Smokeless powder may be the most important component for any shooter who is reloading ammo and it’s probably the most complicated as well. With different characteristics and a ton of variables, gunpowder needs to be fully understood before you attempt to reload ammunition.
This guide will take you through the basics of smokeless gunpowder, show how all smokeless powder is not the same and demonstrate how the different characteristics of powder can make your reloads more effective depending upon your intended purpose. Don’t want to read the whole thing? No problem, use the quick links below to jump to whatever section you like.
When you start looking for gunpowder, one of the first things you’ll probably notice is that there are three companies who distribute the majority of powder throughout the country. There are other distributors and brands operating under different names, but if you purchase powder, there is a very strong chance it came through one of the following three companies.
The history of Alliant Powder dates back to 1872, when they were known as Laflin & Rand. They later became the Hercules Powder Company, which was one of the most respected and trusted names in ammunition at the time. Their products included items for rifle, shotgun, and handgun cartridges as well as muzzleloading applications.
Today, Alliant provides many different powders that can be used for different purposes. They are a member of Vista Outdoor Inc., a global company that oversees numerous brands including Federal Premium Ammunition, Blazer, Bushnell, and Speer.
Hodgdon Powder is arguably the most successful powder company in the U.S.A. Founder Bruce Hodgdon purchased 50,000 pounds of surplus gunpowder after World War II and began selling to other gunowners who were interested in reloading. The Hodgdon company now provides a wide
Focusing primarily on powders for outdoor sports, especially big-game hunting, Western Powders is a brand that provides excellent products as well as reloading data, shooting accessories, and gun care supplies. Based out of Montana, it has been a leading powder distributor since 1972.
Their powder brands include Ramshot, which offers a full range of powders for hunting and marksmanship, Accurate, which is focused on shooting precision, and Blackhorn 209, which creates low-residue powder for muzzleloading. Range of smokeless and muzzleloading powders. Even the product that started the company, known as H4895, is still produced and sold. Based in Kansas, Hodgdon regularly creates innovative and technologically-advanced powders that meet the needs of many different shooters and reloaders.