I called Chris Hodgdon a couple of weeks before SHOT Show to get information on any new powders his company had for handloaders. I had recently seen a press release about Hodgdon’s new Copper Fouling Eraser (CFE223) and jokingly said to Chris, “So I hear you have a new powder that’s going to clean my gun for me.” Chris is not one to embellish or exaggerate, so his reply emphasizing how much this powder really does cut down copper fouling got my attention.
CFE223 uses technology developed to meet U.S. military specifications for a smokeless powder that deters the build up of copper fouling in rifle bores–specifically 5.56. If you look at the history of military specifications–particularly ones for the 5.56–you realize that sometimes these military “wish lists” are be a bit far fetched. Whether the idea of copper fouling deterring powder was far fetched or not doesn’t matter, because Hodgdon successfully developed the technology and CFE223 is the new canister version of this rifle powder available to handloaders. According to Chris, there is significantly less bullet fouling using CFE223 when shooting gilding metal jacketed bullets like Hornady’s InterLock, or all-copper ones like Barnes’ TSX. For the few of you out there still shooting moly-coated bullets, Chris didn’t have information on how the new powder affected fouling when shooting bullets so coated.
I also asked Chris if the new copper deterrent is technology that’s independent of the new powder. If it was, then it’s reasonable to expect Hodgdon to eventually apply that technology to existing powders so handloaders would have, for example, an improved “Varget With CFE Technology.” Unfortunately, CFE is not independent technology, so additional, new powders will have to be developed. Until then, CFE223 is going to have to do and judging from the load data tables I’ve already seen, there’s not much it can’t do. It’s a very versatile powder with loads listed for 27 cartridges ranging from .17 Remington to .375 Ruger.
Physically, it’s a spherical powder so it’s not only going to meter well but also flow easily including down the necks of those troublesome .17-caliber cases. Those .17s aren’t just troublesome to load, they’re troublesome to keep clean of accuracy-robbing fouling. That has always been a complaint I’ve heard about the .17 Remington. Everyone I know who has one says it shoots great for the first several shots, then groups grow significantly as fouling increases. Fouling is particularly troublesome on smaller bores like the .17 because the smaller the bore, the more disproportionate the effect of fouling. Those of you who shoot lots of rounds through smaller-bore cartridges such as the .17 Remington or .204 Ruger, should see if CFE223 helps keep your groups smaller for longer.