One of the mixed blessings for shooters who load their own ammo
these days is the great selection of components available from which to choose. The reason that I refer to it as
a mixed blessing, the choices seem almost infinite. It is sometimes hard to
know where to start in choosing components, particularly in the selection of the best powder with
which to send the bullet toward it's intended target. Just within the last
few years, many new powders have been added to the long list of many more available for years.
Several new companies have begun marketing powder for handloaders in recent
years, but one company that has been around since 1946 is still one of the
most prolific in new powder introductions. That would be the Hodgdon powder company of
Shawnee Mission, Kansas.
Hodgdon began selling surplus powder to handloaders right after
World War Two, and have been keeping shooters supplied with quality products ever since.
One of their newest powders is the subject of this article. It is a powder
called Lil' Gun. Lil' Gun was developed for use in .410 shotgun loads, hence
the name. What interests me, however, is that it is also suitable for handgun loads
in the magnum cartridges.
For years, the mainstay of my heavy loads in the .44 and .357
magnums has been either Winchester 296 or Hodgdon's own H110. These two powders are pretty much
identical in structure and loading density, and for all practical purposes
interchangeable. The only thing about 296 and 110 that pains me is that, while being
superb for heavy loads, they do tend to bind in many slide-type powder measures, such as the Lee
Auto Disk or the Dillon.
I like to load all my pistol and revolver rounds on my Dillon 550, so
I really needed a powder that would work well through the measure and still give excellent
performance. Hodgdon's Lil' Gun is just slightly slower than 110 and
296, but is physically larger in particle size. I found that it meters smoothly through
the powder measure, without any tendency to get under the slide and bind the return.
In working with Lil Gun in both the .44 and the .32 magnums, I
found that with lighter bullet weights in each respective caliber, the older
powders gave slightly better velocities. However, when working with the heavier bullets in each cartridge,
Lil' Gun either matched or exceeded the velocities of the other two powders,
while giving good consistency and deviation.
I plan to work more with this new powder in these two cartridges,
and others, soon. According to Hodgdon's literature, it should be great in the .22 Hornet.
For good velocity, consistency, and clean burn, I have found nothing better in the .32
magnum. For the .32, at least in my Ruger Single Six, it is my powder of choice. In the .44, it seems to equal
my older powders while flowing smoothly through the Dillon measure. I think, that with their new
Lil' Gun, Hodgdon has filled a niche that needed filling in handgun powders.
Disregarding it's usefulness in shotguns, for handgunners they should call it Big Gun. It
really does perform in the biggest of revolvers.
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