Competition powder use - Why don't you see more variety?

Discussion in 'Reloading Forum (All Calibers)' started by MikeMcCasland, Feb 25, 2020.

  1. MikeMcCasland

    MikeMcCasland Gold $$ Contributor

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    I try to shoot 3-4 F-Class matches a month, and inevitably conversations about what load someone is running comes up. I'd guess ~85% (or more) of the time, the person is running a Hodgdon powder. Depending on what caliber they're shooting it's almost always Varget, H4350, H4381sc, or H4895. I rarely hear of Alliant being used in 'serious' competition, and I've only heard of VV powders being shot in FTR (and it's pretty rare at that).

    I haven't ever shot a BR match, but I would guess it's roughly the same there as well.

    Hodgdon isn't producing these powders, and I'd have to assume they're all made in different countries/factories etc. so it's not as though there's one company that tests/produces to a higher standard.

    I'm curious, how did that come to be, and why is that the case? I know competition shooters tend to be fairly conservative by nature, so I'm guessing there's a fair bit of 'just following the known formula'; I know I've been guilty of that.

    Powder is also the only load commodity where I can't explain why there's no variety. I.E. I totally understand why you'll never see someone shooting Noslers in Remington brass at nationals.

    Anyone care to take a guess? Am I totally wrong and just need to get out more?

    Edit: Yes, I know....I have too much time on my hands. I apologize in advance.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  2. rogn

    rogn Silver $$ Contributor

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    Traditions are what they are. H4350 fits so many cartridges so well that people just go back to it with any new barrel, bullet, etc. A couple of years ago I had one of those addicted cartridges and the 4350 was only a myth. A little research showed that IMR4451 was sort of an analogue to H4350 and it was supposed to be a cure(i wish) for copper fouling. The barrel I had at the time was addicted to copper so I tried the IMR diet. Loads were nearly duplicates of the 4350 loads. ES fell into single digits and the barrel which was moody and not a top performer became capable of busting claybirds at 1035yds fairly consistently. And I dont think the copper fouling was as bad.

    The barrel and powder shot better than I could but not every day. The fine cut barrel company from a northern state very graciously has replaced the barrel for me and Im now waiting for barrel and reamer mating at smith's. I shall probably resume the use of 4451. If anyone wants a testimonial to barrel maker PM me.
     
  3. std7mag

    std7mag

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    I know for myself, primarily as a hunter, i use different calibers, and different case volumes of same caliber, along with different bullet weights. Some powders perform better with a different cartridge and bullet weight.

    For my first F-Open match i was shooting a 7mm-08AI. Yes, with my hunting rifle, a fairly stock Stevens 200. And i used the same load then, that i use for hunting.
    140gr Berger VLD-H, over Alliant PP2000MR, with Fed 210M primer, and PPU cases.
    This combo netted me 6fps ES, and 2fps SD.

    I'm looking to build a dedicated range rifle, in 7mm-08AI. Planning on a 30" barrel, and heavier bullets. Thinking the 180-184 Bergers. And i'll probably try a bunch of different powders to see what those like.
    I know i'll be trying Alliant PP4000MR.

    In my 223, i use Alliant Varmint with the lighter 52gr SMKs, and Alliant PP2000MR with 69gr SMK & TMK.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
  4. JimSC

    JimSC

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    I rely on the traditional powders simply becasue I keep a good supply of them on the shelf and they work. However I am about ready to spin a slightly used Rem 260 barrel ( C. 400 rnds) back on one of my rifles that I was never totally happy with. Since I could never seem to get good SD/ES with the traditional powders I am going to be experimenting with some out of the comfort zone box powders. I am looking at Alliant and the Lovex/Shooters World lines. Normally I use 4350, 4831SC or Varget with that cartridge along with 123, 140, and 142 gn bullets
     
  5. Dusty Stevens

    Dusty Stevens COVFEFE- Thread Derail Crew Gold $$ Contributor

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    In short range br you couldnt find hodgdon being used if you looked around for a year so go figure. Its all accurate or vihtavuori.
     
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  6. JimPag

    JimPag Silver $$ Contributor

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    In short range group most of the top guys are using either VVN133 or LT32 or they are using both because they are shooting a 6PPC. In short range score most are shooting a 30BR and to a lesser degree some sort of BR variant for the most part and if they are using a straight 30BR Hodgdon dominates with H4198, with VVN130 and LT30 used to a lesser degree in that order.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
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  7. bozo699

    bozo699 Gold $$ Contributor

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    Maybe in today’s sr br but back in the day H322 h4198 and blc-2 ruled the 222 Remington world of sr br.
    Wayne
     
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  8. Dusty Stevens

    Dusty Stevens COVFEFE- Thread Derail Crew Gold $$ Contributor

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    I started in 97. I used 322 in the ppc until n133 came out maybe in 99 or 2000
     
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  9. bozo699

    bozo699 Gold $$ Contributor

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    Yes I agree and I don’t compete sr br but I found benchmark pretty good in my ppc but not consistent so went back to the two you mentioned. Throws excellent and the 133 not near so temp sensitive.
    Wayne
     
  10. JEFFPPC

    JEFFPPC Silver $$ Contributor

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    What's being used is what wins. Also, if it's not broke, don't fix it. Once again let me remind you the winners don't win because they always have "the best gun." Of course if your always shooting what others do not I guess you have a built in excuse. Thats maybe not a bad idea,lol.
     
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  11. MikeMcCasland

    MikeMcCasland Gold $$ Contributor

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    I've coped the hell out of what everyone is doing for my discipline; not an original thought in my entire setup. I've also spent thousands of dollars, and lots of time stocking up on those 'winning' components too. It has improved my scores for sure, and the only thing holding me back is me. I also don't think the most accurate rifle wins most >500 comps; it certainly doesn't hurt though.

    It was just an observation from my time shooting F-Class, and I wasn't sure the reason why.

    I like what F-Class John put out there; it may just be that I haven't been around long enough to see Hodgdon get scarce, that or the folks I'm shooting with are sitting on 100lbs of their chosen powder. I also don't think I've crossed into the realm of 'needing to be lied to'; I'm no threat to any national records.
     
  12. ShootDots

    ShootDots Gold $$ Contributor

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    I believe that what you are seeing is shooters who "go with the flow" and shoot "proven" powders. I am NOT one of these people who simply follow what others use. Varget, H4350, H4831 pretty much cover the bases for the cases that are heavily used in competitive disciplines. These powders work and they work well! However, in my not so humble opinion, the Hodgdon line of powders, although are "pretty" temp stable, are not the last word in temp stability. In addition to that, their lot-to-lot consistency leaves A LOT to be desired. From experience, I can tell you that RL-16 can easily be used in place of H4350, RL-23 the same for H4831sc and VV N150 for Varget! The Alliant Reloader powders, at least from MY experience, are MORE temp stable than their "H" counterparts and the same for N150. Then the lot-to-lot consistency of both RL and VV powders are certainly better than the Hodgdon line. For what it is worth RL-16 and RL-23 will get you loads of velocity! Many shooters will not take the time nor will they spend the $$$s to find out on their own>>>they know that Hodgdon powders work, they know just about where their "sweet-spots" are with many cartridges, so it is easier to develop loads with from "known" formulas...However, if you want to take the time to experiment, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with RL-16 / 23 and the new VV powders that are now temp stable.. So venture out and find out!
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2020
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  13. Ned Ludd

    Ned Ludd Gold $$ Contributor

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    The Hodgdon powders you mentioned are commonly used in F-Class here in the U.S., at least in part, because they have about the least temperature sensitivity available. That becomes critical over the long strings (20+ rounds) of fire we typically shoot. That is not to say there is any powder having "zero" temperature sensitivity, because such a thing doesn't yet exist. Nonetheless, powders such as Varget, H4350, H4895, and H4831sc have long been known to have pretty much the best resistance to temperature-dependent velocity variance available. More recently, several of the Enduron powders seem to have become popular, particularly in F-Open calibers. They also exhibit very good resistance to temperature.

    You can certainly find additional powders being used here in the U.S., including a few high-energy double base powders that have far less resistance to temperature. However, you don't often find F-Class shooters using those powders that shoot where there are 30+ degree temperature swings during the course of a normal day, at least not after the first time they start blowing primers once the temperature comes up, or experience terrible vertical at an important match. As coatings/additives are improved, presumably we will see additional relatively temperature-resistant powders become available. As they do, you can expect to see f-Class shooters using them.
     
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  14. rogina

    rogina

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    Dusty, I shot v133 in a match in 1994. I was written up in the NBRSA magazine. Roger Schuppe
     
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  15. davidjoe

    davidjoe Skunkworks Gold $$ Contributor

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    I’ll chime in on the Alliant powders. I believe some guys are initially put off by the obtuse name “reloader” and a simple logo dot. The duh factor. Then there are stories of self-induced pressure problems where Alliant was used but was not the cause. However I’ll just say it - these European made powders give you the velocity of the next bigger case up, with an H powder. When you use them in the biggest case, it’s really a matter of relay assignments and whether you can call wind, (I’m very middling there) because you have a ring or more smaller hold to make.

    Etargets laid bare what people are crossing the target at, and their velocity dispersions. They give up nothing up in my opinion. Of late, as often as not my SD’s with them beat H and VV shooters on the line who lag 100 or more FPS behind at midrange and much more at long range, with my heavies versus their mids. And brass life is fine. Somehow, these powders push the bullet hard for well more than 35 inches. This can be roughly confirmed by judging fireballs in long barrels at night. You do not want the barrel so long that light goes dim. My Open barrels are now pushing 60% of the weight allowance and still aren’t to that point.
     
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  16. LVLAaron

    LVLAaron Gold $$ Contributor

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    It's "easier" to use what your friends use.
     
  17. Homerange

    Homerange

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    FYI, many Hodgdon powders are made by ADI in Aussie where ambient temps are fairly high hence their temperature stability.
    A crossover guide between ADI and Hodgdon powders can be found in ADI's FAQ page here:
    http://www.adi-powders.com.au/faq/#f21b4c284d0d2d9af

    Sorry guys the list formatting isn't good. Please refer to the website link above and scroll down to the last link.

    Copied list:
    ADI / Hodgdon Propellants Equivalents

    ADI Powder Hodgdon / IMR naming
    Trail Boss Trail Boss
    AR2207 H4198
    AR2219 H322
    BM2 Benchmark
    Bench Mark 8208 8208 XBR
    AR2206H H4895
    AR2208 Varget
    AR2209 H4350
    AR2213H / AR2213SC H4831 / H4831SC
    AR2217 H1000
    AR2225 Retumbo
    AR2218 H50BMG

    Please check the manufacturer's websites before any direct powder substitution !
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2020
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  18. JimPag

    JimPag Silver $$ Contributor

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    Your right . I have 2 eight pound containers of 133 packaged in 94.
     
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  19. Lefty Trigger

    Lefty Trigger Gold $$ Contributor

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    Around my neck of the woods people are using Hodgdon because its what you can buy "off the shelf" everywhere. Every Bass Pro/Cabela's has it in stock but to find Reloader 15 odds are youll find gold bar in your yard. Me, I've been have awesome results across everything I shoot with Norma powders but they are mail order only as nobody carries the stuff. Tell people what you loading and look at you like you got corn in your ears and say "If you aint shootn varget your loosing" Whatever... ;)
     

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