Most versatile powder?

topic posted Tue, October 19, 2010 - 1:20 PM by  Unsubscribed
Let's say the day comes when you and your reloading bench are one of the last viable ways of obtaining ammunition. You could think of an EOW scenario, or a progression of the current trends in legislation. Any way you slice it, here's my question....

If you were going to stockpile, what would be the most versatile powder for the widest array of rifle loads? Handgun loads?

I've heard with some powders, you can use the same charge weight for several different calibers, they're a little high on some and a little low on others, but fit well within the ballpark of safety and functionality. Do you know about any of these 'all around' charges and powders?
posted by:
  • Re: Most versatile powder?

    Sun, October 24, 2010 - 6:02 PM
    For pistols that is easy, Hercules or Red Dot or even Green Dot. Unique is also way up there too. What is great about these is they will work for any pistol caliber, and also shotguns and even a few rifles. They are dirtier than something like Accurate #5 or #7, but they fill the case nicely, they work in any powder thrower (accurate is very fine and leaves a lot of empty space in the case---and leaks from some powder throwers.)

    Lemme look at my loadbook for rifle powders. I don;t know that there is as clearcut a winner in the rifle category.
    • Unsu...

      Re: Most versatile powder?

      Mon, October 25, 2010 - 8:08 AM
      I remember reading an article about 'one charge; 9 calibers' type of thing in a handloader magazine. they had 30-30, 30'06, 30-40 Krag, and a handful of other various common '30 caliber' rifle cartridges, which would all safely work within their parameters using the same powder and same charge weight. Some were a little tight, others a little empty, but they were all very safe and relatively effective. I thought it was pretty neat but I can't remember the article anymore.
      • Re: Most versatile powder?

        Sat, October 30, 2010 - 11:19 AM
        I imagine that you can find a median point load that would fit a variety of calibers, but your performance would likely suffer. When you load rifles there are a number of considerations to be made:

        1) Many shooters, myself included, believe that a charge that neatly fills the cartridge is more consistent. Some powders leave a lot of air space and when you turn the round on its side the powder also lays down. When it burns it does not burn uniformly from back to front, but burns from back to front and top to bottom with the pressure expanding in a non uniform manner. But use a powder that fills the case (a lightly compressed load is perfect) and it burns uniformly from back to front, exactly the same every single shot. (note: this is not always possible with older cartridges because they were designed before we fully understood case pressures, or are relics from the blackpowder era.)

        2) Powders should be matched to the case itself. A cartridge like the 243, with a large case and a small neck should use slower powders because of the bottleneck pressure. Cases like the 30-06 which have a large case and a large neck can use higher pressures because there is less bottleneck.

        3) Some rifles absolutely require a specific type of powder. When Eugene Stoner built the M16 he told the Military that the weapon MUST use stick powder (extruded.) They didn't listen and the gun had reliability issues. So they switched from ball powders to stick powders. (Stoner also told them the chamber needed to be chromed, but the pencil pushers chose not to, and in VietNam if you left a round chambered overnight, it would sieze in the chamber due to the humidity. Ultimately they chrome lined the bore.)

        The AK absolutely requires ball powder. I have taken apart shells from 9 different manufacturers (including Winchester) and every one of them uses ball powder.
        • Unsu...

          Re: Most versatile powder?

          Mon, November 1, 2010 - 8:15 AM
          Of all the guns in the world, I would have thought the AK would be the LAST gun to be picky about any part of what you feed it.
          • Re: Most versatile powder?

            Wed, November 3, 2010 - 8:17 PM
            I never really understood why the AR had a powder preferance. I guess it fouls the gas operating system. But why the AK gives a shit, with it's piston driven system...?
            • Unsu...

              Re: Most versatile powder?

              Thu, November 4, 2010 - 8:13 AM
              I'm pretty sure the AK is about the only gun that can be run full-auto with BLACK POWDER rounds and still not foul or jam. My guess is that the reason for all the powders being the same is logistical simplicity.... like every other aspect of the AK's design. Very beaurocratic, no need for improvement or experimentation. here's the formula, copy, paste, mass produce, repeat. It's the Russian way.
              • Re: Most versatile powder?

                Sat, November 6, 2010 - 9:32 PM
                BP would definately foul the piston. I'll have to try it some time just for S&G. Accuracy would be for shit too.

                I thought the same as you about the powder until I pulled apart some Winchesters, and they too had ball powder, verrry fine ball powder. Consistency was like AA#5.

Recent topics in "Gunversation; a tribe to discuss guns"

Topic Author Replies Last Post
progressive reloaders offlinekeiter 4 March 24, 2014
new item in the collection XTREME PYRO 3 December 30, 2013
357 magnum for carbines Adam 6 October 22, 2013
Firearms training skill swap? Stu 1 October 10, 2013