Rambling Thoughts on Four Smokeless Powders
by Greg Ritchie


Reloaders like to be selective with their components, finding that perfect combination of powder, bullet and primer. Not too daunting of a task if you load for just a few calibers. What if you load for multiple calibers? I load 23 different calibers and gauges. That could mean as many as 23 different powders!

I try and load as many different cartridges with the same powder as I can. Sometimes the powder will not be optimal for the particular cartridge, but it will be good. Sometimes it will be the best choice. Sometimes a powder will surprise you. Case in point. The first cartridge that I loaded to 1/2 minute of angle was the 30/06. The rifle was a Savage model 110E, the bullet was the Hornady 150 grain spire point. The load was taken off the data sheet that came with the Lee Loader. The powder? IMR 3031. Not a powder that's normally considered for 30/06, but one that this particular rifle liked!

Let's look at a few of the powders I use and what I use them in.

Unique. In my opinion this is one of the most versatile powders there is. I use it in 20 gauge, 12 gauge, 25acp, 32 S&W Long, 380 acp, 38 special, 9mm, 40 S&W, 45acp/Auto Rim, 300 Blackout, 30-30 WCF and 45-70. It's my favorite powder for 300 Blackout subsonic in my single shot Handi Rifle. It works very well in all the handgun calibers I load it for and is OK for the shotguns, although I do prefer other powders in the shotguns. I keep a lot of this on hand.

IMR 3031. This is a good powder in my 223, 30-30, and 45/70. Matter of fact, it's my favorite in these three cartridges. I also use it 7.62x51, 7.62x54R, and 8x57 Mauser.

IMR 4198 my favorite in 7.62x39. Also works well in 22 Hornet and 45/70. It's a good powder for reduced loads in the 8mm Mauser and 308 Winchester

Winchester 296. This is my powder of choice for the 357, 41, and 44 magnums. Also my favorite powder for the 410 shotgun and 300 blackout supersonic. I like the 260 grain Speer bullet with this powder, but for strong actions only! It also works well in the 22 Hornet.

There you have it. Four powders that I can use to load for most of my firearms. Are they the best powders. Sometimes, but they are certainly not the worst.