View CartCheck OutNews LetterNews Letter Sign-upWolfe Publishing Company
Wolfe Publishing Company
Handloader MagazineRifle MagazineSuccessful Hunter Magazine
Magazine Subscription Information
Wolfe Publishing Company
HomeShopping/Sporting GoodsBack IssuesLoaddataMy AccountAdvertisingGun Links
Online Magazine Login:    Email:    Password:      Forgot Password    Subscribe to Online Magazine
Blackhorn Powder
Rifle Magazine
October - November 2001
Volume 36, Number 5
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 213
On the cover...
This issue is only available on CD-ROM.The Rifles, Inc. custom .25-06 Remington is based on a Remington Model 700 action and topped off with a Burris 4-16x scope in Burris rings and mounts. Rifle photo by Stan Trzoniec. Pronghorn photo by John R. Ford. Purchase the CD-ROM here
Rifle Magazine
Rifle Magazine Wolfe Publishing Company
Rifle Magazine Featured Articles
Table of Contents
Product Tests
What's New
Rifle Magazine

Ramshot powders are used in many Black Hills Ammunition loads, because of their consistency, precise metering and fine accuracy. Here Jim Morey, president of Swarovski Optik N.A., tests a TDS reticle with Black Hills .22-250 ammunition in a Kimber Model 84 on prairie dogs.

What’s a “good” rifle powder? Let’s start with fine accuracy and reasonably high velocity, then add easy metering and insensitivity to cold and heat. Oh, and it shouldn’t make our .30-06’s bore look like the inside of a wood stove chimney.

Not many powders qualify on all counts. In last October’s Handloader (No. 207), I reported on the new Ramshot ball powders, imported by Western Powders of Miles City, Montana. Mostly I discussed TAC, a civilian version of a military powder developed in Belgium for the 7.62mm NATO, known to hunters as the .308 Winchester. TAC was developed specifically for use in automatic weapons, so it couldn’t foul much, and velocities and pressures needed to be consistent over a wide range of temperatures.

TAC’s burning rate is in the IMR-4895 to Reloder 15 range, so it works great wherever those powders do. Being clean burning and relatively insensitive to temperature, it works perfectly for high-volume varmint shooting, especially in the .223 Remington. In my own .223s, it provides a combination of velocity and accuracy as good as any powder on the market, meters within .10 grain and burns so cleanly I regularly shoot hundreds of rounds without cleaning.

I’ve tested my .223 Remington loads at zero degrees Fahrenheit and gotten exactly the same velocity as at 70 F. I haven’t chronographed any loads at higher temperatures yet but just returned from the annual Ramshot prairie dog shoot. Afternoon temperatures hit the high 90s both days, yet TAC-powered .223s from Black Hills Ammunition never created a hint of a sticky case. These factory loads basically duplicated my favorite handload with the 50-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, using 26.5 grains of TAC in Winchester brass. I took prairie dogs out to over 500 yards, even after 200 rounds had gone through the Remington Model 700, and a few even farther, in part due to the 3,500 fps average muzzle velocity from the rifle’s 26-inch barrel.

The long-range hits were also made possible by the new TDS reticle Swarovski introduced in several scopes this year, featuring four hash marks below the crosshairs that match point of impact out to 500 or more yards. The TDS differs from most other such reticles in that the lower hash marks progressively lengthen, creating a “Christmas-tree” that provides a very handy windage reference.

Even with the TDS, I couldn’t have made consistent long-range shots for two days without very accurate, clean-burning ammunition. In my rifle the Black Hills .223s averaged about .5 inch for five shots at 100 yards, even after 200 rounds without cleaning.

I’ve also tried TAC in other calibers, anywhere one of the 4895s or Reloder 15 is a good choice. It’s a great varmint powder in just about any caliber up to the .257 Roberts but also works well with deer bullets in short-case larger bores. Lately it’s worked very well with both 125- and 150-grain bullets in the .300 Savage - which you’d expect, the Savage being similar to the .308 Winchester.

It also performs well in the .308’s big brother, the .358 Winchester. I just had an older Ruger 77 rebarreled to .358 by Charley Sisk, using one of Hart’s new .35-caliber blanks. This rifle was designed specifically for shooting the 225-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip, a bullet much too long for the 2.8-inch magazines normally found on .358 rifles. Instead we used a .30-06-length Model 77, but even with the extra action length there’s not much powder room. TAC bulks less than any other powder I’ve tried in its burning range, and in early trials shot three-shot groups under an inch with velocities over 2,500 fps from the 22-inch barrel.

Since last year I’ve also wrung out the other two Ramshot rifle powders, Big Game and Magnum.

Big Game’s burning rate fills a real need: slower than Reloder 15 yet faster than IMR-4350. There just aren’t many powders in this slot. I’ve tried Big Game in cases from the .220 Swift to the .30-06, and it’s worked great with appropriate bullet weights in every caliber.

In the Swift, Ramshot data lists 41.5 grains as maximum with 55-grain Ballistic Tips. In my sporter-weight Ruger No. 1, 41.0 grains worked best, accuracy averaging .5 inch for five shots at 100 yards with a muzzle velocity just under 3,900 fps from the 26-inch barrel. This combination worked perfectly in the field, even at near 100 degrees, without a hint of a sticky lever. If you’re going to stick a Swift case on a hot day, the Ruger No. 1 will lock up long before a bolt action.

Big Game works equally well in the .22-250 Remington and may be the perfect powder for 150-grain bullets in the .30-06, where Reloder 15’s a little fast and IMR-4350 a little slow. Fifty-five grains gets just about 3,000 fps with the 150-grain Nosler Partition from the 24-inch barrel of my Ultra Light Arms .30-06 with .6-inch accuracy and apparently mild pressures. Ramshot data lists up to 59 grains with some 150-grain bullets, at 55,000 psi.

Ramshot Magnum was formerly called Big Boy, but the name was changed to prevent confusion with Big Game. Magnum’s a real slow burner on the order of H-1000 or Reloder 25. In my one truly “overbore” rifle, a .270 Weatherby put together by Mark Bansner, Magnum matched the 100-yard accuracy of similar extruded powders but with smaller velocity variations. (This rifle doesn’t have the Weatherby freebore, so my 72-grain load would be relatively mild in a standard Weatherby rifle.) Due to a very windy spring, I haven’t had a realistic chance to try it at longer ranges, but because of the consistent velocities, I suspect it will prove one of the best choices for big magnums, belted or unbelted. Like all Ramshot powders, Magnum’s very dense, so fills less of the case than extruded powders.

Ramshot powders don’t work particularly well with reduced loads, a characteristic common to most ball powders. But in every rifle I’ve tried them in, groups and velocity spreads shrink as the powder charge increases. They’re very easy to work with and a definite improvement over the dirty-burning ball powders we’ve all used over the years.

Ramshot just published its second loading guide with pressure-tested data for most popular rifle and pistol calibers, as well as its clean-burning Competition shotgun powder. For more information call 1-800-497-1007, or go online and visit its web site:

Propellant Profiles
Home  |  Magazine Subscription Information  |  Shopping / Sporting Goods  |  Back Issues  |  Loaddata  |  Advertising  |  Contact Us  |  Gun Links
Wolfe Publishing Company
Wolfe Publishing Company 2180 Gulfstream Suite A Prescott, Arizona 86301    Call Us Toll-Free 1.800.899.7810