Now that Enduron has been discontinued, what are some good substitute powder options for reloading?
Following my professional hunter through the acacia thorn and scrub brush of South Africa’s Waterberg district, the long, spiraling horns of the kudu bull made me forget all about the blistering heat. The late October temperatures had soared to more than 110 degrees, and though the morning hunt had been thirsty work, that bull made it all worthwhile, especially when the tape stretched to just over 55 inches.
For that safari, I loaded my .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition with IMR 4451—from the then-new Enduron line—in the event of just such a heat wave in late-season Africa. Engineered for temperature insensitivity, the Enduron powders made a considerable splash when they came onto the market; they possess a burn rate correlative (yet not interchangeable) with many of the popular IMR powders dating back to the 1950s, including IMR 4064, IMR 4350, IMR 4831 and more.
These powders have been very good to me, and I've used them in cartridges ranging from .22-250 Remington to .300 Winchester Magnum, up to the .375 H&H Magnum, .404 Jeffery and .470 Nitro Express. However, late last summer, Hodgdon (owners of IMR Powder) announced this powder line would be discontinued, much to my chagrin.
As reloaders, we tend to hang onto our proven ammunition recipes like heirloom spaghetti sauce recipes. And once we’ve repeatedly demonstrated that the bullet/primer/powder combination will deliver the goods, we tend to try and stock up on those particular components … or at least we should.
The past few years seem to have been a never-ending challenge for the reloaders. Whether it’s a favorite bullet (I know the availability of Sierra bullets has been diminished, to say the least), a proven primer (if you can find any at all) or any powder, prices have assuredly risen significantly and availability has fallen. Regarding powder, what exactly is going on? Why would a company as big and successful as Hodgdon discontinue an apparently successful product line like their Enduron powders?
To best understand the situation, we need to understand exactly where our smokeless powders come from. Hodgdon—longtime purveyors of smokeless powders—as well as Alliant, Ramshot, Accurate, IMR and Winchester, use several different manufacturers around the globe. Some of our favorites are made here in the USA (primarily, ball powders), like H380, H414, StaBALL 6.5, Unique, Herco, Bullseye and TiteGroup, while others are made in Australia, including popular choices like Varget, H4350, H1000 and H4831SC.
Considering the impact of the COVID-19 shutdowns, you can understand why that quartet of Aussie powders have been so difficult to obtain. Now that Australia is up and running again, we’re seeing those powders again, even if in small quantities.
Europe provides many different smokeless powders, with almost all the Ramshot lineup—including TAC, Hunter, BigGame and Zip—coming out of Belgium, and the majority of Alliant’s Reloder rifle powders being manufactured in either Sweden or Switzerland. Many of our favorite IMR powders—both the classics and the Enduron line—are produced in Quebec, Canada. Hodgdon manufactures the bulk of blackpowder substitutes here in the U.S.
Whether it may be supply chain issues, labor challenges, governmental restrictions or raw component availability, the bottom line is that those who design, market and distribute the powder often cannot get it to the masses. Such is the case with the Enduron powders; yet I guarantee that Hodgdon would love nothing more than to sell as much of this product as possible. Bottom line: They can’t sell what they can’t have manufactured.
I reached out to Hodgdon’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Aaron Oelger, for further insight into the market conditions right now. Considering that Hodgdon has their own brand—IMR, Winchester, Ramshot and Accurate powders—under their roof, I figured he’d have the proper insight:
“We’ve seen a lot of rumor and conjecture about the state of the reloading components market, and my response to consumers is to be skeptical unless you see news directly from the company or brand in question,” said Oelger. “Specific to gun powder and Hodgdon, I can tell you we continue to ship record amounts of powder to our dealers and wholesalers. While we experienced challenges with manufacturing and transportation specific to our Hodgdon Extreme line of powders several years ago, most of those challenges have been resolved. Most of our other brands like IMR, Accurate and Ramshot have also seen record shipments. And in Winchester Powder, the addition of StaBALL 6.5 has provided an additional alternative to powders like H4350.
“Demand for our powders continues to be strong, especially for those loading for precision rifle shooting,” added Oelger. “As shipping and raw-material costs have increased, we have been forced to take targeted price increases. Some of our powders may be more difficult or time-consuming to make, so we have chosen to prioritize other powders to maximize our shipments to our customers. We continue to prioritize high-demand powders, so we recognize consumers will not always be able to find the powder they want … and may be forced to use a substitute.”
I remember my sadness when it was announced that IMR had discontinued their 4320 powder; it was a staple on my bench for cartridges from .22-250 Remington, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .250-3000 Savage and .300 Savage. Like the load data I've developed with the Enduron powders, I’ll just have to start again, perhaps with something similar or with whatever is available.
Being honest, I’m saddened that the Enduron line is being discontinued, but I am happy that Varget, H4350 and H4831SC are available again. Now, if those prices could drop, I’m sure we’d smile a bit more. In comparison to the rest of the economy, however, it’s no surprise that the costs are what they are. We’ll all have to be more flexible in the years to come, and hopefully each of us can find an adequate supply of the pistol or rifle powder we need.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the January 2023 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
More On Reloading:
- Tips For Reloading the .30-06 Springfield
- Loving Your Luger: Reloading the 9mm Luger
- Handloading: Tips For Reloading The 7mm Rem Mag
- How To: Tips For Reloading the .223 Remington
- Reloading Bench: The Inside On Reloading For The .30-30 Winchester