1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Trail Boss powder, Mike Venturino’s article in GUNS magazine

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Onty, Jul 30, 2006.

  1. Onty

    Onty Well-Known Member

    When did GUNS magazine printed article about Trial Boss powder, written by Mike Venturino? I was looking on their website, but couldn’t find anything. Unfortunately, “political correctness” among the stores in my area is in total control, just few hunting magazines disguised as outdoors ones, no shooting magazines whatsoever. Thanks.
  2. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Well-Known Member

    I'll have to watch this thread, I just bought some Trail Boss yesterday for .45 LC.
    I think this is it. Just gound it on a Google search....

    IMR trail boss powder: finally, a powder to fill those capacious cases.(MONTANA MUSINGS)

    Guns Magazine; 10/1/2005; Venturino, Mike

    Search for more information on HighBeam Research for IMR Trail Boss reviews.

    When Editorial Director. Roy Huntington, asked me to Sign on here, he promised me that I wouldn't be pushed into writing thinly veiled publicity releases for new products. With that information, you can now be positive that I volunteered for--and was eager to write up--this new product.

    That's because I think the new IMR Trail Boss smokeless propellant is the first truly significant improvement in smokeless handgun powders in about a century. It is that radical. Also, I will go out on a limb here and predict Trail Boss will make all other fast burning smokeless powders obsolete for use in large capacity cartridges originally designed for black powder. It will also be the best smokeless propellant for reduced loads in large capacity magnum handgun cartridges like .357, .41, and .44 Magnums.

    What makes Trail Boss so special? It's fluffy. In case you start thinking I'm talking about fabric softeners or poodles let me explain.

    When used with safe charges most relatively fast burning smokeless pistol powders can only be used in small charges in large capacity cartridges. Let's use the Speer Rifle & Pistol Reloading Manual No. 13 for some examples. In it, the top charge for Winchester 231 powder for .45 Colt with a 255-grain cast bullet is 7.0 grains. With a 230-grain bullet and Bullseye powder the maximum is 6.0 grains. With 200-grain bullets in the .44-40 Speer's manual raises those charges precisely 1/10 of a grain for maximum.

    Such charges take up very little space in the huge .45 Colt and .44-40 cases, which were designed around 40-grain charges of black powder. In fact, the above smokeless powder charges float around so loosely they can cause problems. If the gun is tilted so the powder charge is up against the bullet, velocities will usually be lower, lf the gun is tilted so the powder is back against the primer, velocities will usually be higher. In cases where bullets aren't held tightly by the case, there is even the possibility of misfires. I've seen all of the above happen.
    Usually the best case scenario is that the .45 Colt or .44-40 ammunition will function OK, but a chronograph will show fairly high extreme spreads in a test sample. The worst case scenario is that some reloader loses concentration briefly and gets two of those tiny charges inside a case. They are so small it is hard to notice such a double charge. It happens all too often with the usual result a ruined revolver and occasionally injuries to the shooter and/or bystanders.

    Now we get back to Trail Boss powder. It's fluffy, I said that. With great big cases such as the .44-40 and .45 Colt it will fill up 50 to 75 percent of the case capacity considering the proper weight of bullet is seated correctly. That's right. With most cases, if a double charge of Trail Boss is inadvertently dumped in, the powder will spill over. Even if two charges are put in a case and fired IMR's press releases say that pressures won't reach proof load limits.

    Is that because we can use much more in terms of charge weight of the new Trail Boss powder'? No way. IMR's load data says that a maximum .45 Colt charge with 250-grain lead bullet is only 5.8 grains. They say maximum with .44-40 and 200-grain bullets is 6.5 grains. The trick is that these charges take up considerably more capacity than 5.8 or 6.5 grains of any other smokeless propellant now in existence. This is a break-through as never seen in the hand loading world before.

    IMR's press release says this new propellant technology has been in the works for six years. I'd say it has been needed for much longer. How can Trail Boss powder take up so much room? Like I said twice above--it's fluffy. A plastic bottle that normally holds one pound of any other smokeless propellant can only accommodate nine ounces of Trail Boss. And never fear you might visually mistake this new powder for some other one you have in your reloading area. No other powder looks like it. In fact it looks just like a bunch of miniature Krispy Kreme donuts. I'm not kidding!

    When I first saw what this new powder looked like I thought, "Oh brother, I bet this stuff won't powder measure worth a hoot!" I was wrong. It flows right out of a measure hardly varying a tenth of a grain or so. The only powder measure problem reloaders might encounter is that some pistol powder measures and charge bars won't adjust large enough to hold more than 6.0 grains of Trail Boss. For my first reloading of Trail Boss I had to use the Redding BR30 Rifle Measure instead of their pistol one.

    And, here's one more first. Trail Boss is a "lead bullet" propellant. That's not to say that it is dangerous to use with jacketed bullets, but the ballisticians at Hodgdon's lab told me accuracy is much better with lead alloy bullets. That suits me just fine. My initial shooting with Trail Boss has been in about a dozen different handguns chambered for .38-40, .44 Special, .44-40, and .45 Colt. The velocities received are in the accompanying chart. I'm not going to yank your chain and tell you that all groups gotten with Trail Boss were wonderful. Some were. Some were mediocre. One 12-shot group from machine rest with a Colt SAA .38-40 with 5 1/2" barrel was a mere 1". Some five shot groups with five different Smith & Wesson .44 Special revolvers of various vintages ran from 1 1/2" to 3". On the other hand one of my favorite Colt SAA .44-40s grouped 12 shots into about 4", which isn't near as good as it will do with some other loads. Juggling powder charges, bullet temper and size, as well as primers will likely improve that some. Just remember these were the very first loads of Trail Boss I tried in any of these handguns.

    One thing I expected to see with this new propellant was unburned powder left in the revolvers. After all there has to be something in there to make it "fluffy." Right? Whatever it is, if anything, it's consumed on firing. This is clean burning stuff.

    So there's my introduction to IMR Trail Boss. Ride with it, if you want. I'm going to continue working with it and will let you know what I learn.

    Trail Boss powder (left) looks like Krispy Kreme donuts, though it burns clean in the pipe.



    .38-40 Colt SAA 5 1/2" 180 RNFP 5.5 806 & 40
    .44 Spl. S&W TRR 4" * 248 RN 5 689 & 41
    .44-40 Colt SAA 7 1/2" 214 RNFP 6 746 & 44
    .45 Colt Colt SAA 5 1/2" 250 RNFP 5.8 662 & 30

    * TRR means Thunder Ranch Revolver or S&W Model 21-4. Velocities are
    for 10-shot strings taken with PACT Professional Model chronograph
    with start screen at approximately 6'. RN = Roundnose; RNFP = Roundnose
    COPYRIGHT 2005 Publishers' Development Corporation
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2006
  3. gwalchmai

    gwalchmai Well-Known Member

    That's nice, unless 9oz of TB costs the same as a pound of the other powders. That was the unsettling surprise I got from Clays. Titegroup (since I seem destined to accidentally leave out that "e", couldn't we just agree to call it Titgroup? ;)) however, is cheap and not position sensitive, and I can check for double charges pretty easy.
  4. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

  5. 444

    444 Well-Known Member

    I have been using Trail Boss in subsonic loads.
  6. Ultima-Ratio

    Ultima-Ratio Well-Known Member

    New Powders?

    And what's wrong with Unique? Need a fancy designer powder? Why not 4227? VV-N110?
    Nuttin fluffy for my guns thankyaverymuch!
    Mike (THE DUKE????) Venturino needs a lot less fluff IMO!:evil:
  7. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Well-Known Member

    Everybody is entitled to their opinion.
  8. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Well-Known Member

    Basically, from what I am reading about it, it fills up larger shell casings for the older designs back during the black powder era. If you load 3 or 4 grains of something more potent and you are tilting the gun at a downward angle
    ( as you do while cowboy shooting steel plate targets) The powder can fall forward in the shell and not get a 100% burn and lower velocities. With the case full, no chance of that happening.

    Go back and read the area I italicized.
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    Plenty is wrong with using the standard smokeless pistol powders as replacements for black. They're different in every respect from black powder, and can even be exceedingly dangerous if a double charge is used. For the past century people have been trying to figure out how to substitute smokless for black with cast bullets without losing accuracy or increasing pressure too much.
  10. 444

    444 Well-Known Member

    I think he was kidding.
  11. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Well-Known Member

    Well I think I'm personally going to like it 'cause it little donuts.

  12. Car Knocker

    Car Knocker Well-Known Member

    You a cop? :)
  13. Rem700

    Rem700 Well-Known Member

    It doesnt meter very well in progressive presses
    Its dirtier then other powders
    Its expensive if figured by the pound a normal size one pound bottle only holds 9oz of Trail Boss powder and cost the same per bottle as many other powders.
    If your worried about double charges or under charged cases buy a Dillon powder check die or the RCBS lock out die.
    If you still want to use Trail Boss check into the 4-5 pounnd bottles and the price comes down to equal most other powders.
  14. SASS#23149

    SASS#23149 Well-Known Member

    Nope,not the same cost per jug as othes.

    Not here anyway.It runs about 9.50 a jug.NO other powder is under 14.00 hereabouts..per 'jug' that is.
    It measures very well in my Dillon,using the large powder bar.And no dirtier than Uique when I shoot it.
    ymmv,of course.
    I'll pay the little bit extra for the added safety facto built in.ANYBODY can have a double charge in their loading lifetime.I just hope I don't.:banghead: :cuss:
  15. ezypikns

    ezypikns Well-Known Member

    I use it for .45 LC cast lead 250 gr RNFP

    It does a great job. I believe it is a little more expensive, but it does seem to fill the cases volumewise. And it meters very consistently in my Dillon.
  16. ScottsGT

    ScottsGT Well-Known Member

    Oh no, just the "round in the middle section" type like Homer Simpson. :D
  17. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Well-Known Member

    It throws very well in a Lee Auto Disk or Perfect Powder measure. Weighed charges don't vary by .1 grain.

    I shoot 5 grains Trail Boss with a 250 or 255 grain lead bullet for .45 Colt. Very consistent results for such a mild load. I am going to start loading a similar charge for a 200 grain bullet (just as soon as Northeastern delivers my order.)

    Trail Boss runs $6 less per small jar than other powders around here, so the cost isn't prohibitive. I will probably start buying it in the larger container.
  18. roo_ster

    roo_ster Well-Known Member

    TB is my powder of choice for reduced/plinker loads in .357mag & .44mag.

    It measures well in my RCBS Uniflow measure.

    I am pretty happy with it.
  19. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Well-Known Member

    I"m not quite sure where you get that it's more dirty than other powders? Have you tried it? My experience has been that it's alot less dirty than say bullseye. (in pistols). We just used a bunch to load up some 45/70 plinking rounds and it's pretty cool. You can visually detect a double charge, and the rounds are nice soft shooting in a Guide Gun.

    Just my .02

  20. B36

    B36 Well-Known Member


    Have you actually used this powder?:scrutiny:

    I have loaded several hundred rounds of 44 Special with Trail Boss, and had none of the problem cited in your post.:uhoh:

    It is the cleanest powder I have ever used in a handgun, with 0 residue to find it's way under the star. Meters perfectly in my Dillon 550. Max variation was one tenth grain over 200 drops.

    Better ignition than powders that occupy less than half of case.

    Cost--yes it does cost more, but considering the benefits, I am willing to pay the extra. :)

Share This Page