Fun With Trail Boss


June 1, 2010, 06:00 PM
I've been using Trail Boss with the .450 Marlin for the past year, but recently I've been discovering its utility for other rounds, even for non-cast bullets. There's a recent article in Handloader from a few months ago that gives data for .30'06, .308, and other cartridges not favored by cowboys. It's an incredibly easy powder to work with, and difficult to mess up unless you compress it or alter its shape. Looking back on it, I really wish I'd had this stuff when I first started reloading instead of Unique and the .45 Colt.

Anyone else using this stuff outside the confines of cowboy or former BP rounds?

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June 1, 2010, 06:40 PM
I contacted Hodgdon and they told me you don't need published data to load any caliber with Trail Boss. They told me to make a line where the bottom of the bullet will seat, then fill the case to the line. Weigh the powder and that's your Max charge and reduce the charge by 10% to get your starting charge. Like said above do not break up the powder or compress it. Pressures will spike quite quickly if you do.

June 1, 2010, 06:45 PM
I REALLY WANT SOME TRAILBOSSSSSS been looking eerywhere seems no one near where i live has it in stock.

June 1, 2010, 07:19 PM
I've been loading it in 30/06 using 150 g jacketed bullets.

16.0 g is my pet load and will produce 2" 100yd 5shot groups from my ruger m77 mkII

IMO using those old dangerious sub 50% density rifle gallery loads is just stupid since the advent of TB. I'm looking at you mr "the load"

June 1, 2010, 07:26 PM
I've been using it in my .460 with jacketed bullets also. Fun stuff. I think I've posted this before, but here is the link to Hodgdon's site and the Trailboss reduced load data. It's very similar to what ArchAngelCD posted except they recommend using 70% of a full case for a starting load.

Trail-Boss-data (

June 1, 2010, 07:29 PM
The 10% rule is actually listed on the trail boss web page. I just recently played around with it in a 6.5x55 Swede that was shooting 10" high @ 100 yds with battle sights. Figured this might be just the thing to get the group down. Unfortunately, any load between 75% and 90% loads produced groups that were now 6-8" low!
Of interest was that when I tried 70%, you could actually hear the round impact the target after discharge as it was moving that slow. Fun stuff though.

June 1, 2010, 07:37 PM
I have only tried it in a 45 Colt. No problems at all. I have toyed with the idea of using it in a 470 Nitro Express. I realize the odds of regulation are slim, but it would be fun to try.


June 1, 2010, 08:23 PM
Haven't shot it in a rifle load yet, but it's the cat's meow for light .357 and .44 magnum (cases) target loads. I've been shooting them with Missouri Bullet 158 gr and 240 gr SWCs respectively. Very good stuff!

June 1, 2010, 09:14 PM
One of my pet loads for the 45 ACP is 4.0 grs. TB pushing a 230 gr. cast Missouri bullet,
very accurate and fun to shoot.

June 1, 2010, 09:41 PM
I'd recommend it to any newbie to cut their teeth on and get an understanding of the basics of the reloading process. It's so easy to work with, and pressures are so low that you really have to try if you want to hurt yourself.

I use trail boss for my 38 plinking loads now.

Even if it costs a little bit more, it's just soo much easier to work with compared to Bullseye or Unique. I load much much faster with TB than any other powder, because a bad throw resulting in an error in a charge is immediately apparent.

If only there could be a similar powder for auto cartridges.

June 1, 2010, 10:17 PM
I love my pipsqueak 38 loads. 158 swc at less than 700fps is fun. It also meters well through my lee perfect powder measure.

Arkansas Paul
June 1, 2010, 10:27 PM
Never used it for anything other than .45 Colt but I love it for that. Like said above, you really have to try to screw up with it. It meters well, and fills the case nicely. Great plinking powder and cheap. Only $16.50 a can here. I believe it's 9 oz, but it'll load a lot of em due to it's density. Haven't tried it yet for the '06. Don't know that I will.

June 1, 2010, 11:44 PM
Loaded up the .308 with TB and 150gr SST's and 130gr HCLFP's for the wife. VERY quiet and nearly zero recoil. During the big powder/ammo/primers rush TB was all I could find locally, so I loaded up. I've had tons of fun with the .45LC in a 1858 conversion revolver and TB. A side benefit is TB is cheap. I can load the .45LC with MBC 200gr RNFP's and TB for about what good .22LR ammo costs.

June 2, 2010, 12:11 AM
Yesterday I reloaded three hundred .38 Special rounds (MBC 158gr LSWC) and two hundred .44 Special rounds (OT 200gr LRNFP) with Trail Boss on my Lee Classic Turret. It sure is easy to see the powder level in the case after being dispensed with the Lee Pro Autodisk. Nice and consistent throws too.

June 2, 2010, 03:40 AM
TB can bridge in powder throws with less than a .35" diameter meter bar, giving charge weights of 50-25% of the intended charge.
A few years ago I asked IMR if I could load TB with plated or jacked bullets, they replied "Absolutely not" Now I see the Hodgdon web sight has rifle data with TB and jacketed bullets :confused:
I have found TB works well with my lead bullets, but I can get better accuracy using other powders.

June 2, 2010, 10:05 AM
I use it with my 4" 500 S&W, between 8 and 10 grains with a 440 grain GC makes for a very pleasent load.


June 2, 2010, 10:21 AM
I use trail boss and lee dippers. The 3.1 scoop under a 405 grain lead slug is an absolute coyote/feral dog killer out to 100 yds. Soft recoil, not loud, cheap to shoot out of a 45-70 handi rifle with 18" barrel. I also use it to load for my 357 winchester trapper. If I am at the range, the range master makes me raise my target about 18" higher so bullet will impact berm. At 50 yds though it is plenty to varmint hunt with when using a 158 gr lead slug, and really, really quiet.


June 2, 2010, 12:39 PM
I use Trail Boss for all the ld blackpowder psitol cartridges and mild 357 mag loads. It has become my favorite powder for revolver loads. I have yet to try the reduced rifle loads with jacketed bullets.

June 2, 2010, 01:41 PM
A few years ago I asked IMR if I could load TB with plated or jacked bullets, they replied "Absolutely not" Now I see the Hodgdon web sight has rifle data with TB and jacketed bullets

It's a new technology. When it first came out everyone was being cautious with it. But it turns out the stuff has a very wide range of applications.

Ky Larry
June 2, 2010, 02:28 PM
Trail Boss is my "goto" powder for lead pistol bullets. During our recent Obamanation I couldn't find any so I bought 8 lbs of AA#2. As soon as it is gone,I'm going back to TB. However, at the low load levels of #2,it may take the rest of my life to shoot up 8 lbs.

June 2, 2010, 03:46 PM
I'd like to try it in low-recoil 12 gauge slug loads in the < 1,000 fps range... Don't know where to start though.

June 2, 2010, 04:39 PM
A few months ago I figured I'd call IMR just to be sure about using TB with plated bullets in revolver rounds. They said it would be no problem, have since had very good luck with it in .45Colt, .44 Spcl and .38Spcl.

Rick Finsta
June 2, 2010, 05:03 PM
I'm working up a subsonic load for my (soon to be; c'mon ATF!) suppressed K-31 using TrailBoss. The instructions are awesome, and you really can't mess up (as long as you don't crush the powder) as the pressures will stay well below maximum levels.

Ranger J
June 4, 2010, 01:54 PM
It is my favorite powder for non hunting loads in both my 45/70 and 44 mag Handi rifle. It is a great powder for young and recoil sensitive shooters to use. Only down side is it kind of blackens the fired cases. No big problem as I usually spin them between wad of fine steel wool when resizing anyway.


June 5, 2010, 01:07 AM
I have been working with it for my SKS useing Berry's plated .310 dia, 110gr bullet (rated for 1700fps max). 8gr seems to be the ticket so far. I really need a chronograph to see what speeds I'm am getting though.

June 5, 2010, 01:13 AM
The one bad thing about it is also one of its great advantages, it is just to voluminous. You can only get 100 rounds out of a 8 lb jug. (slight exaggeration)

June 5, 2010, 02:25 AM
The one bad thing about it is also one of its great advantages, it is just to voluminous. You can only get 100 rounds out of a 8 lb jug. (slight exaggeration)
Actually, an 8lb jug has only 5 lbs of powder within. You pay for 5 lbs and get 8lbs of loading from it. IMO that's not a bad deal at all.

June 5, 2010, 05:17 AM
I have been working with it for my SKS useing Berry's plated .310 dia, 110gr bullet (rated for 1700fps max). 8gr seems to be the ticket so far. I really need a chronograph to see what speeds I'm am getting though.
Will these loads cycle the action or is it a single shot load ?

June 5, 2010, 12:02 PM
I use trail boss and lee dippers.

Once I found a load my .460 liked, I made a dipper outta an old casing. Just cut it down so that level full was my charge and put a handle on it.

June 5, 2010, 03:52 PM

They do not cycle. But that is what I was going for, as my SKS tends to sling the brass about 10 or 15 yards and it mangles the rims.

fireman 9731
June 5, 2010, 04:46 PM
I love it in my 45-70. About 13 grains under a bullet anywhere from 350-500gr is fantastic for plinking.

I'm interested to try it in 45acp. Heck I might even try a few in my 22-250!

June 6, 2010, 01:24 AM
I load 7.3 grains in my 44 mag 7.5 SBH...what a hoot !!! 240 grain lswc...good times

June 6, 2010, 01:43 AM
Just finished loading 1000rds of 6.0gr of TrailBoss in .45LC with MBC's 200gr RNFP today. Time for sleep so I can get up and go unload them!

.38 Special
June 6, 2010, 02:08 AM
I use it in my .416 Rigby with the RCBS 350 grain FNGC. Great practice load. I even use it at our local indoor range for snapshooting practice.

I've also used it in half a dozen revolver cartridges and haven't been satisfied with accuracy in any of them. I'm sure it works in cowboy action where the target is ten feet wide and ten feet away, but in my PPC and Cup guns, not so much. So that was a disappointment -- but for those of us trying to practice with our dangerous game rifles, it's a godsend.

June 6, 2010, 07:41 PM

Ok, with that said, I wonder what would happen if you loaded trailboss into a cap and ball revolver. Again, I'm not stupid enough to try it, but am curious as to what the results would be...that's the kind of curiosity that will get someone killed though.

I'm assuming an explosion would result

June 7, 2010, 05:20 PM
Has anyone ever tryed loading 45-110 sharps with TB????????????

June 7, 2010, 05:32 PM
colhogan44, the problem is you'd be mashing the TB down, creating a very different burn rate. It's not a good idea.

OTOH it should work fine with 45-110. That's just the sort of thing it was designed for. Not sure about the load amount, but .45-70 data for TB should work fine.

June 7, 2010, 08:53 PM
thanks Cosmoline, I'll look into that, really want to get this ole' girl to the range. Never fired it yet, just wondering if the recoil is about the same as my 450 marlin.

June 7, 2010, 09:39 PM
Using TB data for the .45-70 in that round, you won't have recoil or energies anywhere in the neighborhood of .450 Marlin. You could always call IMR and see what they recommend.

Is this an original rifle or reproduction? If original you'd want to have a smith check it for safety (headspace, intact receiver, no barrel bulges, etc) before shooting it with anything at all.

June 8, 2010, 08:29 PM
I load target loads of Trail Boss in my 454 Casull. 9.7 grains and a 255 grain lead SWC bullet. 1100fps? Works well for me...

June 8, 2010, 10:33 PM
I load target loads of Trail Boss in my 454 Casull. 9.7 grains and a 255 grain lead SWC bullet. 1100fps? Works well for me...

Wery wery nice. That should work for just about anything that needs shooting. Sounds fun.


June 9, 2010, 07:55 AM
I have used Trail Boss to fire form 300WM with 185gr jacketed bullets, filled the case almost up to where the taper starts. The ADI data said i should be getting about 1800fps which is what it felt like.

I've also used it with 30-30 and 6.5x55 same deal just fill case ~70% up and shoot.

June 10, 2010, 02:51 AM
Fun with TB
I opened up a 12ga 000 load thinking I could use the pellets to slug the chambers and bore of a revolver. Well the pellets measured .345", so I needed to swage them up. I noticed my Hornady 9mm/.38 taper crimp die had a .359" hole through it, and I had a letter drill bit that closely matched, I hammered on a .38 case over the drill point and began to shwack. I swaged the pellets to .25" flat to flat this gave about a .125" bearing surface, they worked well for the intended purpose.
Well I got to looking at these little pills and asked myself, can I make these shoot? Well to make a long story short, Yes. I used .38spl cases and opened the flash hole to .094" I used WSR to prime, the pellet weight is approx. 60gr I used 2.3gr of TB with a dacron filler, test firearm was a Taurus 85 w/a 2" barrel. Well in 18ft (testing done in garage) there was no tumbling, shots grouped at 1" but the POI was 2" below the POA. The report was the same as smacking a primer with a hammer on concrete (inside a garage)

June 10, 2010, 11:51 AM
Does Trail Boss have to same shelf life as normal type powders? Just wondering, I might need to get a big jug!


June 10, 2010, 01:08 PM
It should last many decades, but you'll probably use it up quickly.

I tried out a number of plinker loads with TB for the 7.62x54R over the weekend. The best were .312" bullets for the .32 ACP, over 14 grains TB. They fire with a lovely "paaf" and "smack" into the berm a moment later. By adjusting the sights to 300 meters on the M39, they were hitting dead center at fifty yards.

June 11, 2010, 10:49 AM
Trail Boss works well for subsonic .223 loads using a 77gr bullet.

Ryan Williams
June 11, 2010, 11:21 AM
How dirty is Trail boss? I have never used it but I hear lots of good things about it. Is it a clean burning powder?

June 11, 2010, 12:34 PM
How dirty is Trail boss? I have never used it but I hear lots of good things about it. Is it a clean burning powder?
I've been using it in loads for my 2" .38, Mosin Nagant 91/30 and 98K Mauser. All three calibers shoot well with the stuff and it burns reasonably clean. One pass with a CLP wetted bore snake on either of the 2 rifles gives me a shiny bore after a 40-50 round range session and a couple passes with a nylon bore brush followed by a lightly wet patch with CLP does the job on the carry gun.

I love the stuff for inexpensive practice rounds and the accuracy I'm getting out of both the 91/30 and the 98K Mauser is good enough for medium range target shooting. The 2" .38 revolver easily shoots "minute of bad guy" out to 25 yards with it as well.

Darn good powder if you ask me!

June 11, 2010, 02:11 PM
Has anyone tried TB in 9x18 Makarov with lead bullets ?

Rick Finsta
June 11, 2010, 04:59 PM
Trail Boss works well for subsonic .223 loads using a 77gr bullet.
Does a 77gr .223 stabilize in a 1:9 barrel at subsonic speeds? I was thinking of trying this out.

June 11, 2010, 06:38 PM

I don't think there would be enough case capacity for it to get to 500fps. If I remember correctly with a full case of 9mm it only got up to around 500fps. Depends on if that is what your going for I guess.

Stay safe.

June 11, 2010, 07:46 PM
As previously stated, I don't think you can get enough velocity out of 9 X 18 to work the action properly as all of the Makarov's I've ever seen, handled & shot have extremely heavy recoil springs. They are straight blow back and I don't think a TB load can develop enough pressure to move that slide very far.

Couldn't hurt anything to try it though, but just be prepared for incomplete extractions and maybe stovepipes if the slide does get far enough back. Be sure NOT to compress the load though as this causes TB to do weird and possibly nasty things according to the manufacturer.

June 11, 2010, 08:29 PM
Thanks for the replies, I guesstimated a safe max. charge at 2.4gr of TB. I have the original 17# recoil spring I will need to find it, I will put together a few and see what happens :eek: I use a 19# in my PM which cut down on the brass hang time, Wolff also offers a 15# spring.
Another thing I am curious to find out is the POA and POI relationship with a light load.

June 11, 2010, 08:57 PM
You may have almost a parlor gun load with that small a charge, but it will be interesting to see. With .357's TB is giving me fantastic accuracy with 180 grain hardcast slugs. Point of impact was right on the money at 15 yards.

June 13, 2010, 05:39 PM
I put two rounds together, 93gr hard cast LRN with 2.3gr of TB, WSR primers, COL .973".
I installed the 17# recoil spring and loaded the two rounds in the magazine, I fired one round the shell ejected and the next round loaded. I fired at ply wood a 1/2" with 3/4" behind it and a folded moving blanket behind the ply. POA and POI were the same at 20'
the bullet went through the ply wood and rested in the first layer of the blanket. I loaded up 14 more rnds and when I get a chance I'll try'em out.

June 15, 2010, 11:44 PM
Well I shot up the 15rnds mentioned in post #55, they all went bang and the gun functioned normally with the exception of the brass only landing 4-6' away :)
Well this was 9rnds fired from 10yrds, my standard pressure loads would have grouped much tighter and about a 1" higher. I will continue to explore with Trail Boss for the 9x18 Mak, so far it seems very doable.

June 16, 2010, 12:13 AM
Very interesting. This is one of those rare new products that actually does a lot more than anyone anticipated. It was supposed to be just for cowboy action shooting

June 16, 2010, 12:31 AM
It was supposed to be just for cowboy action shooting
Down deep inside many Russians love cowboys :)

June 19, 2010, 10:25 PM
While Trail Boss did work in my PM with the 17# recoil spring, it was a sooty load and thick gray smoke rose from every crack in the pistol. I did find that 2.3+gr of TB functioned in my gun, but the cleaning was not worth it.
I have loaded 93gr LRN cast bullets with 2.8gr of Bullseye for recoil sensitive shooters and it does well.

June 20, 2010, 10:38 AM
I read in predator extreme about using 5 grs of TB with a 55 gr bullet for good accuracy up to 50 yrds. Very quite, got to try some.

January 7, 2011, 01:33 PM
I love the stuff.

After about one hundred 45 Colt load experiments I still go back to Trail Boss as my most accurate powder.

I recommend these pet loads:

200 grain "Cowboy Action" Flat-Nosed Cast Lead Bullet with 6.7 grains of Trail Boss (Lee Dipper 1.6ml), 860 fps, for sub-1" groups at 25 yards.

225 grain Penn Bullets bevel-based Wadcutter with 6.0 grains of Trail Boss (Lee Dipper 1.3ml), 750 fps, for sub-1" groups at 25 yards.

January 7, 2011, 03:54 PM
yep yep makes great subsonic rounds for 308. 150gn flat nose or 180gn round nose bullets have worked great with it.

+1 for new shooter intros as well.

January 8, 2011, 04:05 PM
I've been using it in a 308 model 77 compact to coach some of our church youth who are getting, or were getting, ready for MO deer hunting. 165 grain plain base and the recommended load from the book (you'll notice I never give powder weights) and you have a "high power" load with low noise and low recoil. Haven't chrono'd it but think it is around 1300 fps. Easy to get good groups and then transfer them to the 243 with full power 100 grain bullets. One young lady got three deer last year, all heart shots.
Also good for plinkers in a 30-30. No way you can double load as you could with Unique or 2400.
Gonna try some in 45 colt for a Judge. (might even try it in 2 1/2" all brass 410 shells with a 45 bullet for a "slug" load). Gonna think on that one for a while.

January 8, 2011, 09:10 PM
I use nothing but Trail Boss in my .38 special loads. The safety factor is a lot of peace of mind for me.

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