5 most useful handgun powders


June 7, 2006, 10:22 PM
I am new to handloading, and am still in the process of reading/tooling up for it. When I start I will likely be loading 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 38 Special, 357 magnum, and mayb 10 mm.

The process of powder selection seems daunting, there are so many choices. I would like to have a small supply of various good powders when I start.

Given the cartridges listed above, what would be the 4 or 5 most useful powders I could pick? I will mainly want to load relatively mild target loads at first, but maybe stiffen things up a bit as I become more comfortable with reloading.

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June 7, 2006, 10:33 PM
Power Pistol, Blue Dot, Unique, AA #7/9, and possibly Bullseye for the ACP.

June 7, 2006, 11:07 PM
Unique will do everything you want, from light target loads to "warm" loads.

#1. Bullseye (for the really light target stuff)
#2. Unique (medium loads)
#3. 2400 (for the hot magnum loads)

To be honest, I'd start with those three and leave it at that for a while. Five powders can get pretty confusing - especially when starting reloading.

Another alternative:
#1. Clays
#2. Universal Clays
#3. 2400 or H110

Another thought:
#1. Titegroup (for light loads, also works GREAT for light loads in large capacity cases)
#2. Power Pistol (medium loads, similar burn rate to Unique)
#3. 2400

Five starting powders is really overkill.

(PS: just opened up my cabinet and I have the following: clays for light loads in 9mm, .45 acp, .38 spec. Power Pistol for moderate power loads in .357 & warm 9mm loads. And finally, 2400 for any hot loads in my .357 or .45 winmag. So, three powders...)

June 7, 2006, 11:28 PM
Power Pistol will do it all. IMR 800-X is good all around too. Maybe Clays or Titegroup for light loads, if you're into those. Although light loads aren't a good choice if you're just starting. You should be doing loads which fill the case enough that if you double charge, you make a mess.

June 7, 2006, 11:32 PM
What do you guys think of Winchester 231? Of the cartridges I listed, what is it NOT good for?

What do you recommend for light cowboy action loads in 45 Colt?

Steve C
June 8, 2006, 02:43 AM
The four powders I use the most of in handgun is W231, Unique, Blue Dot, 2400. I also use Power Pistol and HS6 in the 9mm only. If you could only buy one powder it should be Unique as there's data to load every pistol cartridge you listed.

What do you guys think of Winchester 231? Of the cartridges I listed, what is it NOT good for?

W231 is great in the .38 spl, .45 acp and I also use it or Unique for target loads with cast bullets in the .41 mag. W231 is a little fast for anthing but modest target velocity in the .357 magnum and high velocity cartridges like the 10mm. It is not good for high velocity aplication in high pressure cartridges though.

When you want to load the .357 mag to factory level velocity I use Blue dot or 2400. Unique is great for top velcoity loads in the .45 ACP and .38 spl. Its also very good with 158gr commercial hard cast bullets in the 1,000 to 1,100 fps range in the .357 mag.

With the .45 Colt you can use W231 or Unique for standard pressure loads. If you want to load to Ruger Black Hawk only levels then 2400 or other slow powder like H110 or AA#9 is the way to go.

June 8, 2006, 08:48 AM
What do you guys think of Winchester 231? Of the cartridges I listed, what is it NOT good for?

I haven't loaded for the 10mm, but 231 will work great for all the rest of them until you get up to full power loads in 357 and the 45 Colt. If you wanted just one powder for all those rounds, 231 would be a good one.

What do you recommend for light cowboy action loads in 45 Colt?

Trail Boss is designed just for that purpose. It is very bulky so a double charged case is too obvious to miss.

For the first question, I would say five powders is about three too many to start out. Trail Boss for the light loads in the revolver rounds, something like Power Pistol or Blue Dot for warmer revolver loads and the bottom feeders. If you want to go all the way to max for the revolver rounds, you could add Lil Gun or H110 for that, and maybe change the midrange powder to Universal, Unique, AA#5, or whatever best suited the 10mm.

June 8, 2006, 10:22 AM
I have been loading for over 40 years and have narrowed my powder choices down to just four.
1. 231
2. Unique
3.Blue Dot
4. 296
I also keep a can of Bullseye around only to load 148grwc 38 Special loads for my s&W Mdl 52 Master for old times sake.

The Bushmaster
June 8, 2006, 10:35 AM
W-231 for 9mm .38 Spec., .45ACP and a 2 1/2" Mod 19 S&W
W-296 for .357 Ruger
2400 for an old .357 mag Colt SAA
W-748 for a .30-30 Winchester
H4831SC for .30-06

My five powders at the present time.

June 8, 2006, 10:40 AM
Bullseye, Unique and 2400

June 8, 2006, 10:50 AM
Red Dot, WW 231, 2400 and Unique.

June 8, 2006, 12:44 PM
Unique, Red Dot...................Keep is simple for what I load for. .......chris3

Johnny Guest
June 8, 2006, 01:43 PM
Unique, Win 231, 2400 or H110.

No argument with the previous replies. These are simply what I use most.

Best of luck

June 9, 2006, 05:31 PM
1. Unique
2. Red Dot
3. Blue Dot or 2400

I avoid the Win and Hodgden stuff. It has been waaay too foul burning for me.

June 10, 2006, 01:22 PM
In order of burning rate




Blue Dot

W296 (or H110)

June 10, 2006, 01:49 PM

June 10, 2006, 03:04 PM

Carl N. Brown
June 10, 2006, 05:02 PM
There's a handgun powder besides Unique?

(serious handloaders with time to devote to optimum load development
can ignore my last remark; less than serious devotees who handload
know what I mean.)

Vitamin G
June 11, 2006, 03:41 AM
I only have bullseye and bluedot for 40, 10mm, 45acp, and 44mag.

June 11, 2006, 10:18 PM
i was a big fan of bullseye but lately i just feel i can do more with unique

Black Snowman
June 12, 2006, 01:39 AM
Wow, no votes for Tite-Group? If you haven't tried it, buy a pound and give it a whirl. I bet you'll love it as much as I do.

Here are all the pistol powders I currently use:

Blue Dot
AA #7
AA #9

And really I could get by with just Tite-Group, AA #7 and H110.

That covers: 7.62x25 Tok, 9mm, 38 spl, 357 Mag, 40 S&W, 10mm, 44 Special, 44 Magnum, 45 ACP, 45 Colt, 454 Casull, and 50 AE.

June 12, 2006, 09:48 AM
I've been using Titegroup for 9mm, primarily because it makes reloading cheaper because it requires so little. As such, there's a greater responsibility to ensuring you don't get a double charge. 3.6grn of Titegroup with 125grn Precision Bullet coated lead makes for a pretty inexpensive round. Many people won't reload 9mm because it can be had so cheaply; I like reloading, and it's much easier to sneak the cost of components by the wife than big ammo purchases. :p

For 357 Sig I use Power Pistol (8.3grn with 125grn Montana Gold FMJ). If I had to choose one powder, that would be it. Make a great 9mm load or 357 Sig load.

And as a total aside, I use Varget for .308 Winchester and Red Dot for 12 gauge trap loads. My father would disown me if I used anything other than Red Dot. :p

June 12, 2006, 06:33 PM
In revolvers, you can do much w/ just Unique and H110. Unique is great in 45ACP as well, but to get really good results in 9mm, I'd choose something else. Like WW white box, or Blazers at Academy sports;). Have no experience in 10mm, .40, or .357 sig.

Brian Williams
June 12, 2006, 06:43 PM
Lil' Gun

Carl N. Brown
June 13, 2006, 11:33 AM
My reloading has suffered because of things
Like WW white box...
I would like to remind folks that
- Winchester-Western
- Winchester White Box
- Winchester Wally World Bulk pack
are three different grades of ammunition.
Most of my reloading has been limited recently
to Black Powder cartridge matches, so has any
one listed Goex FFFg and PyrodexP?

June 13, 2006, 02:10 PM
1. 700-X
Just a tad slower than Bullseye, it's cheaper because I buy it in 12 lb kegs to reload shotshells. Very good for target loads up to "ball equivalent" in 9mm & .45 ACP.

2. SR4756
This fills the same niche as Unique but burns a lot cleaner. Good for "medium" loads in .357, full power loads in 9mm & .45. Also good for "field" loads in shotshells.

3. 2400
Traditional powder for full Magnum loads.

4. H110 or 296
Powders virtually identical - some folks say they ARE identical. If you want to maximize a .357 or .44 Mag, this is the powder.

June 14, 2006, 10:03 PM
Everything else.

June 14, 2006, 11:19 PM
I load:
.410 Shotgun
12 Gauge Shotgun
.38 Special
.44 Magnum
.45 ACP

I use:
Alliant American Select (for 12 Gauge Shotgun and light pistol)
Alliant Power Pistol (for hot auto loads)
Alliant 2400 (for .410 Shotgun and hot .44 Magnum loads)

These powders meter the best in my Lee powder measure.

June 17, 2006, 03:10 PM
I'd say after 20 years of reloading
1. Unique for 357 Sig, 45 ACP, 45 Colt
2. PB for 8mm, 38 Special, 40 S&W
3. 296 for 357 Mag, 30 cal carbine.

They will cover every handgun caliber made/

I admit to having Tightgroup, WST, 800X, 700X and Red Dot on hand because I have 44 handguns and some are powder selective for top accuracy

June 17, 2006, 06:07 PM
In almost forty years of loading for pistols I use
1. unique
2 HP38
3 HS6
and once in a while HS7 all though that one is going to be dropped and I can do just fine without it
I load for 9mm,38super,38spl,44spl, 45auto,32-20, 357mag, 44mag
I don't hot load and most of the time load for mid level so I can get more loads from a pound of powder. If I need full power loads I buy them from the factory just my personal preference

Paul "Fitz" Jones
June 17, 2006, 10:18 PM
Since the powers that be took WW230 away from me I have used WW231 for ALL my pistol calibers as a Hobby and Commercial Reloader.

June 17, 2006, 10:31 PM
I pretty much use HP-38 for most of my reloads except for my .400 Cor-Bon, for which I use Unique. It's a pity that they can't come up with one powder that "does 'em all", but that would really take a rocket scientist.

June 18, 2006, 12:31 AM
My powder chioces are based on calibre, bullet weight and barrel lenght . I do most of my pistol cartridge reloading with W-231, Unique and Blue Dot .
And yes the revolver was once conciderd a pistol.

Peter M. Eick
June 18, 2006, 07:41 AM
Your loading along similar lines to me, and I have sort of gone through phases of trying a bit of everything.

20 years ago I would have said:
1) Bullseye
2) Unique
3) 2400

5 years ago I would have said:
1) 231
2) AA7
3) AA9
4) Universal Clays
5) Power Pistol

Last year when I noted I had over 31 powders on the shelf I would have said:
?only 5!?

Today I have more standardized because of safety and ease of use:
1) Trail boss for 38's and 45lc
2) Power Pistol for 45 acp 40s&W and 9mm
3) 2400 for 357 mag
4) Unique for everything else
5) AA7 for 10mm

ps: I also use a lot of AA9 for 357sig.

June 19, 2006, 05:10 PM
I am primarily a handloader of handgun ammunition. The powders I use the most are:

1. Viht N310
2. Viht N350
3. Universal Clays
4. TiteGroup
5. Bullseye

I use N310 to load .45 ACPs for IPSC and N350 for .38 Super loads. Universal is used as a clean replacement for Unique. TiteGroup goes into steel loads and other plinking calibers. Bullseye goes into target loads for .38 Special and .45 ACP.

I chrono everything!

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