A Replacement For Varget? -The Firearm Blog

Finding gunpowder has been extremely difficult over the last several years. Many popular options have disappeared entirely. Perennial favorites like Varget have dried up and left many shooters trying to find substitutes. One such option is Shooter’s World Precision, which looks very similar to Varget on paper. So how do these two powders compare?

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There are no terms for this review that need to be addressed. I purchased a few pounds of Precision at a local retailer. Shooter’s World liked an Instagram post where I mentioned buying this powder to replace Varget. That’s the extent of my relationship with the company, which is nothing.

SAFETY NOTICE: Reloading is an inherently dangerous activity. Mistakes can result in serious injury or death. Always consult reputable load data, and gradually increase powder charges. The information presented here may not be safe in all firearms.

Published Data

First off, what is this powder? The bottle, apart from the Shooter’s World Precision branding, also mentions “S062-02” on the label. Shooter’s World is a vendor of LOVEX powders from the EXPLOSIA company. S062-02 is the LOVEX item number.

“This propellant has a burn rate and temperature sensitivity very similar to Hodgdon® VARGET. These characteristics and propellant density closely track with the same characteristics of VARGET. However, our testing revealed that velocity standard deviation at both ambient and extreme temperatures out-performed that of VARGET. Those in the long-range game demand low velocity standard deviation, especially when they’re chasing group sizes beyond 1,000 yards. Precision’s ignition characteristics, which contribute to low velocity standard deviation, should benefit those seeking superior accuracy.”

My primary use for Varget is with heavier bullets in the .223 Remington. Varget can, of course, be used in other calibers as well. I have used it in .308 loads in the past but moved away from it. Testing on the .223 makes more financial sense as well because it burns a little more than half of the powder in a .308 load. At $45 per pound, I can learn more per dollar with the .223 than with a larger caliber.

Shooter's World Precision Powder: A Replacement For Varget?

x .223 and 5.56 Precision load data published by Shooter’s World

Varget Comparison

The two powders are visually similar. Both are extruded powders with kernels that are similar in size. Varget has more green coloration. The average kernel length is also similar between the two powders.

Shooter's World Precision Powder: A Replacement For Varget?

Shooter’s World Precision (left) and Hodgdon Varget (right)

There is a slight volumetric difference between Precision and Varget. My Lee powder measure was set to throw a charge of 24 grains of Varget. When switched to Precision, it consistently threw 23.5 grains. That’s about a 2.1% difference.

24-ish grains (+/-) of Varget paired with a 77-grain Sierra MatchKing is a classic precision .223 load. It tends to shoot well in just about any rifle. I have had very good success with 24 grains in Lake City 5.56 brass in several guns with Wylde chambers.

Published data differ as to the suitability of this load. Hodgdon’s data lists a max load of 23.7 grains with the 77-grain MatchKing. Hornady lists a maximum of 24.6 grains in 5.56 loadings with their 75-grain bullet, and 23.5 grains in a .223 service rifle load. Based on those book numbers, it is not a great idea to start at 24 grains, but it may be a reasonable load if developed carefully.

Precision has similar published charge weights to Varget. 77-grain loads in .223 cases range from 18 to 23 grains, and 20 to 25.5 grains in 5.56 cases. I loaded a series of varying charge weights in both .223 and 5.56 brass with 77-grain MatchKings. All were loaded to 2.25″ in length so they would fit in AR-15 magazines.

On The Range

For the shooting portion of the test, I used my Mk-12 Mod 0 kinda clone, which has an 18-inch Criterion chrome-lined barrel. I shot on the most common shooting bench of all, the hood of a truck. My ultra high-tech rear bag was a wadded-up rifle case. While this arrangement was not up to benchrest standards, it was very stable. I used a Magnetospeed Sporter chronograph to gather velocity data.
Shooter's World Precision Powder: A Replacement For Varget?

Testing setup

The results were fairly good. Each group was five rounds, fired at 105 yards. The powder charges were thrown with a measure, not weighed individually, so that may contribute to some of the variances. None of the .223 loads showed any pressure signs at all. The 24 and 24.5-grain 5.56 loads had flattened primers and the 24.5-grain load also had some primer swipes on the brass. Again, results vary wildly based on primers, brass manufacturers, temperatures, and chamber dimensions, so always start testing loads well below the maximum published load.

These results should also be viewed as an initial exploratory survey rather than an exhaustive study. The groups listed here are with one bullet type in one rifle. The better group sizes with Shooter’s World Precision were similar but slightly worse than this rifle’s performance with other loads.

Another area worthy of investigation is temperature sensitivity. Instead of shooting on dozens of different dates with different weather, I decided to try a science fair-esque approach. I put some test rounds in the freezer overnight then transported them to the range in a cooler surrounded by ice packs. I shot a five-round group of a .223 Rem load and a 5.56 NATO load.

These results ended up being less than informative. There was very little difference between the hot and cold average velocities of the 5.56 load, but the .223 load had a spread of about 100 fps. However, the extreme spread numbers were large enough that the averages do not mean much. I am inclined to try this test again with more groups of each load to see if the data is more useful.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive test, and it only looked at one cartridge with one bullet weight in one rifle. However, it shows some real promise. Shooter’s World Precision is worth looking into if you find yourself short on Varget and looking for alternatives.

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