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Old July 11, 2018, 03:52 PM   #1
robhic
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Tell Me About "Trail Boss"

A reloading and firearms dealer opened up recently near me. I never heard about nor saw the place until the UPS man told me about it. So I checked it out. (Guy needs some signs or something! )

Thought I'd buy some powder(s) as a couple of my stock were getting low PLUS I had enough faster and slower powders so figured I'd get something kinda in the middle. I wanted to try Winchester WST.

He didn't have that one but I'd seen Trail Boss right next to it and we finally (finally!) found one he had. I said OK, I'd take the Trail Boss.

Got me a 2 lb container (!!!) and I said I only really wanted 1 lb (the container looks like 4 or 8 lb size!) but that's all he had. OK, I'll just start using Trail Boss as much as possible.

It's for "Cowboy Action" which is definitely not me. I assume this is a "fluffy" powder to take up a lotta space in the cartridge. I figure I'll make up some .45 Colt, .38 spl, 357 and .45acp. How is this stuff?

I've got the largest container of a powder I really didn't want (but kinda felt sorry for the guy...) so now I'll need to use it. Any opinions?
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Old July 11, 2018, 04:28 PM   #2
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Well, I'm probably going to take some heat for this, but I don't like it. I have a half pound left from some I got three years ago and didn't find anything special about it. It simply doesn't do anything you can't do with other powders just as well. I got it to play around with in my 45-70s and it wasn't anything to write home about. I can get the same "reduced" loads with Unique, and a number of other powders that can be safely reduced and shot. It wasn't all that accurate with anything I tried it with. I shoot a lot, have a lot of powder on hand for about anything I want to load, and this stuff hasn't done anything to impress me yet. I'd give the remaining half pound away but can't find anyone around here who wants it. But, to each his own.
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Old July 11, 2018, 05:04 PM   #3
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Thanks for the information and ruining my day! I'm gonna try the 45 Colt first to load up those huge casings. I bought a 100 rd box for 45 Colt ammo so I guess it was a sign....
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Old July 11, 2018, 05:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
I'd give the remaining half pound away but can't find anyone around here who wants it. But, to each his own.
let me know where to meet you, I'll gladly take it.

Trail boss is a great powder for cowboy speed revolver rounds. It fills a case nicely, and you'd have to work to really overload a case with it. I use it in all revolver rounds from 38 spl all the way up to mild loads in the .454. I even use it in several rifle cartridges with plated or lead bullets for mild plinking loads.

I do agree with NoSecondBest, there is not much that it can do that other powders can do just as well. Still, it has a place on my shelf- especially for mild loads in the 44 mag and 45 colt.
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Old July 11, 2018, 06:01 PM   #5
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let me know where to meet you, I'll gladly take it.
You're really close. I go to Brockport about every weekend. I lied a bit though. I don't have half a pound. It only comes in 9oz bottles, but I probably have almost 8 oz left. It's yours if we can meet up sometime. I may be out there this Saturday. PM me with your email or phone and I'll get hold of you when I'm heading out there. We could probably meet at Runnings or somewhere near there.
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Old July 11, 2018, 06:26 PM   #6
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I don't think it's useless stuff but I too was unimpressed.

If you follow the directions for it's use explicitly then you actually CANNOT overload a handgun round with it. You are supposed to NEVER compress it, the little donut flakes are not supposed to get broken up.

For my needs, Titegroup makes me not need or like Trail Boss. The two powders are wildly different in what they do and how they do it, but what Titegroup is very good at is consistency in performance even with colossal unused space inside a case. That is what Trail Boss is supposed to do -- eat up that space. Titegroup uses barely any space but doesn't notice or care where most every other powder I have tried has a hell of a time dealing with open space.

Trail Boss actually stinks up any range where you shoot. It's annoying because shooting always brings amazing scents but this stuff is rancid. And it is expensive in comparison to other powders.

I would trade my half can (or more) for almost any other powder but you'd have to take me in to NYS by force.
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Old July 11, 2018, 06:36 PM   #7
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What Titegroup is not good at is filling a case enough to be seen before a bullet is placed for seating. That is my main reason for liking Trailboss a lot, but I do have to be careful about it bridging in small powder measure apertures.
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Old July 11, 2018, 07:28 PM   #8
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When I have used Trail Boss I've noticed it is cleaner than most powder. I used some in 45 Auto in new cases and was surprised to see no trace of soot in the brass. The brass still looked new.

It's a good powder for reduced jacketed bullet loads in high power rifle cartridges precisely because of the case fill. It also works well for firelapping.
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Old July 11, 2018, 07:32 PM   #9
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Bear in mind that TB is actually a very fluffy FAST burning powder and you can well get into deep do-do if you can't follow instructions and compress it.
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Old July 11, 2018, 07:38 PM   #10
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Didn't like TB for the small cartridges like .357, but works well for .44 Spec/mag and .45 Colt for some loadings. That said, I don't load much of it anymore, but did a lot of testing with it to find loads for my guns. Also good for fire lapping.

While TB can be compressed.... Don't. I found no benefit when testing .44Mag loads which on the high side are compressed. All you do is increase the pressure for virtually no gain. Stick with rule of thumb 'Never Compress' and your golden. Use a slower burning powder to get the higher velocities you might be looking for.
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Old July 11, 2018, 08:21 PM   #11
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TB is the best choice for loading subsonic .308 !
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Old July 11, 2018, 11:07 PM   #12
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Trail Boss works well it's just kind of expensive for what you get. It's very fluffy so it fills up the case better than anything else. The current advice out there is that compressed charges are OK but you start to get erratic ignition and large velocity spreads.

For light loads there are plenty of other powers out there, but Trail Boss works just about as good as anything else.
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Old July 11, 2018, 11:27 PM   #13
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I recently used Trail Boss to make some .308 reduced loads just for the heck of it. According to load data, the bullets were at around 1200 fps. Very little recoil and low noise. I guess it would be a good load for training a young shooter on a particular .308 rifle.
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Old July 12, 2018, 08:46 AM   #14
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Reddog81,

I don't see how erratic ignition and large velocity spread are OK. Large velocity spread indicates large pressure spread. A high-pressure standard deviation means an increased chance that an outlier load will occur that exceeds proof pressures. The probability is low but not zero, so I would classify those results as indicating a potential safety hazard.
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Old July 12, 2018, 10:04 AM   #15
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I have a couple loads for Trail Boss I use in my 44 Mag. lever gun. I don't remember off hand the velocities (book says around 950 fps), but it's easy shooting, easy metering, but a bit more costly (9 s jug for same price as 1 lb of other powders) and like mentioned above nuttin' special in my experience...
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Old July 12, 2018, 11:43 AM   #16
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There's can be a big difference between large velocity spreads and a load that'll damage your gun. I'm not suggesting using compressed loads. When I started using it found a couple of posts where the poster had discussed the subject with a Hodgdon representative and they were stating that compressed loads are not recommended, but not as dangerous as people make it out to be.
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Old July 12, 2018, 12:27 PM   #17
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That probably varies with the cartridge. If it's one for which Trail Boss can only get to about half the rated peak pressure, like a high power rifle cartridge, that makes sense. But if you put it in a cartridge, like 38 Special, for which 100% fill under a lead bullet is getting close to the SAAMI MAP, then trying to take it all the way to full MAP rating by compression would be a mistake, I think.
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Old July 12, 2018, 12:56 PM   #18
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Looking at all the Hodgdon 38 Special load data for Trail Boss most of the Max loads top out at 13.4K to 13.7K PSI. I'm not sure if these are 100% load density loads or not, but they are still a good margin away from SAAMI MAP. Surprisingly the highest PSI load is the 148 HBWC with 2.3 grains at 15,700 PSI.

Trying to push any of these loads hotter is probably not going to result in anything good happening. I have no idea how much Trail Boss you can fit under a 148 grain wadcutter before running into reloading problems, but this one seems like it would be the load most likely to cause an issue.
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Old July 12, 2018, 01:54 PM   #19
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I'm gearing up to try Trail Boss for some cowboy loads, because the aemi-auto stuff I load is all based on Winchester 231 and the cowboy cases have to much unused volume with 231. I get wide velocity variations. A good friend shoots cowboy action and he has told me that he only uses Trail Boss for those loads, and for other reduced loads.
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Old July 12, 2018, 03:24 PM   #20
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I think if folks like to experiment (safe bet in this area of the site) and the goal is dealing with low-mid pressure rounds with excessive case volume, grab even just a single pound of Titegroup and give it a chance.

Titegroup will -NOT- help your heebie jeebies if doubling/tripling a case worries you (it uses just a pinch in almost any revolver round) but it's miraculously insensitive to extra space and powder position.
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Old July 12, 2018, 03:45 PM   #21
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Just wanted to add one bit:
Some powders are more forgiving than others. Titegroup is NOT that powder.

If you are ham-fisted, not detail oriented, careless, reckless, stupid with a side dish of crazy... Titegroup might quite likely be the single most dangerous smokeless powder on the market. It's burn rate, high nitro content, small range window of acceptable powder charge and it's extreme density can ruin a day and take apart any firearm if you aren't skilled and diligent at the load bench.

I don't use Titegroup in a lot of places but I get great results when and where I do use it.
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Old July 12, 2018, 04:06 PM   #22
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I like trail boss. I use it, and alliant 2400, a lot for cast bullet loads for rifles.

One thing interesting I have noticed. Muzzle velocity is almost exactly proportional to square root of powder charge. That indicates complete and fast combustion and high efficiency. Other slower powders tend to have order of equation close to 1.

Whoever wants to rid of their unwanted trail boss, I will gladly pay shipping for it.

It may be an expensive powder by pound, but not quite so by number of loaded rounds.

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Old July 12, 2018, 04:15 PM   #23
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let me know where to meet you, I'll gladly take it.
Quote:
You're really close. I go to Brockport about every weekend. I lied a bit though. I don't have half a pound. It only comes in 9oz bottles, but I probably have almost 8 oz left. It's yours if we can meet up sometime. I may be out there this Saturday. PM me with your email or phone and I'll get hold of you when I'm heading out there. We could probably meet at Runnings or somewhere near there.
Haven't heard from him. Like I said, I can't give it away. I guess I'll see if it makes the grass any greener.
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Old July 12, 2018, 04:20 PM   #24
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I love Trailboss. It makes for light plinking out of my TC Encore with a 500 S&W magnum 20 in. Katahdin barrel. 440 grain hard cast have as much or a little less recoil than my 30-30s.
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Old July 12, 2018, 04:20 PM   #25
robhic
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I loaded 100 .45 COLT rounds with Trail Boss today. T&B Lead flat point 250gr bullet over 4.6gr of Trail Boss. Waaaaaaaaay down at the start loadings. I expect these to be fine for paper-punching which is my goal. I will probably get to try them next week. Looking forward to it cuz I got 2 pounds of it to use! That's some weird stuff. My first experience with powder shaped like donuts and weigh so little! Fluffy and light, this is a new one.
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