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Firmly In The Middle

Firmly In The Middle

Medium Burning Rifle Powders.

Although by and large I’m known as “The Black Powder Guy” amongst gun’riters, for about the last five years I’ve handloaded and fired far more smokeless powder rounds than ones carrying black powder. Why? Because I’ve been deeply involved in building a shooting collection of all types of World War II firearms.

However, even before taking up black-powder cartridge reloading in the mid-1980s, I handloaded many tens of thousands of smokeless powder rifle cartridges ranging from .222 Remington to .375 H&H. For the most part, in that rifle handloading there was one self-imposed quirk. For small capacity cases I used fast-burning rifle powders, such as IMR 4198, Reloder 7 and H322 etc. For the larger cases I preferred slow burning powders like IMR 4350, ACC3100, H4831, etc. I can’t say I ignored all medium burning smokeless propellants, but they definitely didn’t get much of my attention.

All that has changed because of late, I have been shooting powders of medium burn rate by the pound. They are ideal for most of the full-size rifle cartridges associated with World War II weapons. The Lyman Reloading Handbook 49th Edition on page 458 has a list of 114 current smokeless propellants in order of relative burn rate. Those I’ve been focusing on start with Hodgdon’s H4895 at number 72 and go to Vihtavuori N150 at number 89. While I have not experienced all 17 propellants between those numbers, most certainly ones like IMR 4064, Hodgdon’s Varget, Vihtavuori N140, Reloder 15 and IMR 4320 have been given quite a workout from dozens of my rifles.

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  1. Liberty Childs says:

    I just acquired an Uberti 1873 in 45 Long Colt and I’m wondering if a slower burning powder makes sense in hand loading a pistol caliber cartridge for use in a 24″ barrel. Have you experimented with this? And if so, what are your findings?

    Many thanks,

    L Childs
    New Braunfels, Texas

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