Black powder is the original form of gunpowder that dates back to 9th century China, when alchemists mixed various materials together in effort to develop an elixir of immortality. Early recipes produced a tremendous amount of smoke. The term “black powder” entered the lexicon in the late 19th century to distinguish the traditional gunpowder from newer formulations of smokeless gunpowder most commonly used in gun ammunition today.

Good old-fashioned black powder can be homemade and remains in use for muzzle-loading hunting weapons, blank-fire charges, fuses, ignition charges, and primers.

Black Powder vs. Gunpowder?

Black powder and gunpowder are synonymous—though the term “black powder” is a bit of a misnomer, as some “black” powders can actually be off-white or tan.

Black powder is different than modern smokeless powder in that it:

  • Produces large amounts of thick, white smoke, as well as residue in the gun barrel.
  • Burns much faster in open air than smokeless powder – almost instantly – with a puff and flash of light.
  • Yields less power (0.7 Kcal/gram of thermal energy vs. 1 Kcal/gram for smokeless powder).

Either way, these powders are centuries in the making—a truly fascinating history for ammo enthusiasts!

When Was Black Powder Discovered?

The first known record of gunpowder can be found in a book called Classified Essentials of the Mysterious Tao of the True Origin of Things, circa 850 C.E., where it described how “some have heated together sulfur, realgar, and saltpeter with honey; smoke and flames result, so that their hands and faces have been burnt, and even the whole house where they were working burned down.” In other words: don’t try this at home, kids!

Later, in 1044 C.E., the Wujing Zongyao (武经总要, “Collection of the Most Important Military Techniques”) contained three more explosive recipes—considered the first true gunpowder recipes, developed for warfare with encroaching tribes threatening the borders. This concoction could be used to fuel poison smoke bombs on the battlefield or catapult blazing spiked iron balls during a siege.

By the late 1200s, black gunpowder had made its way into Mongolian guns and cannons. News of this amazing invention spread like wildfire. Early European black powder recipes trace back to medieval philosopher and friar Roger Bacon in 1242. Written recipes can be found in Bacon’s Opus Majus and Opus Tertium, as well as Marcus Graecus’ Liber Ignium (Book of Fires). By 1453, the Turks had destroyed the walls of Constantinople using gunpowder-propelled cannonballs.

Europeans advanced the art of metallurgy, developing better cannons and handheld muskets through the 15th to 17th centuries. The Tower of London employed three gunpowder makers prior to the English Civil War (1642-1645). European manufacturers experimented with drying processes to improve combustion and consistency, as well as purifying the saltpeter with wood ashes, precipitate calcium from dung liquor, ox blood, alum, and turnip slices. These experiments eventually gave rise to the invention of nitroglycerin and nitrocellulose (smokeless) powders in the late 19th century.

 

How Is Black Powder Created?

One of the earliest Chinese chemical compositions consisted of 75% potassium nitrate, 15% carbon, and 10% sulfur. The French used 75% saltpeter, 12.5% sulfur, and 12.5% charcoal. The English used 75% saltpeter, 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur. 

Having access to gunpowder gave countries an obvious advantage, though it wasn’t always easy finding the ingredients. While the carbon (charcoal) was milled in China, most saltpeter came from India and Italy, and the sulfur (brimstone) from volcanoes in Sicily.

Once the ingredients were procured, alchemists would sift and grind the sulfur and charcoal to purify it. Horse-driven refineries and rotating drums later replaced manual processes. Horsepower or waterwheels were used to incorporate the mixture. Mill cakes were then broken down into meal powder using sledgehammers and severing machines—they were pressed through smooth breakers, refined, polished, and tumbled into pellets. Finally, grains were exposed to ovens and dried.

Today, varying ratios are used, depending on how black powder is to be used. Firearms require a faster-burning powder, whereas cannons call for slower burn rates. DIYers interested in creating backup munitions might use 75% saltpeter (potassium nitrate), 15% charcoal, and 10% sulfur—some of which can be purchased online or in a drug store.

It’s a labor of love making black powder from scratch:

  • First, beech, birch, fir, oak, pine, spruce, and willow boiled down over a fire make a good charcoal.
  • The ingredients can be ground individually using a basic hand mill or pestle and mortar.
  • The charcoal and sulfur are then combined into a ball mill for several hours to create a fine powder.
  • Isopropyl or denatured alcohol should be chilled (2.5 cups for every 100 grams of charcoal/sulfur).
  • Every 100 grams of potassium nitrate is dissolved into ¼ cup of boiling water.
  • The charcoal and sulfur mix is then added to the boiling potassium nitrate, stirred until combined.
  • The hot mixture is added to the chilled alcohol, stirred quickly, and then chilled to 32F.
  • The mixture is filtered through a cheesecloth to remove the liquid.
  • The pellets are spread across a paper to dry in the sun, pressed through a sieve when damp, and dried some more. Running the powder through mesh screens multiple times helps break down the powder.
  • Lastly, the black powder is stored in a cool, dry place in plastic containers.

If this sounds like a lot of work, rest assured it is! Some people enjoy mixing munitions as a pastime. If your primary hobby is shooting and you need reliable reloading powder fast, you can simply purchase it, too.

Where to Buy Black Powder or Smokeless Powder for Reloading

Powder Valley is America’s #1 supplier of reloading powders, including both traditional black powder and modern smokeless powder. We meet or beat all competitors to offer the finest and most affordable gun powders, guaranteed. If you have any questions about these products, please reach out to our team of dedicated professionals for friendly, honest, and respectful customer service.

FFFG powder is a fine-grained propellant used primarily in small caliber black powder revolvers like the 1851 Colt Navy revolver. Here at Powder Valley, we carry a large selection of high-quality powders and other vintage shooting supplies for reloaders.

What Is FFFG Powder?

To fully understand what FFFG powder is, let’s first look at how black gunpowder is classified. It falls into four primary categories:

  1. FG – an extremely coarse powder used in very large weapons like cannons. It’s generally reserved for battlefield reenactments.
  2. FFG – this is more heavily refined than FG powder. It’s used in both black powder rifles and large caliber black powder revolvers.
  3. FFFG – this is even more refined than FFG powder. Its fine grains make it the propellant of choice for smaller black powder revolvers like the aforementioned 1851 Navy Colt.
  4. FFFFG – this is the finest type of black powder available on today’s market. It’s used almost exclusively as a priming powder for flintlock weapons.

FFFG versus FFG: What’s the Difference?

The answer is that FFFG is more finely ground for use in smaller weapons with intricate firing mechanisms.

For this reason, you should never try to substitute one type of black powder for another.Here’s what can happen if you do:

  • Your bullets will not achieve the desired velocity – limiting their range and effectiveness.
  • You’re likely to experience frequent misfires – which, as any black powder shooter knows, can be a frustrating and time-consuming problem to correct.
  • You may damage the weapon itself – requiring an expensive trip to the gunsmith. In fact, you may even destroy the firearm and have to replace it entirely.

What Will Happen If I Use Modern Smokeless Powder in a Black Powder Weapon?

While we’re on this topic, we should mention that modern smokeless powder should never be used in a black powder weapon. If you do, then the gun can literally blow apart in your hand, causing serious injury to yourself and those nearby. Only use the products and supplies authorized by the firearm’s manufacturer.

It’s important to never mix different types of black powder together. In fact, professional shooters recommend keeping your powder canisters separate when loading your weapons to avoid the slightest possibility of making this mistake.

Schuetzen FFFG Black Powder

Goex is a time-tested and trusted name in the black powder community, and we are proud to offer Goex FFFF black powder. Additionally, Schuetzen powder and supplies are manufactured to the highest possible standards in Sweden, using methods that have been developed over centuries of European craftsmanship. Products such as Schuetzen black powder FFF are known for providing superior results every time.

We’re proud to include the Schuetzen name among the many fine brands we sell. Place your order with Powder Valley today for competitive prices and speedy delivery.

Since our founding in 1984, Powder Valley has offered professional shooters and sportsmen, and women the finest in reloading equipment at the best possible prices. We are particularly proud to be a premier supplier of Winchester powders and reloading supplies and look forward to serving the growing market of gun aficionados who prefer the storied Winchester brand.

Winchester Repeating Arms: A Brief Overview

The Winchester Repeating Arms Company was formed more than 150 years ago to supply lever-action rifles to the intrepid men and women who settled the Western United States. Many of the company’s pre-20th century rifles, prized by pioneers and presidents alike, are now collected as priceless works of art and history.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Winchester’s firearm innovations supported military efforts and competitions in sporting clays, trap, and skeet. More than half a million of the company’s Enfield rifles accompanied American troops to Europe during World War I. The ammunition manufacturer, Western Cartridge Company, purchased Winchester during the Great Depression and expanded the brand to new firearm models. Powder Valley currently supports shooters who prefer the current iteration of handguns with its Winchester small pistol primers.

Winchester’s rifles likewise supported Allied efforts during World War II and other armed conflicts. The company continued to innovate through the second half of the 20th century– as its products became the standard in popular culture, shooting competitions, and sharpshooting displays.

The company continues to thrive amid the challenges posed by the 21st century. Within the past ten years alone, Winchester has introduced its new Super X Pump shotgun, its Blind Side Steel ammunition, which features a novel “hex” shape shot and diamond cut, and its 17 Winchester Super Mangum cartridges. With a muzzle exit velocity of 3,000 feet per second, the 17 Super Magnum is the fastest commercial production rimfire cartridge available throughout the globe.   

Powder Valley Inc.: A Legacy of Support

Powder Valley’s founders recognized that professional and recreational sportsmen and women wanted powder and other shooting supplies that offered high quality at reasonable prices. Our current owners rose to the challenge of becoming a single source for every type of powder and primer that a shooter might need, including Winchester shotshell primers and other supplies that serve the needs of Winchester brand enthusiasts. 

We ship shooting supplies from our 20,000-square foot warehouse in Winfield, Kansas, to locations throughout the contiguous lower 48 states. We work tirelessly to maintain our status as a leader in the shooting supply industry with an unwavering focus on superior customer support and pricing.

Contact us to learn more

Please see our website or call us to speak with one of our dedicated employees. We treat all of our customers with the highest level of honesty and integrity. We will work tirelessly to deliver the shooting supplies you need at the best available prices.

More than 200 years ago, Eliphalet Remington II handcrafted a rifle barrel at his father’s forge. From those humble beginnings, the Remington Firearms company grew to be an international leader in the design, manufacture, and supply of quality rifles, shotguns, and handguns.

Since 1984, Powder Valley Inc. has supported Remington aficionados with Remington bullets for reloading and other products that match the high quality and legacy of Remington Firearms. From our headquarters location in Winfield, Kansas, we provide professional shooters and avid sportsmen and women with the reloading supplies, ammunition, and equipment they need to fully enjoy their sport shooting activities.  

Remington Firearms: A Brief Overview

Eliphalet Remington moved his father’s forge to a location along the Erie Canal in Ilion, New York, where the present Remington Factory recently reopened. The company opened its first armory in 1848 to supply rifles and carbines for the U.S. Government and expanded its operations into the early 1860s to support the Federal Army’s and Navy’s orders for pistols, carbines, rifles, and muskets during the war between the states.

In the early 1900s, Remington established a legacy of innovation with the first American autoloading shotgun, high-power autoloading rifle, and pump-action shotgun. The United States and its allies relied heavily on Remington Firearms to supply military rifles and related products for the war efforts during the First and Second World Wars. During that time, Remington Firearms also introduced its first autoloading pistol.

Remington Firearms continued to improve and expand its product offerings after World War II with its Model 870 Wingmaster shotgun, which has been the company’s largest selling shotgun in its history, and several other new designs for autoloading and bolt-action rifles. The company also released new Ultra Magnum and other shells and payloads that enhance shooting accuracy and precision. 

Powder Valley: Supporting the Remington Brand

Powder Valley’s founders share the same passion for handcrafted products that is common to many sportsmen and women. Consistent with that passion, the company dedicated itself to supplying Remington powder, Remington primers, and other reloading supplies and accessories to shooters who load their own ammo. The trust that our clients place in us is demonstrated by our status as the single largest distributor of canister powder in the contiguous United States. We feature the highest level of customer service from professional sportsmen who share the same passion for shooting as our customers, and we treat every customer request with honesty, courtesy, and integrity.

From our 20,000 square foot warehouse, we distribute a complete range of reloading supplies, ammunition, muzzleloading supplies, gun care accessories, and shooting apparel to meet every sportsman’s and sportswoman’s needs.  Please see our website or call us directly to speak with one of our professional customer service associates for more information on our Remington reloading supplies or any other products for your shooting avocation.

As compared to factory ammunition, reloading ammo is much less expensive and more time-intensive. The primary advantage of reloading your ammo is that it lets you shoot more for the same cost or less. Factory ammo has the advantage of being convenient and because of its consistent manufacturing process, often gives you repeatable results. With reloading ammo, in turn, you get to control variables such as how much gunpowder and primer to use, and adapt cartridges to fit particular rifles.

Below are some advantages of using reloading ammo over factory ammo. For all your reloading supply needs, choose Powder Valley, your one-stop online source for top-quality powders, primers, bullets, and more, all at the most affordable prices.

Advantage Number One: Saving Money and Avoiding Ammo Shortages

As you know, ammunition is getting more expensive every day; and that’s when you can find it on the shelves at all. Ongoing supply shortages mean that shooters sometimes have to wait months to get the shells or cartridges they need.

One way to avoid this problem is by reloading your own ammo. That way, you’ll always know exactly how many rounds you have, without the industry’s fragile supply chain cutting you short at the worst possible time.

Advantage Number Two: Optimizing Your Ammo’s Performance

One good thing about factory ammo is the way it provides consistent, reliable results. But consistent and reliable don’t always equal optimal.

Reloading lets you fine-tune your ammunition to your own needs. You can get more range, better accuracy, and more power from every round.

This is why professional shooters insist on using their own customized ammo whenever possible. Don’t you deserve the best as well?

Advantage Number Three: Improving Your Knowledge of Firearms

Reloading your own ammo takes you deep into the world of weapons design and maintenance. You’ll have a better understanding of how your guns work and how to keep them in premium condition all the time.

You’ll also learn critical lessons about firearms safety, such as measuring powder precisely and never pushing your brass beyond its limits. This is a great way to become a more informed and responsible gun owner.

Advantage Number Four: Improve Patience and Focus

Science tells us that the average person’s cognitive abilities decline over time. One way to help reverse this trend is to take up a hobby or pastime that requires focus and patience – like reloading your own ammo, for example. The precision and care you apply to each step of the process can benefit every other aspect of your life.

Advantage Number Five: The Ability to Shoot Rare and Vintage Calibers

The history of firearms is filled with fine examples of ammunition that is no longer manufactured. These include 11.15x60Rmm Mauser, .17 Javelina, and 4.85mm British.

This fact can create a real problem if you own a firearm chambered for these calibers. But ammo reloading turns this dilemma into an opportunity. Bullets, shell casings, and brass are available for many of these vintage weapons right here on Powder Valley’s website.

Ready to Take the Next Step? Place Your Order Today

Achieving the best results depends on having the best tools and supplies for reloading ammo. Here at Powder Valley, we have everything you need to be a successful reloader. Our friendly customer service representatives are happy to guide you through our wide selection to make sure you get the best products for your needs and goals. Order today, and enjoy fast shipping!

Primer sizes can be broken down as follows:

  1. Small rifle primerswhich are about .175 inches in diameter and .120 inches tall.
  2. Small pistol primers which are about the same size as small rifle primers but designed specifically for handguns.
  3. Large rifle primers – which measure about .128 inches in height and .212 inches in width.
  4. Large pistol primers – which are an average of .120 inches tall and.212 inches wide.

Don’t Let the Names of the Primer Sizes Fool You

It may not always be obvious which type of primer is right for a given firearm. In some cases, large rifle ammo does not always use large rifle primers. For example, there are many styles of 308 Winchester that come factory loaded with small rifle primers instead.

The same is true when it comes to handgun ammunition. For example, Federal .45 ACP ammo often uses small pistol primers to propel one of the largest calibers on earth.

To avoid mistakes that could lead to improper loading or inaccurate shooting, you should always follow the directions in your reloading manual to the letter.

Sizes and Standards Can Vary Across Ammo Manufacturers

Every ammo maker uses its own proprietary processes to manufacture a particular caliber or type of ammunition. As a result, there are small but measurable differences in the actual products that each company turns out.

This accounts for the frustration many reloaders feel when certain types of primers cause their reloading press to jam. If you run into this problem, then try a different brand of primer and see if that resolves the issue.

Sometimes, tiny variations between brands of primer actually benefit the gun owner. For example, the thin cups used in Federal primers make them a good choice for cowboy action shooters. That’s because they compensate for the light hammer falls that accompany rapid-fire shooting styles.

Are Bench Rest/Match-Grade Primers Worth the Extra Cost?

Bench rest primers are designed to give consistent results from one round to the next. This is a major advantage in long-range or competitive shooting, where minor differences in a primer’s discharge can have major effects on where the bullet ends up.

On the other hand, when it comes to everyday shooting the benefits of using bench rest primers are less obvious. That’s because many factors can affect the accuracy and range of your shots, including weather, the condition of your firearm, and your skills as a marksman.

The bottom line is that standard primers are fine for most purposes.

Powder Valley: The One-Stop Source for All Your Reloading Supplies

Here at Powder Valley, we carry everything you need to set up and maintain your personal reloading workshop, including reloading primers. We sell all the best brands, and our customer service is unbeatable.

Browse our site, place your order, and enjoy fast delivery. Remember, we can help you to shoot more and pay less.

One of the chief benefits of reloading is the chance to save serious money on the cost of purchasing ammo, especially if you buy your brass in bulk. Not only will you spend less over the long term, you’ll also protect yourself from possible supply shortages. With these advantages in mind, the experts here at Powder Valley would like to offer the following tips for buying bulk brass.

Buying in Bulk Is a Good Insurance Policy

The firearms industry is under constant attack from those who want to revoke the Second Amendment. At the same time, unexpected crises like the coronavirus can disrupt the global supply chain that reloaders depend on. Plus, as we all know, the costs of reloading supplies will inevitably go up over time.

Since the future is always uncertain, stocking up on essentials like bulk reloading brass now makes a lot of sense. Think of it as an insurance policy that will help to protect you and your loved ones, no matter what awaits us down the road.

How to Store Bulk Brass

Here are some tips for protecting your stored brass:

  • Keep your new brass in the original containers until ready for use – after the first use, you can transfer it to your preferred storage system.
  • Always clean used brass prior to storage – we recommendusing a tumbler along with your preferred cleaning medium; corncobs are a good choice.
  • Use sturdy containers – possible options include ammo cans, plastic buckets with lids, and even empty food containers (carefully washed pretzel jars are especially popular).
  • Never overload your containers – they should be light enough for you to move easily about your workspace.
  • Add oxygen absorbent packets to each container – to remove as much air as possible and prevent the brass from corroding.
  • Keep your brass away from moisture – as inoff the floor and onsturdy shelves and cabinets. You should also try to minimize moisture in the air itself; a commercial-grade dehumidifier is a good choice for this purpose.

Can Buying Used Brass in Bulk Save Money?

Sometimes buying preowned products makes a lot of sense, like when you snag a low mileage car at a great price. Other times, however, settling for used items can actually end up costing you money. Here’s why this is true for used brass:

  • Quality concerns – buying used brass in bulk is always risky. Many reloaders who have gone this route ultimately ended up with a bunch of damaged casings that were essentially useless. Don’t let this happen to you.
  • Wasted time – as in the hours you’ll spend inspecting each casing to determine whether or not it’s suitable for reloading.
  • Safety concerns – even the most careful reloaders can sometimes let a bad casing slip by, especially after sorting through thousands of used cartridges purchased online. If a defective casing finds its way into your stock of reloaded ammo, then the consequences can include a damaged firearm or even worse.

For all these reasons, we recommend purchasing your brass new rather than used. That’s the best way to get the maximum value for your hard-earned money. Of course, you can reuse it as often as you like, as long as it’s still safe for reloading.

Powder Valley: Your One-Stop Source for Reloading Supplies

Here at Powder Valley, we carry a huge selection of top-quality reloading products and supplies. We also offer world-class customer care and support. So browse our website and place your order today. We are here to help you shoot more and pay less.

Here at Powder Valley, we’re happy to welcome newcomers to the reloading community. At the same time, we want to stress that reloading ammo requires patience, focus, and, above all,a willingness to learn.

To get you started on the right foot, we’d like to share five of the most common reloading mistakes made by beginners. Avoiding these mistakes will set you well on your way to being a successful reloader.

Mistake Number One: Relying on the Internet for Unofficial Reloading Data

The internet is a great source for all kinds of information, but when it comes to data about reloading, a lot of information on the web comes from anonymous sources and may not be totally accurate. Similarly, asking strangers for their “homebrewed recipes” can quickly become a recipe for disaster.

Fortunately, there’s an easy way to avoid this mistake: stick with the data listed in the official reloading manuals. That’s the best way to enjoy consistent results, round after reloaded round.

Mistake Number Two: Trying to Clone Factory Ammo

Some reloaders try to re-create factory loaded ammo in their basements, down to the exact amount of powder used by the manufacturer. While this may seem like a reasonable approach, it can actually work against you.

That’s because ammunition companies use their own proprietary blends of powder in the manufacturing process. Unless you know exactly how their products are formulated, your reloaded rounds will be underpowered or, worse yet, dangerously unstable.

Again, the best way to avoid this mistake is to follow the data in the official manual. It was created specifically for reloaders like yourself.

Mistake Number Three: Incorrectly Seating Primers

This mistake typically takes one of two forms:

  1. Seating the primer too deeply in the cartridge – this can cause the round to misfire or even damage the firearm itself.
  2. Not seating the primer deep enough – this can also lead to misfires or damage to the weapon.

The best way to avoid this problem is to inspect every cartridge after inserting the primer. It should sit just beneath the back of the case, as described in your reloading manual.

Mistake Number Four: Improper Crimping

Crimping a cartridge is one of those steps in the ammo reloading process that obeys the Goldilocks principle: not too much and not too little. Here are some tips for getting this step just right:

  • Inspect the crimped cartridge closely – the crimping should be slightly visible, not overly obvious.
  • Check the length of the cartridge – it should conform to the specifications in your manual.
  • Refer to the directions included with your reloading press – there you will find the exact procedure for achieving a proper crimp. Follow it to the letter.

Mistake Number Five: Using a Damaged Casing

Watch out for dents, cracks, or other signs of damage to your cases. A defective case can cause gas to escape past the projectile or, even worse, prevent it from escaping at all, which can increase the risk of the cartridge exploding.

The best way to avoid this mistake is to err on the side of caution. In other words, dispose of used cartridges unless you’re absolutely sure of their integrity.

When it Comes to Reloading, Great Results Start by Having the Right Equipment

Getting the best possible results from your reloaded ammo starts by having the proper equipment and supplies. That’s where Powder Valley comes in. We have everything you need to start reloading, including the finest reloading primers and related products on the market, backed up by legendary customer service and fast shipping. Shop online today and see why we are your one-stop superstore for world-class reloading supplies at the lowest prices.

When properly stored, powder used for reloading ammo can last for many decades and even beyond. Some of the best ways to extend the lifespan of reloading powder include:

  • Protect it from moisture.
  • Store it in a dark, cool place.
  • Leave the container unopened until it’s ready for use.

Let’s look at each of these tips in greater detail.

How to Keep Your Powder Dry

Here at Powder Valley, we know that humidity is one of gunpowder’s greatest enemies. Here are some of the steps we recommend to keep your powder safe from moisture and dampness:

  • Use desiccant packs – add a pack of silica gel to your containers of gunpowder after opening them. Make sure the silica packs are intact; otherwise, they can leak into the powder itself and change its chemical composition.
  • Use a dehumidifier – this is especially important if you store your powder in a basement or cellar. You may also want to install a sump pump for added protection.
  • Never drink water or other beverages while reloading ammo – if your powder should become wet, then dispose of it in accord with local environmental regulations.

Protecting Your Powder from Heat and Sunlight

Sunlight and excessive heat are notorious for causing powder to degrade. For this reason, you should restrict your ammo reloading activities to a controlled environment away from windows and other sources of natural light. Avoid storing powder in a garage or other location that’s affected by seasonal temperature swings.

Keeping Powder in the Original Container

Exposing gunpowder to oxygen sets off a chemical process that causes the ingredients to separate. Manufacturers are aware of this problem and take steps to prevent it before it leaves the powder mill. But these safeguards are undone as soon as the package is opened.

For this reason, it’s best to leave powder containers unopened until they’re ready for use. After opening, remember to tighten the lid and store the container on a shelf or gun vault away from flammable liquids like gas or kerosene.

How to Tell When Gunpowder Is Going Bad

Gunpowder has a limited lifespan even when it’s properly stored. Here are three ways to tell that it’s past its prime:

  1. An objectionable odor – as gunpowder deteriorates, it takes on an acidic smell that grows worse over time. It may also give off a brown or reddish fume when you open the container.
  2. A change in color – the powder may take on a rust or amber tone as it deteriorates. Other times it can go to the opposite extreme and turn snow white. The important thing is to interpret any change in color as a bad sign.
  3. Degradation in performance – sometimes the only way to tell that your powder is going bad is when the reloaded rounds themselves start to malfunction. They may lose power or accuracy or begin to misfire. If you notice a consistent pattern of problems, then the powder is probably at fault.

Powder Valley: Your Source for All Your Reloading Supplies

Here at Powder Valley, we stock the finest gunpowder, reloading primers, and other essential reloading supplies at the lowest prices around. Our staff members are firearms experts who are always happy to share their knowledge and experience with our customers. Place your ammo order today and take advantage of our fast shipping!

What’s the difference between small and large pistol primers? The answer can be summarized as follows:

  • Small pistol primers are a recent innovation that’s gaining favor among manufacturers. That’s because they’re more economical to produce, more affordable for consumers, and demonstrate greater environmental responsibility.
  • Numerous tests show that the switch to smaller primers has had zero effect on ammunition’s reliability, power, and accuracy.
  • Under no circumstances should you use a primer that wasn’t designed for the specific type of brass you’re reloading. Going outside the manual’s guidelines can damage your firearms, cause serious personal injuries, or even worse.

Let’s look at these topics in more detail.

Why Smaller Is Sometimes Better

Ammunition manufacturers are continually looking for ways to improve the quality of their products. This motivation is what’s behind the move towards smaller primers. The advantages of the change include:

  • Reduced environmental impact – smaller primers use a smaller amount of lead styphnate and other toxic materials in their manufacturer than do larger primers.
  • Improved safety for shooters – handling large amounts of ammunition can cause unhealthy levels of lead to build up in the blood. One way to minimize this problem is to make primers smaller and more efficient.
  • Reduced manufacturing costs – this helps to keep ammunition prices affordable.

Despite these advantages, some shooters are reluctant to use smaller primers due to fears about reduced power or accuracy. But are these concerns well-founded?

Numerous gun owners and shooting experts have compared both types of ammunition and found no discernible difference. On average, a round outfitted with a small primer has the same power, range, and accuracy as one designed for a large primer.

What About Using Non-Standard Primers?

Ammunition is in short supply these days, as anyone in the firearms community knows all too well. Some reloaders have tried to get around this problem by forcing small-primer brass to accept a large primer.

Is this safe? NO. Here’s what can happen if you go down this road:

  • You can damage or destroy your firearms. In general, large primers generate more explosive force than small pistol primers. Some reloaders have tried to compensate for this fact by fiddling with powder amounts. But this is simply asking for trouble.
  • You can experience undependable or erratic results when firing the weapon. What advantage do you gain from saving a few pennies if your firearm will no longer perform properly?
  • You put yourself at risk of injury or even death. This is why the ammunition companies themselves must follow painstaking safety precautions at every step of the manufacturing process. There’s no room for error when it comes to working with primers.

Separating Your Brass

If there is a “disadvantage” to having both small and large primer sizes, it’s the need to separate your brass during the reloading process. But this is a small price to pay in exchange for greater safety, a cleaner environment, and reliable performance from your ammunition. The best advice is to always stick with what the manual says.

Powder Valley is the ammo reloading community’s one-stop superstore for reloading supplies. Get top products at the lowest prices. We can help you to shoot more and pay less. We invite you to browse our extensive inventory, and in the meantime, thank you for your business and your support. We truly appreciate it.