Hodgdon Lil' Gun Powder


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn


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.

Jeff Quinn


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Hodgdon Lil' Gun Powder is big in performance!