Cheapest Powder for 9mm and 223 loads?


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TheSaint
April 21, 2013, 04:54 AM
Beginning reloader here, just checking in to make sure I don't order something that won't work with my objectives. For all of my personal protection roads, I buy factory ammo, and will continue to do so unless I was VERY confident of my abilities to make something of similar quality down the road.

In the near term, my reason for getting into reloading is mostly about cost savings. I've ordered WINCHESTER 748 and HODGDON HP38 for my 9mm and 223 loads. On Wideners, I found the following surplus powders:

http://wideners.com/itemview.cfm?dir=278|283|999

The prices on these are considerably lower the Hodgdon and Winchester I already purchased through MidSouth. Are the surplus powders above safe to use for loading in 223 and 9mm rounds?

I read all the warnings here:

http://wideners.com/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=6673&dir=278|283|999

With that in mind, has anyone on this forum actually had hands-on experience with these surplus powders, or any other type of discounted powder?

Another question: If surplus powders aren't the way to go, are there any better, cheaper alternatives to the HODGDON HP38 I purchased at $$116.40 or the Winchester 748 that I paid $140.89 for 8lbs. As a new reloader, I currently don't have anything on hand due to my Midsouth order having all the powder on backorder.

I'm not opposed to dropping $1-2,000 on powder if I get a really good bulk deal, even if it means waiting for stock to arrive. Due to all the recent madness, I just don't want to get ripped off for buying what might still be at inflated prices if the consensus of the old-timers here believe that powder/primer/bullet costs are on their way down.

Thank you as always for the input, it is most valued.

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ArchAngelCD
April 21, 2013, 05:21 AM
The surplus powder best suited for the .223 is WC844, not WC846 although it can be used. WC846 is better suited for the other NATO cartridge, the .308/7.62X51mm. Both WC844 and WC846 can be used for both but like I said, WC844 is better in the .223 and WC846 is better in the .308...

As for surplus powder for the 9mm, not usually a good idea IMO. The fastest surplus powder I've seen is WC820 which is very similar to H110/W296 and usually used for the 30 Carbine. I wouldn't want to use that slow a powder in the 9mm.

As for better and cheaper, cheaper yes but better can only be decided by you. It can be more difficult to get consistent results with surplus powders because every lot can be very different unlike canister powders sold under brand names. Every time you buy a different lot of powder you will need to rework all your loads again. (much much more so than with name brand powders)

thump_rrr
April 21, 2013, 05:30 AM
As a new reloader you do not need 8lbs of any pistol powder.
On average you will use 4-5 grains of powder per round with HP38 which is a close cousin to Winchester 231.
There are 7,000 grains of powder to a pound so you can make between 1,400-1,750 rounds from one pound.

Find the powder that you like the best then you order a jug.

Another thing to keep in mind is a powder that is economical is more dangerous if you don't pay particularly close attention to detail.
Using Win231/HP38 or Titegroup you can easily fit double to triple the maximum charge in some cases. This can lead to blown up guns, hands, faces, etc.
There are other powders that require much more volume but that takes away from the "economical" side of reloading.

For a beginner reloader who is loading on a single stage press I would prepare 50 cases at a time in a bench block. Prime 50 cases, then charge 50 cases, then look down into all the cases to ensure they all look to have the same level of powder then seat the bullets.

ArchAngelCD
April 21, 2013, 05:37 AM
On average you will use 4-5 grains of powder per round with HP38 which is a close cousin to Winchester 231.
Just a clarification, W231 and HP-38 are not close cousins, they are identical twins. (as verified by Hodgdon and St. Marks)

TheSaint
April 21, 2013, 05:53 AM
As a new reloader you do not need 8lbs of any pistol powder.
On average you will use 4-5 grains of powder per round with HP38 which is a close cousin to Winchester 231.
There are 7,000 grains of powder to a pound so you can make between 1,400-1,750 rounds from one pound.

Thank you for the data points. My thoughts on ordering a lot would be to make sure that if we go through one of these shortages again, I could be set for 2-3 years worth of shooting, even with regular range visits.

Find the powder that you like the best then you order a jug.

Good suggestion. I've tried finding smaller containers at my LGS but none of them have a single lick of reloading components in stock.

Another thing to keep in mind is a powder that is economical is more dangerous if you don't pay particularly close attention to detail.
Using Win231/HP38 or Titegroup you can easily fit double to triple the maximum charge in some cases. This can lead to blown up guns, hands, faces, etc.

Thank you for the much needed safety advice. I'm being super anal about everything related to safety, which is why I defer to the wisdom of those who have been doing it for a while and still have all their digits. ;)

I've purchased a Hornady Lock-n-load Progressive, and one of my die stations is going to be equipped with the RCBS Lock-out die of which I've heard great things of in preventing double-charges/accidents. Furthermore, I'm going to be super cautious about quality control when it comes to weighing random samples of the finished product and making sure everything sizes up properly. I'm going to start out with very light loads at first and work my way up, as I'd like to keep my firearms and fingers intact!

There are other powders that require much more volume but that takes away from the "economical" side of reloading.

Point noted. In your experience, do you have a particular balance that you think is best fit by a particular brand/model of powder for the purpose of making plinking rounds?

For a beginner reloader who is loading on a single stage press I would prepare 50 cases at a time in a bench block. Prime 50 cases, then charge 50 cases, then look down into all the cases to ensure they all look to have the same level of powder then seat the bullets.

As I've ordered a progressive, this will be done at the same time. Nonetheless, I plan on loading VERY slowly to make frequent stops and checks for quality control at each stage and die. I'm in no rush, and from what the old-timers have told me, reloading is best done when you have lots of time on your hands, and force yourself to be a methodical individual that enjoys the process, not rushing to the completion. Thank you very much for any further input.

TheSaint
April 21, 2013, 06:00 AM
The surplus powder best suited for the .223 is WC844, not WC846 although it can be used. WC846 is better suited for the other NATO cartridge, the .308/7.62X51mm. Both WC844 and WC846 can be used for both but like I said, WC844 is better in the .223 and WC846 is better in the .308...

Thank you for the clarification of the surplus powders. Assuming that you load 223, what is your favorite powder of choice for the application of making inexpensive plinking ammo, regardless if it is surplus or standard commercial grade?

As for surplus powder for the 9mm, not usually a good idea IMO. The fastest surplus powder I've seen is WC820 which is very similar to H110/W296 and usually used for the 30 Carbine. I wouldn't want to use that slow a powder in the 9mm.

Yea, I didn't see any surplus powder that was specially rated for 9mm speeds. I was just wondering if the Army or anyone else put surplus out there, as the M-9 Beretta is still the standard service pistol, and was wondering if that surplus powder might trickle down to the civilian market.

As for better and cheaper, cheaper yes but better can only be decided by you. It can be more difficult to get consistent results with surplus powders because every lot can be very different unlike canister powders sold under brand names. Every time you buy a different lot of powder you will need to rework all your loads again. (much much more so than with name brand powders)

Yes, good points. My time is worth something and having to calibrate constantly could eat into that. For yourself personally, what powder(s) do you prefer using for loading 223 and 9mm cheap plinking rounds? I'm not dead set on using surplus, I'm more than open to buy commercial-grade powder, but love hearing from those guys who have been doing this much longer than I have. Thanks once again!

ArchAngelCD
April 21, 2013, 06:19 AM
I use a lot of H335 for my current 223 ammo meant for a semi-auto but I have used WC844 in the past and it also works well. WC844 is very similar to H-335.

I have heard very good reports on CFE223 in the .223 but I haven't been able to find any yet but that powder probably won't be cheap anytime soon.

H335 can be bought in 8lb jugs and is fairly economical but of course WC844 will cost you less. I friend usually tries to buy 4X or 6X 8lb jugs of WC844 of the same lot number so he doesn't have to work up the loads as often. I can't do that because I don't have over $500 at one time to buy a powder for loading only the .223. (so I buy 1X 8lb jug of H-335 at a time)

bds
April 21, 2013, 10:44 AM
Beginning reloader here, just checking in to make sure I don't order something that won't work with my objectives. For all of my personal protection roads, I buy factory ammo, and will continue to do so unless I was VERY confident of my abilities to make something of similar quality down the road.
Very good move on the use of factory ammo for "personal protection".

However, you'll soon find out for your range practice as your reloading/component selection consistency improves that your reloads/handloads may be more accurate than factory ammunition. When I started pistol match shooting, I got into reloading initially to save cost but my match reloads shrank my shot groups by 40%+ over the most accurate factory ammo I tested (Federal/Remington/Winchester/CCI/Speer/Blazer/PMC/Magtech/S&B etc.).


In the near term, my reason for getting into reloading is mostly about cost savings. I've ordered WINCHESTER 748 and HODGDON HP38 for my 9mm and 223 loads ... If surplus powders aren't the way to go, are there any better, cheaper alternatives to the HODGDON HP38 I purchased at $$116
+1 to ArchAngelCD and others. I like W231/HP-38 for 9mm and H335 for 223.

For me, accuracy is everything and holes on target speak volumes. IMO/IME, I found Bullseye/Titegroup/VV N320 to produce slightly smaller shot groups than W231/HP-38 but may produce sharper recoil pulse at high-to-near max load data you often need to use with 115 gr bullet to reliably cycle the stiffer recoil springed slides of many semi-autos. In 9mm, I prefer the heavier 124/125 gr bullets that will reliably cycle the slides of my pistols with mid-to-high range load data.

While slower burning than W231/HP-38 powders may lose accuracy at mid range load data as they tend to produce optimal accuracy at high-to-near max load data, W231/HP-38 and faster burning powders maintain optimal accuracy even at mid range load data. You could use smaller charges of Bullseye/Titegroup/N320 than W231/HP-38 (by around .2 - .5 grain) but the cost savings may not be as great as bullets/primers which dictate the majority of the reloading cost (powder cost is the lowest reloading cost factor).



How about some money calculations? I often use this reloading cost calculator - http://www.handloads.com/calc/loadingCosts.asp

Let's use hypothetical $145 for 8 lbs of W231/HP-38, $50/1000 for primers and $130/1000 for 124/125 jacketed/plated bullets while reusing the brass (to factor HazMat + shipping fees).

That's $9.58 for 50 rounds (W231/HP-38 with 4.5 gr powder charge).


Since Titegroup costs similar to HP-38, I will use the same price but lower 4.2 gr powder charge.

That's $9.54 for 50 rounds (Titegroup with 4.2 gr powder charge).


Bullseye typically costs $10+ less than W231/HP-38/Titegroup so,

That's $9.51 for 50 rounds (Bullseye with 4.2 gr powder charge).


How about VV N320? Even at almost double the cost of W231/HP-38/Titegroup/Bullseye,

You have $9.79 for 50 rounds (N320 with 4.0 gr powder charge).


But as many posted, these denser powders can double charge a case and not spill over. So how about a "cheap" bulkier powder that will spill over if double charged?

Promo is larger flake powder than Unique and probably the lowest cost usable "pistol" powder I know that often costs $15-$25+ less than W231/HP-38/Titegroup/Bullseye.

That's $9.41 for 50 rounds (Promo with 3.8 gr powder charge).

As you can see, money savings from cheaper powder/lower powder charges really don't change the reloading cost that much unless you are reloading A LOT of rounds (You'll save all of perhaps $3.50/1000 between HP-38 vs Promo loads? :eek: :D)

I prefer to use powder/charges that produce very accurate shot groups with more preferrable recoil pulse. Thankfully Bullseye/Titegroup/Promo/W231/HP-38 all do that very well.


Of course, these cost estimates are hypothetical for current panic-shortage times. If you are able to source your reloading components at better prices, your costs will be much less. I am reloading 115/124/125 gr 9mm jacketed/plated rounds at less than $7 / 50 and lead 124/125 gr rounds at less than $5 / 50.

Walkalong
April 21, 2013, 01:59 PM
If you are picky, it is best to try a couple of different things before buying in bulk. If you just want to make it go bang safely, with reasonable accuracy, then pic a very popular for the caliber powder and buy a four, five, or eight pounder.

I bought 32 pounds of surplus SRB-118 years ago for cheap. I am still using it for .223 plinking ammo with 55 Gr FMJ-BT bullets. Its clean with the right load, reasonably accurate (55 Gr FMJs don't shoot great anyway), and did not hurt the budget.

I have numerous one pound cans of pistol powders, and when I have found a favorite, have bought a bigger jug of it. Same thing for rifle powders, except I haven't tried nearly the variety as pistol. I shoot a wide variety of pistol calibers, but only a few rifle calibers.

I remember when primers were so cheap I did not figure them in the cost of ammo. Primers were cheap, powder was cheap, and the cost depended on the bullet.

thump_rrr
April 21, 2013, 02:21 PM
You will eventually find that you will still get a lot of use out of a single stage press.
I am also loading on a Hornady LnL AP Progressive but all of my load development is done on a single stage press.
Once my powder charge is adjusted on the progressive I will churn out a few thousand rounds then switch calibers.
I am running both a case and bullet feeder so I don't want to keep changing thins up to run a few hundred rounds.

If it is going smoothly just keep on going keeping an eye on not running out of powder or primers.

If something goes wrong I remove all ammo from the shellplate and put it aside and start fresh. That is where you are likely to double charge or load a squib with no powder.

oldpapps
April 21, 2013, 02:59 PM
Simon (your online name is The Saint - Simon Templar),

Perhaps you will be better served to hold off in your quest to buy more powders, for now.

8 pounds of is 56,000 grains! Not knowing the bullet weight/s you are planning on using, I will use 5 grains for the 9MM (NO! This is not what to use. Something less, yes. But that will depend upon the bullet weight and type.) and 24 grains for the .223 (same as for the 9MM, NOT the charge to use.)
This will give you 11,200 loading of 231/HP38 for the 9MM and 2,333 loading of 748 for the .223/5.56.

That's a lot of bullets, brass and a lot of shooting.

I uses 231/HP38 in most all of my pistol rounds and have found it excellent for my needs. (40 S&W, .44 Mag Lead loads, .45 ACPs)

I use 748 for most of my smaller rifle loadings and again, it works very well. (.223/5.56, 308/7.62 and some 30.06s)

For 9MM and .223, there are many, many powder options. I like the ones you have chosen.

When the current stupidity ends, availability and prices return to more normal and you get other views to explore, your needs and wants may change.

BullfrogKen
April 21, 2013, 03:27 PM
As a new reloader you do not need 8lbs of any pistol powder.


I have to agree.


Find the powder that you like the best then you order a jug.

Good suggestion. I've tried finding smaller containers at my LGS but none of them have a single lick of reloading components in stock.


Yeah, and everyone else is in the same boat.

I think it's unwise for a new reloader to go out an buy an eight pound jug of powder. Especially when all you want is the cheapest stuff and haven't used anything yet.


Patience. Supplies will re-appear.

bds
April 21, 2013, 03:33 PM
I think it's unwise for a new reloader to go out an buy an eight pound jug of powder. Especially when all you want is the cheapest stuff and haven't used anything yet.
Saint, you could do a polled thread and list your rifle, barrel length/twist rate and bullet type/weight to see what powders are popular for them and list them #1, #2, #3, etc. and see what becomes available to help with your powder selection.

BullfrogKen
April 21, 2013, 03:51 PM
A reloading manual does the same thing.


I'd advise making friends with a local reloader. As someone new to the hobby having someone who knows what he's doing help you in person is invaluable.

When it's time to buy powder or primers if you do need to mail order, having other local people who can make a group order spreads that HAZMAT fee out nicely.

BullfrogKen
April 21, 2013, 03:59 PM
By the way bds, I really liked your comparison of cheap components to quality ones.

splattergun
April 21, 2013, 04:03 PM
I decided that I did not want to buy a 4 or 8lb keg of powder until I found a load I prefer for my 9mm. So, I have a few pounds of miscellaneous pistol/shotgun powders which I decided are not my favorites. But, I did decide on W231 as my favorite for 9mm and when supplies become more available at LGS, I will buy a larger jug.

That said, those powders which I didn't choose are not going to sit unused. I found them to be sufficient for plinking, and will be used for that.

Clark
April 21, 2013, 04:08 PM
I have 44 powders and 65 cartridges.
Most things I am doing lately get done with Power Pistol or H4350.

But today is an H110 day.

bds
April 21, 2013, 04:42 PM
By the way bds, I really liked your comparison of cheap components to quality ones.
Thank you. I really think the focus should be made on powder/charge combination that produces the most consistent shot groups and preferred recoil characteristics despite "reasonable" cost differences.

As the cost calculations showed in post #8 (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=8885032#post8885032), powder cost, even with $25+ swing for 8 lb jug, really only ended up with small difference of $3.50 per 1000 rounds between W231/HP-38 and Promo loads. If availability of powders weren't a factor, I would gladly suggest the powder that produces the best accuracy for that particular pistol/barrel and powder most compatible/meters best with the powder handling equipment used.

Many people say N320 and other VV powders are expensive. Well, even when compared to the "cheap" Promo load, the cost difference of "expensive" N320 would be mere $7.60 for 1000 rounds. :D

BullfrogKen
April 21, 2013, 05:06 PM
Yup. I know a few High Power competitors who use VV powders that remain unaffected by the powder famine.

It does cost a bit more up front, but spread out over 1,000 rounds it's really not that significant.

bds
April 21, 2013, 05:36 PM
Powder Valley and Natchez recently received a significant stock of VV powders and while the most popular powders like N320 sold out quickly, many are still available and no longer "unobtainium".

http://www.powdervalleyinc.com/

http://www.natchezss.com/category.cfm?category=6&brand=VI&catLevel=1

thump_rrr
April 21, 2013, 06:02 PM
Even though I know that the difference per round is negligible I still cringe having to pay $47.99/Lb. for Vihtavuori N320 when I can buy Titegroup for $22.00/Lb.

The first powder I ever purchased was N320.
There wasn't enough difference for me to need to drive to the other end of town to buy it.

Walkalong
April 21, 2013, 08:59 PM
I have a 4 pounder of N310, N320, and N340. I intend to buy a 4 pounder of 3N37 soon. Great stuff. Yes, it costs a bit more.

Of course I also have a 4 pounder of AA #2 & Universal, and a 5 pounder of 700X as well. Looking to buy a 4 pounder of 2400 soon as well. Or when I can find it at least.

I want to try 20/28 (For pistols), but even though it is in stock a couple of places, I need to buy more than one pound to spread out the hazmat.

BullfrogKen
April 21, 2013, 09:42 PM
You'll enjoy that 3N37. I've used it in 9mm, 9x23, & 38 Super.

bds
April 21, 2013, 11:00 PM
BTW, I did the cost calculations based on Powder Valley's current posted pricing for 8 lbs of Bullseye/Promo/Titegroup/W231/HP-38 and 4 lbs of N320 with HazMat and shipping factored in.

Clark
April 22, 2013, 10:54 AM
3N37 can be beat in performance in 9mm only by Power Pistol, and that is in reality.
In load books 3N37 is the top... per "Vihtavuori first edition" 1994.

But the best thing about 3N37 in 9mm is low flash.... just in case you a shooting in the dark.

hentown
April 22, 2013, 11:26 AM
If you can find WC844 in stock, I'd suggest that you buy as much as you can afford, even if you've never loaded a round, but intend to load a lot of .223s. I'm a class 6 manufacturer and a friend of mine who's also a class 6 manufacturer and I both use 844, exclusively, for .223 reloading.

If a better deal comes along, buy it.

TheSaint
April 22, 2013, 03:20 PM
Wow, tons of great responses on here. Thank you so much guys for being an invaluable resource to this rookie reloader. My hat's off to you.

To address your points:

ArchAngelCD, good deal and thanks for the heads up. I was planning on experimenting with those powders if they became available again, but they weren't my only option. At least with your data I have something more to work off of.

Very good move on the use of factory ammo for "personal protection".

However, you'll soon find out for your range practice as your reloading/component selection consistency improves that your reloads/handloads may be more accurate than factory ammunition. When I started pistol match shooting, I got into reloading initially to save cost but my match reloads shrank my shot groups by 40%+ over the most accurate factory ammo I tested (Federal/Remington/Winchester/CCI/Speer/Blazer/PMC/Magtech/S&B etc.).

Assuming you are far more advanced in the science of reloading than I am, have even you (or anyone else here who is a vet of reloading?) ever considered making your own personal defense rounds, or does even the vast majority of reloaders stick with factory ammo for that purpose? I'm currently using the Critical Defense rounds from Hornady, and have read fairly good things overall from them.

Also, thank you bds for all the work you've been doing in the "components for sale" thread. I'm trying my best to be patient, but none of my backorders from any vendor have come in yet, and I don't want to splurge on paying for pricey factory ammo until then. I guess I'll continue to sit at home and enjoy THR and skip range time until something shows up. Also, thanks for the heads's up on the VV powders. To make the shipping and hazmat worth it, I'll just wait until more 1lb bottles are in stock somewhere and try a variety of them out before going "whole hog" on an 8lb jug. I figure the 8 lb jugs I have on backorder through MidSouth if they don't work out too well for me, I'll just put on consignment at my LGS. From what I've heard though, they've worked pretty well for most folks.

Patience. Supplies will re-appear.

Yup, I'm not going to go on any buying spree. Sooner or later things have to improve.

Also, I'll to find an old-timer to mentor me locally. That's a great suggestion and one I'll certainly follow-up with.

Everyone else, thanks for all the additional advice. I'll just have to keep scouring the forums for when more components become available. I'm already on a "watch list" at my LGS if anything comes in, they have my phone number. Sooner or later the supplies will become available again. Once more, thank you so much for all the help! :D

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