In 1929, the Western Cartridge Company (forerunner of Winchester Ammunition) received U.S. Patent #2,027,114, issued to Western Cartridge as “Manufacture of Smokeless Powders.” Shortly after, Western Cartridge Company then commercially introduced BALL POWDER® smokeless propellant. The innovative BALL POWDER® process provided a number of technological advantages over common extruded type powders that were quickly leveraged by ammunition factories and the U.S. military. The key advantages of BALL POWDER® propellant include:

• Stable long life – in some cases exceeding the capability of extruded powders
• High density – ideal for rifle calibers. Yet the BALL POWDER® process is capable of density adjustment to also create high-performance pistol and shotshell powders
• Adjustable chemistry – allows the powder to be tailored to specific cartridge applications through chemistry as well as geometry.
• Lower flame temperature – allows longer barrel life

categories
Handgun powder
rifle powder
shotgun powder
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The Winchester® Smokeless Propellants handloaders know today can trace its origin back to 1892, when Franklin Olin and several other investors founded the Equitable Powder Company of East Alton, Illinois. In 1898, Olin then founded the Western Cartridge Company to sell ammunition, providing another outlet for his Equitable Powder Company’s powder. Three decades later in 1931, Western Cartridge bought the bankrupt Winchester Repeating Arms Company. With this acquisition, Western was renamed Winchester-Western. In 1929, Western Cartridge Company hired Dr. Fredrich Olsen, who soon received U.S. Patent #2,027,114, issued to Western Cartridge as “Manufacture of Smokeless Powders.” Western Cartridge Company then commercially introduced BALL POWDER® smokeless propellant. The first BALL POWDER manufacturing plant was established across the Wood River creek from the Winchester ammunition plant located in East Alton, site of the original Equitable Powder Company. The BALL POWDER process is unique in that its manufacture is done mostly under water. This made the process the safest way to manufacture gunpowder in the world. However, the submersible process also it made it susceptible to freezing – not ideal for cold winters in central Illinois. Between encroachment from the growing East Alton community and cold Midwestern winters, Winchester decided to move the BALL POWDER manufacturing facility to a warmer climate and a remote location. A large tract of undeveloped swamp land was secured south of Tallahassee, Florida between the St. Marks river and the Gulf Coast and operations began there in 1969. This facility has developed into one of the largest, modern high-tech gunpowder plants in the world. Winchester Smokeless Propellants continue to be made in this facility today..

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