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Military Surplus Powder

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Speckfish, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. Speckfish

    Speckfish New Member

    All the ban hysteria and panic buying sickens me. Does anyone have the inside scoop as to when the online shops will have surplus powder will be available.

  2. 9w1911

    9w1911 Well-Known Member

    Can anyone give me a basic Cliffs notes to surplus powders please:
    As in what is good for what?
  3. rg1

    rg1 Well-Known Member

    Here's a link to a cross-reference for surplus powders. It shows uses for surplus in some other than military calibers yet it's only a guide. Note that with some of the surplus powders in magnum rifles doesn't yield top velocities.
    Bartletts site has explanations and possible uses for some surplus powders.
    Surplus powder is not like commercial powder. Burn rates vary with different lots of the same powder type and loads must be worked up every time you switch lots or when testing a new surplus powder purchase.
  4. 9w1911

    9w1911 Well-Known Member

  5. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    The first chart is one I published and it's a good one to print and keep handy.

    Everyone is out of powder and it's anybody's guess as to either when or if there will be more available. Good luck.
  6. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Old surplus powders are not a bargain and I recommend not buying the stuff. This is the last surplus IMR 4895 I purchased. I purchased this lot before I found out that surplus powders were removed from military inventory because their shelf life had expired.

    I loaded these cases a year ago. The powder does not smell and is black. However the stabilizer must be depleted and the powder is outgassing NOx. The case neck cracks and case head separations attest to that.



    These are some of the early indications of old powder, the NOx attacks the brass and causes cracks in the most highly stressed portions of the case.

    These bullets came out of cases with old depleted powder. You can see the corrosion caused by NOx on the bottom of the bullets.


    If you want to know more just Google the term "insensitive munitions". There is an amazing amount of information on old ordnance.
  7. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    That's your experience. On the other hand, I've been using milsurp powder for almost 40 years. I still have some of the old Hodgdon 4895 powder that was sold in paper bags. I don't load that one any longer, just look at it and wish.

    As long as you check the powder and don't plan on loading and storing for an additional 20 - 30 years, I've found it to be a great buy (at least it used to be) and while every lot is different, once you develop a load for a specific lot, it's just as repeatable as commercial powder.

    Unfortunately, it's not much of a bargain these days. 10 years ago it was plentiful and cheap, and I bought quite a lot of it back then, and still use several of those powders. After watching prices slowly but steadily climb, I figured it wasn't going to get any cheaper and I stocked up.
  8. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Below are some of the surplus powders and the commercial powders which they mimic and the powders you can use load data from as a starting point to work up loads.
    WC820 - H110 - 30 Carbine
    WC844 - H335 - 223/5.56mm
    WC846 - BL-C(2) W748 - 308/7.62X51/7.62X63
    WC857 - H1000 - 300 Win Mag
    WC860 - Faster than AA8700 (Israeli Surplus) - 50BMG
    WC867 - (very similar to WC872) - 50BMG
    WC870 - AA8700 - 50BMG
    WC872 - H870 - 50BMG
    This is off the top of my head. I hope everything is correct but if not I'm sure I will be corrected in short order.
  9. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    Not every surplus powder is bad, some of it is nearly new from lots that failed QC. However some of it is most certainly expired, which is why it got surplussed. A recent batch of Radway Green 4895 from a couple years ago was a good case in point. Why pay $100 for 8 pounds of powder with a shelf life of less than five years when I can buy canister for not much more and it will last 30 years? Back when surplus was $5 a pound it was a great deal. Now that it's more than double that, it's not such a good deal anymore.
  10. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    I've also had and used surplus powder for at least 30 years, and never had a bit of it go bad. But, agree with evan price that with today's prices that are little different from new commercial, it's really no deal. Also, most of the surplus I've seen advertised is ball powder, which I don't use. The last surplus I bought 8 years ago was IMR4895 for $78 per 8# cannister.:D

  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    I agree most surplus powders are no deal these days. Most are ~$100/8lbs although the 50 Cal powders are still a fairly good deal @$48/8lbs.
  12. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    It's all about supply & demand. When we all buy it by the truckload, the price goes up.
  13. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    Did the vendors who sold you that powder tell you why it failed QC? Is failing QC a good thing?

    Sellers can tell you anything to get you to fork over your money, all it takes is that you have to believe the story.

    Now wasn't there a story about Jack and the magic beans?
  14. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    Ain't it the truth, ain't it the truth.


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