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Posted: 4/30/2011 10:46:49 PM EDT
New guy here to reloading.

There are many powders to choose from out there.  I have a tight budget and b/c of some family circumstances my time is limited.  I am not soliciting for recipes, just want to make that clear and I am willing to work at it.  I have three manuals, Lyman 49th, Sierra manual (the one that came with my RCBS kit) and one of those caliber specific ones.  I have also read the Ken Waters tests on .223.  

How do you know which powders to choose?  Are there any certain go-to powders, that seem to work for most everyone?  When your a newb do you just choose one?  That seems as though that could get expensive with unsatisfactory results.  I am particularly interested in loading 52-55 gr and 62 gr ammo, maybe 69gr.  I am loading for an Ar 1/9 twist.  I would like to load for zombies and accuracy.  I hope I make sense, please ask if I don't.
Thanks for helping me spend my money more efficiently.  Thanks again for your help, time, experience and patience.  
Link Posted: 4/30/2011 10:53:32 PM EDT
I don't load for rifles, yet. However, for handguns I simply referenced all 4 manuals for the calibers/bullets I knew I wanted to shoot. I wrote down a list of what seemed to crossover between all the bullets/calibers I wanted to shoot. Then I ordered 1# jugs of each, and started loading. I ended up starting with Bullseye, Unique, and Power Pistol. I found PP was great for my 40SW loadings, and Bullseye was great with my 38spl loadings. Overall, it worked for me.
Link Posted: 4/30/2011 10:53:47 PM EDT
Look through your manuals and find the powders that will work the best for all the bullet weights you want to load, then find the ones that are the most economical, then look at "most accurate powder tested" in the manuals.  Somewhere these will cross paths.  That said, I'd recommend you take a hard look at Ramshot TAC, or Hodgdon H4895 (if you don't mind extruded).
Link Posted: 4/30/2011 10:59:38 PM EDT
Good question............I suspect that everyone will have their favorite(s) to tell you about.  Though in the real world...........you would probably have to compromise somewhere (accuracy, clean burning, cost, availability, metering, etc...........)

So........how do I pick a powder.........



First………bust out your re-loading manual(s) and go over the calibers you want to load for. Note the powders that are mentioned again and again, for the weight range of bullets that you’ll be using.

Might be something to that?

Humm…..Maybe.  

Now, go back and read the mfns descriptions/recommended applications for the powder(s) you picked.

Do you feel comfortable with your decision?

Start your “testing” by purchasing the 1 lb. container.  Once you’ve found what your firearm likes, then consider an 8 lb. keg of powder.

It's a PIA......to make up a good load and run out of powder.  

I use to live in Hawaii......powder selection was dismal and sometimes the shipping of powder was spotty. You could be facing a "dock strike" or your store could be sold out on any given day. It was common for me to "stock up," on all components.

Of course, IF you buy in bulk via the internet and pay hazmat......that may work.

How YOU choose a powder is your decision. For ME......here are some of my criteria.......

1) Does it meter well? I prefer Ball powders. Because, I don't get the "Ka-chunk," like when loading with a "stick powder."
2) Is it available in 8 lb containers?
3) Is it widely available and usually in stock??
4) Am I paying a "premium" price?
5) Can it be used with multiple calibers and firearms? I'd hate to have a powder that will only be used in one firearm.
6) Is the gas pressure curve correct for my gas guns (very important with an M1)?
7) Is it known to be accurate in that caliber?
8) Is it dirty?
9) How does it fill the case? I don't like to mess with compressed loads.
10) Have I heard of problems with it?

Take it FWIW......it's just my .02.



Aloha, Mark
Link Posted: 4/30/2011 11:30:22 PM EDT
Thanks guys.  Very helpful info.  In the Ken Waters book, he mentioned H4895 and one or two others as being a consistent accurate powder.  I was not sure how much his info. would cross over to a semi-auto from bolt gun test?
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 1:19:32 AM EDT
I talked to several experienced re-loaders. I looked at what calibers I was going to reload and what powder worked for most of them. Maybe not the best powder for all of them but would work for the majority of them. Bullseye fit that bill. I've used it for .380acp, .45acp light to full power and light to moderate .357 and .44 magnum. For moderate to full power .357 and .44 magnum I use 2400.

I've tried W-231 for .45acp and W-296 for the magnums. I'll use the above when I use up the W powders.

For .223 and .308 I've settled on Varget. It feeds better than 4895 for me and works better with .223.

I pretty much only use Winchester primers btw.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 2:37:35 AM EDT
The post by ma96782 covers it well I think.

For me, I was trying to load 6.8 SPC and .223 so I went to Hodgdon printed out what I was gonna load and went to Bass Pro, handed the guy the sheets after he was out of so many powders and told him to give me whatever he found on both sheets.  I went home with H322 and IMR4198 (NOT the same as H4198).

H322 worked well.

Midway had a sale on TAC - I like it.

Varget meters like granola - I don't like it.   It works well in a variety of temps though, so I do have some.

I have that same Lyman manual and it is handy as it suggests loads by bolding them as "Most Accurate," etc.

Me - I'd start with TAC, but you have a wide range you want to load for, so start thinking about 1 powder for up to 62 grain and another for over that weight.

Link Posted: 5/1/2011 4:05:00 AM EDT
I look at the load data for different bullet weights, a powder that supports more bullet weights than another powder is more versatile, it'll give you the freedom to buy a box of 100 projectiles of another bullet weight that you typically use and experiment with a load without having to buy a second type of powder.



A powder that supports different calibers is a plus too, such as AA2460 for both .223 and .308.



For pistol powders I like the powders that will fill up 50% or more of the pistol's case volume, sort of a safety thing in case I'm loading on the Dillon 550B and get a double powder charge.



The third thing I look for in a powder is if it's a ball powder as they flow the best in the Dillon progressive powder measures.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 4:17:58 AM EDT
My .02 cents.

When you mentioned 52 gr the first powder to pop into my mind is 748. Kind of old school but I started useing it for the sierra 52 gr match king because I had it on hand for 30/30 and it works well for both. I am guessing it would show up for various other calibers as well.

I am aware that many/most of the target guys swear by Varget for the 69gr bullets.

After you have been reloading for a few years the method for picking a powder will be very much as sugested but instead of rushing out to the gunshop to buy you will first look at what you have on hand
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 4:53:42 AM EDT
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 5:30:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/1/2011 5:38:21 AM EDT by RRA_223]
Originally Posted By packingXDs:
I don't load for rifles, yet. However, for handguns I simply referenced all 4 manuals for the calibers/bullets I knew I wanted to shoot. I wrote down a list of what seemed to crossover between all the bullets/calibers I wanted to shoot. Then I ordered 1# jugs of each, and started loading. I ended up starting with Bullseye, Unique, and Power Pistol. I found PP was great for my 40SW loadings, and Bullseye was great with my 38spl loadings. Overall, it worked for me.


I also did this for handguns, and came up with Unique instead.  Meters well out of my Dillon, is relatively cheap, and because it has been around forever...  there are recipes out there for virtually all handgun calibers.   Unique is a slower burn than Bullseye, so it tends to work better in longer barrels and/or heavier slugs (which is my preference).   However, it is "dirty" and leaves a big cloud of soot in the air like the old westerns.      So much so, I've had numbnuts at the range who didn't know any better make comments on this.

As for rifles, my main calibers are 556 and 6.8SPC, so I wound up with Ramshot Xterminator due largely to cost - it was significantly cheaper at the time (not so much anymore) and is a ball powder that meters VERY well in my progressive presses, and was one of the first to do well with the reinvented 6.8..

Generally, you can get just about anything to work:  you can load just about any handgun cartridge in Bullseye or Unique - but some powders are certainly better than others in specific scenarios based on their burn rates: faster tends to be better for short barrels and light projectiles; the opposite for slower powders.   But rifle powders are a WHOLE different story IMHO - so trust the manuals and stay within listed ranges so you don't blow up a rifle or lose a finger.   Not all powders will be accurate, consistent, or necessarily safe depending on how far to the extreme you try to push them,  and that's why we rely on the experience of the powder manufacturers and independent reloading manuals.      


Link Posted: 5/1/2011 5:36:37 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/1/2011 5:42:55 AM EDT by RRA_223]
Here's a printable PDF burn chart of all the major powders - just remember that pistol powders are not interchangeable with rifle powders!  

http://www.hodgdon.com/PDF/Burn%20Rates_nov10.pdf


Edit,  I reload 9mm, 40S&W, 45ACP, 357 mag, 44 mag all with Unique and 556, 6.8SPC with XTerminator.   I buy both in bulk.   I have a few other powders laying around that I intend on experimenting with for accuracy rounds - but for me simplicity and cost-effectiveness is more important than stocking 10+ powders for marginally increased accuracy in ___ calibers.   Easy!    
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 5:38:13 AM EDT
A lot of reading.  When I first started I wanted good powders that work work in everything I was doing.  As I expanded there was no such powder.  I look at the manuals and see what ones are referenced in each book.  If I can't decide I look on here to see what folks are doing.  Now that I am loading more and shooting more it is much easier to swallow buying a big jug of powder that I might only be using in one or two cartridges.  I currently Reload and shoot 7 cartridges, and I know many more experienced folks on here do much more than that.  
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 5:43:39 AM EDT



Originally Posted By RRA_223:


Here's a printable PDF burn chart of all the major powders - just remember that pistol powders are not interchangeable with rifle powders!  



http://www.hodgdon.com/PDF/Burn%20Rates_nov10.pdf





Edit,  I reload 9mm, 40S&W, 45ACP, 357 mag, 44 mag all with Unique and 556, 6.8SPC with XTerminator.   I buy both in bulk.   I have a few other powders laying around that I intend on experimenting with for accuracy rounds - but for me simplicity and cost-effectiveness is more important than stocking 10+ powders for marginally increased accuracy in ___ calibers.   Easy!    


Thanks for that link! Saving it for future reference.

 
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 6:10:30 AM EDT
Some one mentioned the desireabilty of a powder that will overflow the case in the event of a double charge.  With s sigle stage press you can visually inspect the entire loading block of charged cases to check for a double charge.  With a progressive press the option is limited and you have to either visually inspect each case before putting the bullet on top, or you can incorporate a powder rod on a station to detect the overcharge.  Having a bulky powder that overflows the case just makes it much easier not to miss a problem.

In general any time your rhythm on a progressive press is interrupted you want to carefully inspect everything. Over time that becomes automatic, but that has pitfalls as well.  The other day after not loading for a few months I set up my press for 45 Auto using 6 gr on Bullseye  - a charge that fills less than half the case- and started loading but stopped a few rounds later for an adjustment.  I "knew" I inspected for a double charge because it's become habit, but because it's habit it was not notable or memorable - so 1300 rounds later I still doubted one round in the first box of 50. Since I box and label every 50 rounds and also note the date and number the boxes loaded that day in the box number, the first box was easy to locate, and with a weight of 277 gr per cartridge plus or minus about 2 grains, a 6 grain over charge would readily stand out when weighing the cartridges. 2 minutes with an electronic scale alleviated any doubts about a double charge in that box.

The moral of the story being that it pays to develop consistent and trackable loading procedures as well as a solid QA plan and failing that - be willing to pull down some loaded rounds to ensure nothing unsafe ends up in a gun.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 6:15:50 AM EDT
In regard to burn rate charts, not all of them agree 100% of the time and older ones will differ from newer ones.

Similarly, load data and max loads may change over time within the same manual. That may be due to changes in powders, components or due to noted problems or failures due to previously unforseen issues. Or in some cases just more conservative attorneys. So, as always be prudent, start low and work up slowly using common sense and watching for pressure signs.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 1:27:17 PM EDT
69 grain bullets can work best with slightly slower powders. Varget, RE-15, N140 and H4895 come to mind. The 62's may work well with those also, I never load 62's so can't make any suggestions there.

52 and 55 grain bullets will work great with a number of powders. Anything from H322 or N133 up to WW-748 on the burn scale woiuld be a good pick. The only powder I couldn't get to work was BL-C (2), however many claim that is one of thhere favorites as well.  

The slower powders lose some of their appeal once you get below 60 grain bullets because you run out of room in the case. Every round is a compressed charge and the charge weights are quite high making them less economical in the long run.

I prefer extruded powder, but ball powder measures very well and can provide high velocities and excellent short range accuracy.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 3:42:50 PM EDT
Go here:  www.6mmbr.com/223rem.HTML, good info.  For 69gr. and heavier RL-15.  I'm currently exploring 8208XBR and H335 for my M15 carbine but with Michigan weather, the going has been slow.  have only tried 55gr. bullets so far.  In my .308, the extruded powders have grouped beter than ball powders.  Not sure about that for the .223 yet.
Link Posted: 5/1/2011 5:06:25 PM EDT
If I had only one powder to load everything from 55 grn to 75 grn in .223 it would be TAC.  If I wanted the most bang for the buck it would be the pull down powder WC844 here.  I have used the pulled powder and air pulled bullets together and have had no trouble hitting steel plates at 200+ meters
http://www.hi-techammo.com/
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 7:57:20 AM EDT
Lots of good info in this post in response to a very good question.

When I started reloading I used what my mentor said and had.
I guess I followed "blindly" untill I got calibers and weights he
didnt load for. Reading loading books is a great help here.
Type of press (single stage, mechanical, economics, cross calibers
etc all have an impact on your choice.  For what it's worth these
are my favorites.

Pistols get unique. (44 mag, 45 and 40).

223's get the following
H335 - meters like a dream and is consistent
W748 - had it around, it's ball too, meters well shoots good but is not my favorite
AA2230 - had it around too. Shoots good again not my fav. but it works
Re15 - Bought this one on AeroE's recommendation. Great powder now one of my go to's
VV N-133 - Expensive. Hard to find. Small extruded bits. Shoots the most accurate rounds from my gun
By far my favorite powder for the AR's I load for.

I always start out new loader with H335. I use it for 50-75% of my loadings. When I get crazy for accuracy/precision
I break out the Re-15 and N-133 for serious work.

Hope this helps
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 8:27:24 AM EDT
Is anyone using Reloader 10x for 223, specifically 55gr bullets? I didn't find anything via searching.
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 1:08:54 PM EDT
Thanks everyone for your responses.  Your time is very much appreciated.  I shot my first loads this weekend using H335 and 52 smk and 55gr sgk bullets that I bought ayear ago on a whim before I had equipment.   Results were ok, but I'm not the best shooter so I can't blame the powder.  I'm going to do some cross referencing and see what other powders might beneficial to me.
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 1:24:31 PM EDT
Originally Posted By TxRed:
Thanks everyone for your responses.  Your time is very much appreciated.  I shot my first loads this weekend using H335 and 52 smk and 55gr sgk bullets that I bought ayear ago on a whim before I had equipment.   Results were ok, but I'm not the best shooter so I can't blame the powder.  I'm going to do some cross referencing and see what other powders might beneficial to me.



don't know what you loaded but for every powder it has a sweet spot. it is best to load 5-10 test rounds of a spread of powder charges to find the most accurate charge. This is what i have been doing. there is a big diff. in the size of the groups and the powder charge. Check This thread that i posted my target results from a powder test run. crimp makes a differance too.
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 1:26:25 PM EDT
Originally Posted By rboyes:
Is anyone using Reloader 10x for 223, specifically 55gr bullets? I didn't find anything via searching.


Did you search the powder manufacturer?

I didn't think so
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 1:51:34 PM EDT




Originally Posted By ReefRaider:

If I had only one powder to load everything from 55 grn to 75 grn in .223 it would be TAC. If I wanted the most bang for the buck it would be the pull down powder WC844 here. I have used the pulled powder and air pulled bullets together and have had no trouble hitting steel plates at 200+ meters

http://www.hi-techammo.com/





+1 for TAC.



If I were to recommend a powder for the bullet weights you specified, I would recommend TAC and H335.  Either will give you good results and the meter so easily.
Link Posted: 5/2/2011 2:24:16 PM EDT
Thanks for the help, but I already have that info from my Alliant manual. I haven't seen many folks using that combo of powder and bullet weight. I can't check the spreadsheet in the stickied thread since I am on a government computer and it won't let me.

Originally Posted By Maryland_Shooter:
Originally Posted By rboyes:
Is anyone using Reloader 10x for 223, specifically 55gr bullets? I didn't find anything via searching.


Did you search the powder manufacturer?

I didn't think so


Link Posted: 5/2/2011 6:32:11 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 5/2/2011 6:35:02 PM EDT by goldeyeslayer]
10x is for light bullets....or at least that's how they market it


eta: alliant shows a load for 55gr, but that is the heaviest bullet they list...point being, its out of the sweet spot for that powder
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