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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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

Notes:

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
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