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I'm another who's had great results using Trail Boss in the Dillon 550. Looking at it wouldn't thinkso from the shape of it., but it does measure beautifully.
 

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What is "100% load density"? The VMD I recall was much lower than Trailboss and then would not be as visible in the case or as close to the bullet base in a loaded round. That's why I never pursued sourcing and a trial of Tin Star. Actually, I am not dissatisfied with Trailboss, using it only for cowboy loads, as intended. Of course, it would be less than ideal for other applications. No revelations there.

Load density is fairly easy to figure. Just measure the depth of the powder chamber (edge of case mouth to primer flash hole), then measure the amount of the bullet shank that will impinge on that space. If the powder charge completely fills the remaining air space, that's 100% load density, just like black powder. I've done that with all the rounds I tried it in, and each one matches that with no compression to speak of.


When I got into .45 Colt loading, Trail Boss was one of the first I tried. I had made the decision to load as close to the original black powder ballistics as I could get using smokeless, and I figured TB would be a good place to begin. I soon found out that it runs out of steam rather quickly, and nowhere near full power. That led to a quest that lasted nearly 18 months. I think I tried most of the more commonly listed powders for the .45 Colt. Velocity was easy to match, but consistent ignition was a ghost that I chased for most of that time due to poor load density, powder positioning in the case, etc. The few that came close had a problem of incomplete burning and spitting bits of powder that made chronographing test loads difficult due to false triggers of the front screen.


Tin Star was featured in an article in Handloader and was given high praise. It took me almost 9 months to get my hands on the first 1 lb can, and what a revelation it turned out to be. Every single parameter I was looking for was met. Full power (250 gr. at 900 fps), tight ES and SD for top consistency shot to shot, clean burning, full load density. And accuracy was superb.


I kind of went nuts for awhile, trying it in every old vintage .45 round I could cobble together, as well as several other vintage rounds. It proved very easy to come up with a load for each one that matched original ballistics for black powder. I found it even worked well for a mid-range .44 Mag load for concealed carry. I haven't tried it yet in .45 ACP, but I suspect it would work there just fine as well.


I think a lot of people haven't tried it, or heard of it because of the poor distribution Vihtavuori suffered from until recently. But now they have a better distrib. deal and a better supply chain and its easier to find. I jumped on a large amount so it will be a long time before I run out. The only other pistol powder I use anymore is Blue Dot for heavy Ruger level .45 Colt loads. Otherwise, 1875 level black powder ballistics are just as effective today as they were 145 years ago. Trail Boss may be filling the bill for you now, but I think it would be a big mistake not to try N32C. It will do everything TB can do, including full power loads, and without the spikiness of TB at the high end.
 

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Load density is fairly easy to figure. Just measure the depth of the powder chamber (edge of case mouth to primer flash hole), then measure the amount of the bullet shank that will impinge on that space. If the powder charge completely fills the remaining air space, that's 100% load density, just like black powder. I've done that with all the rounds I tried it in, and each one matches that with no compression to speak of.


When I got into .45 Colt loading, Trail Boss was one of the first I tried. I had made the decision to load as close to the original black powder ballistics as I could get using smokeless, and I figured TB would be a good place to begin. I soon found out that it runs out of steam rather quickly, and nowhere near full power. That led to a quest that lasted nearly 18 months. I think I tried most of the more commonly listed powders for the .45 Colt. Velocity was easy to match, but consistent ignition was a ghost that I chased for most of that time due to poor load density, powder positioning in the case, etc. The few that came close had a problem of incomplete burning and spitting bits of powder that made chronographing test loads difficult due to false triggers of the front screen.


Tin Star was featured in an article in Handloader and was given high praise. It took me almost 9 months to get my hands on the first 1 lb can, and what a revelation it turned out to be. Every single parameter I was looking for was met. Full power (250 gr. at 900 fps), tight ES and SD for top consistency shot to shot, clean burning, full load density. And accuracy was superb.


I kind of went nuts for awhile, trying it in every old vintage .45 round I could cobble together, as well as several other vintage rounds. It proved very easy to come up with a load for each one that matched original ballistics for black powder. I found it even worked well for a mid-range .44 Mag load for concealed carry. I haven't tried it yet in .45 ACP, but I suspect it would work there just fine as well.


I think a lot of people haven't tried it, or heard of it because of the poor distribution Vihtavuori suffered from until recently. But now they have a better distrib. deal and a better supply chain and its easier to find. I jumped on a large amount so it will be a long time before I run out. The only other pistol powder I use anymore is Blue Dot for heavy Ruger level .45 Colt loads. Otherwise, 1875 level black powder ballistics are just as effective today as they were 145 years ago. Trail Boss may be filling the bill for you now, but I think it would be a big mistake not to try N32C. It will do everything TB can do, including full power loads, and without the spikiness of TB at the high end.
Thank you for that, but it didn't address that with Tin Star being significantly lower in VMD one would need to use more powder weight to fill the case. Do loads of Trailboss and Tin Star then both give "100% density"?

Another issue I have with Tin Star is that the data is for 250ish bullets, when that is not what many cowboy shooters use, going for a lighter bullet with minimal recoil. The 160 gr is often mentioned. I do use 255 gr, however, but would like to experiment. I do know that 200 grain shoots too low in my guns, which are regulated to 250-255.
 

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Thank you for that, but it didn't address that with Tin Star being significantly lower in VMD one would need to use more powder weight to fill the case. Do loads of Trailboss and Tin Star then both give "100% density"?

Another issue I have with Tin Star is that the data is for 250ish bullets, when that is not what many cowboy shooters use, going for a lighter bullet with minimal recoil. The 160 gr is often mentioned. I do use 255 gr, however, but would like to experiment. I do know that 200 grain shoots too low in my guns, which are regulated to 250-255.



OK, what is VMD? Not familiar with that one, not by initials in any case. As I said, Tin Star does everything TB will do, plus. That means you can download it for target velocity or go to full power with no issues. Obviously, lower speed means less powder. That would be the case in .45 Colt. You can either run slower or run a lighter bullet, it'll work either way, its not picky. I don't shoot mouse fart loads in anything, so I've never spent a lot of time working those up. My preferred loads are all 100%, but I make it a matter of policy to always stay within the 80% to 100% window in terms of load density. If a powder can't meet that criteria, it isn't in my inventory.



The lower charge weights I've used were paired with smaller capacity cases for appropriate loads for shorter cased .45 caliber rounds like the Schofield, .45 Short Colt, .455 Webley, etc. Like Trail Boss, N32C has a formula you can use to figure charge weights, but I've never used it. In fact, I don't know what it is. Charges used are as follows for the most part:


.45 Colt 250 gr RNFP 8.6 gr 875 fps
.45 Schofield 230 gr. RN 8.0 gr 800 fps
.45 Short Colt 250 gr. RNFP 8.2 gr 820 fps
.455 Webley 265 gr RNHB 7.0 gr 700 fps
.44 Mag midrange 240 RNFP 9.0 1000 fps for carry in M69 S&W



.45 Schofield 250 gr RNFP 8.6 gr 850 fps for carry in my Redhawk 4"


The last one raises pressures a bit in the smaller Schofield case, but gives tighter SD/ES for carry purposes with only a minor loss of velocity.
 

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Another good thing about Trail Boss & the .45 Colt, a double charge overflows the case, I've deliberatly tried. There is no way to seat a bullet on a double charge. It should not be compressed however
 

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OK, what is VMD? Not familiar with that one, not by initials in any case.<snip>
Volume Measuring Density
Charge in grains x VMD = Volume cc

It is used extensively in Lee powder measuring instructions. Each powder has its VMD factor listed in a chart, so that they can be compared.
 

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Another good thing about Trail Boss & the .45 Colt, a double charge overflows the case, I've deliberatly tried. There is no way to seat a bullet on a double charge. It should not be compressed however
Yep, 7.0grns fills up a 45 Colt case right to the bottom of a 250grn RNFP boolit, that is more than Hodgdon recommends, but it's not compressed, but I wouldn't put another .1grn under it!!
 

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Volume Measuring Density
Charge in grains x VMD = Volume cc

It is used extensively in Lee powder measuring instructions. Each powder has its VMD factor listed in a chart, so that they can be compared.
If you used a dipper for a fixed cc value, you could do the algebra for VMD.
 

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Volume Measuring Density
Charge in grains x VMD = Volume cc

It is used extensively in Lee powder measuring instructions. Each powder has its VMD factor listed in a chart, so that they can be compared.

Ahh, OK. I've never heard that term that I can recall, and though I've used the dippers before, it was long, long ago. I never saw the point of dippers with extruded powders in any case. I don't think much of Lee products.
 

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Yep, 7.0grns fills up a 45 Colt case right to the bottom of a 250grn RNFP boolit, that is more than Hodgdon recommends, but it's not compressed, but I wouldn't put another .1grn under it!!

Tin Star is a denser powder than TB. Load density is not the same as powder density though. It takes 8.6 gr in .45 Colt to come up to the bottom of the 250 gr RNFP bullet. At that level, it equals the original black powder power level and gives approximately 900 fps in a 7.5" barrel. In my 4.2" Redhawk it runs 875 fps.


Tin Star is more docile, however, than TB. When you hit the line with TB, it takes very little to run pressures through the roof. In the .44 Mag case (which is the same length but smaller diameter than .45 Colt) I can use 9.0 gr under a 240 gr. RNFP for 1000 fps from my 4" M-69. I'm guesstimating that pressure is between 20k and 25k, while a full power .44 Mag load with appropriate powder runs around 35k pressure. If you tried that trick with TB, you'd blow up your gun.
 

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I’m a fan of Trail boss in my Dillon 550 for 38 Special & 44 Special loads. First and foremost, I can see the powder level in my cases. Secondly, you can’t double charge with Trail boss. Powder would be spilling all over your press if you double charged. And third, it’s extremely soft shooting for target loads. My only complaint, is the 9 oz. can. Enjoy your trail boss, OP!
 

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Ahh, OK. I've never heard that term that I can recall, and though I've used the dippers before, it was long, long ago. I never saw the point of dippers with extruded powders in any case. I don't think much of Lee products.
I hesitated to mention Lee because it would trigger the bashing. I am very proficient and happy with my Lee turret, so I am kind of a defender.

Use your own measure if "dippers" trigger you. Fill an empty case to the level brim with powder then weigh it. The cc otherwise is just a standard of comparison.
 

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Tin Star is a denser powder than TB. Load density is not the same as powder density though. It takes 8.6 gr in .45 Colt to come up to the bottom of the 250 gr RNFP bullet. At that level, it equals the original black powder power level and gives approximately 900 fps in a 7.5" barrel. In my 4.2" Redhawk it runs 875 fps.


Tin Star is more docile, however, than TB. When you hit the line with TB, it takes very little to run pressures through the roof. In the .44 Mag case (which is the same length but smaller diameter than .45 Colt) I can use 9.0 gr under a 240 gr. RNFP for 1000 fps from my 4" M-69. I'm guesstimating that pressure is between 20k and 25k, while a full power .44 Mag load with appropriate powder runs around 35k pressure. If you tried that trick with TB, you'd blow up your gun.
Running Trailboss on the hot side does not match its promoted usage. The powder should not be condemned for something that is not going to happen with any wisdom except in theory. One should pick a powder appropriate to the application and as optimal as possible. In 45 Colt with 255 grain lead bullets I use 5.2 gr for CAS and 5.6 for the range and general purposes. That would be in Colt SAA type guns. Shoots well all around. Loading TB in serious magnum levels (compressed?) is silly IMO.
 

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I’m a fan of Trail boss in my Dillon 550 for 38 Special & 44 Special loads. First and foremost, I can see the powder level in my cases. Secondly, you can’t double charge with Trail boss. Powder would be spilling all over your press if you double charged. And third, it’s extremely soft shooting for target loads. My only complaint, is the 9 oz. can. Enjoy your trail boss, OP!
I see Trailboss as rightfully priced lower by those who don't oversimplify their powder pricing. The powder is too low in fill density to fit a pound in a standard plastic jar.
 

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Running Trailboss on the hot side does not match its promoted usage. The powder should not be condemned for something that is not going to happen with any wisdom except in theory. One should pick a powder appropriate to the application and as optimal as possible. In 45 Colt with 255 grain lead bullets I use 5.2 gr for CAS and 5.6 for the range and general purposes. That would be in Colt SAA type guns. Shoots well all around. Loading TB in serious magnum levels (compressed?) is silly IMO.

Well, part of the problem is that TB has always been mismarketed in my opinion. That is due in large part to the idea that cowboy loads as used in Cowboy matches are not loaded to realistic levels. A real cowboy from 1875 would throw such loads into the nearest horse trough. But, that's what Trail Boss was designed to do. For the smarter people who want better performance in terms of consistent ignition (along with not having to fool with powder position in that big old case) try to make it do things it isn't meant to do.


In my case, I set out from the beginning looking for components that would let me load full power (black powder equivalent) with smokeless. I ruled out TB right from the jump because I knew it couldn't cut it at that level. I also ruled out 98% of the typical pistol powders normally listed in the manuals for the .45 Colt because they couldn't meet load density criteria or consistency criteria without exceeding safe pressures (again I was trying to stay within black powder pressure levels). The only powder I've found that even came close was A5744, but it was not that great either. That left N32C Tin Star, and that happily does it all, and it has proven to be a very versatile powder in every vintage type cartridge I've tried it in. My hat is off to Vihtavuori for some superb chemistry.
 

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I see Trailboss as rightfully priced lower by those who don't oversimplify their powder pricing. The powder is too low in fill density to fit a pound in a standard plastic jar.

If you take two cans of TB (18 oz total) and call it a lb, you'll end up paying about the same as you would for a lb of Tin Star. Since Tin Star is far more versatile and can run target level as well as full power, it makes more sense to buy Tin Star due to its versatility.
 

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If you take two cans of TB (18 oz total) and call it a lb, you'll end up paying about the same as you would for a lb of Tin Star.
A quick internet search shows that Vihtavuori N32C "Tin Star" is about $10 a pound more?, figure it out per ounce, and I've NEVER seen ANY!?? Vihtavuori powder in person??, I can get Trail Boss at lunch time tomorrow!

I have about 15 actual pounds of Trail Boss on hand, including two 5#jugs of it, I'm good with the results I'm getting, if I need to feel hot rod 45's I'll get out the 454 Casull and 450 Marlin.
 

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Well, part of the problem is that TB has always been mismarketed in my opinion. That is due in large part to the idea that cowboy loads as used in Cowboy matches are not loaded to realistic levels. A real cowboy from 1875 would throw such loads into the nearest horse trough. But, that's what Trail Boss was designed to do. For the smarter people who want better performance in terms of consistent ignition (along with not having to fool with powder position in that big old case) try to make it do things it isn't meant to do.


In my case, I set out from the beginning looking for components that would let me load full power (black powder equivalent) with smokeless. I ruled out TB right from the jump because I knew it couldn't cut it at that level. I also ruled out 98% of the typical pistol powders normally listed in the manuals for the .45 Colt because they couldn't meet load density criteria or consistency criteria without exceeding safe pressures (again I was trying to stay within black powder pressure levels). The only powder I've found that even came close was A5744, but it was not that great either. That left N32C Tin Star, and that happily does it all, and it has proven to be a very versatile powder in every vintage type cartridge I've tried it in. My hat is off to Vihtavuori for some superb chemistry.
Nice! You disrespect CAS and claim to be smarter than Trailboss users.

Hodgdon shows their "cowboy" load data as exactly the same as their regular listing, maxing at 727 fps and 12.7k psi, a pressure number approximately 10% lower than standard max of 14k, conservative to include older guns. That would be for the 250 grain lead bullet. Many 45 Colt shooters use a much lighter bullet, because the muzzle rise and cocking with an authentic high-spur hammer works against staying on target for crazy fast shooting. I have been shooting a 255 bullet with a mid range load that is a challenge to manage and will probably go to the minimum load for some range tests. After using these bullets I may go to a lighter bullet but already know my guns shoot a bit low with 200 grain. A better bet may be to use 45 Cowboy special in the pistols, which is a 45 ACP-length case with 45 Colt specs otherwise. Then Trailboss may not fit...Tin Star neither. 160 grain is the usual bullet weight for 45CS.
 

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Volume Measuring Density
Charge in grains x VMD = Volume cc

It is used extensively in Lee powder measuring instructions. Each powder has its VMD factor listed in a chart, so that they can be compared.
Would not it be much easier and less confusing just to say density rather that having some nebulous term such as VMD? All VDM seems to be is cc/grain.
 
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