Powder burn rates ???


April 30, 2007, 11:42 PM
Anyone notice considerable discrepancies in powder burn rate charts ? I have compared 6 or 7 with conflicting data :confused: Perhaps some powders are to close to call or different testing methods yield these various results ? or do some powders burn rates vary from batch to batch ?

Just wonderin :)

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May 1, 2007, 12:46 AM
JJ: the problem is in multiple parts so when you see someone say that burn rate charts are for reference only and not concise enough to form any opinions on, it's a true statement. Once upon a time in the gun rag west, I've seen recommendations for going to the five powders ahead of the one you're using, to find a start charge. In some cases it works, but it's not a very good idea. Powder manufacturers don't produce them like they used to and when they do, they tend to place their own powders as much for marketing reasons as much as the actual results from closed bomb testing. They will be very close even if their powder is off by a place or two and they are still useful, but its best to go to the specific cartridge data and see what charges are for that particular load. Loads with higher charges most often indicate a slower burn rate for rifle powders, but not always for handgun. Clear as mud ain't it? Some handgun powders have a slower burn rate than what's indicated by chargeweight. Typically they are capable of producing higher velocity with a given bullet, even though the powder charge is lower. It's not a lot of them, but Vihta Vouri makes a few examples like 3N37 and N350. Mostly it's chemistry and there are differences and they are explained in most load manuals. Some like Accurate's vary by little more than nitroglycerin content and with others it gets into single and double based powder issues.

Some of the independent charts are very good, but I have yet to see one where you don't find an anomaly or two. By and large, the burn rate charts the powder companies produce are as good as any of them and if you're going to use them, use several and cross reference. If the first one doesn't agree with four others you're looking at, there's an 80% chance that the first might have misplaced a powder in the rankings. Vihta Vouri used to produce a pretty decent chart and Ramshot has one of the more recent ones and several are listed in load manuals. Unfortunately, some of the biggest discrepencies I have seen have been in load manuals, but they usually don't do their own testing. Neither do the guys that create their own charts in many cases. They do theirs by experience and cross referencing. I've got one of the most inclusive ones available and if you'd like to PM me with an e-mail address I'd be glad to send it to you in pdf format, but I can tell you that it has discrepancies also. lot's of help, right?

Ideally, powders shouldn't vary, but quality control is not 100% with anything. Sometimes powders do vary and if it is a significant variance the powder will be recalled by the lot number that's printed on the canister. Some powders get reformulated and it is pretty rare. The most recent case is Unique to achieve a cleaner burning product. Alliant's goal was to reformulate without a need for any change of existing data. They did pretty well considering that Unique was around 100 years old when it got reformulated. Is it exact? I can't say for sure because I haven't used it much in a good number of years. My guess is that it varies no more than .1 or .2 grains from previous data in extreme cases such as a load at its maximum average pressure, MAP. And you have it right. In some cases they're just too close to call and powders separated by 1 place on the chart isn't much of a discrepancy anyway.;)

May 1, 2007, 01:23 AM
Clear as mud ain't it? yup, like putting eyeglasses on a pig :D
Thanks CZ57

May 1, 2007, 12:09 PM
Powder burn rate charts are a helpfull reference. The actual burn rate of a powder is affected by so many factors it can not be pinned down. The manufacturers check burn rates for powders using a "closed bomb test" which obviously is not duplicated in a cartridge. Change bullet weights or caliber etc, etc, and the burn rate and how the powder acts can change quite a bit and move the powder up and down the so called "burn rate chart". Speer did not even give a chart in their #13 manual because of the confusion it can cause. You can pick a powder right next to another one on someones chart and it will not necessarily perform like the first powder in your application.

Still clear as mud? :)

I have shot a lot of AA#2 and it definitely does not belong where 95% of the "charts" show it.

Ol` Joe
May 1, 2007, 02:12 PM
I`ve heard/read from a few different sources the manufactures have a tolerance of about 10% total variation in burn rate with canister grade powders. This means a powder that is within 5% of another on average could possibly be faster or slower then the other depending on lots tested. This is also the reason the manuals suggest "reworking up" when changing to a new canister of powder.

May 1, 2007, 04:04 PM
I totally agree that burn rate tables are not an exact science. However, I have found them very useful when used in conjunction with published reloading data to narrowing down powder choices when I want/have to change a load to a different powder. It definite helps cut down, but not eliminate, on the development time.

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