumbo
H50BMG
Permalink - Articles, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News, Reloading 22 Comments »
September 23rd, 2020

Get Hodgdon and IMR Loads from Reloading Data Center

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powder

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powderLooking for a good load for a new rifle? Or perhaps you want to try a new powder and bullet combo for an existing rig. One of the best places to start for load data is Hodgdon’s online Reloading Data Center for pistol, rifle, and shotgun reloaders. Check out the Reloading Data Center at www.HodgdonReloading.com.

In the Data Center, you’ll find thousands of load recipes for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Rifle shooters will find dozens of loads for their favorite Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders such as H4198, H4895, Varget, H4350, and IMR 8208 XBR. And Hodgdon’s Reloading Center is “mobile-friendly” so it works well with smartphones and tables. Navigation is easy, and you can set the search criteria easily choosing your favorite powder or bullets. After choosing a cartridge, you can pre-select specific bullet weights and powder types. That quickly delivers just the information you want and need. You won’t have to scroll through scores of entries for bullets or powders you don’t use.

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powder

Mobile users will notice that the current Hodgdon Reloading Center is much more “user-friendly” for smart-phone and tablet users. Controls have been optimized for touch-screens, and buttons are large and easy to use. Likewise the results are displayed in a large, easy-to read format.

How to Get Started with Handloading

Getting started in Reloading? Ultimate Reloader offers a helpful introductory video that covers the basics. In addition, a recent Ultimate Reloader article reviews the types of reloading presses, plus the other gear you’ll need, from dies to powder dispensers.

Permalink - Videos, Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
September 1st, 2020

Can’t Find Varget for Sale? Then Try IMR 4166 Powder…

IMR 4166 Enduron Varget powder Hodgdon

Can’t find Hodgdon Varget on dealer’s shelves? then consider IMR 4166. This Enduron series powder is temp-stable and accurate. It also offers good load density and meters reasonably well. Importantly, it seems to be a good substitute for “unobtanium” Varget powder. On the official Hodgdon/IMR burn rate chart, IMR 4166 is between H4895 and Varget. Some of our Forum members have reported excellent results with IMR 4166 in cartridges that work with Varget, such as the 6mmBR, 6 Dasher, 6.5×47 Lapua, and .308 Win. One member wrote: “in my 6.5×47 … IMR 4166 gives speeds and accuracy pretty much exactly the same as Varget.” And other shooters have observed reduced copper fouling with Enduron series powders, so IMR’s Enduron anti-fouling chemistry does seem to work.

IMR 4166 Enduron Varget powder Hodgdon

IMR Enduron powder 4166 Varget RL15Where to Find IMR 4166 Powder
Powder Valley Inc. (PVI) and Midsouth Shooters both have plenty of IMR 4166 in stock right now. IMR 4166 performs well in the .308 Win (for bullets up to 175 grains) and in 6mm cartridges running the heavier (95-107gr) projectiles. IMR’s press release states: “IMR 4166 [has] a perfect burn speed for cartridges like the 308 Win/7.62mm NATO, 22-250 Remington… and dozens more.”

IMR 4166 is one of IMR’s Enduron family of propellants. Enduron powders are formulated to reduce fouling and to be stable across a wide temperature range. If you commonly use Varget, Alliant Reloder 15, Norma 203B, IMR 8208 XBR, or Vihtavuori N140, you might want to try IMR 4166. It is available right now at Midsouth Shooters and Powder Valley in both one-pound and 8-pound containers:

Midsouth IMR 4166
IMR 4166 – 1 LB. — $29.01
IMR 4166 – 8 LBS. — $208.34
Powder Valley IMR 4166
IMR 4166 – 1 LB. — $28.50
IMR 4166 – 8 LBS. — $206.00

For more information and LOAD DATA visit IMRpowder.com and navigate to the Hodgdon Reloading Center. You’ll also find official load data in the Hodgdon 2020 Annual Manual.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hot Deals, News, Reloading 2 Comments »
August 28th, 2020

High Demand Powders — Where You Can Find Them

Reloading powder hodgdon H4350 Varget reloder 16 reloader H1000

Thanks to our Forum members, we’ve found sources for some of the most popular reloading powders for rifle accuracy cartridges. Handloaders know that powders such as Varget, H4350, H4895, H4831SC, H1000, Reloder 16, Reloder 23, and N150 are often in short supply. And it seems like Varget has been near impossible to find in recent months. As of Friday, August 28, 2020, here are some sources for many of these hard-to-find powders.

Hodgdon Varget 1-pound
Source: Powder Valley
NOTE:
Varget 1-lb in stock; 8-pounders still out of stock

UPDATE 8/29/20: SOLD OUT — Our Members got the last of it.

Hodgdon H4350, 1-pound and 8-pound
Source: Powder Valley
Source: Midsouth Shooters
NOTE:
Powder Valley has BOTH the 1-lb and 8-lb H4350 containers in stock. Midsouth has the 1-lb H4350 only.

Alliant Reloder 16 1-pound
Source: Powder Valley
NOTE:
Reloder 16 1-lb in stock; RL16 8-pounders still out of stock

Hodgdon H4831SC, 1-pound and 8-pound
Source: Powder Valley
NOTE:
Powder Valley has BOTH the 1-lb and 8-lb H4831SC containers in stock.

Hodgdon H1000 1-pound
Source: Powder Valley
NOTE:
H1000 1-lb in stock; H1000 8-pounders still out of stock

Vihtavuori N150 1-pound and 8-pound
Source: Powder Valley
Source: Midsouth Shooters
NOTE:
Powder Valley has N150 1-lb and 8-lb in stock. Midsouth has the 1-lb N150 only.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 4 Comments »
August 14th, 2020

Yes Both Velocity and Pressure Can Vary with Primer Choice

Primer Wolf CCI Federal Muzzle velocity FPS reloading

We are often asked “Can I get more velocity by switching primer types?” The answer is “maybe”. The important thing to know is that changing primer types can alter your load’s performance in many ways — velocity average, velocity variance (ES/SD), accuracy, and pressure. Because there are so many variables involved you can’t really predict whether one primer type is going to be better or worse than another. This will depend on your cartridge, your powder, your barrel, and even the mechanics of your firing pin system.

BE SAFE: Glen Zediker recommends decreasing your load ONE FULL GRAIN when changing to a different primer type, one that you haven’t used before.

Interestingly, however, a shooter on another forum did a test with his .308 Win semi-auto. Using Hodgdon Varget powder and Sierra 155gr Palma MatchKing (item 2156) bullets, he found that Wolf Large Rifle primers gave slightly higher velocities than did CCI-BR2s. Interestingly, the amount of extra speed (provided by the Wolfs) increased as charge weight went up, though the middle value had the largest speed variance. The shooter observed: “The Wolf primers seemed to be obviously hotter and they had about the same or possibly better ES average.” See table:

Varget .308 load 45.5 grains 46.0 grains 46.5 grains
CCI BR2 Primers 2751 fps 2761 fps 2783 fps
Wolf LR Primers 2757 fps 2780 fps 2798 fps
Speed Delta 6 fps 19 fps 15 fps

You can’t extrapolate too much from the table above. This describes just one gun, one powder, and one bullet. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV) as they say. However, this illustration does show that by substituting one component you may see significant changes. Provided it can be repeated in multiple chrono runs, an increase of 19 fps (with the 46.0 grain powder load) is meaningful. An extra 20 fps or so may yield a more optimal accuracy node or “sweet spot” that produces better groups. (Though faster is certainly NOT always better for accuracy — you have to test to find out.)

WARNING: When switching primers, you should exercise caution. More speed may be attractive, but you have to consider that the “speedier” primer choice may also produce more pressure. Therefore, you must carefully monitor pressure signs whenever changing ANY component in a load. Glen Zediker recommends decreasing your load ONE FULL GRAIN when changing to a different primer type, one that you haven’t used before.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 4th, 2020

Got Powder? Here Are Sources for Many Popular Propellants

reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount

It’s July 4th, that means fireworks displays. What better time to order up some gunpowder? We’re pleased to report that Midsouth Shooters Supply has received some big shipments from the major powder makers. In stock now at Midsouth are many of the most popular accuracy powders, including: Hodgdon H4350, Hodgdon 4831/4831SC, IMR 4166, Vihtavuori N133, Accurate LT30 and LT32, Norma 203B, CFE223 and many more. Powder Valley also has Hodgdon H4350 right now.

Meanwhile at Precision Reloading you will find Alliant Reloder 16, Reloder 23, Reloder 17, IMR 4166, IMR 8208 XBR, Vihtavuori N133, Accurate LT30 and LT32, Norma 203B, and many more.

H4350 and Reloder 16 are superb, temp-stable powders for medium-sized cartridges. Reloder 23 is a slower version of RL16 that works great in magnum cartridges. LT30 is great for the 30BR, CFE 223 is excellent for Service Rifle shooters, and VV N133 is a top choice for the 6PPC. Norma 203B (nearly identical to Reloder 15) works well in the 6mmBR, 6BRA and Dasher. And Hodgdon H4831SC is an excellent choice for the .284 Winchester and 7mm WSM.

Sorry we could not find Hodgdon Varget at these two vendors. However, Bruno Shooters Supply does have Varget in stock today in both 1-lb and 8-lb sizes. Varget fans may also want to try IMR 8208 XBR. It has a slightly faster burn rate, but our tests found it worked very well in the .308 Win with medium-weight bullets, offering excellent accuracy and good velocity.

All these popular Powders (and many more) are in stock:


reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount
reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount
reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount reloading Powder Sale Midsouth discount
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News, Reloading No Comments »
June 26th, 2020

Don’t Overheat Your Ammo in Hot Summer Months

Heat Map USA color chart

Summer Solstice 2020 was June 20th, and July’s nearly here. That means “peak heat” summer conditions. It’s vitally important to keep your ammo at “normal” temps during the hot summer months. Even if you use “temp-insensitive” powders, studies suggest that pressures can still rise dramatically when the entire cartridge gets hot, possibly because of primer heating. It’s smart to keep your loaded ammo in an insulated storage unit, possibly with a Blue Ice Cool Pak if you expect it to get quite hot. Don’t leave your ammo in the car or truck — temps can exceed 140° in a vehicle parked in the sun.

Ammo cool storage

Bosch Insulated tool caseTo learn more about how ambient temperature (and primer choice) affect pressures (and hence velocities) you should read the article Pressure Factors: How Temperature, Powder, and Primer Affect Pressure by Denton Bramwell. In that article, the author uses a pressure trace instrument to analyze how temperature affects ammo performance. Bramwell’s tests yielded some fascinating results.

For example, barrel temperature was a key factor: “Both barrel temperature and powder temperature are important variables, and they are not the same variable. If you fail to take barrel temperature into account while doing pressure testing, your test results will be very significantly affected. The effect of barrel temperature is around 204 PSI per F° for the Varget load. If you’re not controlling barrel temperature, you about as well might not bother controlling powder temperature, either. In the cases investigated, barrel temperature is a much stronger variable than powder temperature.”

This Editor had the personal experience of 6mmBR hand-loaded ammo that was allowed to sit in the hot sun for 45 minutes while steel targets were reset. The brass became quite warm to the touch, meaning the casings were well over 120° on the outside. When I then shot this ammo, the bullets impacted well high at 600 yards (compared to earlier in the day). Using a Magnetospeed, I then chron-tested the sun-heated ammo. The hot ammo’s velocity FPS had increased very significantly — all because I had left the ammo out in the hot sun uncovered for 3/4 of an hour.

Powder Heat Sensitivity Comparison Test

Our friend Cal Zant of the Precision Rifle Blog recently published a fascinating comparison test of four powders: Hodgdon H4350, Hodgdon Varget, IMR 4451, and IMR 4166. The first two are Hodgdon Extreme powders, while the latter two are part of IMR’s Enduron line of propellants.

CLICK HERE to VIEW FULL TEST RESULTS

The testers measured the velocity of the powders over a wide temperature range, from 25° F to 140° F. Hodgdon H4350 proved to be the most temp stable of the four powders tested.

Precision Rifle Blog Temperature Stability test hodgdon varget H4350 Enduron IMR 4451

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Hunting/Varminting, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
June 20th, 2020

IMR Enduron Powders — Accurate, Temp Stable, and Versatile

IMR Enduron Powder 4166 4451 7977

Have you tried IMR Enduron powders yet (IMR 4166, 4451, 4955, and 7977)? We’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen. IMR’s line of Enduron extruded powders offer excellent temp stability, reduced copper fouling, and good load density for many popular cartridges (such as .223 Rem, 6mmBR, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 WSM to name a few). Some of our Forum members have reported excellent results with IMR 4166 in the 6mmBR, Dasher, 6.5×47 Lapua and .308 Win. One member wrote: “in my 6.5×47… 4166 gives speeds and accuracy pretty much exactly the same as Varget.” And other shooters have observed reduced copper fouling with Enduron series powders, so IMR’s Enduron anti-fouling chemistry does seem to work.

IMR Legendary Powders provided this summary of Enduron Properties:

Varmint hunters, big game hunters, match shooters and military snipers all seek powders that are insensitive to temperature changes. These powders all have it. This translates to point of impact and group size remaining the same, no matter what temperature conditions prevail. Another huge benefit is an additive that prevents copper fouling from building during dozens of rounds being fired. Here the advantage is top accuracy for longer periods of time, and less cleaning time.

IMR Enduron Powder 4166 4451 7977

A third major accomplishment with this technology is ideal load density. Experienced reloaders know that a case-filling load often delivers the most uniform velocities and best accuracy. We see this in popular match cartridges such as the 6PPC, 6mmBR, 6BRA, 6.5 Creedmoor and .308 Win. These new Enduron powders offer excellent “full case” load density for the most commonly used cartridges with popular bullets.

CLICK HERE to Learn More about IMR Enduron Powders»

These three powders, IMR 4166, IMR 4451 and IMR 7977, are environmentally friendly by not having any ingredients harmful to the environment. Add to that, the three of them cover the most popular cartridges from .204 Ruger up to the mighty 500 Nitro Express, and the handloader “has it all”.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 1st, 2020

Bargain Finder 245: AccurateShooter’s Deals of the Week

AccurateShooter Deals of the Week Weekly Bargain Finder Sale Discount Savings

At the request of our readers, we provide select “Deals of the Week”. Every Sunday afternoon or Monday morning we offer our Best Bargain selections. Here are some of the best deals on firearms, hardware, reloading components, optics, and shooting accessories. Be aware that sale prices are subject to change, and once clearance inventory is sold, it’s gone for good. You snooze you lose.

1. Stocky’s — Long Range Composite Accublock Stocks, $219.99

stocky's long range composite stocks $188 sale discount accublock

Need a stock for a gun project, or want to re-stock a factory rifle? Now is a great time to get a hunting, tactical, or competition stock from Long Range Composite (LRC) stocks with Accublock for Rem 700 actions for just $219.99. Stocky’s nice Thumbhole Composite stock is also $219.99. And if you have a Ruger 10/22, Stocky’s sells fine laminated wood EuroStocks for just $188.88.

2. Natchez — RCBS ChargeMaster Lite, $219.99

Chargemaster Lite Midsouth Sale

Do you need an electronic powder scale and dispenser? Check out this great deal at Midsouth Shooters Supply. Suggested retail for the ChargeMaster Lite is $299.99 and most vendors are charging $289.99. But now you can get it for just $219.99 at Natchez. So you can save $70.00 with this sale! Put the money saved into bullets or powder. The RCBS ChargeMaster Lite is the modern second generation Scale/Dispenser, descended from the original ChargeMaster. The ChargeMaster Lite features an easy-to-use LCD touchscreen. Dispenser precision is plus/minus 0.1 grains. The unit comes with twin check weights and a convenient plastic cover for the powder pan.

3. CDNN Sports — Walther or S&W 9mm Pistol, Under $280.00

Walther Creed Pistol Smith Wesson SD9VE 9mm handgun sale

Here are two super deals on quality 9mm handguns. Both these double-stack pistols have 4″ barrels, 16-round capacity, and Picatinny rails in front. The Walther 9mm Creed offers quality German construction for $269.89. Or choose Smith & Wesson’s ergonomic, accurate SD9VE model for $279.99. The S&W’s weight, unloaded, is 22.7 ounces.

4. Powder Valley and Natchez — Varget and H4350 in Stock

Nikon black scope sale

Hodgdon’s Varget and H4350 are favorites of competition and tactical shooters. These powders are ideal for popular match calibers such as 6mmBR/Dasher (Varget) and 6mm Creedmoor (H4350). Being in high demand, these powders are often hard to find. But now Natchez Shooters Supply has Varget 1-pounders in stock for $29.99. Natchez also has H4350 in stock, as does Powder Valley Inc.(PVI). Powder Valley has H4350 in stock in both 1-lb ($28.15) and 8-lb ($201.00) containers. Get it while you can. Plus Powder Valley has Alliant Reloder 16 in stock (both 1-lb and 8-lb), a superb alternative if your rifle likes H4350.

5. EuroOptic — Nikon BLACK Riflescope Closeout Sale

Nikon black scope sale

If you’re in the market for a tactical scope, check out EuroOptic’s Nikon BLACK riflescope sale. These are good, reliable scopes that rival optics costing twice as much. EuroOptic has a good selection at prices up to 40% off. Choose MOA or MRAD versions with a variety of reticle options. NOTE: These BLACK Nikons are quality scopes that have performed well in the field. You’d have to pay hundreds more to do much better.

6. MidwayUSA — Pro Series Competition Shooting Mat, $34.99

Pro Series MidwayUSA shooting mat bipod tactical competition roll-up shoot mats

The MidwayUSA Pro Series Competition Shooting Mat is now on sale for just $34.99, 36% off the basic price. The Pro Series mat measures a full 73.5″ x 35.5″. Zippered pockets on the front flap hold ammo or log books. And there are webbing “pockets” for bipod feet so you can pre-load your bipod with forward pressure. This quality mat boasts 0.35″ thick padding, multiple pockets, 6 grommets for staking, and a nice carry strap. It’s easy to transport, rolling up to about nine inches in diameter. User reviews of this $34.99 Shooting Mat have been very positive.

7. Amazon — Vinca Digital Caliper, $21.98

digital caliper

Every handloader needs a set of calipers, and this Vinca unit offers some great features for a very affordable price. Do you ever wish you could take measurements and record them easily for review later? Grab this Vinca Digital Caliper for only $21.98 and you can upload data as you measure. The unit features a RS232 data transfer port that can communicate to a windows laptop or computer with an accessory cable (sold separately). NOTE: The RS232 Data transfer port must connect with “VINCA DTCR-03″ Cable to make data transfer to PC. DO NOT CONNECT WITH REGULAR USB CABLE. This unit comes with one extra battery, and the maker offers a satisfaction guarantee.

8. Cabela’s — Huge Summer Sale, Save up to 40%

Cabela's summer sale

Dozens of items are on sale at Cabela’s now through June 10, 2020. You can save on GPS units, binoculars, packs, hiking boots, Knives/multi-tools, fishing gear, and yes firearms too. Check out the full selection of merchandise on Cabela’s Summer Sale Page. You’ll see a dozen featured selections, but scroll down and you can search for sale items by category.

9. Midsouth Shooters — Hornady A-Tip Sample Packs, $9.99

Hornady bullet A-tip aluminum match bullet projectile

Many of our readers have been curious about Hornady’s A-Tip bullets, but don’t want to spend $75-$85 to try out a full box. In addition, many of the more popular calibers and bullet weights are sold out. Now, thanks to Midsouth Shooters, you can try an A-Tip Sample Pack to see if A-Tips work in your barrel. Choose from four options: 110gr 6mm; 135gr 6.5mm; 153gr 6.5mm; and 250gr .308 caliber. All Sample Packs contain 10 bullets, and cost $9.99 at Midsouth.

Permalink Gear Review, Handguns, Hot Deals, Optics No Comments »
March 18th, 2020

Can’t Find Varget or Reloder 15? Then Try IMR 4320

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloading 6mm Dasher

IMR 4320 Varget Powder Hodgdon reloadingWhile Varget and Reloder 15 remain in short supply, you can often find IMR 4320 powder back in the shelves of local gun stores. IMR describes IMR 4320 as follows: “Short granulation, easy metering, and perfect for the 223 Remington, 22-250 Remington, 250 Savage and other medium burn rate cartridges.” This older-generation powder is considerably more temp sensitive than the Hodgdon Extreme propellants, but in the right application, it looks to be a viable alternative for folks who can’t source Varget, Reloder 15, and even H4895.

IMR 4320 Shoots Well in the .308 Winchester
A while back, GS Arizona wrote an excellent Riflemans Journal article, IMR 4320 — the Forgotten Powder. GS developed IMR 4320 loads for his .308 Win Palma rifle and competed with IMR 4320-powered ammo at long range matches. He concluded that: “[IMR 4320] appears to be a very useful alternative to some of the harder-to-get powders. The load is working extremely well at 1000 yards. In the [2009] Arizona Palma State Championship, several high-placing competitors were using the 4320 load. We got sub X-Ring elevation at 1000 yards from several rifles, and that’s all I’m looking for in a Palma load.”

IMR 4320 Works for Dasher Shooter
Forum member FalconPilot shoots a 6mm Dasher with Berger 105gr Hybrids. Looking for an alternative to Varget, he decided to give IMR 4320 a try. The results were good. FalconPilot reports: “I’ve been looking for other options (besides Reloder 15, which I love, but it’s really dirty). While at a gun shop in Ohio, I ran across 8 pounds of IMR 4320. I had never even heard of it, much less tried it. Getting ready for upcoming mid-range shoots, I loaded five rounds with IMR 4320 to the exact same specs as my winning Varget loads for the 6mm Dasher. This recipe was 32.7 grains of powder, Wolf SMR primer, Berger Hybrid 105 jumped fifty thousandths.” Falcon pilot tested his IMR 4320 load at 600 yards:

As you can see from the photo at the top of this article, FalconPilot had good results — a 1.5″ group at 600 yards. He reports: “This group was shoot during the middle of the day, mirage bad, scope set to 25X. It looks like IMR 4320 is a [very close] replacement for Varget… with a tad bit slower burn rate.” FalconPilot tell us the accuracy with IMR 4320 rivals the best he has gotten with Varget: “This gun has always shot under 2 inches [for 5 shots] at 600 yards, and most of time shoots 1.5 to 1.7 inches.”

For comparison purposes, here are Heat of Explosion and Burn Rate values from QuickLOAD for IMR 4320, and for the popular Reloder 15 and Varget powders. You can see that these powders have similar characteristics “by the numbers”:

Manufacturer Powder Brand Heat of Explosion Burning Rate Factor
IMR 4320 3890 0.5920
Alliant Reloder 15 3990 0.5200
Hodgdon (ADI) Varget 4050 0.6150

WARNING — When changing from one powder to another, always start with manufacturer’s stated load data. Start low and work up incrementally. Never assume that loads will be equivalent from one powder to another, even powders with similar burn rates.

What Other Forum Members Say:

I was using IMR 4320 in the mid 70s in my .222 Rem. Darned great powder and I never had a load that was not accurate from the .222 to .30-06 with that powder. — 5Spd

A fine powder overshadowed by the nouveau wave of “gotta have the newest — make me a better shot” powders. Try 4320 in a 22-250 — what a well-kept secret! IMR 4320 meters very well and is a flexible alternative to many of the hard-to-find powders so much in demand. — AreaOne

IMR 4320 was my “go to” powder in my .223 for many many years. This powder and Winchester 55gr soft point bulk bullets (the cheapest bullet I could buy at the time) accounted for thousands of prairie dogs, coyotes, and anything else that needed shooting. I still use IMR 4320 in some .223 loads and am very happy with it still. — pdog2062

I’ve been using it in a .308 Win for several years. I think it is very sensitive to temperature and always waited till the last minute to load my ammo with a close eye on the weekend forecast at the range. IMR 4320 Works pretty good for 155gr Palma and 168gr Hybrid [bullets] in my .308. — JayC

IMR 8208 XBR is also good — if you can find it
Another good substitute for Varget powder in a .223 Rem or .308 Winchester is IMR 8208 XBR. In our own .308 Win tests, this generated slightly more velocity than Varget, with good ES/SD. However, this very good IMR 8208 XBR powder is out-of-stock at many vendors.

IMR 8208 XBR powder

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading 1 Comment »
February 28th, 2020

Hodgdon Powder Availability — Q&A about Supply in 2020

hodgdon powder extreme Varget H4360 shortage supply Q&A

Many of Hodgdon’s most popular powders, such as Varget and H4350, have become very hard to find. Shipments sell out as soon as they reach retailers’ shelves. We know our readers and Forum members are concerned about these supply shortages. Why are these powders in such short supply, and what is the prospect for more Varget, H4350, and other Hodgdon powders in the months ahead?

Hodgdon answered these (and other) questions recently in a Q&A post on the Hodgdon Facebook Page. Here are highlights of those Questions and Answers.

HODGDON POWDER UPDATE Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to your questions straight from Hodgdon, 1/31/2020:

Q: Why can’t I find Hodgdon powders like H4350, Varget, Retumbo, and H1000?

As you have seen, Hodgdon powders, especially rifle powders for long-range and precision shooting, can be difficult to find. Dealer shelves that were formerly filled with cans of powder now have empty spots. [Hodgdon added: “Dealer shelves are empty because powder is purchased as soon as it arrives at the dealers’ stores.”]

Q: Is Hodgdon still making powder?

A: Yes, we continue shipping powder as quickly as possible. In fact, we will ship more powder in 2020 than last year. The real problem behind empty dealer shelves is complicated, but is related to shifting supply and demand challenges. As supply decreased in 2019, demand only increased. No one wants to ship more powder than Hodgdon.

Q: What is causing the supply challenges?

A: Quite simply, our manufacturing facilities have not kept up with our orders. Additionally, military contracts began specifying Hodgdon powders in the last few years for military ammunition, impacting our supply. With expanded government regulation, shipping explosive and energetic materials has become more challenging, which also impacts available supply. Lastly, rapidly changing consumer preferences for different powder types has impacted both demand and supply. We worked with all Hodgdon providers to resolve open issues and expect powder supply to improve in 2020 as a result.

Varget, H4350, H4831SC, and other ‘Extreme Series’ powders are in very high demand.
hodgdon powder extreme Varget H4360 shortage supply Q&A

Q: Is the shortage of reloading powder being caused by Hodgdon shipping their powder to the ammunition manufacturing companies?

A: While Hodgdon does sell powder to ammunition manufacturing companies, more than 80% of our powder is sold to our core market – handloaders just like you. Hodgdon has always been committed to the individual handloader.

Q: When will I start to see more powder on dealer shelves?

A: While Hodgdon will continue to ship powder as rapidly as possible, we have a significant backlog in demand. Some powders will be in stock more quickly, but we believe it will take much of 2020 to improve availability for all powders. [Editor: In a separate post, Hodgdon stated “We will be sending out large amounts of H4350 starting mid-March.”]

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, News, Reloading 4 Comments »
February 24th, 2020

What Is Better — Weighed Powder Charge or Volumetric Charge?

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. Volume

When we first ran this story a while back, it spurred a hot debate, with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Some guys argued vehemently that volumetric powder dispensing was best — citing the experience of short-range benchresters, most of whom still throw their charges. Others say weighing your charges is best, so long as you have a very precise, and very repeatable scale. Many of the top F-Class and 1000-yard shooters now weigh their charges to the kernel.

Lee Auto-Disk Chargemaster weight vs. VolumeMost competitive long-range shooters weigh powder charges for their handloads. Some even use ultra-precise magnetic force restoration scales to load to single-kernel tolerances. But is weight-based measuring always the best way to fill a case with powder? Another option is volumetric charging. This method fills a precisely-sized cavity with powder and then dumps the charge into the case. A Harrell’s rotary powder measure works this way, as does the sliding powder filler on a Dillon progressive press.

For long-range applications, most people believe that precise weighing of powder charges is the best way to achieve optimal accuracy and low ES/SD. However, those short-range Benchrest guys do pretty darn well with their thrown charges, at least at 100 and 200 yards.

Our friend Dennis Santiago recently observed something that made him scratch his head and wonder about weighing charges. His AR-15 match rifle shot better with volumetric (cavity-measured) charges than with weighed charges dispensed by an RCBS ChargeMaster. Here’s what he reports:

Cavity vs. Dribble (Dennis Santiago Report)
I had the chance to compare nominally identical ammunition loaded two ways. These were all .223 Remington match loads using 77gr Sierra Match Kings over 23.4 grains of Hodgdon Varget. Same gun. However I loaded some ammo with charges dispensed with a Lee cavity-style powder measure while other rounds were loaded with powder weighed/dispensed by an RCBS ChargeMaster. The cavity-drop ammo (with powder dropped from the Lee unit) was consistently better than the weighed-charge ammo. I have no idea why…

So, ladies and gentlemen — what do you think? Why did Mr. Santiago’s volumetrically-charged ammo shoot better than ammo filled with weighed charges? What’s your theory? Gary Eliseo suspects that Dennis’s Chargemaster might have been drifting. What do you think? Post your theories in the comments area below.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
February 4th, 2020

Can’t Find H4350? Consider Alliant Reloder 16 — It’s Excellent

Hodgdon H4350 Reloader reloder 16 powder sale Varget

Forum members are lamenting that they can’t find Hodgdon H4350 at local gunstores or through major online Vendors. There ARE a few shops that do have H4350 (and Varget) on the shelves. But the nearest H4350 may be in another state, far away. Therefore, you may want to consider using Alliant Reloder 16 (RL16). We highly recommend Reloder 16 for shooters who can’t find H4350. RL16 has a very similar burn rate, excellent accuracy, and is VERY temp stable. Some ace F-Class shooters (among Top 10 at Nationals) tell us that, with hot ambient temps (80-100+° F), RL16 is even more temp stable than H4350.

Powder Availability at Online Vendors — H4350, Reloder 16, Varget
Vendor Hodgdon H4350 Alliant Reloder 16 Hodgdon Varget
Brownells Out of Stock In Stock $207.99 8 lbs. Out of Stock
Bruno Shooters Supply Out of Stock In Stock $28.50 1 lb. Out of Stock
Midsouth Shooters Out of Stock In Stock $221.31 8 lbs. Out of Stock
Sportsman’s Warehouse In store $229.99 8 lb.* In store $31.99 1 lb.* In store $229.99 8 lb.*
Powder Valley Out of Stock In Stock $26.05 1 lb. Out of Stock
Precision Reloading Out of Stock In Stock $26.67 1 lb. Out of Stock

*This is available in-store only at a few locations. You need to search store locations near you for availability. For example, H4350 8-pounders are available in a couple locations including Show Low, AZ and Midvale, UT. Varget 8-pounders are available in AZ, NM, and WY and a couple other states.

Alliant Reloder reloader 16 powder

Do You Like H4350? Then You Should Try Reloder 16 — It Is Accurate and Temp Stable
Alliant Reloder 16 is used now by many top shooters for cartridges that work well with Hodgdon H4350. In fact, we’d say that Reloder 16 is the best substitute for H4350 on the market. Alliant’s RL 16 is very temp stable, offers good velocity, and the accuracy is top tier. Some guys report slightly better accuracy than H4350 in the .284 Win, .260 Rem, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, and 6XC cartridges. If you currently use H4350, you should definitely give Alliant Reloder 16 a try. The powder also boasts excellent lot-to-lot consistency and contains a proprietary de-coppering additive.

Alliant powder Reloader Reloder 16 RL16 load data 6.5 Creedmoor .243 Win WinchesterThis is NOT just a slower version of Alliant’s double-based Reloder 15 (which words great in the 6mmBR and Dasher cartridges). Reloder 16 is a completely new formulation, produced in Sweden by Bofors for Alliant. Reloder 16 utilizes TZ technology, which manipulates the response of the propellant and resists the natural tendency to generate more pressure at higher temperatures and less pressure at lower temperatures. As a result, Alliant’s Reloder 16 offers truly outstanding temperature stability.

Reloder 16 Load Recipes »

Reloder 16 Load Data PDF »

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 8th, 2019

Sunday GunDay: 6mm Dasher Winner From Forum Classifieds

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

With the 6mm Dasher cartridge becoming popular with PRS/NRL competitors as well as the benchrest crowd, we thought it was time to re-visit a special rifle chambered for the 6mm Dasher wildcat. This gun has a great story behind it. Forum member Bob A. (aka “Killshot”) used his “Forum Classifieds Special” to beat all comers in the F-Class Division in the American-Canadian Match and the Long Range Regional Match in 2013 in Sacramento, CA.

Bob’s 6mm Dasher sports a blue-printed Rem 700 action. Who says you need a high-dollar custom action to run with the big dogs? In fact, this same gun, built with components sourced from AccurateShooter Forum Classified Ads, set a Sacramento F-Class range record of 200-17X a few years back. In this story, Bob talks about the build, and he explains his methods for loading ultra-accurate Dasher ammo.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

Bob’s Budget-Build Dasher F-Classer
I wanted to build a proper rifle for F-Open but needed to keep it simple and, well, cheap. I found a solid “base” to build on in the form of a Dave Bruno-built, “pre-owned” 6-6.5×47 Lapua that I located in the AccurateShooter Forum classifieds in late 2011. The base action was a trued and blue-printed Remington 700 receiver circa 1971 with a spiral-fluted bolt. It was in a Shehane ST1000 stock painted sky blue and had a Jewell 1.5-oz BR trigger. I sent the bolt to Greg Tannel (Gretanrifles.com) to have the firing pin hole bushed and sleeved, the ejector removed and the hole filled and the face trued. I upgraded to Tannel’s Light Steel firing pin assembly while it was out.

Having the working bits completed, I needed a barrel. So I went to the AccurateShooter classifieds again and found a 1:8″-twist, 30″ x 1.25″ (diam.) Bartlein with a 0.236″-land bore. I called Dave Kiff and explained my pursuit and he recommended his PT&G “world record” 6 Dasher reamer (.2704″ no-turn neck and .104″ freebore). A month or so later the reamer and gauges arrived.

I had the barrel chambered by Marc Soulie of Spartan Precision Rifles (510-755-5293, Concord, CA). Marc is a great builder and I’m pleased to call him a friend.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

The rifle got its good looks from a Pennsylvania artist named Kenny Prahl. His Prahl Designs shop (724-478-2538) added the white ghost-flames over the existing sky blue metallic paint.

Looks Great, Shoots Better
Fire-forming showed great promise — ten-shot groups of half an inch at 200 yards were typical. I lost only one case to a split neck and the “blow lengths” are good and consistent. This was followed up with load development which saw 100-yard, five-shot groups in the .1s and .2s as the rifle showed its preference for Reloder 15 over Varget powder, and for CCI 450s over all other primers. The bullet of choice was the ever-popular Berger 105gr Hybrid Target.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness

In February 2012 I began shooting the Dasher in monthly club matches at the Sacramento Valley Shooting Center, the home range of a number of excellent F-Class, Benchrest and High Power shooters. Using a Farley Coaxial rest up front (also picked up from a WTB ad on AccurateShooter’s Forum) and an Edgewood bag in the back, I gradually improved my gun-handling to the point where I could shoot a respectable score. This was very different from the bipod shooting I’d done in the past in F/TR.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March Madness


Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March MadnessDasher Loading Tips
My chamber is set up for blue box Lapua 6mmBR brass. My case preparation is straight-forward. I fire-form with virgin cases right out of the box. I don’t size them but I will give the primer holes a good look and clean up the flash hole with a .058″ bit in a pin vise. To fire-form, I seat a Berger 108gr BT .030″ into the lands over a standard 6mmBR load of Varget.

For match loads, I use Alliant Reloder 15. While Varget is less sensitive to temp changes, RL15 has given me lower extreme spreads and better long range control. [Bob acknowledges that every barrel is unique, so a different powder, such as H4895 might work better for you.]

I clean my fired cases with stainless steel media in a Thumler’s rotary tumbler after every firing. I anneal after every other firing using a Bench-Source machine which is very well made and easy to operate. I use a Whidden full length bushing die with Redding bushings for sizing.

After sizing, I chamfer the inside of the neck with the K&M tool which has a pilot rod centered in the flash hole. Then I’ll give the neck and mouth a “once over” with some 0000 steel wool. I finish loading off with a Redding Competition Seating Die with the micrometer top.

Bob A. 6mm Dasher Sacramento F-Class March MadnessI use a carbide ball on the expander rod of the full length sizing die. I use a .266″ TiN-coated bushing and the ball just kisses the inside walls of the sized neck. I get very consistent neck tension this way and have had no issue with split necks.

Seating Depth Considerations
With fire-formed brass, the junction of the bullet’s bearing surface and boat-tail is above the neck/shoulder junction of the case, so I have no issues with donuts. You can see how a loaded round looks in the photo at left. For occasional trimming, I use a very nice little Possum Hollow trimmer that indexes on the case shoulder.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Tech Tip 1 Comment »