Powder life?


May 23, 2010, 09:12 PM
I know this question has probably been posted a thousand times but my brother-in-law brought me some stuff from his deceased uncle storage including these apparently unopened cans of powder. Now I'm not sure just how old they are, but it's been a long time since IMR 4320 was 3.40 a can.:rolleyes: I'm wondering if it's safe to use. I opened the can and it had the sweet smell just like my 3031 does and looked good.

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May 23, 2010, 09:18 PM
Smells like solvent--Good to go

Smells like acid--Use for fertilizer

Also check for a red vapor when opening can, if so no good.

May 23, 2010, 09:24 PM
If it has that pleasant ether-like smell, it's good to go as long as there is no red oxidation from the can. I've had powder for 25years or more, and it is still good.


May 23, 2010, 09:35 PM
As far as how long does powder last? I've got 8 mm ammo marked with a swastika that still shoots good, but it does have corrosive primers.

May 23, 2010, 10:00 PM
Your WWII stuff is probably still good IF it's been stored properly. Since it still shoots, I'd keep shooting it. Corrosive primers are problematic, but I'm still shooting WWII ammo, too, and I rarely have a dud.

If you're asking if the stuff gets dangerous from sitting around, generally, no.

The original question - if the powder's been well sealed, the stuff will smell faintly like ether, as the other guys said. Is the "430" mark on the one can the original price?:eek:

Lots of the stuff we were reloading with a few years ago was WWII surplus that took decades for it to get sold..... and most of it was just fine. If it smells a bit like ether, I'd load a few rounds and check 'em before I loaded a big bunch of it though.

May 23, 2010, 10:08 PM
Kinda like the look of the Unique can. So much more "unique" than the common plastic bottles. :D

May 23, 2010, 10:34 PM
I love the smell of good powder.:D

May 23, 2010, 11:17 PM
I'm wondering if it's safe to use. I opened the can and it had the sweet smell just like my 3031 does and looked good.
Even if the powder is bad it won't be unsafe, it just won't fire correctly. As long as you don't get a stuck bullet in the barrel and then fire another right behind it there's no safety issue with "bad" powder.

The one you opened and said it smells good, that's a good can of powder. As long as they all smell right they will all work fine. You will know if the powder is bad when you smell one that's bad!

May 24, 2010, 07:39 AM
FWIW, the U.S. gov't gives single-base powders like your IMR4320 a military ready life of 40 years. They are no doubt still good after that, but that is the point at which they come out of inventory. Like others have said, if it smells good and there is no oxidation, it is GTG.


May 24, 2010, 09:48 AM
How long has it been since powder companies switched over from the metal cans to the plastic cans? I remember my daddy's powder was in those Dupont and Hercules cans back in the 70's.

May 24, 2010, 10:10 AM
If the can of Unique is unopened than it is a collectors item. I have one that is a little older I think and have been using the powder and it is just fine. I am loading .38 with it, a little dirty but goes bang every time.

May 24, 2010, 10:26 AM
If the powder has been stored properly it should be good.

Keep on shooting. . .

Clarke from Louisiana

May 24, 2010, 01:41 PM
When I was in the Marines 82-87, we shot Vietnam era ammo all the time. When they sent me to sniper school, we shot Vietnam era sniper ammo. I still have some, and it's some great shooting stuff. (Though my supply is getting a bit low, down to about 500 rounds left.)

Properly stored, it'll keep a LONG time.

May 24, 2010, 02:05 PM
There's a huge difference between powder stored loose in a can, and powder stored in loaded ammo. Especially military ammo, since it is usually sealed around the bullet and primer.

As said, if the cane was unopened, the powder was stored in room temperatures, then it will still be okay.

A and O
May 24, 2010, 05:56 PM
It's no good, you must send it to us asap.

Truth is a friend gave me some 45 acp from WWll. It had been in his garage in the desert for 20 yrs, meaning way way hot in the Summer. Took it to the range and it performed as new. Except it was really really dirty. Lots of soot.

I've always heard that Smokeless Powders should last a lifetime, maybe more.

May 24, 2010, 09:59 PM
Unique powder is possibly the most stable smokeless powder made. Recently I read about a test where a lot of Unique dating from the 19th century was used to load some handgun ammo. The results indicated the powder had not deteriorated (in over 100 years!) to any measurable degree.
Current-production Unique powder is formulated to be cleaner-burning and is slightly hotter than the stuff made in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the newest loading manuals list charges a little lighter than those in earlier editions, so it's probably a good idea to use older data for the best results with that old powder.
Don't mess up the can if you can help it. It's a collectible.

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