Unique question


December 1, 2007, 01:48 PM
I've used Unique for all my 45 ACPs for a while now.

I used it because that's what I learned with and it's what my buddy (who taught me) used in 8lb cans. He chose it because it works well for his shotshell, 45ACP, and 45Colt.

I'm getting low on powder and I've noticed a lot of folks like W231, and it seems close to Unique in burn rate.

Is it cleaner? does it meter well? I know it's ball, but what are grain size/ density etc.

Where can I get the datasheets on various powders so I can be more self reliant for these questions?

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December 1, 2007, 02:15 PM
231 is slightly faster then Unique.
It burns cleaner and goes through a powder measure better.
It is a better powder for light target loads.

But I still use Unique for 230 grain hardball loads.


December 1, 2007, 02:23 PM

I use Unique with my 9mm and I found I get better result, cleaner burning with Accurate #2 for my .45ACP reloads.

Thank you

December 1, 2007, 02:47 PM
IMO, guys that use Unique have never tried anything else equivalent. Universal Clays is supposedly the modern equivalent of Unique. Very versatile but a lot cleaner burning and it meters pretty well. That's what I use, along with AA5. If you ever use AA5 or Universal, you'll most likely never go back to Unique.

Haven't looked at a burn rate chart, but I suspect that 231 and AA5 are close.

December 1, 2007, 02:51 PM
I'm 53 and have been loading since my teens... started on a Lee hand loader with a .300 Sav. I've tried and used nearly every major (spelled: Popular) brand gunpowder. I keep coming back to Unique for my .45 ACPs, even though it's dirty compared to many newer vintage powders. Reason: Accuracy. SO, guess I'll continue to use it -- 'cause if it ain't broke.... Maybe that is the reason so many still use Unique.

XD-40 Shooter
December 1, 2007, 03:00 PM
The new Unique is 50% cleaner burning than the old stuff. I've been using Unique to load my 40 S&W rounds and it has given me stellar results, good velocity, very accurate, and it fills the case for a given charge weight, therefore a double charge is highly unlikely, its safe. I have absolutely no reason to go with anything else, love that Unique.:D

I've put an 8lb keg of Unique on my christmas list, I'll probably get it too.:D

Steve C
December 1, 2007, 03:08 PM
If you want full power military ball equivalent reloads (230gr FMJ at 850 fps) or 185gr JHP's at 1,100 fps then Unique will give you that. W231 is great for target level loads with 200gr SWC's and will only push a 230gr load at about 800 fps from 5" Gov Model 1911. W231 does meter well.

I use both. The 231 for .45 target loads and in the .38 spl.

December 1, 2007, 03:26 PM
Thank you for the info. My loads "ain't broke" so...

Where do we get detailed info on the various propellants, like grain size and density etc? I've had this problem a few times, but I can't seem to get a "datasheet" for a specific powder...

December 1, 2007, 04:01 PM
All of the powder manufactures have websites that provide lots of information on thier powders.
But as far as grain size & density information, I don't know of any other then what you can interpret from the Lee load book & the dipper info.

Burn rate tables are in about all the reloading manuals, and are generally more useful information when comparing one powder brand & type to another.


December 1, 2007, 04:34 PM
kount_zero, redneck2 kinda has a point. If powders were stocked by suppliers based on popularity and recommendations alone, they'd probably only stock 5 handgun powders: Bullseye, W231, Unique, W296 and H110. That's what I grew up with in handloading. Luckily, a good many powders have dual application for handgun and shotgun. I can't say that I've loaded as long or longer than anyone else, but I can say that I have been using a sound engineering approach in how I view and select powders, as well, and as long as anyone. In case anyone should question that, I also have the credentials to reinforce it, particularly in analyzing pressure. You are asking the right questions. Data sheets and pressure curve analysis used to be much more available. Last time I saw any "real" statistical data was from Ramshot.

The pressure rating of the cartridge is always a relevant issue, and lower pressure cartridges like the .45 ACP are typically more forgiving in regard to powder selection than higher pressure cartridges like say the 10mm.

Unique is very popular for very good reason. There are very few handgun cartridges you won't find a powder charge for using Unique. It is, after all, over 100 years old. Nearly the same condition exists for W-231. Performance will be what seperates them from better choices.

AA#5 was originally formulated for the .45 ACP, it meters extremely well and its bulk density is .950 grams per cubic centimeter. Most powder companies won't even list bulk density. It also serves very well as a general use type powder.

There are two ball powders (from Belgium) that are relatively new that are very comparable to 231 and Unique, but I believe better choices in both cases. Ramshot ZIP is very much like 231, but cleaner. If you have any doubt about its accuracy potential, pick up the latest Sierra manual. Better yet, call the ballisticians at Sierra and ask them what they think about ZIP. ZIP will get you to standard factory load level velocity with all weights in .45 ACP and will provide match grade accuracy in target loads. Something that can't always be done with 231.

Ramshot True Blue can be loaded in every application that you would use Unique for. In their earlier manuals, Ramshot showed Standard Deviation for every True Blue load, in every caliber it was loaded in. Why? To illustrate the uniformity potential of the powder. It yielded single digit standard deviation, in one load or another and most all of them in every single cartridge data was shown for: .380 up to .454 Casull. Nothing smaller was ever listed. It is slightly slower than Unique. Bulk density is .935 grams/cc so it meters exceptionally. I have used it in .45 ACP to get 230 gr. loads to over 850 FPS and with standard loads for 185s and up to +P level loads to replicate the Remington 185 gr. +P Golden Saber factory load. It is one of the best choices for .40 S&W and is used by many IPSC open competitors that load 9mm to Major Power Factor (see Brian Enos' Forum). It is the powder that FN Herstal uses to load the 5.7mm. Some guys don't see that as relevant, but try it with Unique. Then consider which is likely to be the better choice for a single powder inventory when you want to include .38 Special, or magnum revolver cartridges.

You have to be circumspect when you ask for powder recommendations. Some people will recommend powders because that's all they've used, or had recommended to them by others who haven't used anything else, either! Some will be detractors with zero or little experience with the powder you're considering. They didn't think of it before you did, so therefore, it's not a good choice. And that's why I'm piping in here. Continue to ask those questions. Try to obtain all of the statistical information you can get. More often than not, you'll be very pleased with the selection you make when you do your own homework and select the best powder available that covers all of the necessary requirements.

One final Q&A. Do the Belgians know anything about gunpowder? It may not be a relevant question, either. But I can tell you this, when the late Dr. Bull was selecting very complex powders for his SuperGun project. You know the one where he demonstrated the ability to use advanced artillery weapons to shoot down ballistic missiles and other targets at ranges up to 10,000 miles. Yeah, the Belgians made those powders. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect that these are the same Belgians that are supplying several powders to Western Powder Co. to sell as Ramshot: ZIP, True Blue, Enforcer, X-Terminator, TAC, Big Game, Hunter and Magnum. Competition and Silhouette are made by Primex. No, I'm not their salesman, but when you ask the right questions, even to yourself, you'll get the answers!;)

XD-40 Shooter
December 1, 2007, 04:41 PM
Hey CZ, I get excellent performance from Unique in 38 special and 357 mag. I load 9 grains of Unique behind a 125 grain SJHP for my 357 target load, chrono's 1350 and drills one ragged hole, recoil is mild. For 38 special, I load 5.5 grains of Unique, gives me 1000 fps and drills one ragged hole. Unique performs just fine in these calibers.

I recently loaded up some 150 grain Nosler JHP's in 40 S&W, with 7.8 grains of Unique. I got 1260 fps from my XD, pretty impressive performance.:D

December 1, 2007, 04:48 PM
Hey, XD, works for me as long as it works for you! There are several powders that will get you one ragged hole with a 125 gr SJHP at 1350 FPS.

With the 150 gr. Nosler, I can get one hole groups with True Blue or Silhouette. Silhouette will get you as much velocity. I only mention this because you might want to try shooting at night. I'd be glad to hear what you think about performance then, comparing Unique with True Blue, and particularly vs. Silhouette.;)

December 1, 2007, 06:08 PM
231 is a great powder for target loads, .38 wadcutters, .45 semi-wadcutters, no argument. When it comes to duplicating factory numbers in non-magnum center fire pistol Unique is what I use. I load .38, .44 Special, .45 ACP all with Unique. I load some very accurate and clean rounds in .357 and .44 Magnum but they are not full power loadings. The only applications where it does not get used is mild target loads mentioned above and full-house magnum types.

December 1, 2007, 06:16 PM
CZ and all:

Thank you very much for the wealth of info. I will look at ZIP more closely. It's been years since I stopped and I'm just now starting up again with handloading. My manual is Lyman's 47th...I should go buy more.

I appreciate all the advice. I wasn't looking for a recommendation per se, but more info on the powders and sources for such. And I agree with Cz that one must be aware of what goes into any recommendation.

It seems to me that the powder info on the websites is very high level, and as an engineer by training and profession I yearn for specifics.

I recently posted a question rgarding W296 and H110 (for me new RBH 45 Colt). The grains are so small that it "leaks" out of my Lee powder measure, and I'd hate to try it through my autodisk. I've used the measure with IMR4064 and 4350 with good results and the disk has a steady diet of Unique in its past. All are much larger than W296/H110.

Thanks again!

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