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Shelf Life of WC 844 & 846

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by capreppy, Aug 22, 2011.

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  1. capreppy

    capreppy Member

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    Looking to purchase some WC 844 & 846 from Hi-Tech ammo for an AR.

    I know WC 844 is basically like H335. I'm going to ask that they be all one lot. At this point, I know I'm going to get at least two canisters and making a couple of assumptions (25gr for a 55gr SP), I should be able to get roughly 2240 rounds out of an 8# jug (Yes I am planning to work up my loads, but trying making assumptions to make my math easier).

    4480 rounds is going to take me a while to go through. What is the expected shelf life of WC 844? If it is a couple of years, then I may go ahead and get the 2 8# jugs so that I have the same lot number and have some level of consistency.

    Hi-Tech covers HazMat if you purchase 4 8# jugs. I may have someone willing to cover the cost of an 8# jug. If they do, I may go ahead and get 3 8# jugs or get 2 jugs of 844 and a jug of 846 (for the 308 I don't own yet, but am all set to reload...LOL)

    Thanks in advance!!
     
  2. retDAC

    retDAC Member

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    Depends on how well it's stored/handled. Can't recall which powder at the moment, but I remember reading some gunwriter/reloader said he had some surplus military rifle powder he'd bought from Bruce Hogdon in the '50s or '60s and 20 (or was it 30?) years later he had almost used it up. It was still good.

    Stored cool and dry-no major or frequent temp swings-no way for moisture to get to it and no way for nitroglycerine to leave it-it should last a looong time. Especially the mil-spec powders. Yes you'll be opening and closing the containers so it will gradually weaken, but if you're careful-not likely enough to matter.
     
  3. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    If you're worried about storage of powder you can always vacuum pack the second 8# jug and that way it can last almost indefinitely. If you don't load a lot you can even cut the jug you're using into 2X 4# jugs and vacuum pack the other half too. Like said above, if kept dry and in a fairly stable temperature range powder will last a long time. (long as in decades, not years)
     
  4. capreppy

    capreppy Member

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    I like the vacuum seal idea. I've got a vacuum sealer and that would certainly keep it dry.

    Thanks for the ideas.
     
  5. woodsoup

    woodsoup Member

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    Make darned sure the vacuum bag material is compatible with the solvents in the powder. Even if you seal up the jug too. You might think you have rodents eating your powder in a year or so. Ever see what powder left in a powder measure hopper does?
     
  6. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    In 2000, Primex Technologies (makers of WC 844) did a symposium concerning military propellant shelf life, reported that their propellants mentioned in the lecture (WC 844, WC 859, WC 860, WC 867, WC 872, and WPR 289 Propellant) even when stored at unconditioned magazine conditions ("Average conditions at St. Marks, Florida: warm temperature, high humidity"), they concluded "Ambient long term storage tests demonstrate that BALL POWDER® propellants for small arms have a shelf-life in excess of 30 years."

    How they determined this was to measure depletion rates of various stabilizers, compared to the documented amounts when the lot was manufactured. Bottom line, keep it cool and dry, and if it was made right to begin with, 30 years can be considered the very minimum of shelf life. Actual use in properly stored ammo has shown this to definitely be on the low end.
     
  7. capreppy

    capreppy Member

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    Thanks Galil. That is excellent news and information.
     
  8. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    That confirms what I said above, it will last decades, not years.

    BTW, the vacuum seal is only if you are really worried about the powder's shelf life. I personally feel it's not necessary. I have seen cans of powder from the 70's all rusted up and hardly any paint left on them. When you open them up the powder is just fine and smells like new. I'm sure the few years it will take you to shoot 2X 8# jugs up will not hurt the powder at all.
     
  9. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    Remember lots of us are still shooting ammo produced during or even prior to WWII. That ammo is now more than 70 years old!! :what: And it (mostly) still goes bang, the exception being ammo made in some pretty crude factories overseas. I still don't have any problems with US made 30-06 or 45 ammo made during the war.
     
  10. Redneckly33

    Redneckly33 Member

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    I just bought 10lbs. of WC846. The facts on the shelf life is good news to me. I haven't used any of it yet. I still have to get in an order to Dillon for a Toolhead, and buy some.308 dies. if anyone on here has some used dies, I might be interested in them.
     
  11. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    My lastest write up on gunpowder lifetime is here:

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=7498914&postcount=25

    If your powder was surplus powder it was at the end of its military shelf life. I would shoot it up as quick as possible.

    If it is new production powder than 30 years is a good estimate assuming you don't store it at 65 C. That is the temperature used in the fume test, and if you powder fumes within 30 days at 65 C it is probably bad.
     
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