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Old 11-21-2005, 11:08 AM   #1
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Stick vs. Ball

I'm sure this is a very basic question, but what is the difference between stick and ball powder? Does it just refer to the shape of the grains? What are the different properties of the two?
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Old 11-21-2005, 11:17 AM   #2
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The terms refer to the shape of the individual grains of powder. Ball powder meters more nicely; stick powder is a little crunchy from time to time through the powder meter. This will give you more consistant powder charges, but that's not all that big a deal in actuality. Stick powder is generally much cleaner burning and more stable with temperature.

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Old 11-21-2005, 02:20 PM   #3
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and stick powders are usually single based (nitrocellulose only) where ball powders are usually double based (nitrocellulose and nitroglycerine).

stick powder shapes can be manipulated for different burning characteristics (regressive, neutral, progressive) but ball powders are stuck with a degressive burning rate shape.

adding retardants will change the burning rate at the expense of power and cleanliness. this was part of the early M16 ammo/fouling/cleaning debacle.

IMR rifle powders are the archetypical stick powder. Winchester 748 is an example of ball powder.

Alliant's Reloder series and Vihtavuori's 5xx series are double based, non-ball exceptions.

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Old 11-21-2005, 03:57 PM   #4
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Thanks guys.

That's been bugging me for a while, and I couldn't find a nice, clean explaination like you just provided for me.
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