Pulling Powders and How to ID them

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jimkim posted this 07 September 2008

If your like me you have ammo you don't use laying around your house. I don't mean by the case, but rather partial boxes. If you decide to pull the powder how do you ID it? I have some Egyptian 8x57mm, Chilean 7x57, Winchester 9mm NATO ammo, some 303 British ammo(FN), Yugoslavian 30-06 ammo, and some 16 ga.  Remington Sure Shot paper hulled ammo. Is there a sight to find all of this on?

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RicinYakima posted this 07 September 2008

Jimkim,

This is a really bad idea for the following reasons:

  1. This rounds were/may have been loaded with non-conister powders.

  2. They were loaded to performance goals, so powder charge varies between rounds even with the same headstamp.

  3. Powders that look the same and measure the same with a micrometer, have different coatings and burn at different rates.

For safety reasons, please reconsider this project.

Ric

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billwnr posted this 07 September 2008

If you decide to discard the powders instead of salvaging them I can say it does lend towards a spectacular fire cone in the back yard if you decide to ignite them.  16 ounces of powder throws a flame about 8 feet high.

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jimkim posted this 07 September 2008

Thats what I usually do billwnr. I just wondered if there was a source to ID the powder. I pulled some one time(must have been 500 rounds) and burned it only to find out it was the same as IMR-3031. I try not to think about that too much.

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Notlwonk posted this 07 September 2008

I had some CMP 30-06 ammo, (de-linked and put in M-1 Garand clips) that I pulled. I thought the powder would be the same as 4895....it was faster, I'm glad I started low! The point is don't assume too much and start low!

When I pulled it, I spot checked the weight periodically and made a 'visual determination' that it all looked the same, then put it into quart jars and  stirred well with a wooden spoon to insure blending. It all came from the same case / lot number.  It's a good cast bullet powder...well under full power. 

I wouldn't want to work with mixed or unknown lot numbers .

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Largom posted this 08 September 2008

I like to save money as much as anyone else but unknown powders scare the hell out of me.  Besides, if it did work and shot great you would not be able to get any more of the same. It's just not worth it!

     Larry

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w30wcf posted this 08 September 2008

Sound advice from our fellow cast bullet enthusiasts!                                              However.......if one still wants to play with unknown propellants, the best thing to do is to chronograph the cartridges from which the powder will be taken and compare the velocity, powder charge weight, and bullet weight to current reloading manuals to get an idea of the burning rate.

Personally, my current interest is dissecting early smokeless .44-40 and .30-30 cartridges and using the powder (usually “Sharpshooter"(.44-40) and “Lightning"(.30-30) in my current .44-40 and .30-30 cartridge reloads as a way of ....stepping back in time.......

w30wcf

  

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Brodie posted this 08 September 2008

Uness you want an unscheduled visit to the Emeergency Department and or an expensive trip to the gunshop ; Tanke the unknown powder you pulled from that strange or even familiar round and spread it on the lawn where it will make great fertilizer, and won't harm anybody.  The cost of reconstructive surgery is so high now that saving a few bucks on some powder is foolish.

B.E.Brickey

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rcorbitt posted this 10 September 2008

w30wcf wrote: Sound advice from our fellow cast bullet enthusiasts!                                              However.......if one still wants to play with unknown propellants, the best thing to do is to chronograph the cartridges from which the powder will be taken and compare the velocity, powder charge weight, and bullet weight to current reloading manuals to get an idea of the burning rate. As a small commercial remanufacturer with occasional access to pressure testing equipment (when Ramshot isn't reshooting their entire manual), I can tell you that there's a whole lot more involved with burning rate ... things like expansion ratios, average operating pressures, primer brisance, and lots, lots more.  Internal ballistics is about 3/4 science and 1/4 magic/luck/guesstimation.  There are programs that purport to be able to “distill” load data for cartridges -- but the big thing is that they depend on the near-absolute consistency of canister-grade powders.

'Canister-grade powder' is a term associated with a lot of nonsense and confusion.  A canister-grade powder is one that's available to the general public that meets industry standards for consistency (both in composition and performance).  Canister-grade powders are often made in smaller, “to-order” batches.  They are comparatively expensive to produce, for reasons that should seem obvious. 

Non-canister powders are those produced for the ammunition industry &/or military use.  They have a much wider range of tolerance for performance specs, as each ammunition manufacturer will sample the batch and conduct internal ballistics testing (concerning velocity/pressure curves, residue, bore erosion, temperature stability, etc.) before accepting the lot.  Non-canister powders are often produced and used in 50,000-lb lots, shipped in railroad tank cars.  If any two lots of non-canister powders are identical, it's an accident or a miracle.  All of the surplus powder on the market is non-canister unless otherwise marked ... which means that you start at the bottom and work up, regardless of what the powder re-seller tells you about burn rate.  I can elucidate at length about mil-surp powders; I've used several hundred pounds of them.  Starting near maximum with one of these powders that “uses XXX data” is a great way to blow up a rifle.

Trying to salvage powders from foreign military cartridges that are 50-odd years old ... there's words for that, but I won't use them here.  Buy or borrow a rifle in those calibers and see if they fire, then clean the rifles as for corrosive priming.   Or give the ammo to someone who has one of those rifles.  Or do as I do for dud/oddball ammo and stir up a fire ant nest, dump the powder on the swarming pests, and ignite (safely, please).

Disassembling newer Winchester ammo is fairly straightforward -- there's data somewhere on their Website that identifies the powder used.  Winchester is the only major ammo manufacturer that I've been able to identify as using canister-grade powders in their ammo.  (This only applies to their commercial ammo, NOT to military stuff!)

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w30wcf posted this 15 October 2008

rcorbitt,

Thank you for the educational information. No doubt, primer type, case brand, bullet type all have an affect on ballistics / chamber pressure as do individual rifles.

Salvaging an unknown powder from the same lot of military ammunition for use in a similar application can be done.......but is definitely not recommended for the casual reloader.

Years ago the head of the ballistics lab for a smokeless powder manufacturer who is now retired told me that when they would get an order for powder from an ammunition manufacturer, sometimes the manufacturer would specify which powder and the charge weight they wanted to = a certain velocity. 

In other words, the powder manufacturer would have to modify the burning rate of a particular powder to meet the customer specifications.  So, what looks like 3031 or 2400, Ball C, HiVel 2 or. or,  etc. taken from dissected cartridges, may have an entirely different burning rate than powders available commercially. 

Stay safe,

w30wcf      

 

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35Whelen posted this 02 January 2009

 I do as w30wcf suggested. I bought three sealed cases of 7.62x54r; Hungarian, Bulgarian, and U.S. Gov't contract ammo. When I disassemble the cartridges (one type at a time), I pour the powder from them into an empty powder can that I've wrapped in duct tape. On the can I note the cartridge, country of origin, powder weight, bullet weight and velocity. I as a rule do not reload the powder into a different cartridge, but I've found that I can re-use the powder (normally at a slightly reduced charge weight) and bullet, or same weight bullet, in the same cartridge and get much better accuracy. In fact, I have on occassion, broken down the old military cartridges, re-weighed the powder and re-seated the bullet with a nice improvement in accuracy.

   35W

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Bruce Drake posted this 09 June 2009

With care and the proper precautions you can reuse powder from surplus ammo. With today's ammo prices, it's worth buying a case of surplus ammo for the components. I bought a case of Russian 7.62x54R on Sunday that is averaging 47gr of a nice stick powder for each bullet along with a nice .311 jacketed bullet to use in my enfields, mosins, and arisakas in later use. $94 out the door for 440 rounds. At current prices for equal powder weights (3lbs) and bullets (440), I saved $110 in component prices alone. Two years ago, I bought a case of Albanian 7.62x54R and that powder currently is being used in my 22-250 for my high-power match rifle.

THe key in all this is being cautious and working up from the load developed for the parent cartridge. I've developed decent loads for my rifles from 8mm Turk, 8mm Ecuadorian, 7.62x54R Albanian, and 303 Brit from Pakistan surplus rifle cartridges in other cartridges that I load (223 Rem, 22-250 Rem, 6.5 Jap, 308 Win, 30-06 and 8mm Siamese Mauser.) I mark their original mean powder wieghts and then ensure I don't load a heavier charge or bullet then what they normally load.

Key is to start with a catsneeze load and build up from there.

Bruce

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mtn_runner posted this 29 December 2009

I concur with Mr. Drake - with common sense, pull down milsurp powder can be used safely.

About 10 years ago I ended up with a big ammo box of 7x57 headstamped “PS - 1946".  The powder in these is an interesting flake powder, and after pulling and weighing 50 or so, the average showed 40 grains pushing a 154 grain fmj bullet.  I recovered about 3 pounds of this powder (yes, 500 rounds).  I use it with 140 gr jacketed bullets, and the charge reduce about 5% from the original load.  In my 7x57 Argentine mauser, this is a real tack driver.  However, I will not use this powder with CB's as I do not know what it will do with reduced charges.

As a side note on military ammo being loaded to particular specifications:

My Grandfather worked at the Lake City arsenal during WWII and was part of the quality control department.  One of his favorite stories was in regard to the differences in accuracy tests for ammo manufactured for the US vs ammo manufactured for the British.  Among the tests for the US was that the ammo had to group 4 inches or less at 100yds on a test rifle setup.  By contrast, the main requirement for the British was that the bullets would fire when the trigger was pulled.

Not sure how accurate this story is, but it is a poignant reminder of the desperation of folks during those bad times.

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Ed Harris posted this 29 December 2009

I was told by a retired Winchester engineer who had worked in ammunition production at New Haven, prior to being drafted during WWII, that the nominal accuracy specifications for .303 they produced required a 6 inch Mean Radius at 500 yards for clipped “rifle pack", and that all ammunition failing to meet that, but which satisfied other requirements was either belted 4:1, ball:tracer for use in the Vickers machinegun or packed in 32 round boxes for loading into Lewis or BREN gun magazines.

73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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mtn_runner posted this 29 December 2009

Thanks Ed,

Your story is a lot more detailed than mine and so maybe more accurate.  And WOW!, 6 inches at 500 yds is something I'd like to able to achieve once or twice in my lifetime, much less with production military ammo.

As an aside, I also have a dwindling supply of 303 british cupro-nickel fmj's loaded up with cordite.  I guess that these are approaching 100 years old by now.   I don't try to 'pull down' (pull out) this propellant, but the rounds are not without their redeeming qualities.  My dad purchased these about 50 years ago when you could buy a decent Enfield for $5 bucks at the local dry goods store and these cordite rounds for a penny each (or less).  When I was a kid, we would clip the top 1/8 inch or so off the tip of the bullet for hunting rounds, and I shot one of the biggest mulies of my life with a $5 dollar enfield and these clipped rounds.

The main redeeming value of these bullets, and the reason I will be unhappy when the last 500 rounds or so are gone, is that they consistently hang fire, 1/4 to 1/2 second or so, but always fire.  This feature was of great value to me 30 years ago, and is currently of great value to my son and daughter, in learning to hold on the target through and after the trigger squeeze.

Please excuse this diversion - I guess the point on this string is that there is some old milsurp ammo that is best shot as loaded and not worry about salvaging the propellant.

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mtn_runner posted this 29 December 2009

Ed,

Whoops, I missed 'Mean Radius' and interpreted as diameter. Twelve inches at 500 yards is a good standard, and would challenge the capabilities of anyone shooting  under enemy fire, or otherwise.

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Eddie Southgate posted this 28 October 2016

jimkim wrote: If your like me you have ammo you don't use laying around your house. I don't mean by the case, but rather partial boxes. If you decide to pull the powder how do you ID it? I have some Egyptian 8x57mm, Chilean 7x57, Winchester 9mm NATO ammo, some 303 British ammo(FN), Yugoslavian 30-06 ammo, and some 16 ga.  Remington Sure Shot paper hulled ammo. Is there a sight to find all of this on? I hope you didn't break down those sure Shot's . I would probably be interested in buying them if they are the 2 9/16 version. My 1913 16ga Mod 1912 is always in need of fodder.   Eddie

Grumpy Old Man With A Gun......Do Not Touch .

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gpidaho posted this 28 October 2016

Eddie: Check out the dates on theses posts. Good shooting Gp

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R. Dupraz posted this 29 October 2016

I have never attempted to identify or use any unkown powder nor will I. As a wild guess, I probably use a couple bricks of primers a year or so. Probably not as much as some others but always with known components. I have pulled down surplus ammo, but only because the case were needed to reform to a different cal. The powder ended up on my lawn.      It is this poor knave's belief that all the modern ammunition and powder manufacturer's have invested millions in processes and professional people in order figure out how to make these components as safe and accurate as they can for us. So what makes this basement mechanic think that he can safely get involved in the process just to save a few bucks.      Yes, new components are expensive any more and I'm not going to live forever but I certainly don't want to hurry things up any by using unidentifiable unkowns. There are enough other daily risks in life as it is without intentionally adding to the list.     My personal test when considering these kinds of questions is, what do I have to gain and what do I have to lose.   And yes, I did check the date, but thought that I would add my blather to this topic anyway.   

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gpidaho posted this 29 October 2016

Mr. Dupraz, I was in no way trying to be contrary, just pointing out that the chances of the 16ga shells being available these years later were slim. I believe the topic worth discussing. I might pull down some (say 308) military ammo and return the powder and bullets to new cases and fresh primers but that's as far as I would go on saving components. The chances of things going wrong are to high to make the jump to different calibers and bullet weights to make it worth my while to save a couple of bucks. Gp

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R. Dupraz posted this 29 October 2016

gpidaho:    No problem, nothing intended, nothing taken. I realize that what I write some times can be taken differently by others than what I intend..   I also believe that this is a worthwhile discussion to be renewed every once in a while. And that's what prompted my post, even if it was an old topic. Especially after reading on some other forums about what some shooters are doing with smokeless powders. Shudder!, shudder!

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