Sunday, December 23, 2018

LexDysia is no matter laughing

Snipped from photos of smokeless powder containers.

I had good results with H335 for a long time, until once I didn't. Twice in one day. I pulled the rest, all the charges were a-ok so I became instantly paranoid. 

Twere me I'd look more toward an H322 burn rate. But that's why we handload, stuff works different for everyone.  -A comment on a widely read outdoor forum

If you cruise around the internet looking at powders for reloading the .223 Remington/5.56X45mm NATO round you will undoubtedly run across stories of Hodgdon H-335 causing guns to blow up.

There are a lot of things a reloader can do that will raise the pressure to dangerous levels.
  • The bullet too far forward can contact the rifling. 
  • Changing firearms can cause problems because some chambers have more "freebore" than others. A load that is fine with a generous throat can generate excessive pressure when the rifling starts closer to the mouth of the cartridge.
  • Seating bullet too far back reduces powder space in the cartridge.
  • Inadequate neck tension or not crimping can result in the bullet migrating back into the case after repeated chamberings.
  • Changing the bullet from a lead-to-jacketed-to-monometal can raise the pressure as can substituting a heavier bullet of the same construction. 
  • Failure to trim your brass as it stretches will also cause pressures to spike as will leaving your ammo on the dash of your truck on a hot day.
This is what a bottle of smokeless propellant (gun powder) looks like.

One factor that rarely gets talked about is the risk of grabbing the wrong container. To somebody who is dyslexic or in a hurry, an upside down 2 looks like a five. Anybody want to bet that the person who made the comment at the top of this post had both powders on his reloading shelf?

Changing the label would reduce the chances of a mistaken identity. One possibility would be to add a hyphen and then EXTREME in the same font as the H322.

The maximum load for H335 is 10% higher than for H322. If you grabbed the bottle of H322 and started assembling 55gr .223 Rem ammo with 25 grains of powder you are asking for trouble.

One partial solution is to simplify. A smaller portfolio of powders and projectiles minimizes the possibility of destroying your firearm and body parts.

One portfolio, from fast-to-slow might be
  • Unique (handguns and shotguns)
  • H-110 (magnum handguns and 300 Blackout)
  • TAC (small-to-medium bore/capacity rifles)
  • Reloader-17 (medium-to-magnum bore/capacity rifles)
Are there holes? Sure there are. But the names are very different and the only two where the physical product looks similar (both spherical powders) are H-110 and TAC. 

The other place one can simplify is to reduce the weights and brands of projectiles. Lets be reasonable here, if you are close enough to hit a snake with birdshot, you can hit it with at least one of your six shots of hollowpoints or semi-wadcutters. Almost any 165gr .308 projectile (Hornady, Nosler, Remington, Winchester, Speer, Sierra, etc.) out of any case the size of a 30-30 Winchester or larger will kill anything from small deer to moose.

I don't have a huge investment in those four powders. You could do just as well or better with four or five of your favorites. But give it a little bit of consideration. God only gave you two eyes and five fingers.

1 comment:

  1. IMHO, unless one is shooting long range (600-1000 yds.), there's no real reason to shoot maximum loads that can lead to this kind of mistake.
    Another dangerous issue that I think is more common is double charging a pistol or rifle case when using fast pistol or shotgun powders. A friend and I use a lot of IMR4759 for shooting cast boolits out of rifles. It's a fairly bulky powder and can sometimes hang up in the powder dispenser. My friend accidentally double charged a 30-06 round because of a hangup with a predictable result. Fortunately, the 03-A3 wasn't damaged but a wood mallet was req'd. to open the bolt. Be very careful when using fast powders.


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