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Atavist
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Posted: October 01 2017 at 9:54pm | IP Logged Quote Atavist

Sort of came up in Old Ranger's thread on Universal... but what do you guys know about powder shelf life? It was mentioned that Unique has a good shelf life due to nitro content... what other powders are ideal for long term storage? what powders should be avoided?   ... and of course why...

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Ham Gunner
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Posted: October 02 2017 at 5:49am | IP Logged Quote Ham Gunner

While most of us will likely use up about all our powder long before it deteriorates, if stored decently enough I doubt that one would have a whole lot to worry about powder going bad anyway. I would also think that high heat conditions would not be the best for storage, but I have seen plenty of 40+ year old powder that was still good that had been stored outside in a shed.

Myself, I doubt that I have any that I have had longer than probably 30 years, but it is still good. Perhaps some of the old Dupont or Hodgdon military surplus powders that was resold after WWII would have enough age that it could possibly be a bit more susceptible to deterioration.

While I have never run across any myself, I have seen pictures and have read descriptions of powders that had gone bad. Usually have a very strong acrid smell and the color has turned reddish brown.

Edited by Ham Gunner on October 02 2017 at 5:57am


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Old Ranger
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Posted: October 02 2017 at 6:01am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Opinions vary on this subject. Depending upon who's you choose to believe. In the 70's, the various gun magazines would do powder reviews. There were about half a dozen powder companies then. In many of the articles written by staff and some independent authors, the general consensus was that shelf life of smokeless powder was ten years. I recall reading this quite a few times then.

Later, in the beginning of the new century, this opinion changed. Shelf life was not discussed as often, and the number of powder manufacturers grew a lot. So did their offerings in powder types. Today, the choice of powder is staggering. So many to choose from that a single reloader could not try them all. Thus we now turn to the internet for information on this subject quite often. Some sources are sound and well researched. Others are simply hacks with little knowledge or the experience to safety load their computer's printer, let alone a large caliber cartridge.

So who's right? Personally, I think some decades ago, many loaders were confned to the garage or a building out behind the house. A lack of climate control caused the powders chemicals to break down prematurely thus lending credence to the theory of 10 year shelf life. Further, magazine publishers and their writers were paid by the manufacturer to review their products. If the powder manufacturers said tell your readers to buy their powder more often due to the shelf life being lower, then there's profit in that. Today's articles are nothing more than an extension of the manufacturer's product advertisements.

The old "sniff test" looking for the telltale acidic smell. The excessive clumping of powder. And other standardized tests we all know is sound logic. I have Bullseye in the small square can with the metal "pop" lid. It's 55 years old and still good. Rich is using old Alcan from his father's bench. Shooting strong. My belief, and with data from a chemical engineer, and a life long experience with this stuff tells me if kept out of the heat, and wet, it'll last for decades. The old saying "Keep your powder dry" wasn't just for the movies.

Edited by Old Ranger on October 02 2017 at 6:10am


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joed
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Posted: October 02 2017 at 7:14am | IP Logged Quote joed

Avoid this one, IMR 4007 SSC Powder.    It was a great powder for
.22-250 and .220 Swift but I believe it deteriorated very quickly and
caused a few house fires before it was recalled.

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Paul B.
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Posted: October 02 2017 at 2:41pm | IP Logged Quote Paul B.

I still have cans of powder from as far back as 1973 and probably some
even older. The only powder I ever had go bad was some IMR4350.
Three one pound cans. All new and unopened.
What I think is double base powders are somewhat more forgiving than
single base types. Note that the 1973 powder is H335 that I bought to
load some ammo for a new .308 Win. I used some not too long ago in a
test series using 250 gr. bullets in a couple of rifles chambered to the .35
Whelen. velocities were right on the money and all pressure signs
seemed normal.
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dahlin
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Posted: October 03 2017 at 11:23am | IP Logged Quote dahlin

Have a can of Herco that has the metal pop lid I have had it for 30 or more years have no idea how old it is but shoots fine, To day was my lucky day we went to the gun shop just to look around and there on the shelf was a 1# of 2400 been looking for a long time for that $21.95 so not a bad price either.
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Atavist
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Posted: October 06 2017 at 9:49pm | IP Logged Quote Atavist

Copy that. Thanks for the info... makes me
feel better about putting powder in long term
storage.
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STCM(SW)
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Posted: October 06 2017 at 11:12pm | IP Logged Quote STCM(SW)

I have a container of Red Dot well over 45 years old that I some times load, Then again there have been reports of BP in rifles well over a hundred years old that have fired...

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Old Ranger
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Posted: October 07 2017 at 7:00am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Quite true, Master Chief.
Did some restoration work with a museum at a university some years ago. Several fragile paper cartridges were found and those that were broken had spilt their powder inside the cartridge box were removed. Those that were intact were lacquered and replaced after cleaning the box. That loose powder was good.

About 20% of the old weapons were loaded. I distinctly remember pulling a miniball from an 1861 Springfield musket. The remains of the parts of the paper cartridge that went down the bore had turned to tiny flakes, but the 60gr charge of black powder was dark grey and black. It was not even fused together from being compressed in the bore for over a century. The curator wanted to light it up. And it burned quickly, and in the same manner as BP of current manufacturer. Smelled like... History!

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RB in GA
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Posted: October 07 2017 at 9:22am | IP Logged Quote RB in GA

For long term storage, most reloading manuals state that the double base (Nitro) powders will long exceed the single base options. Interesting you read this claim from the bigger Double Base producers like Alliant and Win.

I've read (somewhere in a reloading manual) that original early 1900 38spl loads with Bullseye were chronyed and produced very consistent velocities 100+ years after loaded.

All that being said... In the early 2000s, I was ratting around in an old pawn shop one day and ran across a small corner reloading area that was behind the counter (no touch area). I spotted some cardboard boxes on the top shelf. I asked the guy what ya got up there? "No clue!" He pulled the box. At least a quarter inch of dust on top. Cut it opened and revealed a case of slightly rusted old baby blue red top cans of IMR4227, shipping label was circa 70s. I still remember hearing what came next... "You want this stuff?" Trying to not act too interested, I'll take the lot, $5 bucks a can if you let me open one and give a look see. Still had the nice alcohol-either smell and black as coal. Deal done.

Although being single base the 4227 had been kept inside, dry, and cool in store with AC for over 30 years. Good as new.    




Edited by RB in GA on October 07 2017 at 9:38am
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joed
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Posted: October 19 2017 at 3:52pm | IP Logged Quote joed

You know, after reading this I started thinking about the powders I
have sitting around.     So, today I checked all of them.   To my
surprise I had 3 that went bad.    

What I found interesting is it wasn't older powders like IMR4350
but
the newer IMR powders.    Benchmark, and IMR 8208 xbr went
bad
on me and the last of some H110 that I've had from about 2002.   I
quit using H110 about 2002.      

The Benchmark and 8208 I had probably acquired around 2010.   



Edited by joed on October 19 2017 at 3:55pm


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RECURVE
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Posted: October 19 2017 at 4:46pm | IP Logged Quote RECURVE

Joed how has been stowed?
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joed
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Posted: October 19 2017 at 6:17pm | IP Logged Quote joed

They have been stored in a spare bedroom that is my man cave.   AC
in summer and heat in the winter.   That's how I've always stored my
powders.

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RB in GA
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Posted: October 20 2017 at 5:21pm | IP Logged Quote RB in GA

joed wrote:
They have been stored in a spare bedroom
that is my man cave.   AC
in summer and heat in the winter.   That's how I've
always stored my
powders.


Damn, that's not that long for powder. Sorry for your
loss.
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Atavist
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Posted: October 20 2017 at 5:39pm | IP Logged Quote Atavist

joed wrote:
They have been stored in a spare bedroom that is my man cave.   AC
in summer and heat in the winter.   That's how I've always stored my
powders.


thanks for the report... i think i am going to set up two powder lots... one a long term storage lot, rebagged into mylar with desicant packets (a few thousand primers done the same way), and my in use lot... anything i'm not using that will just sit there might as well flip at a flee market.
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RB in GA
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Posted: October 21 2017 at 9:21pm | IP Logged Quote RB in GA

joed wrote:
They have been stored in a spare bedroom
that is my man cave.   AC
in summer and heat in the winter.   That's how I've always
stored my
powders.


Same as me. I checked my "extended" store of UNIQUE today
after seeing your post. Stored same as you. Looked and
smelled fine.

BTW, The wife and I were out today and stopped by our BASS
PRO in the big town. UNIQUE was going for $35.99 per lb.
WTH, this stuff was selling for less than $14.00 per lb
locally in 2007.
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Posted: October 26 2017 at 5:17pm | IP Logged Quote hoghunter

joed wrote:
You know, after reading this I started
thinking about the powders I
have sitting around.     So, today I checked all of them.   
To my
surprise I had 3 that went bad.    

What I found interesting is it wasn't older powders like
IMR4350
but
the newer IMR powders.    Benchmark, and IMR 8208 xbr
went
bad
on me and the last of some H110 that I've had from about
2002.   I
quit using H110 about 2002.      

The Benchmark and 8208 I had probably acquired around
2010.   



I'm not challenging your claim but how did you determine
that the Benchmark when bad. I have some from the same
time period and there is no odor or discoloration.
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Posted: October 26 2017 at 8:10pm | IP Logged Quote joed

The Benchmark had a red dust in it which was never there before
and a strange odor. I looked on the container and noticed it is 8
years old.    The others that went bad were from that time or slightly
older.

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Old Ranger
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Posted: October 27 2017 at 7:23am | IP Logged Quote Old Ranger

Folks, I think we all agree that there are many factors that come into play here as to the actual shelf life of our powders. Methods vary, as do locations in the country. Obviously a guy in Arizona will have less humidity than in Alabama and so on. Powder stored in the house opposed to the garage. Etc.

I believe what we all can take away from this is to store your powder as well as you can. Check it often for signs of decomposition. And above all, use common sense with it.   

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Posted: October 27 2017 at 4:06pm | IP Logged Quote Slick

I have 3 of the old cube-shaped cans of Hercules Bullseye, Unique, and 2400 from the early 1960's. The contents still look and smell just like the new stuff in the plastic bottles.

I've shot a lot of surplus ammo that dates all the way back to WWII and it works good as new. I suspect powder has a longer shelf-life than I do...

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