If you’ve tried to purchase ammo or reloading supplies lately, you’ve probably noticed a lot of products are out of stock. Of all the components needed to reload ammo, it seems primers are the toughest to find, prompting many reloaders to refer to the current crisis as “The Great Primer Shortage of 2020.” The primer supply shortage doesn’t just affect reloaders, though. It’s also limiting the production of many popular types of ammunition. This can be frustrating for shooters and hunters looking to keep their edge on the range, and can be concerning for preppers, survivalists, and others who are concerned about their safety.

We are in the midst of the greatest primer shortage of all time, and we don’t see things getting better anytime soon.  Read on as the experts from Powder Valley delve deeper into the primer shortage of 2020.

A Massive Increase in Demand

Like any other product in a market economy, primers are subject to the whims of supply and demand. As far as demand is concerned, a perfect storm of factors has caused a run on the ammo market like we’ve never quite seen before. A mix of the Covid-19 pandemic, civil unrest, and the possibility of an anti-2nd amendment President and Senate has caused demand to skyrocket. The pandemic specifically has incentivized shooters to learn how to reload their own ammo.

We have an extremely large number of new reloaders who have entered the market. The NSSF estimates that first time gun owners has increased to 6.2 million people over the past few months. Unfortunately, many of those reloaders entered the market anticipating that it would be easier to make their own ammo since readily available ammunition was so difficult to find.  With shortages of bullets, powder, brass and primers, that has simply not been the case

Since so many people have lost a chunk, or all of their income, it makes sense that reloading, which saves on the cost of ammo at the expense of time, would become more popular than ever. Even if you’re financially stable, reloading and shooting are great socially distant activities you can do while the movie theaters, bowling alleys, and bars are shut down. With little answers on the virus, it’s hard to see when these closures and limitations will end. This is why we believe this could end up being the greatest primer shortage of all time.

Hoarding

When there is a primer shortage the first thing people normally point to is consumer hoarding.  We believe this is having an impact on availability, but probably not to the extreme that many think.  There are definitely some profiteers who buy primers and then sell them on auction sites or other multi list sites.  This is why many online retailers have now chosen to limit the purchase quantities to an extreme low level in an effort to reduce this.

Disruptions in the Supply Chain

Demand, however, is just one part of the story. Disruptions in the supply chain have also made a big impact on the availability of primers. When it comes to ammunition supplies, bullets are easy to manufacture, brass can be re-used, and powder is generally stockpiled by companies (though perhaps not the kind you’re looking for). This leaves primers, which are relatively difficult to make, as the component that causes the bulk of ammo shortages.

In the U.S., only four companies (Winchester, Remington, Federal, and CCI) manufacture primers for civilian use, law enforcement, and the military. Even under perfect circumstances, there’s only so much they can produce at once, and needless to say, circumstances have not been perfect during the pandemic. People getting sick, missing work to take care of their kids, and self-quarantining – from factory workers to delivery drivers, and all throughout the supply chain – caused a lull in manufacturing this spring.

The Remington bankruptcy has had a large impact on the shortage of ammo and primers.  With Remington in a state of financial insolvency for the past two years, suppliers were demanding payment upon delivery for products.  Remington simply did not have the financial capabilities to have an abundance of raw materials on hand and had to shutter some of their production capacity.  Barnes bullets and primers were hit particularly hard in the reloading market.  With the recent purchase of Remington by Vista, there is a good chance that Vista will be diverting CCI and Federal primers that would typically go to reloaders to Remington ammunition production.  Remington primer production capacity has never been great.  The hope would be that Vista will place more emphasis on getting the Remington primer production capacity increased substantially and quickly.  The best news coming out of this is for Barnes fans.  With Sierra’s purchase of Barnes we anticipate the availability of Barnes bullets to increase substantially in a very short period of time.

In 2008 we saw a huge influx of Russian primers.  We are not seeing that this time as the Murom Apparatus Producing plant is only producing at partial capacity due to the COVID-19 restrictions. On top of that, there have been changes in upper management at Murom which have caused further disruptions. But, we are very hopeful that these changes will have a positive effect on production and distribution in the long run.

With import restrictions out of Russia, we do not anticipate seeing the help we had from them in 2008-2012.  We had also seen S&B, Unis Ginex and other foreign brands of primers enter the market during the shortages to relieve some of the pressure, but aren’t seeing that influx of primers this time around.  The lack of foreign primers on the market is a major reason we believe this shortage is going to last for quite some time.  We may see some help from foreign primers, but we don’t anticipate the large volumes we’ve seen previously.

What Should You Do?

As an individual, as of right now, there’s little you can do in the face of the reloading equipment supplies shortage. Keep checking your trusted online distributor Powder Valley for new arrivals of primers from all four manufacturers.

We have created some very stringent limitations on the purchase of primers in an effort to help as many people as possible work through this extremely tough time.  Normally, we would say “stock up.” But that time has passed, and I would encourage everyone to learn from this.  Stock up in times of plentiful supply so that you are not affected as greatly during these times of extreme shortage.

In the meantime I would encourage everyone to pray for our country and our leaders as we navigate this perilous situation.

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.

Whether you’re an avid hunter, clay shooter, skeet shooting enthusiast, or just interested in home defense, you need the right shotgun ammo to get the job done. Reloaders know that hand-loading is the best way to save money on highly accurate and dependable ammunition. At Powder Valley, shotgun powder is a big part of our business, and we often get asked about which brand and formula is best. Of course, there’s no one definitive answer; a lot depends on the type of load you’re shooting. That being said, we’ve compiled a shortlist of the best shotgun powders on the market.

What Makes a Great Shotgun Powder?

First and foremost, shotgun powder needs to be quick-burning, similar to pistol powder. Rifle powder burns slowly to build up optimum pressure while accelerating the bullet down the barrel. Shotguns use a quick explosion to propel a load or projectile toward its target. This means shotguns are less accurate than rifles at distance, but they’re perfect for hunting fast moving prey at relatively short distances because of the spread of the shot.

In addition to being fast-burning, shotgun powder needs to have all of the other properties of premium smokeless powder. It should be clean-burning, temperature insensitive, dependable, and easy to measure. Here are some of our choices for best all-around shotgun powder:

Hodgdon Universal Clays

Hodgdon Universal Clays, or “Universal” for short, has a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most adaptable powders on the market. Designed for 28-gauge shotguns, it’s also a solid choice for 20, 16, and even 12-gauge shooters. Universal is praised for its shot-to-shot consistency and is fairly easy to measure.

Alliant Unique

Along with Universal, Alliant Unique powder deserves a mention near the top of the list. It’s great for 28- through 12-gauge shotguns, though it really shines with heavier loads. Like Universal, it’s ideal for the most common pistol calibers, so if you’re looking to reload multiple shotgun gauges and produce some handgun ammo as well, Unique will be up to the task.

An upgraded formula makes Unique a very clean-burning powder too, which will save you time and effort when it’s time to clean your shotgun.

Alliant Red Dot & Green Dot

Alliant Red Dot and Green Dot powders also make excellent shotgun reloading powder. Red Dot burns quicker and has a little bit more recoil than Green Dot. Most shooters prefer Red Dot for lighter loads, and Green Dot for heavier loads.

Since Red Dot has a faster burn rate, you’ll need less of it to build up pressure, which means you’ll get more rounds per pound.

IMR Hi-Skor 700X

Great for 12- and 16-gauge shotguns, Hi-Skor 700X from IMR is also very popular with pistol reloaders. If you’re first a pistol shooter, and second a shotgun shooter, this might be the powder you want to stock up on.

Find the Right Powder Online

If you’re looking for the biggest selection of reloading shotgun powder, shop online at Powder Valley. Resupply with your favorite powder, or try something new. We carry many of the industry’s most trusted brands, and offer shipping at the lowest possible prices.

What is the best pistol powder on the market for all-around general use? Let’s start the discussion by going over some powder basics.

Powders Are Not Interchangeable

As pretty much every reloader knows, smokeless powders are not interchangeable, and an improperly loaded round can put you at serious risk. Different brands may use the same numbers (for example, Hodgdon 4350 and IMR 4350), but they won’t be exactly the same. Before you get started, make sure you check the reloading data provided by your powder’s manufacturer to make sure you’re using the right powder for the rounds you’ll be using. Once you’re set on the burn rate, pay close attention to your metering to make sure every shot is consistent and safe.

For the purposes of our best all-around pistol powder selection, we’re going to highlight candidates that work well with a variety of bullets, but it’s worth keeping in mind that even the most versatile powders won’t work in every situation.

Best Smokeless Pistol Powders

When we talk about all-around smokeless pistol powder, we mean powder that can be used to produce good ammo for a variety of handguns. In addition to using quality cases, primers, and bullets, selecting the right powder will lead to the shot-to-shot consistency that target shooters are looking for.

One of the best all-around pistol powders is Winchester 231 smokeless powder. This premium ball powder is easy to measure and is perfect for a wide range of light to medium bullets.

If you’re loading magnum rounds, you might want to try a slow-burning powder like Hodgdon H110 or Accurate 5744, but for a 38, 380, 25 auto, and 9mm, Winchester 231 is always an excellent choice. A powder that deserves a place in every handgun reloader’s arsenal.

Winchester 231 powder is also clean-burning and has low muzzle flash.

Explore Your Pistol Powder Options Online

Powder Valley is proud to carry Winchester powder, as well as smokeless powder from leading brands like IMR, Alliant, Accurate, Norma, Vihtavuori, Hodgdon, RAMSHOT powder, and more, all at the lowest possible prices. Select a 1lb container and experiment with something new. If you like it, purchase an 8lb jug and save.

Reloaders can be very committed to their favorite brand of powder, and if something works for you, great. However, using a new powder could surprise you, even if you’ve been reloading for decades.

Whether you’re new to reloading or looking to experiment with a new type of powder, our wide-ranging selection of industry-leading brands gives you a bounty of high-quality options.

The ammo market is filled with high-quality rifle powders for reloaders, so with a little research and maybe a few firing tests on the range, you are guaranteed to find the right powder for your shooting style and preferred firearm. Candidates for best all-around rifle powder are those that can be used with a wide variety of ammunition. Consistent performance is absolutely key, though metering and availability are crucial, too.

There are a lot of premium, highly specialized powders on the market, so it’s basically impossible to crown one powder king. The best powder for you will ultimately come down to your choice of firearm, and your needs – chiefly, whether you’re a target shooter or a hunter.

Here is our guide for finding the right powder that you can use for your whole rifle collection.

Do Your Research

We all know there is no “one-size-fits-all” gunpowder, so it’s important to make sure you’re getting the right power and burn rate for your cartridge. Too much pressure in the barrel can ruin your gun, and might even cause serious injury, so please read up on the data provided by powder manufacturers and make sure you’re using a suitable propellant.

The Best Smokeless Rifle Powder

Many shooters are fans of Hodgdon H4895 and Varget smokeless powder, as well as Accurate 4350 powder. They’re fine choices for a large, diverse set of bullets and cartridges.

Another popular candidate for best all-around smokeless rifle powder is IMR 4350 smokeless powder. It can be used with everything from small rifle loads to small magnum rifle loads, and is ideal for deer and other North American game. Due to its larger granular size, it flows and meters well in most powder measures. However, the large granular size can make drops from a volumetric powder measure inconsistent, so it’s worth taking the time to verify the weight of each charge on a powder scale if you’re looking to produce match-grade ammo.

For super light loads as well as magnum rounds, you might need to find another type of powder, but for the vast majority of rifle cartridges, IMR 4350 smokeless powder is an impeccable match.

Stock Up on the Best Rifle Powder

You’ll most likely find yourself using a lot of a versatile powder like IMR 4350 and Hodgdon H4895, so it makes sense to buy in larger 8lb containers. Powder Valley carries in 1lb containers too, just in case you want to test some out before mass producing your own ammo. For IMR and Hodgdon powder, as well as other leading brands like Alliant, Vihtavuori, Accurate, and Norma, Powder Valley has got you covered. Browse the best smokeless powder on the market at the lowest possible prices today.

If you’re a reloader, it’s because you value having extra control over what goes into every round. Of course, you can also end up saving a substantial amount of money. Of all the cartridges out there, 223 Remington/5.56mm NATO cartridges are popular for a number of reasons. They’re versatile, and because they’ve been standard military issue for almost 40 years, 223 cases and bullets are never in short supply. Today at Powder Valley, we’re going to take a look at the vast array of 223 powder on the market.

Finding the Right Reloading 223 Powder for You

There are so many varieties of 223 powder available on the market these days, consumers can be easily overwhelmed. At the end of the day, there is no single best powder; it’s really about finding the powder that fits your needs as a shooter. For starters, think about the bullet you want to use and narrow down the field to the propellant that’s fit for your projectile. Generally, shooters who favor the 223 can be broken down into three categories; varmint hunters, target shooters, and recreational shooters.

Here’s a look at excellent 223 reloading powder for each case:

Varmint and Small Game Hunting

Small game and varmint, like prairie dogs, rabbits, woodchucks, etc., are best hunted with lighter, high-velocity bullets. They won’t be as accurate in high winds, but the distances are usually shorter, and wind plays less of a factor. H322 and Varget powders are two solid choices, both from Hodgdon. They’re ideal for small 40 grain varmint bullets. Alliant Power Pro Varmint is another exceptional powder for varmint rounds. If you prefer a slightly heavier bullet, you really can’t go wrong with Hodgdon H335 powder.

Target Shooting and Long-Range Shooting

When accuracy over a longer distance is key, you’ll need to use a heavier bullet with a high ballistics coefficient. This means you’ll need powder with a slower burn-rate, too. Hodgdon CFE223 is a state-of-the-art powder with a low burn rate and additives that reduce copper fouling. It’s great for heavier bullets and will help keep your firearm in top condition. Another good option is IMR 4895 smokeless powder. These powders are also a solid choice for hunters going after medium/big game.

Versatile Powder for Recreational Shooters

Part of learning to be an expert reloader is experimenting with the different options that are available to you. Some other high-quality, versatile, accurate 223 powder includes Hodgdon Benchmark, IMR 8208, Norma 203-B, and Vihtavuori N530. Your local gun shop might not carry all of these premium brands, but luckily, Powder Valley carries both 1lb and 8lb containers from the industry’s top manufacturers at the lowest possible prices. Restock with your go-to powder, or try something new. The results may surprise you.

One of the most popular cartridges over the last several decades, the 308 Winchester has long been a favorite of both hunters and target shooters. Because of its popularity, there’s currently a massive selection of smokeless powder designed with the 308/7.62mm NATO cartridge in mind. The good news is, the vast majority of these powders are effective and reliable. As long as you use quality bullets, cases, and primers, you should have no trouble handloading consistent, accurate rounds with most of the powders out there. Below is our guide to finding the best 308 powder for your needs.

How to Pick the Best Reloading 308 Powder

It goes without saying that the reloading 308 powder you choose is going to have a lot to do with the type of bullet you choose. Generally, lighter bullets need powder with faster burn rates, and the inverse is true when it comes to heavier bullets. We’re looking for powder that is easy to measure, ignites well in a range of different environments, and always provides consistent power.

Most Accurate 308 Powders

One of the most versatile powders in the IMR line, 4064 is a great choice for most standard use cases. It’s excellent for deer hunting and mid–long range target shooting, depending on the bullets you choose. An extruded powder, it’s fairly easy to meter, though perhaps not as easy as ball powders. Since it can be used in almost any rifle cartridge out there, it’s a great powder to have on hand, even if you pick up a new firearm that isn’t a 308.

Other exceptional choices include:

  • Hodgdon H4895 and IMR 4895 (not the same powder, so make sure you follow the specific loading instructions for each)
  • Norma 203-B
  • Vihtavuori N150
  • Varget powder, also from Hodgdon

Hodgdon CFE 223 is another popular choice, and it’s designed to reduce copper fouling, which is great for the health of your barrel.

RamShot Tac and Alliant RL-15 and RL-17 also get high marks from both match shooters and hunters.

Smart Shooters Order Online

For a huge selection, quick shipping, and the lowest possible price, Powder Valley is the place to buy 308 powder from all the top brands. Find powder that is available in 1lb containers, which are perfect for experimenting, and 8lb jugs if you want to stock up.

Reload with quality powder and components, and land that 12-point buck with a perfectly placed kill shot. Help every round reach its target with the best powder on the market.

When you’re considering where to buy reloading supplies, you need to take into account three main variables:

  • Speed of delivery
  • Price
  • Selection

If you need your gear and components today, your best bet will probably be a local gun or sporting goods store. If you’re willing to wait a few days or more for your supplies to be delivered, you can save money and have access to a larger selection by shopping online. Companies like Powder Valley have large selections of the highest quality cases, bullets, powder, and primers from all the leading manufacturers and ship promptly across the United States.

Experienced reloaders usually choose to buy their supplies in bulk and online.

Get Started with the Right Gear

From cleaning brass to seating bullets, you’ll need the right reloading gear and supplies to get started. Brick and mortar stores may not carry a large range of reloading tools and components, so it makes sense to turn to the internet for your die sets, collets, bushings, and more.

The More Choices, The Better

Once you have the right gear to produce your own ammunition, you’ll need to stock up on components. Cleaning used brass is a great way to save on money, but many competitive match shooters prefer to use new brass. Every major online retailer is going to have reloading brass for sale; it’s just a matter of finding the type you want at the right price.

Whether you’re mass-producing plinking ammo or loading up for a competition, you’ll find a wide variety of bullets online. Don’t forget about primers either. Fast, consistent ignition is a key part of the firing process and can make all the difference when it comes to hitting your target. Buying primers online will also save you a lot of money in the long run, too. Shop primers for sale from leading brands, and make sure every trigger pull counts.

Finally, your propellant is extremely important. Most reloaders have already settled on a favorite brand, but if you’re looking for something new, you’ll have plenty of options when you shop for powder online. Browse powder from top brands like Hodgdon, Alliant, IMR, VihtaVuori, and more, and find the perfect powder for your ammo.

Low Prices Make a Difference

There are two main reasons people get into reloading. One, they want maximum control over every detail of their ammunition. Two, they want high-performance ammo at an affordable price. When you buy your gear and components online at Powder Valley, you can be sure you’re getting premium products at the lowest prices. Browse our massive selection today.


*The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Powder Valley, as this article was written in collaboration with an external research partner.

Powder Valley is pleased to announce that the Hornady 6mm ARC (Advanced Rifle Cartridge) is being released for commercial sale. Originally developed for the Department of Defense for the AR-15 platform, 6mm ARC ammunition and reloading components promise the highest level of performance in the field or at the range. Whether you’re a match shooter, a varmint hunter, or concerned with personal protection, you’ll find these cartridges offer the perfect combination of consistency, shootability, and power. Known for accuracy and low recoil, the 6mm ARC is a versatile match not only for the AR-15 but also short or micro action bolt guns.

Here’s a breakdown of the commercially-available ARC 6mm line from Hornady.

6mm ARC Ammunition

Hornady offers three product lines for 6mm ARC ammunition. Though they’re all excellent all-around cartridges, each is designed with a specific use in mind:

  • 6mm ARC 108gr ELD® Match™ Ammunition: Premium match shooting rounds. Extremely Low Drag Match ammo is engineered for accuracy, they feature a patented HeatShield tip, and are manufactured with stringent quality control to ensure consistency with every trigger pull.
  • 6mm ARC 105gr BTHP Match™ Black™ Ammunition: These 105 grain boat tail hollow point rounds are optimized for personal defense. Proudly made in the USA, they offer low recoil and impressive stopping power.
  • 6mm ARC 103 gr ELD-X® Precision Hunter® Ammunition: Available in the fall of 2020, these Extremely Low Drag match-accurate hunting bullets provide devastating terminal performance at conventional and extended (400+ yard) ranges. Heat Shield® tip technology provides advanced aerodynamic efficiency.

6mm ARC Brass

Reloaders know how important high-quality brass is to the overall performance of your ammunition. If you’re looking for AR-15 reloading supplies, Hornady 6mm ARC Unprimed Brass Cases should be high on the list of must-have components. Hornady 6mm ARC brass are produced in small lots to meet strict quality standards. High concentricity and uniform wall thickness mean consistent pressures, velocity, and accuracy.

6mm ARC Bullets

Bullets from the above ammunition selection are also sold as individual components. This lets you customize the performance of the Hornady advanced rifle cartridge by using a different type of powder or primers. It’s also a great way to save money if you like the performance of Hornady ammunition. Here’s a breakdown of the bullet selection.

Die Sets

The gear you use to assemble your ammunition is almost as important as the reloading components you choose. The Hornady Series III Two-Die 6mm ARC Die Set (.243) is designed to make spindle adjustments a breeze, and won’t wear out, even with a lifetime of normal use. Produce your own ammo that meets your exact needs with die sets from Hornady. Powder Valley is your destination for Hornady 6mm ARC cartridge reloading components, and ready to fire ammunition. Shop the full Hornady line at the lowest possible prices today.


*The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of Powder Valley, as this article was written in collaboration with an external research partner.