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Lightning rifle powder#1
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November 21, 2022 - 3:26 pm
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Just obtained a can of lightning#1 powder. Only info I’ve located is in sharpes Manuel. The label front is missing. On the back are several recipes for calibers I want to try. They are for jacketed high power, high velocity loads. I have only shot cast as of yet. For 38-55 jacketed it shows 24gr for 255 gr jacketed bullet for velocity of 1590fps and pressure of 22680psi.looking for best recommendation for starting load for 260gr cast. Would you think starting 10% or 15% lower powder charge is a good place to start?

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November 21, 2022 - 4:22 pm
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First, I’ve never heard of “Lightning” powder.  Is that the manufacturer?  I looked in my somewhat dated “Propellant Profiles”, 5th Edition, and see nothing in the way of Lightning, either as a make or as a type.  If the label is missing, I would be VERY suspect of the contents.  Thus, even with the back showing some data, can you guarantee the contents are correct for those directions?  After all, YOU assume all liability with your eyes, hands, life, etc!  Tim

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November 21, 2022 - 4:23 pm
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Rather surprising on this forum to hear someone referring to Sharpe’s manual; many, I suspect, have never seen it.  If the label wasn’t missing, I think the can itself would be a collector’s item–one of the very first smokeless powders (1899).  Don’t know when it was discontinued, but not listed in Dean Grinnel’s manual of 1974.  Your 10-15% reduction seems safe to me, as, depending on how old it is, it may have lost some of its potency. 

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November 21, 2022 - 4:29 pm
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tim tomlinson said
First, I’ve never heard of “Lightning” powder.  Is that the manufacturer?  I looked in my somewhat dated “Propellant Profiles”, 5th Edition, and see nothing in the way of Lightning, either as a make or as a type.  If the label is missing, I would be VERY suspect of the contents.  Thus, even with the back showing some data, can you guarantee the contents are correct for those directions?  After all, YOU assume all liability with your eyes, hands, life, etc!  Tim

  

Tim, it was manufactured by Hercules, & was before WW II considered one of the best & most accurate powders available.  If he has Sharpe’s manual he can’t go wrong.  I think with a magnifying glass he can identify the powder from Sharpe’s description–grains are a large irregular wafer, that Sharpe says should be weighed, not measured.

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November 21, 2022 - 4:50 pm
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You learn something new all the time!  I have “opportunity” at local auctions to buy powder.  Lately it sells for near market values, but I have NEVER nor intend to start to buy “farmyard sale” powders.  Do the contents match the label (if there is a label)?  Is it deteriorated?  To me, its just not worth the risks to me or my firearms.  Similarly, I won’t shoot any other handloader’s ammo.  But, if it is Lightning powder, and it is checked to be not deteriorated, and confirmed to be the powder it is supposed to be–and the loader knows the risks, it is up to him.  I get “hardover” on some topics and this is one of them.  Standard procedures are to reduce starting loads by 10 to 15%.   Tim

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November 21, 2022 - 5:08 pm
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In sharpes manual it gives description and measurements of the kernels. Hercules made 2 lightning powders, number 1 and number2. The descriptions and measurements of the 2 are so different it would be very hard to not identify correctly. Number 1 is a hollow disc .075 in diameter, what I measured was .072. The other lightning has a way different measurement and different shape. The can was sealed. I’ve only heard of people giving the smell test for old powders, whatever that is. To me it smells normal, not rancid or unusual.

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November 21, 2022 - 5:16 pm
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tim tomlinson said
 To me, its just not worth the risks to me or my firearms.

  

I agree that’s the best policy.  But we’re living in a time of scarcity owing to the current foreign war.  Components that ought to be readily available can’t be found. 

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November 21, 2022 - 5:16 pm
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By the way my source has several cans. He gave me this one, as the can and label put it in the non collector category. He does have several cans of HiVel powder also. Sealed.

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November 21, 2022 - 5:20 pm
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[email protected] said
By the way my source has several cans. He gave me this one, as the can and label put it in the non collector category. He does have several cans of HiVel powder also. Sealed.

  

If there’s any doubt about the contents, you could compare it with the labeled cans.

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November 21, 2022 - 5:22 pm
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Clarence number 1 was still in production in 1948, number 2 was discontinued in 1929.

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November 21, 2022 - 5:55 pm
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[email protected] said
In sharpes manual it gives description and measurements of the kernels. Hercules made 2 lightning powders, number 1 and number2. The descriptions and measurements of the 2 are so different it would be very hard to not identify correctly. Number 1 is a hollow disc .075 in diameter, what I measured was .072. The other lightning has a way different measurement and different shape. The can was sealed. I’ve only heard of people giving the smell test for old powders, whatever that is. To me it smells normal, not rancid or unusual.

  

  You’ve done everything within reason to verify the contents, so I’d say fire away. 

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November 22, 2022 - 1:29 pm
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Does it look anything like this:

160-170-2.jpgImage Enlarger

 

 

Laflin-Rand-ad0502.jpgImage Enlarger

 

 

Lightning #1 and #2 were Laflin & Rand powders and Wichester used A LOT of both for certain cartridges, such as the 25-35 WCF, 30 WCF and 33 WCF.  I can’t remember for sure if Lightning started as a Laflin & Rand powder, but I believe it went to DuPont and then broke off of DuPont and became a Hercules powder.  Winchester used several Laflin & Rand powders, including Sharpshooter, WA 30 Cal. and a 35 Cal.  In the case of the 30 WCF, they briefly used a DuPont MR 25 and Hercules 305 between 1919-1924, before switching to the HiVel powders in place of Lightning.  They went to the HiVel powders for several cartridges in the 1920s and you’ll see the jump in cataloged velocities for them immediately after.  They started using IMR and other powders in the 1930s.

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Brad Dunbar

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November 22, 2022 - 2:14 pm
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Yes, exactly how it looks. Going to try load some 38-55 as time permits. Illinois changed deer hunting rules to allow center fire cartridges Jan. 1st.

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November 26, 2022 - 12:50 am
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Ive seen a lot of that Lightning #1 powder at the bottom of 1892 receivers where it gets trapped.  Guess its unspent powder that makes its way down there and has nowhere else to go. 

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November 26, 2022 - 1:54 am
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1892takedown said
Ive seen a lot of that Lightning #1 powder at the bottom of 1892 receivers where it gets trapped.  Guess its unspent powder that makes its way down there and has nowhere else to go. 

  

Suggests pressure wasn’t high enough for complete combustion,  as with most .22 RFs.

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November 26, 2022 - 3:17 pm
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Found 3 cull bullets for 38-55. I loaded 20.4 grs lightning. Shooting at about 25 yards, i hit an 8x8in target once, 2 others were in the 18x30in cardboard backer. Don’t have a chrony yet, but the recoil felt like plinking loads of 9 grs of unique. Have 6 different molds for 38-55. Cast about 30 for each. Will try and load a few. I’m hoping the original winchester mold will cast a bullet i can shoot minute of deer, although it will have to bump up .003 to fill the grooves

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