Fillers used in metallic
reloading have enjoyed a somewhat spotty history. Initially made of paper, felt, fiber and
cork also have been used, especially in conjunction with black powder and cast bullets.
All of them served to protect the bullet base and hold the powder against the primer flash
hole. More recently, fillers in granulated form have hit the market and have seen use in
smokeless and black-powder loads and even with jacketed bullets.
One of the latest of this
latter group is Puff-Lon, marketed by Puff-Lon of Groesbeck, Texas. According to the
company, the filler is made of a natural cellulose impregnated with synthetic
lubricants, molybdnum disulfide and an anti build-up agent to prevent
particles from bonding together. It is my
understanding that Teflon is one of the synthetic lubricants. The product is compressible
and is sort of beige with a pinkish tint.
The company makes several claims for its product including improvements in consistency,
accuracy, velocity and reliability (in gas-operated autoloaders) - also, reductions in
cleaning, heat transfer, fouling and gas cutting (of cast bullets), among others.
In the Puff-Lon
literature is a caution statement that says, in part, There will be a slight
increase in pressure and velocity with all bullets and a slight loss in accuracy with
boattail bullets. All starting loads should be at least 20% below SAAMI maximum
recommendations. No load should ever exceed 95% of SAAMI maximum recommendations. Crimp
all straight wall cases. Wash hands before handling smoking products. A point not
made is that Puff-Lon is very light, and a sneeze in the wrong direction can make a mess
youll never forget.
Ive been using
Puff-Lon for some months now and think my experiences may be of interest. I used the
filler in four cartridges with both cast and jacketed bullets but restricted my use to
smokeless powders and flatbase bullets.
First, the only handgun
cartridge was the .45 Colt. A typical load for me is the Lyman 454190 cast bullet over 8.5
grains of Unique. Since this is not a maximum load in most manuals, I followed
instructions and, after dropping the powder charge, used a scoop to fill the case to
overflowing with Puff-Lon. A quick swipe with a small ruler leveled off the filler. This
was done with a saucer under the case to catch the excess. Company literature says a
powder measure can be used. This would probably be a good approach for volume loading, if
one has an extra measure lying around. After the filler was placed in the case, the bullet
was seated. This is preferable to charging all cases with the filler then seating all
bullets due to the lightness of the product. Crimping, as always, was done separately.
At the range, Puff-Lons
claims held up well with projected increases in velocity and a tightening of group size.
As with each test, I loaded a series of cases both with and without the filler and, in
addition, had copious notes from previous firings for comparison. In this case, for a load
that typically produced 2 1/2- to 3-inch groups at 25 yards in a Colt SAA,
Puff-Lon-assisted groups now ran 2 to 2 1/2 inches. Not bad. Standard loads clock about
868 fps. The Puff-Lon loads upped speeds to shade the 900-fps mark. Duplicating the tests
with 250-grain Hornady XTPs produced lower velocity, but group sizes still favored the
The first of the rifles
used was a Winchester Model 94 .30-30. The cast bullet load was 20.0 grains of SR-4759
under a 175-grain flatnose, gas-checked bullet from a Magma mould. The Puff-Lon load won
here as well, producing smaller groups, higher velocity (1,943 to 1,923 fps) and smaller
extreme spreads. The jacketed bullet load, a 150-grain Speer over 32.5 grains of Norma
N-201, oddly, produced equal velocities (2,243 to 2,242) with and without the addition of
the filler, but again, the Puff-Lon load was slightly more consistent and had slightly
In a Remington Model 700
.30-06, I began with a variation of the famous Whelen small game load by using the same
cast bullet used in the .30-30 tests rather than the traditional 150-grain Lyman 311466.
Powder was 18.0 grains of SR-4759. Here the velocity and extreme spread edge went to the
Puff-Lon load but, interestingly, the smaller groups were fired without the filler. A very
small difference, I must admit, but smaller, nonetheless. A jacketed 150-grain Hornady
seated over 49.0 grains of Vihtavuori N540 also defied expectations with both velocity and
extreme-spread laurels going to the load without the filler but top accuracy still falling
to the Puff-Lon load.
Finally, to what I
suspect the makers had in mind all along, large black-powder cartridges, in this case, the
.45-70. Here I worked with two cast and two jacketed bullets. The rifle was a Marlin 1895
Cowboy with a 26-inch barrel. For the jacketed bullet loads, I chose 300- and 405-grain
Remingtons. In both cases I used IMR-3031, and in both cases velocity, extreme spread and
accuracy edges went to the Puff-Lon loads.
It was the cast bullet
loads that impressed me most though. H-4198 was the propellant. Bullets were 350-grain
flatnose True Shots from Oregon Trail and 405-grain flatnoses from Meister Bullets.
Accuracy advantages always went to the Puff-Lon loads, often by a large margin, as did the
velocity crown. Both were aided, no doubt, by the significant increases in consistency
enjoyed by the Puff-Lon loads.
characteristic of these tests was that, from a clean barrel, the first Puff-Lon shot
always recorded the lowest velocity. After firing the Puff-Lon loads, and scrubbing the
barrel again, the first non-Puff-Lon shot always recorded the highest velocity in its
group. This speaks to the lubricating qualities of Puff-Lon, it seems, and that once a
barrel has been conditioned with Puff-Lon, no first shot abnormalities should be expected
assuming continued Puff-Lon use. The company recommends cleaning with oily and dry patches
for continued use, but I cleaned my barrels thoroughly, especially after using jacketed
bullets and still found evidence of the lubricating agents in the barrel as noted above.
Another claim made by the
company is that cases used in Puff-Lon loads emerge from the chamber cleaner, particularly
in the neck area, than those that did not employ the product. The company even sent me
pictures to prove it. I was not, however, able to substantiate the claim. Even starting
with very clean brass, if there was a difference, it was too small to draw a conclusion.
Still, with 10
comparative tests, I found the Puff-Lon loads to record higher velocities in 8, accuracy
edges in 9 and greater consistency (smaller extreme spreads) in 9. Thats impressive.
While I probably would not use Puff-Lon were I assembling 500 handgun rounds for plinking
at tin cans or slaying the odd jack rabbit, were I loading for serious for
hunting or competition at long range, and fillers were legal, Id have to seriously
consider it. Tony Turner of Arizona did and won the senior event at the 2003 Quigley Match
using Puff-Lon and placed in the top 2 percent of all competitors.
Puff-Lon is available in
500 and 100cc containers. For more information contact the company at 344 LCR 759, Groesbeck