Finding Loading Powder in the Current Shortage
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Yes, ammunition vanished from store shelves over the last few months. Pardon me while I offer a heartfelt "I told you so." For eight years I have been saying buy ammo every month because something will come along and cause another run on the stores. I sure didn't know it would be a pandemic topped with riots and calls to eliminate the police, but here we are.
So, put a note on your refrigerator and refer to it regularly once this current situation ends: BUY SOME AMMO EVERY MONTH!
Here's a tip for those who have decided that reloading is a way around the current (artificial) ammo shortage: Don't sweat which powder you use.
On Gun Talk Radio I'm getting calls complaining about not being able to find loading propellants (gun powder). Yep. That has been gobbled up, too. There's a way to help find powder -- don't be so picky. That is, don't get locked into a particular powder. I do understand that you might favor a particular powder. Maybe it's what you have always used. Possibly your rifle just shoots great with it, and you settled on that as your go-to choice. I get it.
On the other hand, for every cartridge many powders work just fine. For fun, I started looking over the choices on the Hodgdon web site – CLICK HERE – to review some of my favorite calibers.
Take the 6.5 Creedmoor, for instance. Just looking at loads for 140-grain bullets, I see 18 different powders listed, complete with load data and velocities.
For your .308 Winchester rifle you'll see 14 powders listed for the 150-grain bullet. Likewise, I see 18 powders listed for the 9mm with a 115-grain bullet.
"But, Tom," you say. "I've never used most of those. Besides, some of them show a top velocity that's 100 feet per second slower than the load I like."
Yep. And that won't make any real-world difference for most of us. If you are a long-range shooter, you can adjust to the incredibly small change in trajectory you'll see from a 100fps change. No deer, antelope or elk will know the difference.
I understand. I really like H4831 or IMR4831, but if I can't find that, I'm perfectly happy to try any others. Maybe the store has a few pounds of H4350. I haven't tried that in my new .280 Ackley Improved, so why not?
The bottom line is that when you find reloading propellent, buy it. You can even check the Hodgdon web site on your phone, from the store, to verify what you see on the shelf will work for the cartridges you are loading. The reality is that they all work fine. You might give up a half inch in group size. Then again, you might shrink the groups. You won't know until you try it.
It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway. When you switch to a new powder, use only loads published by known outlets such as powder and bullet companies, and start your load development with the minimum or starting load.
Even though it feels as though you are forced to settle, you might end up discovering a new favorite powder. At the very least, you get to keep shooting.
Happy reloading, and good shooting! ~ Tom
Author, outdoorsman, gun rights activist, and firearms enthusiast for more than five decades, Tom Gresham hosts Tom Gresham's Gun Talk, the first nationally-syndicated radio show about guns and the shooting sports, and is also the producer and co-host of the Guns & Gear, GunVenture and First Person Defender television series.