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Question on use of older stored rifle powder

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by tgene, Mar 21, 2010.

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  1. tgene

    tgene Member

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    I have a 1 lb. canaster of IMR 4350 rifle poweder that is on the order of 20+ years old. It has always been stored in the garage. It is one of the older canisters that was flat metal. I recently wanted to use this to work up a load for a 25-06 and found that there is a lot of rust looking dust in the can of powder. It's like the inside of the canister has rusted leaving a rust powder. The powder cylinders look just fine with no discoloration, but the rust makes a mess in the powder drop. Is it safe to use or should I just discard and buy new? My sense is to not take any chances....-g
     
  2. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    I found the same thing in some of my older powder cans a couple of years ago, and my powder is stored in a dry room in our home that has heat and central air conditioning. I remembered reading something about this in an article or reloading manual a long time ago where it was supposed to be harmless, so I used it for test loads and had no problems. I don't know why, but I was concerned about "rust dust" being left in my rifle's bore and possibly triggering corrosion. I always clean the bore(s) at the range and the dirty patches did not have a reddish coloration.

    I checked the rest of my cans and found a couple more like that, so I elected to discard them and replaced them with new powder in plastic bottles just to be safe. Safe from what, I don't know, but safe anyway.

    Ed
     
  3. wayneo

    wayneo Active Member

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    IMO I'd put it in the garden, a .25-06 is one hell of a powerful cartridge. A one pound can of 4350 cost $10 twenty years ago. Wayne
     
  4. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    Wayne's right - I used mine only because my son and I were going to test some loads the next morning and any place I could have purchased new powder was already closed for the evening.

    Ed
     
  5. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    Fred, glad to see you finally found the caps key on your keyboard!

    Thanks for the sermon. My cans did not exhibit any of the other conditions you mentioned and interestingly, the velocities of those test loads were surprisingly uniform. I frankly was expecting poor results but not so and when I retested that same load with new powder, the results were nearly the same. Again, I was pleasantly surprised.

    Ed
     
  6. Bob Hawkes

    Bob Hawkes Well-Known Member

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    Ed, Quite a few years ago I had some old cans, rusty,etc. I decided to burn them. I dumped them into different piles and was amazed at the different burn rates. Good thing the bullets don't go bad. Shoot well, Bob
     
  7. Neal Crausbay

    Neal Crausbay Member

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    If the red dust is your only concern, why not pour the powder through a gentle wind stream into a catch bowl and let the air blow off the red dust? A couple of passes should remove most all of the dust.

    If your powder is bad, it should have a faint smell like rotten eggs.

    I am still loading some bulk surplus 4831 I purchased a long time ago that was labeled "re-packaged 1946". It still has a faint smell of ether.
     
  8. Ahab

    Ahab Well-Known Member

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    If there is rust inside the can ... GET RID OF THAT POWDER!

    Rust means that the powder is breaking down! Burning rate will have changed!
     
  9. PerazziBigBore

    PerazziBigBore TS Member

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    Rust means your can is rusting... I'm still using some IMR4227 from 30 years ago.. All in 1 pound cans.. Still works.. chrono's.. flawlessly..
     
  10. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    I've been away shooting and at lunch with my wife, so I didn't get to see Fred's last message before his customary deletion time limit. I didn't mean to insult him as he IS a true expert in the field of firearms and ballistics and retired from the PA State Police firearms lab as a sergeant.

    Anyway, the cans I had with "rusty" powder in them were all clean - that is, the inner walls of the cans were shiny and smooth and did not appear corroded but the powder had a reddish tint to it and reddish dust in it. But I don't recall any foul or abnormal odors and I always sniff powder if I see something out of the ordinary (one of those things I was always told to do but was never told why).

    Anyway, I don't condone using powder like that and wouldn't have under normal circumstances. My son doesn't get a lot of time to shoot and I didn't want to miss the opportunity for us to test some loads.

    Ed
     
  11. larryjk

    larryjk Member

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    There isn't any set of circumstances that say your can of powder has "gone over the hill". But the rust is not iron rust from the can. The problem is you don't know what that does to the burning rate. Does it slow it down, or make it detonate? I sure as hell wouldn't stand back and let my son find out if that powder is going to make the rifle explode. You must not value his vision very much!
     
  12. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    You're right, of course, but I did call a gentleman with a lot of direct experience with gunpowders for his opinion. He agreed that I wouldn't want to load 100 shells with it but that it would be safe to shoot. He is retired from a powder company, so I thought he would know what he was talking about. And as I said earlier, the stuff did function fine and performed no more differently from new powder than one lot of new powder to another.

    Ed
     
  13. tgene

    tgene Member

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    Good discussion. Thanks for the information. At this stage of my life, nothing is worth taking any chances. I've only loaded a few trial rounds so I think I'll just pull the bullets, buy a new cansister of powder and start over. Thanks again.... -g
     
  14. JimmyP

    JimmyP TS Member

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    I sit here and read threads like this one and wonder how more people aren't hurt in the shooting sports. We shoot firearms worth thousands of dollars and risk life and limb trying to save a few dollars. Mix powder, overload powder, use the wrong powder, use powder we don't know the characteristics of, load cannon shells for games,and on and on. Then these same folks go to the range and setup right next to me or some unsuspecting poor schmuck that just happens to be unlucky enough to be beside them. These people are risking my well being as well as their own. I don't care what you do to your self. Just don't do it at my club or in my presence please. I am amazed that more guns aren't blown to bits really. Why anyone would do these sort of things just boggles my mind. We can hardly afford the kind of publicity that gun accidents bring on, but yet we condone actions that would at least be considered foolheatry to most. Just my opinion, and I know what that is worth.

    Jimmy
     
  15. Leo

    Leo Well-Known Member

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    GE. For plinking around with light loads, I might use powder like that. BUT you are wanting to work up loads for further use. That will be dangerous! Canister grade powders are supposed to have standardized burn rates, but they drift (within paramenters) even lot to lot. If you "work up" a load for a high power rifle with questionable powder, and use the same load data for fresh modern powder, you may have some serious problems. I have actually done that and ended up having to kick the bolt open with my boot. I am glad I did not snap the bolt and send it through my face. Even a double charge of shotgun load would probably stay under 20,000 psi. With a rifle that normally runs at 55,000 psi, things can get ugly very fast. PLEASE don't do it!
     
  16. Hap MecTweaks

    Hap MecTweaks Well-Known Member

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    I too have a few cans of old 4831 war surplus powder I cherish as Neal does! Made before WW2 and still works flawless!! I've always kept my powders in my loading room, not in the garage.

    Hap
     
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