Mystery powder

Discussion in 'Shooting, Hunting and Fishing' started by stoatman, Feb 25, 2009.

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  1. I just spent last night drawing down almost 300 rounds of South African R1M1 7.62 NATO ball for the components.

    Surprisingly, the spread of powder weights and bullet weights was rather higher than expected.

    Anyway, the averages came out at:

    42.25 grains powder (cut tubular)
    143.25 grains bullet

    Given that this is NATO ball, I would wager that muzzle velocity is around 2800 fps.

    Since I intend to use the powder, I would like the other experts on here to doublecheck my assessment of it.

    I am reckoning that, based on intelligent guesses and the Vit tables, that the powder is a whisker faster than N140, but not as fast as N135.

    So, if I were to take the start loads from N135, or a little down from the start loads for N140 and worked up from there, I would be safe.

    Side note: Given that PMP military ammunition is usually good, I'm wondering if this 1981 batch failed inspection and was surplussed off due to the spread of several grains in both powder and bullet weight.

    Second side note: drawing down this military ammo for powder and bullets is actually economically worthwhile even if I wasn't getting rid of the SLR: for a kilo of powder and 367 bullets you are looking at about €92. Accounting Eur0.10 for the Bullets, which is fair, you are looking at €55 per kilo of powder, which is about €10 cheaper than Vit.
  2. Unless you know exactly which powder it is, forget it. One mistake and you could end up wearing your rifle. It just isn't worth it.
  3. Thats the advice I was given and gave out when I used to handload.
  4. Hhmmm, got to agree. This experiment is up there with the exploding head and the thousand yard boots. You might only be able to do this one once...

    However, being the sort that would rather beg for forgiveness rather than plead for permission, you've already got two weights. You could drop by charge by 10% and then use the resulting fps. huntingnut does some good, free, balistic software so you can work out the rest. I reckon that the cases are so much the same that you can rule that out as long as you are using like for like.

    Thing is, by the time you've worked out a load, you're not going to have much left. Is there are car out there that you don't like? Doors that you wish to move?
  5. The R1M1 I used to shoot was not NATO standard, I understand, because it did not have the cross-in-a-circle mark on the boxes or the cartridge case bases.

    I gave what I had left to the range office at Bisley for disposal because it seemed to be out of dimensional tolerance lengthwise - quite often very difficult to close the bolt on my L39 and occasionally going to half cock on operating the trigger. One rumour I heard was that much SA ammunition had been badly stored and suffered from the heat.

    Heaven alone knows what the state of the powder is.
  6. I've already done similar things twice:

    - Worked up a 223 Remington load using Vectan SP7 with a single data point from 222 Remington (the Vectan data is sparse)
    - remanufactured Czechoslovakian steel-case 7.62 x 39 into brass cases

    Essentially, if you use your head, have a bit of intelligence, have at least one data point, are careful and know what a high-pressure sign looks like, then there shouldn't be a problem.

    Now, I would never, ever, even consider such a thing if I didn't have at least one sensible data point (i.e. not from a stupidly small or stupidly large cartridge) . And in this case, the data point indicates a burn rate between N135 and N140, thus I would be confident in using this powder in both 223 Remington and 303, starting light.
  7. The powder is dry and smells fresh, but that is a good point that I did not consider.

    It is perhaps also worth noting that the rounds gave hard extraction, but ran fine in a semiauto.
  8. I've been using the 1981 South African R1M1 stuff too. I weighed a few myself out of curiosity and found a bit of variation, it seems to shoot pretty well though.
  9. It groups no worse than 150gn Magtech.

    Did you also find the extraction rather hard?

    Also, thinking about it, I didn't notice any shot to shot variation that would be consistent with degraded powder.
  10. No, I've had no extraction problems with it at all.

    Slightly OT, but have you ever tried Danish surplus ammo?
  11. Yes, but the only one I have tried for accuracy was the AMA Sniper, which did 2 MOA out of a 1959 AR 10, sling supported with the sling attached to the gas block! I was extremely impressed, and would have liked to have seen what it would do out of a sniper rifle!

    I have only used the standard AMA for blatting though. no wait, I put some through a Steyr Scout, and it was okay (except for hard extraction).
  12. If the powder came out of the R1M1 7.62mm ball that most of us have shot and survived, then its probably perfectly safe to go back into .308/7.62mm at the same loadings. Why not just start at the mean weight you have already found, or a smidge under?
  13. cos I'm intending to use it in 303 & 223 Remington. it will be too slow for 7.62 x 39, even with heavy bullets.
  14. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    A FO big firework, I always do that with spills and recovered dont knows!
  15. It's not uncommon to hear of surplus 7.62 ball being rebulleted with 155 grain match bullets for use by target rifle shooters. I remember reading that the UK TR team had to use just such a recipie during a match in New Zealand last year. The usual method of allowing for the heavier bullet is to drop the charge weight by 10% and work up as normal. I have seen this process described before and I recall that they got the groups to improve from 3-4 MOA to well under 1 MOA.

    However, I would be very leery of using the same powder in .223 or .303. There are just too many unknowns to be sure that you are following a safe course of action.