Yeti

Factors when choosing a powder

blueridge

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When choosing an initial powder to start a new load development, what do you prioritize?
Listed as most accurate tested in your manual, availability (if you already have it on hand or expected future availability), expected velocity, load density, what other folks are using? What's your internal process for narrowing it down?

I just got a 280AI and am putting together components. I will be shooting the 143gr Hammer Hunter. IMR4831 is listed as most accurate tested in Nosler's book for 140gr, but pretty close to full capacity. I have a pound of RL17 already on hand. On Hammer's site, most are using RL26 or RL23 (neither of which is listed in the Nosler manual), but RL26 would likely be most challenging to get. If you find a jug of 4350 or 4831SC, do you go with availability?
 

rtraverdavis

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I feel like Nosler needs to update the powders they list for their load data. Since you’re loading Hammers, I’d give Steve a call and see what he suggests.

But to answer your question I usually look for higher listed velocities and load densities first when choosing a powder, but beggars can’t be choosers in this market. Gotta be Johnny-on-the-Spot and have quick hands to snag the magic powders at the secret meeting spot you told me about. 😉
 

winmag

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1. Correct burn rate for the application (this is probably obvious, but things get interesting if you’re looking for max velocity with absolute hammers)
2. Temperature stability (if a hunting load)
3. Velocity
4. Load Density (this is usually sorted out by getting #1 burn rate correct though)

I put zero weight on what the manual says was accurate in their test rifle. Also zero weight on availability since I have finally built up a relatively complete range of powders and buy 8 pounders of a given powder once I decide to use it as my chosen load for a gun. Availability would probably be #3 if I didn’t have powders already at hand.

If you’re loading hammers then just do whatever Steve says until your tests prove otherwise.
 

GlockZ

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Now a days, as someone else stated, whatever is available. But because I reload multiple calibers, I usually choose powders that I can reload multiple calibers, the IMR4350 & 4831, and the 'H' versions of both are one example.
 

rjthehunter

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Do a quick Google. I'm sure it's been talked about on a forum somewhere. See if anyone has luck with some of the powders you have. But like glockz said any IMR4350 or IMR4831 seem to be pretty versatile powders that should work just fine!
 

antelopedundee

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If I have it or can get it my preference is to use the Reloder or IMR Enduron powders with the copper fouling reducer added. Then pick the one that gives the highest velocity with a weight that at least 90% fills the case.
 

BRI

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I'm loading RL23 in my 280AI and using 143 grain Hammer Hunters as well. Tried H4831sc and RL19 as well with good results but seemed to get slightly better accuracy with RL23. Never tried RL26. When I was shooting 160 grain accubonds or the 145 grain Barnes lrx it seemed RL19 was slightly better.
 

Wind Gypsy

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Historically my answer would be that I choose the Hodgdon extreme line powder with the most appropriate burn rate. I’d still do that but now I’d also consider RL23 or RL16 if those burn rates fit the bill.

Per the OP, RL17 is a good burn rate for your application and will get you near or at the highest velocity you can. It is pretty temperature sensitive though. It similar to the 4350s for burn rates. I chose h4350 for my 7 saum with 145 monos so I think it’s a good spot for that application. Any of the 4350-4831 burn rates should work for you. RL23 and RL26 are similar burn rate to h4831.
 
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antelopedundee

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Until the surgeons get done with me I won't be loading anything. Loaded some test rounds sometime last August and they are still on my bench.
 

DamascusSteel

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I was listening to someone talk about how they pick a powder and they were saying they look for appropriate burn rate but also just as important was which powder gave them the best case fill. I was thinking, I guess the best way to do that would be to look at the case fill line of the reloading manual and find the one that mathematically adds up. Because once you play with seating depths or different brass thicknesses and brass variances in general would all change the case fill. Has anyone gone down that rabbit hole and if so what did you find?
 

SilverDollars

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Howdy. Well now-a-days I must research and prepare my loads with back-ups loads in mind. I mean if I can't find the powder of my first choosing, then I must resort to a back-up powder selection. And that, requires some research and testing to find the correct or perhaps alternative setup for the results I wish to have. I just can't continue to count on a specific powder being available when I want it.
 

Brian in Montana

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Beyond things like appropriate burn rate, etc, something I pay attention to quite a bit is how much of the case capacity it takes up (I guess we call this load density). Noslers published info is very good about including the percentage of the casing the powder fills. Even if I'm working with a different bullet I always refer to Nosler's website to get at least get a ballpark feel for this aspect. I often find my most accurate loads tend to be ones in which the bullet when seated is either just touching the powder load, or almost is; this usually translates to about 95% capacity +/-. Seems when I go to far either direction, some instabilities begin to occur - pressure spikes and such, unexpected fliers.

But of course, you gotta work up to the highest charges regardless of what you're using. I would venture a theory that this is one of the reasons despite burn rate that powders like Varget, H4895, and RL15 tend to be go-tos in short actions. And H4831, IMR4831, and RL19 usually go so well with long actions.
 

SnowyMountaineer

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Known performance in my other/past rifles, temp sensitivity...that's about it until I get to consistency in velocity and on target. I care fairly little how much velocity I'm squeezing out personally, as long as it's consistent and gives the results I want.
 

tacticalslings

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Powder choice should be based on
Caliber
Bullet weight
Barrel length
Environmental conditions to be shot in
Rifle type. Gas gun and bolt guns often need different powder types to get the most out of

After that typically you want a rifle powder that comes close to 100 percent case capacity with bullet seated to required length for the weapon it’s to be shot in

For example I shoot a way different powder charge for my 155 grain 308 FTR rifle than I do for my SR25. The SR25 is run at magazine length 2.8” max and the FTR has a really long throat ( design for 200 grain bullets at 2.9”) and I can barely load the 155’s long enough
 

Lonster

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What others have already stated, although lately the primary factor has been availability.
 
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I've been relying heavily on Quick Load. I load for multiple calibers and have probably close to 20 different powders on hand. I'll work up loads in QL and find where I can expect max pressure and also how quickly that pressure would theoretically spike with any particular powder. It really cuts down on cost of powder only to find out it won't do what I want it to do.
 

cahunter805

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Known performance in my other/past rifles, temp sensitivity...that's about it until I get to consistency in velocity and on target. I care fairly little how much velocity I'm squeezing out personally, as long as it's consistent and gives the results I want.
+1. I also tend to try and have a powder that fills the case for a load density of close to 100% and a powder that stable. For most main stream cartridges there are usually some pretty standard node/loads for most popular bullets/powders also.
 

BenInMT

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In my 280AI I used to shoot RL22 and then migrated to H4831SC. Then I put a short barrel on it and though I was shooting some good groups velocity took a real hit with both of those powders + short barrel - so I ended up in RL26. But to answer your question I just read around on the internets and see what the vast majority of people are using with the projectile/cartridge I want to shoot and go from there. No reason to reinvent the wheel.
 

Farmerj

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What’s already on the shelf at home.

What’s also the most usable across all my platforms too.
 
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