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When I look in my Speer reloading manual I see multiple powders that can be used for the same bullet, arranged in order of fastest powder to slowest. My question is, I do not want to buy all 12-15 different powders to see what would work best in my rifle with that particular bullet. So how do you make your best guess at which one to buy? I have a buddy that has several reloading manuals and one of them (I cant remember which) shows which powder is "the most accurate" out of the bunch for that particular bullet out of the specific rifle they shot it out of. Is that a better way to go and would it be resonable to start there?
 

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Generally I draw on my own personal experience with certain powders in like cartridges.

I know someone who will look at all the manuals and then pick the powder mentioned in every one of them.

"Most accurate" and "highest velocity" in a reloading manual mean absolutely nothing to you and your firearm.

Generally I will use 3 or 4 powders that I am familiar with, and one that I am not...and with the preponderence of new powders in the past couple of years...there are many that I am not familiar with...but the 4831 and 4350 families of powders, ball powders, and some of the powders that are still around after 50 years will never go away...

They worked for 50 years, and hopefully they will continue to work for the next 50...
 

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Ive noticed the same thing with 4831 and 4350. Both seem to be quite common in different recipies. I have also seen alot of people seem to like the reloader 22 and 19. But for 30-06 (one of my all time favorite calibers) the powders seem to be ones not so much commonly used in other calibers like 7mm, 7m08, 243 (which are where some of my other interests are).
 

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I personally look for a powder that gives the highest loading density combined with the highest velocity. Some loading manuals do not list load density (nosler does), in that case I would just look for the heaviest load that gives the highest velocity. A lot of people agree that a higher load density has a better chance of accuracy than a low load density. An example (from the Lyman handbook, 46th edition, book I currently have here by the computer) is 7mm REM Mag/168gr HPBT. Max load with IMR-4350 is 61.0gr/2925fps, max load with H-4831 is 65.0gr/2971fps. As these loads are within 50fps of each other, I'd probably go with H-4831 as it'll probably fill the case better. of course you kind of have to know your powders a bit as 50 grs of a ball type powder will occupy less case capacity than 50 grs of a coarse stick type powder. Of course you'll still want to reduce any load to start, I just use the max listed load as an indicator of load density.

SSB
 

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I've been handloading for 35 years and I still haven't found an answear to this question. I have a lot of different cans of powder, with varying amounts left in them. Having bought 'THE' powder for a particular caliber, only to have it give poor resualts in my gun, it then sits in the cupboard, sometimes for years, untill I find a use for it. I don't like to do this but it happens fairly often. When I start to load for a new caliber, I try to do as much research as I can. I look through my loading manuals, old Handloader Magazines, Guns+Ammo, and Shooting Times. Ken Waters 'Pet Loads' are good, but are sometimes a little dated and may not list some of the latest powers. But many times the older powders will work as good today as the did 20 yrs ago. If I see a powder that is said to work good, in a number of sources, it is a good place to start. If I see a powder that may not be the best powder listed, but I already have it and don't have to buy it, I will try it. It may not be the optimum powder, but it works good enough to hunt or plink with, and I can use up a can of powder that is sitting, doing nothing. Sometimes the performance is great. This forum is a great place for information. Post the caliber and what bullet you want to try, and someone will usually have a favorite powder. Some calibers will have a powder that will work in almost all guns in that caliber: IMR or H 4350 in the 30/06 and IMR 4198 in the 222 R. are two good examples. Some calibers, every rifle seems to like a different powder. I found this to be true of the 22-250. I've loaded for about 8 or 9 different 22-250 rifles and almost every rifle liked a different powder. A powder that gave great resaults in one rifle would give poor, not even acceptable, accuracy in the next rifle. I hope this helps. That's best I can tell you, it's a trial a error process. 8)
 

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I don't have all that much to add, because most of the "meat" of this subject has already been covered very well by the existing replies. But, here is what I do. Having nearly every manual going helps, because what I do is sort of cross-check them to see which powder is common to all or most of them, and which one is marked or listed is "most accurate"... Then, as also previously mentioned, I look at the loading density. As a general rule, the powder(s) which takes up more space within the case will be the more accurate. However, there are exceptions. For instance, I have found IMR 4064 to be an outstanding and very versatile powder in the .30-06 over a wide range of bullet weights, and it is somewhat faster than the slower powders which produce higher density... Your particular rifle will probably have it's preference, but by using either the powder listed as "most accurate", or one of the slower powders listed, you will probably do just fine with what you already have on hand, or have available... :D
 

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A book called Cartridges of the World has information about powders that have performed best for a particular cartridge. Also www.reloadbench.com does. It uses the same sources as the book. Some reloading manuals, including the Speer manual, often recommend certain powders.

In other words, a little research does the job for me. I just go with what's worked for others when it comes to well developed cartridges like the 45ACP or the 270 Winchester.
 
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