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Paul5388
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Posted: August 11 2012 at 4:09pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

With the ever increasing cost of components, it's beginning to make more and more sense to seek out some less expensive means for reloading. One of the means that I think has been overlooked by many is surplus powder.

With canister powder costing $20 and more per pound, it's an economic relief to find usable powders for $10-$11 per pound. To make the most of the situation, it may be necessary to pool resources by getting a few other people to help split the HAZMAT fees, or enough volume where the HAZMAT is paid by the shipper. The same also holds true for obtaining primers at a better price. It's sort of like any other endeavor, increased volume increases buying potential and tends to reduce the final cost of a product.

A lot of concern with surplus powders is the lack of firm loading data. There is usually a guideline for the burning rate, but no pressure testing, like canister powder is subjected to. It really isn't too much of a concern, since wildcatters are faced with the same lack of data on a daily basis. They only have a guideline and go from there in working up a load. There is also the known fact that the powder was loaded in some sort of military cartridge and that gives even further assurance, when the source cartridge of the surplus is known.

Hodgdon Powder got its start marketing surplus powders back in the late 1940s and it isn't much different today for individuals to follow in that same path. Until Hodgdon bought IMR Powder, I don't believe they ever had powder manufacturing capabilities of their own.

When Jeff Bartlett (http://gibrass.com/) says a powder is similar to a certain canister powder, he has done some work with it to have an idea of its burn rate. He also knows what it came out of and that gives him more information to pass along. The same holds true for http://hi-techammo.com/ when they say its burning rate is similar to a canister powder. So, it isn't like flying in the dark without any sort of data for direction.

I recently bought some WC 844 that is similar to H335. It's spherical powder and will load at 25.0 gr in .223 Rem with a 55 gr bullet without a problem in my guns. It will probably load at a higher charge weight, but do I really need more velocity and pressure to accomplish what I want?

Surplus powder may not be the best choice for loads that push for maximum velocity, because there isn't any known pressure data to ensure safe loads. A canister powder that has been pressure tested in the caliber you're loading for may be the best and safest choice in that case. On the other hand, what I call "fodder" (ammunition used in semiautomatic "spray and pray" rifles) doesn't have to be the fastest velocity to accomplish the intended task. That's the best function for surplus powder, loading lots of rounds, but not the only function.

When I looked in Lyman's 48th Edition Reloading Manual for .223 Rem., I saw H335 can be used at 25.0 gr with bullets weighing 45 gr to 80 gr without exceeding the maximum load. With a 55 gr bullet, 25.0 gr is well under a maximum load, so I really didn't think too long or hard about using that load with WC 844. In fact, I didn't have to think too hard about using that same 25.0 gr load with H375, that has been obsolete for 40+ years. Most applicable powders for 55 gr bullets in .223 Rem. have 25.0 gr at less than a maximum load (I did find data for one H375 load in some obscure location that gave me the needed clue to burning rate), so it was logical to use that charge weight.

Another surplus powder I have is similar to IMR 4895. In older loading manuals, there is a difference between the two powders and this lot burns more like old H4895 than new IMR 4895. So, I compensate for that slight difference and load "fodder" with it.

One other thing to be considered is the inability to duplicate that exact lot of powder at a future date. If you think it's a powder you have a lot of use for, get enough that you don't have to worry about changing lots, and possible burning rates, for a while. Eight pounds of surplus powder, the normal minimum amount sold, is in a gallon container. There are 8 X 7000 = 56,000 grains in that container. Divide that by 25.0 gr and there's 2240 loads contained in it. If you use twice that amount, say in a 150 gr .30-06, you only get 1120 rounds. If you use it for .223 Rem, .30-06, .308 and a few others, it will deplete a lot quicker. Of course, it isn't that difficult to work a new load with a different lot, if you needed to.

Let me conclude by saying I think there's a place for surplus powder, but that doesn't mean I'll use it exclusively. There are still certain loads where canister powder is the best route to take.

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Ham Gunner
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Posted: August 11 2012 at 6:21pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

Great subject and very good reasoning I think. I have also looked around a small bit at the availability and shipping possibilities and thought of how I could also find a few around my neck of the woods to share an order or two of bulk surplus powders or bulk primers. Plenty of others that I know that are probably interested, but finding them all with spending money at the same time is the thing these days.

But I have been slowly trying to consolidate most of my calibers into using as few different types of powders as possible. I know that I do not need to keep so many around and it would be so much easier with just a few promising compromises than trying to keep up with all the different loads using everything in the charts. I am also trying to mostly convert over to cast bullets for all my rifles and they really are a bit easier to find a proper diet for I think. But whether or not they will like surplus powders or not is something that I have yet to research.

I suppose I could probably admit that I am getting a bit lazy or maybe just a little tired of always searching for that one "best" load combination when I really do not need to find out if it is really there at all. The science of internal ballistics is certainly interesting and I have had a lot of fun gathering up the small amount of knowledge that I somehow managed to gain related to the subject. I have put it to good use a few times with a few wildcat rifles that I ended up with and so since I did not blow myself or any guns up, I thought that I might as well jump on to the surplus powders and take advantage of them. After all, besides being cheaper to shoot, it will be a lot of fun studying up on their behavior and possible uses.

Edited by Ham Gunner on August 11 2012 at 6:25pm


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Paul5388
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Posted: August 11 2012 at 7:08pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

Another resource that makes surplus powder easier to use is the Army Technical Manual on the loads as originally used. http://www.ar15.com/content/manuals/TM43-0001-27.pdf

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Posted: August 11 2012 at 7:48pm | IP Logged Quote Rigmarol

I also bought a mil surp powder that is very close to 4895. I got a great
deal on 16 lbs. I'll definately do it again one day.


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guido4198
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Posted: August 12 2012 at 3:40am | IP Logged Quote guido4198

If you shoot a lot...and are willing to do a little research and work...it's the ONLY WAY to go.
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Slick
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Posted: August 12 2012 at 9:12pm | IP Logged Quote Slick

I'd sure like to find some WC860...

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gstanfield
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Posted: August 12 2012 at 9:17pm | IP Logged Quote gstanfield

Try here Slick

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Slick
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Posted: August 12 2012 at 9:42pm | IP Logged Quote Slick

gstanfield wrote:
Try here Slick


Many Thanks, George!!

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Paul5388
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Posted: August 14 2012 at 5:11pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

I went to the link George posted and that's where I found the Alcan 8 that's in stock. I also ordered some of the IMR 7383 to use in the place of IMR 4831. A lot of the .50 cal surplus powder can be used in the larger cases and at $56/7 pounds, it's a good price!

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Slick
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Posted: August 15 2012 at 7:33am | IP Logged Quote Slick

Paul5388 wrote:
A lot of the .50 cal surplus powder can be used in the larger cases and at $56/7 pounds, it's a good price!


This is one of the main reasons I decided to go with a .50 BMG over a .338 Lapua! WC860 is a commonly used .50 BMG powder and it can be had for as little as $5 a pound. Loaded with an SA 690gr FMJBT (@ .45 cents each) - who says shooting .50 BMG is unaffordable?

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gstanfield
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Posted: August 15 2012 at 7:44am | IP Logged Quote gstanfield

I've used some 8700 powder in my 338 with 250 grain bullets and it worked better than you might expect. It was slow for that cartridge and the velocity was down a tad from what I Was getting with the proper powder, but the accuracy was amazing

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Paul5388
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Posted: August 16 2012 at 5:35pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

I just received the total cost for 37 pounds of powder, including Shipping: $28.37 (that's about $.77/pound). The TOTAL: $279.37 for $7.55/pound delivered.

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Buffalogun
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Posted: August 19 2012 at 7:54am | IP Logged Quote Buffalogun

Paul,

I picked up a couple jugs of WC820 and 4895, a few years ago. 4895 is one of the most versatile rifle powders and my lot of WC820 uses AA#9 data and shoots well in 357 Mag and Max.


Mike

Edited by Buffalogun on August 19 2012 at 8:08am


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Ham Gunner
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Posted: August 27 2012 at 12:20pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

Just called in an order for myself and another buddy. $527.85 which includes the $29.85 shipping for 44# of powder. (no Hazmat fee) Jeff still has a little of the AL-8 left at $39/6 lb. jug minus the two jugs that I ordered along with some WC-820, WC-844, and RL-15.

I estimate that we saved around $300 off of the normal canister powder price. Thanks Paul for sort of helping me make up my mind to go ahead and get an order in. I know the stuff is not going to get any cheaper.

Now, I need to gather up some fellows here local to share a primer order with.

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Paul5388
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Posted: August 27 2012 at 1:29pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

Rick, I would suggest going to Hi-Tech (http://hi-techammo.com/) for your primers. You'll probably have to pay tax, since you're in state, but he pays the HAZMAT on orders of 30,000. CCI 500 and 400 are $120/5000. They are cheaper on primers than Powder Valley, if you want CCI.

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Posted: August 27 2012 at 3:16pm | IP Logged Quote gstanfield

Paul5388 wrote:
... if you want CCI.


who would want anything less?

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Paul5388
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Posted: August 27 2012 at 3:31pm | IP Logged Quote Paul5388

Sure George, but some people will use components other than IMR and CCI. The 10,000 primers I bought recently were CCI, but that's what I prefer, except for the Rem 9 1/2 I use in some applications.

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gstanfield
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Posted: August 27 2012 at 3:49pm | IP Logged Quote gstanfield

Paul5388 wrote:
Sure George, but some people will use components other than IMR and CCI...


Well, everyone can't be right.

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Ham Gunner
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Posted: August 27 2012 at 4:14pm | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

I have proven to myself that there are some differences in group size by using certain primers with certain powders in my magnum revolver loads. It has been mostly ball or spherical powders that I find need a little hotter ignition, but nothing wrong with buying about any brand of primer if the price is right. If it pops when it is supposed to, a person can work around the heat issue with powder choice, if one has some easier to ignite powder that is.

I started out using CCI myself. I only started using others when my favorite gun shop moved out of town and I then started getting whatever I found the best deals on. Availability is always the issue with some brands around my area if I buy them locally. Gunshows are not always consistent with brand availability from show to show either , so I just try to keep plenty of inventory.

I use primers like the Rem 9 1/2 for most of the stick powders in my large rifles and it seems to work decent enough. I do not have any magnum sized rifle calibers. Rem. 7 1/2 works well for me for small cartridge ball powder loads.

I suppose that if I only had one choice in primers and they were available, it might be Winchester. But, I have found no problems with Tula, Fiocchi, Remington, CCI, or any other primer that I have tried. But, a decent enough price would maybe persuade me to pick a primer, rather that brand preference.

Edit: I have ordered from HI-Tech. Not primers, but I have ordered some pulled bullets for .223 and they were just fine, even though they had a few machine marks on them. Not all of their pulled bullets have marks, but the ones that do are usually a bit cheaper.
Fast service.

Edited by Ham Gunner on August 27 2012 at 4:22pm


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Posted: August 27 2012 at 4:53pm | IP Logged Quote gstanfield

I was just stirring the pot with my famous IMR/CCI theology Truth be told I only have 17 different flavors of IMR powder, but also 5 Hogdon, 1 Win and 2 Aliant. I also have primers from fed, rem and CCI, some dating back to when I was a kid! (bought out a whole store when the owner retired a few years back, pretty well stocked...)

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