Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Time to make the doughnuts go bang

Apologies to the fine doughnut makers at Dunkin.

I've recently tried the relatively new gun powder specially designed for the larger cases cowboy shooters are often utilizing, .45 Colt, .44 Special/Magnum, 44/40, 38/40... Trail Boss powder is made by IMR (under Hodgdon) and is basically a fast burning powder that is more volumous due to its novel doughnut shape (see pic). Gunblast has a nice article on this powder and I won't bore you with details on its benefits. Suffice it to say is it will nearly eliminate the possibility of a double charge and offers more consistent velocities at lower load levels than a normal powder.

My experience with this powder started at my Dillon 550 in the Dillon powder measure. It metered very poorly in my opinion with the doughnuts trickling out after the casemouth of the cartridge pulled away from the expanding die resulting in little doughnuts of powder all over my press. It wasn't enough to alter the charge significantly, but it was very annoying and messy. After reading the gunblast article, I bought a Lee Pro disc powder measure and it works great on my Dillon press without throwing doughnuts everywhere. I liked it so much, I bought another since they're only $20. I've since heard advice on using the Dillon measure to change over the the larger rifle charge bar, but I won't bother since I've found something that works well.

Last weekend, I shot the trailboss loads out of my rifle and its very accurate, if I took my time, I could put a cloverleaf on one of the rifle targets, as it was, all the hits on steel were touching at CAS rifle distance, so I'm very pleased. The other thing I noticed was that it didn't seem to have as much blow-by as the other smokeless powders out there, its not a big deal to the function of the rifle, but its a bit of a bother when you're shooting to have puffs of hot gas in your face. I was hoping TB would be a little cleaner than Clays or Tightgroup, but it really isn't, at least not in my '73.

Anyway, I'll most likely start using this powder in all my CAS loads so I can have the little added reassurance of safety even though it costs more than other powders. The one other thing I want to try is the grits/clays load to see what it is like to shoot and how much trouble it is. As much as I hate cranking the handle, I'm guessing its too much trouble, but if they shoot like they are claimed to shoot, its at least worth a try. I just have to find some grits.

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