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Unburned Powder or Unburnable Powder?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Matt 357, May 23, 2010.

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  1. Matt 357

    Matt 357 Member

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    Went to the range today and shot 50 rounds of 357 reloaded with H110 and 100 rounds of 38 special reloaded with SR4756. I toss my spent cases in a tupperware container during shooting. I noticed "powder" collecting at the bottom of the container. Ah hah. Unburned powder! When I got home I shook the hell out of the container to knock out any extra powder from the cases. Altogether about 0.5cc of crap. I put the little pile on a 2x4 and hit it with a BBQ lighter. No poof, just a fizzle. And after the fizzle about 50% of the crap was left as unburnable ash.

    Hmmm.... So when you think there is unburned powder from your handloads, is it really unburned or unburnable?

    BTW not sure if unburnable is a word. Noncombustible is probably more correct.
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    SR 4756 burns very clean at good pressures, but is very position sensitive and does not do well if the powder is forward, like it can be in a .38 case. (I tried 6.0 Grs of SR 4756 in a .357 case with a125 Gr plated bullet. 12 rounds powder back gave an average 931 FPS. The first shot powder forward stuck the bullet in the barrel)

    H110 Needs a good crimp and a near full charge to burn well.

    Either one of those things could have been going on.
     
  3. Matt 357

    Matt 357 Member

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    Yup... read all about the tips on SR4756 and H110. In addition to pressure/combustion issues, I am wondering if these particles I found are like the kernels at the bottom of a bag of microwave popcorn. Some kernels just won't pop. So out of say 10 grains of powder, should 100% of the powder vaporize?

    When we say a powder burns "clean", are we talking zero residue? If not, how much residue in the barrel is normal after firing a few rounds? Pictures of barrel showing clean burn and unburned powder would be great if anyone has the time. Next time I go shooting I'll take some pics before cleaning.
     
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Every "granule" should burn. There will be a tiny bit if residue with any powder. How clean it is capable of burning is measured by what material it is made from. What kind of cellulose in other words - wood pulp, which is very common, cotton, which is used by Vihtavuori, etc., and how clean the raw material is.
     
  5. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    There's no reason to assume that powder will burn completely, few thing do. You burn paper which is plant fiber that's cellulose and there's ash. Smokeless gunpowder is mostly nitrocellulose or nitrocellulose with nitroglycerin and other components that help stabilize the nitrocellulose. Nitrocellulose is a nitrated paper or plant fiber so some solid remnants are expected though most of it is sent out the muzzle. While some of the residue is flakes of powder that didn't get ignited a good amount of what you see is simply ash.
     
  6. Jech

    Jech Member

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    I've noticed similar residue in whatever container I keep my fire .38 special or .357 magnum brass. Coming out of a 2.25" SP101, I had assumed that it was unburnt powder and not put a second thought to it being a snubbie. Thinking about it now, most of it (in the barrel too) was translucent, almost crystalline in appearance. Is this also just leftover "ash"?
     
  7. bds

    bds Member

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    Would faster burning powder like Bullseye/Red Dot/Promo/700X minimize unburnt powder in short barreled gun?
     
  8. Phil A

    Phil A Member

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    H110 in the .357 burns better with magnum primers however I still prefer a faster powder for the .357. I have .44 mag in a Contender (14" barrel) than does very well with H110. - Phil
     
  9. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    In .460 S&W H110 needed a really tight crimp to burn. Lil' Gun worked much better. I've got about 6 lbs of Lil' Gun I need to get rid of because my very soon-to-be ex-wife stole the gun and sold it. :(
     
  10. Matt 357

    Matt 357 Member

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    I'm still curious about how much unburned powder/ash is way too much. Is it reasonable to see some particles in the barrel?

    If you take 100 spent cases and shake out the crap, how much crap it reasonable? Again, just curious. I have 2 pounds of H110. It shoots nicely with 180 grain JHP.
    Just trying to get a feel for what's "typical".
     
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    You should not have unburned or half burned granules in the barrel if you are getting good combustion. I posted the two reasons I thought might be causing it in post #2.
     
  12. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    What you are seeing is powder "skeletons".
    The powder did burn, and what you are seeing is mostly left-over ash skeletons of the powder flakes.

    It is somewhat common at less then max pressure load levels.

    rc
     
  13. NavyLCDR

    NavyLCDR member

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    When I have seen true unburned powder it looked like clumps of yellow chalk.
     
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