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How to choose the right smokeless powder

smokeless powder from Trifusion Tactical

Smokeless powder is very popular nowadays and one of the most used by any shooter who is reloading ammunition and it is also one of the most complicated to use as well. With various attributes and a huge load of factors, gunpowder should be completely studied before you attempt to reload ammo.

This guide will take you through the essentials of reloading powders, show how all smokeless powder isn’t necessarily similar and exhibit how the various qualities of powder can make your reloads more powerful to suit you shooting preferences.

Physical Aspects of Smokeless Powders

When choosing a smokeless powder, pay attention to the load density. Density is how much space will be left for air when the powder is pushed into the cartridge. To get the best performance from your reloading, you shouldn’t exceed 95% load density nor drop below 80%. While it may be tempting to use cheaper materials, the density of the granules will ultimately determine their performance.

Powder Shape Types and Metering Characteristics

A fundamental trademark that will change is the state of the grains. You can see this with a magnifying lens, however, it has a significant effect on how a powder will convey energy to the projectile. This straightforwardly affects “metering,” which is a term for how reliably the powder measures. In the event that somebody says a powder “meters well,” it implies it tends to be estimated with more noteworthy accuracy.

Ball Powder

Ball powder is comprised of small spheres that can fundamentally be generated faster and cost less. It has better metering that produces more precise loads and has a longer shelf life in comparison to others. It burns at 3,200 to 3,300 degrees Fahrenheit and compared to others, this may seem small but spell out a huge difference in terms of shots.

Flattened Ball Powder

This is basically the same as regular ball powder however has a smoothed, oval-shaped, like a chunk of bread batter. It produces the same results. To create this powder, powder manufacturers have to flatten ball powder and create a smoother version. This type is ideal for shotgun shells.

Flake Powder

Has the form of tiny discs. Mostly used in handgun cartridges and shotgun cartridges. Given its shape, it is very hard to have precise metering which ends in lower consistency.

Stick Powder

Cylindrical in shape and most often used in rifle cartridges. Although, it does not meter very well and inconsistent in measuring. Reduction of the length of sticks makes up for that issue and yields consistency when loading. It is a fast-burning that diminishes the quality of barrels in the long run. However, it is still renowned for being consistent and accurate.

Burn Rate Defined

Burn Rate is simply how fast gun powders combust. There is no specific way of measuring it and does not bear weight to a lot of other reloaders. However, it is one of the characteristics to consider when loading a magnum vs a non-magnum bullet. Fast burning powders for non-magnum and slower burning powders for magnum cases. This is why they use slow-burning powders. This creates peak pressure for a longer timeframe. This is also needed to give the heavier bullet maximum power and velocity. The specifics will vary by cartridge and bullet type, but in general, a fast-burning powder is used for light bullets and low-speed pistols and shotguns.

Pistol Powders, Shotgun Powders, and Rifle Powder

  • Pistol Powder –Burns faster and produces the highest energy in a short span of time and distance. This is essential because the barrel of a pistol is shorter. The explosion should be finished within 6 inches.
  • Rifle powder – Due to its barrel length, rifles require a slower burning powder. Bullets are pushed down evenly and keep the pressure at bay maximizing the consumption of energy.
  • Shotgun powder – Heavy loads use a powder with a slower burn rate. If you use a fast-burning powder with a heavy load, it will damage your gun and cause injuries.


Always choose the option that will give you the safest, most precise, and yield quality results. We hope that this article was able to explain the differences between smokeless powders. Thank you for reading.

For your ammo and powder needs, please visit Trifusion Tactical.

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