4831 Powder ID

Discussion in 'Hand loading your Sako' started by C Scott, Feb 12, 2020.

  1. C Scott

    C Scott Member

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    Hello good people.
    I obtained a number of powders from a friend that passed away last year. One is a nearly full 20 Lb keg (!) with a home made label that simply reads 4831 and dated 5/5/73. Visually, the powder is similar to a modern sample of IMR 4831 and different than H4831 I have around. Lately I have heard about "Surplus 4831" and several versions of H4831. Is there a way to tell what I have? Should I just work up loads using data for IMR4831 and not think about it too much? None of my manuals list data for "Surplus 4831".
    All the 4831's seem to be popular with reloading folks and the powder is in good shape so I'd like to try it. I'm loading for my L61R 30-06 and a Wby Vanguard .300 Wby Mag.
    Scott

     

  2. kirkbridgershooters

    kirkbridgershooters Well-Known Member

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    Let’s look at this from a safety perspective. 20 pounds of powder with a hand printed label and a rifle that could be worth $1000.00 or more and a face that can’t be replaced, which is more valuable?

    I say dump the powder and start with factory powder that is contained in an unopened container. Don’t ask me how or why I know to do this, just take my word and do it...
     
    Sean Hodges likes this.
  3. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    It sounds as if you have a keg of original surplus 4831. Although it was marketed by Hodgdon it is best NOT to call it H4831 since that now denotes a currently-produced powder that, as you note, is quite different chemically and physically, although in the same burning range.

    Assuming this 70+ year old powder is not degraded, it is some of the best performing powder I have ever used. It typically burns somewhat slower than IMR4831, but faster than the currently-produced H4831 (but there were two versions of commercially produced H4831 prior to today, so make sure of which you're talking about.)

    At current retail you have around $400 worth of powder, and very good performing powder at that. I wouldn't dismiss it so lightly.

    I'd advise to load a 90% density load (about 56 grains) in your .30-06 behind a 180 grain bullet and run it over the chronograph. Velocity should be in the 2500-2600 fps area. If all seems well, then you can load as much of this powder as practical in a .30-06 with a 180 grain bullet and get between 2700-2800 fps from a Sako 24.4" barrel. It is not particularly suited to lighter bullets in a .30-06, but maybe 165's would do okay while pressures will be weak with a 150 and velocities below optimum. If you happen to like 200's in your '06 it will do well with them.

    Surplus 4831 is actually a bit on the fast side for the .300 WBY. If you happen to shoot light bullets like a 150 then it will give you pretty good velocities before running high pressures. Performance with a 180 is decent, but probably not optimal.

    My dwindling supply of surplus 4831 is still my favorite powder with a 100 grain bullet in a .243, 130 grain bullet in a .270, and bullets from 200 and 250 in a .338. I've found that substituting IMR7828SSC with about a 2 to 4% increase in weight yields similar results as surplus 4831 in the same rifle with the same bullet.

    BUT let me caveat all of this: If there is any real doubt about what the powder is then defer to Kirk's suggestion and donate it to the grass in your yard.
     
  4. C Scott

    C Scott Member

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    Thank you guys, I appreciate your information and candor.
    The powder is in good shape and is in the original container. The printing on the can is faded but 4831 can be partly made out. I knew the previous owner well, a dentist and benchrest shooter in prior years. He would not have mislabeled it. The only question I have is whether it is "Surplus" or "IMR" 4831. It really is not that important because whichever it is, if it works well for me, I will have enough to last years without having to try to duplicate my loads with replacement powder.
    So I think that, as always, some careful test loads will be a good idea. I've been looking for an excuse to finally get a chronograph . . .
    Scott
     
  5. stonecreek

    stonecreek SCC Secretary Forum Owner SCC Board Member

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    Yes, a chronograph is indispensable when working with a powder that may vary from other lots with the same designation. Just use common sense and, knowing the velocities which a given load should yield, you can adjust to work up a useful load for your particular rifle.
     
  6. C Scott

    C Scott Member

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    Would you care to recommend any particular chronograph?
     

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