Is there a significance to the order of powder in load tables?


November 17, 2012, 08:11 AM
Does anyone know if the powders listed in load tables are in any specific type of order from top to bottom? I was wondering if the powders near the bottom were less accurate than the powders at the top? Or does it have to do with burn rate?

Sorry if this has been posted before, but i searched the forums this morning & could not find an answer to this question.

I have owned reloading equipment for many years, but the last time I loaded anything was 'Pre-Internet'. Since I am getting back into it now I need to resupply components and need to narrow down my list of powders. I don't really think I need 10 different powders for a single caliber.


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Magnum Shooter
November 17, 2012, 08:30 AM
I find no rhyme or reason why powders are listed in order they are. Except it seems manufactures are sometimes listed together. No way for the list to determine accuracy in your gun. Burn rates are at times jumbled, sometimes not so much.

November 17, 2012, 08:39 AM
It seems to vary by manual. IIRC, Speer lists from highest velocity at max to lowest; I believe Lyman does something similar. I cannot figure out Hornaday's ordering protocol. I have wondered whether they have more accurate loads at the top, but I can't find anything in the manual that would say.

Maybe someone ought to just write/call them with the question.

November 17, 2012, 08:41 AM
It's nonsensical to think that the powders would be listed in order of accuracy. They are listed in order of burn rate, within the brands listed.

November 17, 2012, 08:45 AM
Lee lists most of their data in order of fastest (velocity wise, not burn rate) at the top down to the slowest. Lyman doesn't seem to have any particular order that I can see. I can't speak about other load charts as I haven't found much reason to buy any manuals besides Lyman and Lee. I might if I ever want data for a specific manufacturers bullets, but in general Those two cover everything I reload for.

November 17, 2012, 09:05 AM
Some of them have the most accurate loads highlighted in some manner. These are almost never at the top of the velocity range.

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November 17, 2012, 01:05 PM
They are organized by powder color.

Sometimes. :)

November 17, 2012, 07:20 PM
Ya, it depends on the refrence source. Some data is in no particular order while others seem to follow a burn rate from slow to fast.

As for deciding what powder you need for high powered rifle, I've generally used just one once I've determined which meets me expectations. But as powders go, I like to load with the slow burners because I like the higher velocity accurate loads. Slow burners are also much easier to work up with to, because they are not as prone to spiking and are impossible to accidentally double charge with.


November 18, 2012, 11:59 AM
Thanks everyone for the replies. Been looking thru the Hornady 8th edition manual for rifle loads & couldn't figure out why some IMR powders are listed at the top on some tables & at the bottom on other tables. Also not real happy when researching a particular caliber & a specific powder is listed for lighter weight bullets & heavier weight bullets but not for the medium weight bullets. I have read enough posts in the last week that talk about the velocity acheived was on that particular day, using that particular batch of powder, at that specific temprature and humidity, bla, bla, bla. Guess I am going to have to spend as much time at the shooting bench as I do at my reloading bench.

Thanks again.

November 18, 2012, 12:05 PM
Alphabetical by height, I think.

ole farmerbuck
November 18, 2012, 12:08 PM
I'll go with the burn rate in Hornadys.

November 19, 2012, 12:23 AM
I started reloading ~12 years ago with a Rockchucker kit that came with "Speer 12" reloading manual.
I studied those tables like nerd looking at a star chart.
When I finally realized much of the data was fake, I was very angry at myself for being fooled so long.
For a given cartridge and bullet, the different powder's max loads are at different pressures.
The start load velocities were calculated with poor formula, not measured.
The copy contained gems like "We are occasionally asked if the 30-30 can be loaded to higher velocities in a modern bolt action like the Remington model 788. The answer is NO! The 30-30 case is an old design with relatively thin walls. Attempting to load "hotter" would risk a dangerous case failure."
The variations year to year are best explained as Ouji board malfunction.

What does it all mean?
Load books are cook books, not written by Einsteins.

November 19, 2012, 07:36 AM
The variations year to year are best explained as Ouji board malfunction.


I feel that the lawyers and insurance companies have input on the data in addition to the scientists.

I have occasionally thought about the order of powders listed in the manuals and then wonder "why am i obsessing about that?"

I do not choose a powder based on its position in a list.

November 19, 2012, 09:50 AM
If you read the front of the manual, it will usually give you the listing order protocol for that manual.

In some cases it's by order of velocity, sometimes pressure, often charge density at max load.

November 19, 2012, 10:49 AM
Lee tabulates the powders by velocity they acieved, with the highest velocity powder listed first.

Of course, Lee just regurgetates data from other peoples testing (most frequently the powder makers)... but I find this sequenced list useful to pick out what powders have burn rates best suited for a particular cartridge.

November 19, 2012, 06:12 PM
Load books are cook books, not written by Einsteins.

I agree. The authors of our reloading manuals are subject to the same cultural myths that effect the general shooting populations.

The ones I recognize are those ammunition and design faults created by the Ordnance Department. Retired Ordnance Officers working for the American Rifleman Magazine would not acknowledge that tin plated bullets create a dangerous bore obstruction, instead blaming blowups to “greased” bullets.

The other is that slamfires in Garands/M14’s are only due to sloppy reloads (high primers) and worn receiver bridges (mechanical problems). These guys would not acknowledge that primer sensitivity is the primary cause of slamfires and the Garand/M14 design will slamfire in battery and out of battery due to its free floating firing pin.

Reloading books and bullet makers parrot the Ordnance Department blame shifting without question.

November 19, 2012, 10:21 PM
The Lyman manual, 49th ed., lists powders by burn rate from fastest to slowest...reference page 65, paragraph on Burning Rates.

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