Choosing powder...


texan4life

New member
I've been reloading for a few years, mainly rifle, but there's a question that keeps rolling around in my head. With all the different powders available, how do you narrow them down to the one that's right for your gun:fie: without buying them all? I know there's different powders for different types of guns but still, there's a lot to choose from. Any help or guidence is very much appriciated.
 

Iamtheuglyamerican

I prefer Hodgdon powders and Sierra bullets. No real reason, just what I like. Hodgdon.com has an excellent interactive website that gives you all developed loads for all their powders for nearly every caliber you can think of. And it's free.
 
I'm cheap and lazy so I choose a powder that is versatile like 231/HP-38 or Unique for most of my smokeless pistol reloading because I use my reloads mostly for practice or matches. Unless I have a special circumstance, like I want to load up some heavier than normal bullet weights for hunting with a .44 Mag, I try to keep with only 1 or 2 powders and I usually buy them in 4 pound kegs. For special circumstances, I have no problem buying a pound of powder just for that one application.
 
Thans for the info

In the past I've reloaded 7mm Mag, 9mm and 32 ACP. I just got an H&K P30 in 40 S&W. I'd rather not buy a bunch of different powders to use. With my 7mm I kept trying different powders to try and find the most accurate loads possible because it's my primary hunting rifle. Should I find one or two that work well with all the calibers? Again, thanks for your time and insight... definately appriciated!
 
I like 231 for my pistol shooting. It meters well and is great for 45 and good for most of the other calibers I load and works well enough for the other pistol calibers I load.
 
How much can you afford?

Like JTG452 I now try to find powders that can reload the more than one cartridge with acceptable results. As an example I am testing IMR8208 in my 17 Fireball, 223 and 308. I was using H4198 and Varget, both were great powders, but only having to store one instead of 2 will allow me to make larger buys and lower the cost as well as turn it faster keeping fresh powder on the shelf.

Why do I choose Hodgdon and IMR, same reason as theugyamerican, no reason. I have found the Hodgdon & IMR powders tend to have a lot of available load data to work with.

At $20 a pound on the average, powder isn't cheap. My belief is that is marketing strategy by the manufactures to try and force us into one powder and our having to 'make' it work. When I was working and had a little more cash I used to have 6 or 7 different powders in the box to 'play' with. Thankfully by the time I retired I had settled on just a couple, but there are many opened containers still in the box getting old.

If you can afford it, load development is a blast. It requires a lot of trigger time and I love that the most. So your choice of powder becomes a question of ho much you can afford.
 
I like 231 for my pistol shooting. It meters well and is great for 45 and good for most of the other calibers I load and works well enough for the other pistol calibers I load.

+1 for WIN 231. HP-38 is the same powder. Works great for 9mm and .40 calibers too.
 
If I was left with only one pistol powder it would be Unique.
It's your basic "jack of all trades" pistol powder.
When loaded to near it's max charge it's not too dirty and it fills the cases nicely preventing a double charge.
If your shooting magnum revolvers get some H110 for max velocity but Unique can produce good medium power loads for these too.

nunnya
 
I've been reloading for a few years, mainly rifle, but there's a question that keeps rolling around in my head. With all the different powders available, how do you narrow them down to the one that's right for your gun:fie: without buying them all? I know there's different powders for different types of guns but still, there's a lot to choose from. Any help or guidence is very much appriciated.

I've used IMR powders for 22-250, 220 Swift, 6 mm Rem. and my .280 for more years than I care to mention. They have always done well and loads are listed in most all the loading manuals. I look for loads that leave little air space in the case but never use compressed loads. I select a starting load about mid way between starting and max then work the load up for the best accuracy with acceptable velocity. The 220 Swift and .280 have always shown best velocity with some of the hot loads noted in manuals (.280 & 140 gr. Sierra BTS) except the .280 also liked a medium velocity load with the Nosler Solid base 150 bullet which they discontinued in favor for the Ballistic Tip. Two deer shot with early BT bullets had bullets blew up with no exit hole and I quit loading them.

The 22-250 seemed to like mid range loads and gave me 1/2" five shot groups at 100 yds. The 6 mm never broke the one inch barrier with 3 powders I tried and several bullets so I later sold it.

The other factor I looked at was the type of powder. All the loads above were built on an RCBS Rockchucker, thrown by an Ohaus powder thrower and weighed on an Ohaus 1110 scale. This also worked fine for flake and ball powders for 3 different pistol cartridges. THEN came the .223 rifles and the Dillon 550 progressive press. I had to change gears with my powder selection. I use nothing but ball powders for the .223 AR-15 and the 40 S&W pistols but still use the extruded IMR powders for loading with the Rockchucker press. Ball or flake work great for the 45 ACP also.

As far as which powder I chose for .223, I looked through manuals, read books and scoured the internet. I looked for recommendations and then started comparing powder burning rates for both 55 gr. and 62 grain bullets. I was looking for the fastest velocity with the 62 gr. and something not so hot for use as a training round with the 55 gr. bullet. I settled on H335 for the 62 gr. and Ramshot TAC with Hornady 55 gr. bullets. I wasn't looking for absolute accuracy but acceptable accuracy with either of these FMJ bullets. Some groups just were not that great and some were not bad at all. It just happened that some of the heavier charges of H335 gave me good accuracy to a point. I stopped when the group started to spread back out.

I hope I haven't confused you but powder selection was based on type of powder thrower/loader, velocity I wanted and accuracy I received.
 
You look at caliber and desired performance. This will usually narrow the list down significantly.

For instance, in my Lee Manual there are probably 20+ powders listed for 180 Jacketed bullets in 10mm. However, about 3 of them are distinguished in the velocity they offer. AA#9, Power Pistol and 800X come to mind delivering near or over 1300 fps for that bullet weight.

I also find that the powders that deliver top velocities are rarely the most economical, so then I look for the best compromise on a decent practice load versus charge weight. Titegroup, Win231 and Bullseye all deliver 1000-1100 fps loads with 6 grains or less of powder.

Finally, armed with this list, I look to what I can buy cheapest in each category. If I can't make that powder perform to my satisfaction, then I look to the next cheapest.

The final factor may be versatility. For instance, Win231 and Bullseye are suitable for a very wide range of handgun calibers, but Unique is also listed for many, many 30-06 cast bullet loads. And it will work very well for 10mm practice ammo too. Result, I can bulk up on Unique and cover just as many handgun calibers, and have reduced load rifle powder for cast bullets too.
 
When I first look at a new powder mfg or type one of my most important things is simply the availability of powder in my area. The next thing I look for is the availability of reloading data and what other calibers can I reload with the same powder. One of the major critiques I have after choosing a powder is how well it meters. If I am using a manual powder dispenser and trickler how does the powder throw so I don't have to dump the tray and redrop the powder. If I am using my electronic dispenser, how close to my selected weight does it drop. Once I have made the loads and go to the range the next thing I look at is performance. Speed and accuracy is one thing but I also look for unburnt powder or residue which can cause malfunctions, too much smoke or too much carbon build up.
 
You've gotten a lot of good info already and I especially liked the points jlperryusa made.

If I understand your question correctly, you'd like to keep just a limited number of powders on hand which would work satisfactorily with most (or all) of the calibers you reload.

Presumably, you already have several reloading manuals available but if they are like most of mine, they are published by bullet companies which means the bullet weights they list reloading data for are limited to the bullets that particular company manufacturers. Still, it's a good starting point and you can begin looking for similar powders across calibers. The flip side of that is the reloading data put out by the powder makers is obviously only going to list the combinations which can be used with their own powders.

You will also want to take a look at a burn rate chart.

Another resource (free) would be Steve Ricciardelli's site. He has a tremendous amount of reloading data covering a wide range of calibers, bullet weights, types of bullets and powders. You can probably use his site to help reduce the number of powders you need to keep on hand. Keep in mind though, even though a powder/bullet combo may be listed as usable and within the acceptable pressure limits, it may not be a particularly accurate combination in your particular weapon.
 
Lee's reloading manuals rate the powders for each bullet as well; that would also be an additional starting point. I look for versatility (I use Clays for pistol rounds) and also the least expensive (more rounds per pound), but it has a drawback - the case will hold a double charge - so great care in loading is called for.

Experiment and ask experienced reloaders - as you're doing. My experience has been that the shooter is more critical to accuracy than choice of powder. Good luck with the choice.
 
I've been reloading for a few years, mainly rifle, but there's a question that keeps rolling around in my head. With all the different powders available, how do you narrow them down to the one that's right for your gun:fie: without buying them all? I know there's different powders for different types of guns but still, there's a lot to choose from. Any help or guidence is very much appriciated.

All good knowledge has been given here. Without you being specific, as to caliber and bullet weight it is hard to make a suggestion.
when you narrow these to down, buy cross referencing your loading manuals, you can make a better choice.
In general, lighter bullets use faster burning powders, heavier use slower. also take into account pressure of each should be noted. Problem is there are alot of good powders out there, and it seems us reloaders are looking mostly as to making choices concerning accuracy. so that never ending quest for finding what prints best, has us expierementing with various powders all the time.
A powder on sale, that will fit your recipe is a good way to start.I now try to buy 5 to 8lbs in bulk to get the savings. after seeing that the 1lb container worked satisfactory for me, as to that brand.
I tend to quess that we all have surplus powder laying around that we moved away from for various reasons, bullet weight, dirty residue,etc... just seems to be the nature of the beast when reloading. Good luck in your choices, jack
 
I've been reloading for a few years, mainly rifle, but there's a question that keeps rolling around in my head. With all the different powders available, how do you narrow them down to the one that's right for your gun:fie: without buying them all? I know there's different powders for different types of guns but still, there's a lot to choose from. Any help or guidence is very much appriciated.
I just started reloading about a year ago.
I spent about a month doing research looking for what the best, easiest options were for my needs.
I wanted to reload mainly for cheaper range ammo, and maybe one SD load so the wife can shoot my 357 without hesitating, but still have enough power.

After a lot of searching for my personal use I decided on either Unique or Universal. I went with Unique of the two simply because its stocked here at Gander Mountain, and of the two Universal seems to be out of stock more often (I think its more popular here at least and is being bought out quicker).

I like the fact that Unique isnt so temperamental. And the bulkiness makes it easy to see if your double charged. So for a beginner like me it was a good powder to start with, plus its not a bad powder to just stay with. Lots of old timer loaders use it. It can be used for shotgun recipes too, so unless I get into loading rifles, I can use it solely indefinitely.

Thats how I narrowed it down, anyway
:)
 
I mainly reload for pistols and My main go to powder is win 231. Hp 38 is almost the same as 231 so I buy whatever is cheaper. Unique is a close second. Bullseye is good if you get a deal on it. 231/hp38 should work for most of your pistol needs
 
I just started reloading about a year ago.
I spent about a month doing research looking for what the best, easiest options were for my needs.
I wanted to reload mainly for cheaper range ammo, and maybe one SD load so the wife can shoot my 357 without hesitating, but still have enough power.

After a lot of searching for my personal use I decided on either Unique or Universal. I went with Unique of the two simply because its stocked here at Gander Mountain, and of the two Universal seems to be out of stock more often (I think its more popular here at least and is being bought out quicker).

I like the fact that Unique isnt so temperamental. And the bulkiness makes it easy to see if your double charged. So for a beginner like me it was a good powder to start with, plus its not a bad powder to just stay with. Lots of old timer loaders use it. It can be used for shotgun recipes too, so unless I get into loading rifles, I can use it solely indefinitely.

Thats how I narrowed it down, anyway
:)

I really like 2400 for the .357 and .44 magnums since it is very hard to double-charge a round and it flows very nicely through my Uniflow powder measure. On the last loads I put together (.357, 110 gr bullets) my measure was dropping 17 grains on the nose every time.

I've used H110 for .44 mag but the rounds I put together with it kick like a mule, while the 2400 ones aren't nearly as bad. Of course, that also means that the H110 rounds probably have more power. I imagine it can be used for the .357 as well but I haven't tried it (I pretty much limit my loads to what I have the components for). Around here it kind of comes down to that, and finding the bullets, primers and powder you need can involve several stops.

Does anyone here order powder or primers on-line? I thought about it but the special handling fees kind of made me hesitate.
 
I really like 2400 for the .357 and .44 magnums since it is very hard to double-charge a round and it flows very nicely through my Uniflow powder measure. On the last loads I put together (.357, 110 gr bullets) my measure was dropping 17 grains on the nose every time.

I've used H110 for .44 mag but the rounds I put together with it kick like a mule, while the 2400 ones aren't nearly as bad. Of course, that also means that the H110 rounds probably have more power. I imagine it can be used for the .357 as well but I haven't tried it (I pretty much limit my loads to what I have the components for). Around here it kind of comes down to that, and finding the bullets, primers and powder you need can involve several stops.

Does anyone here order powder or primers on-line? I thought about it but the special handling fees kind of made me hesitate.
Hi Tiger, check out Hi-Tech amunition. i use them they have great bargains and only a $20.00 Hazmat Fee which becomes nill if you figure on how much you save. Trick is to buy bulk, then you really save. I had good expierences with them and dont hesitate to email them for any questions. They are great people to deal with. I had good results with them and they are my go to guys for reloading compotents. If you do not go this way, you will be paying more no doubt and the stuff has a long shelf life as long as you store it properly. Dont forget to tell them Johnny sent you. Ask for Dan or Huey, good guys
 

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