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Old May 29, 2008, 01:42 AM   #1
Incognito
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How to choose between extruded or ball powder

Perhaps some of you could shed a little light on this subject.
>Besides metering, what are the advantages and/or disadvantages of each of these powders?
>From what I understand, it is favorable to utilize extruded powder for rifle cartridges, right? Why?
>Does extruded powder have a wider operating range in extreme temperatures over ball powder?
>Does one burn cleaner than another?

I understand these are lot of questions. If it would be more convenient, maybe you could point me towards a particular article or publication. TYIA
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Old May 29, 2008, 04:21 AM   #2
Shoney
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Your questions are very good, but could take a doctoral dissertation to fully answer them. There are more than just extruded and “ball” powders. Ball is more correctly called spherical powder because it looks like a sphere. In addition there are flake powders, and compressed or flattened sphere powders, and then there is Hodgdon Universal, which is not really any of the above.

Flake powders are generally the fastest burning and are used in shotgun, pistol, and “lite” or reduced rifle loads in small to very large volume cartridges.

Spherical powders burn evenly and can be very accurate in pistol and rifle loads, and some are used in shotguns. Burn rates can be from very fast to moderately slow.

Extruded powders are used in shotguns, pistols and rifles. Although some have extremely slow burn rates, there are some with moderately fast burn rates.

Which type of powder should be used in which class of weapons??? The powder that yields the best accuracy in the chosen weapon. Many prefer the highest velocity that can be obtained with the most accurate load. The same accuracy can be obtained with several different powders, but usually they will all have different velocities, and the margin of difference can be 100-300fps or more..

Cleanest burning powders???????? Each powder will yield different degrees of clean as the variables change with the weapon, the load, the crimp, and so forth. In general, most US produced powders are made from wood cellulose, which is inexpensive as compared to using cotton cellulose, which is what most European powder makers use. Wood cellulose powders do not burn nearly as cleanly as the cotton cellulose powders.
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Old May 29, 2008, 07:10 AM   #3
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I'm not sure there are a lot of handloaders who choose their powder based on it's shape, but rather the characteristics they get from each different powder. Shape concern is valid for sure-- Hodgdon and I think IMR both market at least one powder that is a "SSC" version of a powder they already market. "SSC" meaning "super short cut", and extruded powder where the little turds are half as long in length than the original. I think the idea is not only that they meter a little bit better, but you can jam a slight bit more in to the same physical space, giving you more powder in a compressed load.

Hodgdon also markets some powders that they called "extreme" because they claim it's more consistent across a range of ambient temps. All powder works across the range of temps we'll find outdoors, but some powders react much less to that range, and Hodgdon believes their extreme line does exactly that.

But back to the original question-- I personally have noticed that some extruded powders are a little tougher to meter, but I'll still use them because they return a velocity I seek with an accuracy I want and they operate at a listed pressure that is less than a comparable ball powder. As a cheap little bonus, they use less volume for a similar load.

A quick example of exactly that: Hodgdon H4198 vs. H335 in .223 rounds.

Using a 60-grain Hornady V-Max, H335 (a ball powder), data calls for 24.0 grains and shows a velocity of 2,643 with a pressure of 50,600 cup.

Same bullet but with H4198, an extruded powder, I can use a charge weight of 20.0 grains (about 17% less powder) to return a velocity of 2,647 (same) with a pressure of 47,600 cup (6% less pressure).

Of course, this is paper data which is only a guideline... you have to put in the work at the firing line to see how it all comes together, but it's a decent example of why you might choose one powder over another... but I can tell you I didn't pick H4198 specifically because it was extruded! And yeah, it's a bit of a pain in the powder measure because I end up cutting those little powder turds with the measure chamber... and man, they don't exactly slice easily. You have to almost chop them with some force.

Sorry for the wordy answer.
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Old May 29, 2008, 08:46 AM   #4
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Because of the geometry and coatings sometimes ball powders are harder to ignite than extruded powder. As already said, there's no simple answer.
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Old May 29, 2008, 09:37 AM   #5
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I use spherical powders for both rifle and handgun reloading, when possible. Most of the spheres I've observed look a lot like balls.
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Old May 29, 2008, 09:50 AM   #6
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I use Winchester 748 for my winter loads in my 223. For Spring and summer I will use varget or VV N133. WIN 748 is a great powder but it is not has heat tollerant as Varget and VV N133. Hodgdons line of extream powder are more heat tollerent than their line of non extream powders.

I have found that threw the uniflow powder measure the ball powders meater very well. If you load like me I trickle all my rifle powders the ball powders are not as good as extruded for this.
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Old May 29, 2008, 03:09 PM   #7
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Big Thanks

Shoney - Sevens - Sport45 - Alleykat - CPTMurdoc30 Wow! You guys are awsome. Thank you for your time and knowledge .

The time has come, in my reloading venture, to acquire the final ingredient for loading my "first batch" of ammunition. It has taken me a couple of years in obtaining sufficient knowledge, essential equipment, and basic components to finally make it here (which is in reality, just the beginning, I hope ) As I examined the different types of powders available it became apparent that there are a vast number from which to choose from (and about twice as many opinions as to which to use). Rather than close my eyes and blindly pick a powder, I'll use this information in making an educated guess, and go from there. Hopefully in a few weeks here I'll be able to complete the reloading "cycle"; I'll keep you posted. Thanks.

FYI - cartridge in question is .223 Rem. (LC '06 and LC M193) in basic AR-15 (1 in 9, 16' bbl.) platform.
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Old May 29, 2008, 03:27 PM   #8
Jim Watson
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The short answer is, if I were loading surplus brass for a stock autorifle, I would use a Ball process powder for the convenience in metering.

In a target rifle, my main application, I go for accuracy if the velocity is adequate for the job. I have two rifles that definitely do better with extruded powders. I have a couple of rifles that do as well with Ball as extruded but not better.
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Old May 31, 2008, 04:54 PM   #9
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All of my rifle ball powder experience has been with AA2520 in the .223/308/30-06.

I am making the assumption that all ball powders act the same. This may be false.

This ball powder will shoot just outstanding groups. I have half MOA targets with the stuff. I shot it extensively in the .223 with a 69 SMK. Shot great.

However, I believe ball powders are not as flexible as stick powders. Ball powders just seem peaky. I notice during load development, that the sweet spot for stick powders is wider than with AA2520. My favorite stick powder for years has been IMR 4895 or AA2495. Different name, to all practical purposes, the same stuff. In a 308 bolt gun I often load 39.0 grains with a 168 SMK for 200 yards standing and RF, and bump the load up to 41.0 to 41.5 grs for 300 yards. The accuracy is just outstanding low or high.

AA2520 will just blow primers without any warning. Stick powders give more warning.

I have noticed at 600 yards, settling issues going from AA2520 out to 300 yards, and then using a stick powder at 600 yards. My 600 yard load in the .223 is with N140, a short cut stick. The point of impact changes radically as the fouling from the ball powder is blown out. I never had that problem going from any stick powder on the short line to N140 at 600 yards. I have used AA4064, IMR 4064, and IMR 4895/AA2495 out to 300, and never had settling issues at 600 with N140.

The best my Dillion will throw IMR 4895 is within a half grain. I am pretty sure that a ball throws within .2 grain. I have not noticed any difference in accuracy on the standard NRA target with thrown loads of stick powders.

I weigh most of my 600 yard loads as they are maximum loads. So it does not matter which powder type I use.

Last edited by Slamfire; June 2, 2008 at 09:54 AM. Reason: editing
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Old June 1, 2008, 08:26 PM   #10
Incognito
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Went with Spherical

Ended up buying a couple of pounds of this stuff - Can't be too bad. Plus it was cheap



Before I charge my cases I'm going to get a headspace gauge for my cases. $20 dollars is cheap insurance.
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Old June 11, 2008, 11:40 PM   #11
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Something to think about to narrow it down is accuracy and cost. Look at the charge weights/costs for different powders. I would also seriously consider looking at the margin between starting and max loads and try to get something with a little elbow room. Consider what weight bullets you want to play with, and make sure they will all work with your chosen powder if you only want to use one powder. Lastly you might look at what you MIGHT load in the future and consider that in your powder choice.

You probably are already considering all this stuff, but just in case...
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Old June 12, 2008, 09:48 PM   #12
Incognito
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Quote:
Look at the charge weights/costs for different powders. I would also seriously consider looking at the margin between starting and max loads and try to get something with a little elbow room.
2230 appeared to be a "middle of the road" powder providing a wide margin between minimum and maximum as well as being reasonably priced.

With these initial loads I'm using LC 06 brass, and I'm trying out FC cases with both crimped and uncrimped primer pockets. With the FC, I've noticed that the uncrimped cases are considerably heavier than the crimped ones, so I’m loading these as though they’re different cases, which they are. I know many of you think they’re inferior cases, but I have a boatload of them, so I’m going to try and live with it.



Powder loads are 1gr. below minimum, worked up to 1gr. below maximum, in .3gr. intervals consisting of ten rounds per charge weight. I thought this would be fairly safe considering some brass has less capacity than others. Primers are CCI 400.
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Old June 13, 2008, 05:19 PM   #13
Slamfire
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Quote:
2230 appeared to be a "middle of the road" powder providing a wide margin between minimum and maximum as well as being reasonably priced.
Cheap is good. All things considered, cheap is really good. I have had friends who used 2230 in their .223 rifles with great success.

Quote:
I know many of you think they’re inferior cases, but I have a boatload of them, so I’m going to try and live with it.
Federal cases shoot fine. The ones I had, the pockets got loose quick. If you got em, shoot em.

But don't dump them. Brass scrap values have gone insane!!
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