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Old December 20, 2018, 11:46 PM   #1
M88
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What is a good versatile all around rifle powder?

New to reloading... reading posts... reading books! Picking the brain of my bro-in-law who's been doing this for years but who lives 1200 miles away. Read that every round has a powder that works BEST for that round, but that unless I'm into serious reloading for match quality rounds, many powders will work fine across calibers. Was told that Unique works fine for almost all pistol rounds? Is there a powder that would work adequately for the calibers I plan on reloading below? Or would two different ones cover these rifle calibers? Was told maybe 4895, Varget or IMR 3031 might be that versatile?

6.5 Creedmoor
.308 Win/7.62 NATO
30-06 Win
7.62x39
.444 Marlin
45-70 Govt (I COULD use black powder for this one)

In other words, I'd like to start off simple as I can with only 2 or 3 powders, even though I have many different rounds I eventually plan to reload. Unique for pistol rounds if what I'm reading is correct. Is there one powder (or two) that will take care of all the rifle rounds above? Or is that not really the best route. I've read different things in different books/ forums.
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Old December 21, 2018, 12:35 AM   #2
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H4895 comes to mind. Varget as well. Both fairly forgiving and versatile powders. That being said, you are on opposite ends of the spectrum with .45-70 and 30-06. Hard to find an all-around powder that is well suited to both of those. Even a powder that will "work" you are likely making compromises.
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Old December 21, 2018, 12:55 AM   #3
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I'll second H4895.

Hodgdon has loads listed in all the calibers that you list.

It will go from the 17-222 thru the 460 Wby.

I probably use it more than any other powder for rifle loads.

I use a load of 105 gr. in my 460 with a 500 gr bullet when I want it to be serious. But, since those bullets ain't cheap, I use cast bullets.
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Old December 21, 2018, 02:13 AM   #4
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4895 (either Hogdons or IMR)
IMR 3031
IMR 4064

They may not be the best at any one cartridge you have listed, but they will work in all of them.

I went through the "one powder for every cartridge" thing years ago, found out I was losing a lot of potential by not choosing powders that worked well in specific cartridges. Finally broke down and chose to use several powders that work well in more than one cartridge. Wound up with 3 powders for rifle cartridges, 2 for pistols. I am happy. I know people who try to find "the best" for each cartridge, they have whole shelves full of different types of powder.
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Old December 21, 2018, 07:31 AM   #5
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IMR or H4895 get my vote. I've never been a sub MOA reloader. Minute of beer/soda can at 100 yds has worked well for my my needs, sighting in, hunting, target, plinking.
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Old December 21, 2018, 10:19 AM   #6
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:14 AM   #7
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4895 would work, but not give top velocity in 7.62x39 or .444.

An evening with a Lyman manual or the Hodgon website would let you pick your own.
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:21 AM   #8
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I'd say Varget or 4895, and a fast burner like Reloder 7. I don't think you'll be happy with just 1 powder.
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:29 AM   #9
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I'd say that there's no such thing.

Like others have said, there are a few powders that have data listed for all the chamberings you have listed, but ultimately what happens is you run into the "jack of all trades, master of None..." and you'll likely be disappointed in the performance you get overall... unless all you're looking for is making the guns go "BANG!"

Having a few different cannisters of powder is not a bad thing ;-)
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:32 AM   #10
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The problem is, you have a wide range of powder capacity and cartridge pressure ratings to work with there.

I'm ASSuming the 6.5 Creed probably responds similarly to the .260 Remington, which makes me think H4350 for the 6.5 CM and .30-06. Unless you're loading the .30-06 for an M1, then stick to H4895 or IMR4895.

H4895 or Varget is going to give you the most versatility across the 6.5, .308, and .30-06.

The 7.62x39 and .45-70 will respond better to something a bit faster burning, like Reloder 7 or H4198.

As said, your best option is to open a Lyman 49 or the Hodgdon webpage and look at the bullet weights you want to run in each cartridge.

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Old December 21, 2018, 11:33 AM   #11
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Thanks guys... WEALTH of knowledge here. Scorch has confirmed what I've read and heard... while for rifle not one powder is ideal for ALL, you don't really need shelves full of a dozen different powders. That said... as I eventually get more into this I will probably experiment with fine tuning. That is down the road. For now, going to pick up some 4895, 3031 for rifle and Unique for pistol calibers. That won't be for a couple weeks though... any more comments appreciated.
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M88
Thanks guys... WEALTH of knowledge here. Scorch has confirmed what I've read and heard... while for rifle not one powder is ideal for ALL, you don't really need shelves full of a dozen different powders. That said... as I eventually get more into this I will probably experiment with fine tuning. That is down the road. For now, going to pick up some 4895, 3031 for rifle and Unique for pistol calibers. That won't be for a couple weeks though... any more comments appreciated
.

I think that would get you off to a good start!

Just to let you in on a secret, trying different powders can be a bit addictive... I'm afraid to say or look how many different powders are in my powder cabinet
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:37 AM   #13
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..and yes P-990, while I do have a modern 30-06, the vast majority of my 30-06 will be for the Garand. Looks like I should also consider one more, a fast burner like Reloder 7
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Old December 21, 2018, 11:39 AM   #14
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If you're reloading for the Garand, then powder choice is quite important, as it was designed around IMR4895 and IMR4064 as the propellant.

Faster burn rate powders may not cycle the action properly... either too violently, or not enough pressure to cycle the action...

You'll need to stay with powders near the burn rate of IMR4895 and IMR4064.

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Old December 21, 2018, 12:02 PM   #15
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Sometimes you have to have more than one powder depending on the cartridges. I got by with one powder because I had a .25-06, 7mm RM and .300 H&H. It was easy to pick one powder without giving up anything because they all used slow burning powders.

But then came the fly in the ointment with a .308 and .22-250. These need medium burning powders so I now have 2 powders on hand.

Don't drive yourself nuts by overthinking this subject and you'll have a better outcome.
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Old December 21, 2018, 12:34 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M88 View Post
..and yes P-990, while I do have a modern 30-06, the vast majority of my 30-06 will be for the Garand. Looks like I should also consider one more, a fast burner like Reloder 7
I've used Reloder 7 in .45-70 and .30-30. It worked OK there, but I vastly prefer (wait for it...) H4895 in the .30-30 and no longer own a .45-70. My memory of looking into reloading 7.62x39 wants to say Reloder 7 would work in it too.

For your M1 loading, just use H or IMR4895, 150gr bullets and you'll be in good shape.

Don't be surprised if you end up with multiple powders to optimize your loads with different bullets. I'll use one of 3 or 4 different powders in loading .223 Remington, based on which bullet weights I'm using and what powders are easily available. (Win 748, H335, H4885, Varget and Reloder 15.)

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Old December 21, 2018, 01:26 PM   #17
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He is asking for 2 or 3, not one to cover all:

4350 is being left out of the discussion (H, IMR, Accurate all close) H is less temp sensitive but I use IMR as its available and H is not)

It will do 30-06 and 6.5 well and 308 decently.

others as noted.
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Old December 21, 2018, 01:57 PM   #18
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H4895 not IMR because the H is temp stable and the IMR is not. I tend to gravitate towards H4350 but in the OP's case H4895 would cover it all until he gets to the point where he want's to improve certain cartridge loads. At that point he'll join the club and have more powder in his possession than anyone ever needs. LOL.
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Old December 21, 2018, 01:59 PM   #19
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If one of the rifles is a Garand, pick a powder for that first, and the powder selection is important. (I think the NRA published a reloading guide for the Garand, and there are several good powders to choose from) Whatever works in the Garand will probably kinda work for everything, but you'll want one or two other powders too; a faster one and maybe a slower one.

Your first post said you're looking for 2 or 3 powders; that's the right target

I said Varget earlier, but I think it's just a little too slow to work well in the Garand; not sure but I think it hammers the op rod too much.
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Old December 21, 2018, 07:36 PM   #20
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I'm afraid i'm in 300Whspr's boat.
While i like Alliant RL17 for most of my rifle loading, i also use IMR4350, H414, Hybrid 100V, IMR 4451, PP2000, PP4000, RL15, RL16, RL19, RL22, RL26, WIN748, H4895, IMR 4831.

I need a bigger shelf!!
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Old December 22, 2018, 10:23 AM   #21
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Varget. I started using it in my .223 bolt gun about a year and a half ago, and use it exclusively now in that rifle. I also now have a load I use all the time in my two 30-30s; probably won't ever change that load, no need. I also have loads for one of my '06s, and my 6mm Rem. that are great. Probably won't change powders in those, either. Until I got my .223, I was using IMR 4350 in all my '06s (3), and my 6mm. I used IMR 3031 in my 30-30s. All good there, too.

I'm starting to believe these days that for my reloading, Varget would/could easily be my "one for all" propellant in all my hunting rifles. If you haven't yet, try a pound and see for yourself. Good stuff (IMO). I use the site below when reloading using Varget:

www.hodgdonreloading.com
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Old December 22, 2018, 11:36 AM   #22
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When you try to make one powder work for several cartridges you often end up with decent performance with one, and mediocre performance from the others.

The best way to limit the number of different powders you have to buy is to limit the number of cartridges you load for. I've owned a bunch of rifles chambered for a bunch of cartridges but can accomplish everything I need to do with a 308. But not all from the same rifle. I have a 308 with a long heavy barrel and big glass for precision shooting. I have a 308 with short 18" barrel and low powered optics for heavy brush hunting. I have a 5 lb bolt action 308 for steep rugged high altitude hunting. And a standard size and weight all around rifle in 308.

Nothing magical about 308, that is just the one I picked. I could do the same thing, hunt the same animals, shoot the same targets with a 7-08, 6.5 CM, 270, 280, 30-06, or even one of the magnums if I were willing to tolerate the recoil.

But by concentrating on one cartridge and choosing different platforms to launch the bullets it really simplifies reloading. 308 isn't the only cartridge I own. I have a couple of 30-06's with too much history to let go and I've jumped on the 6.5 CM bandwagon. But I can use the same powders in 30-06 and 6.5 CM and still get optimum performance. The 308 needs a different powder, but uses the same bullets as 30-06. I can keep 2 different powders on hand and 2 different caliber bullets to reload and cover all my bases.

Not the only cartridges I shoot. But the others are cheap enough to buy that I don't bother loading for them.
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Old December 22, 2018, 12:25 PM   #23
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I will state again the OP said he was looking for 2-3 powders to cover his needs.

As 4350 hits two of them very nicely, he still has room for the others with two more powders.

Limiting your calibers is heresy . Powder limitations are bad enough.
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Old December 22, 2018, 02:07 PM   #24
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IMR4064 gives more consistent accuracy than either 4895, in .30-06(is not a Win cartridge) and .308. It'll do for the Creedmoor, but not the 7.62 x39(probably too bulky). The .45-70 will depend on the rifle, but it'll do for a Trap Door or Lever. Not so much for a Modern rifle. Hodgdon's site has no on-line data for those and 4064. Only one load for the .444 too.
Manuals may have data.
"...reading books!..." Buy a manual. Suggest the Lyman book due to its versatility.
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Old December 22, 2018, 02:29 PM   #25
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Quote:
Limiting your calibers is heresy...
This made me smile. I certainly can understand some folks who would make life simpler by choosing one or two calibers and buying rifles with different capabilities using that same caliber. Not only would it be less expensive, but one could REALLY fine tune that caliber on the bench. Personally however, I love guns and their history and their many different capabilities. I wanted a collection of as many calibers as my wallet would allow. Everybody has different goals with guns, and what they buy and why. Currently, not including shotguns, I have 36 different calibers in ammo cans, the majority of which I COULD reload, but like many of us, don't. When 9mm is around 10 cents a round, unless you have other reasons to, it's not cost effective to reload. While possible... am I going to go through the trouble of reloading 22 rim-fire when I can buy it for 3 cents a round? Then... calibers like 25 and 32 Auto, or 38 S&W that I fire so infrequently, are not going to be on the list. I've has some experience reloading on my bro-in-laws setup, but I am just starting on my own bench. SO... at least as a beginner, only going to reload starting one caliber at a time, probably 45-70 or .444 Marlin first, since that's what I have the least of on hand and because they are pricey, reloading those two would bring the most immediate and biggest savings. Also want to start casting 45 Colt from all that lead I've collected, so that's high on the list.

THANKS to the many people who posted here last couple days, I now have a handle on powders. I have 4 I'm going to start off with. Unique, 4895, 3031 and Reloder 7. Perhaps 5, Varget if I'm there and they have it and I'm in a generous mood to spend more money than I perhaps have to.
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