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Old January 21, 2013, 04:47 PM   #1
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Old powders

Hello all, I have a question. After many years of storage I am going to start reloading again for my rifles. I have in my attached garage some military ammo cans with IMR 4350, 4064 and 4831. The powders in question range from 25 to 15 years old, always sealed tight (some unopened) but not in an air conditioned house. If I had just 1 can of each I would just pitch it but I have several pounds of each most being of the same lot. Anyone out there using powders of such an age, or had an experience that would help me make my mind up as to use them or not?
Thanks, in advance.
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Old January 21, 2013, 05:15 PM   #2
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The powder should be fine. As long as it doesn’t have a rust like substance in it and doesn’t smell like old gym socks, I would test it in a few rounds just to make sure.
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Old January 21, 2013, 05:17 PM   #3
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Well check them to make sure they're not bad, but yes to your question, I have and use some old powders that my brother and I have had from the eighties, and it's still fine powder today, but we are always careful how we store powder, (cool and dry place).
There are members on this forum who know tons more about this subject, but mostly powder that has broken down or went bad will have a red dusting to it, and smell acidic to an extent. If it's rusty and smells, then it's fertilizer.
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Old January 21, 2013, 05:32 PM   #4
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Thanks guys, I have found some good (really) detailed info on here. Yea, you know my son is out of the house now and I have some more time on my hands. The availability of so many premium loadings made shooting some nice groups not a handload proposition only. But the price these days are bloody crazy!
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Old January 21, 2013, 08:11 PM   #5
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Guy at work gave me a used three pound can of W-231. I don't know how long it has been since powder came in three pound cans, but I'm quite sure he bought this powder before he had his first child (who is now married and has her own child).

Worked up some test loads and found a good combination. Just used the last of the powder in December. That old W231 loaded a heap of 9mm rounds(3500+).
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Old January 21, 2013, 08:25 PM   #6
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I still have some powders from the '60s, and theyre fine / I also had some at one time that went bad after about 6-8 years. Bad powder will give off brown,smoke or dust, and had a very acrid smell. The INSIDE of metal cans or lids will be rusting. Don't breathe the dust or smoke since its nitric acid. It is fairly rare to see bad powder today. The bad batch I had was old military surplus, so the actual age was indeterminate, probably 40yr whenI got it.
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Old January 23, 2013, 06:12 PM   #7
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My oldest powder.......

My oldest powder is Hodgdon 4831, date stamped Nov. 19, 1973, which, evidently was when it was repacked. On the side label it says, "THIS IS WORLD WAR II SURPLUS POWDER. STORAGE LIFE IS NOT GUARANTEED.". It appears to be as good as new and works well at maximum charges in my .270 Winchester. That powder is at least 68 years old now. Proper storage = long shelf-life.
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Old January 24, 2013, 09:32 AM   #8
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Most of my powder was manufactured in the early 70's. Most are in cardboard kegs but some are in plastic jugs. Good powder will have a mild to strong ether smell, some no smell at all and like others have said if it smells rancid it's bad. As a rule, shotgun powder degrades the fastest, why I don't know.
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