Conversation With Chris Hodgdon: Powder, Reloading And Loyalty



After a tumultuous week of gun control demagoguery by business and Capitol Hill anti-gunners, President Donald Trump met with National Rifle Association officials Thursday evening at the White House.

Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, tweeted following that meeting:

cox tweet

This came following a high-profile White House meeting of Congressional leaders with the president, during which Trump indicated that lots of things were on the table. This included raising the minimum age for buying semi-automatic modern sporting rifles to 21, “enhanced background checks,” banning bump stocks and other potential actions. He also reiterated his dislike for gun-free zones, while chiding people around the table for being “petrified of the NRA.”

The following 24 hours saw gun rights activist fury across social media, but the Thursday night meeting now has anti-gunners shaking their heads and the New York Daily News wrote Friday that Trump has “contradicted himself.”


Chris Hodgdon

Anybody who ever sat down at a loading bench has heard of Hodgdon Powder Company, the Kansas-based company that has a well-deserved reputation for producing some of the best propellants on the landscape.

Founded in 1952 by the late Bruce Hodgdon, this company is a major source of smokeless powder and the black powder substitutes Triple Seven and Pyrodex. The company also distributes Winchester and IMR brand propellants, so they literally cover all the bases.

Insider Online caught up with Chris Hodgdon, grandson of the founder, at the recent Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas for a long overdue chat about powder, reloading and safety at the bench.

Full disclosure, when I wrote a piece in the Nosler Reloading Manual No. 8 about the .41 Magnum (Page 758), I acknowledged that H-110 is one of my favorites for loading that cartridge. It’s the propellant that I chose for loads used in last year’s invitational Elmer Keith Long Range handgun shoot held southwest of Spokane by a handful of Keith devotees.

Chris is really a regular guy in every sense. He’s also a savvy businessman and he understands his way around a loading bench. Describing Hodgdon Powder as “a niche company,” he admitted to having “a passion” about reloading.


Chris Hodgdon

“It is very satisfying to know that the products we produce are well liked by our customers,” he said. “We listen to our customers. For example, we had customers ask us for a power for the .300 Blackout…so we came up with CFE BLK.”

He talked about the importance of educating consumers about various powders. This is particularly important for handgunners because it is not unheard of for someone to throw a double charge of some propellant with disastrous results, or to use the wrong propellant.

Hodgdon noted that some powders start life available only to commercial ammunition companies. Over time, many such propellants become available to the consumers so they can brew up handloads comparable to factory ammunition.

This was certainly the case when Hodgdon introduced CFE Pistol, a powder that works with both light and heavier bullets.

“Our customers wanted the same clean-burning powder they get in factory loads,” he recalled, and that led to the introduction of CFE Pistol.


Like Bob Nosler told Insider Online in 2017, reloading is a game of recipes, and Hodgdon has developed over the past several years a heck of a “cookbook” called the Annual Manual. This publication looks more like a monthly magazine, with interesting articles up front, and thousands of suggested loads for hundreds of cartridges. (I keep one at my desk and another at the loading bench.) The 2018 Annual Manual spans 168 pages.

A few years ago, Hodgdon developed a propellant specifically for cowboy action shooters called Trail Boss. It’s a strange-looking powder with granules shaped like tiny donuts. It even smokes a little when discharged, and it works rather well for the cowboy competition loads one might use in the .357 Magnum, .44 Russian, .44 Special, .44-40 and .45 Colt behind lead bullets.

From our conversation, what emerged was the fact that loyalty is a two-way street at the Hodgdon headquarters. Not only are consumers loyal to the brand, the company is loyal to its customers.

“I enjoy coming to work every day,” he said, “because I get to talk to shooters, hunters and reloaders.”

That remark brought to mind a call made by this correspondent decades ago to Hodgdon to check on load data for the .38 Special. That question was answered by none other than Bruce Hodgdon, who graciously spent several minutes chatting on the phone, including suggesting a couple of loads using HP-38 that have produced terrific results against paper, falling plates and small game over the past 35 years.

Any handgunner getting into reloading should get a copy of the Annual Manual, dog-ear the pages important to you and never exceed the recommended data. Noisy satisfaction is guaranteed to follow.

NICS Graph

Busy January For NICS

January saw the FBI’s National Instant Check System (NICS) report the fourth-highest number of initiated checks for that month since the system first record an entire year of activity back in 1999.

There were 2,030,530 NICS checks initiated. Even though the number does not represent the actual number of firearms sold, that is a lot of activity. In January 2017, there were 2,043,184 checks initiated. The highest number for the month of January came in 2016, when retailers initiated 2,545,802 NICS checks.

Now, the National Shooting Sports Foundation did its normal adjustment of the figures to more closely narrow down the number of gun-purchase-related checks. Their number was 955,466, which represents an 8 per cent decrease from the January 2017 figure. Still, that’s a lot of firearms business.

Idaho Rep. Introduces ‘Gun Safety Education’ Bill

A Republican state representative in Idaho has done more than just talk about “gun safety,” he’s done something about it.

Rep. Ron Nate from Rexberg has introduced legislation that would “encourage school districts to adopt an elective course in firearms safety education,” according to KREM News. Gun prohibition lobbying groups — erroneously labeled “gun safety” organizations — talk about safety but their definition is to get firearms out of the home.

Eleven other states have adopted similar legislation, and Nate wants Idaho to make it an even dozen.

The French Connection

Vista Outdoors, which owns Speer, recently announced that the French National Police awarded Speer with a “long term contract” to supply ammunition to the law enforcement group.

The contract is for 124-grain 9mm Gold Dot Duty ammunition, with a muzzle velocity of about 1,100 fps.

The Gold Dot round features a true bonded-core bullet with Uni-Cor construction. This prevents jacket separation.

They Should Have Just Ordered Pepperoni

The surviving half of a would-be armed robbery duo in Amarillo is facing an aggravated robbery charge while his partner is pushing daisies because they brought a fake gun to a real gunfight in their attempt to hold up a pizza restaurant in early January.

A Potter County grand jury “no-billed” an employee of the pizza establishment in mid-February, deciding that he acted in self-defense when he plugged a man identified as Clayton Jerrell Morgan, who was armed with a very real-looking CO2 pistol, according to the Amarillo Globe-News. The shooting occurred after Morgan reported held the fake gun to an employee’s head.

The report said Morgan took the hostage toward the front of the establishment, where he was confronted by the armed employee. Morgan aimed his gun at the unidentified employee who aimed right back, only his gun was real and it went “BANG!”

That left Ruben Ryel Rios holding the bag. He was arrested later and initially charged with felony murder because under state law, bad guys can get charged of someone dies in the commission of a crime. The final charge was substituted because the prosecutor reportedly felt the facts better fit aggravated robbery. Either way, instead of pizza, this guy could face a diet of prison food for a very long time if he is convicted.

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