Right on the heels of Berger’s newest 6.5mm and .224" bullet offerings, Hodgdon announced this week the release of StaBALL 6.5, a new temperature-stable ball powder from Winchester Smokeless Propellants that should make an excellent accompaniment to Berger’s new bullets.
Hodgdon identifies StaBALL 6.5’s salient feature in claiming it “…the world’s first temperature-insensitive BALL Powder, stable in extreme-hot or -cold conditions.” Additionally, StaBALL 6.5 has the other benefits of a ball-type powder that handloaders have come to appreciate: easy metering through a powder measure for precisely-thrown charges and excellent load density for its burn rate in appropriately-sized cartridges.
Load densities close to 100 percent are an aid to creating precision reloads. High load density can safely impart higher velocities, and Hodgdon says StaBALL 6.5 can raise velocities up to 200 fps over extruded powders in cartridges for which it is ideally suited, such as 6mm Creedmoor, 6GT and 6.5 Creedmoor. For hunting, the list includes 7mm-08 and .270 Winchester. Hodgdon’s free online Reloading Center already has some loads posted for these and similar cartridges, including loads for .223 Rem with heavyweight bullets up to 90 grains. StaBALL 6.5 data for the 6x47 Lapua is there, too. While no data appears for the 6XC or 6mm Norma BR, advanced handloaders should have little trouble extrapolating their own starting loads.
For high-volume competition shooters, spherical powder granules like that of StaBALL 6.5 won’t hang up in a progressive press’s powder measure as extruded powders do, creating a repetitive reloading speed bump. Smooth flow equates to consistent charges, required for consistent pressure, and that equates to consistent velocities for smaller groups.
StaBALL 6.5’s chemistry includes a copper fouling reducer. We can all appreciate a powder that reduces copper fouling on those match days when we send 120 (or more) rounds downrange without cleaning the bore. Most of all, however, many of us require a powder insensitive to temperature excursions. Particularly here in Arizona, shooters of long-range competitions give careful attention to keeping cartridges out of direct sunlight, as cartridges broiling in 115-degree heat while awaiting launch will throw their bullets outside a rifle’s normal zero fired with cooler cartridges of the identical load. At Phoenix’s world class Ben Avery Shooting Facility, for example, it’s not uncommon to see cartridges carried to the firing line in small, lunchbox coolers. With StaBALL 6.5 we should be able to expect cartridges to shoot to the same point of impact during both summer practice and winter competitions—without the need for lunchboxes.
All those benefits make a lot of reasons to try StaBALL 6.5, especially paired with new Berger bullets.