Keeping up With the Children


A few days ago, Chris Hodgdon, CEO of Hodgdon Powder and a good friend of mine, sent out an e-mail press release titled, “IMR Trail Boss is 100% Smokeless Powder.” Initially, I thought perhaps the ever-innovative Hodgdon had refined Trail Boss to be even cleaner shooting than it already is. Then I read further:

“IMR Legendary Powders is clarifying recent misconceptions about Trail Boss gunpowder. Trail Boss is a 100% SMOKELESS propellant. Various articles and blogs have appeared mis-stating that Trail Boss is a black powder/muzzleloading-type propellant. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”

It seems that the “kids” have gotten their way into the powder cabinet and been playing. I actually did something similar when I was about 7 years old, though not with gunpowder. A childhood pal and I would go about mixing a variety of things we found in each others' garages. Some of our experiments got a little exciting, and when my folks found out, my dad and I had a little conversation about household safety.

These ersatz Elmer Keiths—Elmer on several occasions was reputed to have answered readers’ questions regarding maximum loads with the question, “Did it blow anything up?” Receiving a negative response, he supposedly offered, “Must be OK.”—are relying solely on the integrity of the guns they are playing with to maintain their safety. I am certain they do not have the measuring equipment to accurately evaluate what they are doing. Surviving their adventures into the unknown, these folks are very proud and want the world to know what sophisticated and genius ballisticians they are; hence the Internet.

So my buddy Chris sees this stuff, and, naturally, he sees horrific and expensive lawsuits on the horizon. His coyness is not without foundation. I know of another gun company—one that is known for its superb quality—that is up for sale because it is effectively bankrupt from bad lawsuits. It’s one thing if these amateur experimental ballisticians would be willing to accept the consequences of their ignorance. But in today’s litigious environment that level of integrity is extraordinarily rare.

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