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Old September 14, 2010, 01:45 AM   #1
blkmoon
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Old Powder and Primers----Help!!!!

I just inhereted some primers and powder from my grandpa. The primers have a price tag from a store he shopped at in the 50's. It went out of business in the late 60's, so these primers have to be at least that old. He also gave me 10# of Hodgdons4895 that he told me one time he bought sometime in 68 or 69. I also have an un-opened 1# can of Hodgdons4831. The 4895 he put in a glass jug sometime in the early 70's. All of this stuff has been stored in a dry cool (60F of below) basement the whole time. The powder doesn't show any small granules of powder in the bottom. The powder doesn't smell exactly like new powder smells, but it smells similar. The un-opened can has no rust or deteroriation of the can at all. It still feels solid and you can hear the powder "swish" around if you shake it gently.

My question is this- Is any of this stuff still safe to use? I have asked everyone in town I can think to ask and I am getting opinions from use it to it's a bomb! Any help yall can give me would be awsome! Thanks Ed
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Old September 14, 2010, 01:56 AM   #2
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If it seems usable.... Use it!

If the powder doesn't smell acrid, isn't changing color, and isn't breaking down, it's probably fine (though it should be kept out of sunlight, if you want to prolong its usefulness -- glass jars are not approved storage containers, and are not good for powder).

Prime a few cases with the old primers. Set them off in the empty cases. If things go well, try a few loads with them. If that goes well... load the stuff.

I currently have about 60 rounds of .243 Winchester that was loaded between 1963 and 1969 (reloads that were given to me). Certain years I have found to be bad, due to case lube contamination. Other years are just fine.
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Old September 14, 2010, 05:32 AM   #3
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I would continue to inspect it carefully,load up some modest loads if all checks well & test away. I'd use it for general shooting/plinking & maybe use something else for that 'trophy of a lifetime'.
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Old September 14, 2010, 06:10 AM   #4
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As long as your powder doesnt small sharp and acrid(aacid) is should be fine to use. Transfer the 4895 to a dark plastic or metal container. Ive used old antifreeze jugs that have been thgroughly sanitzed and dried, As an aside I still have some powder from the 60s and still use it and it is fine, however Im using the data from the 60s as the lots and behavior may be diffrent. The old primers,check the packaging carefully to make sure that theyre not corrosive. Some primers, back in the 50s were corrosive, especially some of the old match primers. and as is ofter offered, if you need peace of mind, I will gladly direct proper disposal at my facilities(range). No, just work up your loads like you normally would, with appropriate caution and you should be fine.
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Old September 14, 2010, 06:28 AM   #5
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I see it like this. It sounds like we are talking about two pounds or less of the powder. If it works perfectly well, that's nice -- a couple pounds of powder is a nice gift. To simply replace the powder with new stuff costs like fifty bucks or less.

If the powder isn't in good shape, it won't burn properly and you'll get erratic performance from it. Who knows what will happen inside your loads if the powder doesn't burn properly. Not to mention the fact that whatever load data you intend to use is going to need to be approached cautiously and right from start anyhow as the powder blends and rates have changed from the 1960s to now.

So if we were talking about 5 or 10 or 20 pounds of powder, then I'd really want to make more effort to find out if it performs properly. But a pound or less of two different powders? I'd likely just spread the stuff on the lawn.

The primers I would certainly test by popping a few of them. If each pops nicely and sounds the same, I'd give them a twirl in some unimportant loads.

Otherwise, I'd keep the very cool, very old packaging and not really worry about trying to make the stuff work.
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Old September 14, 2010, 08:26 AM   #6
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123456
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Old September 14, 2010, 08:27 AM   #7
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The primers will be fine.

If the powders don't actually stink OR have a rusty/dusty looking fine powder in it, it's fine too.
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Old September 14, 2010, 09:28 AM   #8
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I have & have been using some primers marked Cascade ( my father in law had stored in ammo cans all those years... ya I know.. don't store in ammo cans )... that was before they became CCI, not sure just how old... if they have been stored OK, the primers should be good
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Old September 14, 2010, 10:11 AM   #9
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I've got a 50+ year old can of Unique that works just fine. It seems to be at least 10% less potent than modern load data predicts but that could easily be batch to batch variance or minor formulation changes during those 50 years, so it's completely insignificant. Smokeless powder seems to be remarkably stable if it's stored even half way decent.
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Old September 14, 2010, 10:18 AM   #10
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Several years ago, I purchased around 20K primers that were stored in an ammo can in their original packages at a garage sale. They were at least 40-50 years old. WW, Fed, & Cascade. I have since used most most of them and can not remember any failures.
At the same time, I purchased around 10 Lbs of old Hercules powder; Unique, Bullseye, & 2400 when they were sold in the square metal cans. I inspected the powder and used it to reload 38s & 357. All worked as good as new.
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Old September 14, 2010, 10:38 AM   #11
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All may be good. But it is the "maybe" part that makes the stuff not worth the bother.
Pour the powders into the garden, great fertilizer. Keep all original containers.
Keep the primers in original boxes.
Find a collectors. Old ammo stuff is very desirable to some.
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Old September 14, 2010, 10:59 AM   #12
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
All may be good. But it is the "maybe" part that makes the stuff not worth the bother.
I don't see the problem. Load up 5 or 10 rounds at starting load levels and go pull the trigger. It either works or it doesn't. If it does, great. If not, so what? Unload the rest and dump it. You just wasted 15 minutes of your time, no biggie.
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Old September 14, 2010, 11:10 AM   #13
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I actually was in the same boat not too long ago. Inherited all of my grandpa's stuff and it was just about as old as that stuff. I have loaded up almost all of it and everything has worked great. I was amazed.
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Old September 14, 2010, 11:45 AM   #14
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Thanks Everyone!

Well it looks like the go for it crowd has it! But seriously thanks everyone for your advice. I think I am going to load some of it up and take Gramps for some plinking. I will post to let everyone know how it went.
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Old September 14, 2010, 11:47 AM   #15
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The powder should smell like either or solvent. If it smells sour or acidic, it's bad. I have surplus 4895 that my Dad bought after WWII. I think he bought a 150lb barrel for about .25 to .35 cents a pound. It still shoots great!!! If the old primers are in a wood tray that has grooves to hold the primers, inspect the primers carefully. Quality Control on the old primers was not what it is today. Many times the "anvils" in the primers would be loose and fall out. Also, like a previous poster mentioned, be sure to check to see that they are not corrosive. If the package has reference to "Fulminate of Mercury", they are corrosive. Nothing wrong with them, they shoot fine. You just have to clean the barrel with HOT WATER and treat with oil to prevent rust. Also, inspect the powder in the glass jar carefully. If it was exposed to sunlight, even if it is kept cool, it will deteriorate. If it's OK, transfer to a opaque plastic or metal can
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Old September 14, 2010, 08:10 PM   #16
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If it smells ok (not like pee)& the color is good , use it !!

How old does surplus ammo have to be before surplusing it off to the cilvilians ?????

The primers will obviously good or bad .


Send it to me , I`ll test it for ya
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Old September 15, 2010, 02:43 AM   #17
blkmoon
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Worked Great!!

Me and Grandad had an awsome time today! We tested the powder's and to my surprise they worked great! I still haven't opened the can of Hodgdons4831 he gave me. I think I am going to get a new can of Hodgdons4831 to see how much of a difference there is between them.

We tested the Hodgdons4895 in a Remington 721/.270, a Remington 788/.308, a Remington 700/.30-06, a Remington 660/.243, a Remington 700/.243, and a Winchester 70/.30-06. We loaded 20 rounds for each rifle. It worked awsome in the 06's and the .270. It worked ok in the .308. I didn't like it in the 660, but it was about the same in the 700/.243 as the 700/.308. The 660 has an 20" barrel. The rest have 24" barrels. The 660 has only had 100 rounds through it. My dad bought it new for my mom and when they divorced she sold it to me. She never shot it except to sight it in all of these years. She just sold it to me a week ago, so this is the first chance I have had to play with it! Anyways I noticed today that the reloads fit a little tight. Another thought I had was wether or not to keep the brass seperate for the .243's since the 660 is so tight?

We used Remington brass, CCI large rifle primers. For bullets we used 130 grain Speer Spitzer-BTSP in the .270, 180 grain Speer Spitzer-BTSP in the .30-06's, 150 grain Speer Spitzer-SP in the .308 and 75 grain Speer HP for the .243's.

After using 4 or 5 rounds to sight in with each, we went ground squirreling. We only hit a few. Our longest shot was around a 100 yards. Shortest was around 25 yards or so. The powder fired every time and even the old primers I used worked just like new ones.

So all in all the old powder and primers worked fine. Thanks for the advice again everyone.................................Ed
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Old September 15, 2010, 07:19 PM   #18
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Quote:
I have & have been using some primers marked Cascade ( my father in law had stored in ammo cans all those years... ya I know.. don't store in ammo cans )... that was before they became CCI, not sure just how old... if they have been stored OK, the primers should be good
Okay, silly question, but why not store things in ammo cans? could it become a bomb because of the sealed environment?
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Old September 15, 2010, 07:36 PM   #19
d garfield
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I have some 4831 that is 50yrs old and still good payed .50cts a pound.
I also have a bandolier of 1918 and 1922 30-06 cal. and they still shoot. So what do you call old,(just me)
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Old September 16, 2010, 06:43 AM   #20
Magnum Wheel Man
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could it become a bomb because of the sealed environment
thats what "they" say... could happen in a fire or such
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Old September 16, 2010, 05:11 PM   #21
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Half of all the surplus IMR 4895 I purchased went bad.

The first 16 lbs, I used up eight pounds quickly. For whatever reason, I pulled the bullets on some of that stuff and found green corrosion on the bases of the bullets.

The last eight pounds, it sat around. When I opened the bottle top, it smelled bitter. Red dust flew around.

I gave it to a machine gunner guy. He put it in the laundry room. The bottle got a piece of laundry over it and over night acid gas from the bottle ate holes in the laundry. That freaked my friend and he poured the stuff out over the lawn.

Since then I have had surplus 4895 powder go bad in the case. Green corrosion on the bottom of the bullets and cracked case necks.

I was able to talk to a Navy Energics specialist. He explained that powder deteriorates from the day it leaves the factory. The Nitrocellulose and nitro glycerin want to combine to form a lower energy molecule. Nitric gas is released in the chemical reaction. The rate of combination is directly related to temperature. The higher the temperature the faster the reaction. Powder contains stabilizers. The Navy samples its powders and propellants. If the powder is outgassing nitric gas (as determined by a paper that changes color (Methly Violet test, or Talliani test)), the stuff is tested to see how much stabilizer is left. If the amount is less than or equal to 20%, the lot is scrapped.


The Army does it different. The Army scraps small arms powders by clock time. Double based powders and ammunition are scrapped at 20 years, single based 45 years.

The military does not talk about this, but bunkers and ammunition storage areas have gone Kaboom due to old powder. That nitric acid builds up, creates heat, and the stuff blows up. It blows up inside the case or the shell.

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=13c_1205681217

The expert suggested that it is likely that surplus military powders are not on the market anymore due to liability issues. The stuff was scrapped because the military decided it was not safe to keep around anymore.

If the powder has turned red, or smells like acid, it is way beyond its safe limits.

I talked to Alliant powders. They told me that if the plating inside the old cans is has rust spots, the powder is doing that, and the powder should be dumped.

I do not think it is wise to mix old powders with new. Why have the whole lot go bad?


Per the expert, the best storage conditions for powder is artic cold. That is cold and dry. He said water exposure damages powder.

Primers, the expert said the shelf life is like forever. I think cool dry would be be good for them.

I thought this was interesting, maybe someone else will:

http://www.almc.army.mil/alog/issues...t_stab_eq.html
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