First loads. Newbie Advice Sought


January 17, 2006, 02:28 AM
Blogged about this here (, but thought I would also post some of it.

I got a Lee Turret Press for Christmas and loaded my first batch of ammo (.45 ACP) this weekend. I was using Unique with CCI 300 primers and Lee Dies. The bullets were 230 grain .451 Georgia Arms FMJ and JHP.

Had a real problem with static electricity - not sparks or anything, but just the flaked gun powder pouring straight up and out of the powder measure and generally not behaving as I would like it to. Flakes got everywhere and I suspect I didn't get real consistent loads as a result. Any suggestions on avoiding static electricity? I was wearing Doc Martins (big comfy rubber soled shoes) and a cotton turtle neck and blue jeans while loading - standing on linoleum).

Once I got to the range today, noticed a couple of other things going on.

First, the reloads were a bit smokey. Not as bad as blackpowder, but certainly worse than with the WWB. Is this normal for Unique? Also, when i was done firing the 25 rounds my gun was far more dirty than normal and there was lots of unburned flakes of gunpowder on the table under the gun I was firing. It sure seems to my untrained eye like the Unique wasn't burning completely - and perhaps this has some impact on the amount of smoke. Is this a problem? How do I get the powder to burn more completely? Should I try different primers (recommendations???)? Is this just a normal characteristic of Unique? Is it possible I got bad powder? Should I try a different powder?

Appreciate any advice ya'll might have. Thanks!

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January 17, 2006, 10:18 AM
The same thing happend to me, the static will go away after a while. I used a pencil,and coated everything I could reach with lead,after awhile the powder will coat every thing else. I also ran a few hoppers full of powder through before I started making ammo. I allways use Winchester primers, never had a reason not to. You probably had some dangerously under powered loads that might have caused smoke. I use Lees 4 die set w/FCD. A good crimp will help all the powder to burn, I set mine at .469-.470 for my .45ACP. I have had great results with Clays powder in .45. I load Rainier 230gr RN over 3.8gr Clays, 1.250 oal .496FC This load is a tack driver! Load safe! JDGray

Doug b
January 17, 2006, 10:35 AM
Countertop you may be able to stop your static problem by washing your plastic powder handling tools with dish detergent(not soap) and let dry do not rinse.Done mine a long time ago and it still works.

Your loads should work well, Alliant powders are famous for ease of ignition and the new Unique burns clean in all my applications.I would try a different can bought from a dealer with a controlled environment such as cabellas.I've seen the same thing here locally with loaders that buy powder at gun shows,powder is not allowed inside the building,therefore it stays in a locked van until sold.

January 17, 2006, 11:00 AM
Thanks for the response.


I was using the Lee 4 die set as well. How do I set/measure the crimp?
The instructions Lee provided left a lot to be desired. First few rounds I had problems but then I adjusted the seating die.

What do you mean by dangerously under powered loads that might have caused smoke.

The loads were coming out at both 5.7 and 5.9-6.0 grains consistently which is within both the acceptable range of the Lee Chart and my Speer Manual chart for Unique.

Also, isn't it pretty dangerous to leave the equipment/press covered in gun powder?

Doug b

Interesting idea with washing them. I may try that later this week. Tonight I am going to wipe everything down with an anti static dryer sheet and see how that goes.

Just to make clear, the powder wasn't purchased at a gun show. I picked it up at Green Top Sporting Goods in Richmond. Green Top has been around for 50 years or so and is about as reputable a gun dealer as your gonna find. They have a huge and very busy reloading section (there were 8 other people on the reloading aisle buying powders when I stopped by). I also picked up the primers there as well. I am going to be heading to Jersey in a couple of weeks though and plan on stopping by the Cabela's on the way up.

Jim Watson
January 17, 2006, 11:26 AM
New production Unique is said to burn cleaner than old in shotshells, nobody seems to be seeing much if any improvement in pistol ammo. Don't worry about it. Unique is a fine powder for .45 ACP, you just have to clean the gun. And yourself. No reloading powder will be as clean burning as factory loads with virgin brass, heavily seated primers, and bulk powder chosen for the job.

Sounds like you have a severe static problem, I have never seen it so bad as to throw granules around. Try Doug's detergent treatment or wipe out the measure with a used clothes dryer anti-cling sheet. I have one measure coated with the graphite-based bullet mold release spray, that fixed it.

Clean up the press and work area. Maybe with a paintbrush and dustpan or shop vac.

January 17, 2006, 11:26 AM
What type of crimp die are you using? Lee FCD?

Also, I have taken a dryer sheet (Bounce) and used it to remove the static electricity. Wrap it around a pencil and run it around the inside of the plastic container to remove the static.

Don't know about Unique. I use W231 and 230gr ball for range loads.

January 17, 2006, 11:36 AM
I am using the Lee 4 die .45 ACp carbide set.

Mal H
January 17, 2006, 12:16 PM
Tonight I am going to wipe everything down with an anti static dryer sheet and see how that goes.After reading your top post, I was going to suggest that. It usually works. Just be careful to not get the dryer sheet inside the measure, it leaves a coating that will attract powder.

Is this just a normal characteristic of Unique?Yes. I have a bottle and a half of Unique I haven't touched in about 8 years because of the sooty burning issue.

Should I try a different powder?Why not? For a much cleaner burning powder in .45 ACP, it's hard to beat Hodgdon's Universal.

January 17, 2006, 12:20 PM
unless you just like spending money, in which case, vhita vuori oy is exceptionally clean

Ol` Joe
January 17, 2006, 12:22 PM
The static problem you have will be reduced with the suggestions posted above. Try raising the humidity also if possible. Winter air, with dry heat especially, will cause static to easily form in your home. Things should be better in the the warmer more humid months.

Are you weighing charges or dipping?
The powder smoke and particals are something I`ve never had much trouble with when useing Unique. It never was the cleanest powder I used though. The new stuff is reported to be much cleaner but I haven`t tried the it yet, other powders have come into my favor. I haven`t used it in quite awhile and liked it in a old 45 LC, not acp, when I did burn it. The smoke and unburnt powder were usually a sign of light loads/lower pressure in the long colt, which operates at similar pressures as the acp. The load you report useing though, should be enough to insure good burn.
I`d check to be sure the crimp isn`t too tight, a over crimped case can loosen behind the edge in the case body and acually be detrimental to the cases grip on the bullet. Try for a mouth diameter as noted in the above posts. (~0.470" is my goal)The case brand can make a difference too. Some cases have thinner walls then others. Try another brand and see if it helps. The case wall tension is "usually" greater then crimp pressure on an straight walled cartridge and this can raise or lower the bullets resistance aiding in powder ignition.

Let us know if you get it figured out.

January 17, 2006, 12:34 PM
My wife just pulled out an old humidifier from our son's baby stuff and is going to turn it on this afternoon for me before I get home from work. I'll try that and the old anti static cling sheet.

Are you weighing charges or dipping?

I set the charges with the lee Auto Disk and dropped them into a shell. I then emptied the shell onto the scale (Lee bar scale, came with the Turrett Press kit) to get a weight.

liked it in a old 45 LC, not acp, when I did burn it.
Thats good to hear about using it in .45 Colt The reason I picked up unique was that it was listed for both .45ACP and .45 Colt in the Speer manual.

I`d check to be sure the crimp isn`t too tight,

How do I do this? With a caliper? WHere do I measure - the instructions that came with the Lee set weren't very clear about actually setting the equipment up (as opposed to the actual process of loading).

Try for a mouth diameter as noted in the above posts. (~0.470" is my goal)
Where do I measure? The edge of the brass above the bullet?

To make adjustments, do I just make them to the crimping die or should I also make adjustments to the flaring die?

The case brand can make a difference too.
I was using brass from a Winchester White Box and from CCI Blazer (marked as reloadable). I'll seperate them out and get a report on how the individual brass performs. I'm loading again tonight and hitting the range tomorrow.

Thanks for all the assistance!

January 17, 2006, 12:54 PM
How ya like them Lee instructions? They leave alot to the imagination. I measured the crimp on some factory ammo (WWB) and found it at .468 Use your calipers at the tip where its like a knive edge, and carefully measure the very edge of the cartridge case. As far as the smokey loads, someone above described it better with the colt loads. I thought some of the loads were light because of static cling. JDGray:)

January 17, 2006, 02:42 PM
They leave alot to the imagination


Thanks for the crimping advice. I'm gonna measure my WWB tonight as well.

Are there any good web pages up (preferably with pictures) on how to set up the Lee dies and make adjustments?

January 17, 2006, 03:04 PM
Unique isn't bad so long as you keep the pressure high via a strong crimp,deep seating and/or a hefty charge. As far as the .45auto is concerned, Unique is a fairly slow powder,so it needs heavy bullet pull to burn optimally.
The Alliant and Lee data is quite weak compared to data from older sources such as my older Speer and Lyman manuals. Mostly that's due to shifts in seating depth and variances in bullet profiles. I've had to boost above 6grs using 230gr FMJs and lead bulllets in my .45. 6grs gave only mild ejection from my heavily sprung Glock.
Since you already know that it's not burning properly, and your crimp is already fairly tight, I'd go with seating a bit deeper,and if that doesn't work maybe boosting the charge slightly.
I use the dryer sheets to get rid of static in my reloading area.

January 17, 2006, 05:22 PM
This might help,go to FAQ. JDGray

January 17, 2006, 05:45 PM
Thanks JDGray. Lots of useful info there. Found this ON TOPIC thread in the FAQ

Auto Disk consistency

Make sure that when measuring charges thrown by the Auto Disk measure, that it is done out of the normal loading sequence. It is important that the measure work consistently in the amount of force used to move the disk to the drop hole and return. This is accomplished through consistent press lever operation every time.

You may want to "condition" the measure by either using powdered graphite on the disks or running the equivalent of a pound of powder through the measure. If you find that inconsistencies still exist, you may want to wash the disks in warm soapy water, rinse and let air dry. This should help eliminate any static that may have been present.

Lastly some powders do not meter well, Unique powder is one example that meters with "casual uniformity". You may find the same symptom with small flake powder in small quantities.

Emphasis mine. Looks like I am going to be heading out to purchase some more powder.

January 17, 2006, 06:35 PM
Give W231 a try. Cheap, popular and meters great.

The Bushmaster
January 17, 2006, 10:55 PM
Good choice Lennyjoe...W-231 has been my choice for years...

Dave R
January 18, 2006, 12:25 AM
I have tried Unique and TiteGroup back-to-back in .45acp. Yeah, Unique is pretty smokey. TiteGroup was a lot cleaner for me. Have not tried W-231.

January 18, 2006, 07:39 AM
I reload for 9mm and have used Titegroup and Bullseye. Both burn cleanly for me. I don't know how they would work in 45 though.

As for crimping I set the expander die so I can barely feel a flare at the mouth. You only want to expand enough to allow the bullet to seat.
As for crimp I adjusted it in 1/2 turn IIRC - - I just want to remove the flare and crimp tightly enough that I don't have to worry about bullet setback from recoil while they are still in the magazine.

Keep in mind that I'm a beginner:)

January 21, 2006, 12:10 AM
Wow, so much info in a small thread. I gave up Unique years a go, smoke, unburned flakes, soot, and dirty guns, hands, and face. I tried AA#2 but the stuff is so fine it drips out of the powder measure and covers the bench/ kitchen table. Wifey even complained about it so I told her not to stub out a cigarette on the tablecloth. ;)

I just bought some Universal Clays. Does anyone have load recommendations?
Mike Portland, OR.

January 27, 2006, 12:45 AM
OK folks. Thanks for the help. Finally got back out to the range.

I tightened the crimp up to .467 and found tremendous improvement. Not only does it burn all the powder - and burn it cleaner - but the groups tightened up considerably and the perceived recoil decreased.

Here's one 8 shot group from the NRA tonight

10 yards
Georgia Arms 230 grain .451 FMJ bullets
6.5gr Alliant Unique Powder
CCI 300 primers
SS NRM Colt 1991A1

This is a crumy picture (I didn't line things up right) but it ended up measuring:
1.65 inches -outer side to outside, and
1.5 inch group center to center

January 27, 2006, 12:20 PM
For the static electricity in the powder measure the directions point out that you need to run a pound of powder through the measure. Just fill up the hopper, actuate the linkage and let the powder dust coat all the parts. Hold the drop tube over the open can of powder and let it drop right back into the powder keg.

+1 for a dryer sheet. We have 'Dollar General' stores in PA and they are a GREAT place for el-cheapo dryer sheets and tupper-ware-ish bins for brass and bullets.

EVERY die will have some general directions... but your experience will dictate how you dial them in for best results. There is no single way to set up a die so it works for everyone and works as they want it to.

January 27, 2006, 08:54 PM
Thanks JDGray. Lots of useful info there. Found this ON TOPIC thread in the FAQ

Emphasis mine. Looks like I am going to be heading out to purchase some more powder.

AA#5 meters consistently with the autodisk

The Lee videos tell you how to adjust the dies.
Funny thing is...they give different info from the turret die setting directions which are different from the FAQ die setting directions.:banghead:

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