Relaoding Ramshot Powder
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- Last updated: 25/05/2021
With so many classic powders unavailable in this country, shooters are now turning to alternative selections and choices to fill their cases for reloading.
USA based Western Powders produce Ramshot propellants, although the powders are actually made under licence in Belgium, then imported into the UK by Henry Kranks. There is a decent selection and they are suitable for a wide range of firearms and calibres. For the test, I tried TAC, Wild Boar and Hunter in a variety of rifles.
All the Ramshot propellants are ball type and show a double-base powder construction. This means the powders Nitrocellulose base element is enhanced with Nitroglycerine to form a double base powder of spherical form. The Nitro-glycerine producing a high energy increase at different levels of construction dependent on the burn rate needed.
The double-based powders have a higher energy to grain weight ratio than single-based powders. The ball/spherical shape helps to increase the load density when filling a case to maximise the volume used. This means that a compressed load is less likely at the same weight as standard kernel-type powders as the air spaces between the powder are reduced.
Yes, there are some drawbacks. Double-based propellants tend to burn at a higher temperature and thus allegedly caused more flame erosion in the throat and barrel, but with bettercontrolled coatings and retardation on the powder, this is largely reduced.
Fouling and powder residue left in the barrel was often a problem with older type ball powders, mentioning no names.
Another benefit of double-based spherical powders is that they have a long shelf life and can be stored in adverse conditions for longer. This is why many military loads are of this type. TAC is used out in Iraq and it doesn’t get more hostile than that.
It is also worth noting that the spherical powders like Ramshot flow through a powder meter without crunching and binding in the mechanism, often a problem with extruded powders, even short cut varieties. They meter smoothly and provide consistent loads that ultimately should produce lower variation in velocities and therefore increased accuracy.
TAC’s burn rate is roughly equivalent to that of Varget or the range of Vihtavuori powders from N133 to N135. This makes it suitable for a broad range of cartridges.
It has been designed to produce consistent velocity and accuracy, especially for heavy bullets in .223 Remington. It is equally good with lighter bullets and .308 class rounds or small to medium-sized cases.
As previously mentioned, it meters very well for consistent charge weights, in both hand or electronically operated measuring devices.
Wild Boar shares the same characteristics of TAC, in regards to good flow and consistent charge weights. It has a burn rate similar to Accurate 2520, Hodgdon Varget, Alliant RL15, IMR-4895, and Viht N135.
It can be used for a wide variety of cartridges, anything from .17 Hornet to .375 Magnum. Again, particular recommendations for .223 and .308, although I like it for .20 calibres as well as 7mm Mauser and 6.5 Creedmoor.
Hunter works well in 6.5x55mm, .270, .30- 06 or WSM sized cases. It is designed to perform from a high load density and it is both clean-burning and consistent. It is a slower burner than the other powders and is roughly the same as H4350, Alliant RL17 or Vhit N160. This makes it an option for Creedmoor owners as well as .243, 6.5x47L or a host of 7mm, especially the .284 Win.
Remember that double-based spherical loads tend to burn faster than equivalent burn rate powders, so always start a load lower. I have also noticed that some of the loads listed in this article, particularly the small calibres, don’t start to perform until the upper end of the charge weight. So when developing a load with smaller bullets in the .20 or .22 calibres, work up carefully, as peak performance is closely matched to top pressures.
As reported, all of the powders tested metered very well through my Harrell Culver-type powder measure, with no horrible crunching, just smooth flowing powder, which makes life a lot easier. As expected, being a ball-type powder, it packs a case very evenly. However, this will differ depending on the actual make of case you use, as there can be up to 2 to 3-grains difference in useable space between the brands. Therefore, do the water fill test in your cases to ascertain your true cartridge capacity, as you don’t want to have to seat bullets differently to avoid a compressed load later.
It is visually obvious that they do tend to burn very cleanly when compared to equivalent extruded powder types, with little or no unburnt powder in the bore, plus the cases are quite clean. This is undoubtedly due to the good combustion and sealing of the case mouth to the rifles chamber wall, so gases cannot tarnish the neck or shoulder area. This makes them easier to clean too.
Cartridge overall length has to be carefully monitored, as it’s easy to ‘over’seat a bullet and increase pressures, so always start much lower than recommended. Ramshot have a reloading guide but I tend to use my old faithful Quickload software to recommend a safe pressure load and work them up in the field from there. Rifles have differing throats and configurations, despite SAAMI specs, so always check your rifles own unique set of specifications to avoid overpressure.
Using TAC, I loaded up some .20 BR, .223 Rem and .308 Win loads, priming the brass with Federal Match small or large primers. Some of the lighter bullets struggled a little until the charge weight was near maximum but with the mid to heavy bullets, all the cartridges tested performed very well indeed. Shot-to-shot consistently was impressive, with some low extreme spread figures, which translated into some good groups down range.
I was using a Schultz and Larsen thumbhole in 6.5 Creedmoor and the rife particularly liked the combination of a 120-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip over 40-grains of Hunter powder. It produced 2832 FPS, 2137 ft/lbs and a 3-shot group at 100 yards measuring 0.55”.
I am both surprised and delighted with these powders, as well as annoyed at myself for not trying more of them sooner. The 1lb tubs (454-grams) cost £42, making it economical to try out a few different variants.
They do need quite a stiff load to achieve the desired ballistics but that’s common to all ball-type powders. I like the way they meter so well and form a very good load density to the case capacity.
Henry Krank has a good stock level and I can see a high demand for these in the future. I shall certainly be using TAC and Hunter more often in my own reloads.
Remember to read a reloading manual before doing any reloading and follow their recommendation for a safe starting load.
Contact: Henry Krank - www.henrykrank.com