Monday, June 13, 2011

Hodgdon Benchmark Reloading Powder: Hand on Review

I've been working with this powder for a while now, and I'm constantly surprised by what I can wring out of it performance-wise. Granted it's not the end-all rifle powder or the top of the line target stuff, but it's a good value, a good all-around powder and very easy to handle.

The Good Stuff: First off, I like that this powder is fairly fine without being so fine its difficult to accurately meter, ensuring a uniform burn and less chance of being cut by the powder measure. The smell is very strong compared to other powders and very identifiable when fired, but not in an unpleasant way (sorry, I get nostalgic on Hoppes solvent too. It happens). Price is very good; not the cheapest out there, but nestled happily around the middle ranges of common rifle powder. Still, the performance you get is well worth many more expensive powders.

What I like most about Benchmark is its sheer versatility. It has become my go-to powder for all my precision varmint/target rifles, as well as my beater dear rifle. I won't post full load or rifle descriptions because I'm not in the business of doing that (so I'll understand if you take these numbers with a grain of salt), but the results where impressive by anyones standards. In 308 winchester, it has marked average groups of .30 MOA with the best group down to .26 MOA. In 223 Remington, it averages .35 MOA with a best group of .32 MOA. Most impressive, it turned my beater 45-70 Handi rifle that wouldn't even group with factory ammo into a .95 MOA deer killer! Hurray!

Bad Stuff: If you have a sensitive nose, the smell might be an issue in-doors. It's not the top tier target rifle powder, so don't go and expect to be slaughtering world records with it. Also, I don't recommend using it for cast lead bullets; most of my test groups where not terrible, but where easily overshadowed by other powders.

Over All: Very good powder, and definitely recommend it to others. For a very long time, this was the only rifle powder I kept in good supply and, if I hadn't started playing with cast lead, it probably still would be. The price is right and the performance is great, so I really have no gripes worth posting.

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