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Thread: Are there visible differences between OLD H-380 and current production H-380?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Are there visible differences between OLD H-380 and current production H-380?

    I have a line on what appears to be ~30 lbs. of H-380. Cheap. I have not seen it in person yet, I have current production H-380 for a comparison, using a 7x Mitutoyo eye loupe, the problem is I think this maybe OLD powder. This guy's dad died 10 years ago and he is finally cleaning out the reloading stuff. It has been re-packaged into two old Red Dot cans. Both have H-380 on them, the large one has 20 Lbs. written on it and the guy says it is heavy. He said the smaller can is heavy too but did not give a weight. It has been stored in an old fridge in the basement for as long as this guy can remember (he's 64).

    I know when Hodgdon started, H-380 was one of his first, if not the first surplus powder he sold. I also know what I have as a sample to compare to is new stuff made to Hodgdon's specifications.

    The question is, to the old guys here: Was there a noticeable difference over time in H-380? Like the difference when they went to the Extreme powders and they ended up being a greenish (at least to my eye) tint?

    I'm hopefully going to get to see it on Thursday, I've bought old guy powder before on multiple occasions and have only got hooked once. I'm pretty careful to try and have a sample to compare it to unless it is a powder that is easily ID'ed like Red Dot.

    And I don't need warnings about how dangerous it is to buy powder like this. If I get it, it will be a package deal with a pickup load of stuff at a steep discount. I suspect there is more than enough "other stuff" to cover me if this ends up being fertilizer.

  2. #2
    Boolit Buddy
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    No one has found out the shelf life of ball powder. As long it is kept properly.
    H-380 is called that because Hodgdon found out that 38 grains behind a 55 grain bullet in 22-250
    cartridge shot the best.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    The question is, is there a notice difference in the appearance of current H-380 and what may very well be 50 year old H-380. I would hate to throw out that volume of powder because of manufacturing differences over the decades.

    I would think inside an old refrigerator in a basement would be pretty decent storage conditions. I don't have proof, but I suspect large temperature swings as found in an unheated/cooled building would do more damage than swings in ambient humidity.

    If I get it, I'll start out with the lowest loads I can find and work my way up from there until I'm satisfied it's what it is supposed to be.

    No one with more experience than I have willing to chime in?

  4. #4
    Boolit Master Burnt Fingers's Avatar
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    Trying to identify almost all cannister powders by sight is a fools errand.
    NRA Benefactor.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    But starting in a safe area and loading up comparing to what it is supposed to be has been done many times and works , to each their own and to each his own methods . Or with caution and time you waste not and make do with what you find or have . I would buy it and use it , I find I can always use any powder one way or another .

  6. #6
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FLINTNFIRE View Post
    But starting in a safe area and loading up comparing to what it is supposed to be has been done many times and works , to each their own and to each his own methods . Or with caution and time you waste not and make do with what you find or have . I would buy it and use it , I find I can always use any powder one way or another .
    Thank you for the constructive comment, I understand the risks of buying repackaged powder. I specifically mentioned that and that I didn't need lectures.

    Still got one anyway.

    If I listened to every neigh sayer in my life, I would have gone nowhere, done nothing, tried nothing, ever for my entire life.

    I've had a blast and will continue to right up to the time I physically can't anymore. Then I'll have great memories. When it warms up a little, I'll fire up the Harley and go for a ride. Can't remember the number of times I've been told I'm going to die riding motorcycles. 50+years worth anyway.

    When it gets too cold to ride the motorcycle, I'll pull out one of the iceboats and go cruising. Been told I'm going to die on one of those also. 45+ years.

    Time to get off the soapbox. This is a shooting forum. Not a personal beliefs forum. Sorry.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    Legend says H4895 was the first powder sold in small paper sacks.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    I thought that also, left over 30-06 powder from WWII. But wasn't sure. Dang geezer memory.


    Wow, hijacked my own thread, I'm a bad person, was going to say boy but that implies gender, oops perSON, another no-no, I'm a bad it?

    More

    Need a way to close this thread before it gets moved to the pit.......

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    15 meter. All I can tell you is H380 is a true spherical powder and not a flattened ball, it has been that way since the 1960's. There are not too many powders with that form I'm aware of Accurate 2700, H380 and H870 come to mind. I still have some surplus from Pat's with jugs marked Special Ball which is identical to canister H380 and several sold non-flattened WC852 which was H380. You may be surprised but probably 90% of people never pick up on the true spheres as opposed to the flattened ball which is way more popular ie 748-760-296-785-450-blc2-h335. Let's see if anyone can post examples of true spherical powder (we aren't talking about Hodgdon's name used but instead the form)other than the 3 I listed, caviar isn't that common in the ball powder world.


    "Are there visible differences between OLD H-380 and current production H-380?" To answer your question, NO DIFFERENCE IN FORM OR COLOR AT ALL
    Last edited by swheeler; 09-27-2019 at 07:09 PM.
    Hell, I was there!

  10. #10
    Boolit Master Burnt Fingers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 15meter View Post



    I thought that also, left over 30-06 powder from WWII. But wasn't sure. Dang geezer memory.


    Wow, hijacked my own thread, I'm a bad person, was going to say boy but that implies gender, oops perSON, another no-no, I'm a bad it?

    More

    Need a way to close this thread before it gets moved to the pit.......
    Left over 20mm cannon powder.

    The Bofors AA mounts on ships used 37 lbs of powder per minute.
    NRA Benefactor.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Here is an offer of something you might try first, before loading & shooting...

    Why don't you take a small measured amount of powder from the old, an equal amount of powder from the new. Place in separate piles & touch them off with a match to see if the powders burn in a similar manner.

    Doing that before you attempt to try loading equal amounts & shooting thru a chronograph to compare.

    You may find that the older powder doesn't "take off" & burn like the newer powder, demonstrating that it is likely compromised due to age/storage/etc., & you may end up fertilizing your garden or yard with the old powder, before going thru the extra efforts to load & test.

    Of course this is up to you.

    I have done the same thing with some 50+ year old Alliant Red Dot & found that it burned at approx. the same rate as a new equal amount purchased in 2018. Now, I have to load some up with low powered(Start) loads & shoot thru a chrony, working up as it seems necesary to test it that way.. Hopefully this month, anyway.

    A similar situation to yours, it seems to me, anyway... Can't hurt.

    G'Luck! whatever ya do!
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burnt Fingers View Post
    Left over 20mm cannon powder.

    The Bofors AA mounts on ships used 37 lbs of powder per minute.
    Which, the 380 or the 4895 that another poster listed as the first surplus powder that Hodgdon sold? I always thought the 4895 was the original 30-06 powder.

    Always on the hunt for more info.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Picked the stuff up today, not as much powder as I expected, but it was made up for with the 125 Lbs. of lead, the 22 loading dies sets instead of 8, the majority RCBS, the 4000+ cast boolits in calibers and weights that I load, the cans of gas checks, the 6 Lyman H&I dies plus top punches, the almost new polisher plus an unopened can of Lyman walnut media, the several thousand pieces of brass with 25-30% new in the package, hundreds of J-boolits. Half a dozen Lyman molds with handles on all of them, the 12000+ primers. 8-10 loading manuals, including some old early ones to fill out the collection.Click image for larger version. 

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  14. #14
    Boolit Master dbosman's Avatar
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    What a mess for the heirs. It was good of you to take that off their hands.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbosman View Post
    What a mess for the heirs. It was good of you to take that off their hands.
    And my daughter is already taking my name in vain

  16. #16
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    One of the coolest box in this batch has this on the cover:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    And this on the inside of the lid when you open the box for display:

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  17. #17
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    And I took my sample of current H-380 and a 7x eye loupe, round kernels of powder, virtually indentical, the only difference I could see was there were a couple of mis-shaped kernels, I suspect the sifting and grading process has improved over time.

    Next step is to check if equal volumes come very close to equal weight. Lee scoops here we come.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    That looks to be quite a haul and sounds like you got some sorting in your future, enjoy.
    Hell, I was there!

  19. #19
    Boolit Master 15meter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 15meter View Post
    And I took my sample of current H-380 and a 7x eye loupe, round kernels of powder, virtually indentical, the only difference I could see was there were a couple of mis-shaped kernels, I suspect the sifting and grading process has improved over time.

    Next step is to check if equal volumes come very close to equal weight. Lee scoops here we come.

    5 tries with a Lee scoop of the old stuff, followed by 5 scoops of new stuff, the old stuff was +/- .2 tenths from the first scoop to the last. The new stuff was almost dead on all five tries. Newer stuff they must have the density more consistent with newer technology/manufacturing processes.

    Pulled out the Lee slider chart after I was done to see what Lee said the scoop should weigh. Within .3 of a grain what Lee thinks it should weigh.

    Correct density, color, size and shape of the kernels. Starting to look a lot like Christmas

    Next, may try the burn test to see if there is a noticeable difference. Problem is, even if I weigh out the exact same amount of powder, I suspect that shape of pile, diameter and height plus how the match is presented to the powder along with the variability of the flame from the match may throw too many un-measurable variables to have a valid repeatable/reproducible test.

    Then it's on to trying to blow my self up.

    A3-03's are strong right?
    Last edited by 15meter; 09-30-2019 at 10:32 AM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Grand Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    SCORE!!!!
    I'm betting on you and that haul of H380. I recently used some W760 that has endured every day in an open air shed (in the shade) in temps from 113 down to 8 Fahrenheit since 1975 when my late friend bought it. Works just fine. It didn't smell like cat pee so I used it.
    Cheers to being slightly cautious but we ain't skeered.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check