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I recently cleaned out an old garage for demolition and came across two cans of HiVel#2 reloading powder. Does this powder have a good use for todays cartridges? The square cans are still sealed and the powder seems loose. I'm just starting into reloading but am using modern powders such as 3031 and 4350. I recently bought a Hawkeye with once fired cases and dies. Can this HiVel#2 be used in this case and if so what would be your recommendation for a starting load...I'll be using a 60 gr.  .257 Hornandy bullet. Thanks for your help, Donald   Please respond to my emai address <[email protected]>
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Whoa!  Hi-Vel # 2 got discontinued in the early 60's.  That does not mean it's bad, but you may have problems finding load data for it.

I think that it had a burn rate somewhere between IMR3031 and 4895, but don't quote me on this.  No idea if this would work in your Hawkeye.  I do know that it was used in many rifle cartridges such as the .30-06, and even down to the .35 Rem.

Were I to find such a thing.... I don't think I'd shoot it.  Either keep it as a memento of days gone by, or put it on EBay and see what you get.  Some collector might flip out over getting a sealed can.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Hi. Donald:
   A Ruger Hawkeye shoots a .256 Winchester Magnum, right??

    Speer #7 (1967) lists Hivel #2 between Reloder 7 and 3031 in burning rate.  So it should be slower than the 4198 Hornady recommends with the 60 gr. bullet and you MIGHT be OK with 4198 data, BUT proceed with exterme caution.  It was discontinued in 1964.

   Telling if powder is going bad is easy.  If it smells like asprin, it's going bad.  Don't mistake the asprin smell for the solvent smell most new powder has.  Then pour it out into a dish and watch for red dust.  It helps to see the dust if sunlight is shining on  it.   The red dust is a sure sign it's bad.  Leave it long enough and it will undergo spontanious  combustion, and you don't want that !  If it's bad, spread it on the lawn and water it in if it's dry.  It's good fertilizer.

   I've got some original H4831 that's still good after 50+ years, but I had a sealed can of 3031 go bad that was 25 years old.  You should inspect any powder that's over 10 years old at least once a year.

Bye
Jack
 

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Flasks,

You say the powder is loose?  Was this determined by opening the can and visually checking, or by shaking the can?

I think the first thing to say here is: DON'T SHAKE ANY CAN OF POWDER, BLACK OR SMOKELESS, IF YOU ARE UNSURE OF IT'S CONDITION!  This always applies to Black Powder.  The problem, especially with the double-base Hercules powders is that on decomposition they may release Nitroglycerine and the shaking could cause an extremely serious explosion.  The problem with Black is static electricity which can also cause an explosion.

Hi-vel #2 was a very versatile powder for many of the standard cartridges in the .30-06, .270, .280 etc.  It falls in the range of 4895 in burning rate.  As mentioned above, it is too slow for the .256 Hawkeye.

The sealed cans may have higher collector value, but collectors usually aren't concerned as they don't want cans of possibly unstable powder around.  

Smokeless powders usually lose strength to a small degree as they age so long as they have not begun to decompose.  Because of this it shouldnt be a safety issue to use this powder as it was intended, again, so long as it has not begun to decompose.

The only way to check for decomposition is to open the can and dump some of it out onto a piece of white paper.  The things to watch for are a red dust which will seem to be a red vapor as the powder is poured.  There will be this red dust on the powder granules.  There will also be signs of rust inside the can.  Rust on the outside of the can isn't a problem.  If the interior is still shiny everything is OK. You can actually see where the granules have laid against the surface of the can.  The rust is caused by free Nitric Acid which was not thoroughly neutralized after the nitrating process.

The second thing to watch for is droplets of a clear liquid on the surface of the granules.  This can best be seen with a magnifier.  If this condition is present it indicates that Nitroglycerin has sweated out under poor storage (too hot).  Nitroglycerin is extremely unstable in it's liquid form.

If either problem is found, or if you aren't sure, dispose of the powder carefully.  The best and safest way, as mentioned above, is to scattter it on your lawn or garden.  This disperses the powder so it isn't dangerous, allows the Nitroglycerin to be washed into the ground and the Nitric Acid to also be washed away.  The side benefit is that the free nitrates put a good deal of Nitrogen into the ground which is good for growing things.

Scattering the powder as above is the best and safest method of disposal!  If you throw it in the garbage it is still hazardous.

If you find the powder is still in good condition and you want to load it, E-mail me and I will send you what data I have from older manuals.  Let me know what cartridges you want data for.  I, too, came by a nearly full can of Hi-vel#2 which was found to be in good condition.  I have used it in a .38-55 Marlin and am keeping some for one of the new Winchester .405s, if they ever get in country!
 

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Super Moderator
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If you're not a nostalgia buff, selling them on Ebay would probably net you enough coin (for unopened canisters of Hi-Vel #2) to buy at least double or more the quantity you currently have in new powders!  This is only true if they are unopened.

Just a thought!  As for me, they would go into my powder canister collection!

God Bless,

Marshall
 

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Beartooth Regular
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I currently have two different cans of HiVel #2. One is from the 1930's and the other is from the 1950's. Both are still fresh and  I have used them from time to time in my .30-30's. I have found their performance replicates that of the lot# of 3031 that I presently have.

The reason that HiVel #2 was discontinued was because of a mishap where a hunter was injured when a maximum load in his .30-06 removed some of the components from his gun when it was fired in extremely cold conditions. Hercules ran some tests and found out that the pressure generated by this powder actually increased (!) as the temperatures got colder.

When it was discontinued in the early 60's, Hercules had 50,000+ lbs. on hand which they reprocessed into Unique.

Nitroglycerin powders will last a long, long time. I have some Lafln & Rand Sharpshooter and Lighning powders made before 1903 and they are still fresh and still work very well at 100 years of age.

Have fun!
John
 
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