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GUNS Magazine January 2012 Digital Edition - Page 16
STORY: John Barsness Most handloaders want all the velocity they can get, even if they won’t admit it. It’s a horn o’plenty for reloaders. ost handloaders want all the velocity possible from their rifle loads. Oh, there are still some “woods hunters” who prefer moderation, either because slower bullets chew up less venison, or the ancient falsehood that lumbering roundnoses plow through branches without deflecting. A few Luddites say things like, “The .30-06 has been taking big game just fine for over century, so what’s the point of more velocity?” By and large, however, most of us think more zip is better, even if we won’t admit it in public. Luckily, powder manufacturers keep inventing new formulas, most intended to produce more feet per second. Many of these powders are developed specifically for one cartridge (not a new trend, by the way) but also turn out to breathe new fire into other rounds. This serendipity occurs over and over again. Perhaps the most famous example is Hodgdon’s H4831 and the .270 Winchester. Originally, H4831 was developed for 20mm cannons, and just happened to work about perfectly in the .270. A more recent military powder that turned civilian is Ramshot TAC, developed by a Belgian company for use in automatic occurs in .30-06 and smaller cases with ball powders. Sometimes a standard primer doesn’t result in the accuracy I’m expecting and a switch to a magnum primer often solves the problem. I’ve ended up using magnum primers in cases as small as the .220 Swift with ball powders. Another primer to try with ball powders in .30-06-sized cases is the Winchester PerfeCt PoWders M rifles. TAC also happens to works perfectly in commercial rounds from the .17 Remington Fireball to the .350 Remington Magnum. (Oh, and it’s also great in the .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, not too surprising since it was developed for the military versions of both rounds.) Not all accidentally-perfectpowders are military, however. Hodgdon Lil’Gun was developed for the .410 and 28-gauge shotguns, but also transformed the .22 Hornet, one of the reasons the Hornet has seen a resurgence over the past decade or so. Combining Lil’Gun and any plastic-tip, 40-grain bullet, and the old Hornet basically matches the trajectory of original 50-grain load in the .222 Remington—with half the powder. So yes, there may be a perfect powder out there, even for older rounds. If you want more speed (c’mon, admit it) one recent invention can really help when researching the latest powders. Once upon a time all handloading data was printed on paper, then only updated every few years when a company finally got around to publishing a new loading manual, when it still lacked data for any powders introduced since the manual was sent to the printer. These days most loading data is instantly accessible on something called the Internet—though a few companies hold back some or all of their info, in order to continue to make money selling printed manuals. sniffing Around I recently went through just about every source of loading data available, looking for perfect powders for many popular rifle cartridges. Actually, this has been an ongoing process, Large Rifle, probably the hottest of the standard primers. Occasionally, a match or benchrest primer makes a noticeable difference in accuracy even in hunting rifles. These are simply more consistent versions of any company’s regular primers. The CCI BR-4 is a particular favorite in small varmint rounds, and the Federal 215M in cartridges with more powder room than the .30-06. A Note oN Primers he general rule followed in my T handloads is to use standard primers in any cases up to and including the .30-06 in powder capacity, and magnum primers in any larger cases. An occasional exception 16 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 2