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Old March 18, 2007, 05:40 PM   #1
Dave R
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How old is this Powder?

One of my good friends passed away a while ago, and his widow gave me a bunch of his old reloading stuff.

There were 2 paper 1lb cans of H110. Price marked on the cans was $2.25.

Do any of you seniors with good records know how long ago you could buy a pound of powder for $2.25?

There were also some primers, at 75cents per hundred. Bought at Osco drug store! I shot some of those in known loads. Accuracy was little changed, if any. But I haven't shot any of the H110. It may wind up being rose fertilizer.
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Old March 18, 2007, 06:04 PM   #2
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That's got to be very early H110. Call Hodgdon to get a technician, and he can tell you by lot number, I'd guess. Long distance these days is cheap. 913-362-9455. I don't believe those paper cans have been around since the '70's. Smell the powder. If it has been stored in a reasonable temperature and humidity, it could still be fine. Certainly many loaded surplus rounds from the '50's still are.
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Old March 18, 2007, 06:29 PM   #3
inkie
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Dave R

SAAMI says powder can last a long time when stored under the proper conditions. If the containers are not water stained, no oil stains and no irritating acidic oder is emanating from the container. The powder is probably not contaminated. I would use the H110 for fertilizer but if you are a thrifty person or curious try a few handloads with the lowest recommended charge. Let us know how you made out.
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Old March 18, 2007, 07:53 PM   #4
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Depending on the type of paper can (does it have a pull out plastic spout?) I was buying Red Dot like that through the 1980s.

I don't think Hercules switched to plastic until the early to middle 1990s.

I was paying more than that, though.
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Old March 18, 2007, 08:25 PM   #5
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I have a couple of pounds of Unique that are in paper containers that was purchased in 1992.
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Old March 18, 2007, 08:42 PM   #6
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I think both Hercules (later Alliant) and Scot for sure had plastic-lined paper cannisters into the 90's. It is his Hodgdon powder I am thinking went to plastic sometime earlier, but I can't recall when? I have a plastic cannister of HS-6 that I bought sometime in 80's, but when I try to remember which house I lived in at the time, I'm not sure? Might have been as early as '85 or so, but probably was more like '88 or '89. I suspect what Dave has is one of those squarish cardboard "cans" that I haven't seen for quite awhile.

In any event, $2.25 per pound is going back aways, regardless of when the packaging style actually changed? It is about $0.15 on the dollar relative to current price, so, if powder prices have matched historical inflation rates, that would put it about 1962, based on Oregon State University's charts of value in terms of the 2006 dollar.
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Old March 19, 2007, 01:08 AM   #7
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2.25 for h110?

Dave R., I keep a reloading ledger that goes back to 1971 and I notice I bought some H110 in 1973 it was with a bunch of reloading components and I think I paid 6.00 dollars for a 1lb container. So either your powder goes way back or if the pricetag on your container was not a store ticket it could be someone marked it for a garage sale or liquidation sale and your friend bought it. And it could be a lot newer than we all think. Just a thought.
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Old March 19, 2007, 09:59 AM   #8
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Inkie,

Good point. My dollar value charts say your $6.00 can should have been closer to $3.00 in the early '70's, so powder price apparently has not kept pace with inflation. More likely, the wholesale price has, but the retail margins have dropped due to large store and Internet store volume prices.

I'm back to recommending calling Hodgdon. I don't even know when H110 was first introduced? I know a Hodgdon tech told me it preceeded the introduction of Winchester's 296 label, but I don't have dates.
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Old March 19, 2007, 02:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
I suspect what Dave has is one of those squarish cardboard "cans" that I haven't seen for quite awhile.
DingDingDing! Correct answer. Its a yellow, squarish "can." Mike, no pull-out plastic spout. Just a press-fit round top. I could find NO lot numbers on it.

Square paper can looks to be in good shape, no stains. He kept it stored indoors. Smells good.

I suppose I could call Hodgdon, but I'm having fun with the detective work, first.

Its sounding like early-mid '70s vintage. Although I'm impressed with Unclenick's inflation analysis, which would put it at 1962.

Anyone familiar with the yellow, squarish cans with press-fit round top? Are there powder collectors, like cartridge collectors?

I don't currently have any cartridges to use H110 on. Dang, I may have to buy a .44 or .357mag, or an M1 carbine, just so I have a way of using up this powder.
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Old March 19, 2007, 03:44 PM   #10
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OK, it's the FIRST generation cardboard container...

Hercules, to the best of my knowledge, began using them in the early to mid 1960s before going to the round can with the plastic pull spout in the 1970s.

While the inflation analysis is interesting, I really think it's of dubious value in setting the date simply because as a commodity product, whomever originally sold that powder could put just about any price he wanted on it, high OR low.

Even today there can be a tremendous variance on the price you'll pay for a can of powder.

A few years ago a friend of mine paid over $25 for a pound of powder at a shop here in the DC metro area.

Had he been able to wait for the gunshow that was coming a few weeks later (where he did buy an 8 pound jug), that same pound of powder would have cost him $16 and change. But he needed the powder for a match, and it was a powder that I didn't use, so I couldn't give him any to get him by.

It could also be that the powder was a "forgotten can" that the store owner simply slapped a low price on just to get rid of it.

Any of a hundred plausible scenarios, each giving a different potential date...
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Old March 19, 2007, 04:10 PM   #11
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Ultimately I would call Hodgdon to find out. I had a can of Bulleye I have had since 1962 or 63. It smelled ok and actually performed well. I really didn't keep it anywhere "ideal" conditions. Any where from a cold damp basement in the East, to several years in a garage in Tucson with temps as high as 115 degrees. Powder seems to work fine and store for many years. Yep, you need a 44 or 45 to burn this up, better than using it as fertilizer.
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Old March 19, 2007, 09:18 PM   #12
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Just remember - the powder in the can isn't necessarily what it says on the label.
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Old March 19, 2007, 09:59 PM   #13
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You can get a real good look and smell of the powder by pouring it out on a sheet of white paper. Any redness or non uniform coloring means good fertilizer.
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Old March 19, 2007, 11:52 PM   #14
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Dave R

You have done your research, it was widely used for the M1 and .357 loads send it on to me and I will test a few rounds in my SP101. lol.

On second thought after reading Don H's post maybe we should go back to the original plan. "Fertilizer"
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Old March 20, 2007, 03:56 PM   #15
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Mike, thanks for the data on when that can was used. That seems to correlate with Unclenicks's economic analysis. Both suggest 60's to early '70s.

I have two cans, one opened and one unopened. So I can always compare the contents of the unopened can with the opened can, to confirm contents of the opened can.

So, I may have about $25 worth of usable powder here, and no gun to shoot it in.

May be time to call Hodgdon and see how accurate you prognosticators are.
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Old March 20, 2007, 05:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave R
I don't currently have any cartridges to use H110 on. Dang, I may have to buy a .44 or .357mag, or an M1 carbine, just so I have a way of using up this powder.
Now your talking like a shooter. The only missing part is where you have to explain to your wife why you "need" a $600 gun to avoid wasting $25 worth of old powder? I would try something like exponential value growth of the investment in the original by what it could have earned in an S&P 500 index fund over the same period, and equate that to its current value. Avoid answering questions about the relevance of the comparison.

Ruger4570 is right that "ideal" conditions for stored powder are “flexible” based on how long you intend to keep it? The ball powders, like H110, have a little acid neutralizer in them that scavenges acid byproducts of deterioration up to the point it is consumed. The powder might grow a little weaker, but wouldn't fail until that was gone or it got wet.

Modern non-corrosive primers are the most sensitive thing to storage deterioration. According to a post on Fr. Frog's site, as little as one summer stored in the trunk of a car can make them unreliable. In the southwest, I know it can get as hot as 170 degrees in storage containers left in direct sun. I doubt the trunk of a dark colored car could be far behind if it isn't shaded or moving. But powder will still survive that treatment. I just don't know for how long?

I also know the development of the ball powder process was important in WWII because it allowed nitrocellulose in deteriorating old artillery powder stores to be recycled into rifle powder. Something went wrong with that artillery powder, but I don’t know what or how well it was made in the first place? I've also read that Alliant still has samples of original lots of Hercules Unique and Bullseye (introduced in 1913) that it tests from time to time and that they are still good. Maybe I should try to find out what their storage conditions are? I don’t intend to live another 100 years, though, so I don’t know how useful that information would be?
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Old March 20, 2007, 10:36 PM   #17
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Unclenick: unless I am mistaken, and I think I remember it correctly, the old powders are stored in , of all things, WATER.
You don't intend to live another 100 years,, hmmmm. I figure when the good Lord tells me it is my time, I am gonna try and talk him out of it for a while.
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Old March 21, 2007, 09:49 AM   #18
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Bullseye was apparently available commercially from Laflin and Rand as early as 1898.

Du Pont bought out Laflin and Rand in 1902 and operated it as a subsidiary. In 1910 the Federal government brought an anti trust suit against Du Pont and forced it to spin off much of the Laflin and Rand business into two new companies -- Hercules and Atlas.

Hercules got Bullseye powder in the process, as Du Pont was busy developing its highly successful line of Military Rifle and Improved Military Rifle powders, and those were taking up most of its production capacity.


And yes, old powder samples are stored in distilled, deoxygenated water. Smokeless powder is water proof, and the water is largely non reactive.
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Old March 21, 2007, 11:35 PM   #19
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Quote:
Now your talking like a shooter. The only missing part is where you have to explain to your wife why you "need" a $600 gun to avoid wasting $25 worth of old powder? I would try something like exponential value growth of the investment in the original by what it could have earned in an S&P 500 index fund over the same period, and equate that to its current value. Avoid answering questions about the relevance of the comparison.
Wow, UncleNick, that is some expert advice. Did it work for you?
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Old March 22, 2007, 10:46 AM   #20
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DaveR,

No. My wife is the household investment expert. I have about as much chance of selling her on that as I do of convincing her I am at my right body weight. Success would depend entirely on her sense of humor, something conspicuously absent where finances are concerned.


Mike Irwin,

Interesting bit of history. I wonder why the Alliant web site, which includes mentioning Hercules having been spun off from DuPont in 1912, claims the 1913 introduction of Bullseye? I wonder if it had a different name before that or if they altered the process or formulation in that year?


Ruger4570,

I've never seen a 155 year-old man. Perhaps I am too vain, but I can't imagine it would be flattering. I sure wouldn't look forward to all the knee replacements I'd have to go through before I got there.


Nick
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Old March 22, 2007, 11:08 AM   #21
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Nick,

Not 100% sure, but I suspect it has to do with the fact that Bullseye started out as the 'fines' from manufacture of another powder -- essentially, it was waste.

Grain size was irregular, as was the burning rate.

Hercules Bullseye was the first time the powder had been manufactured as a product in its own right, with disk size used to standardize its burning rate.

The 1903 Ideal handbook apparently has reloading information for the Laflin and Rand version of Bullseye.

Laflin and Rand also introduced Unique to the market in 1900.

Bullseye and Unique are the two oldest powders currently in production.
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Old March 22, 2007, 11:19 AM   #22
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Mike,

Thanks for the info. I actually heard about the stored old lots originally with regard to Unique. And these would likely have been the original pre-Du Pont Unique, because something was said about the samples being over 100 years old. It seems unlikely those big flakes were ever waste, anyway, though the raw material might have been recycled from finings? Do you know anything about that?

Since military 230 grain .45 ACP hardball loads of 5.0 grains of SR 7970 are matched essentially identically by 5.0 grains of Bullseye, I have often wondered if Bullseye was used to develop final versions of the round? Perhaps J.M.B. used the earlier version of Bullseye in his original 200 grain load? Interesting stuff.
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Old March 22, 2007, 01:30 PM   #23
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Unique was, I believe, it's own powder, developed specifically as a new powder, not as the byproduct of yet another smokeless powder.

Bullseye was originally the fines from a rifle powder. Name started with an I... Dang, it was right on the tips of my fingers, and now I can't think of the name....

Infallible Shotgun Powder, which was incredibly popular in the early 1900s and was the first truly successful nitro smokeless shotgun powder, as opposed to nitrated pulp powders like Schultz White Powder, which was a nitrated wood pulp.

Bullseye proved to be popular enough that it made sense for Hercules to bring it out as its own powder. Also, if I'm not mistaken, Du Pont MAY have kept the Infallible brand for its own when they spun Hercules off.

I've seen a sample of Bullseye supposedly from a lot packaged in 1901, and it bore absolutely no resemblence to what we now know as Bullseye. Very irregular.

Frankford Arsenal used Bullseye powder to load standard military loads in the teens. I've seen boxes of military .45 ACP that list Bullseye powder specifically on the label.
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Old March 22, 2007, 05:35 PM   #24
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If there's no reddish looking dust, I'd load a few and try it. I'm not sure exactly when H110 came out, (you could ask Hodgdon) but it seems to me it was no earlier than the mid seventies. If that's the case, and it's been properly stored, it should have another 50-60 years of shelf life.
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Old March 22, 2007, 09:20 PM   #25
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Mike,

I know I've seen pictures or advertisements for Infallible reproduced somewhere. Interesting. Thanks for confirming my suspicions about Bullseye and the .45 ACP!

Nick
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