BL-C(2) ; Why hast thou failed me?


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A Historian
December 5, 2010, 02:08 PM
I'm sure a good number of you have had this happen to you before.

I'm a fairly new reloader, going on three years, and own a Lee-Enfield No. 4 Mk. 1 and a Yugoslavian M24/47. To power my loads I use IMR 4895 and IMR 3031... Oh, and then there's that container of BL-C(2) I purchased at the last gun show earlier this year.

I purchased it for a number of reasons, of which the biggest was I had just gotten a chronograph. But, also, let's face it, I think we all go through some stage where we want to try different things. (... I don't think the stage ever ends, really.) I was out of IMR 3031 when I went to the gun show, and after some light research decided that I mind as well get another powder, just for fun, while I was at it. The Hodgdon Online Reloading Center made BL-C(2) look almost too good to be true, and the people I talked to didn't have anything bad to say about it either. When I also heard that BL-C(2) was also used in the 7.62 NATO, that helped in the decision making process. So it was decided. When I got home, I loaded up a number of loads with each powder, then set out to test them with my chronograph.

The first thing I noticed with BL-C(2) was the muzzle flash. It noticeably had a lot more than the other two powders. While occasionally fun, as a hunter I don't care for it too much. The other thing I noticed was that on the chronograph it was a good 100 feet-per-second slower than the other two powders. I realize in the grand scheme of things, it's splitting hairs - but the accuracy wasn't too much to write home about either. On top of all of this, some of the upper-end loads on my Lee-Enfield were displaying flattened primers.

Oh, the fun things we learn...

Anyone else care to share similar experiences? (Anyone else care to share what works good in their Lee-Enfield or Mauser?)

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Kernel
December 5, 2010, 04:50 PM
In the 8x57 I like Varget and 4064. My .303 Brit likes powders that are just a hair slower, like RL15 and N540. In my view, your 4895 and 3031 are both too fast for best results with either cartridge, unless your shoot only ultra-light varmint bullets. It's good you have a chrony. Slow you powders down some and I think you'll get better results.

A Historian
December 5, 2010, 06:07 PM
Isn't BL-C(2) a slower burning powder?

ChefJeff1
December 5, 2010, 06:43 PM
i like it in y 30-30. 33grains with 150s in my antique Marlin336. 36 grains in more recent models

Greg Mercurio
December 5, 2010, 09:30 PM
It would be great if more people pooh pooh BL-C(2) publicly. Please renounce as much as possible. That will free up stocks for the rest of us. Just sayin'...:evil:

In all seriousness, I use it in darn near everything and have yet to find a load it doesn't like. That includes up to .375 JDJ. I don't as a rule chronograph loads, I let the groups speak for themselves.

I REALLY like it in .223 sized cases, 5.56, 7mm TCU. Excellent powder and if there were only one powder in my cabinet it would be this one.

Kernel
December 5, 2010, 10:20 PM
Speedwise, I would put Ball-C about halfway between 3031 and 4895. They're all fairly close to each other, and all three are on the fast side for best results for your two stated cartridges IMO. Not saying they won't work, just saying if you WERE to try another powder give something a a couple of ticks slower a try.

ole farmerbuck
December 5, 2010, 10:27 PM
I use it in my .223 bolt guns with 40gr v-max's. Nice.

NCsmitty
December 5, 2010, 11:22 PM
Although I haven't used BLC2 in several years, it certainly is a viable option for many different cartridges and loads.
Hodgdon lists it slower than both Varget and 4064 in burn rate and about the same as Win 748.
Data for the 303 Brit and BLC2 show it as a top velocity and lower pressure choice.

I hold with using magnum primers with all ball powders, especially if you live in the UP of Michigan. Ball powders are notorious for being harder to ignite in cold weather, hence the use of magnum primers.

If you don't like the powder, or have no use for it, you might be able to trade it or sell it locally.

Burn rate chart.

http://www.hodgdon.com/burn-rate.html



NCsmitty

ArchAngelCD
December 6, 2010, 03:08 AM
BL-C(2) and it's little brother H335 are great Ball Powders for loading 7.62mm NATO and 5.56mm NATO ammo respectively.

The original BL-C powder was used for loading the 303 British and when supplies ran out Hodgdon went to the manufacturer to see if they would make more. The powder they came up with was slightly slower which made it perfect for loading the 308 Winchester round but it was still a very good choice for the 303 British, just not as perfect as before. You should get good results with BL-C(2) in the 303 British. You just might have to hunt for the right load. It's very rare when you hit the best load on the first try.

I don't know what weight bullet you are using or the charge weight but I'm sure you can play with the load a little and fine the sweat spot. Hodgdon lists a range of 43.0gr to 46.5gr with a 174gr bullet and pressures of 42,900 CUP. The velocity listed on the Max charge is 2616 fps from a 24" barrel. Considering the SAAMI pressure limits for the 303 British are 49,000 PSI you have room on the top end if you're not satisfied with the velocity numbers you are getting.

Please let us know how the loads are progressing.

Kernel
December 6, 2010, 07:12 AM
In my view Hodgdon’s burn rate chart, though undoubtedly the most copied and quoted on the internet, is one of the worse. It contains many “curious“ placements, perhaps chief among those is it‘s far to slow positioning of W748 and BL-C(2). I much prefer the independent charts from Vihtavuori of Finland and ADI of Australia. Two companies that are actually in the business of manufacture full lines of powder from scratch. Unlike Hodgdon, who is just a simple buyer-reseller, manufacturing nothing (except Pyrodex - a black powder substitute).

http://www.adi-powders.com.au/handloaders-guide/equivalents.asp

http://www.vihtavuori-lapua.com/pdfs/Burning-Rate-Chart.pdf

ADI is the company that actually MAKES Varget for Hodgdon (ADI calls it AR2208), which should give them some credibility in assessing it’s proper burn rate. ADI (as does Vihtavuori) ranks Varget significantly slower than both BL-C(2) & W748. Which agrees with my own first hand findings, having loading all three powders in a dozen or so different cartridges, including 8x57 and .303 British - the only two cartridges the OP asked about.

Oh, and one more thing, if you don’t like muzzle flash then you must definitely try Vihtavuori powders. That’s one area were the Fins have a definite technology lead.

A Historian
December 6, 2010, 10:50 AM
It would be great if more people pooh pooh BL-C(2) publicly. Please renounce as much as possible. That will free up stocks for the rest of us. Just sayin'...:evil:

Heh! If you were more local, I would actually consider it. I've already offered it up to my Brother-in-Law, who just got into handloading and purchased an M91/30 Mosin Nagant. I think it'll serve him a lot more than me.

I hold with using magnum primers with all ball powders, especially if you live in the UP of Michigan. Ball powders are notorious for being harder to ignite in cold weather, hence the use of magnum primers.

Living in the UP of Michigan, magnum powders were already standard for me, so including BL-C(2) wasn't a big change for me, thankfully.

The original BL-C powder was used for loading the 303 British and when supplies ran out Hodgdon went to the manufacturer to see if they would make more. The powder they came up with was slightly slower which made it perfect for loading the 308 Winchester round but it was still a very good choice for the 303 British, just not as perfect as before. You should get good results with BL-C(2) in the 303 British. You just might have to hunt for the right load. It's very rare when you hit the best load on the first try.

I didn't know that BL-C was used as a replacement powder, so that's interesting. I knew about the origins of IMR 3031 being used as a replacement powder in the earlier years though, it's part of the reason why I picked it up.

For bullet weights, I'm across the board with the .303 British. I have tried (and still have) 125, 150, and 180 grain weight bullets. I'm partial to Sierra Pro-Hunters, which have given me the best results. I've already experienced some flattened primers with BL-C(2) with upper loads, so I don't think I'll be trying to push the limit further. I wouldn't be surprised if I could manage to find a good accuracy load by decreasing the size of my increments; I generally work up half-grain loads on my proofing tests, so there is still plenty of room for a finicky load to assert itself.

@ Kernel - In my position I think it's going to be wisest to take everything with a pinch of salt, given the relativity of everything. (The curse of the handloader.) Looking at some other burn rate charts shows some different results. The ones I happen to own point to BL-C(2) being lower on the chart - not quite as low as Hodgdon's Online Burn Rate chart shows, but there is still some apparent correlation there. Meanwhile, the VihtaVuori chart cited lists IMR 4985 lower than IMR 4064. This is why I like Speer's approach to putting burn rate charts in their books - they don't. They recognize that ranking is not absolute, and things are too dependent on variables. Even the ADI site warns that these are only approximately "equivalents." (Speaking of which, in the data cited, I don't see a way to interpret that Varget is significantly slower.) The answer for me is probably somewhere in the mess of variables; I could have bought a bad/poor lot of powder.

Walkalong
December 6, 2010, 11:40 AM
I agree with Kernel.

Besides, burn rate charts are not load data, just a guide for picking a possibly suitable powder for an application. Powders cast differently in different calibers. One that is faster in caliber A might be slower in caliber B.

azar
December 6, 2010, 12:55 PM
I like the format of both the Vihtavouri and the ADI burn rate charts. I find it more useful than the standard linear charts. (Didn't know the ADI one existed, thanks for the link!). The one thing that's always annoyed me about Vihtavouri's chart is the misplacement of powders by brand. A few examples that have been there for the past couple of years are Ramshot Bullseye (uh... did you mean Alliant Bullseye) and Accurate H1000 (Hodgdon H1000 perhaps?).

If they can't get that right, how do I know how accurate their placement is in the burn rate scale? It has always made me wonder...

Walkalong
December 6, 2010, 05:12 PM
I like this one too.

http://home.hiwaay.net/~stargate/powder/powder.htm

And here.

http://www.reloadbench.com/burn.html

A Historian
December 6, 2010, 07:50 PM
I suppose, given all the bad craziness with the data and everything, that the only way to truly find out is to try. (The joy of a handloader!) I've been eying IMR 4064 for a while now, I just haven't had enough of a reason to justify purchasing it up until now.

I'm not too worried about velocity, I can get enough of that already, but if I can tighten up any of my groups, I'll be more than happy.

So, back to the subject - anyone have any similar disappointments? Or how about the opposite, a really nice surprise?

NCsmitty
December 6, 2010, 08:49 PM
I've been eying IMR 4064 for a while now

IMR4064 has been around quite a while and is a versatile powder in many cartridges, including most of the military rounds of the last century.
Be aware that some powder measures have trouble shearing the long grains of IMR4064, allowing variations in charge weights.

There are several powders available that are less affected by temperature extremes. Varget is one of those powders.



NCsmitty

Kernel
December 6, 2010, 08:53 PM
This my own personal Powder Burn Rate Chart, based solely on the powders I happen to have in my man cave. The number, if you’re wondering, besides each row, is a selection index (a speed range) used with the mathematical formulas Homer Powley wrote to facilitate load development -- a.k.a. “The Powley Computer”. I have my own modified Powley Computer in an all-in-one spreadsheet I wrote to assist in: load development (using Powley‘s interior ballistics formulas), exterior ballistics (using the Powley Small Arc Trajectory Method), calculating recoil, and predicting performance on game animals using the Matunas Optimal Game Weight Method. Sort of a poor man's QuickLoad.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=131752&d=1291681595

A Historian
December 6, 2010, 11:17 PM
IMR4064 has been around quite a while and is a versatile powder in many cartridges, including most of the military rounds of the last century.
Be aware that some powder measures have trouble shearing the long grains of IMR4064, allowing variations in charge weights.

There are several powders available that are less affected by temperature extremes. Varget is one of those powders.

I weigh my charges individually. I also only have a single-stage press.

*sigh* The life of being poor.

As for temperature sensitivity, I don't sweat too much over it. For the practical shots that I end up taking the difference is negligible. Even then, I'm usually careful enough to plan ahead and prepare appropriate loads ahead of time. I can definitely see why other people would definitely benefit from have the least sensitive powder though; I just haven't been in a situation that calls for more than what I already have.

@ Kernel - Hey, that's pretty neat. What all do you reload for? How many of the variables can you plug and play with? I have a 25 inch barrel, and slugged the groove diameter at .314 (with 2-groove rifling.) I generally use Winchester brass, though I'm unsure of the case capacity they may have compared to others (I think I recall people saying they have a bit more?).

Kernel
December 7, 2010, 02:02 PM
I load for a dozen, or so, rifle cartridges. I have a T/C Contender and a bunch of pistol and carbine barrels which gives me access to some sorta odd ball cartridges. Like you my collection includes a milsurp Yugo Mauser and a Lee-Enfield. For modeling purposes, I have a database of about 125 common rifle cartridges that I built up over the years (bore dia, capacity, case length, COAL, & pressure). It only takes a few seconds to switch from one cartridge to another, since itís a spreadsheet itís just a quick cut & paste.

In the spreadsheet, yellow backgrounds are inputs (mostly cartridge and bullet info). Gray backgrounds are constants that are adjustable (powder speeds, animal weights). Every other number, mostly the green backgrounds, are an outputs (calculations). Attached are a couple of jps of what a generic 125 grain bullet would look like in a .303 Brit with a 25" barrel. In this case, the computer likes powders in the range of 4895, 748, and N135. (I ran out of BL-C(2) a while ago - I'm trying to downsize - so it's not in my table anymore).

When Iím modeling a quick ďwhat if scenarioĒ, there are a number of assumptions. Iíll guess at the bulletís length (based on a geometric calculation). If I have the actual bullet in hand I would measure it and input that number. The program will also calculate a COAL (based on seating the bullet one caliber deep). If I had a real cartridge in hand IĎd measure itís COAL and input that number, or use the SAAMI max COAL. Case capacity is typical. If itís more than just and exercise, I would average the capacity of 5 or 10 of the cases I was preparing to load. Thatís real easy to do if you have an electronic scale (weigh the empty cases, tare the weight, fill the cases with water, read the waterís weight and divide by the number of cases). I'll adjust the load density based on the SAAMI/CIP pressure rating for the cartridge (if there is one).

99% of the time, I donít use my Powley Computer for starting loads (when I do, I reduce by at least 7% and work up). I get my starting loads from published sources. I primarily use the computer to narrow in on what powders Iím going to focus on for load development. Then I load up a bunch of cartridges in ever increasing powder increments, take them to the range and shoot them to find my max. All the while looking for pressure signs and using my chrony to keep velocities within a sensible range. The Powley Computer is pretty good at predicting velocities. Iím careful not to exceed the velocities it predicts or whatís published (thereĎs no free lunch). Loaded cases that are left over (whatĎs beyond the max), I pull the bullets, and dump the powder, for reuse.

A Historian
December 7, 2010, 04:42 PM
I find this pretty interesting. If you don't mind, I'm going to compile some of my measurements and data and send it to you via PM - would that be much of a bother?

Kernel
December 9, 2010, 04:15 PM
A Historian,

Here's the models you asked about in your PM. If used for starting loads reduce by 7% and work up carefully.

A Historian
December 9, 2010, 07:58 PM
Thank you! It's always nice to get a precise set of data to work from and compare. It's already interesting to see some of the similarities and differences from my own dabbling.

I got a feeling not too many people want to share their bad experiences and let-downs in the field of handloading... But, here's a question, on the subject of experimenting and trying new things, how does everyone feel about IMR 4320? Just curious. Never really seemed to have been that popular, even from its inception.

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