Dirty powder??


March 26, 2007, 12:16 PM
I have noticed that when I fire factory loads vs. my reloads using Unique that I can clean my gun with factory loads fairly easy, while my gun shooting reloads is extremely hard to clean :fire:

Is this because I am using Unique, or something else?


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Ala Dan
March 26, 2007, 01:03 PM
Although Unique is an extremely versatile powder, it is probably the most
dirty of all powders? Its still a favorite in my stable of handgun powders;
but lately I've been using a lot more of Hodgdon's Universal for its cleaner
burning properties. Tomorrow, I plan of trying Titegroup and Accurate #5
for handgun applications~! :scrutiny: ;) :D

March 26, 2007, 01:04 PM
Unique is a pretty dirty powder, the older stuff was worse. The main advantage to Unique is its versitaly, it can be used in lots of calibers with lots of charge weights.

I don't know what you're loading for, but I've started using Hodgdon Universal Clays where I used to use Unique, it burns quite a bit cleaner. DON'T USE IT IN PLACE OF UNIQUE, it has its own charge weights.

Good luck.

March 26, 2007, 01:11 PM
I don't know what you're loading for,Loading 9mm, 38sp, 357, 40S&W, 45ACP

March 26, 2007, 01:15 PM
Some powders burn "dirtier" than others, so you'll have more fouling. Shooting cast bullets will also cause more fouling from the bullet lube, etc. Factory ammunition is loaded with what is referred to as "bulk" powders, in which they use ballistics labs to work up the load for each lot, using the velocity and pressure parameters for each loading. Reloaders use what are referred to as "canister" powders, where the powder is blended to give the same general burn rate for the given powder, within the parameters set by the manufacturer/distributor for each powder.

There is variation within the parameters, so the same powder could differ from lot to lot. If one lot is blended to the specifications at the top of the parameters, and the next lot is blended to the bottom of those same parameters, then there will be significant variation between the two lots and resulting ballistics changes in both pressures and velocities. That's why the loading manuals tell you to check your loads when you change lots of powder, and why I try to buy my powders in 8 pound jugs, or full cases of 32 pounds from the same lot. It saves a lot of reworking loads.

There are other variables involved, too. You'll notice that once fired brass is cleaner inside than twice, thrice, etc. fired brass. When the round is fired the second, third, etc. time, it takes some of that residue with it, and if you don't clean your primer pockets, it also takes some of the residue from there as well. It's a very small amount each time, but it accumulates as additional rounds are fired.

Some of the newer powders are advertised as being cleaner burning, and they seem to be. Unique has a reputation for leaving residue behind, but the newer Unique doesn't seem to be as prone to this as the older batches were. You can experiment with other powders to see if they're cleaner, but only if having to clean your firearm less often is that important. To me, performance is more important. A perfect example is I use a lot of Bullseye for my cowboy action rounds, but Clays burns cleaner and leaves less residue behind. I like Bullseye and have been using it for about 40 years or so. It gives me confidence, so I use it and understand that I'll have to clean my guns more often.

Hope this helps.


March 26, 2007, 01:31 PM

I have used Unique for years with success and always thought it was clean. Well that was until just recently when I start lowering the loads on my 40 S&W down to 6 grains of Unique for 135 gr bullet. Talk about filth, the round is leaving powder residue on the table in front of my shooting lane so I am thinking of switching , maybe Power Pistol.

March 26, 2007, 01:51 PM
It's true some powders leave a bit more fouling, soot, etc in a gun after firing but even with factory stuff you'll have some. Changing powders for certain loads can help a lot but if I get the performance I want, I don't mind cleaning the gun.
Hoppes, Breakfree, Shooter's Choice and many other brands are on the market just for this purpose.:p

Ala Dan, although I stll use Unique in .45 Colt loads, I find Universal Clays just a bit better in every respect. Also it's the absolute best in lighter loads in .44 magnum in my opinion. Haven't tried other calibers yet.

March 26, 2007, 04:11 PM
I use Unique for my 40 sw, 45 acp and some 357 mag. I recently finished up an old 1lb of unique and replaced it with a newer "cleaner burning" unique and it is just that. I couldn't believe the diference in fouling. Also I notice that my 40 sw load leaves very little fouling or residue in the chamber where the 45 load I use leaves noticeably more residue. In my 40 unless I fire more than 30-40 rounds you almost can't tell that I have fired the gun since it's last cleaning. I guess some loads just burn more efficiently

March 26, 2007, 05:39 PM

Is there some indication on the container that it is the "cleaner burning" powder?

March 26, 2007, 08:52 PM
I'd heard a lot of comments about Unique's dirty burning charicteristics. But I liked it's versatility. I bought a pound. It had a little saying on it: "Cleaner burning" which makes me believe they've done something to the chemistry.

I've found it to be cleaner than a lot of factory stuff. (I load 38 special, +P and light 357 mag loads). It does seem to me, that the loads seem to be quite light though. Wonder if it was reformulated to make it cleaner and that has effected the way it burns.

March 26, 2007, 10:32 PM
Don't most powders burn cleaner with higher pressures and dirtier with light loads?

Black Snowman
March 26, 2007, 10:46 PM
Unique is dirty, 2400 is another culprut. Reduced loads generally mean lower pressure, lower tempratures, and therefore, more unburn powder and fouling. For those calibers I used Universal Clays until I found Tite-Group. I buy Tite-Group in bulk now. It works in a huge variety of loads and works particularly well in reduced loads and is not just clean burning but low flash too. Doesn't hurt that it's cheaper than most powders and requires very small powder charges so the loads are cheaper too.

March 26, 2007, 11:00 PM
I've used quite a bit of unique and it does burn a bit dirty even in the "cleaner burning" formulation. It does seem to clean up a bit when the loads are hot. Although it is a pain in the b-hind to clean the pistols after a long range day, it is stil one of my favorite powders. Seems to be very accurate for me.

Redneck with a 40
March 26, 2007, 11:35 PM
I also have been using Unique for my 40 S&W reloads since I started last summer. The first batch I loaded was a 160 grain FMJ with 7 grains of Unique, this load is clean, but "hot". The next batch was a Rainier 165 grain with 6 grains of Unique, good, mild target load, but it is not as clean. I think Unique burns cleaner in hotter loads, versus mild target loads. Regardless, its still one of my favorite powders and it gives me good performance, irrespective of the fouling. I'll continue to use it, I just bought an 8lb jug. I'm pretty much committed to it.

March 28, 2007, 03:29 PM
"Don't most powders burn cleaner with higher pressures and dirtier with light loads?"

Partially correct... Unique is dirtier than any other smokeless powder, so a hot load of Win231 will probably still be cleaner burning than a hot load of Unique by comparison with all other factors the same.

As mentioned before, Unique is very versital. You can light to medium load it in .38spl to medium lead loads in .44mag, or still use it for light 9mm.

Although I do keep Unique on hand, I prefer to burn a cleaner propelant. AA#9 in the Magnums. Win231 in the 38's and some .45acp, and Bullseye for the target loads in .45acp.

Experamentation will find what works best for you. Just know that there are cleaner choices than Unique that are nearly as versital across a broad range of caliber/loadings.

Is there a book of 'What's clean, What's dirty'? I don't think there's such a reference. But the two dirty one's have been mentioned. Unique, 2400.. The AA line and Clays might be the cleanest. Win231 isn't all that bad.


Stanley Greenman
March 29, 2007, 09:55 PM
I agree with Black Snowman, Titegroup is really great. Clean and is not position sensitive. Once you try it....well, at least try it once. You will be glad that you did. :)

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