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Thread: What am I looking for in Cast Powders

  1. #61
    Boolit Master Wolfdog91's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog81 View Post
    That's because there is no list of characteristics that universally goes well with cast bullets. Even if there was a list, trying to cross reference that list with available powders and compatible cartridges would still be 3 data points and more work than cross referencing available powders and published load data. Generally if someone like Lyman or Hodgdons online manual is listing powder charges with lead bullets it's because the combination works.
    Well there has to be something, like what do guys who go off the books when making loads look for ? I know it's basically a sin in the cast community to go off the books but for the people who do what are they looking at?
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  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by reddog81 View Post
    That's because there is no list of characteristics that universally goes well with cast bullets. Even if there was a list, trying to cross reference that list with available powders and compatible cartridges would still be 3 data points and more work than cross referencing available powders and published load data. Generally if someone like Lyman or Hodgdons online manual is listing powder charges with lead bullets it's because the combination works.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfdog91 View Post
    Well there has to be something, like what do guys who go off the books when making loads look for ? I know it's basically a sin in the cast community to go off the books but for the people who do what are they looking at?
    Well---I have never found myself in your position and have always been able to find suitable loads for the powders I have in one of the many manuals I have. That said, if I were in your position i think I would start by researching as many powder charts as I could find and start cross-referencing them to see what powders were in close proximity to the powder(s) I have. Once that was accomplished I would look in the manuals for a powder that was listed for use in my firearm and start low and work up. Keeping in mind that I have never had to try this method, the only question I would then ask is how close on the comparable burn rate charts is "close enough"?
    R.D.M.

  3. #63
    Boolit Master Maven's Avatar
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    I know it's basically a sin in the cast community to go off the books but for the people who do what are they looking at?...Wolfdog

    Actually, the CB community has been rather creative in using propellants not intended for CB or even CB rifle applications, e.g., C.E. Harris' use of Red Dot (13gr.) and 2400 (16gr.) as universal CB loads in .30cal. rifles. To answer your question directly, we look for accuracy, safe pressure, low if not consistent standard deviation in velocity and economy, but I'm sure we'd trade the first two for a bit less economy. In our efforts to achieve those goals, it certainly helps to have a chronograph and a notebook to record your results.
    Last edited by Maven; 01-04-2022 at 02:17 PM.

  4. #64
    Boolit Grand Master fredj338's Avatar
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    It depends on what you want to do with your cast bullets. If you want min vel for punching paper, then faster powders will work fine. If you want to drive your cast at jacketed vel, then you may need a slower powder. I shoot a lot of PC lead & in magnums or 10mm or 357sig, I use the same powders I would shoot jacketed with. For my service calibers I shoot faster powders because I dont need max vel for practice or competition.
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  5. #65
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    The short answer is there is no short answer.

    The long answer is it depends and with shortages it becomes a very nettlesome path to get a great powder right off the bat.

    Individual guns are different and the conditioning or lack of can greatly affect how it performs.

    Then we factor in bullet alloy, lube and the whole loading regime and we have not even considered which cartridge yet. So again, what cartridge, what regime (fast, slow?) and we can get some traction.

    There is not a simple litmus test for a good cast boolit powder.

    Best regards

    Three44s
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  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wolfdog91 View Post
    Well there has to be something, like what do guys who go off the books when making loads look for ? I know it's basically a sin in the cast community to go off the books but for the people who do what are they looking at?
    Choose a combination that is closest to your desired outcome and test. Use of a chronograph is advised.

    I shoot 300 BLK in a Ruger American Ranch. I wanted subsonic plinker loads so I did some research and saw that the case is about the same size as a .38 Special / .357 Mag case and the pressure limit is about double, so there's a pretty good safety margin. Tested 5, 5.5, 6 grains of Unique and N340 for velocity. Both powders had very similar velocities for the respective charges and came in about 1000, 1050, and 1100 FPS. I now use either 5.5 Unique or N340 with cast bullets in the 180 to 200 grain range for cheap and easy to shoot loads in that gun. You aren't going to find that load data anywhere but it basically turns the gun into 30 round .38 Special rifle.

    A lot depends on what you're looking to do, how much time or money you're willing to put into it, and how much risk you are willing to take.

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by beagle View Post
    Wolf, when I started loading back about 1958, I was darn near penniless.
    Being "penniless" hasn't changed much for buying reloading components. In 1958 a pound of typical powder cost about $2.50. (I still have a very long time empty can of Unique with that price on it.) Inflation would make that equal to $28-30 today. So, overlooking today's foolish franic-panic buying anything at any cost, the old vs. the valid new prices weren't nearly as good as it may sound.

    Today's ratio of old money vs. current salaries also apply. It was very easy for a young family man to find himself penniless at a gun store in those days even IF he could find the rare one with a few components to sell.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by Three44s View Post
    The short answer is there is no short answer.

    The long answer is it depends and with shortages it becomes a very nettlesome path to get a great powder right off the bat.

    Individual guns are different and the conditioning or lack of can greatly affect how it performs.

    Then we factor in bullet alloy, lube and the whole loading regime and we have not even considered which cartridge yet. So again, what cartridge, what regime (fast, slow?) and we can get some traction.

    There is not a simple litmus test for a good cast boolit powder.

    Best regards

    Three44s
    This post by Three44's pretty much sums it up ... well said .
    Let me add ... surround yourself with 4 to 6 loading manuals and compare what powders keep being used with what bullets ant what velocities ... it gives you a good idea of what powder to use in which caliber and with what bullet .
    The labs do a lot of testing and the published data is there to be interpreted ...
    if a powder is never shown in 6 loading manuals for say 38 Special ... then it's not suited for loading 38 special .
    That's the best advice I've got on picking powders ...and not being able to find "THE" powder you want just adds to the problem ! But don't throw in the towel just keep on Loading what you can get .
    Gary
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  9. #69
    Boolit Master murf205's Avatar
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    Wolfy, I keep seeing a reference to Varget and 4064, which is about as hard to find as hens teeth today, but all my bench rest buddies are telling me that IMR 4166 behaves like Varget in their rifles and I have had very good results with it in my 223 bolt gun and 69 gr Sierra's. It is very close in burn rate to Varget and 4064 and there is data available for it and ir is not NEARLY as scarce as the holy grail called Varget. Keep your eye peeled for a pound.
    IT AINT what ya shoot--its how ya shoot it. NONE of us are as smart as ALL of us!

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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