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lifespan of powder in a Dillon 550B?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Lucky Strike, Jan 22, 2010.

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  1. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Member

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    I've got a Dillon 550B and had been loading 9mm with Hodgdon HP-38......about 9 months ago we started remodeling our house and as such our entire garage was used as a storage space and I didn't touch my reloading equipment until just last week when I finally got the garage cleaned out and back to working order.

    There's about a 1/4 lb of powder in the 550B powder measure that's been sitting there for 10 months.

    Should this powder still be ok? I live in teh NW and have an uninsulated garage.

    Any way to test if the powder's still good short of loading up a round and going to the range to shoot it?
     
  2. DIV03

    DIV03 Member

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    I don't see a problem with using what's left in the powder measure. My XL-650 has been sitting idle for well over six months full of Win-231
     
  3. Clarence

    Clarence Member

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    The primary environmental factors that will have an effect on the life of gunpowder are: moisture, temperature, and exposure to direct sunlight.

    If it were me, I'd just toss it. It's only worth about $5
     
  4. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    An Energetics expert told me that the Army scraps ammunition with double based propellants after 20 years, and single based 45 years.

    Of course this stuff is in sealed containers, sometimes iron, sometimes brass, sometimes steel.

    But this ought to give you an idea of the shelf life of powders. You get the stuff wet, heat it up, getting iron (rust) particles in powder, the shelf life goes down.

    Gross indications of bad powder is a bad bitter smell due to nitric acid gas emissions, or red color to the powder granules.

    Indications that the powder is going bad in the case is case neck cracks due to nitric gas emissions in the case.

    Ammunition bunker Kabooms are positive indications of old powder. They happen all the time. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6Bgwyqdvpw

    http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/file...eries_pdf/CAiS/CAiS CH13 Depot explosions.pdf

    http://www.nowpublic.com/world/russia-blasts-ulyanovsk-ammunition-depot-leaves-8-dead



    10 months in a Dillion powder measure? as long as it is in the dark, how is that any different from being in a plastic can for 10 months?

    Go shoot the stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2010
  5. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Member

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    well it's not in the dark...it's near a window that gets hit with sunlight half the day. Well it was for about 6 months...after that I finally put up miniblinds on the window to block light

    The powder itself still looks normal....no red color or smell.
     
  6. alfack

    alfack Member

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    I wouldn't hesitate to use it. I've done the same thing, before.

    I don't like to do it because it will corrode the nice clear plastic after a while, but I've never had any round issues because of it.
     
  7. Roccobro

    Roccobro Member

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    The only question is...
    How many grains in your favorite recipe? :D

    Mmm... About 20 minutes if you have primers tubes all filled and bullets ready to go...

    Justin
     
  8. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Member

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    The only concern I see is that the black on the powder will transfer to the Dillon plastic powder hopper, thus making it hard to see what's in there.
     
  9. Gatofeo

    Gatofeo Member

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    Okay, let a grumpy ol' f**t reminisice ...
    Years ago, the late Skeeter Skelton wrote a column about "Cow Killer Loads."
    Seems that he used some kind of powder -- Unique or 2400 probably -- in a powder measure with a plastic hopper. He left the powder in there for some time, shot up all his .44 Special cartridges, and sat down months later to make more ammo.
    At the time, Skelton was a deputy sheriff (he later became a Border Patrol officer).
    One day, he got dispatched to where a cow had been hit by a car. To put the animal out of misery, he shot it in the forehead.
    The bullet barely left the barrel and blapped off the cow's forehead. The next bullet did too, as did the others.
    Skelton was mortified, mostly because he'd been riding around with these bat-f**t loads in his service revolver! Imagine if he'd had to shoot a felon!
    His fellow deputies teased him about his, "Cow Killer Loads," thus the name.
    He traced the problem back to the plastic hopper on his powder measure. The plastic was frosted where the powder had been lying against it for some months.
    Somehow, the plastic reacted with the powder and greatly weakened it.
    Since reading that column back in the late 70s or early 80s, I've avoided leaving powder in the plastic hopper of my powder measures -- including my Dillon 550B.
    Perhaps today's plastics are different.
    Alliant, Winchester and other manufacturers ship their powder in plastic containers, so there are obviously some plastics that don't affect powder.
    Myself, I don't like to take the chance.
    Besides, if I immediately return the powder from the hopper to its original container, there are no identity problems later.
    "Is that hopper full of 748 or 296 ball powder?" I might mutter otherwise, months later.
    I think it's just sound reloading safety to empty it after each reloading session.
     
  10. Lucky Strike

    Lucky Strike Member

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    thanks for all the replies....I'll probably load up what's in there this weekend and then just make it a point to empty the hopper from now on upon completing a reloading session.
     
  11. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    It's got nothing to do with the press or powder measure. Has to do with the relative humidity.
    An uninsulated garage in Oregon for 10 months. Pitch it.
     
  12. twofifty

    twofifty Member

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    quote Gatofeo: "Besides, if I immediately return the powder from the hopper to its original container, there are no identity problems later.
    "Is that hopper full of 748 or 296 ball powder?" I might mutter otherwise, months later.
    I think it's just sound reloading safety to empty it after each reloading session.
    "

    My thoughts exactly.

    If the OP reloads with only one powder type, then I guess the chance of mix-up is nil. Some guys identify the hopper content with a marked piece of masking tape. Once done, returning powder to its cannister is good practice.
     
  13. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

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    I always empty the powder measure back in the cans after each session too.

    I used to only have one powder measure when I first started out and it just made sense.

    Now it is just habit.

    LGB
     
  14. Radaray

    Radaray Member

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    Okay, let a grumpy ol' f**t reminisice ...
    Years ago, the late Skeeter Skelton wrote a column about "Cow Killer Loads."
    Seems that he used some kind of powder -- Unique or 2400 probably -- in a powder measure with a plastic hopper. He left the powder in there for some time, shot up all his .44 Special cartridges, and sat down months later to make more ammo.
    At the time, Skelton was a deputy sheriff (he later became a Border Patrol officer).
    One day, he got dispatched to where a cow had been hit by a car. To put the animal out of misery, he shot it in the forehead.
    The bullet barely left the barrel and blapped off the cow's forehead. The next bullet did too, as did the others.
    Skelton was mortified, mostly because he'd been riding around with these bat-f**t loads in his service revolver! Imagine if he'd had to shoot a felon!
    His fellow deputies teased him about his, "Cow Killer Loads," thus the name.
    He traced the problem back to the plastic hopper on his powder measure. The plastic was frosted where the powder had been lying against it for some months.
    Somehow, the plastic reacted with the powder and greatly weakened it.
    Since reading that column back in the late 70s or early 80s, I've avoided leaving powder in the plastic hopper of my powder measures -- including my Dillon 550B.
    Perhaps today's plastics are different.
    Alliant, Winchester and other manufacturers ship their powder in plastic containers, so there are obviously some plastics that don't affect powder.
    Myself, I don't like to take the chance.
    Besides, if I immediately return the powder from the hopper to its original container, there are no identity problems later.
    "Is that hopper full of 748 or 296 ball powder?" I might mutter otherwise, months later.
    I think it's just sound reloading safety to empty it after each reloading session.

    That's the best reply I've ever seen here. I recall reading that article of Skeeter's too, and I follow those same precautions. Neatness in and around the loading bench is a good measure of safety. Leave it like you found it, meaning put your powder back in the container it came out of. No questions later on that way.
     
  15. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Maybe a materials expert could chime in and give an idea of whether Skeeter's failure analysis could be correct.

    It might have been due to something else he did. Skeeter could have attributed a cause to something that did not create an effect.

    Or maybe, way back when, plastics used in hoppers were picked precisely because they made powder inert.

    Which seems hard to believe.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2010
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