Trail Boss

Trail Boss (IMR or Hodgdon) is especially made for large cases. It is my unqualified recommendation for the best first powder to try when getting into reloading handguns (ideally a popular revolver cartridge). But it has features you will never outgrow.

Bottom Line: 👍 Fantastic for light loads, especially in large magnum or black-powder-era cases. Very safe and easy to work with.

Manufacturer’s load data portal.


  • Safe. Bulk makes double-charges easy to spot (all published loads I’ve seen will literally overflow if double-charged).
  • Excellent case-fill may promote accuracy.
  • Acceptable accuracy when working quickly with an old-fashioned dipper, because variations in volume have less impact.
  • To work up a load with an unknown cases, 70% case-fill to start, 100% case-fill MAX. Safe with nearly everything (not OK for 50BMG, but yes for 458 Win Mag). No really, it is officially that easy


  • Lots of static cling because it’s light and fluffy.
  • Limited to light loads only, unlike some classic light powders (e.g Bullseye) it can’t also be used for “duty” level loads.
  • Very inconsistent metering in a lever-actuated powder measure (e.g. Redding 3BR). It’s the worst powder I’ve tried in that measure. I got significant under-throws, but never overthrows (so far… to be honest, consistency was so bad I stopped trying). No problems with manual dippers or trickle-style measures (e.g RCBS Chargemaster).

Density (per Lee dipper chart) 4.6 grains/cc; 0.2172 VMD

Different dipper-techniques will give different results. I filled the dipper in one pass, then skimmed off the top with my finger, or the base of another casing.

Lee dipper Grains Actual (measured) Nominal (chart)
0.5cc 2.0 2.3
1.9cc 8.2 8.7
2.2cc 9.8 10.1
2.5cc 10.7 11.5
2.8cc 12.3 12.9
3.1cc 13.6 14.3


Redding 3BR Pistol Insert

Do not use this powder and this measure. It is not repeatable.

Pistol Insert # Grains Thrown (Max of 5 throws)
20 1.2
40 2.4
60 3.4
80 (tap between throws) 4.7
99 5.5

“Lipstick” 45 Colt

The ACME Bullet Company line of “Lipstick” bullets are a lovely bright red. ACME claimes they are cast with 92-6-2 alloy then coated and baked three times with Hi-Tek, prior to sizing. When I ordered from Grafs the bullets came in a wooden box. While obviously inexpensive it was much nicer than I expected! It would be very much at home as an ammo box in any Cowboy kit.

Cartridge: 45 Colt

Brass: Starline, nickel plated, new.

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

Powder: Clays 4.6gr (per Modern Reloading 2nd edition by Richard Lee, page 581, start at 4.6 gr for 777; max 5.9gr @ 931fps and 13100 CUP 1.6″ OAL)

Bullet: ACME (.452)200gr RNFP bullet with “NLG” coating

Crimp: Heavy Lee factory crimp

45 ACP GlowAmmo

Glow Ammo reloading kits are literally glow-in-the dark stickers that you put on the back of bullets, to see them in flight. It sounds silly. But it really works at dusk or an indoor range! You can get some really cool slow-motion video with just an iPhone.

I don’t actually see any training value in the product. The bullets are still fast. So in the best-case you only perceive an instestanious-line tracing from the muzzle to the target. …which isn’t actually more information than you get by watching the sights or muzzle at the moment the trigger breaks… And as the shooter the muzzle-flash and recoiling gun generally block out bullet’s flightpath. But more importantly regular bullets leave holes where they hit … it’s not a mystery where the bullet went, or how it got there. Having one more distraction doesn’t make calling shots easier.

That said, I highly endorse this product. It works. It’s safe and affordable. It’s fun. It’s educational — even if that knowledge isn’t practical. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll get the chance to use it on a 600 yard range at dusk and learn something I couldn’t see any other way.

Cartridge: 45 ACP

Primer: Rem 2½ Large Pistol

Powder: TiteWad 3.5 grains (source, I used a different primer)

Cartridge Length: 1.2130 – 1.2175

Bullet: 185 Grain Hornady XTP.

Velocity: Nominal 750, unmeasured

Notes: These had a pretty good glow effect. The XTP bullets have a very flat base, which helps the GlowAmmo adhere. GlowAmmo recommends a fast powder, and TiteWad is about the fastest I can find.