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hawkeye270's picture
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Does powder go bad? Old H4831

When I recently enherited my grandpa's reloading supplies I also got a bunch of powder, some of which looks like good powder to use in a .270 (H4831). This powder is atleast from the 80's but could be from the 60's. At what point does powder go bad? Is it dangerous to use?

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Any time that you have powder

Any time that you have powder that you don't know the condition of the best thing to do is dump it in the flower garden and start with new fresh stuff. 

hawkeye270's picture
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With the price of reloading

With the price of reloading stuff these days it's gonna be kinda hard to do that.

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Powder is cheap compaired to

Powder is cheap compaired to a sub standard load.  Look at it this way, you load up some shells with the powder that you have now.  Then next year you have to buy some new powder of the same make, you'll have to start all over in the load developement for two reasons.  The first is that you changed the lot number on the powder and the second one is that you don't really know about the powder that you are using now.  That is why I buy powder in a 8 lb keg.  That way it will take a while before you have to down size the load again. 

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Its probably just fine

hawkeye270 wrote:

When I recently enherited my grandpa's reloading supplies I also got a bunch of powder, some of which looks like good powder to use in a .270 (H4831). This powder is atleast from the 80's but could be from the 60's. At what point does powder go bad? Is it dangerous to use?

 

So long as it has been kept out of extreme temperatures it is just fine.

The first test is to smell it.  If it smells strongly unpleasant, ditch it.

pour some out.  If it is red or yellow, it is questionable.

If it smells like newer powder and is grey or black. 

Load up some test loads and yoyu should be good to go!

I've used powder 20+ years old and it was just fine. 

In fact I've stored powder for 10 plus years myself!

heck if you don't want to use it, I'll pay the shipping for you to send it to me! lol

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If I didn't know just what

If I didn't know just what was in the powder and how it had been stored I would just pour it onto the flowers unless you are just building shooting loads and not hunting loads.  Powder is cheap. 

As far as shipping is conserned you would spend more on the hasmat fee than the powder is worth to have it shipped to you. 

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shelf life

Powder goes bad when the lid to the container isn't airtight.  Many of the chemicals that control the burn rate or help keep it's flamability tend to evaporate over time when exposed to air.  As Critter said, if it's of unkown origins or unknown storage conditions, just discard it, or use it for plinking rounds.  You can also test it by loading several rounds from it and collecting target data as well as chrono data, but by the time you do that, you've likely spent as much as you could just buying a new container of powder. 

Old powder isn't really dangerous.  I mean it doesn't get unstable with age.  Keep in mind that according to the powder makers the burn rates for each powder do change ever so slightly over the years and even sometimes in the same year from lot number to lot number their can be negligable variations. It's a matter of how much their raw materials change from suppliers over the years.  The makers do consentrate a real effort to keep their product as consistant as possible, but raw materials do change over time. This is one of many reasons that load data in manuals gets updated every few years.

Having said that I do know of at least one person who still loads rounds today using powder he bought in the 1980s.  It happens to be H4831, but it's his powder, he bought it, and he know where it's been and how it's been stored.  He bought a cache of it at that time due to a scare in the air and still has plenty of it.  He gets pretty good performance out of it too.

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I am using some Super

I am using some Super Balistite and some Pistol powder #6 that I'll bet is older than a lot of guy's on this site. Powder does go bad but do the test's Mike mentioned. humidity and light degrade powder. Smokeless powder does not become unstable as black powder will either. It may not get velocity up where it would new and in fact it may not go bang at all. I had some very old 4895 that was stored in a glass jar. Nothing happened when fireing it. The primer ignited and the powder turned to a glob in the case, ruined the case.

It sshould not be reddish colored and have a solvent smell to it.

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echo

Is there an echo in here Don? Big smile

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Dang it I really like that

Dang it I really like that post! But I'll get rid of the extra one's. Just noticed it this morning.

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