View Full Version : Need list of powders by physical type

March 14, 2011, 02:10 PM
I have a new powder measure. The Manufacturer says it might be a little touchy if flake type powders are used. They recommend a ball or spherical type, or other, such as tubular.
Is there a list of powders giving their physical type somewhere I can download to help me make a choice?
Thanks for any help.

March 14, 2011, 02:23 PM
I don't know of any such list that covers all powders characterized by their type.

Yes, nearly all powder measures have troubles with flakes. Fortunately there are very few of those around. The main one that everyody talks about is Unique. It is definitely a flake and will not meter as well. It's not hopeless, just be aware that the powder throws might vary by +/- 0.2 gr from throw to throw. A lot of people use it with good results as long as they know about the variations. I also use a Vihta Vuori powder called N3SL that is flake. But the flakes are smaller than Unique so it meters fairly well.

Most other pistol powders are spherical and they measure extremely well. Some are called spherical even though they look sorta like flakes. They are spheres which have been flattened a bit. But they still measure fine. Basically though, for pistol powders, with the exception of Unique, they run through powder measures just fine.

When it comes to rifle powders, it's different. There are some spherical or ball rifle powders. Winchester 748, 760, 780 are spherical. So are all the Ramshot powders like TAC, Hunter, Big Game, etc. And a few others made by Hodgdon which are equivalent to Winchester. They all meter just fine. But you need to use a magnum primer to set them off consistently.

The majority of rifle powders though are extruded. You might call them tubular I guess. They are kind of long and skinny and round. Depending on just how long and skinny they are, they might not meter very well. But with rifle loads, you will be loading 40-70 gr typically, so you can usually accept a +/- 0.3 or even greater variation, so most measures work OK. If you are real picky, you won't trust your measure anyway and might resort to weighing and trickling each round.

George H
March 14, 2011, 02:26 PM
Looks like I'm not the only one that has wondered about this. Not because of any equipment but just curious.

March 14, 2011, 02:43 PM
Your powder measure, what make and model is it??

March 14, 2011, 03:12 PM
I don't know of any powder list "by granule shape". But, this is what I do know:

"Hybrid" Powders:
Titegroup (contains flake and semi-spherical granules)

Small Flake Powders:
IMR 4227 (Arguably a "hybrid", since the filler is a different shape)
Accurate Pistol Powders (all*)

Large Flake Powders:
Alliant's "Dot" Powders (Red Dot, Green Dot, Blue Dot, etc)
Bullseye (?)

Large Donuts:
Trail Boss ;)

Short Grain Extruded Powders:
Hybrid 100V
IMR 8208 XBR
IMR 4007 SSC
IMR 7828 SSC
Accurate Rifle Powders (all*)
Alliant "Reloader" Rifle Powders (all*)

Hybrid or "Medium" Grain Extruded Powders:
IMR 4320

Large Grain Extruded Powders:
IMR 4198
IMR 3031
IMR 4895
IMR 4064
IMR 4350
IMR 4831
IMR 7828

Spherical and Semi-Spherical Powders:
W297 (Surplus, slightly slower, factory version of 296 - listed because it is currently available from quite a few suppliers)

*There may be exceptions, but everything I have seen fits the general classification.

March 14, 2011, 03:29 PM
Perhaps there's a disconnect in terminology, but according to their web site, Hodgdon lists all these powders as spherical:



Mike Irwin
March 14, 2011, 04:07 PM
Anything by Winchester is a ball powder of varying sizes.

Any of the Accurate pistol powders are ball powders.

Any of the Clays powders are ball powders.

In any of the ball powders (ball powder refers to a manufacturing process) the shape can be altered from a true ball to a variety of flatnesses of "flakes" by rolling. This is done to regulate the burning speed.

In general, though, these powders will meter VERY accurately and consistently.

March 14, 2011, 04:35 PM
The Lymans Manual breaks them all down for you..
Shape of and single or double base... I don’t remember if
RamShot powder is listed but, All RamShot powder is ball.

March 14, 2011, 04:59 PM
The measure is a Lee Pro Disk. I just didn't want to get into the brand name arguments. Lee didn't quite say their measure was touchy. They said the same thing Doodlebugger45 said. They said that flakes don't meter well.
You guys gave me a lot of info so far. It will be used mostly for handgun calibers. Thanks.

March 14, 2011, 05:47 PM
I will tell you that H-110/Win 296 is probably
Not your best bet with a disk.. :D

March 15, 2011, 07:34 AM
Lyman’s Pistol & Revolver Handbook has a chart on page 57

Mike Irwin
March 15, 2011, 09:45 AM
"I will tell you that H-110/Win 296 is probably
Not your best bet with a disk.."

I've dropped probably between 5,000 to 7,500 charges of WW 296 through my Lee Auto Disk Pro using both disks and the adjustable charge bar loading for .357 Magnum and .41 Magnum.

296, like 231 and other ball powders, measures with great repeatability and accuracy.

The only issue is that I have a small amount of powder leakage when throwing charges.

That's just the nature of the beast with the Lee and fine ball powders.

March 15, 2011, 11:55 AM
I haven't loaded anywhere near the number that Mike Irwin has, but I've loaded enough W296 in my Auto Disk Pro to know that I like it a lot. Very consistent. As far as leaking goes, not enough to worry about. I don't notice any of it falling out when I'm actually charging cases. When I'm done, I disassemble it and sure there is some left on the disk under the hopper. I clean all that out before using it again. I also use Enforcer and True Blue. Those are even finer grained than the 296, but they work very well.

I know people say that the fine grained powders leak but it's not that big a deal. I heard the same thing about the Lee Perfect Powder Measure too. At first, I did see some leakage using 231 or 296 and even worse with Enforcer. All you have to do though, after cleaning it up good to get all the loose powder out of the mechanism, is to tighten the main screw that holds the body together. It makes the effort to operate the measure significantly more, but it stops the leakage altogether. There's nothing to tighten on the Auto Disk Pro. Maybe there is a difference in the leakage between the Pro versus the standard model. I don't know.

I was even noticing last night that on my Lyman 55 dispenser, it sort of feels gummed up when metering TAC powder, which is very fine grained rifle powder. I like fine grained powders for their consistency, but yeah they tend to find every little crack and crevice there is.

March 15, 2011, 11:58 AM
Just to throw a wrench in the works, sorry.
Many "ball" powders are more flat than spherical in actual shape. This might cause some confusion to someone not aware of this who opened "ball" powder & found "flakes" of powder.:o

March 15, 2011, 01:16 PM
I'm looking forward to trying WW231 when I've worked through my remaining 5.5 lbs of Titegroup, 3 lbs of AA#2 and 3 lbs of Unique. That should only take me 3-5 years at my current rate of consumption. :)

Mike Irwin
March 15, 2011, 01:25 PM
"All you have to do though, after cleaning it up good to get all the loose powder out of the mechanism, is to tighten the main screw that holds the body together. It makes the effort to operate the measure significantly more, but it stops the leakage altogether."

I wish it were as simple as that with mine. I've got mine as tightly screwed down as it will go, and it still leaks.

The leakage is pretty bad using AA 7.

I'm going to try getting a new wiper and installing it to see if that makes a difference.

March 15, 2011, 02:43 PM
I was referring to the Perfect Powder measure in that part of my post. For the Auto Disk, there isn't a way to tighten it down any further. Sorry for the confusion. I was mixing a couple different topics together.

March 15, 2011, 02:48 PM
I've actually had pretty good (consistent) results with Unique in my Lee disk measure. The only discrepancy I've seen is that their chart isn't accurate on weights. I'm usually one or two sizes bigger on the disk to obtain the weights suggested by Lee.
I loaded a couple hundred 38 specials, checking about every 5th charge, and never saw more than 1/10 th grain variation.
I also did 20-30 .45 acp's with about the same kind of variation.

I thought I read somewhere that Lee does NOT recommend using the finer ball powders, like 296 or 110, because the granules can migrate around through the sliding parts and potentially jam it up. I could be wrong about that...

Mike Irwin
March 15, 2011, 03:53 PM
The chart is an approximation that's based on the lot, or lots, of powder that Lee used when putting it together.

Powders of different lots have different densities, so the same weight of powder can take up more or less space from lot to lot.

Whenever I started on a new can of powder I always jotted down approximately how much each disk hole threw on a post it note and put it on the side of the container.

Since I've started using the Lee adjustable charge bar for virtually all of my loading I've gotten out of that habit.

March 15, 2011, 04:23 PM
296 acted like sand when using the lee auto disk I had. It would bind
and lock the works up real quick. Has the design of the auto disk changed in the
last few years?:confused:

Mike Irwin
March 15, 2011, 04:43 PM
Beats me. As I said, I've had my Auto Disk for going on 20 years now and have used it regularly with 296 during that time and I've never had a problem with it binding up.

March 15, 2011, 05:11 PM
Seems my experience was not the norm. My apologizes to the O.P.

Yes, I just read the other thread where you mentioned 20 years.
I just counted up in my head and it was along the same time frame.
Maybe, I Did put it together wrong..