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Old December 28, 2012, 01:29 PM   #1
Eppie
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Fast burning, slow burning powder?????

Hi Guys,
My apologies if my question seems infantile.

All the books talk about the importance of powder selection and burn rate. However, not one book yet explains which kind of powder is preferable for which use. My Nosler book comes closest
Quote:
In general, magnum catridges and heavy bullets perform better when slower burning powders are used
but it doesn't give me any idea of what a heavy bullet is.

I'm only reloading .308 and using Nosler 168grain HPBT for 300-1,000 yards range, so that's my focus. Can someone explain when a fast burning powder is more desirable then a slow burning powder and vice-a-versa?
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Last edited by Eppie; December 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM.
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Old December 28, 2012, 02:05 PM   #2
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When you have a short barrel, having a powder that completely burns in the bore will reduce your muzzle flash.

If you are loading 168 gr bullets for 1000 yard competition, you are in for a serious disappointment. Expect them to suck for accuracy after 800 yards.

A slower powder with better case fill can take advantage of a longer barrel to give you better velocity.

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Old December 28, 2012, 02:06 PM   #3
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Best accuracy for a given cartridge typically happens when the pressure curve made by the burning powder's the same repeatable shape each and every time. It needs to change a bit for different bullet weights.

With the .308 Win., best accuracy with varmint bullets at 120 to 130 grains has been with the faster powders such as 4198. For 150's and 155's in competition, 4895 or Varget are about right. With 168's through 190's, 4064 has been the most frequent winner in competition. Heavier bullets from 200 to 220 grains seem to shoot most accurate with 4350.

Other extruded powders at these speeds for those weights should also do well, but those mentioned are what I'b most familiar with.

While slower powders oft times shoot a given bullet faster, it's usually at the expense of accuracy 'cause the pressure curves they make ain't that repeatable. Bullets leave the muzzle at more different angles as their barrel time isnt' all the same. The ideal powder type is the one that makes bullets leave at the same place in the barrel's whip cycle.
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Old December 28, 2012, 03:27 PM   #4
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Jimro, Bart B
Thanks for responding to my question.

I'm not shooting for competition, it's just for personal enjoyment at this point. But I will keep your point in mind when I start shooting past 800 yards.

I did use Varget and IMR 4064 with pretty good results, however, I'm pretty much stuck with ball powder because I use a progressive press and the stick powder does not measure well (+/- .4 grains) with my powder measure. The ball powder measures +/- .1 grain at worst, with most drop being right on.

I have since discovered that Win 748 is slower burning then 760, but again it begs the question: when is a fast burning powder more desirable then a slow burning powder and vice-a-versa?
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Old December 28, 2012, 04:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
I have since discovered that Win 748 is slower burning then 760, but again it begs the question: when is a fast burning powder more desirable then a slow burning powder and vice-a-versa?
Well, you've got that backwards. 748 is FASTER than 760.

Burn rate charts are pretty much window dressing. They give SOME idea of relative burn rates, but under pretty well controlled conditions. Then we load it behind different weight projectiles in a bunch of different calibers, then the theory goes out that same window. The burn rate varies with the size of the bore,(caliber) and the size of the brass,(standard .308 or 30-06 diameter or the magnum class based on the 300 H&H).

The phrase faster--slower burning powders relates to those burn rate charts. It means little in actual practice.

Most reloading manuals have the top velocity loads at the top of the list of loads they tested. Close study gives you a sense of what to expect for burn rates of the various powders. If they don't list a favorite powder, or the one you have on hand, it means 2 things; 1. they didn't test that powder, or 2. they tested it and found it was too slow, or inaccurate.

Basically, a fast powder uses less to achieve it's top velocity. But it's top velocity is limited by maximum pressure. Slower powders have a longer, flatter pressure curve, that pushes further down the barrel, with a flatter pressure curve.
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Old December 28, 2012, 04:43 PM   #6
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Eppie
I did a lot of 1000 yard shooting with the 308. I was having good luck with the 190 grain Sierra HPBT match bullet. Some of the bullets tend to go through the transition stage into sub sonic at about 850 yards to right at 1000 yards.
The 30-06 did slightly better due to the larger case capacity.
At 1000 a key hole was not that strange to find on the paper. I also had good luck with the 173 grain bullets as well. They carried there mass out about the same range. For powder a lot of us found that Thunderbird powder #2208 was about the best ticket out there for the 308. A lot of silhouette shooters used it as well I bought 250 lbs of it years ago, back in 80s I don't know if Eric has any left but he was in Laveen, AZ. I have had acceptable luck shooting BLC powder with the 190 bullet out of the 308. If you are shooting a m-14 or m1a I dont like to go much over 168 grain bullets. I found that the with auto loaders I limit my shooting to 800 yards

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Old December 28, 2012, 04:57 PM   #7
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Here's another rule of thumb:


Look at the bullets listed in your manual for the caliber you want to load. There will be a lightest bullet and there will be a heaviest bullet. the two bullets in the middle are middle weights--the rest are either light or heavy.........
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Old December 28, 2012, 05:22 PM   #8
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When I started working on a load for my .257 weatherby my goal was to get an 80 grain bullet to travel as fast as I could get and be accurate, all of my loading manuals were quite similiar in suggested powders and velocities, the bullet I chose was the 80 grain barnes ttsx, I figured if any bullet had a prayer of holding together at the velocities I was expecting to get it would be the barnes, everything in my manuals pointed toward IMR 4831 so I gave it a try, I started at the bottom and worked my up til I could see pressure sighns, I chronographed all the way through and never got close to the velocities my manuals showed, I tried reloader 22 and got the same results. My tried and true favorite of favorite powder is and always has been H-4350 so I gave it a try thinking it would give quite a bit up in velocity compared to the previous 2 powders since the burn rate was faster, I worked up with it and achieved my velocity goal fairly easy with no sighns of excess pressure, the little 80 grain bullet was going over my chrono at 3700 fps and that was what I was hoping for, next and most important was how well they shot at 100 yrds, I loaded up my bench, caldwell rock front and sandbags and headed to the sandpit, the rifle shot a true 5 shot 1" group with that load. Moral of the story is the powder I figured I could get the velocity with I DIDN'T, and the one I figured wouldn't DID! Go figure
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Old December 28, 2012, 05:42 PM   #9
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Here is another example, with a friends .270 weatherby, I tried H-4350 in it and accuracy was somewhat poor along with velocities we were hoping for, I then tried H-1000 and accuracy was VERY good and velocity was AMAZING, a 140 grain nosler accubond over the chrono at 3350 fps, it shoots a true 1" group at 100 yrds. None of my manuals show velocities that high with a 140
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Old December 28, 2012, 05:54 PM   #10
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This may help

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Old December 28, 2012, 06:00 PM   #11
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Snuffy, Edward5759, Amamnn, Solocam,
Thanks for your response. I appreciate it.

Snuffy, you are absolutely correct. 748 is faster burning, the charts back you up. My error.

Edward, I believe you're also correct. In everything that you said. I also went out a week ago and bought a Nosler book. Guess what was their most accurate powder tested for the 165 and 168 grain? BLC2.

Amamnn, your answer is so logical and simple it makes me wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Solocam72, I guess what you're saying is that "you don't know untill you know" and I guess its time for me to get a chrony.
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Old December 28, 2012, 06:28 PM   #12
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I read the whole thread (good info here btw) and have an observation and a suggestion for you OP-

Observation - you are not using stick powders because they do not meter well in your progressive press (edited below)

Suggestion - do not use a progressive press when handloading 1000 yard ammo. If your equipment and techniques are not conducive to using a particular component that you would like to use, might it make sense to change your equipment and/or techniques rather than rule out that component?

Last edited by tkglazie; December 28, 2012 at 06:39 PM.
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Old December 28, 2012, 06:31 PM   #13
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Edward5759 and Eppie, when the .308 was popular for NRA matches, ball powders were never popular with the winners and record setters. Lake City tried ball powders in their M118 match ammo much to the disgust of top ranked competitors. The US Palma Team tried ball powder for Sierra's 155 grain bullet when it was new; ball powder did produce the most uniform charge weights but the worst for accuracy. Even benchresters prefer stick powder

Stick powder metered to 4/10ths grain spread will deliver 4 inch groups at 600 yards and under 10 inches at 1000. It's been doing that for decades in .308 Win. Federal Gold Medal match ammo. Stick powder metered to 3/10ths grain shot Sierra's 155's into 3 inches or better at 600 yards in well built Palma rifles.

Edward5759, if your 190's from a .308 don't stay supersonic through 1000 yards, they're leaving way too slow. That bullet's been a winner leaving .308 Win. cases for decades at 1000 yards. It'll easily leave a 24 inch barrel at 2550 to 2600 fps with safe pressures which is fast enough to stay supersonic at 1000. I've shot thousands of them at 1000 and never had one go subsonic.

tkglazie, that Palma load I menioned above with 155's was loaded on two Dillon 1050 progressives. It shot about 1 MOA at 1000 yards.
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Old December 28, 2012, 06:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
tkglazie, that Palma load I menioned above with 155's was loaded on two Dillon 1050 progressives. It shot about 1 MOA at 1000 yards.
impressive!

I should have worded that differently- I meant to say, if you cant load what you want to load on a progressive, either dont use the progressive, or alter your technique.

And great point btw about the relative effectiveness of +/- 3/10 and 4/10 charges- often we do sweat the +/- 1/10 number way too much.
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Old December 28, 2012, 06:58 PM   #15
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Exactly Eppie, I have seen many more extreme cases over the years, that .270 weatherby load I spoke of is only half way up the suggested load, yet it fills the case up in to the shoulder, my manual is telling me I can go another 2 and a half grains, its simply not possible, the powder would be spilling out the neck and it doesn't even say that its a compressed load, the highest velocity at the top of the load lists 3145, I am at 3350 now and that's 2 and a half grains below max! Use your manuals with caution and always start at the bottom of the load listing and work your way up
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Old December 28, 2012, 08:26 PM   #16
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Eppie,

Win748 is a fine powder, but for long range I would change to Power Pro 2000-MR and a 175gr Nosler Custom Comp bullet if you want to keep using your progressive press.

I've been using Power Pro in my 223 loads for service rifle under 75gr HPBT and 80gr AMAX bullets. The burn rate has been called, "Reloader 15 but in ball powder form."

If you want to use a stick powder, get a Lee Perfect Powder measure and buy the adapter to use on a powder through die. You will get better than +/- .4 grains. And honestly with 4064, a .2 gr spread isn't anything under a 168 or 175 hpbt bullet unless you are at max.

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Old December 28, 2012, 08:43 PM   #17
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Studying powder burn rate charts is interesting for us loading geeks but it's meaningless in a real sense. The experts who produce the data for our loading manuals know, use and list powders that work better for our cartridge and bullet weight and that's all we need to be concerned about. The actual burn rate differences for all powders is pretty small. It's a fact that small differences in such brief burn times makes a significant difference in how those differences preform.

Peak pressure occurs when an accelerating rifle bullet has gone maybe three inches or so. Therefore, we need not be concerned about choosing a different burn rate by barrel length; whatever powder produces the highest speed in a 36" barrel will do so in a barrel half that length.
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Old December 28, 2012, 08:51 PM   #18
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Boy,
That's a lot of good advice to digest. I thank you all for taking the time to educate me. May God bless one and all.
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Old December 28, 2012, 08:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eppie
(edited for brevity and for focus)
I'm pretty much stuck with ball powder because I use a progressive press
There is nothing that prevents you from manually charging cases on your progressive press. Just remove the powder measure and put a funnel in its place and at each stroke of the press manually measure and drop the powder charge into the funnel.

Note that some people believe weighed powder charges yield the most accurate loads and others believe volumetricly meted yield the most accurate.

Manually dropping powder will slow you down some, but you can do it. Just go for it and see if you like it.

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Old December 29, 2012, 02:32 AM   #20
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Here's how you load stick powders on a dillon progressive.



Eppie, Which progressive are you using? That older model Hornady measure teamed up with the old model CAPD,(Case Activated Powder Dispenser), on my 650 loads varget +- .2 for 69 match .223. I did an experiment with those loads, IIRC it was 24.0 grains of varget,(look it up, my memory is terrible and I'm too lazy to go look), I weighed 10 rounds with a pact dispenser, and ten run with the Hornady measure on the press. No difference in velocity OR group size.
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Old December 29, 2012, 09:53 AM   #21
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Eppie, go to the grocery store and browse the magazine secton and find, Hogdons 2013 Annual loading manual. They point out some real good uses for each of their powders in the paragraphs before the Loading Data. Hope this helps.
Also on the front of Each Hogdon powder can it list some viable uses for the powder.
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Old December 29, 2012, 12:03 PM   #22
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I agree 100% with Jimro on the Power Pro 2000-MR for the 175 grain bullets. For the 165-168 grainers, the slighly faster Accurate 2520 is excellent, and as a ball powder it meters beatifully.
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Old December 29, 2012, 12:16 PM   #23
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I would like to point out that Bart B. is correct that Lake City never got the accuracy from service rifles with ball powder.

Lake City was using WC846 for some M118SB lots, which has known delay issues with the the arsenal primers used by Lake City (this wasn't addressed until the mid 90's with the adoption of the m134 minigun that required tightly controlled ammunition to prevent out of battery firing). From a viced accuracy barrel, ignition delays aren't as visible in the resulting group as when it is fired by a human who is wiggling on target.

The other part of ignition where ball powders don't generally do as well is that they are normally used with magnum primers, which induces a larger pressure variability off the bat (based on German Salazar's testing). The larger the case, the less this matters, the smaller the case, the more this matters. This is one of the reasons that the 223 (while Palma legal) hasn't displaced the 308 for Palma shooting, when you are competing at that level of accuracy every bit of consistency counts.

Now the bad lots of M118SB would still shoot pretty tight, the Sniper School at Fort Benning considered a "bad lot" of M118SB to make a 5 inch group at 500 yards, right at MOA, and a "good lot" (loaded with IMR4895) would do half of that. But this is from the prone, with a supported M24 rifle. From a service rifle with just a sling you can see how it would really open up the groups with a bad lot.

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Old December 29, 2012, 12:21 PM   #24
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"Peak pressure occurs when an accelerating rifle bullet has gone maybe three inches or so. Therefore, we need not be concerned about choosing a different burn rate by barrel length;"

Yes, the max pressure is reached when the bulled is just a few inches down the tube. But the powder is still burning and producing more gasses the whole time the bullet is in the barrel. The bullet will increase velocity for every addition inch it travels while the powder is still burning. The longer the powder burns,faster the bullet will be moving.

And for rifle shooting, I agree that selecting one (rifle) powder over another (rifle) powder just for its burn rate is prolly not very efficient use of your time!

But, burn rate is very important when you load for pistols and carbines too. Example, I load 44mag for my carbine with slower powder, than when I load for my pistol. The pistol load needs to burn as much powder as it can in the short barrel, so it needs to burn faster than a rifle powder.
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Old December 29, 2012, 07:29 PM   #25
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Everything you want to know about shooting 308 at 1000yds can be found at http://riflemansjournal.blogspot.com/

Don't even think of using 168gr at 1000yds
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