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Old 05-13-2018, 09:37 PM
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DWalt DWalt is offline
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Default Antique Powder in an Antique Cartridge

Several months ago I came into full cans of duPont SR #80 and duPont No. 5 propellants. Just as an experiment, I decided to try out the SR 80 powder in my .32-20 M&P revolver. Hatcher's "Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers"(1935) has quite a bit to say about the .32-20 as a revolver cartridge and he presents a number of reloading recipes for it. One of them is a 103 grain lead bullet and 9.5 grains of SR #80, for which he lists a MV of 1000 Ft/Sec. I decided to drop back 0.5 grains to be a little safer.

SR #80 is a propellant from long ago, made from 1913 until 1939 according to Sharpe's reloading manual. It is of the bulk type, meaning that it loads volume for volume much like black powder. In appearance, it is granular and resembles sugar, but is a khaki (light brown) color. Hatcher comments as to how well it meters, and that seems to be true in my Lyman #55 powder measure. The SR #80 powder in my can shows no signs of deterioration. I poured out a small amount on the sidewalk, lit it with a match, and it burned vigorously and cleanly.

I loaded 20 rounds (9.0 grains and a 100 grain MBC cast bullet) for velocity testing only, not grouping. The 9 grain charge filled the .32-20 cases to within approximately 1/4" from the top, so with the bullet seated, the powder was probably in slight compression. I used fresh SP primers and a roll crimp into the bullet groove.

I was somewhat surprised at my chronograph results. The average velocity was 848 ft/sec, but the Standard Deviation was a nearly unbelievable 116 ft/sec. And that level of inconsistency is something I cannot understand. It clearly was not a result of poor metering as I checked that thoroughly, and visually the powder levels in each case appeared identical.

in any event, I won't be using any more of SR #80 in the .32-20, but I may try some in various rifle calibers to see what happens.

I haven't yet tried any of the old #5 powder, but some years ago I found two full cans of #5 from the 1940s and it worked fine in .45 ACP. I suspect it still will from this can. Can pictures are shown below. Both are of the 1930s style.


Last edited by DWalt; 05-13-2018 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 05-13-2018, 10:17 PM
Troystat Troystat is offline
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Very neat. Amazing what is out there.
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:03 AM
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Well the can does state the 80 powder as a rifle powder.....
maybe why it had a high ES spread in your test.

Good luck with your rifle loads if they get loaded.
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Old 05-14-2018, 01:25 AM
Old 44 Guy Old 44 Guy is offline
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The guy I bought my first 44 from used # 5 but I don't have his information. Still have his dies & use them. Hell, come to think of it that was 61 years ago.
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Old 05-14-2018, 07:13 AM
Bakebfr480 Bakebfr480 is offline
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Elmer used #80 powder for stout loads in the 44 spl. before 2400 came out. Try it in the 44 spl. if possible!
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Old 05-14-2018, 10:10 AM
Skeet 028 Skeet 028 is offline
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Ain't it neat to find stuff older than us that still works? I too have old powder like that. I used most of it up. Have fun!
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:28 AM
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And we still have folks asking if it's safe to shoot 10 or 20 year old ammo they forgot they had. :-)

More proof that if properly stored, it will last forever!
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakebfr480 View Post
Elmer used #80 powder for stout loads in the 44 spl. before 2400 came out. Try it in the 44 spl. if possible!
I hadn't thought of using it in .44 Special, but I think I will now. Does anyone know exactly what SR #80 loads Elmer Keith used? I'll make some up for chronographing to see how they compare with his.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:48 AM
hdwhit hdwhit is offline
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Quote:
DWalt wrote:
...the Standard Deviation was a nearly unbelievable 116 ft/sec. And that level of inconsistency is something I cannot understand.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that the SD was an indication that the 79+ year old powder was more deteriorated than the sniff test, visual inspection and open burn indicated.

I recently unearthed some Hercules Green Dot that dates from about 1980. It looked and smelled fine. I loaded it using a 1982 recipe and fired it from the same gun. The velocities were 40% lower. Clearly it was deteriorated.
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Old 05-14-2018, 11:57 AM
hdwhit hdwhit is offline
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Quote:
cgt4570 wrote:
More proof that if properly stored, it will last forever!
That's not what I would conclude from the original post.

In fact the OP pretty much demonstrated that his 79+ year old powder, while looking and smelling okay had already deteriorated to the point where it was igniting/burning inconsistently.

I have 40 year old powder that has deteriorated in a similar manner.

Smokeless propellants are very stable compounds with a long shelf life, but regardless of how well it is stored, it does not last forever.
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Old 05-14-2018, 12:41 PM
Skeet 028 Skeet 028 is offline
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Actually it really doesn't mean the powder was "deteriorated. It may just mean that the powder may not have actually been the right powder for the cartridge. 80-90 yrs ago they had no chronographs like we have today..or pressure testing equipment like todays. And I can tell you ol Elmer and the other experimenters of the time were not necessarily certain of what was going on. That may be why they did blow up a gun or two. Seriously...I have Hi Vel #2 powder from way back when Lot number is the mid 30s..it was a recommended powder for a score of cartridges....or more. It did turn out to be a great powder for the 30-30 and a few others. Discontinued in 1964 or so? Better testing and knowledge? In my limited experience when my ES and SD is larger than they should be the powder is either not right for the application or the pressures/burning rate is out of whack due to low loading density. BTW that ol HV #2 works just great in my 30-30 loads even after 80 yrs or so.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:06 PM
Qc Pistolero Qc Pistolero is offline
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80 is THE powder Mr Keith was using when he developped his .44 Spl loads.It is faster burning than 4759(which can also be used in .44 Mag but is too slow to get good performance from).The fact that 2400 supplanted #80 when it came out is well documented history but #80 must be the powder that ''started it all''.
Since 2400 is slower burning than 80(as per Mr.Keith sayings),I think that you can look up any starting load of 2400 and start '' experimenting'' from there.
Old data was for baloon case heads though.You'll have to make up for that if you rely on old data(1920's to 1940's)
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Old 05-19-2018, 06:36 AM
Forrest r Forrest r is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bakebfr480 View Post
Elmer used #80 powder for stout loads in the 44 spl. before 2400 came out. Try it in the 44 spl. if possible!
+1^^^^^^

12.0gr of #80, a link to a 1929 ideal reloading catalog, page #90 has the 44spl/429421/12.0gr load
Castpics and Reloaders Reference Online - 1929 Ideal Catalog
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Old 05-19-2018, 11:38 AM
mtgianni mtgianni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada Ed View Post
Well the can does state the 80 powder as a rifle powder.....
maybe why it had a high ES spread in your test.

Good luck with your rifle loads if they get loaded.
2400 is also listed as a rifle powder on the can.
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Old 05-19-2018, 05:15 PM
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9.5gr may give lower SD than 9 as well as a little more velocity. JMHO-YMMV.........
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Old 05-20-2018, 12:03 PM
Skeet 028 Skeet 028 is offline
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In all the old data was there any loads for Number 5 pistol powder in the 32-20? It may be a more appropriate powder I remember using some old Number 5 powder many years ago. But not what cartridge...Oldtimers is kicking up a bit today. LoL I did get one of the old manuals out to look up some HS 5 loads for some 38 sp . I have about 6 pounds of it. I gotta use up all that older powder.
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Old 05-21-2018, 12:46 AM
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Yes, I have #5 data for a number of calibers. It is more or less similar to Red Dot. At one time, duPont #5 was the standard powder used for .45 ACP, and I have used it for that. Some years ago I came into two full sealed cans of it (probably from the 1940s-50s), in addition to the earlier one shown previously. It worked fine. I still have those two empty cans - similar to those shown previously but with different graphics.
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