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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This might be a dumb question but please bear with me. I am beginning to get reloading stuff together and I'm wondering if rifle powder changes over the years?
More specifically I am wondering about a can of powder that my dad bough 20 years ago when he used to reload but stopped. It was never opened until tonight. No funky smells or color so likely the powder is ok. Using hodgdons website they list 58 grains of 4064 as the starting load and 62 grains as the maximum. I have their reloading manual from when the powder was bought it lists 56 gr as staring load and 58 as max. Why the difference?
 

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Powders are occasionally reformulated, for various reasons. They are redone to be cheaper to produce, burn cleaner, get more stable, etc. if you use the current data, not vintage data, you"ll be good with both vintage and recent production.

When in doubt, drop an email to the manufacturer. All of them respond fairly quickly to such questions, they like keeping their customers safe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Alright I was just worried because the current info lists a higher load so I was thinking that the current load data would create much higher pressure due to the old powder.
 

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Since you have both sets of data, the only smart thing to do is use the one that is more conservative - start at 56 gr and work up slowly and carefully, as dictated by accepted reloading practice, until you get to a load you are happy with (you get to define precisely what that is). You can even start at 55 gr and still be within 10% of the higher of the two max loads... have fun and be safe.

As you do this, know that when you replace that can of 4064 it will be with new production and your load development will have to start all over.
 

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Agree with Dr. Mike about 'changing" powder formulations by the manufacturers.

And I also think that a reason for the "changes" in load data probably is the result of better procedures and more accurate means of pressure testing.
 

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Yes they do reformulate powders for the above reasons. Usually to ensure better ignition, more complete combustion, better stability or metering, ect.

Also as Ray mentioned pressure testing has progressed massively since most powders were introduced. Electronic PSI testing scales much more accurately than CUP testing. So loads might have been changed to reflect this.

Start low and work your way up. Mantra #1 for reloaders. Rifles give you plenty of flexibility to find the load that works in your gun.
 

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Be very careful with that powder. If it has not been turned or mixed up for a long time the nitroglycerin can accumulate at the bottom. When you get to the bottom of the can that powder is exponentially more powerful. A friend of mine had a friend blow 3 fingers off from old bottom of the can powder. I would keep the powder for posterity and not use. Get fresh powder and be safe.
 

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As, I think your friend needs a different reason for blowing up his gun because that one isn't credible. 4064 is nitrocellulose based......and if it did have nitroglycerin as a component.....it doesn't "settle" like that.

20 year old powder is extremely young as far as age goes. If there is no sign of deterioration as was indicated it's quite safe to use.
 

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I have never heard of or witnessed any nitroglycerin 'settling out' of smokeless powder. I have personally seen (and refused to handle) nitroglycerin sweat out of 60% dynamite back in the seventies. You do NOT want to touch that stuff or breath the smoke from the blast, as either will give you the absolute most painful headache of your life.
 
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