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Surplus Powder in Match Ammo?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by rhubarb, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. rhubarb

    rhubarb Well-Known Member

    I'm getting interested in High Power Service Rifle. I figure if I get involved, I'm gonna need lots of practice and that means lots of ammo. Naturally, I will want to do this as economically as possible. I see surplus powder at some savings over commercial powder and a big savings over the one pound units I've bought so far.

    The question is, will the surplus powder provide good accuracy? I suppose that once I have determined which powder is best, I need to buy a bunch of it to minimize inconsistencies. That would be the likely stumbling block, right? Inconsistency?
  2. P-32

    P-32 Well-Known Member

    What Caliber?
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Assuming you are shooting a .308, you can get about 1200 rounds from an 8 lb keg.
    Current price at Weidners is $118 for either 4895 or 748; 9.8 cents a pop.
    GI Brass has surplus 4895 for $100, 8.3 cents a shot,
    Weidners has surplus 844 for $88, 7.3 cents a shot.

    Bullets are the driving force, 175 gr SMKs are $133.35 for 500; 26.7 cents each.
    Federal Match primers are 3.1 cents each.

    Saving a cent or a cent and a half on powder is small potatoes beside the other costs of target ammo. At most, you might well could start out with a keg of surplus and go to fresh commercial as you learn.
  4. 30Cal

    30Cal Well-Known Member

    It's fine, but the big savings are gone. I stopped shooting surplus once it went above $80 a jug and went to cannister grade powders in 8lb jugs. Buying 1lb cans of anything is suicidal to your finances.
  5. ftierson

    ftierson Member.

    Not only that, but every lot of the same powder will burn slightly (or more) differently from others, so buying in 8lb kegs makes more sense than buying separate 1lb cans anyway (since we're talking about maximum consistency here for match ammo).

  6. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    My best groups ever have been shot with surplus IMR4895.

    The days of 10 cents/ pound are over.

    The days of $8/ pound are over.

    The saving are just not there anymore.
  7. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    I have purchased lots of surplus powders. You have to go out and develop loads with each and every lot, because the burn rate varies. I had one lot that would blow primers with a charge of 41.0 grains 4895 in a 308 using a 168 Match bullet.

    Accuracy is more a matter of the bullet, the barrel, and the bedding. If the powder is appropriate for your combination of brass, primer, and bullet, surplus powders will shoot very well.

    The biggest problem I have had with surplus 4895 is that half of my lots have detoriated. The stuff gives off a gas, I heard a nitrous oxide, and that will crack case necks and corrode the bottom of bullets. I have had to pour out about 1/2 of all my surplus 4895 purchases because the powder detoriated faster than I was shooting it up.

    This was shot prone, with a sling, using Irons, in a 100 yard reduced match. With a 30-06 and surplus WC852 purchased from Jeff Bartlett. I actually have a 199-13X target with this load, but the hole was not as impressive.


    This was shot during load development on a bench. It is a 15 shot group. It had potential, but this was a lot that had to be poured out on the lawn.

  8. EShell

    EShell Well-Known Member

    This has been my experience as well. I used to buy several jugs and blend them to get all one rate.
    Agreed. I've had excellent accuracy with milsurp IMR 4895 in my precision .308.

    One problem I have run into more with milsurp powder than commercial is temperature sensitivity. Ammo tested, loaded and zeroed in hot weather often shoots substantially low in colder temps.

    In all, I'm more inclined anymore to just buy good quality commercial powders for my serious loads and use the formerly cheap milsurp to feed my iron sighter blasters.
  9. Sunray

    Sunray Well-Known Member

    You really should practice with the ammo you intend using for anything. In any case, you should work up the load first, then buy components in bulk. No point having an 8 pound keg of a powder or 1,000 bullets your rifle doesn't like.
  10. stubbicatt

    stubbicatt Well-Known Member

    For the difference you can save yourself the headache and just buy the cannister powder that you know works for you. The time you save in load development and the bullets you expend will more than pay you back.
  11. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Well-Known Member

    Slamfire those are some incredible groups! Especially the one fired prone. My hat's off to you! What kind of '06 was it? Several years ago I shot a match with a borrowed Mod. 70 Pre-64 heavy barrel '06 with Redfield target sights....wow... it was crazy, crazy accurate!

    I bought a jug of 4895 from Bartlett 10+ years ago and it's still fine. It's in a white bleach bottle. Recently, my Dad picked up a small lot (15 +/- lbs.) of powder in really old cans; IMR, Hodgdon, etc.. I'd say the IMR stuff was packed in the 60's, ditto for the Hodgdon. All of the powder was good except a can of old milsurp 4895.
    Under what conditions do you store your powder?

  12. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    I got 24 pounds of a lot of surplus bulk IMR4895 10 years ago from Hi Tech.

    It took me years to figure out that if I wanted Quickload to give me the right pressure and right velocity, I needed to call it H322.

    Now I can use it for many different cartridges without as much time consuming load development.

    They sent another jug from a different lot. I don't know what powder it thinks it is yet.
  13. Slamfire

    Slamfire Well-Known Member

    My Match 30-06 is based on a Mauser action. The receiver is a like new Colombian Model 1950 30-06 action, built I believe, by Colombia. No FN proof marks anywhere. The bolt is a CZ, and the barrel is a 26" 1:10 Wilson match barrel. It has a Tubb firing pin and a Wolff mainspring.

    Shoots good, don't it! :D

    USSR posted a thread destroying the "myth" of the inaccurate 30-06. In my experience, which mirrors his, a properly loaded 30-06 is just as accurate as a good 308. It just kicks more.

    For a time my pre 64 Match 30-06 was in 30-06. It shot 168's exceptionally well, but it had a chamber problem and would not shoot 190's well.

    Sent it to Randy Gregory, he rechambered the barrel in 308, and now it shoots everything well.

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