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Don Jorge

temperature Sensitive Propellants

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It is often stated that a certain smokeless powder is temperature sensitive, usually, not always,  less "power/velocity" with a decrease of ambient temperature.

I would be interested in information about that.  It seems that the temperature range involved, for us cowboys at least, is from 30 to 100 degrees, roughly, which is not really very much.

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My daughter did a science project in 8th grade the measured velocity differences in a wide range of temperatures.  The coldest was right at 0 and the warmest was right in the 70 degree range. The round tested was a .38 special fired from a Marlin lever rifle.  If my memory serves me correct, within that 70 degree range there was no variation.   Even in extreme cold, 20 below zero, I found no change in point of impact in a .300 Win Mag that was sighted in during the heat of summer here in northern AZ.  There is my less than scientific answer......

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Seems you stated the 

27 minutes ago, Don Jorge said:

It is often stated that a certain smokeless powder is temperature sensitive, usually, not always,  less "power/velocity" with a decrease of ambient temperature.

I would be interested in information about that.  It seems that the temperature range involved, for us cowboys at least, is from 30 to 100 degrees, roughly, which is not really very much.

Seems you stated almost everything required.  Proof?  Conduct the tests yourself,  for me, I proved it to myself and moved on.

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Posted (edited)

When I once loaded .38 specials with 'CLAYS',  I experienced somewhat 'weaker' ignition

and unburnt powder in colder weather.

 

I can't prove it was the Clays or colder weather that caused it, but I couldn't find any other variable

that produced the same issue.

I slightly increased my charge weight and started using Magnum primers and the symptoms

went away.....in cold weather.

 

..........Widder

 

Edited by Widder, SASS #59054
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27 minutes ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

When I once loaded .38 specials with 'CLAYS',  I experienced somewhat 'weaker' ignition

and unburnt powder in colder weather.

 

I can't prove it was the Clays or colder weather that caused it, but I could find any other variable

that produced the same issue.

I slightly increased my charge weight and started using Magnum primers and the symptoms

went away.....in cold weather.

 

..........Widder

 


That is one of the reasons I use Federal Magnum Primers....to ensure ignition under various adverse conditions.

 

CB

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Agree with Widder. Here (Minnesota and Wisconsin) temps can get to the negatives. Clays is the one powder that will be all over the map on ignition in frigid temps. Some go boom, bang, pop or even poof. The shooter ended up keeping the ammo by a LP heater and the rest of the shooting day, they went bang.

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IMHO it's only temperature sensitive if you are trying to use too little. If you stick to the charts you'll not have to worry and probably shoot better too. 

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I've had good success with Tite-Group. I've used it for .44-40 and now for .38 spl.

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1 hour ago, Cowboy Junky said:

IMHO it's only temperature sensitive if you are trying to use too little. If you stick to the charts you'll not have to worry and probably shoot better too. 

This!  Almost 10 years of SASS shooting, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 rounds fired and nary a squib.  I've used Clays exclusively, in temps ranging from below 20 degrees to the high 90s, no problems.  But then, as Junky mentioned, I don't load right down to the bottom limit or below.  I always give myself at least 2/10s of a grain above the bottom limit.

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296 is temperature sensitive at maximum loads.  Shooting in 0 degree temperature with Ruger ONLY loads in 45 LC with a load that would print very good groups at 70 F had difficulty hitting the ground with consistency at 0.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, some powders are weak in the cold, ESPECIALLY when loaded very light.  

 

The old Australian Clays was the poster child - "96 Pound weakling" when it's cold.  No reports yet about the Canadian Clays.    Clay Dot is what I switched to when I learned how cold sensitive the Aussie Clays was.

Trail Boss is notorious for weakness at minimal load levels.

Winchester WST has been proven at even standard loading levels to give STRONGER pressures in cold weather.   I can't tell much, but have yet to chrono WST loads at cold temps.   Perhaps my ice chest will get to go to the range when ranges open back up.

 

I'll never forget a state match that was held as fall was setting in.   Second morning of the match, match director's bullets were barely making it to the targets.   Temperature was about 35 F when we started on the stages.   As the morning warmed up to 75 F, shooter's rounds picked up speed to at least 600 FPS.    THAT day convinced me that Clays powder was cold weak!  

 

Since SOME cowboy shooters are famous for loading light, we test loads below what the powder manufacturers recommend!   We break new Trails over the uncharted Clays of the vast powder wilderness. 

 

Good luck, GJ

 

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708

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Posted (edited)

Was given a unopened can of Blue Dot, never had any before so I used it in my 12 ga reloads. It was ok when warm but definitely did not like the cold and I’m only talking a 40 degree winter’s day in eastern North Carolina. Haven’t noticed a problem with Clays, Red Dot or Clay Dot, my usual sg powders.

Edited by Baltimore Ed
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There have been a number of smokeless powders that have sown temperature sensitivities in both the high and low range. I don't recall which ones, but there were definitely some rifle powders that were not to be used at full strength due to over-pressures generated! 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Baltimore Ed said:

Blue Dot

 

^  This is a magnum load powder when used in 12 gauge.   Using it for typical target level loads (ounce and an eighth or less) - it will perform very poorly (weakly), regardless of temperatures.

 

As confirmation of that, Alliant's on-line listing of loads for 12 gauge snows exactly ZERO loads with 1 1/8 ounce of shot.   Plenty of others powders, including Unique and 20/28.   But none as slow burning as Blue Dot.

 

Good luck, GJ

Edited by Garrison Joe, SASS #60708

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11 hours ago, Bramble Mountain Buzzard said:

Agree with Widder. Here (Minnesota and Wisconsin) temps can get to the negatives. Clays is the one powder that will be all over the map on ignition in frigid temps. Some go boom, bang, pop or even poof. The shooter ended up keeping the ammo by a LP heater and the rest of the shooting day, they went bang.

 

Temperature sensitively and lot to lot variations is why I stopped using Bullseye powder.

OLG 

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It sounds like some powders may be more LOAD sensitive at certain temperatures.  "Standard loading" may not exhibit such variations with temperatures.

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Blue dot showed lower velocities at cold temperatures when I tried it in top end 44 Magnum loadings. I haven't tried it in shotgun loads.

 

Duffield

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Living in Arizona, cold is not a problem. "Clays" velocities will rise dramatically when 100 deg. or above. Especially if you leave your reloads in the sun.

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arent all of them temerature sensitive in the end ? just some less so than others in the ranges of temperature we shoot at , is this really a concern for most of us ? 

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37 minutes ago, watab kid said:

is this really a concern for most of us ?

It is for those going real light and in cold weather.  I didn't make up the story of the match director at a state match!

 

Of course, there are several solutions.  Pick a powder you don't have to worry about.  Or warm your ammo.  Or shoot a heavier load.   Or stay home in possibly cold weather.

 

I prefer the first.   Simpler match management. 

 

Good luck, GJ

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Some have said Trail Boss is sensitive to colder temperatures but I haven't seen that.  Perhaps it's the magnum primers that I use that result in my harmonious outcome. 

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20 hours ago, Don Jorge said:

It sounds like some powders may be more LOAD sensitive at certain temperatures.  "Standard loading" may not exhibit such variations with temperatures.

 

Wide brush with that statement. 

All powders have some temperature sensitively. 

Some way more than others, like Bullseye.

'Standard loading' is what's in the loading manuals. 

You deviate from 'the book', then you're on your own.

OLG 

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I've shot in the cold many times. Unburnt powder flakes on top of the snow is common when temps drop. Some is filler, some is not.

I keep my loading strip in my vest pocket and the body heat keeps my velocities stable. I've also added more powder and consistency is better.

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Interesting comments.

Certainly, more powder may be the way to go.

How quickly do warm cartridges cool off when put into a cold chambers at the loading table (revolvers) or a cold magazine tube (rifle)?

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16 minutes ago, Don Jorge said:

How quickly do warm cartridges cool off when put into a cold chambers

 

Plenty of time to shoot your stage.  Would not leave guns loaded for an hour, though. You won't be doing that legally at any SASS match, though.  GJ

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Just remember,  that the lab pressure tests were done inside. ;)

Anytime you load at the bottom of the chart, you're ask'n for issues.

Try to stay .2-.3 gn above the lightest charge weight.

In this gun game you want a FIRM roll crimp and good neck tension.

OLG 

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