ESSENTIAL POWDERS - IN RANGE

Handloader|June - July 2020

ESSENTIAL POWDERS - IN RANGE
Imagine for a moment you find yourself in a new place with no reloading facility, and the need to set one up and stock it for the ages – or if not “the ages,” at least the next five years. Your first order is going in. What would you stock up on?
Terry Wieland

This thought occasionally crosses my mind, especially during those periods of political vagary when shortages occur – generally primers – or when a trusted old powder suddenly disappears from the shelves and there is a belated announcement that it’s discontinued. As someone who reloads older cartridges, working up loads from zero, the availability of particular powders becomes a serious concern.

By the time this column appears, we will be nearing the 2020 presidential election, and if there is any faint suggestion that an anti-gun candidate will end up in the White House, we could well be facing another of those cyclical shortages brought about by panic buying.

Having lived through three serious primer droughts and one stretch where .22 rimfire ammunition was all but unobtainable, I tend to keep substantial stockpiles. That includes powders, and especially those I either use on a regular basis or rely upon in emergencies. So back to the original question: You’re ordering a powder supply from scratch. What would you get?

Here is my short list of absolute essentials, and a second one of powders I would add if finances and available storage space permitted.

Alliant Unique

There is little you want to do with any handgun cartridge that Unique won’t do. It may not do it as well as some others, but bullets will exit the muzzle, usually with enough accuracy and almost always sufficient velocity. It’s our second oldest powder (second only to its stablemate, Bullseye), but it has stayed in the lineup since 1900 because it is just so useful. It can also be used for light loads in quite a few older, medium-capacity rifle cartridges, and you can usually dig up a shotshell formula as well. Since, in a period of shortages, a handloader might be casting bullets, Unique pairs well with lead in most anything.

H-4831

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June - July 2020