It’s almost high noon in Tombstone, and your band of outlaws has a score to settle with some of the local gunfighters. Vultures circle above in the cloudless sky, and a single tumbleweed rolls across the sandy street. Any second, this eerie calm is going to break into an intense shootout. Does your crew have the guts and guns to win, or will you be sent to an early grave by a skilled gunslinger? You’d sure feel better if you knew your rounds were loaded with the best cowboy action shooting powder around.

What Exactly is Cowboy Action Shooting?

Cowboy action shooting (CAS) is a competitive shooting sport in which participants use firearms typical of the Old West to fire on a range of targets set up to look like a classic Western shootout scene. Guns allowed are typically single-action revolvers, lever-action rifles (chambered in pistol calibers), and double-barreled or pump-action shotguns. Oftentimes, participants are even required to dress in costumes reminiscent of the era.

In CAS, both accuracy and speed are key. It takes a shooter with calm nerves and quick reflexes to win.

What We’re Looking for in CAS Powder

If you’re reloading rounds for CAS, you’re probably wondering what’s the best powder to use. Generally, you’ll be using larger cartridges with fairly light bullets. This means loading the appropriate charge with many standard pistol powders won’t fill up the entire round. Since it’s a competition, you can’t have inconsistent rounds and hope to land on the leaderboards. 

In addition to a high loading volume, we’re also looking for the usual attributes you find in high-quality powder: ease of measuring, lot to lot consistency, a clean burn, and temperature insensitivity.

Our Picks for Best Cowboy Action Powder

Designed specifically for low velocity lead bullets, IMR Trail Boss powder is ideal for cowboy action shooting, for both revolvers and some rifle cartridges. Trail Boss powder has a very unique design; it’s basically little donut-shaped flakes. This means it can fill out those .38, .44, and .45 cartridges without leaving any excess space. In fact, over-charging is nearly impossible with Trail Boss.

Another excellent option is VihtaVuori N32C “Tin Star” powder. A high loading volume formula, this porous powder also fills out the extra space in your cartridges like Trail Boss does.

N32C is also an extremely clean-burning powder, which can make a big difference if your weapon gets a lot of use.

Other top-notch powders for CAS include Hodgdon Clays and Alliant Unique. Both Clays and Unique are easy to measure, extremely consistent, and temperature insensitive.

Shop Smokeless Cowboy Action Powder Online

Not every gun store will carry every type of powder, which is why shopping online can open you up to new possibilities. Reloading for cowboy action shooting rounds? Powder Valley carries a large variety of powder for your needs, including IMR Trail Boss, VihtaVuori N32C, Hodgdon Clays, and Alliant Unique. Select 1lb containers if you’re looking to experiment with a new powder, or 8lb jugs if you want to mass-produce thousands of rounds. At Powder Valley, you’ll find a wide selection of reloading supplies from top brands, all at the lowest possible prices.