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Several years ago I was driven to get an answer to this question which started an investigation which lasted all of 15-20 minutes to get the definitive answer. The steps were as follows:

1) Called Winchester reloading techs to ask if Winchester made H-110 for Hodgdon, was told Winchester did not make it or 296 and that 296 was made by Primex Technologies in Florida. He was good enough to give me the phone number for Primex.

2) Called Primex and was directed to a man who was authorized to speak of such things. (Had his name in the old DOS computer but it is gone now) After some hemming & hawing the final answer I received is that H-110 and 296 are absolutely identical, and that batches for Winchester and Hodgdon could actually be FROM THE SAME LOT!!! This is as close to the same thing as it gets

In short, any difference anyone believes he can perceive is purely in his head. The differences in data we see in the loading manuals can easily result from lot-to-lot variations. I have seen people write that they see less fouling from 296 or that 296 seems to be more consistent, B.S.

One thing I wish more people would do when things like this come up is GO TO THE SOURCE AND ASK. Everyone wants to ask another, usually, amateur what he knows or thinks. You will find that going to the people who can answer these questions is really easier than you think and a whole lot more informative.

Now you know why H-110/296 always appear next to eachother in the burning rate charts, and why either may appear first.
 

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All you say is likely true but always remember"your perception is your reality". One powder could instil greater confidence that another for whatever reason and for that reason it could produce better results for that person. Confidence is the key to any achievement.
 

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Alk8944

That's pretty good information, and verifies some interesting observations I've made on both over many years.

I've always picked up a couple of lbs of whatever was on hand, 110/296. But I've also noticed that both products are best optimized for a given lot#. In fact, each lot should be checked to make sure that the last best load still ejects.

Most of the time hotrodding HG loads is a bad idea without some extra effort. HG brass should be sorted by headstamp. The smaller the case, the more it's important. Reach into a bag of mixed 9mm sometime, and weigh 10. 4.2gr of Greendot, under your favorite 115gr HP, could run anywhere from mild to blown primers.

110/296 is for high performance loads. When you go there, especially with 200+gr cast bullets in a .357, or 300+gr bullets in a .44Mag, minor lot to lot variations in powder, case weight, alloy weight/composition, can have real unpleasant surprises. Or maybe I am just faint at heart.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Alk,

Appreciate you going to the trouble to get this information!

The lot-to-lot differences can be significant, especially with the slower, more complex (ie double-base vs. single-base) powders. So it still pays to work your way up.

You'll note that the published charge weights for fast stuff like Bullseye have varied hardly at all in a 100 years, literally, but 296/H110 may vary by a grain or more from different sources.

I have had several conversations with an ammo maker (Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore) over at the Campfire on Sixguns. He works his loads up & has them pressure tested for each lot of powder, and yes does have to adjust as necessary.

It is really best to work up loads with the aid of a chronograph for these powders, so that you can confirm that the performance is as expected.

Personally I have found that full-power .357 & .44 mag loads are pretty close to spec, but have had to vary from the published data a little with my .45 Colt. My suspicion is that when you are below 40,000CUP, then the lot-to-lot differences are magnified a little more.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
MikeG,

Maybe you missed it, but I did comment on lot-to-lot variation. The statement about being identical was, of course, included with this caveat.

My point, or even more to the point, was to show how easy it really can be to find real answers to such questions rather than rely on guesswork or conjecture. The manufacturers are usually very willing to talk with comsumers since proper use of their products is of paramount importance to them. It is amazing how many phone numbers ae available in our various sources, such as the listings in Gun Digest and similar annual publications.

The really sad thing about this specific matter is that even all of the gun writers in all of the major publications have been going on for years repeating things like, "In my observations these two powders seem to be quite similar". They could have cleared this up long ago by consulting the same sources which I did.

Just my opinion, but your note about the .45 Colt makes an observation as to why H-110/296 are probably not a good choice for this cartridge even thought we (me too) have used them for this purpose. Both are intended for absolutely full pressure loads and carry a warning to not reduce more than a small percentage. My concern is that when we use these in the .45 Colt our maximum loads are below the pressure level in the .44/.41. & ,357 where problems have occurred. Maybe that Lil'Gun is a better selection. And no, I don't have an interest in Hodgdon! I have been able to get the same velocities with Lil' Gun as with the two others, and it doesn't leave the varnish-like film on the outside of the cases which is narly impossible to remove.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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It is pretty amazing some of the bunk that so-called gunwriters repeat, without end, as 'fact'. Even more so when some of it has been de-bunked in print already! And as you point out the truth is often only a phone call away.

I know what you mean about H110/WW296 being perhaps not in their best application in the 30,000CUP loads. Have thought through this myself on many occasions. Still... for quite some time they were clearly the performance leaders in that application, and one of the few powders that data was widely available for. Now that we have Lil'Gun maybe that will change.

I do think that they are OK with the heavier bullets. Inconsistent ignition is a problem with those powders when bullets are too light no matter what the caliber. I am leery of using them in the .45 Colt with bullets lighter than 300 grains, my opinion of course. I think that cold weather could potentially be a problem with the 30,000CUP loads, however I won't be facing much of that in central Texas.

One thing that I have noticed is that 296 works much better (ie much lower extreme spreads) when I went from 300 to 340gr. bullets in the .45 Colt. So perhaps it's a combination of enough pressure and enough bullet weight (inertia) that make those powders work best, and not strictly the max pressure of the load?

I'll continue to use WW296 with the .45 Colt, I have worked up loads that are acceptible to me, and I have plenty of it in the can. When the can is empty, though, maybe time to think about a different powder.
 
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