Reloading: Alliant Reloder 17

This article is now two years old, but it's still topical because Reloder 17 remains a very interesting powder and we are likely to see more powders with its characteristics.  I have done very little work with Reloder 17 since the article was written so I don't have anything more to add, but am posting it here as a convenient way to find it.  The article was first published in http://www.accurateshooter.com/ at http://www.6mmbr.com/reloder17.html

Alliant Reloder 17
State-of-the-Art Powder Delivers Amazing Velocities
Introduction by the Editor http://www.accurateshooter.com/

Speed Beyond All Expectations...


Here at Accurateshooter.com, we've done a lot of load testing, with a wide selection of cartridges and powders. Generally when a newly-introduced powder offers even a slight edge in velocity or accuracy, that's newsworthy. In the case of Alliant's new Reloder 17 (RL17), we were truly amazed by the enhanced velocities this powder offers compared to other propellants.

With the popular 6XC case, shooting 115gr bullets, most guys are topping out at about 2980-3000 fps with a max load of H4350 or H4831. In just-completed tests with RL17, German Salazar and Bob Jensen were able to achieve 3211 fps with the 115s at safe pressures. And with 107gr Sierra Match-Kings, German was able to increase his 6XC's max velocity from 3038 fps to a mind-blowing 3311 fps. That's a gain of 273 fps over his max load with H4831sc. Now, the max velocity with H4350 and 107s might be closer to 3100 fps, but that still means that RL17 can boost your max velocity by over 200 fps.

That's a huge increase, a monumental gain in velocity. We've never seen anything like this--where one powder offers such a dramatic increase in max velocity over other "preferred" powders used by precision shooters.

Engineered for Enhanced Energy, More Velocity


How does RL17 produce so much added speed? There are two main reasons--unique burn properties and high load density. In its chemical properties, RL17 is like no other powder available in the U.S. market. Made in Switzerland by Nitrochemie, RL17 has a unique burn-rate controlling chemical that penetrates all the way through the kernels. Other common extruded powders have only a surface coating. Reloader 17's unique penetrating burn-rate regulator smooths out the pressure curve, allowing RL17 to maintain high energy for a longer period of time.

German Salazar, using Bob Jensen's Oehler 43 equipped for pressure-testing, confirmed that the pressure curve for Reloder 17 is much "gentler" than that of other powders in the same burn range. After RL17 hits peak pressure, the energy level doesn't drop as rapidly as with other powders. So there is more energy pushing your bullet for a longer time. Since pressure drops off more slowly, you can achieve more velocity for a given peak pressure.

The second reason RL17 offers so much added velocity is load density. This powder packs very tightly compared to other "slow" extruded powders such as H4350 and H4831sc. For chamberings limited by case capacity, RL17 lets you put more powder (by weight) into the case. That means you're less likely to run out of "boiler room" before you reach max pressure.

Reloder 17 -- Paradigm Shift In Powder Performance
by Germán A. Salazar
Bob Jensen and I conducted pressure and velocity testing this morning with a sample of Alliant’s new Reloder 17 (RL17) canister powder. The powder is a very fine extruded powder, very similar in appearance and size to Reloder 15. However, unlike RL15 which is manufactured in Sweden, the new RL17 is a Swiss product and is reported to have a flatter pressure curve than conventional powders. Like other powders in the Reloder series, RL17 is a double-base powder with nitroglycerine content.


A few notes about the test procedures: All powder charges were thrown at the range; the standard deviation and extreme spread of the loads would be lower with weighed charges. Each load was limited to 3 or 4 shots as we were working on developing pressure/velocity curves for the powder, not trying to get the most accurate possible data for each charge weight. No shots were fired on target so at this point, accuracy remains an unknown quantity, but we plan to conduct accuracy tests very soon (see first match report below). The 6XC rifle has a 31" Krieger 1:7.5" twist barrel with 1500 rounds fired at the start of testing, the .308 rifle has a 30" Krieger 1:12" twist barrel with approximately 3000 rounds fired. NOTE: Ambient air temperature during all our tests was about 100° F. Keep that in mind when looking at the load tables.

RL17 is a slow powder, very roughly speaking, somewhere between H4350 and H4831 (which is a broad range). However, unlike those powders, or others in that range, RL17 is a very fine-grained powder, allowing a greater weight of powder to fit into a given case. For instance, in the 6XC, I’ve been shooting 42.0 H4831sc with the Berger 115 for some time; that load yields 2950 fps at 50,400 psi and fitting more powder into the case is almost impossible, therefore we could not approach maximum allowable pressure. With RL17, we reached 60,800 psi at 40.9 grains and a velocity of 3211 fps.



While the higher pressure obviously contributes to the higher velocity, the point is that with RL17 we were able to reach that pressure/velocity range, whereas H4831sc limited us due to its low density. Similarly, the 3313 fps we reached with the Sierra 107 at a pressure of 59,700 is a new high water mark for the 6XC in our experience. Our previous high velocity was 3038 fps with 39.0 H4350 at 48,200 psi. RL17’s high density, high energy combination will allow those cartridges suited to its burning rate to achieve higher velocities than previously possible. We also observed that the pressure curves of the RL17 loads were different than most powders, with a sharper ramp up (lower rise time) and a more gradual down slope thus generating more energy for a given pressure level.





Testing Reloder 17 in the .308 Winchester

Our testing continued with the .308 Winchester. As you can see in the table, RL17 is really too slow for the 155gr bullets, with a 48.0 grain charge yielding 2880 fps at 50,900 psi. By contrast, 45.5 grains of H4895 gave 3050 fps at 59,900 psi and 46.0 Varget gave 3036 fps at 59,400 psi. Both of those reference loads were clearly a better combination for the 155. However, when we switched to the world famous, industrial grade, Lapua 185gr D46 FMJ match bullet (you might notice that I have a soft spot for this bullet) RL17 once again showed a real advantage. At a maximum load of 47.0 grains of RL17, we saw 2701 fps at 54,400 psi. This was a fairly full charge with a bit of powder compression so we didn’t go further although the pressure was still well below max.


When more of the powder becomes available, we plan to continue testing with heavy bullet loads in both the .308 Win and 30-06. I believe that this may be just the powder to take the 30-06 with the 210gr Berger to a new performance level.


Official Alliant Load Data Available


Reloder 17 is so new to North American shooters that there is very limited load data available. German Salazar and Bob Jensen began with low, conservative starting points. Alliant Powder does have Reloder 17 data now available for many popular cartridges. You'll find this data incorporated in the Alliant Reloaders' Guide. Once you go to the guide, select "Rifle Load Data", then choose the Cartridge and bullet combination you prefer.

CAUTION: Reloder® 17 was created with new technology to provide velocity greater than the competition in popular standard rifle calibers and the new short magnums. For the recipes developed in Alliant’s Ballistics Laboratory, all loads used Speer bullets and list the correct Overall Length — DO NOT SEAT THE BULLETS TO A LESS OVERALL LENGTH. These recipes are maximum loads and shall not be exceeded. Always start at least 5% low and work up.

Reloder 17 Shoots 600-39X in First Match at 500 Yards
by the Editor http://www.accurateshooter.com/


On July 20, 2007 shooting at the Phoenix Rod & Gun Club, German confirmed that RL17 can deliver real-world, match-winning accuracy. Shooting a 500-yard prone High Power match on the NRA MR65 target, using iron sights, German posted a very impressive 600-39X score. The three relays were shot with three different loads of RL17 in progressively "hotter" increments: 40.6 grains (3215 fps), 41.2 grains (3290 fps), and 41.8 grains (3311 fps). He shot 200-14X with the low load, 200-15X with the middle load, and 200-10X with the hottest load. German felt the middle load was the most consistent. (NOTE: these loads are all with moly-coated bullets--you should reduce the load by at least one full grain for "naked" bullets".)
German explains: "Ask any high power shooter and he'll tell you 600-39X is quite an achievement with iron sights on the new (smaller) MR65 target at 500 yards. I can say with assurance now that this powder will shoot accurately in the 6XC. Last week, using H4831sc, shooting the same 6XC rifle, at the same range, with the same course of fire, I shot a 598-29x. I do think Reloder 17 helped me shoot a higher score this week, with 10 more Xs. The extra velocity afforded by RL17 reduces wind drift considerably, and the elevation held very consistently, particularly with the first two loads."

Even at the hottest load, 41.8 grains (3311 fps) of RL17, German did not observe sticky bolt lift or other notable signs of pressure. So far, then, what we've learned about Reloder 17 is "all good" -- in the appropriate cartridge, it will boost velocities dramatically, and it can deliver competitive accuracy in High Power competition.





Robert Whitley's Reloder 17 Tests in .284 Win, 6.5-284, and 6XC


Robert Whitley recently received some of the new Alliant Reloder 17 powder. He was able to test it in his 6XC, 6.5-284 and his .284 Winchester. Robert's results with the .284 and 6XC were remarkable. First, he confirmed German Salazar's findings that RL17 offers big velocity gains in the 6XC. Second, very importantly, Whitley found that RL17 allowed him to drive 180gr Bergers at 3000 fps in his .284 Win. That represents a gain of about 150 fps over his "max load" with other powders. Robert reports: "I just got back from the range and chrono-tested two rifles with RL17 using 5-shot chrono sequences. My results are presented below."

Rifle #1: .284 Winchester with Berger 180s

.284 Winchester Prone Rifle built up by Warner Tool Co. with Masterclass Stock, Barnard Action, Broughton 1:9" twist 5C barrel (31.5" long).

All loads used neck-turned, Winchester-headstamp .284 brass, CCI BR-2 primers, and naked (non-moly) Berger 180gr VLD bullets seated .010" in the lands:


51 gr RL 17 - Mean Velocity 2881 fps, ES 17, SD 7 - No pressure issues at all

52 gr RL 17 - Mean Velocity 2953 fps, ES 19, SD 7 - No pressure issues at all

53 gr RL 17 - Mean Velocity 3003 fps, ES 25, SD 10 (Slight sticky bolt lift on 3 rounds - this is about top end for my liking but I would not hesitate to shoot it however if it turns out to deliver good accuracy).

Big Speed Gain with Reloder 17 in .284 Win

RL 17 clearly enables me to run the Berger 180s easily 125-150 fps faster that I normally was able to shoot them with H4350 and H4831SC in this rifle. My previous load ran around 2825 - 2850 fps with the Berger 180s and that was about all I could get out of it.

Rifle #2: 6.5-284 with 140gr Berger BTs

6.5 x 284 Prone Rifle built up by Warner Tool Co with Masterclass Laminate Stock by Carl Bernosky, Barnard Action, Bartlein 1:8.5" twist 5R rifled barrel (31" long).

All loads used neck-turned Lapua 6.5 x 284 brass, Fed 210M primers, and naked (no moly) Berger 140gr BT Thick Jacket bullets jumped .010":

48 gr RL 17 - Mean Velocity 3035 fps, ES 17, SD 7 - No pressure issues at all

49 gr RL 17 - Mean Velocity 3078 fps, ES 25, SD 11 - No pressure issues at all

50 gr RL 17 - Mean Velocity 3130 fps, ES 35, SD 12 - No pressure issues at all

51 gr RL 17 - Mean Velocity 3185 fps, ES 17, SD 6 (Sticky bolt lift on 4 rounds - this is about top end for my liking but I would not hesitate to shoot it however if it turns out to deliver good accuracy).

Bear in mind my typical loading with this rifle is 48 grains of H4350 with a Fed 210M primer and the Berger 140gr BT Thick Jacket bullets (no moly) jumping .010". This H4350 load runs 2987 fps and has sticky bolt lift on just about every round.

Nearly 200 fps More Velocity Using RL17 with 140s in 6.5-284

In this rifle, Reloder 17 clearly enables me to run the Berger 140s almost 200 fps faster than I normally was able to shoot them with H4350 in this rifle. My previous H4350 load ran around 2987 fps with the Berger 140s and that was about all I could get out of it.

Caution -- The 6.5-284 already has a reputation as a barrel burner. We can't predict the long-term effects of using RL17 and shooting 150-200 fps faster, but the higher velocities might cause barrels to wear even more quickly.


Rifle #3: 6XC with 107 SMKs and 115 DTACs

6XC Prone Rifle, MAK Tube Gun kit with Remington 700 short action glued in, Pac-Nor 30" 1:8" twist barrel (conventional 4-groove) chambered with an earlier design 6XC reamer (i.e. .275 neck, .090" free bore and one and a half degree throat angle).

All loads were with Winchester 22-250 brass prepped via the Medler method and pre-fireformed to 6XC, BR-2 primed and loaded with either naked Sierra 107s jumped .020" or DTAC 115s jumped .020".
38 gr RL 17 (Sierra 107s) - Mean Velocity 2995, ES 34, SD 14

39 gr RL 17 (Sierra 107s) - Mean Velocity 3114, ES 19, SD 7

40 gr RL 17 (Sierra 107s) - Mean Velocity 3204, ES 32, SD 11

38.5 gr RL 17 (DTAC 115s) - Mean Velocity 3031, ES 45, SD 19

Comment: There were no pressure signs with any of the 6XC loads. With RL 17 I was shooting naked Sierra 107s at 3200 fps with no sticky bolt lift. My prior loading with this rifle was with 40 gr of N160 shooting Moly Berger 105 VLDs and above about 2950 fps I used to get sticky bolt lift, so I stayed around 2950 fps. The primers with the 40 gr loading with Sierra 107s were flattening out a bit but there was never any sticky bolt lift with any of the loads. I suspect if I used the Russian primers that I typically use with my other 6mms, the ES and SD numbers might tighten up a bit.

Big Velocity Gain with DTAC 115s in the 6XC

Previously with this barrel and the DTAC 115s I could never get them over about 2875 fps without very excessive pressure, but with RL17 there were no pressure issues at 3031 fps. That's a gain of +156 FPS and there may be more room above that.

Superior Velocities with Reloder 17 Confirmed

Generally speaking, my results confirm that German Salazar's results with this powder were not an anomaly and that this RL17 powder is really quite different than the propellants we have previously been using in the shooting community. RL17 really takes both the .284 Win and 6XC to whole new performance levels, previously unattainable. Is RL17 a "miracle powder"? I don't know, but it sure seems to be pointing in that direction.

Previous Max Vel & wind drift @ 1000 (10 mph)     RL17  Max Vel RL17 wind drift @ 1000 (10 mph)

.284 Win       180 Berger VLD 2840 fps, H4350 55.25"                 3003 fps, RL17 50.42"

6.5-284        140 Berger BT Thick 2987 fps, H4350 61.55"           3185 fps, RL17 55.56"

6XC              107 SMK moly 2950 fps, N160 73.14"                     3204 fps, RL17 64.77"
 

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