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Unburned powder

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Dudemeister, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Well-Known Member

    I was at the range the other day, shooting some of my reloads, and I noticed that some, but not all my spent cases still had a few flakes of unburned powder.

    What exactly causes this, I would have thought that the explosion that happens inside a sealed container (the bullet casing) would consume all the fuel.

    Is this normal, should I worry about it, can it be fixed, etc?

    BTW, the loads are .45LC w/255gr. LRFN bullets & 6gr. of Universal.

    This is a relatively light load I like shooting because it's fairly accurate at 25 yards, and I can shoot 250-300 in one session without getting tired.
  2. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Powder consumption is more complete at higher pressures.
    A light target load in a low pressure cartridge like you have is going to leave some unburnt granules.

    You are below the Hodgdon start load and are probably doing about 700 fps and 8000 psi, which is very light. Clays or Trail Boss would give a cleaner burn.

    But I would not change a load that was otherwise satisfactory.
  3. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    +1. To be expected, and not a problem.

  4. Dave P

    Dave P Well-Known Member

    "the explosion that happens"

    No explosions, the powder just burns rapidly producing mucho gas. For rifles especially, you often try to select a powder that burns the whole time that the bullet it is in the barrel (for max velocity), with none left over to cause a big muzzle flash. Similar concerns for pistol loads too.
  5. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Often times a light load in a large capacity case will produce very inconsistent performance. I'll bet the case is black or smooty on one side, while the opposite side is not so much, if at all. Light charges in those large cartridges will lay on the wall of the cartridge which causes issues with the burn. A better way to use those light loads is to use a filler on top of the powder charge to keep it up against the flash hole. Dacron and cotton are approved fillers for metalic cartridges.
  6. Josh45

    Josh45 Well-Known Member

    Not to worry, Had the same issue with 2400 powder. 11 grains of the stuff under a 158 FP bullet in a .357. Quite a bit wasn't burned, So Im uping the charge a tad.
  7. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Well-Known Member

    You're absolutely right about thew sooting. As far as inconsistency is concerned, I used to use Titegroup first, and that stuff was inconsistent. You feel it, and you could see it on the target.

    I then switched to Trail Boss, and while I did like the fact that it filled the case well, I thought it was quite dirty.

    The last few hundred rounds I reloaded have been using Universal. While not as bulky as Trail Boss, it does fill the case a lot better than Titegroup, and at the low pressures I load, is not as dirty as Trail Boss.

    I did try to use a filler on top before. I cut small 1" squares of toilet tissue, and stuffed them in the case after the powder. The edges of the paper hug the walls of the case and are held in place by the bullet. To me, it didn't seem to make any difference in consistency, accuracy or cleanliness, so I stopped using it.
  8. brickeyee

    brickeyee Well-Known Member

    I was at an indoor range and after a couple rounds from someone;s .44 mag the unburnt powder forward of the firing line ignited.

    It had accumulated in the grooves in the concrete floor.

    A lot of smoke, a few sparks.

    Management moved us to other side of the range (10 more lanes separated by a block wall) and got out the hose.
  9. kingmt

    kingmt Well-Known Member

    Filler will help some but you probably need more of it. By taking up some of the space you raise the pressure & help the powder burn more completely.
  10. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Well-Known Member

    In cartridges like the .45 Colt and .44 spl, Universal isn't the best choice for light loads. Clays works much better, no TP needed. Universal is a fantastic powder for standard loads in those calibers though.
    Trail Boss is good too, but unless I'm right at 100% load density, I get wide velocity swings.
  11. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Well-Known Member

    Another vote for Trail Boss and use it at 95%-100% fill but don't compress it, it will get spikey and start to flatten primers fast.
  12. gofastman

    gofastman Well-Known Member

    Would a hotter primer help???
  13. Win1892

    Win1892 Well-Known Member

    I shoot 200 grain lead, 5.1 of Win 231 in my 1911 with no unburned granules.

    Bought a Smith 625 and it turns into a gritty filthy mess after about 50 rounds.
    Bumped up my powder to 6.0 and the mess went away.
  14. Dudemeister

    Dudemeister Well-Known Member

    I plan on loading a few rounds this week, so I'll up the load to 7 or 7.2gr. According to this chart:


    6.5-7.8gr is the min-max. for cowboy loads. It's this would be somewhere in the middle of the range. We'll see how it works.
  15. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    Not really. A low pressure load in .45LC is still a low pressure load even with a hotter primer.

  16. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Well-Known Member

    A firm crimp might.

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