Lil' Gun powder experiences and usage

  • Last Post 08 August 2010
RicinYakima posted this 09 December 2006

I think most of us looked at Lil'Gun after reading the load data provided by Hodgdon. It is without a doubt the greatest powder every made for the 218 Bee in rifles with those copper covered bullets.

In the 357 S&W Magnum it has delivered great accuracy and the highest velocity with the least pressure of any powder I have found. And does it in both my Colt “Three Fifty Seven” and a Martini single shot with Lyman's #358156, solid and HP's. And it is a LOUD powder, not much flash, but bore pressure is certainly high at the muzzle of the rifle.

My problem is trying to get any kind of accuracy out of the 32/20 rifles or 32 H&R Magnum pistols with cast bullets. I have used RCBS 98 grain SWC, Lyman's #311316, #311008 and #311576.  They all shoot good with Bullseye, WW231, Unique and the rifles SR4759.

One thing I have learned is that as the sectional density gets higher (longer for caliber) you have to reduce the charge a lot. In the 32/20 going from the 120 grain to the 150 #311440, Lil' Gun has no advantage on SR4759 or IMR42247. But for the 115 grain #311316 it is 300 f/s faster than anything else. I just wish I could make it shoot better than 5 inch groups at 100 yards.

Ric in Yakima

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CB posted this 09 December 2006


I got out a can of it this summer and never got to try it in my 30-06 for Military loads.

I love the Lil'Gun in my Hornet with the 35gr Vmax bullet. I load a case full with Remington brass (Win. is too heavy) at 13.5gr with a small-rifle magnum primer. I am averaging 3,150fps with this load and .9” 5-shot groups at 100yds. No high pressure signs at all! I mean no large primer pockets or nothing bad!

I may still try it yet in my 30-06


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Awf Hand posted this 13 December 2006

I didn't care for it. In my 357 I had primers blown and some of the cases backed out, locking up the cylinder. This was at recommended loadings. I backed down and so did my velocities. By the time I found a load that seemed “safe", I found I could do better for myself with 4227.

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Ed Harris posted this 04 January 2007

Thanks for the good info, you all have saved me from temptation and my heart shall remain true to good ole Bullseye 8-)


73 de KE4SKY In Home Mix We Trust From the Home of Ed's Red in "Almost Heaven" West Virginia

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454PB posted this 18 January 2007

I've been experimenting with Lil'Gun in .44 magnum and 454 Casull with very impressive results. So good in fact that I ordered another 24 pounds.

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Lloyd Smale posted this 22 January 2007

its been a good powder for me for getting the most velocity out of the mag handguns but its still hasnt really given me cutting edge accuracy in most of them. 110 and aa9 seem a little better in the accuarcy dept.

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Daryl S posted this 23 January 2007

Ric wasn't just kidding when he mentioned Lil'Gun in the .218Bee. Several of us over on, have Ruger #1's in .218Bee, and with Lil'Gun, are getting velocity and good accuracy with 40gr. bullets that matches or exceeds what the .223 will give. Loads must be Lee die crimped, we've found, to reduce SD's and improved accuracy. It will also push 55gr. Vmax's out to 3,180fps with amazing accuracy in the .218Bee.

: After 13 and 14 firings per case (original 500 brass) and the brass still going strong, pressure must have been OK. The throat is looking a bit black now, but still shoots well.  I have a  Cooper .218 Bee Barrel to replace it with.

: In the 16” twist CZ Hornet, also crimped, Lil'Gun pushes 40gr. Noslers to 3,357fps  and 3,340fps with 40gr. Vamx and Barnes HP's. I used only small pistol primers in the Hornet loads & never pierced a primer. This should show pressure levels were lower than some would imagine. In this one, 13 firings with the oiriginal 500 cases, which are now converted to .17AH, fireformed and reloaded & fired once, all without annealing. RP brass only, used. See, it is good for something. I lost 1 case to a split neck. I guess it all deserves annealing, now.  It's earned it.

: I believe this powder is case capacity sensitve and would personally not use it in larger capacity cases or heavily necked cases of more than 20gr. capactiy.  With jacketed bullets in small bores, it seems to work best in rounds smaller than the .221Fireball. 

:  Lil'Gun may workwell  in rounds such as the straight or almsot straight, short cased rounds with cast bullets, such as where AA#9 works.  This is new territory for me, though.

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Balhincher posted this 17 May 2007

Several years ago I bought a supply of Lil' Gun to load .410 skeet ammo.  It was touted as a good powder for the 22 Hornet as well.  Having rifles in both 22 Hornet and K-Hornet I decided to give it a try.  There was no load data for the K-Hornet at the time so I looked at the 45 grain bullet loading for the regular Hornet and saw the max listed was 13.0 grains.  The pressure for that load was (and still is) listed as 31,600 CUP.  This pressure was pretty mild when compared to several published loads in the Hodgdon manual some of which were in the mid 40,000 CUP range.  And the velocity with the Lil' Gun load of 13.0 grains was shown as 200 fps faster than any other load with Hodgdon powders, 2787 fps. 

I decided that if 13.0 grains produced a moderate pressure it was probably listed as a maximum load simply because the Hornet case was filled to capacity with this charge.  And therefore a 13.0 grain load would be a reasonable starting load for a K-Hornet since it is a slightly larger cartridge.  I proceeded to load up a supply of both K-Hornet and regular Hornet rounds with 13.0 grains of powder.  Then, some additional K-Hornet ammo was loaded with 13.3 grains and 13.5 grains of powder.  All loads used the Sierra 45 grain .223 inch diameter Hornet bullet and Federal small rifle primers.

A fair amount of time passed before I got around to testing these loads and I didn't remember my reasoning behind the charge weights used by then.  I started with the K-Hornet loads and after only a couple of shots decided that the report seemed sharper or louder than I remembered for that rifle.  Now I'm pretty sure that the loudness of the bang isn't a good way to monitor pressure of handloads and I have never noticed a difference in sound between loads having (slightly) different  amounts of powder before so maybe there wasn't really any difference in the noise of the report.  At any rate, I checked the primers and was surprised to see that they were flattened  and deformed much more than the usual loads I shoot in that rifle.  I know that flattened primers are not a reliable way to monitor pressure either but these were really flat.  Being conservative by nature when it comes to loading ammo to near maximum velocities and/or pressures, I quit shooting right then.  I labeled all the unfired loads as “probably too hot!â€? and planned to later pull the bullets and reduce the powder charge.

I sent Hodgdon and email describing my experience and wondering if they had an explanation for why the K-Hornet loads had shown signs of high pressure.  I never did receive a reply.  Since I was waiting to hear from Hodgdon before pulling the bullets and reducing the charge and they never did respond, I soon forgot about the supply of hot loads.  Recently, while looking through my miscellaneous loaded ammo I discovered those Hornet loads with the “too hotâ€? label. 

Hodgdon now publishes 22K-Hornet loads for Lil' Gun and the maximum loading shown is 13.0 and 13.2 grains for the two 45 grain bullets listed.  (Hodgdon website at> )  They also show a charge of 13.0 grains for a 50 grain Sierra bullet.  The pressures for these loads however are all around 40,000 CUP.

Unfortunately, I have no conclusion to this narrative.  I haven't gone back and reduced the powder charge in the Hornet or K-Hornet loads or done any more testing in those cartridges.  After getting pressure signs in the K-Hornet with 13.0 grains of powder, I was reluctant to shoot the Hornet ammo with the same charge even though both were listed as safe (but maximum) loads in the manual (back then and at present).  I have since shot some Lil' Gun in a .221 Fireball and the pressure seemed OK.  The limited shooting I did produced only mediocre accuracy but that may not be the fault of the powder.

I would caution those planning to try this powder to follow the standard advice to start well below the maximum listed loading and work up carefully.  I used a charge that was apparently too much for my rifle even though I thought I was starting at a reasonable level.  The extrapolation I made to a starting load for the K-Hornet from the standard Hornet published load seemed logical but was wrong.  I still don't know why but perhaps the pressure shown for the Hornet loading was a misprint or something about my rifle caused higher than normal pressure.  Looking back at it now, it seems unlikely that a powder could magically produce 200 fps more velocity with a much lower pressure than any other load.  Something doesn't ring true about those values. 

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Lloyd Smale posted this 19 May 2007

heres my take on lilgun. Ive found it very accurate in the 3220 and 32mag but it needs pressure to work and reduced loads shot like crap. Its a narrow range powder like 110 and if you find its sweet spot does well but its also differnt then 110 as its not near as forgiving. It goes from mild to wild in pressure like blue dot does. In the 32s ive found my two favorite powders for heavy bullets are 4227 and aa9 they both give good accuracy and velocity and work in a wider range of pressures.

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Daryl S posted this 23 May 2007

Balhincher - several of my firends on Jim Saubier's small-bore forum for the “K” wouldn't accept the loads many of use were using in the standard case.  While with WW brass, in a strong bolt gun (CZ or Ruger bolt or SS) we're able to use up to 13.5gr. wiht WW brass and 14.3gr. in RP brass, those loads apparently produced excessive laods in several “K"'s - go figure. My RP Hornet brass, after 14 loadings of over 14.0gr. Lil'Gun from my CZ “Lux” have now been necked and fireformed to .17AH without loss - they've never been annealed - again. go figure. Pockets are almost identical to brand new brass - barely any different feel on seating primers, yet they've all been fired 15 times with a major foreforming to boot.  Brass life is generally the final word in safe pressures.  I also used nothing but pistol primers in the Hornet chambering, Unless laods are heavily crimped with a Lee fctory crimp die, SD's will vary enormously, but probably not more than W296 and other Hornet powders.  I've never had a pierced primer in that CZ - never in over 6,500 rounds of with the above loads. The CZ's are known for fairly large pin holes.

; My standard CZ Hornet with i's .223 groove diameter, pruduced 3,340fps with 40gr. bullets and 14.3gr. Lil'Gun- RP brass, an pistol primer, crimped SD's high teens.

; With the Horany 45gr., velocties, same primers, crimped, with 13.8gr. gave 3,200fps average.

: Note - these loads are only for the CZ's and Ruger's.

; We also went to 13.3gr. W296 for similar velocities in the CZ and Ruger bolt guns. No adversse pressure signs.

: Hornet brass amazingly weak in the pockets, if pressures of the above loads were too high, ithe brass wouldn't take 14 loadings of this load then stand re-forming to blown out .17AH's. Soime now have had their second loading as .17AH, all without annealing, and still no case losses. This is with RP brass and I don't know if WW will take the guff.

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AMMOe posted this 08 October 2007

I use Lil Gun in a pair of CZ 527 Hornets belonging to my son and I. With 13.0 grains and a 35 grain V-Max we are getting half MOA for three shots from Win Brass, Fed Small pistol primers, and Lee crimped. Velocity readings are impressive: 16 ft/sec total spread. It is my #1 prairiedog gun. ~Andy

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Daryl S posted this 09 October 2007

Andy, I gave up on the exceptionally accurate, but ballistic dud 35gr. Vmax. I found that accuracy, normally in the 3/8” range for 5 shots at 100meters, opened to 2” at 180yards. I've since changed to 40gr. Vmax and 40gr. Ballistic Tips for long range shooting, while the 40gr. Varminators or 40gr. VLC's work just fine for moderate ranges. : Best results so far, is a 454 yard ground squirrel with a 40gr. Nosler BT, with several ground squirrels (gophers) in between that and 354yards with the 40gr. Vmax.

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AMMOe posted this 10 October 2007

Daryl, I routinely kill PDs out to 200 yards with my CZ and the 35 and 33 grn. V-Max. I guess that the way I shoot, off of a less than stable rest, keeps me from appreciating the relative inaccuracy of the V-Max. I never shoot much more than 200 with the Hornet and as feeding from the magazine is something I like, loading the 40 grain V-Max is out. I have shot them single feed and they work great. Frankly, this is a walking rifle and when I sit down to shoot past 200 I'm using a bigger gun. ~Andy

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Daryl S posted this 13 October 2007

Andy- by removing the magazine spacer at the rear, and grinding it down on the flat side, you can reduce the thickness to where the lower retaining pin just passes in front. Re-drilling the top pinhole 1/16” and replacing the guts, gives you a magazine that will feed longer bullets. : I use a spacer that replaces the magazine, and merely throw a round into the port and close the bolt, single-shot fashion. ; James Calhoon sells a 'comercial' spacer that does the same thing, replacing the magazine for smooth single feed. ; Questioning the guys over on> will reveal the sourse who re-models the mags and mag supports to convert them to 3 round, flush magazines. These have become so popular that CZ now incorporates this feature on some of the models - probably the American or 'custom' version.

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AMMOe posted this 13 October 2007

Daryl, Thanks. I'll check it out.~Andy

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MBrosch posted this 17 March 2009

I'm lazy. I have no desire to spend my weekend at the range trying to develop the loading I need for my Casull, so I'll toss out the question and see if anyone has been down this road ahead of me. I am the recent proud purchaser of a 7.5” Ruger Super Redhawk, chambered in 454 Casull. I have reloaded for several years for my .45ACP and a .45 Colt, and I just shoot Unique in everything, but this high pressure shooter seems to be a different animal all together. I have about 1,000 Lazercast 250gr LRN bullets and what I would like to do is load these into some fresh 454 brass but at reduced (45 Colt) pressure. If your asking why not just load up .45 Colt brass, it's cuz I don't like the ring it produces at the top of the chamber. So; anybody have a good recipe? I assume some 454 Casull guys have tried Trailboss, but I can't find any published data for that load. Their is data for Lil Gun and even for the Alliant powders, but they seem to ignore the issue of all that case space with not much powder. Your suggestions would be appreciated. PS I did load some 44 Rem Mag rounds with a full case of Trailboss for my neighbor, using a lightly jacketed HP round, and the results were excellent.

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rbdave posted this 17 March 2009

i have used 2400 in my 454 taurus raging bull and srh 44 mag with great results. this is bulky powder and usually fills the case at recommended loads

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corerf posted this 18 March 2009

I have used Lil gun only for my k-hornet pistol. At loads that are below listed for Hodgdons with 34 gr midsouth varmint nightmare, (another Fred at Bullberry super tight chamber) I blew primers one after the other and I mean BLEW. Velocities in a 10 inch barrel were at 3009 fps. Thats WAY faster than a 10 inch barrel can produce with that bullet. The moral of the story is, after conversing with Fred, the tighter the chamber, the less you can do. I have to use hornet data for k-hornet. The case capacity is worthless to me due to chamber size. But the brass life and headspace issues the Hornet is known for a still helped. It's a heck of a powder, it'll go fast but it's very sensitive. You go from a slightly flat primer @x.2 gr, a blown primer @x.4gr. when your at the threshold. There was no case stretching nor other case dimensional issues. I was using WSR primers which are fairly soft and give up early. I was told to try Fed Match pistol primers and try again, maybe the same charge weight was ok and primer failure had to do with primer (I don't think so though).

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DJWright posted this 18 January 2010

Heh guys, I've switched from 2400 in both my .357s and .45 Colts. Works great. 16.0 behind a 180 gr. LBT in the .357 GP-100 and a Marlin 94 carbine. 20.0 behind a 300 gr. LBT WFN in .45 Colt in a Marlin Cowboy carbine. These are both pretty warm loads, so work up from below for sure.

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corerf posted this 19 January 2010

Following up on my original post. Wasn't weak primers. Loaded once to fireform, second load was the Hodgdons near max load for K-hornet, pockets are GONE. Primers are inserted by hand, then just fall out. Like a SP in a LP pocket fall out!

My contender chamber is too tight to afford the luxury of added powder capacity. LilGun makes velocity but is PICKEY especially with the Hornet and a NON-bolt gun.

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TonyT posted this 27 July 2010

I will gine Lilgun a try in my 22 Hornet. An attempt to use it for .410 shotshell was disasterous as there were many case separtions.

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