Another Possible Varget Replacement? -The Firearm Blog

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Accurate 2520 is a smokeless powder with a long history in competition shooting. It has been used in competition rifle loads dating back to the days when .308 Winchester was still in common use. With the recent shortage of Varget, is Accurate 2520 worth a new look?

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This article does not need any disclosures. I bought this powder from a local shop. Hodgdon has no idea who I am, but I have spent thousands on their various powders.

Disclaimer: Reloading is dangerous. You can get hurt doing this. Never exceed published loads.

Mk-12ish rifle set up with the MagnetoSpeed chronograph

Background

Reloaders have been suffering in recent years. Primers continue to be scarce, and prices are averaging about triple what they were before the upsets of 2020. Powder availability was awful but has started to improve over the last few months. While powder has shown up on the shelves again, many popular options are still impossible to source.

Hodgdon acquired Accurate in 2020. However, they have continued to produce various Accurate powders. Accurate did recently recall a batch of 2520, with lot number 0913192116. Be sure to contact Accurate if you find yourself in possession of any powder from that lot.

Accurate 2520 has been around for a very long time. Accurate refers to it as the “Camp Perry” powder for its frequent use in service rifle competition shooting. Hodgdon describes it as a “medium burning, double-base, spherical rifle propellant designed around the 308 Winchester” but also notes that it works well in heavy match 223 loads. Load data is available for a wide range of other calibers as well, ranging from 6.5 Grendel to 6 GT to .458 Lott.

Accurate 2520 Powder: Another Possible Varget Replacement?

The double-base nature of 2520 is easy to see, with the kernels falling into two general size groups

Performance

All testing was performed with an Mk12-ish clone. It has an 18-inch Criterion chrome-lined barrel with a rifle-length gas system. No suppressor was attached. All velocity data was gathered with a MagnetoSpeed Sporter chronograph.

My primary use for this power would be heavy .223 Remington/5.56 NATO loads with a 77-grain Sierra MatchKing. But MatchKings are not cheap, and I was primarily interested in the consistency of this powder rather than group sizes. To save those precious Matchkings, I used pulled 75-grain TMJ bullets that I scored for about 7 cents each. Those bullets are not as accurate as a MatchKing but their weights are fairly consistent and I was not collecting group sizes.

I loaded up a range of both .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO loads, with at least ten rounds at each powder charge. The powdered metered well and charges thrown with a volumetric powder measure were very consistent. I fired two or three 5-round groups of each and averaged those averages.

Accurate 2520 Powder: Another Possible Varget Replacement?

Velocity information for the 75-grain bullet in an 18″ barrel (note: the 23.5-grain load velocity listed here is from the cold testing)

Accurate 2520 Temperature Stability

All powders produce different velocities as temperatures change. Decreased temperature sensitivity is an advantage because it reduces one of the myriad factors that can impact accuracy.

I loaded up twenty-five rounds with the same powder charge (23.5 grains). I placed 15 in the freezer overnight to get the temperature down. My wife was not a fan of this part of the test. I kept it surrounded by ice packs in a cooler to maintain a low temperature while it was transported to the range. For each string, I would pull out five rounds and place them in a magazine. I then would close the bolt and fire all five as quickly as I could. The barrel gets hot from firing, and leaving a previously-cold cartridge in even a warm chamber would quickly heat it up. So I fired the groups quickly to reduce the time spent in the chamber.

The process to fire the hot ammo was similar. I placed five rounds in between two chemical hand warmers and let them heat up to the cartridges. The highest recorded temperature for any string was 127° Fahrenheit. That is a very realistic temperature for ammo sitting inside a car in the summer.

Accurate 2520 Powder: Another Possible Varget Replacement?

High-tech ammunition heating apparatus.

The results from the temperature test were interesting. The Accurate 2520 showed an average increase of 196 fps over an average temperature swing of 94 degrees. That works out to a little over 2 FPS faster per degree. That is a slightly higher change rate than some other powders in this class but it is very manageable.

Accurate 2520 Powder: Another Possible Varget Replacement?

Velocity information for a 75-grain bullet in an 18″ barrel

Conclusion

Accurate 2520 is an excellent powder with a long track record in competition shooting. It may not be the latest and greatest powder but it still puts up some solid performance and decent temperature stability. If you have run out of Varget or see 2520 listed as an option for your cartridge and projectile combo, it is absolutely worth a shot.



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