The GOLDEN RULE of reloading is to always to begin at the recommended START load, which is between -10% below the MAXIMUM load for most Rifle calibers and up to 15% below for certain handgun calibers.
The 1st and foremost reason is SAFETY:
Due to a myriad of variables that can exist and which is totally outside the control of the institution which generates the reloading data, it is imperative to consider the safety aspect and begin at a properly reduced low energy level.
The 2nd Important reason is OPTIMIZING for ACCURACY:
The ability to induce a wide range of energy levels, will improve the ability to “find” the optimal “sweet spot” and the smallest possible group for a particular weapon system/platform, and component combination, i.e. primer, case, powder and bullet.
All the testing is done in test barrels according to primarily to SAAMI and in some cases the CIP specifications (International protocol).
Whenever, it is possible to measure a parameter accurately, it is a huge advantage to know/conclude what is happening. It will immediately tell you whether the combination is in-line with the published reloading data or not. The availability of affordable and accurate chronometers has put this measuring ability within reach of most reloaders today.
Most of our powders are not insensitive, and will show some effect at hot and cold temperatures.
However, we test at -40F and +125F and the deviation in most cases are ca 3% to 5% at these extreme levels. Therefore most shooters do not notice much difference under normal practical hunting conditions.
More elaboration on the subject:
Complete temperature stability can only be achieved with tubular extruded powders designs, either with double base (NG) and/or with other coating technologies.
Because the ballistic performance at extreme temperature is completely dependant on the specific combination, it is very difficult to quantify and qualify.
Our standard powders perform very well at extreme temperatures, and usually pass the strict military requirements by a large margin.
This is a subject that often fraught with misconceptions and inaccuracies.
The term is used loosely by manufacturers without qualifying the subject, and is obviously exploited for marketing purposes and perceptions.
The facts are:
If any of these parameters/aspects go beyond or outside the intended ratio/s, the results will change and the performance will sometimes be different.
It is also very important that when a comparison is made, that all conditions re weapon i.e. components primer, case, bullet and the velocity are equal, and preferably done at the same time on the same day.
Accuracy is totally dependant on the specific combination, and is therefore impossible to predict.
The dispersion of the bullet is largely determined by the stability of A) the launch platform/system, which off course includes the shooter, as well as B) The external ballistics of the bullet in flight. The launch platform stability is controlled, and determined, by a complex interaction of the different components primer case bullet and gun (as well as shooter) none of which can be considered “accurate” as a separate entity.
It’s is not correct, and a common misconception, to assume that there are so called “accurate- powders, primers, cases, projectiles etc. Any one of these claims can be easily disproved with a different combination. It is true that some weapons are inherently unstable and no matter of combination will reliably deliver acceptable accuracy.
These components aspects/parameters all contribute to the “launch-impulse”, and performance level (velocity and pressure). The dynamic characteristics of this impulse are therefore very specific for each combination. How the launch platform/Rifle reacts to this impulse, determines the launch stability, and as a result the accuracy/dispersion. This specific reaction of the launch platform can be described the “dynamic character or -finger print” of the weapon/ammunition system. That’s why an “accurate load/combination” can only be achieved through incremental adjustments, and/or variations of these different components, and parameters.
The only way to properly do this is, to always start at the minimum or start load, and work up towards the maximum suggested load, with the components at one’s disposal. If the desired accuracy is not achieved, the second phase will be to adjust or change the components, i.e. primer, case, case condition, projectile/bullet or the type of powder altogether. The important thing to remember is to change/vary only one parameter/component at a time.
We refrain from predicting accuracy. Although some people, and institutions, recommend so-called “accurate loads” and combinations it’s not very well founded or scientific because, the assumption is made that all systems and conditions are equal, which is not true.
Because some internal barrel profiles (Mostly for handgun calibers), such as the polygon® and hexagonal® have unconventional “smooth” internal dimensions, its inevitable that the diameters of these barrels be extremely tight, to engage the bullet in order to impart the rotational forces for stability. When cast bullets are used in conjunction with these barrels, it imperative that the dimensions should be sized correctly, and that the hardness be such as not to cause any lead fouling. Any build-up or deposit of bullet material in the forcing cone freebore/lead area might result in a high pressure and the resultant damage to the weapon and/or injury to the shooter.
It depends on the specific composition of the powder itself, and also the geometry. Modern smokeless powders can be divided into two main groups.
Geometry: Extruded Flake/Disc or tubular.
Geometry: Ball/spherical or extruded flake/disc or tubular.
Single base powders:
Single base powders are more hygroscopic than double base.
Since the vast majority of this powder consists of just NC Nitro Cellulose, and does not contain other ingredients which will seal the powder composition, it will be more porous, especially some of the extruded flake/disc powders aimed at shotgun or handgun applications.
Double base Powders:
When Nitroglycerin is added, the product is gelatinized or plasticized which will result in the grains being less porous and “sealed” against external atmospheric conditions.
If the individual granules are extremely small the chances of it sticking/clinging to synthetic materials are more possible.
Even double base ballpowders, such as in the case of extremely fast burning ballpowders for Shotgun/handgun applications, which can also be sometimes rolled/flattened, will also tend to cling to the sides of synthetic (static) containers/hoppers.(see question below re static elecricity)
Another component that will casue powders to be more hygroscopic is when flash suppressants, which is basically salts, are part of the composition.
It will also therefore depends on if, and what percentage of flash suppressant is present in specific powder.
In general we can state that:
There are a few things one can do to alleviate or eliminate static electricity.
A) Add a very fine grained “lab grade” graphite powder to the powder, at about 1 teaspoon per lb and shake very well.
This is usually available at hardware stores in the lock/key departments or from laboratory equipment/material suppliers.
This graphite can also be rubbed into/onto surfaces in contact with the powder.
Caution: This powder is extremely fine and will be difficult to get of skin so we strongly suggest using surgical gloves when handling the graphite. Also take care not to spill it on clothes because will be hard to clean. Hard to reach places can be treated with cotton swabs dipped in the graphite powder.
Another option is to rub the inside surfaces of hoppers with antistatic cloths used in cloth dryers.
A third will be to earth/ground the loading equipment. Also be aware of the Relative Humidity of the loading area. The ideal is to keep the RH between 50 and 70%. If the RH goes very low the static will become more pronounced and it might be good to invest in a humidifier. The RH must be monitored with an accurate instruments or a wet and dry ball thermometer unit (which is the most accurate).
The most critical dimensions are those immediately beyond the chamber/case mouth, known as the “Freebore” and “Leade”. This is where the engraving process takes place, which determines the level of resistance which in turn “controls” the combustion process.
This is also the area that experiences the highest and most severe forces and or conditions i.e. Peak-Acceleration, Peak- Pressure and Peak-Temperatures, therefore its also the area that experiences the most erosion and wear which ultimately leads to reduced velocities of a typical worn barrel.
Any change in these dimensions can have significant and sometimes dramatic effects. If the dimensions are tight and short the pressure can rise significantly and the inverse happens when these dimensions are large/long or “loose”.
This also depends on the caliber design and its expansion ratio. If it’s a high expansion ratio caliber such as the 458WinMag 444Marlin etc the effects will be less than that of a low expansion ratio caliber also known as an “overbore” calibers such as the 264WinMag 7mmRem Mag etc. The standard calibers will fall somewhere in-between.
There is unfortunately no simple solution or recommendation, because the primers of different manufacturers can differ quite substantially even when rated for the same category.
However, as far as safety is concerned for the most general and popular calibers standard primers of most manufacturers will work in both the handgun and rifle categories.
The belief that all spherical powders must be combined with magnum primers is not true. This might have been the case in the early years. However, what is suggested is that as soon as the capacity of a typical rifle caliber goes beyond 70 grains it will be good to use a higher energy “Magnum” rated primer. In the case of handguns its more difficult and as far as our Accurate products is concerned it will be good to use magnum primers when the Chargemass exceeds 20grains in a typical bigger bore caliber such as 44 and larger.
As far as accuracy is concerned, which depends on the intricate/complex interactions of the components and weapon system/platform a change in any one of the major components including primers can have a significant effect, for better or worse. Therefore it will be wise to experiment with different primers if a problematic situation arises.
Not always, and unfortunately it’s hard to predict and quantify. It depends on the combination of powder-caliber-pressure/performance level. However, in most cases the difference is small especially in the case of rifle calibers. In the case of handgun caliber certain magnum primers can cause higher pressures, however this is more the exception than the rule. Also the number of handgun calibers that really requires a magnum primer is limited to large capacity calibers using relatively slow burning powders.
There are also sometimes big differences between makes of primers which complicates the issue even further.
The one fundamental fact and paradigm shift a semi auto or auto rifle reloader must accept and realize is that his system is more of an “engine” than the “one stroke/impulse ” action particular to single action weapon.
However, as far as safety is concerned, in most cases, the same loads will apply and therefore the -10% rule for the start load will remain.
Since semi Automatic or automatic weapons consumes energy to cycle the weapon, there are many factors that can affect this process.
The reloader or ammunition manufacturer must be aware of these issues and parameters and accommodate for that in the loading procedures.
No damage will occur by beginning as usual at the minimum “START” load as recommended in load guides.
The worst that can happen is insufficient energy to cycle or even partially cycle the weapon.
At worst this will manifest in a gun that will not even unlock the breech.
The next is partially unlocking without ejecting.
The next is short cycling = cases are partially ejected or ejected at low energy levels or even caught between breech and chamber.
This situation is usually easily rectified by incrementally increasing the Chargemass. The only exception will occur if there are a serious problems with the gas system, or the reciprocating breech assembly, either being “blocked” or seized up, due to some physical/mechanical issue such as high friction levels, due to improper tolerances, or being too dirty and clogged up by whatever residue .
This is were the semi auto reloader have an extra dimension to watch out for as he develops his load, and that is the level of energy observable as the cases are being ejected. This is easily quantifiable by the distance the cases are being ejected. Here an extra observer can also be of great help to determine the ejection energy level.
Also the condition of the ejected cases will show if something is wrong such as “dents” damaged or deformed case-mouths etc which might indicate a too violent action.
These signs can and will occur at different levels for different weapons even from the same manufacturer, depending on the condition of the weapon.
This condition of too high ejection energy can occur before the published maximum load or velocities are reached. If so, then this parameter must then serve as the limiting criteria for a particular weapon-ammunition combination.
If there was one basic guideline we could suggest, is that the selection of powder burn rate for a particular caliber should be such that between 92 and 100% of the case volume is used (loading density). This will ensure the best possible pressure velocity ratio and the highest gas volume and pressure at the gas port, and will result in a”well balanced” round.
However, as always there is one exception namely the M1 Garand system in 30-06 caliber, which can sometimes experience a problem by bending the operating rod if too high a gas port pressure is attained, with too slow a powder.
No the peak pressure is reached very quickly and in a short relative displacement. In the case of Rifle calibers the peak pressure is reached within 2inches of projectile movement, and in the case of handgun calibers the Peak pressure is reached while the base of the bullet is still inside the case or just at the point of leaving the case. In extremely large handgun calibers that resembles rifle calibers such as the 460S&W and the 500S&W or even larger which also utilizes extremely slow burning handgun magnum powders or even fast burning rifle powders this displacement might be ½” to 1 inch beyond the case mouth.
The barrel length does affect the velocity because, it determines time-base of the pressure/work being applied to the base of the bullet. Therefore, the longer the barrel the higher the velocity, and vice versa for shorter barrels. The proportional affect depends on the specific caliber configuration and expansion ratio. Since Rifle calibers usually have long barrels and high velocities, and handgun calibers have short barrels with lower velocities, the differences when expressed in Fps per inch can be very misleading.
It’s important to normalize and compare with the same proportions. Since the velocity change is not linear in that the velocity per length unit will be higher closer to the chamber than the muzzle, the typical figures fps/inch used can only be applied when barrels lengths are kept within the standard “length-envelope” typical to a caliber category.
The typical rifle caliber such as a 308Winchester will loose between 20 and 25 Fps per inch if kept within the approximate typical 22 to 26″ envelope. This means that the velocity will change approximately 0.9% with a 4.2% change in barrel length.
If the same proportional 4.2% change in length is applied to a typical handgun caliber, it will result in a change of between only 0.17 to 0.25 inches. Therefore a typical handgun caliber such as 9mmP at the typical length of ca 4″ will show a difference of ca 1.4% in velocity with a change of 4.2% of the barrel length. If expressed in Fps per inch it will constitute approximately 80 Fps per inch. Please keep in mind that 1 inch approximates between 20% and 25% of a typical handgun barrel length.
No, within the normal twist envelopes being used in small arms manufacturing, this effect is negligible to insignificant. The twist contributes to the stability of the projectile in flight i.e. external ballistics. A mistake which is often made is that two separate barrels are compared with different twists and when results (pressure and velocity) are obtained it is subsequently ascribed to the twist. (See question below). The only clinical way to determine the effect is to compare two identical bore groove barrels from the same base stock and then cut the chambers with the same reamer. We did this at Western powders lab and the internal ballistics were the same.
The difference between barrels is, in most cases due to different internal dimensions of the leade/freebore area of the chamber/bore area. The bore diameter can also have a significant impact on the performance however, that happens less frequently.
It depends on the specific dimensions and capacity of the caliber and the proportion of the change. In the case of handgun calibers a 0.025″/1.0mm difference can have an affect as severe as 20% on the Peak pressure. However, that same amount in the case of a rifle caliber, which is much longer, will have a very small to insignificant effect.
Not always, however since the longer round sometimes improves the alignment of the round to the chamber bore axis it is a good practice to have the bullets ogive close but not touching the lands. A standoff of 0.025″ to 0.050″ is advised. This dimension is but one of the many parameters that can be adjusted to “tune” or optimize the accuracy of a specific combination.
Case volume does affect the internal ballistics, and a smaller volume will produce higher pressures and velocities, and vice versa for a larger volume at any given chargemass. However, it depends what the real difference in volume is.
In the case of rifle calibers, this question are most often asked when cases are compared in the two popular calibers which are also “military” calibers i.e. 223Remington/5.56mmNATO and the 308Win/7.62x51NATO.
Instead of assuming that military brass always has smaller volume, we strongly suggest that a simple volume measurement be done by filling both (or more) cases with water (preferably distilled water) and to weigh the water.
Then reduce or increase the load by the same proportion (%).
Although it can be indication, do not go by the weight of the cases.
From our recent experience the latest generation 5.56mmx45 cases have close to/or similar volumes than commercial cases. In the early years of the 5.56mmx45 ca early 1960’s, some cases were smaller in volume; however those cases have mostly been purged form the market.
In the case of 7.62×51 we have found that “MIL” cases are between 3 to 4% smaller in volume requiring a reduction in chargemass as published in our loadguides.
Please keep in mind that this applies to all calibers and when cases of different manufacturers are used we strongly recommend determining the volume with water.
The practice of down loading rifle calibers to subsonic velocity levels must be approached in a special way.
THE FUNDAMENTALS ARE:
WHAT TO DO?
The USE of FILLERS:
Powders recommended for subsonic loading from our own product lines:
*Caution: This powder will leave some un-burnt powder granules behind, which can cause irritation when “flush-back” occurs into chambers and mechanisms of guns.
Unfortunately, we could not source the product cost effectively for the EU (Czech Rep) anymore.
At this stage we do not know if/when we will have a replacement.
From our our own product lines, depending on the caliber/s we suggest two spherical powders. i.e. Ramshot-HUNTER® or Accurate-MAGPRO®.
We unfortunately had to change the manufacturer for Nitro 100 early in 2009.
This was due to factors outside our control.
We thus do not source our Nitro 100 for the EU (Czech Rep) anymore.
It’s now made in the USA by General Dynamics®.
It’s still a double base powder but it’s a flattened spherical (ball) powder instead of the original extruded flake design.
Since our first priority was for 12ga shotgun application, the new powder is a more optimized powder for light shot loads.
In a 12gauge the loads for the light ? oz and 1oz will very much the same or be slightly higher than the old style N100.
Special note re 1?oz loads
For heavier 1?oz loads the N100 NF will not be as flexible and versatile as the old N100. The best performance with the smaller volume taper cases such as WAA® and Remington STS® will be 1150 fps with Pressures of between 11000 Psi to 11500 Psi.
However, in the larger volume “straight case” designs, such as Federal® and Fiocchi® it will be possible to achieve 1200 Fps, with pressures in the 11000Psi range, in combination with the proper wads.
We are constantly busy compiling load data which will be available as time progress.
The powder flows better resulting in “VMD” bushing data will also be different, see the data for the MEC® bushings below
There was am initial caution/warning re handgun calibers however, that was just a prelim measure because the handgun data will be different. We are in process of developing loads for this powder in handgun calibers.
For the interim we suggest a reduction of – 10% for both the start and maximum loads relative to any old original Nitro100 data.
It can best be described as a fast burning Rifle or slow burning Magnum handgun double base “hybrid” powder, having the typical chemical composition of handgun powders i.e. 20% NG – and the geometry of a typical extruded single perforated rifle powder.
This makes the powder very ignitable, which makes it ideal for low loading density applications, such as reduced loads on bottle neck rifle calibers, and low performance “straight case” designs, such as the old “black powder” calibers i.e. 45-70 45-110 50-110 etc.
The powder is virtually insensitive to powder position, and there is no need for “fillers”. It will deliver consistent results at low performance levels. Although there will be some un-burnt powder (see paragraph below) the performance will remain consistent.
Due to its ignitability, any strength rifle primer can be used.
This powder makes for an excellent powder in large capacity handgun calibers such as 44/45 “Magnum” types or “std” cases with similar capacities. With some of these calibers full power or close to full power is achievable, usually at full case/maximum loading densities. The powder can also be at reduced levels in handgun calibers, but with same effect re un-burnt powder. (See paragraph below)
Un-burnt powder granules:
Although, this is a powder recommended for reduced/low performance loads, it cannot be completely efficient (clean burning) at very low Pressure/performance levels of <18000psi.
It still is a modern, high-density, smokeless powder, with limitations regarding complete combustion at very low chamber pressures. With nitro-cellulose based “Modern” powders, the burn rate and pressure are directly proportional.
This means that some level of un-burnt powder will be present, constituting the remainder of some of the powder granules. This cannot be improved with primers or crimp etc, the only way to eliminate this, is an increase in chamber-pressure.
As long as the numeric/s is/are the same, i.e. examples, “A” or “AA” no9” or “A” or ‘AA” 4350” the burn rate and load data will be the same. The “XMR” and “XMP” prefixes, and/or “BR” post-fixes was eliminated ca 2003 and does not apply anymore.
Also since the Accurate Arms Company does not exist anymore (Since late2004/early 2005 when they sold out to Western powders Inc) the “AA” prefix is also not applicable anymore.
The powders are merely designated with an “A” prefix or the full name “Accurate”.
The “Scot” name used on some of the shotgun powders i.e. Scot Solo1000 is also not been used since 2003.
When No 2 initially came on the market in the late 1980’s it was merely called No2, and it had a higher bulk density i.e. ca 0.750 to 0.800 grams/cc. This resulted in lower loading densities.
Since lower loading densities is not good in HG calibers, re ignition issues, the powder was subsequently “improved” by lowering the bulk density to the current level of 0.650 gram/cc which increased the loading density “improving” the ignition characteristics. This was done in the early 90’s.
The “improved” part of the designation/description was used up to ca 2000 and after that the “improved” was dropped from the designation. Therefore all products since the early 90’s are all still the “improved” low density version even if it does not appear on the label.
If you reload and shoot multiple caliber firearms, be aware of unsafe firearm and ammunition combinations. Avid reloaders and shooters often head out to the range with multiple calibers of firearms. It is very easy to grab the wrong caliber and insert it into the gun. If the caliber just does not fit, this is simply embarrassing. Although in some combinations, loading the wrong caliber into the gun can have dire consequences.
Blackhorn 209 was specifically designed for modern in-line muzzleloaders with sealed ignition systems using standard 209 shotshell primers. Check with your rifle’s manufacturer for compatibility.
NO. #11 percussion caps, or musket caps do not have sufficient strength to ignite Blackhorn 209.
The most common cause of hang-fires is a fouled breech plug. Breech plugs accumulate primer residue on the walls of the flash channel that continually reduces the size of the hole (this is not to be confused with the flash hole, which is the small hole at the end of the flash channel). As residue accumulates in the flash channel, the hole becomes smaller and does not allow sufficient flame to reach the powder. The residue buildup is very difficult to see with the naked eye, but this accumulation of residue will hinder ignition by effectively reducing the strength of the primer, which also affects consistency and accuracy. Regular cleaning of the flash channel is necessary to keep the channel clean and free of residue. For cleaning procedures see our breech plug cleaning PDF.
We have experienced the best performance, consistency and accuracy with CCI 209M and Federal 209A. NOTE: DO NOT use 209 muzzleloading primers such as Winchester Triple 7, Remington Kleenbore, Federal Fusion, or CCI In-Line MZL.
Toggle ConteYes. If you prefer to weigh charges, you can convert the volume load recommendations into weighed grains by multiplying the volume load by 0.7. Example: 100 units by volume x 0.7 = 70 grains by weight. 110 volume charge x 0.7 = 77 grains by weight.nt
Static can be present in plastics that cause the Blackhorn 209 granules to stick. This can be eliminated by coating the inside of the plastic loader with dry graphite or wiping the inside down with an anti-static dryer sheet commonly used when drying laundry.
Typically, guns are rated for 150 grains of black powder or Pyrodex. Blackhorn 209 is more energetic and will achieve or exceed the velocities of Pyrodex with less powder. See our load data page for maximum volumetric charges.
Yes you can use a powder measure for Blackhorn 209. This is unique to Blackhorn 209 and DO NOT use a powder measure with Black Powder or any other Black Powder substitutes.
We always recommend that you start with a fresh powder charge every day. Although Blackhorn 209 is far less hygroscopic than any other black powder substitutes, barrel “sweating” can put moisture directly in contact with the powder and may affect powder performance. Why take the chance of missing the next mornings great shot?
Volumetric Units are NOT the same as weight in grains. Blackhorn is used by volume and therefore the charge is a measurement by volume. A volume charge is measured with a standard black powder measure. It is not weighed and a setting of 100 does not mean that you have 100 grains by weight, not even black powder. The loading densities of all substitutes and grades of black powder are different. The same volume of any will yield different weights of powder.
No. There are currently no plans to offer Blackhorn 209 in pellet form. Charge tubes specifically designed for Blackhorn are available that can be pre-loaded by the user and are more convenient than using pellets. Using charge tubes allows you to fine tune your load to what performs best with your rifle, bullet/sabot combination.
Use ONLY oil-based solvents. DO NOT use black powder cleaners that are water-based.
It is not necessary to use anti-seize grease on your breech plug threads when using Blackhorn 209. The breech plug is easily removed even after repeated firings of Blackhorn 209.
NO. #11 percussion caps, or musket caps do not have sufficient strength to ignite Blackhorn 209.
This is not recommended.
Blackhorn 209 is an excellent black powder cartridge propellant. See our load data page for specific loads.
In most cases, Blackhorn 209 will leave little residue on brass cartridges. This is not always the case so we recommend cleaning cases as soon as possible.
In many cases conical bullets may work fine. However, results vary depending on the many factors so we cannot recommend conical bullets. However, many shooters have reported good results with Hornady FPB and Thor bullets.
Our original testing did not proceed beyond 350 grain bullets and as such, was not included in our first published load guide. See our current load data page for specific loads.
Not at this time.
Not with the original percussion cap system. It would need a 209 conversion kit.