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Old August 15, 2015, 03:53 PM   #1
Nick_C_S
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Rethinking Powder Inventory

It has become obvious that this 32-month long supply shortage is the new normal and is never going to get any better than it is now. I suppose it varies from place to place, but here in northern California, it's the pits.

That said, I've taken some time to re-evaluate my powder inventory. Now I have lots of everything I need, so I literally have years to come to any final decisions. Keeping in mind that I only load for handguns, here's where my head is at this time. . .

I currently have and use 11 different propellants. Nitro 100; VV N310; Bullseye; W231/HP-38; AA#2; AA#5; Unique; HS-6; Power Pistol; AA#7; & W296. Gone are the days when you run out of a pound of powder, you drive to your LGS and get another pound. With the new normal, I would like to have a 2-year supply of most everything I use, but doing so with 11 different powders may well prove problematic; and will also result in having lots of different containers and a lot of total quantity. Admittedly, this makes me a bit nervy from a safety standpoint. Phasing out the number of powders I keep on hand would help immensely. I could then buy larger containers of fewer powders. Not only do I believe it's safer to have fewer large containers than a bunch of small ones; but I also believe that I could keep less total quantity and still achieve my inventory supply goal.

So what powders to phase out? (By "phase out," I mean to exhaust existing supply and no longer purchase any more.) All of them have at least one specific use for me that works really well.

VV N310: The exception to the rule. I have no specific exceptional loading. This one is easy. Phasing out.

Nitro 100: Good, clean, ultra fast powder, that makes great plated 38 Special target/competition rounds. But Bullseye can work. I have over two pounds right now - close to a two year supply. Phasing out.

Bullseye: I load/shoot more 38 Special target/competition rounds than any other - for ICORE and IDPA. Nothing beats Bullseye for consistent ignitions with these light loadings. I currently have almost two pounds - maybe a year's worth; and will purchase a 4# as soon as I find some available. Keeping.

W231/HP-38: One of my all-around favorite propellants. And although cleaner and more versatile than Bullseye overall, it doesn't perform as consistently with the target-level shooters that I load so much. It's also a complete pain in the keester to ever find - more headache than I care to endure, moving forward. I have over three pounds; which will last several years. Phasing out.

AA#2: A great powder for semi-autos with light bullets. It also delivers outstanding performance with plated 38 target wadcutters - even while displaying clear signs of low pressure. Pretty amazing stuff. But Bullseye can do anything it can do. I have a little over a pound. Phasing out.

AA#5: My favorite for 124gn 9mm's, and 180gn range shooters in 10mm. Clean, consistent. Great stuff. But Power Pistol can fill the role. I have about 2 1/2 pounds - probably a three year supply. Phasing out.

Unique: Long considered to be one of the most versatile pistol propellants. I find it to be something of a jack of all trades, and master of none. I have great results with it under 125gn bullets in 357 Magnum - but that's about it. And making clean running rounds with it tends to be problematic; as does its metering properties. I have just over two pounds of it - probably a three year supply. Phasing out.

HS-6: Low energy and tends to run filthy. I do have some excellent pet loads with it, but nothing Power Pistol can't do. I have almost two pounds of it. Phasing out.

Power Pistol: Runs clean, and over a broad pressure range. Although it is on the slow end for a medium burn rate powder, it has the versatility and performance that I like. I have five pounds of it - which includes the 4# container of it I got just today:



This btw, is the first time I have every purchased a powder container over 1# in size. Keeping (obviously).

AA#7: I categorize AA#7 as a "slow" powder; although, it's on the fast end of the slow category. None the less, it is my velocity champ in 357 Magnum through short barreled revolvers; and 10mm as well. It runs clean and does what I need it to do (potent, high velocity rounds). I'm not sure how versatile it is, but I don't really need it to be. I have 2-1/2# of it - which is at least a three year supply. I don't load a lot of humdinger rounds. Keeping.

W296: I consider W296 and its contemporaries to be "magnum" powders; and thus, outside my view of "fast, medium, & slow" powder categories. I use it for one thing: wide-open-throttle magnum revolver loads under heavy bullets (long barreled guns). I have a little over a pound of it, and that should last me some 3+ years. I'll always have some 296 on hand; but never need more than a pound at a time. Keeping.

So I have my "fast," "medium," "slow," and "magnum" choices: Bullseye, Power Pistol, AA#7, & W296 respectively. I only have two thoughts/concerns:

First, I've never tried TiteGroup and have heard lots of good things about it. If I cross paths with a pound at my LGS, I'm going to grab it. If it performs as well as Bullseye for my target level 38 shooters, it may become my "fast" keeper. My "fast" choice was far and away my toughest. Bullseye does not run clean, but it outperforms W231 in my most common application, and is much easier to find. Fortunately, I have tons of fast stuff, so what I purchase moving forward isn't an immediate issue.

Second, Bullseye is really fast. Power Pistol is a slow "medium" powder, and AA#7 is a fast "slow" powder. So I've got this big speed gap between Bullseye and Power Pistol, and just a tiny gap between Power Pistol and AA#7. Unique actually fits more evenly between B'eye & #7, but it just doesn't do it for me. On the good side, I have about a two year supply of it, so it's not like I'll be missing it any time soon.

Obviously, I had a lot of time on my hands this afternoon

For those patient enough to make it this far, I'm curious how you approach your powder supply needs? Do you have a bunch of powders? Or keep only a few?
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Old August 15, 2015, 04:07 PM   #2
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I keep only a few in volume. I have my favorite loads and stick with them. For example, I use Unique exclusively in my .44s. Green Dot in .45 Colt, HS-6 for woods load for .45 Colt, Red Dot/Unique in my .357, and Unique/True Blue/Red Dot for my .32s (still settling on a load here) . These are the powders I like to keep on hand in volume. I also like to have a pound or two of 4227 and 2400 on hand for special occasions.

What I did a couple of years ago after the first shortage was begin to buy a pound of different powders and test them and find good loads for them in different cartridges that I shoot. That way, if I ran short of my favorites, and one of the other powders was available, I could buy and immediately have a load for it. Glad I did... as as far as I am concerned, pistol powder is still short supply.

I will buy a lot more of my favorites when I see them now (at normal prices) than I used too thanks to all the hoarders or whatever else is happening out there.
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Old August 15, 2015, 04:21 PM   #3
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Good day Nick. I am surprised you let #5 go and prefer the harshness of Power Pistol but far be it from me to criticize that choice. My needs are a little different from yours so my list is necessarily different. All I need is 700x for a killer one ounce clay target load that has been a winner for me for a very long time,followed by Clays or Clay Dot for my 7/8 ounce 12 ga. clay target load and those two will load light .40 dinker loads for practice or play. Last but not least are Accurate #5 and #7 for all my serious work with my .40s. All of these powders are findable right now with some looking and I have stocked up with bulk containers so I am sleeping better. My buying habits will change to reflect what I think you are right to consider the new norm(imagine what will happen if Hillary starts to look strong next fall) so that I will buy a replacement jug for powder x when I start to use it rather than when it gets low. Also now I cannot sleep well with less than 10,000 primers so that will be my minimum "savings account" on the shelf. I have,by neccessity,used Tula and S&B sp primers long enough to start to think the higher priced name brand (think Winchester and CCI) primers are over rated and overpriced.
Just to finish the original thought-I have found I can live without Blue Dot,Red Dot,Unique,Bullseye,#2,Titegroup,Power Pistol,Silhouette,True Blue,Universal Clays,HP38/231,Autocomp,WSF/WSL,Nitro 100 nf,etc,etc.,etc.
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Old August 15, 2015, 05:34 PM   #4
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Old August 15, 2015, 05:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
buy a pound of different powders and test them and find good loads for them in different cartridges that I shoot. That way, if I ran short of my favorites, and one of the other powders was available, I could buy and immediately have a load for it.
I did that too. Have lots of data now.

Quote:
I am surprised you let #5 go and prefer the harshness of Power Pistol
I agree with your characterization. It was a tough choice. AA#5 is great stuff. I really like it. However I find #5 just a touch fast; other than 9mm, it falls just a little short when making potent semi-auto rounds. Power Pistol does this with ease. But that by itself wasn't the show-stopper. Availability was. Over these last couple+ years, Power Pistol has been much easier to get ahold of. Other than MidSouth a couple weeks back, I haven't seen AA#5 since June '13.
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Old August 20, 2015, 02:13 PM   #6
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I have a crazy boatload of different powders on hand and that includes a few that I may never use again. The beauty of that is that if I get a wild hair one day (or some odd bullets or a new caliber) then I'm typically able to craft some loads immediately without dwelling on the decision & subsequent chase of powder for the new application.

I certainly have a handful of absolute "pet loads" that run extremely well for me, but I also enjoy trying to find a handful of ways to skin the cat.

I shoot a lot of 9mm and it is one of very few places where I don't do much experimentation with different loads and powders. I run my 9mm with Universal and I have a decent supply of it and it only uses a pinch per round so I am set for many years. Even still, if someone peed in my supply of Universal... I know that I could likely craft a working load with another powder on hand.
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Old August 20, 2015, 06:48 PM   #7
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I have settled on Promo as my go to powder for all around use. Its cheap and works well in .38 spl, 9mm, and medium .357 mag loads. And don't forget about its main purpose, shot shells.
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Old August 20, 2015, 07:53 PM   #8
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I bought a jug of Promo and I am using it for my .45 Hardball loads. For that... it is going to last a stupidly long time. When it is depleted I will not replace it. It works well and makes good shooting ammo but I'm getting a little too crotchety and demanding to save a couple of bucks working with gangly large flake powders when there are so many choices out there.

I bought it while knee-deep in the Barackolypse and I won't toss it out but yeah, not replacing it either.
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Old August 20, 2015, 08:18 PM   #9
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Nick, I also have powders that will probably go bad before I use them for the same reasons you stated. I have my favorites also.

Some of these came from looking for a replacement for something I couldn't get.
I have Bullseye, Titegroup, 231, Universal, Unique, BE-86, Power Pistol, Long shot, Lill Gun, 2400 and H110. Thankfully I only have a lb or two of the ones I don't use a lot. The others I have in 4 or 8 pounders.

I only need Titegroup, BE-86, and 2400.

I too like Power Pistol for it's versatility, I can use it in any caliber of handgun I have with good success. I have about 10lbs of it on hand. I also use a lot of titetgroup in 9mm.

Right now though I'm really torn between BE-86 and Power Pistol, I'll never use Unique again after using BE-86 and it's also to close to a duplication in burn rate with the BE-86 and Power Pistol. Power Pistol will probably win out because, like you said, it's easy to get, but BE-86 is a little faster and fits that slot better.
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Old August 20, 2015, 08:51 PM   #10
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Nick- I would not phase out any of them. Buy in 8lb containers, Keep one or 2 -1lb containers of each around and store rest at friends house. I only keep 7 different powders, but I have it at 3 of my sisters houses. I have never bothered to find out how much I can keep in the house, but rather then chance it. I just spread it out. I keep 1- 8 lb container and 1 empty 1-lb container of each powder in my house. I keep the rest spread out. My sisters all live with in 5 miles of me so it is not a issue.
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Old August 20, 2015, 09:25 PM   #11
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Like most reloaders I to found the powder shortage a big problem . I load a lot of 44 ammo (44 Mag and 44 Special ). It makes it a lot easier to buy powder and bullets . I buy 2000 240gr. cast each month and that works in both 44,s . I did find a good buy on jacketed bullets two years ago so I am set on them . As for powder i use W296 and Unique and have 8 and 16 pounds of that . Primers I buy Winchester and 1000 each month but I am falling behind on them .

My Rifle loading is mostly for my son (A HUNTER) and that is 3006 and a pound last a long time . I did have the good sense to buy surplus ammo when it was cheap (in the 60,s)both in 3006 and 223 .
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Old August 20, 2015, 11:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
I only need Titegroup, BE-86, and 2400.
LE-28, good post all-around. And those are definitely three good choices. Three powders I have never used, btw, but I know they're excellent.

I've thought of BE-86 too - because just like you said, it's a little faster than Power Pistol, and thus, fits better between Bullseye and AA#7 (in my case). I've never considered getting BE-86 because it's flash-suppressed and I have no need for that. Also, I've always just assumed that the addition of the flash suppressant brings up its cost a bit. I'm no tightwad, but I'd still rather not pay for something in a powder that I don't use. (I don't actually know it costs more, that's just how I've always looked at BE-86.)
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Old August 20, 2015, 11:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
and store rest at friends house.
Heh, 4runnerman, you crack me up

I doubt I could ever ask someone to hold my gun powder. And that's assuming I even have friends
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Old August 21, 2015, 12:19 AM   #14
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Quote:
(I don't actually know it costs more, that's just how I've always looked at BE-86.)
You are correct. You do not know.
BE-86 is $17.40 for one pound at Powder Valley. Exactly the same as Power Pistol and Bullseye. Unique is $17.90. Using 40 SW 189 gr loads, each powders max load is

BE 5.5
BE86 6.6
Unique 6.7
Power Pistol 7.2
Blue Dot ($17.75) 8.9

So costs per round, for powder, vary by over 50%, depending on the specific powder. BE86 is economical; only Bullseye is slightly cheaper.

I am looking to add a flash suppressed powder (BE86 or Silhouette) because half my pistol shooting is at indoor ranges. That is why I passed on buying more Power Pistol.
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Old August 21, 2015, 12:26 AM   #15
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I have a lot of powders and have not shot half of them.
I have a lot of guns and have not shot half of them.
That's because I am not going to the range often enough.
Those other countries stand out in the street and shoot in the air.
Here we load up the car and drive on the freeway and sit at benches to shoot.
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Old August 21, 2015, 05:12 AM   #16
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Nick, I am sure you have friends that would let you do it. I have 4 sisters i town here. They don't mind at all. I have explained to them that it poses no more danger then anything else in their house. I visit my sisters all the time, so to get some when I need it is a very small task. It works real good to just keep it set up like this. Like I say I have no idea how much I can keep in the house and rather then calling the Fire Dept and possable tripping a red flag with them, I just store it other places. I have maybe 50 Lbs in my house at one time. All the 8 or 5 lb containers stay downstairs and the 1 lb containers stay upstairs in a cabinet. The only thing I do on the press is to size and seat bullets. Everything else I do at the kitchen table, Anneal ,Trim, Chamfer,Prime, and weight the powder. I donate Plasma for $280.00 a Month, That all is spent on reloading stuff.
My Local Scheels store knows me by first and last name.
On a side note- Here in Fargo ND. The powder seems to be coming back in at a good rate now. Pistol powders are finally starting to show up again too
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Old August 21, 2015, 05:20 AM   #17
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I load 8 different pistol and rifle calibers, and since I learned the harsh consequences of the 2013 S/H panic I have since then incrementally purchased enough reloading components to load approximately 16K rounds. No such phrase "phase out" in my mind. My goal is total independence from political ammo "panics".
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Old August 21, 2015, 10:20 AM   #18
Nick_C_S
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TiteGroup 4#'s

Quote:
You are correct. You do not know.
Marco Califo, I should have known I was wrong. I have a nasty habit of not looking at prices.

Well, Cabela's has had TiteGroup for many days now (well over a week, I believe). The thing has been staring me in the face on Gunbot for some time now.

I decided not to wait for my LGS to have a pound for me to test.

I just went ahead an bought 4#'s (4 one-pound containers) of TiteGroup - untested.

I figure dozens of folks here on TFL praising the performance of TiteGroup can't all be wrong. The chances of me finding it so hideous as to be only good for lawn fertilizer is nil, right?

Upon delivery, I'll then be sitting on over 12#'s of "fast" powder. So no matter which ones I choose to phase out, it'll be many years before I have to buy more.

I'm now set for powder - of all burn rate ranges - for years.
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Old August 21, 2015, 05:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
I'm now set for powder - of all burn rate ranges - for years.
Now that statement is much more encouraging than the opener where there was a feeling you might have been losing good friends due to lack of personal contact. For a while there I wondered if your next post would be about "slimming down" the number of pistols you have. The abandonment of Unique and W231 almost had me in tears.

My number of head in the herd is kept small due to lack of any magnum. Loading for 9mm, 40S&W, 38SPL and 45Auto are all serviced by W231, Unique, Power Pistol and a new comer, AutoComp.

I compensate for my lack of variety with poundage.

4runnerman - If I recall correctly, maximum amount of home stored powder is around 25 pounds without a magazine. Over 25 pounds you need a magazine with I think 1" thick wood constructed to certain fire code specifications. Local regs may vary.
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Old August 21, 2015, 08:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
For a while there I wondered if your next post would be about "slimming down" the number of pistols you have.
Never. Ever. I still own every firearm I have ever purchased.

Quote:
The abandonment of Unique and W231 almost had me in tears.
Heh, at least now I know some people do actually read my meanderings. Keep in mind I have over 3#'s of HP-38, and just barely over 2#'s of Unique. Both are about a two-year supply. "Abandonment?" Maybe. But it'll be a good while before my supply is exhausted. And who knows. Things change.

Quote:
I compensate for my lack of variety with poundage.
That's my plan. ^^

Quote:
If I recall correctly, maximum amount of home stored powder is around 25 pounds without a magazine. Over 25 pounds you need a magazine with I think 1" thick wood constructed to certain fire code specifications. Local regs may vary.
I need a magazine. I'm not a carpenter, so I need to find someone here locally to build one for me. I have been unsuccessful finding any official information on line as to the requirements. I know about the 1" thick wood part, but that's about it. I even contacted my local fire department: left a message for someone to get back to me; but they never did *sigh*.
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Old August 21, 2015, 08:57 PM   #21
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Nick,

In Kali, over 20 lbs. "requires a permit" and they kick in the magazine requirement. But a magazine need not neccessarily be made of wood. You can buy metal ATF approved portable magazines that meet the state requirements.

In Kali. primer count kicks in @ 20K. Loaded into brass is another thing though.
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Old August 21, 2015, 09:08 PM   #22
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I probably should build a magazine. For now, the fire/smoke sensor sits right over the powder storage (over 80lbs). Most of the powder is 8# jugs of slow stuff to feed the fifty, but in a fire I suspect that there would be a spectacular fireball when the powder went up.
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Old August 21, 2015, 09:28 PM   #23
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Phase out the 231 and HP38 because they are being discontinued. They are making less and less of it and that's going to eventually get to zero.

This is according to a sign posted at my local reloading shop that I saw yesterday. It said these are "old formula" powders that take much longer to manufacture, and create a lot more toxic waste than "new formula" powders. The economics of producing old formulas is unlikely to improve. It didn't say when production would end, just that it would end.
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Old August 22, 2015, 01:43 PM   #24
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Well we'll just have to phase out Hodgdon, and go to a cheaper Alliant powder. I prefer to do business with a company that likes my business...
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Old August 22, 2015, 04:35 PM   #25
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Unique, Bullseye, 231, and not listed, 2400 would be my picks and to narrow it to three, I'd give up the 231. For the first time in over a year, I actually saw some 1lb Bullseye and Unique on the shelf, $25/lb. Fortunately, I've been able to twice catch 8lb kegs of both online which even with hazmat worked out to $10 less per pound than this.
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