UVA Staff Review - Trail Boss by IMR Powder Co.
By Kelly Higashiyama


I reload the majority of the ammunition I shoot. Everything from 30-06 rifle rounds down to 9x18 Makarov.  Reloading is a great hobby and, with some work, can show you the true potential of your firearm. While fun and rewarding, reloading has some dangers. One of the most common mistakes that reloaders make that destroys guns and injures shooters is the double charge. A double charge is when the reloader accidently charges a case twice, making chamber pressures skyrocket. Damage to the gun and sometimes the shooter is a likely result.

A little while ago, I picked up a revolver in .45 Colt. After I bought the pistol, I needed to get the components to reload for it. When I reload, I like to have as high of a load density as I can get. I knew the .45 Colt cartridge is a round that was originally designed for black powder and reloading .45 Colt and other similar cartridges with modern smokeless powder leaves a lot of empty air space. More then enough space for a double charge. IMR wanted to help reloaders, so they came out with Trail Boss. IMR says Trail Boss was specificly designed to give high load density and maintain low pressures for 'Cowboy Action' loads. Sounds like a good plan to me.

I picked up a can, which strangely only contained 9 ounces, and knew Trail Boss was something different when I opened the can. Instead of small spheres or extruded tubes of powder, there were large, grey colored 'doughnuts' of powder. Even with only nine ounces of powder, the can was almost completely full.

Trail Boss
                  Powder Kernels

I tested several loads, all gave good accuracy and, even better, all loads gave at least 50% load density. Even at the lightest charge for the load, a double charge would overflow the case.  I also noticed that the powder burned pretty clean. Even after firing a box of fifty reloads, there was not a great deal of powder residue. I eventually came upon a load that gave me not only good accuracy and the velocity I desired for that round, but a load density of about 75%. Woohoo! No more worries about a double charge.  I also reload for my Russian Nagant revolver in 7.62x38r. In the past I used Red Dot, which of course always left a lot of room in the case and very little room for error. Using Trail Boss I came up with a load that worked great for that old revolver and had a load density of about 80%.

For this review I removed the categories that would not pretain to a reloading powder, leaving just the overall score. For its versatility and ability to have safe loads with a high load density, Trail Boss gets 5 out of 5 howls.

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