Gunpowder That Cleans Your Bore? Hodgdon CFE223 Smokeless Powder

Hogdon CFE223 Powder

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.

Larger size for larger reloading projects

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.

{ 17 comments… add one }
  • John Neyhart October 7, 2013, 10:51 am

    We can’t seem to find Hodgdon CFE223 in central PA. Got any ideas when Hodgdon will catch up with the demand ?

    Thank you ,

    • Administrator October 7, 2013, 11:18 am

      Snoop the online sites like Midway, Midsouth, Matchez.

  • Cliff Hammer April 14, 2013, 12:52 pm

    Called my brother yesterday, 4/16/13, and he told me acouple of his buddys used it in there 204’s and it cleaned up there rifles and they started to shot better. I have a 204 and plan getting some to try in it. I could use a loading chart. Cliff

    • JamesD May 6, 2013, 9:33 pm

      The Hornady Manual (9th edition) shows loads for 32 grain V-Max bullet (28.8 to 31.2 max, COL 2.245″, 3700 to 4100 fps) as well as for their 40 grain V-Max bullet (27.1 to 29.7 max, COL 2.245″, 3400 to 3800 fps). Rifle M77 Ruger, 26″ bbl, 1 in 12 twist, both using Hornady brass and Rem 7 1/2 primers.

  • JamesD April 9, 2013, 3:06 pm

    Has anybody thought to ask Chris Hodgdon if this copper eraser had any affect on cartridge brass (of which copper is the major component of the brass alloy)? Does it reduce case life? Thin the walls from the inside outward or aggravate existing flaws with each firing of a CFE223 reloading cycle? The military wouldn’t care about that aspect because they don’t reuse brass in the vast bulk of their issued ammo.

    • Administrator April 9, 2013, 3:19 pm

      Brass is an alloy that cannot be separated once it is together. It becomes a whole different atomic structure. A chemical that harms copper won’t harm brass it is a much harder and more durable metal, which is why cases are made from it to begin with.

      • JamesD April 9, 2013, 4:37 pm

        I sure hope that you’re following up on my most recent reply to your brass alloy comment/explanation…rather than just deleting that comment as ‘unapproved’… Wal-Mart has nothing on the shelves here in Central Florida and gun shops that do have ANY ammo want double the price of six months ago. I don’t want to risk the serviceability of my new (unfired) LC or IMI 5.56 brass (also used for 6×45) or all of my stashed LC (unfired) 30-06 brass or my new (hard-to-get) Hornady 6.5 Grendel brass on such an eraser powder. I won’t load this powder for range or hunting use until this issue is clarified. In the meantime, the military will love it and the civilians could use it for defense rounds or SHTF ammo supply (figuring never to reload those cartridges…hence, no relative potential issue), assuring better weapon reliability under combat conditions. But I’m a hunter, target shooter, and reloader…first and foremost.

        • Administrator April 9, 2013, 6:49 pm

          Well would you see it if it was unapproved lol? We are going to check with them, but it is ridiculous. What do you think they didn’t think of it?

          • JamesD May 6, 2013, 9:13 pm

            Well, Chuckles, find anything out yet? I also gave you additional thoughts on the matter that you obviously weren’t ‘big enough’ to let them post. You don’t like being cast as doubtful or unschooled, do you?

  • Nathan January 19, 2012, 9:35 am

    I’d be interested in a .22LR cartridge with this powered

    • Nathan January 19, 2012, 9:36 am

      Oh… I should actually read before I post. If they could get it to clean lead though …

  • Brad January 17, 2012, 1:44 pm

    I don’t really see the point. I just use Varget for my 5.56 loads, and copper fouling has never been a concern. Ah, well. It’s another good way for them to make money on the “proprietary” market.

    • Liberty4Ever January 17, 2012, 11:46 pm

      This powder was developed for the US military. Copper fouling in fully automatic weapons is a big deal to them, most from a maintenance perspective. If the burn rate is consistent and not temperature sensitive or load packing dependent, I think CFE223 powder stands to be a major innovation for competitive shooters by reducing the point of impact variations resulting from even slight amounts of copper fouling. Precision shooting is all about minimizing shot to shot variation, and until now, competitive shooters had no good way to reduce variations due to copper fouling.

  • Mike January 17, 2012, 11:30 am

    Hopefully it won’t erase the copper on the rear end of a bullet from inside the cartridge. 🙂

  • Lee January 17, 2012, 9:33 am

    What is the powder burn rate? How does it compare to the burn rate of Varget and other rifle powders?

    • Administrator January 17, 2012, 9:36 am

      We are going to do a review of this after the show. They sent us a bottle or two.

      • Lee January 17, 2012, 9:47 am

        I found the chart on their website. It is a few notches slower than varget.

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