Mixing GunPowders in a Single Load: Touched by an Angel or Pandora's Box?
First off, yes the
concept is borderline insane, and EVERY powder manufacturer lists not to do it,
so there's something to keep in mind with this. If you undertake the practice,
you are completely in your own, I'm not advising anyone do this, and I accept no
responsibility if you engage in the practice of mixing powders and blow
yourself into Dante's Inferno. I'm simply relaying my experience and research
with the subject.
Now that that's out of
the way, let me share some background:
One fine Saturday afternoon,
while rushing to crank out a few dozen rounds for a range trip, the idiot that I can
be on occasion (hey, don't judge, I don't see any of you jokers batting 100 all
the time) forgot to empty my powder dropper of ball powder meant for my 223 Rem
loads, and ended up tossing about 2 ounces of extruded powder for my 308
Win/6.5 Creed loads on top of it. Yes, completely stupid move, and all my fault
due to rushing around instead of paying attention.
I admit this, get off my
Anyway, you know that itchy feeling in the back of your skull you get
when you know something really bad just happened, even if you don't immediately
know what it is? Yep, got one of those moments just then.
So I empty out the
dropper into my powder dish just to double check myself, and realize I just
created about 4 ounces of "ah sh!t, sh!t, sh!t!". For those of you
unfamiliar with what that equals to, you're looking at about 40x 308
Win/6.5 Creedmoor loads or 75x 223 Remingtons! Not exactly numbers you
want to be losing.
Rather than just toss my
newly created powder mix of madness in the trash (hey the stuff is still super
flammable, Mary) I dump the pile into an empty powder container (YES, I marked
the crap out of it and duct taped the lid on), and shuffle it to the back of
the ammo cabinet. I figure I could use it for some gnarly M80 type noise makers
sometime. Anyway, I load the rest of my cartridges WITH THE PROPER POWDER ONLY
in the dropper, and finish out a pleasant afternoon sending lead downrange.
Fast forward a few weeks,
and it's time to fire form some new cases. Now typically I just use a cheap
ball powder with a medium load up and pill. But as I reached for the jug of
normal fire powder, I happened to see the can of WTF dust sitting
temptingly in the back, quiet and serene, cooing inaudibly to the mad scientist
part of my brain (I'm pretty sure that's how Satan tempted Eve).
Before I go on, and just
so we're all on the same page, I prefer to liken this situation to a meeting a
lady looking like Kate Upton on a Friday night who's really into you and wants
to follow you home; you find out she was just broken up with, dreams of babies,
has a history of anger management problems, and a deep love of alcohol. Fatal
attraction 101. You know you shouldn't, every instinctual survival alarm is
going off in the fight or flight section of your brain, buuuuuut you still go
for it. Any guy with his head firmly on his neck instead of in his a$$ knows
the whole ordeal will result in consigning yourself to the 7th circle of hell,
but that little masochistic voice in the back says "YOLO bro, have some
fun". So you do.
Again, get off my nuts.
Anyway back to the story
at hand: So I pull that little canister of chaos out and proceed to figure out
what in the hell I'm gonna do. Now, by any reloading manual you come across, 36
grains is barely a starting load for the vast majority of powders for 308
Winchester, and for the two powders in the bottle of KYAG mix (that's Kiss Your
A$$ Goodbye), that was the listed minimum for a 150 grain BTSP pill. Deciding I
have a deep fondness of my rifle, not to mention my fingers, face, torso, and
life in general, I opted to go for 35 grains, in hopes for just a little extra
bit of "maybe" cushion. Loaded the cartridges up to normal COAL for
the bullet, and headed to the range.
To be clear, I'm not
particularly concerned with dying, but I have to admit, my anal orifice was rather
puckered turning over the prospect I was entering into at that moment. Saying a
quick prayer to the Dear Lord asking for forgiveness for all the mistakes I've
made in my life (hey, you never know), planting the reticle squarely on the
bullseye, and resolving to die like a Klingon with my eyes wide open (Star
Trek: get into it!), I squeeze off the first shot.....
BOOM! Round sets off, no
mule kick from the rifle, and the target has a new peep hole a hair north of
dead center at 250 yards! Ejecting the brass (without having to torque the
bolt), on visual inspection: no flattened or cratered primer, no split neck, no
pressure signs at the head, and I was still breathing with all digits intact!
To say the least, I was
thrilled! To say the most, I was thanking God and every angel in heaven for
finding me worthy of remaining alive on Earth instead of dead being blown to
Neptune, and without having evacuated my excretory organs involuntarily!
Okay hardest part was
done, the "wonder if". But the placement of that new pill window had
me curious if it was pure luck, or if there was something to this
"accident". So I load up another (yes, I had planned to do it again,
if I survived the first round. I was fire forming 20 cases!), touch it off, and
then a third. I'll be damned if I hadn't clover leafed the red! Now you have to
understand, I had already been hole-punching sub-1/2MOA with my previously
worked up loads with match bullets regularly at 250 yards, but to do this with
a cheapie BTSP bullet riding a powder mix that would have Caligula questioning
my sanity, there HAD to be an explanation.
After fire forming the
rest of the rounds, wishing I had been at a PRS competition instead of my range
spot, I hit the research hard.
Come to find out, mixing
powders, or "duplex loading" as it's formally known, isn't so
strange or new an occurrence. Black powder, F-Class, and magnum loaders have
been doing it for decades, though most often it involves stacking 5-10 grains
of fast ball powder next to the primer, and then tossing a slower powder on top
to the point of compression, or in the very least, throwing in a filler to get
full case capacity. Some loaders have supposedly even created
"triplex" loads, or 3 different powders stacked, but that revelation
has been noted to be closer to Rasputin than Freud. And most often, the mix
consists of stacking the two powders one on top of the other, rather than a
homogenous mix, or "equal distribution" throughout. To date though, I
have been unable to find hard data on which powders in which proportions have
previously been experimented with safely, I'm sure for liability reasons.
To recap, I'm not
advocating this system of senility, but considering the fact it has been done
before, by reputable shooters, and keeping in mind my own experiences, there
may just be something to this "accidental" amalgamation. Granted this
is usually the sort of thing best left to professional labs and EOD teams, and
again I'm not saying "try this out", but it's certainly a subject
that may be worth pursuing? The uncertainty was a hell of a rush for me!