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Powder hype

Every year it seems, the powder companies crank out more and more new powder types. Why? Looking at the well known IMR and Alliant lines for instance, you can pretty much cover the spectrum of need with Bullseye, Red Dot, 2400, 4198, 4895, and 4981. That's 6 powders to cover everything from fast small pistols through shotguns to slow magnum rifles (ignoring for now .50 bmg). And they're all fantastic powders, well proven. What's the point of making new ones beyond that?

Comments

  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 30,979 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Marketing insanity designed to increase sales.

    The same as a new bolt action rifle. Big deal, you work the bolt it loads a cartridge, you pull the trigger, it goes bang. Safety is not better, lock time is at the pinnacle of moving parts, stocks are stocks and optics are, well, optics.
  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    I know Bruce. I sort of asking rhetorically after seeing the 8028 XBR thread- I said, "WTH is that?"

    Now granted, I have no true benchrest gun, though my savage 12 will do a bit under .5 MOA... using IMR 4895 or BLC2, depending on the bullet, both old powders.

    Given that this means in practice most rounds are touching and any variation can be attributed to me, I'm not sure how any newfangled powder would improve matters any.
  • skyfishskyfish Member Posts: 1,068 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    While I believe some is marketing, I do believe that people are always trying to "build a better mouse trap".

    Benifits could be retardent for better pressure management, better tempurture sensitivity or even better cost because of pruduction. And even more.

    I have used some new powder with great success, I still some old one with great success. I don't shoot matches, but I do look for good(near max) velocities that are consistent and good groups.

    Remember, everything was new once. That 4350 type powder came right around the end of WW2 I believe. I still use some IMR 3031. That was fairly new when the 250/3000 Savage came out.

    We would all still be shooting smoothbore muskets ans lead balls if nobody ever tried to improve(or maybe still using bronze spears and axes). Like I said, some may be marketing, some may be improvement.
  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 30,979 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    That particular powder (8208) got burned by the TON in the 6PPC when it was sold under another name, it was a surplus powder. For some reason certain lots of it were discovered to be almost guaranteed match winners for the bench rest guys. There was a lot of pressure from bench-rest shooters to duplicate the powder again, and they burn a lot of powder. IIRC it was called Thunderbird 8208 or some such thing.

    There is also a sweet spot with burn rates that combines a full case with predictable pressure curves, temperature and barometric insensitivity plus peak velocity for a cartridge. Varget and 8208 XBR are the two that meet that demand for the extreme accuracy buffs.

    Maybe we should dump IMR4895 from the market and keep Varget instead??? Guys like you and me need to get with the modern program, even if most of our rifles were built before our grandfathers were born...... [:D][:D]
  • guntech59guntech59 Member Posts: 23,193 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    What skyfish said.

    Perhaps I am a victim of the "hype". But it will not make me buy more powder or anything else. In fact if the 8208 xbr is as temperature insensitive as they claim (I won't know this until winter when I reshoot over the chrony) then it will make loads for two rifles easier. One load per rifle instead of a winter load and a summer load.

    Also, I will have one or two less jugs of powder to deal with.

    Simpler all the way around.
  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by bpost1958
    That particular powder (8208) got burned by the TON in the 6PPC when it was sold under another name, it was a surplus powder. For some reason certain lots of it were discovered to be almost guaranteed match winners for the bench rest guys. There was a lot of pressure from bench-rest shooters to duplicate the powder again, and they burn a lot of powder. IIRC it was called Thunderbird 8208 or some such thing.

    There is also a sweet spot with burn rates that combines a full case with predictable pressure curves, temperature and barometric insensitivity plus peak velocity for a cartridge. Varget and 8208 XBR are the two that meet that demand for the extreme accuracy buffs.

    Maybe we should dump IMR4895 from the market and keep Varget instead??? Guys like you and me need to get with the modern program, even if most of our rifles were built before our grandfathers were born...... [:D][:D]
    I could live with Varget instead of 4895; or 4064. I got used to what I did due to fairly cheap surplus powders.

    For that matter I could do with 4350 but that's a bit slow for the old M1.
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,296 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Reloder 19 is getting a lot of good reviews from real shooters.
    said to be new tech, or at least a new source; Switzerland.
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,599
    edited November -1
    jonk,

    Yes, they will suffice for the basic reloaders need. But, there are a lot of us who won't settle for what's just out there.

    The powders you mention by IMR are not satisfactory IMNSHO. Bullseye and 2400 are dirty in a handgun. All the rifle powders have way too much temperature variation sensitivity. And no, they don't optimize all the calibers. They are either too slow or too fast and won't give enough pressure when loaded with certain bullets. I still use some IMR powders. But, only when I know I'll shoot it all in the summer. I've seen some loads drop as much as 400 fps when shooting from 90+ deg. here in the summer to -18 in the winter. I don't like taking anemic loads out to hunt in sub zero. And, I don't want to load it up in winter in case I don't shoot it all and grab some of it come May or June when the weather turns nice.

    It's not just about case volume. Some case shapes are more conducive to providing pressure. And, better at handling high pressure. I like to get a powder that works the best for a given load in a given case. I can name one specifically that likes RE-19. IMR makes nothing like RE-19. But it takes that burn speed with that pressure rating that that powder (and one other you didn't mention as well (VV 560)makes that bullet get the best velocity and accuracy. 6.5 Grendel same thing. The best powder for velocity is an AA or Lapua case (small rifle primer) with AA 2520. Out of an AR at least. There's a lot more latitude with a bolt gun.

    That's why these powders are coming on the market. There is a need for them. If there wasn't a need then they would go away.

    One thing I will say, and you may agree on this, is with all these new powders and cases, it's pretty hard to keep up with reloading data. The information curve certainly isn't following the production curve.



    Edit:

    Hawk,

    RE-17 is the new stuff made in Switzerland. re-19 is made with the rest of them up in Sweden.
  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by sandwarrior
    jonk,

    Yes, they will suffice for the basic reloaders need. But, there are a lot of us who won't settle for what's just out there.

    The powders you mention by IMR are not satisfactory IMNSHO. Bullseye and 2400 are dirty in a handgun. All the rifle powders have way too much temperature variation sensitivity. And no, they don't optimize all the calibers. They are either too slow or too fast and won't give enough pressure when loaded with certain bullets. I still use some IMR powders. But, only when I know I'll shoot it all in the summer. I've seen some loads drop as much as 400 fps when shooting from 90+ deg. here in the summer to -18 in the winter. I don't like taking anemic loads out to hunt in sub zero. And, I don't want to load it up in winter in case I don't shoot it all and grab some of it come May or June when the weather turns nice.

    It's not just about case volume. Some case shapes are more conducive to providing pressure. And, better at handling high pressure. I like to get a powder that works the best for a given load in a given case. I can name one specifically that likes RE-19. IMR makes nothing like RE-19. But it takes that burn speed with that pressure rating that that powder (and one other you didn't mention as well (VV 560)makes that bullet get the best velocity and accuracy. 6.5 Grendel same thing. The best powder for velocity is an AA or Lapua case (small rifle primer) with AA 2520. Out of an AR at least. There's a lot more latitude with a bolt gun.

    That's why these powders are coming on the market. There is a need for them. If there wasn't a need then they would go away.

    One thing I will say, and you may agree on this, is with all these new powders and cases, it's pretty hard to keep up with reloading data. The information curve certainly isn't following the production curve.



    Edit:

    Hawk,

    RE-17 is the new stuff made in Switzerland. re-19 is made with the rest of them up in Sweden.
    I agree with some of what you say (particularly data shortages). And I agree nominally that temperature swings impact velocity, and in hunting applications this may or may not be an issue.

    However, I don't agree with the implied premise that the powder which provides the highest velocity for a given bullet at a safe pressure in a cartridge is necessarily best. It's all about barrel harmonics, twist, length, etc. For instance: I could theoretically drive a 30-06 to close to 3000 fps safely with a number of powders out there with a 150 gr bullet. In practice though, a grain or two off max is usually most accurate. Add to that the fact that sometimes a different powder performs better- for instance, i have one 30-06 that loves IMR 4350 and can be driven pretty fast; while I have another that hates it but does great with 3031- with a bit milder, slower load.

    In the end, I don't care how fast it moves, I care how accurate it is.

    Other powders that were quite good (I liked Winchester 785) have disappeared- even if they were good powders, further drilling holes in the theory that 'they must be good or they'd go away'.

    I am not against trying something new if what I have doesn't meet my needs, or if I get a good deal on something new. I'm just saying, most new cartridges are 'nothing new under the sun' even if they call them something new; and most new powders are unneeded.

    Regarding Bullseye and 2400 burning dirty- yes... they do.....and? If they shoot well, that's the main thing. I would never shoot enough of either to gum up a gun in 1 or 10 range trips, even if I didn't clean between them. I'm not so uptight that they must be clean after shooting- that's why I clean my guns (granted how often depends on the gun).

    Now I'm not taking 1000 yard shots, shooting benchrest matches, hunting in -40 temps, etc. Nor do 99% of reloaders. If these new powders are to cater to those very specific needs, well and good; but the average joe shooter says 'ooh shiny new powder can!' and buys it... with no need to.
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,599
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by jonk
    quote:Originally posted by sandwarrior
    jonk,

    Yes, they will suffice for the basic reloaders need. But, there are a lot of us who won't settle for what's just out there.

    The powders you mention by IMR are not satisfactory IMNSHO. Bullseye and 2400 are dirty in a handgun. All the rifle powders have way too much temperature variation sensitivity. And no, they don't optimize all the calibers. They are either too slow or too fast and won't give enough pressure when loaded with certain bullets. I still use some IMR powders. But, only when I know I'll shoot it all in the summer. I've seen some loads drop as much as 400 fps when shooting from 90+ deg. here in the summer to -18 in the winter. I don't like taking anemic loads out to hunt in sub zero. And, I don't want to load it up in winter in case I don't shoot it all and grab some of it come May or June when the weather turns nice.

    It's not just about case volume. Some case shapes are more conducive to providing pressure. And, better at handling high pressure. I like to get a powder that works the best for a given load in a given case. I can name one specifically that likes RE-19. IMR makes nothing like RE-19. But it takes that burn speed with that pressure rating that that powder (and one other you didn't mention as well (VV 560)makes that bullet get the best velocity and accuracy. 6.5 Grendel same thing. The best powder for velocity is an AA or Lapua case (small rifle primer) with AA 2520. Out of an AR at least. There's a lot more latitude with a bolt gun.

    That's why these powders are coming on the market. There is a need for them. If there wasn't a need then they would go away.

    One thing I will say, and you may agree on this, is with all these new powders and cases, it's pretty hard to keep up with reloading data. The information curve certainly isn't following the production curve.



    Edit:

    Hawk,

    RE-17 is the new stuff made in Switzerland. re-19 is made with the rest of them up in Sweden.


    I agree with some of what you say (particularly data shortages). And I agree nominally that temperature swings impact velocity, and in hunting applications this may or may not be an issue.

    However, I don't agree with the implied premise that the powder which provides the highest velocity for a given bullet at a safe pressure in a cartridge is necessarily best. It's all about barrel harmonics, twist, length, etc. For instance: I could theoretically drive a 30-06 to close to 3000 fps safely with a number of powders out there with a 150 gr bullet. In practice though, a grain or two off max is usually most accurate. Add to that the fact that sometimes a different powder performs better- for instance, i have one 30-06 that loves IMR 4350 and can be driven pretty fast; while I have another that hates it but does great with 3031- with a bit milder, slower load.

    jonk,

    I think you are saying what my point is exactly. A small set of powders isn't going fill all rifle needs. FWIW, I would gladly take the new H-Extreme powders over their IMR cousins. They meter better and they are no where near as temp sensitive.

    In the end, I don't care how fast it moves, I care how accurate it is.

    I care how fast it moves. If it doesn't move fast enough then I want another powder that does...accurately. By having a small group of powders available we could 'tune' our guns for accuracy by giving up or working for more velocity. With todays selection I don't have to give up either. And if I don't have to increase a load then I don't wear barrels out as fast. (yes I've gone through a couple now, but not like serious competition guys)

    Other powders that were quite good (I liked Winchester 785) have disappeared- even if they were good powders, further drilling holes in the theory that 'they must be good or they'd go away'.

    I think if it sold like H4895 then it would have stayed. In this case, you're probably right in that marketing (lack of?) played a big factor. It's not always the best product out there that wins, it's the one that gets sold the best.

    I am not against trying something new if what I have doesn't meet my needs, or if I get a good deal on something new. I'm just saying, most new cartridges are 'nothing new under the sun' even if they call them something new; and most new powders are unneeded.

    This is where I would have to disagree with you. Most people seem to think that progress is leaps and bounds. When really it's one small thing at a time. A step here, then there, first this, then that needs to be upgraded, and so it goes around. Each thing getting better and better. Take for instance when the AR-15 was adopted. Look at the progress. Many still feel the old 55 gr. FMJ will do. And for most 300m is fine. But now we shoot .22 cal bullets to 1k quite accurately. Before VLD's and DTAC's who shot 6mm @ 1k? Now the little 6 BR holds records at that range. That's why we need new powders.

    Regarding Bullseye and 2400 burning dirty- yes... they do.....and? If they shoot well, that's the main thing. I would never shoot enough of either to gum up a gun in 1 or 10 range trips, even if I didn't clean between them. I'm not so uptight that they must be clean after shooting- that's why I clean my guns (granted how often depends on the gun).

    I'm like most in that I clean my guns after shooting. But, sometimes do enough shooting and training that I want my guns clean during shooting. I have frequently fired enough rounds in more than one gun to jam them. Dirty powder is not acceptable to me.

    Now I'm not taking 1000 yard shots, shooting benchrest matches, hunting in -40 temps, etc. Nor do 99% of reloaders. If these new powders are to cater to those very specific needs, well and good; but the average joe shooter says 'ooh shiny new powder can!' and buys it... with no need to.

    I think you will find that it's more like about 70% of the reloaders that don't do this. The serious reloaders are about 80% of the market. While the average reloader might do 1k rounds a year? You will find that the competition rifle people usually run around 6K a year. Pistol competition people I have known to run over 20k rounds a year. Seeing as how those sports are growing, the vendors want their name up there along with the winners of these events. The choices of firearm, sights/optics, bullets, powder, primers, stocks/grips, and accessories are all going to be the new. Selling is what keeps this industry supplying us.

    I can give you a case in point. If you follow HP shooting you know who David Tubb is. I know that David Tubb used to use all VV N160. Then Hodgdon made him an offer to switch to them. He wouldn't have sacrificed his shooting level for an endorsement so Hodgdon must have had a better product. I was happy with VV N160. And, when I got the chance I to use some of the new Hodgdon Extreme powders I found I like them a LOT better than the older Hodgdon and IMR powders. In case you are wondering yes, they are very different.

    All in all, I can see your point in that new and improved isn't always best. But, by the number of improvements I've seen lately I will continue to encourage new development.
  • guntech59guntech59 Member Posts: 23,193 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Is it "hype" if it does what it claims?

    I am fairly new to reloading so I don't know how long some of the powders I use have been around. Perhaps it is also why I am more open to "new stuff", be it supplies or equipment.

    I understand what you're saying....I just thing change is inevitable.
  • jonkjonk Member Posts: 10,121
    edited November -1
    Sandwarrior,

    With your clarifications I agree then with most of what you say. You have to realize you are talking to someone who firmly believes that the pinnacle of bolt action design was reached in 1898 and the pinnacle of semi auto design was reached in 1959, with the adoption of the Mauser 98 and M14 respectively- I like old stuff. [:D]

    I reload about 2000 rounds of rifle and 2000 rounds of pistol per year, putting me about halfway between the casual reloader and serious reloader by your definitions, and I think that's about right, and how I'd identify myself. Mainly being a shooter of military surplus guns- some very accurate (1903 Springfield for instance will hold .75MOA from a rest with good match grade bullets)-and even when shooting modern rifles, usually at 300 yards or less- I think you can appreciate my position too that for my own needs, the powders I list are more than adequate.

    To clarify my position then, I guess that what bugs me is the 100 yard paper puncher who thinks that newest is best. For 6mmBR at 1000 yards, newest may in fact be best and I don't dispute that. Also for your applications, I think you may be on to something too. But for hitting a paper at 100 yards, I suppose it doesn't really matter?

    Different strokes, different folks. I've just recently been getting into the .223 for the first time. Out to 300 yards my standard selection of powders is just fine, but if I were ever to move out to 1000, I'd certainly be open to suggestions. [:)]
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,599
    edited November -1
    jonk,

    I gotta say I really like your choice of rifles![;)][:D] I'm a Mauser fanatic myself. I was fortunate enough to get to pack an M14 while in the Army during some training and could see what it would do. For the record, no, I never got to do anything with the M21's our snipers used. Except watch them shoot and grade them on their training.

    By my standards I would certainly consider you a serious reloader. Not a serious competition reloader. But, I have a feeling you watch your performance and the performance of your components pretty closely.

    I would have to say then too I agree with your statement. In that we have yet to beat the record set by McMillan in the 100 yd. bench contest. And the powders that have been on the shelf a while have routinely produced sub .1 groups. What really it really boils down to now then is the shooters, and reloaders, technique. The difference in components, specifically powders, starts to show up at longer ranges. Of course, there again as range lengthens so does standard size. Technique is an even bigger criteria for trying to reduce size percentages. Meaning a rifle shooting .25 MOA could shoot .750" @ 300. That's a pretty tall order. But, we'd still love to shoot a .250" @ 300 if we could. I know I try to do that.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is sometimes when things seem dumb. I have to take myself out of my own context and maybe look at a bigger picture as to why things are the way they are.

    Something to think about is the 'standard' powders you mention. IMR and Hodgdon powders were pretty close to each other in both formula and performance. After many years Hodgdon jumped on the idea of using the Extreme powders so they could get more uniform 'broad temperature' performance. In order to do that they had to change the formula of the powders they continued to make. But they matched them in speed and pressure to the old numbers. H4895 is much coarser than H4895X. Which meters much better than it's predecessor. But the reason they did that was exactly what you were talking about. When someone buys H4895X, they use the same data as H4895 of old. It's literally a new powder. But by using the same old number, they bring back the same old customer again and again. Smart idea if you ask me.[;)]
  • GONESHOOTINGGONESHOOTING Member Posts: 2,450 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    If they can come up with a better powder for performance at lower pressures, I'll try it. But not if they are just renaming it.
  • MobuckMobuck Member Posts: 11,480 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Is that 4981 a special run or something????
  • 375H&H375H&H Member Posts: 1,545 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    IMR 4831 or IMR 4064 is just fine for my shooting needs .

    But I do have a can of Hodgdon's Benchrest I'm waiting to try in the 223 bolt rifle.
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