chopped powder


February 7, 2012, 02:41 PM
i know that a few cut kernels of powder getting cut by a measure is no big deal, but what happens if a person purposely cuts them up? i am thinking of stick powders like IMR 4198 or IMR 4831. i know that some powders are offered as "short cut" or "super short cut" kernels. what i do not know is if they change something in the formulation to account for that. do not worry, i have no intentions of doing it. it is just my curiosity getting the better of me. and unlike cats, i only get one life.

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February 7, 2012, 03:15 PM
According to Hodgdon the same data is used for H4831 and H4831SC. They are same except for shorter kernels.

Edit to add: that's the only one I have any experience with

February 7, 2012, 03:20 PM
It would increase the burn rate an unknown amount.

A long grain starts burning from the circumference, and both ends.

Cutting the grain in half presents twice as much surface area on four ends, so flame progression would be faster.

The SC powders are reconfigured with deterrent coatings to keep the burn rate the same as it was in long grain form.


February 8, 2012, 12:16 PM
RC, that is kind of what i was thinking, that it would burn faster to some extent. and i also was thinking that the mfgr. somehow would chemically modify the powder somewhat. and the more it was cut, the faster it would burn. so if someone cut this up into very tiny pieces, say 20 times as small, it would burn faster after every cut, correct? i know there would be no way to measure (at least we laymen could never do it) how much faster. but eventually, it may burn as fast as some pistol powders. like i said, i have no intentions of trying any experiments doing such things. i really like having all of my fingers, toes, and larger appendages just the way they are! i value my firearms way to much, and gunpowder, compared to the cost of even really cheap firearms, is much cheaper.

February 8, 2012, 03:14 PM
This is a very interesting question, and is one I've asked many experienced BR shooters.

A good number of my loads are compressed charges of slow burning powder. So my concern has always been, what happens to the burn rate when the powder gets crunched into smaller pieces. To date, following many years of loading compressed charges, I've never seen any evidense of increased pressures beyond the expected for a compressed charge. In fact, with many compressed charges, I've actually experienced a slight decrease in velocity, with little or no indication of increased pressures.

Red Cent
February 8, 2012, 03:24 PM
The late great Elmer Keith blew up a Colt in 45 Colt by pulverizing coarse blackpowder.

February 8, 2012, 03:34 PM
Powder is akin to the kindling used to start a campfire. The smallest pieces of kindling quickly generate a lot of heat, which is needed to get the next size going. Small stuff burns fastest due to the high ratio of exposed surface area.

February 8, 2012, 06:23 PM
Try to burn kernels of corn by tossing them into a flame. Won't burn very well. Now grind it very fine, into powder, and blow it into a flame. It burns very fast.

February 8, 2012, 08:30 PM
well, as far as ground corn goes, the farm bureua in our town literally blew up because of corn dust as they were filling one of the silo's. one of the workers did not reinstall a metal and glass guard on a light bulb (according to the fire chief anyway) inside somewhere, and the bulb got broken during the fill. they lost the top 2/3rds of that silo, and the top 1/3rd of the one next to it. and 3 workers lives. i was in my mid teens when i found out about how explosive dust is. a lesson i will not forget.

February 9, 2012, 07:30 AM
I wouldn't sweat it. Lets see, one or two kernels out of how many get cut? Do the math. Not a concern as far as burn rate is concerned. It's just irritating is all.

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