Originally Posted by dla
Call Hodgdon. They'll tell you what the top sellers are. Unless you've got some dedicated customers, anybody who shoots a lot is probably going to bulk order online and not bother with a pound here and there at a local shop. So better to plan for the noob.
My guess is that the new reloaders won't be using the 'best selling' powders if 'best selling' is in terms of pounds of powder.
There will also be differences of opinion among pistol, rifle and shotgun shooters as to which powders are in the top 3.
Right or wrong, Bullseye and Unique are in the top 3 pistol powders. There's a reason they have been around for 100 years or so. If people weren't using them, they would have died a long time ago. I don't care about the 3d choice because, for me, it is probably 700-X and I doubt that anybody else is using that for pistol. WSF or WST might be good choices since they overlap with shotgun as does 700-X.
Rifle powders are different and the Reloader series from Alliant might be a good way to go. I am using Reloader 15 for .223 and Reloader 22 for 6.5x284 Norma. I am also playing with Ramshot TAC for .223 bulk ammo. For .308, I am using IMR 4064. I think IMR 3031 needs to be on the shelf as well.
Shotgun is a different animal. Nobody buys just 1# of shotgun powder. I am using Alliant 20/28 for 28 gauge and 700-X for 12 gauge. Both in 8# canisters...
I don't expect anybody to agree with the choices I have made above. That's the reason there are dozens and dozens of powders. Every caliber, cartridge and gun favors a different powder. Every reloader has their own ideas on what makes a good load. And we haven't even mentioned the more esoteric powders from Norma or Vihtavuori.
Not only is there no such thing as the "Top 3", there probably isn't even a "Top 2 Dozen". If I were running the store, I would buy 2 ea 1# cans of the top dozen or so powders. I would add to the inventory on request. I wouldn't stock anything in large quantity and then I would see how it goes. I might only have $500 or so tied up in inventory.
Primers are another story. I might buy 2000 of 8 different primers (4 Federal & 4 CCI - large and small pistol, large and small rifle) and be prepared to order on demand. My LGS buys primers in (I guess) half-million quantities of assorted types. When they get in an order the entire back shelf area is loaded with cases of primers. They have at least two powder storage cabinets and I have no idea how many types they stock.