How old is this powder?

HaveGun

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I finally took my very first deer rifle out to my dad's range today and shot it after having last shot it in 1991. I bought a box of Hornady ammo that was amazingly on the shelf at the local LGS and tried it. My dad had a box of ammo that he loaded for it in the 80's using 100 grain Noslers and 50 grains of IMR 4831.

I'd been told that the old XTR Featherweight rifles in .257 Roberts just weren't very accurate back in the day and my experience today bore that out. The handloads did maybe 5' at 100 yards. The Hornady factory loads were much better at around 2". But, since I'd taken my first deer, my first antelope, and my first elk with this rifle at distances from 150 to 269 yards, it was obviously good enough to get the job done.

I bought a set of dies for it a couple of months ago and after shooting, my dad said I need to experiment with different loads to really dial it in. He went to his reloading cave and brought back a couple of boxes of ancient Nosler bullets and an unopened can of IMR 4831.

The powder was in an actual metal can that I don't recall seeing since the 90's. It has some stampings on the bottom but I have no idea how to decipher them.

Any ideas as to how old this powder is? I'm sure it's safe. I unscrewed the lid and the little foam sealer was still intact. I peeled it off and the powder looked and smelled like new.

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I still have cans of powder, none look as good as that. They oxidize easily -- it shows that your dad took great care of it.
I last bought cans in the late '80s, and supposedly IMR went to plastic after Hodgdon bought them in 2003.
If I interpret the codes correctly, the numbers indicate Sept 22 1997
 

po18guy

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I still have cans of powder, none look as good as that. They oxidize easily -- it shows that your dad took great care of it.
I last bought cans in the late '80s, and supposedly IMR went to plastic after Hodgdon bought them in 2003.
If I interpret the codes correctly, the numbers indicate Sept 22 1997
Wow! Didn't know that the metal cans were used that late! Still, it was in a dry environment, as those cans rusted just by staring at them.
 
Imr used metal cans until 2003-4ish. I remember because I had to rebuild (While cussing)my powder shelves to accommodate the fatter plastic jugs. First world problems!
Yes! The metal cans lined up like books on a shelf. I still have an unopened 3031 that a member traded me probably 8-9 years ago that will get opened when I finally load up some 30WCF. (30-30, but my guns really old :D)
 

Spitpatch

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Your XTR should shoot just fine with a load it likes. The only inaccuracy these guns might suffer are blanket statements about their inaccuracy. Allow 3 minutes between each shot (or more if the barrel seems warm to the touch after the last shot). Prior to shooting, insure your guard screws are tight (forward screw first and tighter than rear screw, and that middle thin little screw that is inside should be only firm enough to accomplish its task as a retainer for internal things). Also verify that the magazine wall is installed correctly and the action is not "riding" on it.

Another thing to check on these M70's is the "hot melt glue" that was used as economical "glass bedding" in the recoil lug recess of the stock. Over years it can become brittle and actually crumble apart. It should be all in one piece, and of integrity when explored gently with the tip of a pen knife. It serves well for its purpose if still intact. If it has failed, a new bedding job is in order. I would not bed the barrel full contact without testing as free-floated first. (Full bedding is still possible after a free-float job. The reverse: Not So Much.)

Adjust your trigger (Model 70's of this vintage are wonderfully adaptable to this easy procedure) to about 3 pounds and function test before firing. The difference between a 3lb trigger and a 5lb trigger can easily be a area for attention toward reducing group size.

With all above addressed, I would expect that rifle's groups to hover in and around 1" AVERAGE. Directed toward an ungulate, minute of ventricle.

Your can of IMR4831 (described as you did from your inspection) is just fine. It is on the "slower" end of the burn rate spectrum for this cartridge but entirely applicable. IMR4350 might be a better choice considering your barrel length.
 
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