column By: Mike Venturino | October, 17
For more than 30 years I have made no secret of my enthusiasm for Accurate 5744 powder. It has proven to be my all-time favorite smokeless propellant for cast bullet loads in modern bottle-necked rifle cartridges for duplicating black powder ballistics in late-1800s black-powder cartridges. That latter statement is italicized so someone doesn’t think A-5744 is a grain-for-grain substitute for black powder.
Since the mid-1980s, I have loaded A-5744 with cast bullets in cartridges as small as the .222 Remington to as huge as the .50-90 Sharps. At times, there have been some amounts of unburned powder kernels left in barrels, indicating the loads are a bit on the low-pressure side. I consider that a small price to pay for excellent groups and low shot-to-shot velocity variations.
My introduction to A-5744 came about shortly after trying A-3100 and reviewing it in these pages. Accurate 3100 was slow-burning, in the vicinity of H-4831 and IMR-4831, and gave excellent results in the same applications as those more established propellants. My review got the A-3100’s seller enough sales that he asked if I would like to try a faster-burning surplus powder. He told me it had been an experimental double-base powder for the government’s testing of 5.56mm early in its development but had been beat out by a “ball powder” and had been stored for many years. He sent an 8-pound jug, and I began experimenting. Readers who have followed my writing for decades know how that went. I became one of A-5744’s greatest fans to the point I gave up using any other smokeless propellant for the purposes noted above in italics.
Accurate Arms Company (AAC) was soon established in Tennessee and developed many more smokeless propellants. Eventually, AAC was bought out by Western Powders Company of Miles City, Montana. Original stocks of A-5744 ran out early on, but the Accurate Arms Company did not let it die. As far as I know, it has been duplicated in Israel, the Czech Republic and currently in Canada. I have seen its canisters labeled “5744,” “XMP-5744,” “XMR-5744” and now “Accurate 5744.”
While I never had reason to question A-5744’s origins, that initial story was all that I had ever heard. Then a few years back, while perusing at a bookstore, I happened upon one titled The Gun written by C.J. Chivers. It was thick in size and heavily footnoted, meaning to me it was properly researched. The meat of The Gun was the Soviet Union’s development of the AK-47 and its impact upon the world.
Drop the “IMR” and reverse the numbers, and it becomes 5744. That is enough proof for me to accept the long-ago story of the powder’s origins. Today’s reloading manuals never list A-5744 for Remington’s .222, .223 and .222 Remington Magnum cartridges probably because according to the Lyman Reloading Handbook, 50th Edition, Accurate 5744 has a burning rate between IMR-4227 and IMR-4198. Paging through the newest manual also revealed that Lyman began listing Accurate 5744 as an option for cast bullets with the 6.5mm Creedmoor and continuing through most cartridges up to and including the .460 Weatherby Magnum. I have even used it in .38-40 and .44-40 loads for leverguns and revolvers.
I need to close with this statement: I am not trying to sell A-5744; rather I am sold on it. To the best of my memory, I have never received free A-5744 after that first jug back in the 1980s. In fact, a few years back a friend passed away, leaving his widow with a boatload of guns and related paraphernalia. She asked me if I would help her sell it, taking a percentage for myself. I replied, “No, I will sell it all for you if I can have that unopened, original 8-pound jug of 5744.”