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Old December 11, 1999, 07:18 PM   #1
DAL
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Now that I'm finally getting back into reloading, after an absence of a dozen years, I'm wondering if my old powder is still okay to use. I have one-pound cans each of Unique and 2400; are they still good to use, or should I buy new powder? Buying new powder isn't that big a deal, but why spend money if
I don't need to? I'm leaning toward buying new powder, but I'd like to hear from some of you.

Also, I have some old CCI and Winchester SP primers from the same era. I've already primed some cases with them, along with some new CCI primers I bought. The cases with the old primers are clearly marked and separated, so I'll let you know if they work after I use them. It may be a while before I get to try them--I broke the wrist of my shooting hand last week on some ice at work.

Thanks in advance for any input you'd care to give on this subject.
DAL

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Old December 11, 1999, 10:25 PM   #2
TheOtherMikey
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Think it would be fine if stored within the temp and humidity limits as stated on the label. Lots of folks reload using fairly old military surplus powder. Regards, Mikey

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Old December 12, 1999, 12:53 AM   #3
Cheapo
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Think of it this way--30-year old surplus ammo I have shot has always chrono'd within 50 fps of its published specification, and often spot-on the velocities it's supposed to generate.

Heat, light, and humidity kill smokeless powder. Not much of that inside a cartridge case, or an original manufacturer's powder can.

If the powder smells faintly like acetone or whatever the other solvent is, it's okay. If it smells acrid, use it as fertilizer (lotta nitrogen!). If a little cloud of reddish vapor/fumes rises up when you open the can, don't breath, don't even sniff it, and get out of there! Open all doors and windows and let it dissipate for an hour. Then put it on the rosebushes.

I'm not sure that lead styphanate primers have a "half-life" when stored below 85°F and below 50% humidity.
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Old December 12, 1999, 11:11 AM   #4
flatlander
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DAL: All those tons of surplus H4831 powder Hodgdon's sold for years was made during WW2. It's just been a few years ago that they noticed some of it was starting to deteriorate and break down. They published a warning for reloaders to check undisturbed powder containers for reddish/orange/rust colored powder on top of the powder, and if present, they recommended you dispose of it. If your powder has been stored correctly, it should be good for a long time. Ball type powders last even longer than stick type. Oh yeah, hope your wrist heals up OK!

[This message has been edited by flatlander (edited December 12, 1999).]
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Old December 12, 1999, 11:44 AM   #5
Mal H
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Cheapo - I hadn't heard of the Red Storm warning before, at least not in this context. Do you know what the chemical is that is formed when the powder breaks down? The only chemical I know of that has a reddish cloud is red fuming nitric acid and that isn't very friendly stuff. If it's a reddish powdery cloud it may be only rust from the can. Even so, it isn't wise to breath in any atomized metallic compounds.

As for using old powders, I regularly use some DuPont (IMR) powder I bought in the '60's for some .270 loads and there has been no problems with it. Like the others said, if it has been stored correctly, it should be good for several decades.
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Old December 12, 1999, 03:33 PM   #6
TEXAS LAWMAN
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MAL H, the reddish vapors are nitrogen dioxide (NO2). It is a lower respiratory irritant (toxic) and can be produced by placing a penny (or piece of copper) in concentrated nitric acid (HNO3). It has an acrid odor and can cause pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation/inflammation in lungs). In 30 years of reloading I've discovered NO2 only once--I was pulling bullets from .50BMG rounds when I caught a whiff. I poured the powder from several such rounds on bare ground and ignited it.
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Old December 12, 1999, 04:29 PM   #7
Big Bunny
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We have had some problems(ssaa.org.au) with incorrectly stored powder in large 2KG trapload containers. (it took out a wall in a garage at was fully reported in a 1997 back issue of our magazine 'Sporting Shooter'.

Personally I fully concur with all foregoing advice given, but would caution against long storage of quantities over 5LB in hot conditions without regular yearly checks - as so ably described by others above.

Welcome back, and inidially wear a wrist-brace maybe!

I feel we desperately need mature people like you back in the shooting sports.

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Old December 12, 1999, 05:31 PM   #8
Big Bunny
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Addendum....from memory the SSAA investigation and verdict on the(sic) Queensland explosion was "internal heat generated by bulk powder, stored incorrectly."
The pictures were dramatic, but on-one was hurt, though the garage needed a new wall(not under insurance, the Company whimped out of its contract under 'dangerous substances' clauses.)

We are advised that smaller receptacles (EG shell cases and smaller powder tins) dissipate heat better than big 2KG ones and stop or delay spontaneous combustion due to breakdown of the propellant formulae and are therefore recommended by SSAA.

The only other complaint I have heard is that potency can be marginally affected, but cured by upping the chrono'ed charges a bit.

The moral maybe is...shoot it all off - before it goes off!

But seriously, the problem seems rare, with our local bench-resters still using WW2 aircraft cannon-shell powder successfully.
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Old December 12, 1999, 07:56 PM   #9
TheOtherMikey
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Hey DAL, if you are still concerned, send that Unique and 2400. I will burn it up for you (in 12 ga, .45 LC, and .44 Mag cases!! Reload safely and often! Mikey
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Old December 12, 1999, 09:38 PM   #10
Paul B.
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DAL. I would not worry too much about your powder and primers. I have some primers that were in abox out in my un-temperature controlled shed. I guess they're about 10 years old at least, if not more. I loaded up a few rounds and they worked OK. Those primers were frozen in the winter, and cooked in the summer.(shed got over 120 degrees) As to the powder, Hecules had some Unique stored from the first lot ever made, sometime around 1898. Yes! 1898. They stored in in a glass container, filled with water. A few years back, they removed some, dried it carefully, loaded some ammo, and it shot; the loads giving the same velocity range as a modern lot.
I think you worry overmuch. BTW. I just finished off a can of bulleyes. Yes a can roughly 4x4x4 in. in size. Stuff shot great.
Your powders are double based, as is ball powder, and double based powders just seem to store bettr under adverse conditions than single based powders.
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Old December 13, 1999, 05:47 PM   #11
DAL
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Thanks to all of you for the help. I'll use the old powder in my quest to work up a good load. I just bought some Bullseye last night at Wal-Mart which I'm looking forward to using. I've also heard good things about Clays, and I'm thinking about trying it too.
DAL

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Old December 16, 1999, 03:50 PM   #12
TheOtherMikey
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DAL, where do you find WalMarts which sell reloading components? Wish there were some in Arizona. Regards, Mikey
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Old December 16, 1999, 05:03 PM   #13
DAL
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TheOtherMikey, the one near my house sells most everything needed for reloading, such as powder, bullets, primers, single-stage presses, tumblers, hand primers, bullet pullers, etc. There is a Wal-Mart in another part of town that doesn't carry reloading supplies, I'm not sure why. Have you tried looking at other Wal-Marts?
DAL

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