Editor’s Note: This is the third in our interview series with Rob Behr of Western Powders. Rob, who handles marketing (among other duties) for Western, is a very knowledgeable hand loader. He’s probably best known to reloading enthusiasts as the author of the “Dear Labby” advice column for the company’s online magazine. Despite Rob’s self-deprecating manner, you’d be hard pressed to find a better authority on hand loading. I had a chance to interview him recently to about the newest powders from Western, his upcoming reloading guide for 2017 and some other queries.
Q: Before we talk about what’s new at Western let’s discuss Western’s 1680 powder, which has become a favorite for .300 AAC Blackout applications. Can you talk about the .300 AAC Blackout trend and why 1680 is popular?
A: I’m honestly surprised at the popularity of the .300 Blackout. It spent years as a trademarked cartridge through J.D. Jones as the .300 Whisper. It was intended for suppressed firearms and is a well-considered design for that application. After the .300 AAC Blackout version was released to SAAMI, the cartridge became something more akin to an easily adaptable AR-15 version of the 7.62X39 cartridge along with its subsonic capabilities.
For suppressed firearms using heavy bullets, Accurate 1680 is small grained enough to fill the small available charge space efficiently and slow enough to provide good gas volume to drive the action. It is very close to the perfect burn rate for this cartridge combination.
Q: Is it strictly for subsonic loads?
A: No, but it is certainly at its best with heavier bullets. Using A1680 with lighter bullets results in heavily compress loads that struggle to bring the cartridge to pressure. Once you get up to 150 grain bullets, the powder begins to offer better velocities than faster powders because pressure is added by the bullet’s mass.
Q: Let’s talk about your new products. Let’s start with No.11 FS. What are the applications for this powder?
A: Accurate 11FS is a heavily flash-suppressed magnum pistol powder In our testing, it reduced the muzzle-flash of some magnums by more than 90%. For hunters in twilight or handloaders who intend to replicate police loads for their .357 Magnums, this is an excellent powder. It is also slow enough to have applications in some smaller rifle cartridges like the .22 Hornet and the .300 Blackout. In the Blackout, it capable of great velocity with lighter bullets in the 110 grain to 130 grain range. The muzzle signature on these loads is virtually non-existent.
Q: Is it close in performance and character to any existing powders?
Q: What about your other new powder, TCM? What are the applications?
A: Accurate TCM is named for the .22 TCM cartridge created by Fred Craig and marketed by Armscor. With virtually no recoil and 2,000 fps from a 1911-style handgun, the .22 TCM is fun to shoot. Out TCM powder gives handloaders the ability to mimic factory ammunition performance while maintaining safe operating pressures. Accurate TCM powder is also a magnum pistol powder and has applications in the .357 Magnum and .45 Colt when used as a high pressure cartridge.
Q: You have a new reloading guide coming out later this year. Can you give us a preview?
A: Out first full-sized handloading book is in editing now with Wolfe Publishing. It is slated for release in September or early October. We do have cover art completed, but the design and formatting are still in process with Wolfe. I plan for it to contain handloading data for 203 cartridges, using data from the popular Accurate #2 Guide, industry partners and our ballistics lab. It also will have current information for Accurate 11FS and Accurate TCM.
Q: I’ve noted that your reloading guide is the only one I’ve seen that includes recipes for plated bullets. Do you have any general recommendations when it comes to reloading for plated bullets?
A: I think plated bullets have become a real boon to the industry. They shoot well, limit fouling and are a very cost effective tool for shooters, especially those using indoor ranges. The only limitations I’ve seen with them are that they sometimes fail to handle higher velocities well. The manufactures guidelines make this clear, but handloaders sometimes don’t read the fine print. We have done quite a lot of testing using Berry’s and Rainier Ballistics bullets and recommend them to our customers every day.