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Discussion Starter #1
I've just started reloading and have a ton of questions. I'll ask the most pressing ones first.
  1. Is N-320 powder the same as N-32C? I see N320 in my loading manuals but the closest that I see for sale is N32C.
  2. Since there are a lot of variables in reloading, what makes a guy choose one powder over another? Is it just availability?
    1. I'm reloading .45 Colt for my revolver. If I can get the same velocity with two different powders, what guidelines should I follow to decide which one to use?
Powder selection: That's the major concern right now.
 

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Welcome to the forum.

Unless you use a Lee Loader, all loading is a pressing matter. Well, a matter of pressing, anyway. ;)

N320 is a pistol powder about half-way between Bullseye and Unique in burn rate. Good in 45 Auto and 9 mm, among other things. It is not at all like N-32C (aka, Tin Star) which is a cowboy action shooting powder intended as a much cleaner smokeless alternative to actual black powder. Tin Star is bulkier than regular pistol powders and intended for light loads in long case handgun cartridges like the 45 Colt with 200-grain RN FP Cowboy Action bullets.

In general, a powder that fills the case better at a given performance level will tend to produce more uniform performance. However, because different powders have different sensitivity to ignition in an empty space, that doesn't work out every single time. Another way to look for consistency is to peruse data that includes measured pressures, like Hodgdon's does, and see which powder's maximum load has the highest pressure. The higher pressure powders are the ones that caused the lowest variation in testing which is why they are given maximums at pressures closer to the SAAMI limit.
 

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The only powder advice I've ever given to someone just starting into reloading is to do a bit of reading and choose a powder that will fill most of the case. Some powders, like TiteGroup are low enough charge weight and volume that it becomes possible to get 2 charges in the case. Double charges are rare, but in the name of safety, why not choose a powder that makes that double charge very apparent?. Also, the larger volume charges seem to duplicate more accurately since a given volume difference metering the powder results in a lower percentage in terms of weight variance. At least that's the way it seems to me.

Eventually you will end up trying more than one powder. And velocity will not necessarily be the deciding factor on which is your favorite. Some are louder, others messier, smokier, another more accurate, and the fifth one you try might be the cheapest. A good start is to look at what others are using in your caliber under the type of bullet you're looking to load. Cast bullets seem to prefer some powders while jacketed allow you to use hotter, more energetic powders.

Personally I like Unique powder in the 45 as it has a large spread in the charge range to go from plinkers to rounds that are far more serious. And it's good for both cast and jacketed bullets. But it's a dirty powder in some loads and a lot of reloaders avoid it like the plague. Eventually, it will come down to your preference.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Welcome to the forum.

Unless you use a Lee Loader, all loading is a pressing matter. Well, a matter of pressing, anyway. ;)

N320 is a pistol powder about half-way between Bullseye and Unique in burn rate. Good in 45 Auto and 9 mm, among other things. It is not at all like N-32C (aka, Tin Star) which is a cowboy action shooting powder intended as a much cleaner smokeless alternative to actual black powder. Tin Star is bulkier than regular pistol powders and intended for light loads in long case handgun cartridges like the 45 Colt with 200-grain RN FP Cowboy Action bullets.

In general, a powder that fills the case better at a given performance level will tend to produce more uniform performance. However, because different powders have different sensitivity to ignition in an empty space, that doesn't work out every single time. Another way to look for consistency is to peruse data that includes measured pressures, like Hodgdon's does, and see which powder's maximum load has the highest pressure. The higher pressure powders are the ones that caused the lowest variation in testing which is why they are given maximums at pressures closer to the SAAMI limit.
Thanks for the reply, Nick. Yes, I use a Lee Classic Turret Press! If I don't see a powder listed for a particular bullet and weight, does that mean not to use that powder?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The only powder advice I've ever given to someone just starting into reloading is to do a bit of reading and choose a powder that will fill most of the case. Some powders, like TiteGroup are low enough charge weight and volume that it becomes possible to get 2 charges in the case. Double charges are rare, but in the name of safety, why not choose a powder that makes that double charge very apparent?. Also, the larger volume charges seem to duplicate more accurately since a given volume difference metering the powder results in a lower percentage in terms of weight variance. At least that's the way it seems to me.

Eventually you will end up trying more than one powder. And velocity will not necessarily be the deciding factor on which is your favorite. Some are louder, others messier, smokier, another more accurate, and the fifth one you try might be the cheapest. A good start is to look at what others are using in your caliber under the type of bullet you're looking to load. Cast bullets seem to prefer some powders while jacketed allow you to use hotter, more energetic powders.

Personally I like Unique powder in the 45 as it has a large spread in the charge range to go from plinkers to rounds that are far more serious. And it's good for both cast and jacketed bullets. But it's a dirty powder in some loads and a lot of reloaders avoid it like the plague. Eventually, it will come down to your preference.
Thanks Bama. Since it was the easiest to get at the moment and it seemed to be common in the Lee Load manual, I'm using Winchester 231. I've noticed that it is smokier. It doesn't seem to fill the case. I think I'm going to try to get my hands on some Tin Star N32C. I read that it does fill the case. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.
 

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As you are a new reloader if the powder isn't listed DON'T use it, work your loads up from the listed starting load. Use at least two sources to work a load up and never trust one you find listed on the internet without verifying it from the powder mfg or a loading book.
 

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There are a lot of powders in the manuals but not much on the dealers shelves or "in stock" when ordering . So availability is the main selection criteria .
Sit down with a couple manuals...some manuals have data for different powders than others . Look at them all with the bullets you wish to use (jacketed , cast lead , plated ) and make a list of every powder that can work ... get as many powders on that list as you can find data for . Keep the list with you and go powder shopping ... find something ...post a question , is Unique , AA #2 & AA#5 OK to use in 45 colt 250 gr. cast SWC mid range loads and see what everyone says . If the sale is great and the powder has been listed in every manual ...just buy it ... you wait too long and "Sold Out" gets you . But only buy powders that are in a loading manual or on a makers web site with loading data .
Good Luck
Gary
 

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Thanks for the reply, Nick. Yes, I use a Lee Classic Turret Press! If I don't see a powder listed for a particular bullet and weight, does that mean not to use that powder?
Probably, here why.
When we buy powder, that is called "canister grade", It isn't a singular thing. It's a general burning rate that can come from a number of suppliers, or can be blended lots of different ages and suppliers. The standard they are blending it to (burning rate, energy content, etc) is never stated publicly. When they swap suppliers, they don't put out a PSA. When they pressure test powders, they don't state dates or lot numbers. They don't state if it's simply a re-print, or if has only been calculated.


Always start with age appropriate data, and start at the start load. Never expect your lot be be identical to the unstated mystery lot in a manual or online.
When you hit EITHER the book max charge, OR the book max velocity (whichever comes first) you have reached out exceeded book max pressure.
Also, expect to find multiple loads within the START/STOP range, which can give you good accuracy.

Cheers and welcome
 

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ditto Darkker. Trust the preferred manual of your choice and move up in small (one grain) increments to find the sweet spot. I've found most powders respond with accuracy somewhere just below listed maximum charges. You'll see variances between start and max loads as listed by the various manuals. Pick one and stick with it. My preference is the 50th edition of Lyman. They don't have vested interests in either propellants or projectiles.
 

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Thanks Bama. Since it was the easiest to get at the moment and it seemed to be common in the Lee Load manual, I'm using Winchester 231. I've noticed that it is smokier. It doesn't seem to fill the case. I think I'm going to try to get my hands on some Tin Star N32C. I read that it does fill the case. Any and all advice is greatly appreciated.
N32C is Vihtavuori's version of a black powder substitute. It was designed specifically to enable full black powder level performance without the residue of black. A lot of people think it is similar to Trail Boss, but it is much different. Trail Boss runs out of steam at target level velocity. It does not like compression and can spike badly if it is. I've been an advocate for Tin Star for a long time, and with the exception of those who have started using it on my recommendation, I'm about the only one you'll find here or in other forums pushing it. You'll find no better powder for use in the .45 Colt and other black powder era cartridges. It gives 100% case fill like black, can reach full power black powder levels unlike Trail Boss, burns clean as can be, and is very consistent shot to shot. For duplicating original black powder ballistics there is nothing better. For the .45 Colt that is as follows: a 250 gr. RNFP or SWC, 8.6 gr. N32C, standard primer, Starline brass. Apply a good crimp. That will give approx. 900 fps from a 7.5" barrel, 850-875 in a 4", just like the original 1873 load. To duplicate the 1875 .45 Schofield use 8.0 gr under a 230 gr RNFP. It will also do a great job for a mid-range .44 Mag for carry use. That one is a 240 gr RNFP over 9.0 gr N32C in mag brass, for 1000 fps from a 4". All the above are chronographed btw. It completely eliminates the extreme spread issues common to large capacity black powder era cartridges like .45 Colt when using typical modern smokeless used for most pistol cartridges.
 

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Don't get all anal about filling the case with powder . Lots of good powders and loads don't .
Bullseye , Red Dot , 700X ...just about all the fast powders and light target loads with lead bullets will not fill a case .
Powder burns ...Gunsmoke is a normal byproduct ...don't get upset about a little smoke . Sometimes it's the bullet lubricant .. an accurate load that produces gunsmoke is OK .

Get at least 3 different manuals ... different manuals will sometimes show loads for different powders and it's good to cross reference loads with other manuals .
 

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N32C is Vihtavuori's version of a black powder substitute. It was designed specifically to enable full black powder level performance without the residue of black. A lot of people think it is similar to Trail Boss, but it is much different. Trail Boss runs out of steam at target level velocity. It does not like compression and can spike badly if it is. I've been an advocate for Tin Star for a long time, and with the exception of those who have started using it on my recommendation, I'm about the only one you'll find here or in other forums pushing it. You'll find no better powder for use in the .45 Colt and other black powder era cartridges. It gives 100% case fill like black, can reach full power black powder levels unlike Trail Boss, burns clean as can be, and is very consistent shot to shot. For duplicating original black powder ballistics there is nothing better. For the .45 Colt that is as follows: a 250 gr. RNFP or SWC, 8.6 gr. N32C, standard primer, Starline brass. Apply a good crimp. That will give approx. 900 fps from a 7.5" barrel, 850-875 in a 4", just like the original 1873 load. To duplicate the 1875 .45 Schofield use 8.0 gr under a 230 gr RNFP. It will also do a great job for a mid-range .44 Mag for carry use. That one is a 240 gr RNFP over 9.0 gr N32C in mag brass, for 1000 fps from a 4". All the above are chronographed btw. It completely eliminates the extreme spread issues common to large capacity black powder era cartridges like .45 Colt when using typical modern smokeless used for most pistol cartridges.
Has anyone tried this powder with the 50-90 Sharps, or other BP rifle rounds? (I tried looking online but since I'm on a government network system over here, many of the sites I'm trying to get to are blocked.)
 

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Don't get all anal about filling the case with powder . Lots of good powders and loads don't .
Bullseye , Red Dot , 700X ...just about all the fast powders and light target loads with lead bullets will not fill a case .
Powder burns ...Gunsmoke is a normal byproduct ...don't get upset about a little smoke . Sometimes it's the bullet lubricant .. an accurate load that produces gunsmoke is OK .

Get at least 3 different manuals ... different manuals will sometimes show loads for different powders and it's good to cross reference loads with other manuals .

Obviously, you haven't thought this one out. .45 Colt is a huge case, and was necessary because of the way black powder functions. Modern pistol cases are much smaller, and designed to use smokeless powder. They don't require the high load density that the old black powder cases do. Yes, you can use the fast powders like Red Dot, Bullseye, etc., but performance with them is abysmal due to all the air space. In order to get consistent shot to shot velocity the tiny charge of powder has to be right on the primer. It is not uncommon to get velocity swings of 200-300 fps with those powders unless you tip the gun up and carefully lower it before firing. With 80% or better load density you don't have to worry about that and you'll get nice even consistent velocity, and that translates to better accuracy.

I spent a year testing at least a dozen different powders of that type, none of which worked well enough to consider using regularly. Trail Boss works great if you're only interested in puff ball target loads. N32C lets you load and shoot ALL of the old black powder pistol cartridges as they were intended to be used, while avoiding all the mess and clean up of black powder fouling. Side benefits are that you can shoot full power loads in vintage arms at safe pressure levels, and accuracy is much better and doesn't deteriorate due to black powder fouling like in the old days.

The whole point of shooting those old rounds is to experience the same things people did 150 years ago. Like living history. It gives one an appreciation for what came before us, and how good those old boys really were.
 

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Has anyone tried this powder with the 50-90 Sharps, or other BP rifle rounds? (I tried looking online but since I'm on a government network system over here, many of the sites I'm trying to get to are blocked.)
Never tried it in the big buffalo cases. VV is supposed to have a formula you can use to get a starting load, but I've never used it. I'd contact them for that one. 5744 was designed as a black powder sub for the big black powder rifle cases, and it works pretty well from what I've read.
 
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I have a bunch of 5744 in storage for when I'm done here to load up a bunch of 50-90s. I'm just looking for other powders to stock up on for it. I'm going to give Trail Boss a try as well, it too is supposed to be good for slower loadings, and is bulky to fill the case better.
 

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I have a bunch of 5744 in storage for when I'm done here to load up a bunch of 50-90s. I'm just looking for other powders to stock up on for it. I'm going to give Trail Boss a try as well, it too is supposed to be good for slower loadings, and is bulky to fill the case better.
I recommend picking up a copy of Mike Venturino's book on shooting the big bore buffalo calibers. I think Wolfe Publishing carries it in their lineup, but it should also be on Amazon. I doubt there is anybody alive today who has more experience with those cartridges than Mike.

 
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Ditto Rifter. Good advice. Mike V. is an advocate of 5744 for a lot of cartridge loadings and I'm with him on the issue. Have developed a standard reduced load for most of my moderate and large capacity cases. Mike doesn't use a tissue wad to keep powder against the flashhole, but I put a 1" square of thin tissue paper into the cases and tamp them down. Works pretty well.
 
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I recommend picking up a copy of Mike Venturino's book on shooting the big bore buffalo calibers. I think Wolfe Publishing carries it in their lineup, but it should also be on Amazon. I doubt there is anybody alive today who has more experience with those cartridges than Mike.
Ditto Rifter. Good advice. Mike V. is an advocate of 5744 for a lot of cartridge loadings and I'm with him on the issue. Have developed a standard reduced load for most of my moderate and large capacity cases. Mike doesn't use a tissue wad to keep powder against the flashhole, but I put a 1" square of thin tissue paper into the cases and tamp them down. Works pretty well.

Thanks, ill add it to the list of books to buy.
 

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Thanks for the reply, Nick. Yes, I use a Lee Classic Turret Press! If I don't see a powder listed for a particular bullet and weight, does that mean not to use that powder?
The Lee Loader I was referring to is not a press, but a portable hand tool. Hence the word play on "pressing" not applying to it. I'll try not to make jokes in the future. Often doesn't work out on the Internet.

On powder: there are many, many powders that are inappropriate for a particular cartridge. If, for example, you tried to load a 45 Colt with a powder intended for a 50 BMG cartridge, it could well extinguish and leave a bullet stuck in the barrel. If the bullet did make it out of the muzzle, at the very least you would leave a lot of dirt and unburned powder both in the gun and all over the ground in front of you. All that on top of very poor performance.

As a result, it is best to stick to powders that are listed for a cartridge by a source that has tested them in that cartridge. That doesn't mean every load book covers all possible powders you might use. A Sierra tech told me their manual sometimes omits powders they wanted to include, but which were out of stock at their suppliers when they needed to test them. Things like that happen in the real world. So check a number of manuals. There is a lot of online data available from the powder companies and from some of the major bullet companies. Powder companies will only include their own powders, but bullet companies include several, as a rule.
 
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