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11 years ago, I reloaded .38 and .357 ammo with a buddy in his garage.  I still have @ 1.5 lbs. of 231 and 2400 from that time period.  This powder has been in garage storage all this time, stored in a metal cabinet with closed doors.

Is the powder still useable and how do you know/tell/test?

God Bless,

Alan
 

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Yes powder does go bad!
However I'd guess that your's is fine. The proof of the pudding is to look at it. When powder breaks down it changes color.
There are people still shooting 4831 made for WWII.
If you would feel better,
Jim throw it out, burn it, put on you flower bed, but till it in.
 

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Heat is primarily the enemy of smokeless powder. If kept in a cool dry place it should last decades. Even a slightly moist area would not be too detrimental. Most smokeless powder is non hygroscopic unlike black powder which attracts moisture and will be ruined.

I remember reading about smokeless powder being kept under water at the Hercules plant from the late 1800's that was routinely pulled out, dried slowly and determined to burn nearly at it's original gusto.

Modern smokeless powder especially the ball type powders is quite stable and will last for decades if stored properly away from excess heat.

If you smell an acrid acidic aroma coming off the powder it is probably bad. This is NOT to be confused with a solvent or ether smell which is normal.

My guess is your powder is still good. Especially the 231.


:cool:
 

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Thanks for the info gents -

No unusual odors come from the containers at all.  This may sound odd but since I've always liked the smell of powder, spent or otherwise, I'd have certainly noticed any change.

God Bless,

Alan
 

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I bought an old Mannlicher that came with a box of old ammo (6.5 MS Remington 'Kleanbore' 150 gr SPs).  I'd guess it's from the late '40s or early '50s.  I'm a little leery about shooting them.  I might just pull the bullets, snap the caps and reuse the brass.  

Or, should I put a helmet and thick safety glasses and squint really hard when I shoot'em off?

 -Charlie
 

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I've got LC52 30 Carbine ammo that works great.

If it is Remington cleanbore, I imagine it is not corrosive. Does it say it is non-mercuric priming? If it is, the brass won't be ruined upon firing by being imbedded with mercury and not reloadable.

If the ammo cases are in good shape and not corroded and there are no clues of poor storage or water immersion, they should work fine. Pull one bullet and have a look at the powder if you want. Shells are nothing more than little powder containers you know.

I remember an article by Layne Simpson where I think he shot some 220 Swift ammo from the 30's or something like that and it worked fine. The only problem he had was that the brass couldn't be reloaded more than a couple of times due to age hardening of the brass. It lost it's flexibility for repeated reloadings.

FWIW


:cool:
 

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I have a can of WWII surplus 4831 that my dad gave me.  Still works fine.  Loaded some recently in my 6.5x55 Swede with 140 gr. Partitions, looking for a load that would regulate to the lowest setting on the sights.

Anyway my father-in-law told me that he once had some surplus 4895 that started to go bad.  Had some sort of rusty-looking discoloration and smelled pretty bad.  Never had problems with 4831, though - it's what he still shoots in his .280 Rem after all these years.  He buys it whenever he can find it, which isn't too often.

I doubt that you will have any problems.  Try a few loads at the low end and see if it behaves like you think it should.  231 especially is pretty well as fast as a powder as you can get, it is unlikely that anything would be able to speed up the burn rate.
 

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I had powder go bad.  Not H4831, I've got some in a red and yellow paper can that's probably WWII surplus and it's still good.  It was 3031.  I bought 2 cans of a 1972 lot for the .222, then the gopher population crashed.  I had switched to H322 by the time they came back.  So I still had a can and a half left when I got a .35 Remington a few years ago.  The opened can didn't last long.  I opened the second can for the first time and poured some out.  Red dust everywhere!  It had that battery acid - asprin smell too.  Should have used it for fertilizer, but being Scottish, I used it to shoot up some odds and ends, fast!

  So why did the sealed can go bad when the opened can didn't?  Same lot, side by side on the shelf when I bought them.  Perhaps the solvent got aired out of the opened can, and did something in the sealed can.  The solvent would diffuse out of a Hodgdon paper can but not a steel Dupont can.  That's only a guess.

  Charlie Z's box of old Remington 6.5x54 might have more collector's value than shooting value, particularly if it's full and in the original box.

Bye
Jack
 

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Alan,

I e-mailed Hodgdon not long ago regarding this very topic. I had some H110 from ~ eight years ago. I don't remember exactly who wrote back, but he was one of the higher ups. He said that as long as it's kept closed tight against moisture, powder can easily last upwards of thirty years. Several respondents here would obviously agree.
 

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I just used up the last of my hoard of ww630 pistol powder, and that powder probably was discontinued about twenty years ago.  Works great, wish I had more.
Much of my powder has purchase dates on it dating back to the early eightys, I keep it cool and dry and have never had a problem with it.  I buy in big lots so I don't have to re-test new lots in max loads. I used up the last 8 lb. keg of red-dot from a late sixties lot I purchased last year, working on a new 4-keg lot now, it might last longer than I do.
Unless you notice something in appearance or smell, use it in good health.
olevern
 

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I shot my grandfather's pistol from the Alaskan gold rush. The ammo was old black powder stuff. Only half of them went off.
 

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When my father shot that same ammo in the 30's, it all went off.
Years of storage in a hot attic is what did it.

(Edited by Clark at 4:20 pm on April 17, 2001)
 

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It's my understanding that black powder has an almost infinite shelf life as long as it's kept dry. However the early primers that contained Fulminate of Mercury didn't keep well. General Hatcher discusses this at some length in Chapter XIV of his Notebook. He also says in Chapter XXI that smokeless powder will undergo spontaneous combustion if a large amount deteriorates.

Bye
Jack
 

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Powders with Nitroglycerine content in them will last a long, long, time.  Both 2400 & 231 contain nitroglycerine. I have a about a pound or so left of 2400 that was purchased in the late 50's and it is fine.

The oldest powder I have is some old Laflin & Rand Sharpshooter made between 1897 and 1902.  It is a nitroglycerine powder and it still works great even after reaching it's 100th birthday!

Jack
 

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Interesting information.  I have two cans of 2400 that are both 2/3 to 3/4 full.  A family friend gave it to me along with a few hundred primers, Lyman dies for .30 Carbine, a bottle of Eagle Blood case lube, and a few other odds and ends.  He used to handload, but hasn't for at least 30 years.  The cans have pieces of tape on them marked for a certain month, 1968.  Older than I am!

Am I correct in thinking that this is the same powder as the current 2400?  It is marked "Rifle Powder," while new 2400 is marked "Magnum Pistol Powder."  I read on Alliant's website that 2400 was developed for the .22 Hornet, so I guess that would explain the markings.

I "test smelled" the old powder and the new.  Both have the same odor... I can't tell the difference.  I guess I'll have to just load a few rounds and see how they do.  I figure I'll seat a few of those old primers in some cases and snap them to see if they are still good.
 

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Hi, Ray:
  If it's doesn't have that asprin - battery acid smell it's probably OK. To double check, pour some out and watch for red dust. It's easier to see if it's backlit.

  Some people claim that new 2400 is faster than the old stuff. They find Elmer Keith's load of 22 grains of 2400 over a 250 gr. SWC in the .44 Magnum is too hot with new 2400. Anyhow, use the normal back off 6-10% and work up procedure with it.

  I find that popping primers leave some stuff in the barrel that doesn't look like normal fouling. I don't know if it's necessary, but I clean it out before I fire normal loads.

  Have fun with those goodies :biggrin:

Bye
Jack
 

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Ray,

Yes, they are one in the same. As you indicated, it was developed for the .22 Hornet in the early 1930's.  I have a Hercules Powder Phamplet dated 1935 which is entitled "2400 Rifle Loads".

When the .357 Magnum appeared in 1935, they soon found out that it produced the highest velocity at the lowest pressure than any of the other powders available in that time period.

Today, it is used much more in pistol cartridges than in rifle cartridges so therefor the reason for the name change.

Jack
 
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