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- Competitve Shooting
- Dear Labby – Q&A's from our Lab
- Gun Cleaning
- Gun History
- Handgun Reloading Tips
- Handloading Tips
- Hunting Stories
- Internal Ballistics
- Letter to the Editor
- New Reloading Data
- Outdoor Humor
- Police Weapons
- Rifle Reloading Tips
- Shooting Stories
- Shotguns & Shotgun Shooting
- Technical Shooting
- Trophies and great groups
Letters to the Editor
Our Readers are encouraged to share their input and opinions regarding stories that appear in this magazine. Since we like our readers to also be writers, sometimes their views and ideas may differ from ours here at Western Powders. We encourage freedom of thought here. Please read, consider and respond.
Our Readers Write:
A Varminter Speaks
Thanks for a great lineup of products, especially the AA line of propellants. I was one of the first to do extensive testing of AA2230 and AA2520 in the the newly released 204Ruger. You all asked for my data way back in 2004 and I sent it in. There are no better performing powders in my opinion in the 204 than those two. AA2230 is an amazing product in the “little guys” varmint rounds. Thanks for all you all do!! Sincerely, Charlie
A 20 Practical Shooter Comments:
I also shoot a .20 Practical and have found it to be essentially identical to the .204 R in the field. At times I have used TAC powder and always have used the 40 grain Hornady VMax bullet. My rifle, not a low budget one, has a 1-11 twist McGowen barrel and is a Ruger M77 MK II type. I always use commercial brass and have times realized a good deal on RWS once fired brass. New American Eagle 5.56X45 brass is also used..
When sizing once fired .223 brass I use a Redding .223 small base body die as the very first step. This is important as some once fired .223 brass is oversized and sticks in my nice precision chamber upon extraction..
Next, I use a Redding 223 Type B full length bushing die with a .226 bushing that is adjusted to allow a small amount of movement that will help to bushing to center. No expander button is used.
After sizing and checking out the head-space situation I run the cases into a .223 RCBS die having a .204 size expander button. The brass is then neck turned enough to clean up then trimmed to .223 specs. I use a Lee .223 case trimmer that has been ground down to fit inside the now .20 Practical cases. Cases are chucked into a Lee shell holder and spun with my cordless drill.
Subsequent loading is accomplished using the Redding FL bushing die but with a .223 expander plug that has been ground down so it has no contact with the .20 necks but acts to hold the decap pin. As expected, load production is rapid after the initial .223 to .20 Practical reforming.
I have been shooting my .20 Practical for 3 years now at mostly prairie dogs and gophers (ground squirrels) and even a rock chuck or two. If I had to shoot a yote with it I would go for a tougher bullet than the VMax.
I have found the 40 VMax with its boat tail & 8 grains more weight to be better at ranges over 250 yards. Looking at various computer generated ballistic data shows the 40 grain bullet to pass the 32 grain velocity at ranges over 250 yards. On a real calm day I have hit small rodents over 400 yards. During my last rodent engagement I hit one at 330 yards; the wind was at 10:00 at 5-7 mph. The hold was 3 inches left. I use a Leupold 6.5-20 VX3 but often wish to have a max power of 24X
Having vast amounts of .223 brass diminishes some component anxiety.
Name Withheld by Request
A Customer for Life
Thank You Buckhorn 209 Gun(s): TC Impact Bullet or Bullet Sabot Combination: 250 gr TC ShockWave with Magnum (black) Sabot Primer: Federal 209A Being a creature of habit I have been using the pellets from your competitor for the last several years. Most shots in the Eastern PA. woods are under 60 yards so the set-up worked fine. However, in anticipation of an early season muzzleloading hunt in Kansas this year I upgraded my scope and experimented with various bullet/and sabot combinations with both my 777 pellets and for the first time the Blackhorn 209 powder. After three days of shooting I had decided that: 1) The 777 pellets are a good choice if you can’t get Blackhorn 209. 2) The TC 250 gr ShockWave with the TC Magnum sabot works best in my rifle. 3) 100 gr (by volume) of Blackhorn 209 using the TC ShockWave is a deadly choice for distance shooting. Long story short, on the last day of my hunt with about 7 min. of legal light left a very nice 9 point stepped out into the open. Both my guide and I ranged him at 230 yards. Since I had already adjusted my shooting sticks for a sitting position I place the rifle in the “V” shouldered it, adjusted for distance and squeezed the trigger. What happened next was amazing. The buck jumped straight up into the air with its nose pointing straight up. It appeared that its hind legs where at least 3 feet off the ground. Then gravity took over and he came down in a heap. Bottom line… a pass through shot that took out the heart in the process. In my way of thinking, a pass through shot at 230 yards says a lot about the powder. And the fact that you really don’t need to clean the barrel every shot or two makes going to the range to shot a pleasure. You now have a customer for life.
Accurate 5744 Worked For Me
A Civil War standard for the Berdan Sharp Shooters was a 5 inch “string” at 200 yards. Three shots would be fired and measured from the center of the target. A string would be used to measure the three shots and if the total measurement was in the 5″ requirement, that shooter was “qualified” as a Berdan Sharp Shooter. I took my 1874 Cabela’s replica Sharps to the range today. At 50 yards I had a 4.79 “string”. Was using 28 grains of Accuracy 5744 and 350 grain Cabela’s laser, silver plated, Accurate bullets. Will continue to adjust powder one grain at a time to try to cut the group in half. Hats off to the shooters of times past and their shooting skills. Thank you to the Accuracy company and its employees for a great and reliable product.
Dan H Ringenberg
Thanks to Don W. and Western Powders
Western Powders / Accurate / Ramshot and Don W.,
FYI – I just received your printed 6.0 reloading manual today.
Many thanks for the fast, responsive service. I use many Western rifle and pistol powders and really enjoy your reloading manuals, primarily because of the wide range of bullet types for any particular powder.
And briefly glancing through the opening articles (e.g., Reloading Basics and Tips, Tricks , and Signs of Trouble), well, I find the pictures and succinct yet clearly written segments among some of the best available. Yes, I use your competitors’ powders, too, but I truly believe your products and information set the example for all.
Once again, thank you for everything. Sincerely,Dave Perl,Colorado Springs, CO
Thanks for you Support
I would like to thank you and Montana Extreme for supporting The 2016 South West Regional Schuetzenfest. With your support our event was a success! Please see the following link to match results; http://www.issa-schuetzen.org/2016/2016PhxRegionalsScores.pdf
Great Customer Service
You guys not only have a awesome product in Blackhorn 209 but your customer service is outstanding. I asked a question in less than 2 hours you sent me pictures and all the info I needed. Put that in your Testimonials!
Best Product on the market for muzzleloaders.
Data for 1903 Sniper Rifle
Thank you for all of the information. At 66, and an old varmint hunter, I’ve been handloading for a long time, but life issues caused a 25 year hiatus that is just now coming to an end. I have to laugh when I see load data in some of the mountain of reloading manuals I have that is showing bullets that are no longer in production and powders that are gone. I guess it’s time to update my information sources. What prompted me to seek more current loading information is that I’ve recently bought a James River Arms reproduction of the venerable 1903-A4 Sniper Rifle and I don’t have much information on loading with the more recent crop of powders, and my manuals are useless in this regard. This is going to be a new experience for me: loading for the 30-06. I’ve never bought a rifle chambered for anything over .25 caliber. I have a 30-06 Winchester M1 Garand from the Rock Island Arsenal that I bought from the old DCM more than 25 years ago, and can you believe it: I’ve never shot it! I did however refinish the stock with an nice linseed oil finish. I’m astonished what M1’s in the condition mine is in are selling for. I paid the princely sum of 165.00, and more than half of that was for shipping and administrative costs. I’ve included a photo. And a photo of the 1903-A4 from the JRA site. Mine looks just like this one. I can finally pick it up next Saturday. I live this the People’s Republic of California and so I must jump through all sorts of hoops. The California Department of Justice and the governor (the hated Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown) are doing all they can to erect as many hoops as possible in the hope that we will stop buying firearms. This very well may be my last firearms purchase.
Anyway it’s been nice bending your ear for a bit. And thanks again for the information.
Reloading the .30-06 is a pretty straight-forward affair compared to some cartridges. It isn’t finicky and is accurate across a wide range of powders. Your James River Arms reproduction is beautiful. Would you consider writing a story about it to share with our online magazine readers? I’m a pretty good editor, so don’t worry too much about syntax, spelling or photos, I can help with all of those. I think a lot of our readers would love to hear about the ’03 Sniper.
For three years I have been looking to improve the accuracy on my muzzle loader. By improving the accuracy I mean getting consistent shots inside of a pie plate at 100 yards. What I learned is that everyone has something to sell and to a novice they seem to be knowledgeable in the sport of muzzle loading. In my quest for accuracy I have on repeated occasions spoken with the gun manufacturer, projectile manufacturers, various powder manufacturers and on line forums. Three years later all I have to show for my time and expense is a grouping that is still as wild as the wild west. Enter Black Horn 209. Never in my 35 years of hunting have I found such friendly and knowledgeable people who really have a passion for what they do. They analyzed my cleaning or lack of. They analyzed my ammunition my propellant to include loading methods. What I was most impressed with was at times they even recommended competitors products. As a result my groupings have drastically improved not to mention my knowledge of muzzle loading in general. Yes the people and the products at Black Horn 209 are the real deal. The products are as good as the people actually even better. Their products perform just as they say. No gimmicks, no slick marketing. just performance.
New Favorite Load
I bought my first 2011 last week!!! I got the newly released STI DVC and was hoping to make a super light load for 3-Gun for it. The Accurate #7 I normally use was VERY accurate and had fairly light recoil. But then I loaded up that 1 pound of Competition that you sent me last year to try out. THIS LOAD IS INSANE!!!!! Just over 3 grains of Competition behind a 124 grain Nosler Custom Competition and a 7 pound spring in the gun. It’s literally like shooting a freakin 22!! Obviously I’m a huge fan and love being sponsored by you guys and showing off your stuff, but this load is going to sell itself. I showed if off today while teaching a local police department firearms range day and everyone wanted to keep shooting it and couldn’t believe it was so soft. Anyways, I was excited and needed to tell someone about my successful day! Have a great week brother!
-Ryan Fraker / Team 144
Beau Does Know
I just have to write a rebuttal to Mr. Sand who happens to think one needs something akin to a 105mm Howitzer to down the big game animals in America.
Mr. Sand. Are you serious that any capable hunter who is armed with say a .243 Winchester with the appropriate hunting bullet will just cripple an animal? With the mild recoil, this hunter has a far bigger chance of scoring a clean kill than YOU with your cannon of choice that shoots a 350 grain missile at 2.5 times the speed of sound.
If perhaps you are skilled or “lucky” enough to score a hit, you will more than likely tear a huge chunk off that poor animal, leaving him to drag half of his body away to die a slow, painful death. If you do score a kill, you had better hope youre a trophy hunter and will proudly mount this fork horn because there won’t be any salvageable flesh to give to your oh so proud mate waiting for her mighty Rambo when he returns to the lodge.
There was a saying I learned long ago, “better to keep quiet and let people think you’re dumb than to open your yap and prove them right.” In this case it also applies to the written word. Go back and watch another sci fi war movie.
Beau Doesn’t Know
Your guest writer Beau Shea is the worst type of hunter that uses calibers that are too small and tend to just wound game. I find it hard to believe you published his story. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
T. Sand Billings MT
We are often ashamed of ourselves, but we work in the firearms industry so that may be appropriate. Beau seems like a pretty colorful guy, but I thought he had valid points that were worth considering. I agree with his central premise that more gun does not make up for less skill. There is a space waiting for you to write a story on why he is wrong. Freedom of Speech as well as the Second Amendment are practiced here.
Please Bring out an SR4759 Replacement
For what reason I do not know, Hodgdon has given up on production of SR 4759. In searching the internet for any remnants at retailers, I’m seeing many blogs among reloaders lamenting the loss of this very useful and desirable propellant.
It occurs to me that Hodgdon’s reason for discontinuing 4759 may not be lack of demand, but something else.
This may be an opportunity for Accurate to not only grab additional market share but curry favor within the reloading community.
Please consider an effort to produce and market a duplicate of or at least equivalent to SR 4759.
Great article on the 32-20 and great work by dear Labby. Good job. Well done.
Still wating on RAMSHOT ! If you’re not going to sell RAMSHOT to hand loaders while selling amo manufacturers all you can make you need to release a statement on your website. That way the ones of us who want to can adjust our loyalty accordingly. D.C.
If we ever elect to do this, we will release a statement like the one you’ve requested. Until then, we will continue to do our best to get Ramshot and Accurate powders out to the shooting public.
We need more American Powder Production
I read your letter to us. (The reloading public). What you say I see somewhat, as I sell your products for a living. Hoarding is part of the problem. But what I see as a greater problem is something you mentioned, that being logistics from foreign countries. Why is it that our country consumes more powder than any 3 nations in the world, and yet we produce so little of it here? Most brands I found are produced in Australia, Canada, Belgium, and Sweden. It seems an impractical business model. Logistics and red tape being a problem.
Leaving ones livelihood and the shooting public at the mercy of the state dept. and all other sundry bureaucrats along the trail. Does leave one to think. If anyone on executive board ever wonders aloud at conspiracy theories and powder supplies, tell them to go look in the mirror for us, please.
Snubbing the Swift
I am saddened to see that you folks don’t recognize the highly accurate caliber known as 220 Swift. I can’t find it anywhere in your write-ups. SHAME ON YOU FOLKS. I have one in a Ruger km77VT. Built about 1986 or so and shoots 5 shots in a little over one hole at 100 yds. and ground squirrels at 300-400 yds., with a Leupold V X 3 6-20X40 scope. I think you folks need to consider adding this excellent piece of hardware.
I think you are right. The Swift is great and it needs more data
Gunpowder Mine Investor
The two latest posts on the blog are really good. I’m going to try the o-ring thing on the barrels. Also, if you’re looking for investors, I’m all for investing in a gunpowder mine. I don’t care if its in Montana or the Isle of Wight. Just as long as it produces 1680 and Norma 200.
Shooting Sports Last Sunset
A while back I would have believed your view causing the reloading powder shortages. However, no more!! The manufacturers are holding back on their huge stock pile of powders. Then they are shipping horrendous amounts to ammunition manufactures to compel shooters to purchase factory ammunition. In turn the excessive costs of packaging & shipping 1, 4 & 8 pound canisters are eliminated and their profits have never been better. This same exact practice occurs with oil companies. How you ask? They have horrendous amounts of oil but to avoid a market glut, they ship it all to overseas buyers and this maintains the demand here keeping prices high. After being a shooting enthusiast for over 50 years I can hardly believe what these corporate folks are doing to us who built them. Of course, these same companies are also huge contributors to our “protective” group, the NRA! The shooting sports are on their last sunset,,,,,,,,,,,,,,watch and see,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Part of the Solution
Like several others have said, this powder shortage is, in all probability, not going to be a “short term” affair. From the questions I answer on several forums for persons new to reloading, and in other places regarding new shooters, I believe that long term demand is going to be at or above this level for years to come. We have a lot of new shooters and reloaders. Demand will NOT drop off even if “shooter friendly” politicians are elected, and in fact may go up even higher in that event. This IS the “new normal” and the powder manufacturers should be investing in new plant production capacity because this is not going away. We are woefully short of production capacity everywhere in the world, and have only one active plant in the United States. The old saw about “supply and demand” applies both ways… Demand, in a capitalist system, is supposed to drive up supply too, but it has not. As shooters and reloaders, we see NO plans to build new or increased plant capacity which is the only way this shortage is going to be addressed. We will remember, as customers, just who cared to do what was necessary and increased supply by building more production facilities to meet our long term increased demand.
I hope you are part of the solution.
How Long Will We Be Denied?
I am sure you field a lot of question powder production. From other post’s I can see that the answer is that powder is going to ammunition manufacturers. However it still seems to not add up! Even though ammunition is starting to trickle back in the market place there still is shortages on popular calibers. Where is the product really going? The military is being scaled down, other components are improving on availability , but powder is NOT AVAILABLE! Seeing a 1lb can is not a sign that powder is back in the supply line for the people who hand load center fire ammunition! How much longer are we going to be denied the availability of these products?
Our powder goes both to the OEM market and to canister products for handloaders. No one is denying access to the product unless it is other handloaders. I don’t know when demand will begin to relax, but I strongly suspect that it will not happen until a change in administrations assures the American shooting public that their rights are secure.
The New Normal
I understand the belief that demand will decrease eventually, but what if it doesn’t? I see many more young people, men and women at the shooting range now. This new found appreciation for the 2nd Amendment may just last a while! If powder manufacturers would have increased production capacity at the outset of this increased demand wouldn’t they have recovered the investment by now? Instead of expecting a drop off in the interest in shooting, consider that this may be the “new normal”.
Why Release a Manual when there is no Powder?
I really like True Blue and I found it to be very versatile. That is when I could find it at all..
I used to buy it at my local Big R Store but for nearly two years now it has been unavailable.
I realize there was a run on powder, primers and brass winter before last but that has run its course. Guns of all types are back in the stores and at prices lower than 2012, primers and brass are back, even; 223 ammo is back in bulk.
Still I can’t find Western Powders or .22 Rimfire ammunition.
I think your new blog is cool and I have your new load data manual but what good is that if I can’t get your powder?
I would appreciate someone giving me an honest answer as to where all your production is going.
Our production goes to canister products or to OEMs that manufacture ammunition. There is no secret government edict preventing us from obtaining or selling powder. If there was, we would tell you because selling powder is our business. Before the events in Sandy Hook and the Obama Administrations moves against the Second Amendment, powder production was already at 100% of capacity. There was no surplus of production waiting in the wings to be rolled out in the event of a huge spike in demand. As a result, the modest increases in powder production that have been managed have not begun to offset demand. We are frustrated, too.
The 5.0 guide was released to provide our customers with the most up-to-date data available, and we hoped, give them the best options for handloading with products at hand. Eventually supply and demand will even out, but it is going to be awhile.
Today, out of blue I got your news letter for First time I’ve seen it. I’m sure I signed up at some point when requesting some load data info. Outstanding is all I can say!!!!
Were actually moving from the Midwest to AZ and a higher elevation. The subject on trap/clays at the higher elevation was like wow that will go in my toolbox for later use. My wife started shooting trap with me.as a way for us to do more together. Me getting hurt (LEO disabled now) put an end to the other things we did that she enjoyed like rock climbing. It’s taken me several years to handle the constant recoil from a round of trap or skeet along with the weight of the gun. It just aggravated the hell out of my spinal injury. But reloading really light loads has helped with the recoil. We haven’t found a house yet and my wife already knows where the local trap n skeet clubs are. I can’t wait to see how her scores improve opening her Beretta up to skeet. At our club I know there are just some shots that would be damn impossible for her without a skeet choke. The birds get out there fast and it’s always windy. I’m sure she’ll be excited hearing when we move she can use her skeet choke.
I’m a vet of two branches and was 13 years as an LEO and special weapon’s officer before I got hurt. I was explaining to a buddy who knows very little about an AR but wanted to buy all sorts of different caliber uppers that one mistake mixing and the boom wouldn’t be pretty. He had said he read on a forum it was an urban myth. I showed him chamber sizes and the light bulb clicked. It’s great to see someone is showing how these accidents really happen. At same time I told him about all the chamber issues that were happening approx. 15 years ago because certain barrel makers or at home makers didn’t realize certain issues between 223 and 5.56 that it got so bad one chief who ran some of top AR course the first thing they did was check chambers because it was so common for them to have guns blow up during the course because of 223 chambers and a hot 5.56., but I told my buddy with as many people jumped into the AR craze during the panic, I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t start seeing more barrels/guns blow up. Since then I’ve seen pictures of 3 on the net and they always blame solely the ammo but no one is checking chambers/head spacing. It seems like it wasn’t too long ago when it happened that was first thing people asked was check chamber and head spacing. With most that I’m aware of proven to play a part in what went wrong. If that old issue has really arisen again it would be nice to see a reminder. I was shocked when I was told there was never an issue like that. The guy was actually hostile and it seemed on at least forums where the members are all newer most aren’t aware. I’ve always said at some point those guns and barrels are going to hit the used market again. The numbers may be low enough where it doesn’t really matter anyways. But I’m one of those if I can avoid a mistake from knowledge I want to know about it.
The reloading tips are sweet too. I took a long break from reloading. That whole unlimited ammo thing spoiled me. But know it’s all about reloading again to save money. It drives me nuts all I’ve forgotten and the refreshers about common mistakes was something that helped me.
A Crackshot Fan
Just reading Gene Haynes short article, I’m a few years older than Gene, but a Stevens Crackshot was also my first rifle, and I still have the Winchester 77 .22 from my younger days, I bought the Stevens Crackshot from a neighbor for $2.00 because the bore was in very sad condition from years of Black powder .22 ammo and not proper cleaning. On paper, the bullet would key hole, but it was still accurate enough to hit a rabbit at 50 yards. But needing transportation, I traded it off for a bicycle. Sometimes wish I’d have kept that old Stevens, in spite of the bores condition!