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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argie1891 posted this 18 November 2018

I have been at the range when 2 rifles have blown up. One guy had an extractor from a single shot stuck in his nose ( not in the nose but stuck in the top of the nose)  he was real lucky he had glasses on.  the lenses of his glasses were peppered with metal and powder flakes. The other guy got of easy only lost a rifle and not anything more important. Trust me I am a tightwad but I would not load anything with pulled down powder unless I knew what it was. and with milatary ammo you can never know for sure. 

if you need me I will be at the range

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BigMan54 posted this 18 November 2018

About 35 odd years ago, I was given 100rds of U.S. Gov't - "DM-42" in sealed boxes.

I figured I'd just shoot it up in my 03-A3 2 groove Remington. I cracked the boxes and it wouldn't chamber. It wouldn't chamber in my WIN Model 70, .30-06 (1973 vintage) . I tried it in 2 other rifles,  an early Model 700 & a 1903 Springfield. No luck. Asked around, even wrote the CMP. No answers. 

So I broke it down, all cases were measured at 2.510", I trimmed every case down to 2.484. FL Sized it, decapping the old corrosive primers in the process.  I flushed the powder (4895 looking) down the toilet. Rinsed the cases in Vinegar & again in fresh water, air dried. ( DAD said to do it that way) Back then I still cut out primer pockets with a small knife. I tried a RCBS Primer Pockets Swager for my RockChucker.  The primers feel out of the 5.56 brass when reloaded. A 100 cases wasted. Never used a swager again. Still using the LYMAN Primer Pocket Reamer System.  

New FED 210, fresh IMR 4895 & the original 151-2gr bullets. Shot great in the 03-A3 & my M70, 1 1/2 - 2" at 100yrds.

One of the old guys at the range told me I should have sprayed WD-40 into each case to deactivate the primers & wait a week. He also said I wasted the powder by not spreading it on the lawn as fertilizer.

I thanked him for the advice. 

Long time Caster/Reloader, Getting back into it after almost 10yrs. Life Member NRA 40+yrs, Life S.A.S.S. #375. Does this mean a description of me as a fumble-fingered knuckle-draggin' baboon. I also drool in my sleep. I firmly believe that true happiness is a warm gun. Did I mention how much I HATE auto-correct on this blasted tablet.

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JSH posted this 18 November 2018

Started 10 years ago, then silent for 2 years and reserected again, interesting.

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Ken Campbell Iowa posted this 18 November 2018

worth repeating that there is no sure fire way to de-activate primers .... ok, maybe firing them ....  but soaking in wd-40 or other compounds is not successful.   in reloading, usually better to not * do that * when somebody says * do that * .

ken

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kjohn posted this 16 October 2019

Interesting.  I have pulled bullets on surplus 7.62x54R and used the bullet and 75% of the powder in my .303's.  I keep the remaining 25% of the 54R powder in a clearly marked container with the load marked on it, in the event I load some .303 in the future.  Not one to waste good components, I then load around 10-12 gr. of Unique or 700X in the 54R case under a cast bullet.  I also pull bullets and powder from surplus 7.62x39 and use all the powder and the bullet in .303's, the load some Unique or 700X in the 39 case under a cast bullet.

A couple of years ago, I scored 10 lbs. of Unique for $50 from a friend at a gun show.  At another show, I scored a big can of 700X for $50.  I also have a boatload of various other powders on hand.

Two things you never want to run low on.....

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mashburn posted this 16 October 2019

Hello,

The pulled powder makes good grass fertilizer. Scatter thinly and watch the grass grow. I'm a tight wad myself, but I don't want to lose any body parts even though most of mine are worn out or are artificial replacements.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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BudHyett posted this 16 October 2019

The mixture of chemicals to manufacture powder is an organic chemical reaction where the powder for canister-grade powder comes from the narrow band in the middle that fits within the designated burning rate and energy content standards. The chemical reactions that produce the components of smokeless powder are predictable, but not precisely controllable. 

When the powder is mixed, a sample (or several) is run through instrumentation to precisely determine energy content and burning rate. If the powder is slightly stronger, faster, weaker, slower, the data is shopped to the ammunition loaders for them to select which cartridge the manufacturers can use the powder. The manufacturers then load a sample and test their selection before running the powder in thousands of rounds of consumer ammunition for target or hunting. 

You can tear down a +P cartridge and say, "Man, that +P load is just an extra grain of Bullseye, I can do that." You are sure the powder is Bullseye, it looks just like the powder out of the can on your shelf. What you do not realize is that lot # of Bullseye in the cartridge is ninety percent the energy content of canister-grade and the added grain weight is a compensation. 

There are too many variables from above in the selection of powder, then you add in whether the ammunition was stored for years in the heat and cold of a warehouse for deterioration of the powder over time. The testing standard of the ammunition maker in wartime versus peacetime quality is another factor.

This is a company in Moline, Illinois who makes the testing equipment. You can see this is a serious and expensive business.   Parr Instrument Company

Also on a personal note, injuries to the head are devastating. Blowing up a gun can severely injure you. I have just gone through a full year of jaw surgeries to remove cancer from my jaw that resulted in a bone graft of my tibia to replace two-thirds of my jaw. The next step is pins, inserts and teeth. I dreamed many nights in the hospital of a sausage and mushroom omelette made with Swiss cheese plus hash browns and cottage cheese when I awoke. (All I want for Christmas is my teeth and a medium-rare rib-eye steak.)

There are too many variables that the reloader has no way to test. I will spend the money for canister-grade powder and spread pulled powder on the grass as fertilizer.

Country boy from Western Illinois, living in the Magical Pacific Northwest

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mashburn posted this 16 October 2019

Hello Again,

The more that I think about it, I can't understand why anyone would even think of pulling unknown powders and trying to identify them for reuse.. Unless the left takes control and does away with ammo and reloading components, then I would consider trying something of that sort. I know how to make black powder and have been doing it since I was an adolescent So I would probably switch to black powder if the need arose.. I will salvage powder from my loads in which I'm sure of what powder with which they are loaded.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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Squid Boy posted this 16 October 2019

Interesting thread. My Quick Load program comes with photos of almost every powder listed but trying to identify one out of several hundred wouldn't be my idea of a good time. I save scraped powder to burn out ground bees. Works well and makes for an impressive display. Squid

"Squid Pro Quo"

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beagle6 posted this 16 October 2019

Earl Narramore's wonderful book " Principles and Practice of Reloading Ammunition" ( unfortunately long out of print) had a whole section on reloading with an unknown powder. The author was in charge of the Frankfort Arsenal. ( I believe it was Frankfort). I wish someone would reprint the book.

beagle6

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M3 Mitch posted this 16 October 2019

OP, consider using this ammo as "trade goods" - it's factory loaded ammo, if you have stored it in good conditions, it should still work fine.  Maybe take it to a gun show.  Or post up here and sell it to someone who can use it.

 

Strongly agree with all who have discouraged breaking it down for the powder.  To add to their cautions, I have read, I think in Phil Sharpe's book, that for example what we know as cannister-grade Unique would be known to insiders as "Unique-80" or something like that, with other varieties (Unique-70, Unique-90, etc.) being "non-cannister" and are used to load factory ammo.  So even if you ID the powder with 100% accuracy, you still don't really know what it is. 

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mashburn posted this 17 October 2019

Hello  Bud,

I'm sorry to hear of your battle with cancer. Sounds like you are whipping it. Stay tough and keep your fighting spirit up. I have an idea of what you have been going through.

I, myself have had 11 or 12 surgeries although not for cancer and I have a good idea of what you are going through. Good luck to you and stay tough.

Mashburn

David a. Cogburn

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BudHyett posted this 17 October 2019

Hello  Bud, I'm sorry to hear of your battle with cancer. Sounds like you are whipping it. Stay tough and keep your fighting spirit up. I have an idea of what you have been going through.

Mashburn; Thank you for your expression of understanding. We are slowly winning the battle, the cancer is now in remission. Met with the doctor for the bone graft in my jaw last week and I may have teeth again for a Christmas present.

I edited the answer above, realized I had not expressed what I desired to convey. The message I wanted to convey is blowing up a gun can have long-lasting effects. I have been at the range four times when loads blew up a rifle and each time was different.  

Country boy from Western Illinois, living in the Magical Pacific Northwest

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Millelacs posted this 21 October 2019

Everyone makes their own decisions.

Here's what happened to me, in the early '90's, with some FACTORY 6.5x55mm Swedish ammo.

No one got hurt, although half the bolt carrier almost hit my buddies wife.

Eight rounds "seemed" to fire fine, but an after action inspection showed that five of the eight had the primers blown completely out of the primer pocket.

The ninth round blew up.

Everything was sent to the ammo manufacturer, who reformulated the load.  And replaced my rifle.

Not what I'd like to go through again.

If you don't know what the powder is, you take your chances.

 

 

 

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Eddie Southgate posted this 25 October 2019

Everything I load is marked so I never have this issue but I have bought loads from others for the brass if cheap enough to be profitable . I do not recycle powder from old loads , no way it is worth the risk as only the dot powders can be reliably id'd , any others are at best a SWAG . Pile it and watch it burn .

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

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jimkim posted this 26 October 2019

Did anyone notice this thread was started eleven years ago?

I do not re-use any powder I have pulled/dumped in a burn can. I don't intend to, but I still want to know what I'm looking at. Some of it is very strange looking. The Egyptian 7.92x57mm powder was a diamond shaped(not square like the old Alcan powder) flake powder.

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jimkim posted this 26 October 2019

I tried to edit that, but it wouldn't let me. I have transfered powder(reduced by 10%) and bullets from one case(223 or 308) to another. That was on purpose though. The cases loked a bit green, but the powder smelled, and looked fine.

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Millelacs posted this 2 weeks ago

.           Earl Narramore's wonderful book " Principles and Practice of
.           Reloading Ammunition" ( unfortunately long out of print) had
.           a whole section on reloading with an unknown powder. The
.           author was in charge of the Frankfort Arsenal. ( I believe it
.           was Frankfort). I wish someone would reprint the book.

beagle6

Much as I don't like Amazon's business practices, they have access to at least one copy.

$49.95 + $6.07 S&H
https://www.amazon.com/Principles-practice-loading-ammunition-particular/dp/B0007EFTGE?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-d-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B0007EFTGE


Other sources:

$300.00 + $3.50 S&H to US
https://www.amazon.com/Principles-practice-loading-ammunition-particular/dp/B0007EFTGE?SubscriptionId=AKIAILSHYYTFIVPWUY6Q&tag=duckduckgo-d-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=2025&creative=165953&creativeASIN=B0007EFTGE


US$ 63.94 plus Shipping: US$ 7.76 From United Kingdom to U.S.A.
https://www.abebooks.com/book-search/title/principle-and-practices-of-loading-ammunition/author/naramore-earl/

Prices go up from there

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