"IMR Trail Boss" powder, for lead bullets only?


Bwana John
August 27, 2009, 08:08 PM
Ive been using IMR "Trail Boss" powder for lead .45 ACP loads, and really like it.

It is very bulky, meters well, and not too dirty.

What makes it "intended for lead bullets"?

Id like to use it for light loads with 200gr plated bullets, but can only find data for lead loads.


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.38 Special
August 27, 2009, 08:13 PM
The note I read -- from the Hodgdon website, IIRC -- claimed that they got erratic and occasionally dangerous pressures with jacketed bullets.

August 27, 2009, 08:48 PM
I don't know why it is "intended for lead loads", but I was unimpressed with it with plated bullets. The .45 is a fat short case and seeing the powder level in it is easy. Most powders fill it well enough not to worry about double charges. Not that you can't do it, but you won't if you are paying reasonable attention.

That said, use your lead load data for a starting point, and bump it up carefully to get the velocity you need, within reason of course.

August 27, 2009, 08:57 PM
My impression, from talking to Hodgdon about it is that they are loathe to recommend it for jacketed bullets partly because most who use it are doing subsonic reduced loads for cowboy action shooting. Squib loads from jacketed bullets using the TB powder is foremost on their mind. On the other hand I see some folks using it against Hodgdon's wishes. Just don't go crying back to Hodgdon when you do the bulged barrel thing.

August 27, 2009, 09:13 PM
Anyone who uses any powder and tries to get "Cowboy" velocities with jacketed bullets is asking for trouble.

August 27, 2009, 09:40 PM
I'd say you're doing good. I don't hear of too many people having luck running Trail Boss in autos.

August 27, 2009, 09:52 PM
I tried using the max listed load of trail boss with some berrys 125 plated hp and got 2 squib loads out of about 100, when they did work the recoil was about that of a .22lr out of my revolver. The case was pretty full at 5.3 grains. So I don't trust it with plated bullets, I am going to either sell it or try it out with some lead bullets later on. Man that smell is something else though, and even when you are cleaning it can be a bit much to handle. Thinking about it some more about it, I will just end up getting rid of it.

August 27, 2009, 09:58 PM
are you by any weird chance in the eastern part of Virginia? If so, I can swap you something for TB.

August 27, 2009, 10:17 PM
Trailboss is lead-friendly because it is a single base powder without nitroglycerine.

It has about the same burn rate as Green Dot, but because it is so bulky you cannot pack enough powder in a pistol case to get velocities higher than Cowboy loads. In fact, it isn't recommended to compress the powder charge.

August 27, 2009, 10:24 PM
No, south east part of central Illinois.

August 27, 2009, 11:05 PM
Makes some great 44 plinker loads in Mag cases. Lead bullets of course.

August 27, 2009, 11:22 PM
I use it to load .45 Colt and I love it!

August 28, 2009, 04:37 AM
"IMR Trail Boss" powder, for lead bullets only?

I would think not since hodgon's own online reloading data centre has trail boss loads for 30-06 using 150grn nosler ballistic tips. They claim that 19.0grs gets you just shy of 1500fps @ 26K psi

August 28, 2009, 06:48 AM
Krochus, I've had some good results with TB in a 308win, 160gr hardcast lead slugs. I can't see a huge problem using jacketed bullets with TB, if velocities are kept reasonable(not too slow, and not being pushed too hard with unsafe pressures).

.38 Special
August 28, 2009, 08:20 PM
Thanks for pointing that out, Krochus. Guess they changed their minds!

August 28, 2009, 09:53 PM
OK, TB fills the case, but I don't see the advantage over the much, much more versatile powder, Bullseye?

.38 Special
August 28, 2009, 10:49 PM
You can't double charge a case with Trail Boss. And Bullseye is almost useless in reduced loads in big rifle cases with lead bullets.

Bwana John
August 28, 2009, 11:26 PM
You guys keep saying "cowboy velocity".

What do you consider "cowboy velocitys" in a 45 ACP?

I was told to always keep ungaschecked soft lead bullets under 800fps with any pistol caliber because of excessive leading with higher velocity.

Im loading 4.5 gr TB behind a 200 gr lead RNFP for ~750fps, and a 4.0 gr TB behind 230gr RN for ~710 fps in a .45 ACP. I only shot ~ 10 rounds of each over a crono but the spread was acceptable @ +/- 20 fps.

The pistol (full sized M1911-A1) has functioned perfectly now with these loads for >2K rounds with the stock recoil spring. Not one problem.

Both loads knock over plates with more authority than a 9mm Para. Recoil is light, ~ 3/5th of hardball but certainly not .22!!

I shot 500 rounds in 3 sessions without cleaning, gun got dirty but worked fine.

August 28, 2009, 11:36 PM
I've been using it for low velocity 30-30 lever gun loads using lead and plated bullets. 8.5 gr with either a 150 gr plated or 165 gr laser cast flat nose. They make about 1150 fps.. and shoot about a 4 inch group at 50 yards, iron sights and off hand. I have not put these on the bench to test them in that way. Since pressures are so low I use Large pistol primers and save my rifle primers for the 308.

August 28, 2009, 11:44 PM
Generally 'Cowboy Loads' are those that are loaded to subsonic velocities to make a comfortable target round, as well as to similate blackpowder loads of the era and keep noise levels to a minimum. (that's with pistol calibres anyways).

August 28, 2009, 11:51 PM
OK, TB fills the case, but I don't see the advantage over the much, much more versatile powder, Bullseye?
Trail boss is like bullseye without the rifle blowing up in your face part. After I noticed that every story of a catastropic rifle failure involved low density handgun powder loads I abandoned such loading practices. Now with trail boss a double charge is at least noticable inside the case Now Im concidering trying some

August 31, 2009, 02:56 PM
I've been using Trail Boss for a while now in my .45 LC Taurus Gaucho and been very pleased. 6.0 grains behind either a 200 or 255 gr LRNFP does quite well. I have some Hornady 230 gr HP XTPs I'd like to try for a potential defensive load with 6.5 grains of TB, but I can't find any load data similar. Has anyone tried this combo, or know of one similar? Remember, this is just an experiment, not intended as a primary defensive choice. I've got a 1911 full of Silvertips for that. Thanks

August 31, 2009, 03:32 PM
Unique or Universal Clays would be better for full power defense type loads with jacketed bullets in .45 Colt. They are not as bulky as TB, but they are bulky enough that a double charge would be obvious.

TB might reasonably fairly well for it, but if you try it remember not to compress TB.

August 31, 2009, 03:48 PM
Well I stick with lead when using trail boss, I will say I love it.

August 31, 2009, 10:16 PM
My reply from IMR regarding plated or jacketed bullets for pistol was " Do not use Trail Boss with jacketed or plated bullets"
It was ArchAngel that pointed out there are about a dozen rifle cartridge loadings with TB and jacketed bullets on the Hodgdon web site :confused:

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