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Surplus powder worth it now?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Fatelvis, Jun 9, 2012.

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  1. Fatelvis

    Fatelvis Member

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    I've been buying surplus powder (from three different sources) for the good part of 25 yrs now. The price savings has been the ONLY reason, especially on pulldown. Now the surplus powder allows you to save $24/8lbs from the "new" powder? Come on!! Do they think that people would actually PREFER to use pulldown than new?? Time to start buying from Miday, Midsouth, Natchez, Grafs, Powder Valley, etc.
    Sorry for the rant.....I had to vent.
     
  2. dbarnhart

    dbarnhart Member

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    Including shipping, tax etc here are my costs for 8lb

    $90 - WC844 pulldown (quant 4 to eliminate hazmat fee)
    $151 - H335 from PV, (quant 4 to spread out hazmat and shipping)
    $143 - H335 from local supplier

    I think the savings are significant.
     
  3. RustyFN

    RustyFN Member

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    I buy WC-844 for $85 for 8 pounds.
    Powder Valley is $132.50 fpr 8 pounds of H-335.
    Saving $47.50 for 8 pounds is enough for me to buy the pull down.
     
  4. Fatelvis

    Fatelvis Member

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    Hmmm, maybe I should start using WC844. I have always been partial to 4895, and some Russian 2400 equivelents.
     
  5. Clark

    Clark Member

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    I started out with surplus rifles, surplus ammo, and cheap scopes.

    Eventually I learned that I wanted nothing to do with surplus barrels, surplus bullets, or cheap scopes.

    I will still use surplus powder and surplus brass for shooting rodents.
    But for big game I am using commercial brass and Hodgdon extreme powders at this time.

    I will still use surplus rifle actions but with premium barrels, aftermarket stocks, and expensive second hand scopes.

    By the time I die, I hope to stop being such a cheapskate.
     
  6. rg1

    rg1 Member

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    You forgot to figure the cost of going to the range, maybe twice, range fees, several loaded test rounds to work up for safe and accurate loads, since the WC 844 I've bought from 3 suppliers have all been different burn rates. So the gas for the trip to the range, range fees, and some of the surplus powder and several bullets and primers later you have your safe and accurate load with your new surplus powder that you saved a few bucks on. Don't forget you need to check your surplus powder with ALL your bullet weights to test your new surplus powder. Or like me, who got tired of working up loads especially since surplus powder has nearly doubled in price since I started using it, I have switched to H335 and don't have to go through the hassle. Just to add to your ranting!
     
  7. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Maybe his range is like mine and allowes you to reload in our little range shack. I have Lee Loaders for most of the calibers I frequently reload and use those at the range.

    Yup there is a use for those little Lee Loaders.

    Yup there is a use for the surplus powders, and the money saved is of use for other things, mayhap a dinner out with my best friend, my wife.
     
  8. Otto

    Otto Member

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    Surplus powder is a crap shoot not knowing how old it is or country of origin.
    When it comes to propellants I have no desire to bottom feed.
     
  9. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Jeff gives the country of orgin, gives what the powder was pulled down from, and what its best uses are for and suggested started loades. Really not much more one needs to ask for. But its your monies and your gain or waste.

    Remember many of our powder companies started out selling government surplus powders which we still use today. Not really bottom feeding. This is still true of Hodgdon today, with some of their current powders.



     
  10. Otto

    Otto Member

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    Hodgdon does not sell recycled pulled down powder...Jeff Bartlett does.
    Hodgdon only sells recent production canister grade powder, not used military powder from the Vietnam era.
    Hodgdon puts lot numbers on every jug they sell...Jeff Bartlett does not.
    Hodgdon's burn rates are established and consistent lot to lot...surplus powders rarely are.
    All Hodgdon powder includes published load data....typical data for surplus powder is more like "burns like _______ but slower than _______"

    Used Surplus powder is expensive:
    Jeff Bartlett's pulled down Alliant RL 15.....$15 per pound
    Powder Valley's fresh canister grade RL 15....$18 per pound.
     
  11. USSR

    USSR Member

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    IMHO, no. When I was buying 8# of surplus IMR4895 for $78, yes. I have no interest in ball powder.

    Don
     
  12. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    Where did I mention "pull down" powders? I stated "surplus" powders, which both sell.

    BTW surplus powders are not "used" powders.

    Anyway, I'm perfectly happy with the surplus powders I use in my U.S. Carbine and Garand, as I'm also happy with the powders I buy off the shelf at my local dealer or thru Grafs, Powder Valley. YMMV
     
  13. Clark

    Clark Member

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    I consider Hodgdon extreme powders to the best out there.
    But at one time they were selling surplus bulk powder.

    Here is an old load manual from Hodgdon.
    Notice 4895 is ~ $100 per 150 pounds = $0.66/pound

    Bruce Hodgdon had the reputation for being the kind of guy that would fire a lazy guy like me. Look what he built his company into.
     

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  14. medalguy

    medalguy Member

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    rg1, if you don't like to work up loads and spend time at the range shooting those loads, why do you handload? I consider the time spent at the range as time well spent. I enjoy the challenge of working up new loads with new powders and new bullets.

    Oh yeah, to keep the development time at a minimum, I buy several 8 pound jugs of each powder at the same time so I don't have to redo everything with every jug of powder. Besides, I usually get hazmat charges waived when I do that, and sometimes I even get free shipping with 64 pounds of powder or more. Let's see, 8 jugs from Pat's at $85 = $680 with no shipping cost or tax. 8 jugs from PV = $1208 PLUS FREIGHT. Yeah I think I'll stick with surplus WC844.
     
  15. Otto

    Otto Member

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    Re-read the first sentence you wrote in post 9. Why start a debate when you can't even remember your own arguments?

     
  16. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    It should be an obvious question, but one that is seldom considered, exactly why did the military surplus the ammunition?

    There can be a number of reasons, but the most important is that ammunition has a shelf life, and that is primarly due to gunpowder having a shelf life.

    The stuff we see is old, it is too old to keep in military inventory because old gunpowder is unstable, will auto ignite, will pressure spike if fired. It is cheap because the military does not want it anymore.

    This is from :

    PROPELLANT MANAGEMENT GUIDE DECEMBER 2003


    1-4. BACKGROUND
    a. Propellants and propelling charges that we store, transport and maintain warrant our special attention. Among commonly stored energetic materials, only nitrate ester-based propellants (principally nitrocellulose-based ones) have the propensity to spontaneously combust (self-ignite, autoignite) without warning while sitting in storage; catastrophic losses can result. Artillery and Small Arms propellants are perhaps the most dangerous materials that Army installations routinely handle and store. Propellant can be unpredictable, decomposing into an unstable condition within four or five years of manufacture. Inadequate propellant safety programs have contributed to several self-ignition incidents at military and commercial installations in the United States and abroad.

    Half of all the surplus IMR 4895 I bought went bad. It started outgassing and ruined cases and was causing sticky extraction.

    I poured that stuff out on the lawn. That was before I found out gunpowder had a shelf life. Now I am not interested in buying old gunpowder, it is not worth it if you have to scrap half of it.

    The rule of thumb for powder lifetime is 20 years for double based and 45 years for single based, but things can go bad before then.
     
  17. jcwit

    jcwit Member

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    I stand corrected regarding what I wrote, I made a mistake that will live with me forever I guess.

    Otto, however I see you think we are not in a discussion or conversation, but in your mind in an argument. Mayhap you should cool off somewhat!

    Furthermore, I'm hardly the one who started this discussion.
     
  18. jim243

    jim243 Member

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    Same here, but I don't want to re-invent the wheel each time I sit at the reloading bench and see no reason the perfect load should change each time I purchase a pound of powder.

    Consistance is good, it is what companys build their reps on. Now if you want to crap shot each time, I have a blanket just waiting for a pair of dice. Just let me know when payday comes around.

    Jim
     
  19. rg1

    rg1 Member

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    I still use surplus powder but only for 50 BMG. I still save enough using surplus since you only get 33 rounds per pound in 50 BMG. It's just not worth the effort for .223 and 30-06.
     
  20. evan price

    evan price Member

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    Surplus used to be a great deal. Then they started pricing it high.

    If I want to buy 48# of surplus powder to spread out the shipping and Haz-Mat fees to a reasonable level, and then also to sort-of guarantee that the burn rates of the powder would all be within the same lot variances in each jug, sure, buying surplus makes sense. When it was $5-10 a pound shipped, it was great. Nowadays, it's not that great.

    I can get H335 locally for not a lot more than the surplus stuff, and I only need to buy a single 8# jug and let someone ELSE carry the inventory and have THEIR money tied up in case lots of powder that is getting older and running through the chemical retarders while sitting on the shelf.

    Bartlett's got pulled-down RL-15 for $120 per 8# jug.

    H335 is $129 per 8# jug at my local shop. Yes, there's sales tax on top of that.

    When I want another jug of H335 I know it is fresh and stable and meets spec for H335 jug after jug after jug and my loads will be reasonably consistent.

    It might be different if one of the surplus sellers was an easy drive and I could get it without the haz-mat.

    The pulldown WC844 is not a bad deal even with shipping and free haz-mat for 48# makes it better. But I have to tie up $550+ to get it.

    As with everything, your needs will vary. I'd rather buy an 8# of H335 every two years.
    Now watch Hodgdon jack the price of cannister powder to the moon...
     
  21. kingmt

    kingmt Member

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    While speaking to someone at Hodgdon about a year ago, they told me that there just wasn't enough new powder made to keep up with demand so they bought pulldown powder & blended it with the new then adjusted it for the correct burn rate.

    You should call & ask for your self. They don't seem to hide anything if you ask the question. They even told me about having 2 containers with the same lot number but after they were blended the same way found the second(untested) was a differnt powder. Glad they found it before it hit the shelf.

    I watch for deals on pulldown powder but is rear to find any I am willing to pay for. I never spend more then $10 a pound. I have never got free shipping tho but have had them split the hazmat cost if there was more then one case.
     
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