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Old January 27, 2012, 02:40 PM   #1
Major Dave (retired)
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IMR Trail Boss Powder

I recently discovered this very fluffy, very low pressure powder.

It solved a problem I was having - what to use for shooting turkey with a deer rifle. In west Texas, where Rio Grande turkey roam, there is an open season that coincides with deer season dates. So, any deer hunter may see a flock of turkey under the deer feeder. But, shoot one with an expanding, high velocity bullet used for deer, and all that would be left is a bunch of bloody feathers.

So, I reasoned, I should use FMJ bullets, at the slowest possible velocity from my .243 Win. But, after consulting 3 or 4 reloading manuals, the slowest starting load for a 90 gr FMJ was almost 3,000 fps MV. Way too fast, IMO.

Then I discovered Trail Boss powder. Using 11.5 gr, I reduced the MV to 1,560 fps. Accuracy was 1/2 MOA!

Problem solved - watch out turkeys - here I come!

But, I also noticed several other unexpected but very useful characteristics using Trail Boss powder.

First, recoil was very mild - about like .223. So, this powder could be used for "reduced recoil" loads for children and/or any recoil sensitive shooter.

Then, I noticed reduced barrel heating. This in a very thin barrel rifle - Win M70 "Short Action Carbine". As with all carbine designs, my rifle barrel is not only short, but also thin, to produce the desired light weight which is a desired feature of carbine design. Usually, this rifle barrel heats up quickly, even after only 3 rounds, so that I have to let it cool down at the range at that interval. But with Trail boss, I shot 20 rounds in 30 minutes and the barrel was still only barely warm to the touch!

Minimum stress of the brass. When I started to reload the brass after the first range session, I measured all pieces before resizing - and not a single one had to be trimmed due to being stretched when fired. As a result, I am now of the opinion that brass loaded with Trail Boss should have a very long service life. Might be able to reload such brass dozens of times without cracking or experiencing case head separation.

Barrel life expectancy ought to be greatly extended - IF a barrel was used to shoot ONLY Trail Boss. Not very likely any of us would dedicate a barrel to such limited use, though. BUT, you could practice year around with Trail Boss loads and then shoot full velocity loads only for hunting. That would save barrel life considerably.

Because of the reduced recoil, and reduced barrel heat/wear, I intend to start shooting my 243 more often for practice year round, so that when hunting season arrives, I will be more proficient with it. It will also become my grandsons beginner rifle. I will have to load it with expanding bullets, and limit him to shots under 100 yards.

Of course Trail Boss loads have a POI about 8 inches low @ 100 yards, compared to my full velocity deer loads, so I must adjust my scope according to which load I am using.

I intend to hand load some Trail Boss ammo for my 270 WSM, also. Primarily to be able to practice year round, without the magnum recoil. Should get about 1500 to 1700 fps MV. That should really tame the recoil. I'll bet my 10 year old grandson could even shoot it, then!

So, in summary, I am really glad I discovered Trail Boss powder. Does anyone else here on this forum have any experience with it? Or just comments about my opinion?

Being able to shoot hundreds of practice rounds through a 270 WSM without flinching, getting a sore shoulder, or burning out the throat/barrel - sounds like a win/win/win to me!!
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Last edited by Major Dave (retired); January 27, 2012 at 02:51 PM.
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Old January 27, 2012, 02:53 PM   #2
FrankenMauser
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Trail Boss is rumored to be mildly corrosive. If you believe it, clean accordingly.

...I haven't had any problems, though.
I use TB in .270 Win, .30 WCF, 7.62x54R, .327 Federal, and .44 Mag. (And have tried other cartridges in the past.) I had been using it for well over a year, before the corrosion rumors started popping up; and I never saw any indications of a problem.


But... contrary to popular belief, most modern primers are still mildly corrosive, anyway. It's just that they're much, much less harmful than their historic counterparts. So, maybe TB is being singled-out, unfairly.
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Old January 27, 2012, 02:57 PM   #3
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Frankenmauser

Do you only use it for practice, or do you hunt game with it also?
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Old January 27, 2012, 03:02 PM   #4
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I have not hunted anything with any of my TB loads, but I wouldn't hesitate to do so with the right bullet/cartridge/rifle combination.
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Old January 27, 2012, 03:10 PM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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Trail Boss is awesome stuff.

It makes my .204 literally sound like a cap gun but still gets 2,200 fps.

My 15" Encore is much, much quieter and has almost no recoil.

It's a lot of fun.
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Old January 27, 2012, 04:07 PM   #6
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I do not use it in rifle loads. I have loaded up some .223, and .221 Fireball with it. Results were a quiet load, with pretty much no recoil, and you said it earlier they had a heck of a lot of drop at 100 yards.

Now I use it a whole lot with pistol loads. I use it with .41 mag, and .38 spcl shooting cast lead, and it shines through. Clean burning, and POI, and POA match. I shoot a lot of steels with the loads.
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Old January 27, 2012, 04:56 PM   #7
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No Rifle testing, but have done some testing with Revolvers :

Trail Boss Tests and talk
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Old January 27, 2012, 07:38 PM   #8
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Hello, Major Dave. Your post is very intersting in that my first use of Trail Boss was also in a 6mm rifle..an 1895 Winchester-Lee straight-pull sporting rifle. I use the Ideal 245498 g.c. 100gr. cast bullet. I started out using
H4227, but wanted to try another powder..but what? I remembered the unopened can of TrailBoss.
Here is where the story gets interesting! Back in the early 70's, my dad came across an old tattered cardboard box in an old abandoned house. It contained several long tapered ctgs., loaded with multi grooved lead bullets.
At the time, I didn't know what a .32-40 was, or the old Ideal 319047 cast lead bullet.
Pulling a bullet, I expected to see black powder..instead an off-white doughnut shaped powder spilled out. At the time, I thought it must be one of the early smokeless powders like Sharpshooter or Lessmoke, as I poured it back into case & replaced the bullet. I soon forgot about it.
That is until I opened up that can of TrailBoss & poured some out into my hand.
Suddenly it was 1970 again! the same grayish-off-white color & doughnut shaped grains!
I called Hodgdon & asked the technician.."You guys didn't re-introduce the old Sharpshooter did you?"
There was a very long silence..so long I thought he had rung off..."Maybe..
but ours is better!" he replied.
So 100 years later..we come full circle!
One thing I noticed, with H4227, there was quite a bit of smoke and muzzle blast. With TB, there is hardly any smoke & muzzle blast is very quiet.
Also, with all loads using H4227..even up to max., the case necks were left smoked...with TB, even the start loads left necks clean.
Due to the open buckhorn rear, and german silver blade front, I did most testing at 50yds. Groups were around 3/4" to point of aim.
At 100yds, groups were around 1 1/4".
We are very fortunate today to have such a powder again available.
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Old January 27, 2012, 08:48 PM   #9
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"But... contrary to popular belief, most modern primers are still mildly corrosive, anyway."

Beg pardon?

Mildly corrosive is still corrosive, and I've done enough testing with modern primers and steel plates to know that that simply doesn't follow.

The chemistry, to the best of my ability to determine, also doesn't support that.

Last indication that that's not the case is my S&W Model 19. Over the span of about 4 years I put nearly 6,000 rounds through it without cleaning it internally or externally (other than wiping it with a damp cloth to get my finger prints off).

Over those 4 years in Northern Virginia, known for its extremely hot and humid summers and chilly and humid winters, my 19 didn't rust one bit internally OR externally.
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Old January 28, 2012, 10:00 AM   #10
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I load 4.2 grains Trail Boss under 158 grain lead RN 357 Mag for reduced load shooting in my Blackhawk. Great load to introduce someone to shooting larger revolvers. I will load 50 of these today for a co-worker that is wanting to teach his teenage girls to shoot his Blackhawk.

I think it is a great powder for the intended purpose.

Have a great day!
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Old January 28, 2012, 12:03 PM   #11
Mike Irwin
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I've sung Trail Boss' praises here for the past couple of years.

It was the answer to my prayers in my .44 Special. The powders I was using were simply not giving me anything closely resembling ballistic uniformity.

That changed when I started with TB.

I've also used TB in my .32-20 revolver, but I'm not quite as happy. I've had a couple of squib loads that have stuck bullets in the bore, and I'm just not sure what the problem is.
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Old January 28, 2012, 02:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Beg pardon?

Mildly corrosive is still corrosive, and I've done enough testing with modern primers and steel plates to know that that simply doesn't follow.
There was a pretty thorough discussion about the topic a few years back in one of the magazines I read. I believe it was Handloader.
I'll see if I can dig up the article while I rearrange my reloading room (my bench is undergoing a redesign/rebuild).

They covered the chemistry of the process pretty well. The corrosive compounds are due, primarily, to contaminants.
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Old January 28, 2012, 03:16 PM   #13
Mike Irwin
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"They covered the chemistry of the process pretty well. The corrosive compounds are due, primarily, to contaminants."

Interesting. As I said, I've never seen even the slightest indication of that, but would love to know if you could find it. It sounds like it would be an interesting read.
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Old January 28, 2012, 11:13 PM   #14
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Just picked up two more 9oz. cans of TB today. I've been using it for powder puff loads in .357 and .44 mag cases pushing cast lead boolits. Great stuff! Plan to load up some .243 and .308 cases, too, once I decide on what bullet to use.
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Old January 29, 2012, 09:32 AM   #15
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Ever shoot a 416 Rigby??? Those puppies hurt.

One of the first rifle I built was a 416 Rigby on a 1917 Enfield action. I put it together in the late 70s but haven't shot it much........cause it hurts.

Then comes Trailboss, I can shoot my 416 Rigby all day long with no discomfort.

I built my 12 year old "recoil shy" grandson a 308 last year. Trailboss allows him to practice shooting instead of flinching.

I can cut down on the cost of off hand practice by using Trailboss with cast bullets in my M1A, M1 'n such using NRA 50 Ft Small Bore targets.

Unlike most other powders in reduced loads Trailboss nearly fills the case, making for more consistent ignition which I believe leads to more accurate gallery loads.

Yap, I 'm a big fan of Trailboss.
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Old January 29, 2012, 02:20 PM   #16
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A handy dandy search of my handloader DVD's says that the last mention of Corrosive (just the word, nothing else) was in issue 274 regarding green primers. A quick scan revealed nothing to indicate normal primers are corrosive.

I ended up reading a bunch of articles from the 60's talking about corrosive primers but I did not find any comment where modern primers are still corrosive.
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Old January 29, 2012, 02:43 PM   #17
Mike Irwin
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I know that in certain applications corrosive (and mercuric) primers were still loaded for competitive shooting up through the 1960s.

I have a box of Western loaded target ammo from the late 1960s in .30-06 that's so loaded. The box has warnings on it to that effect.

Eley Tenex ammo in the old pasteboard cartons was apparently also corrosive primed, and wasn't changed until sometime in the 1980s.

Ron West, a smallbore champion at Camp Perry, told me that he used the plastic boxed, non-corrosive primed Eley ammo for practice but went to serious lengths to find and hoard the ammo in the paper boxes for competitive use.
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Old February 2, 2012, 12:04 AM   #18
Major Dave (retired)
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When loading TB in a magnum,

do you use a magnum primer?

The IMR website shows TB loads for several magnums, but does not specify what primer was used to develop their data.

Anybody know?
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Old February 2, 2012, 12:28 AM   #19
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Use a standard primer, to start. If you have ignition issues (unlikely), give the magnum primer a try.


There has been a delay in the production of my new reloading bench. Mainly, my motivation level has been pretty close to zero, the last few days. Secondarily, I changed the basic design of the replacement bench. Until I finalize the details that must be adjusted due to the new basic design, I'm dead in the water.
I haven't forgotten to keep my eyes open for the article, though. Tonight, I'll check my three-ring binder (clipped articles collection point), when I get into the reloading room. I think I saved the whole issue of the magazine (apparently not Handloader), not just the article. But, it's worth a shot.
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