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Choosing powder based on barrel length?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Dave R, Dec 15, 2003.

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  1. Dave R

    Dave R Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Just some newbie curiosity here.

    When selecting a powder to reload for a particular rifle (or even pistol), should barrel length be a part of the consideration?

    For example, if you have a "shorty" AR with only 14" of rifling and a muzzle brake, would you want to use a faster powder to accommodate the shorter barrel? 4198 or something?

    Then compare that with a .223 varmit rifle with a 26" tube. Wouldn't you want a slower powder to build up more velocity with less pressure by burning over a longer period? Move to H335 or something even slower?

    Interested in thoughts from some experienced reloaders.

    Not interested in "I like this powder for .223". Just thinking that within a particular caliber, where several powders will work well, don't you want a slower powder for a longer barrel, and faster powder for shorter barrel, or are there other factors that make this a moot point.
  2. Archie

    Archie Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Hastings, Nebraska - the Heartland!
    You'll want to search and check some prior threads...

    The short answer is NO.

    Powder selection is based on bullet weight, primarily. In a gas operated gun, one cannot go too slow in burn rate.

    Check out a couple load manuals and see what works best in the manuals. Keep in mind that loads giving the faster velocities in longer barrels will still give the faster velocities in shorter barrels. You'll get more flash, too, but them's the breaks.
  3. Black Snowman

    Black Snowman Member

    Sep 3, 2003
    Kansas City, KS
    If I'm not not mistaken from what I've learned so far most of the pressure issues come at the initial ignition so as Archie mentioned the most effective powder is not going to change much due to barrel length but will mostly be based on bullet weight.

    Where a change is most notable is in pistol caliber carbines where a slower powder may get you more velocity for the same pressure, but usually it's not a major change in burn rate, usually just adjacent on the burn rate charts.

    Of course every gun is a unique situation so you can find exceptions.
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