I just saw an account of a rifle letting go at a range. Like most stuff I see on the Internet, I am skeptical of it until there is some corroboration. Anyway, the story goes something like this: Gomer goes to the range, and on the first shot his rifle comes apart, leaving him with a gash in his forehead. Subsequent analysis shows he had 66 grains of powder in his .30-06 case, rather than the 56 grains called for in the loading manual.

First of all, I doubt you can get 66 grains of any powder suited for the .30-06 into that case. But some guys can be awfully creative, so let’s just say he was able to accomplish the feat. The next question that comes to mind: Why?

Loading data published from reliable sources—powder companies and bullet manufacturers primarily—is good information. There is considerable liability at stake in publishing loading data, so they make absolutely sure that what gets published is the real deal. Internet forums, chat rooms and the like have no accountability; therefore I would not use anything I saw there without verifying it in a published loading manual.

One of the primary motives for handloading is saving money, but some guys take it too far. Every once in a while I hear some guy say that his uncle or grandfather or friendwhatevergave him several pounds of some powder that had been languishing in said benefactor’s shop for decades. The recipient of this windfall is eager to use it in his gun, so he asks, “How much of this Bullseye powder should I use in my .300 WSM?”

Bullseye, of course, has one of the fastest burn rates of all smokeless powders and is only suited for light target loads in some handgun cartridges. Putting a little of it in a case like a .300 WSM would involve a significant risk of detonation. This scenario actually happened to me long ago. When I explained that Bullseye was unsuited for his rifle this guy asked me, “Can I mix it with another powder so that it won’t blow up?”

Please just go home and take up another hobby like cliff diving at low tide.

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