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How Old is Old for Smokeless Powder?

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How Old is Old for Smokeless Powder?

Old 11-23-2009, 06:44 AM
Fork Horn
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Default How Old is Old for Smokeless Powder?

I have a range of smokeless powders that are over 10 years old.
IMR- 4350, IMR-4831, Bullseye, etc.

All powders have been stored in a fireproof safe in my workshop. I loaded some of it last year, it seemed to produce consistent groups in my .7 mm Mag. and .222 mag. Anyone have any facts?

Below is what IMR says:


Although modern smokeless powders are basically free from deterioration under proper storage conditions, safe practices require a recognition of the signs of deterioration and its possible effects.

Powder deterioration can be checked by opening the cap on the container and smelling the contents. Powder undergoing deterioration has an irritating acidic odor. (Don't confuse this with common solvent odors such as alcohol, ether and acetone.)

Check to make certain that powder is not exposed to extreme heat as this may cause deterioration. Such exposure produces an acidity which accelerates further reaction and has been known, because of the heat generated by the reaction, to cause spontaneous combustion. Never salvage powder from old cartridges and do not attempt to blend salvaged powder with new powder. Don't accumulate old powder stocks.

Last edited by thom2; 11-23-2009 at 06:47 AM.
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Old 11-23-2009, 06:46 AM
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Moisture kills it,though you should be in very good form...............
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Old 11-23-2009, 05:12 PM
Nontypical Buck
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When it smells like somebody farted in the can, its bad. Or if it is obviously broken down and gotten wet and clumpy then its bad. Other than those things I haven't seen or heard of powder really going bad. There are guys on here and some others that I have met that are still using powder that they bought by the keg full in the 50's and 60's and they are still getting the same types of groups they got when they bought it.
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Old 11-24-2009, 04:39 AM
Fork Horn
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I recently used up the last of the Hodgdon 4831 which I purchased for ~$1.00 a pound back in the 50's. It was fine to the end. WW II surplus 4831 and 4895 was what I believe got Hodgdon started in the powder business, so my batch must have been pretty old.
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:44 AM
Dominant Buck
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When it turns gray and there is no Ether smell.....
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:10 AM
Fork Horn
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I agree with keyshunter.. I've used some from the early 70's and late 60's and have never had a single problem that I could tell..made me laugh looking at the $2 and $3 price tags.. as long as it has a good seal I'm wondering if it could ever go bad, if stored and taken care of....
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Old 11-24-2009, 10:45 AM
Nontypical Buck
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I have a can of IMR4895 and a can of IMR4350 with price tags on them that say $3.95 where the newer cans cost $20. They still shoot fine.
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Old 11-25-2009, 03:57 PM
Nontypical Buck
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Default I'm cheap

And I'd waste some primers, testing the so called bad powder. If it's not perfect, a little range practice might be made.

Saw a man at the range firing then 50 year old Nazi rifle ammunition. Not one misfire !!!!
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Old 11-25-2009, 10:41 PM
Nontypical Buck
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I had a couple cans of atleast 40 year old bullseye their the square tin cans with a flange style pop top. The cans were new and unopened pull tabs still intact. when I opened them up the powder looked and smelled perfect I used most of it up in 38 special loads without any issues. that said from my experience if the powder was stored properly it should still be fine to use even after 40 years of storage.
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Old 12-06-2009, 01:46 AM
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As long as it's been kept cool and dry, should be no problems. I've used 30 year old powder that worked just fine. As already stated, smell is the easiest way to tell.
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