Opinions on unique powder?


Marty B
September 17, 2008, 11:36 AM
I'm loading 9mm, 38 spcl, 357, 44 mag and 45 auto with both lead and jacketed bullets and found the most versatile powder to be Unique. I noticed yesterday when shooting light loads with lead bullets out of my 44 that it felt like something dusting my face just a little bit and then noticed some unburnt powder falling out of my brass (only noticed this with the 44 mag). It also seems as it burns a little dirty. Has anyone had this same problem? Is there another powder that is as versatile in the applications that I metioned that will work as well? I would rather keep it to one powder if possible.
Thanks in advance for any help,

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September 17, 2008, 11:50 AM
For light loads in the .44, you might try Red Dot (or Promo.)

It will also work well in most of the other cartridges you listed (you probably won't like its wimpy performance in the .357)

September 17, 2008, 11:52 AM
I love unique. But when working with lower pressure rounds it tends to burn incompletely, just like many other powders. With unique it tends to like to be loaded up to mid to higher end pressures, to avoid most of the unburnt powder (of course, follow all standard practices to work up loads). It is a somewhat dirty powder, which is fine if you clean your firearm after every outing.

Unique may be dirty and it may leave some unburnt powder, but good luck finding another powder that is as versatile and accurate over such a large range of cartridges. It is one of the best all around handgun powders money can buy.

September 17, 2008, 11:53 AM
I switched to AA#5 as meters better for me and it burns cleaner at lower pressure. For .357 and .44 mag a powder like AA#9 or 2400 will give you much better performance.

September 17, 2008, 11:53 AM
Unique burns dirty, at times incredibly dirty, unless the pressure is juuuuust right. You have to play with it in your loads until you get a clean burner. The main reason people still use it is the versatility and the power. It is the most versatile powder out there, so when you buy a pound or eight it'll be useful for a long time.

September 17, 2008, 12:00 PM
I used to load with Unique, but finally got frustrated with it not metering uniformly through either of my Redding powder measures, my Dillon powder measure, My Hornady powder measure, or even my old Belding & Mull. I won't use a powder that won't meter properly, and I don't limit myself to just one powder. I prefer the powder that will do the best job for the application, which is why I have many different powders in my inventory. I load for 29 calibers now, and there's no one powder that is going to come close for all of those, so I just buy what works best.

Hope this helps.


September 17, 2008, 12:22 PM
Unique may be dirty and it may leave some unburnt powder, but good luck finding another powder that is as versatile and accurate over such a large range of cartridges. It is one of the best all around handgun powders money can buy.This pretty much says it all.

I load for 29 calibers now, and there's no one powder that is going to come close for all of those, so I just buy what works best.
I go thru a lot of ammo each month. A lot. Being able to buy 8lb jugs of Unique and crank out 1000 rounds of cast 9mm and 1000 rounds of cast 45ACP each month from the same jug makes my life a lot easier; I get to focus more on shooting and less on reloading. Unique meters well in my Lee AutoDisk thingee and I can use the same powder for all of my common pistol loads.

Works for me, although I'm probably going to switch over to Ramshot Zip as soon as my current supply of Unique runs out. My only motivation for doing so is that I can buy Zip for a lot less than most any other pistol powder and it performs acceptably well in 9mm, 40S&W, and 45ACP chamberings with cast bullets.

September 17, 2008, 12:24 PM
I've noticed the unburned powder all over my right arm shooting my 1911 loaded with Unique. It doesn't meter well at all through my Lee Pro Autodisk, but it works fine in my RCBS Uniflow. I have a couple loads I use it for, but for the most part I much prefer WW231.

September 17, 2008, 12:25 PM
I am a big unique fan. I never had good luck at lower pressures either. I'd get some accurate loads, but I would look like I lost a fight with a pepper shaker when I was done shooting.

1911fulleffect was spot on with his load suggestion. mid to higher level loads work great. You can use unique in almost every case- its so versatile its nearly unbelievable. A lot of cast shooters use reduced loads of it in rifle rounds too with good results (don't do this unless you know a fair bit about it- its easy to blow up nice guns)

September 17, 2008, 12:32 PM
I use unique for .38 .40 .357. 44. 45 and some shotgun. It works great all around. I use 6g for the 38 and 40.and 45 12g for 44 and 8g for 357. Granted it does not provide maximum power as 2400 or h110 does. However, for volume shooting, IDPA, and hanging out with the buddies its a great powder. For full powder loads i use 2400 up to 44mag and h110 after that. And power pistol for accurate 40-45. However, how often do you need full horsepower loads when just killing tin cans and paper?

September 17, 2008, 12:40 PM
I have develop some of my most accurate loads in 9mm, .38 Spl, .357 mag and .44 Spl with Unique. It is a bit dirtier many powders, but it cleans up easily with Hoppe's #9.

I have come to like the smell of it as I think I have unconsciously associated it with pleasing groups on my targets.

A similar powder, that burns cleaner is Universal, which I use a good deal of loading 9mm.

highlander 5
September 17, 2008, 12:41 PM
I used to use Unique but switched to Universal Clays near the same burning rate and much cleaner burning.

September 17, 2008, 12:49 PM
I have a bunch of different powders (but I'm trying to consolidate to maybe a half-dozen or less.) I tend to load any cartridge up near the top end of its SAAMI limits, and I get the power level I want by selecting a fast or slow powder accordingly. The powders burn a lot cleaner that way.

Currently I'm using a lot of Bullseye and AA#7 because they both meter really well. I have Green Dot in the single-stage press's powder measure right now just to use it up because it meters like crap (but it's an excellent powder for 9mm and .45 Colt and for .38 Special target loads.)

September 17, 2008, 12:53 PM
I like the versatility of Unique. Just wish it would meter better.

September 17, 2008, 12:57 PM
I started out using Unique for most of my pistol loads. I found it to be kind of dirty and switched to Bullseye. That was about 25 years ago. Never went back.

Seems to me I used to use Blue Dot for 44 spl loads sometimes.

September 17, 2008, 01:08 PM
Unique may be dirty and it may leave some unburnt powder, but good luck finding another powder that is as versatile and accurate over such a large range of cartridges.
Hodgdon Universal works in almost every caliber from 25ACP to 454 Casull. Much cleaner than Unique and meters better as well.
For the 40 S&W I wouldn't use anything else.
Universal has been around for two decades so you shouldn't need any luck 'finding' it.

Steve C
September 17, 2008, 01:15 PM
If I had to get by with one powder that powder would be Unique. I've loaded everything from the .32 ACP to the 30-30 with Unique. In the medium pressure cartridges like the .38 spl and .45 acp it will produce the best velocities. The "New" Unique is cleaner than the old formulation but it needs decent pressures to clean up.

September 17, 2008, 01:18 PM
I like Unique for 44 mag cast loads just fine. I do step up to 2400 for full up jacketed.

I use the Lee PPM with Unique and as long as I follow a few rules it works accurately for me.

>Hopper always more than half full.
>10 drops to set up the hopper flow pattern.
>Stay consistent on measure operation.
>If I pause, start over with several drops that go back in the hopper.

Someone mentioned Unique for rifle use, Greg Mushial (http://www.gmdr.com/lever/lowveldata.htm) has done some very interesting work there that's worked out well for me.

Unique, 350g cast, 50 yards kneeling. I'm sold on it and load 'em by the barrel.


Marty B
September 17, 2008, 01:35 PM
Thanks for the help so far. Yea, I havent found anything as versatile as unique. It seems like every load and caliber of pistol you look at, there it is. It may not be the best for everything but works pretty well for everything. I don't have any trouble with it metering (usually within +.2 -.1) with my RCBS uniflow as long as I use the tap-tap method at the top of the stroke Knowing that it burns better at higher pressures helps out a lot. I can deal with the dirty, as I clean after every trip, but it would be nice not to clean so much. I also keep some h-110 for 30 carb and noticed that it works pretty well for the 44 so I can use it too. I'll look into some of the others and see what I can find out. The only load manuals i'm using are Hornady and Speer for pistol so I'll look at some of the powder manufacturers data because they seem to list more loads for their powder.

Marty B
September 17, 2008, 02:12 PM
Looks like Hodgdon Universal might be a winner after looking at their data on their website. What thinks y'all?

September 17, 2008, 02:19 PM
IMO: Universal is dirtier (and way more spastic on velocity variations) then Unique unless you run max loads all the time.

I have not found a more versitile powder then unique. It may not be the absolute very best in everything, at every power level, but there isn't much you can't reload with it.


September 17, 2008, 02:32 PM
I have not found a more versitile powder then unique. It may not be the absolute very best in everything, at every power level, but there isn't much you can't reload with it.

+1 on this

September 17, 2008, 02:38 PM
I like Unique. I haven't found it to be dirty at all but then again my comparison is Winchester White Box ammo <grin>.

September 17, 2008, 03:08 PM
I use Unique in .38, .357, 44 special, 44 Mag reduced loads, .41 mag reduced loads & .45 colt full loads. Haven't tried the newer powders as Unique has served me well for over 35 years.

XD-40 Shooter
September 17, 2008, 10:53 PM
I've been reloading 40 S&W with Unique for 2 years now, well over 7500 rounds. I'm very pleased with the accuracy and performance I'm getting. Unique also works well in 38 special, mid-range 357, 45 ACP, and 9mm. Like others have said, its an extremely versatile powder and gives good performance over a very wide spectrum.

September 17, 2008, 11:26 PM
unique is one of those powders that you should always have a 1lb can around handy, just in case. You can load pretty much anything with it, pistol wise and I have also used it in 30-30 win. Not a favorite but very versitile.


September 18, 2008, 12:07 AM
I guess old habits die hard, having used Unique as the go-to powder for many applications. I even use it in my 32ACP. I find it very versatile.


September 18, 2008, 12:48 AM
The only thing I have to add is that I have another 8 lbs of Unique on order. It's the only powder I use in all my pistols, but my 44 mag and it only eats H110.

Snapping Twig
September 18, 2008, 12:54 AM
Unique is a fantastic mid range powder, one of the very best.

Ben Shepherd
September 18, 2008, 08:06 AM
Guys, if you use/like unique you owe it to yourself to try out clays universal. I used to use unique. Tried clays at the urging of someone that does handgun ammo for a living. He was right. I've never looked back. MUCH cleaner burning.

As a bonus the charge weights are almost identical.

XD-40 Shooter
September 18, 2008, 11:34 PM
I'm actually thinking about getting 8lbs of Longshot, it works great for mid-range 357 loads and really pushes the 40 S&W with top performance. I'll keep loading with Unique, no doubt, but for high performance 40 loads, Longshot is impressive.

September 19, 2008, 12:11 AM
The name says it all I've used it in 9mm 38-357 and never found it to be dirty. Have found that people who claim how dirty and smokey it is are shooting lead. Have given Trail Boss (very bulky)some thought for 38/357 would be nice to see the powder level in these cases. Called Dillon to ask what kind of reports they been getting on the metering of it. Told me the SASS guys love it meters great. Will always have some Unique on the shelf.

September 19, 2008, 01:07 AM
Yes, I like Unique. Yes, it's the most versatile powder around. No, it doesn't burn as cleanly as certain other powders. But a lot of the "unclean" burning can be made to go away by increasing the charge weight. If this isn't an option, then the use of slightly heavier crimp, a magnum primer, or slightly heavier projectile or all three will usually make Unique burn no LESS clean than most other powders. I hope it's made for a long long time.

September 19, 2008, 01:13 AM
HS-6 is as versatile as Unique but it meters very well unlike Unique. It's also a very clean low flash powder. I have used it with good success in all 5 calibers you mentioned in your first post.

For handgun rounds I like and use W231/HP-38, HS-6, Lil'Gun, H110/W296, Power Pistol, AA#5, Longshot and a few others but have found HS-6 and W231 to be most versatile. I will not use Unique because it Doesn't meter well at all. The more I use HS-6 the more I like it!!

September 19, 2008, 01:20 AM
Angel, have you tried WSF powder? It's faster burning than HS-6 and slower than Unique, and it meters really well.

I wish Hodgdon's would publish more data for it. (I cautiously use Herco data)

September 19, 2008, 01:37 AM

I use Trail Boss in 38 spcl for my 125 gr Lead rnfp with I think about 3.3 or 3.5 or 3.8gr of Trail Boss (can't recall at the moment but I'll check my Bench Log tomorrow - PM me for a recipe swap)and I love it. I also use it in 30-30 with 165 gr Lead flat point and about 7.7 gr of Trail Boss.
I only shoot 125 gr XTP's with 21.0 gr of H110 in my 357 Mag though. I like the fire it spits, I love the B O O M !!!! and I like how other shooters stop and go "What in the Hell was that!!!???"


September 19, 2008, 10:48 AM
It's the only powder I use for target loads.

September 19, 2008, 01:28 PM
I've been meaning to look into WSF for a while now because I hear good things about it but I just can't bring myself to buy another powder right now. As you see from my above post I do have many!! LOL I also want to look into True Blue. I hear that's a good powder too but the same holds for it, when I use up some of the others I'll give it a try.

September 19, 2008, 02:03 PM
I've noticed the unburned powder all over my right arm shooting my 1911 loaded with Unique.

I notice the same thing with Unique in 45 LC. I switched to Titegroup, and that doesn't see to have that issue.


September 19, 2008, 02:12 PM
I'm going thru my 1-pounders of powder and trying to use up any that are less than half full. Reduce the clutter. Just finished up all my Blue Dot last week, and almost done with the Green Dot. I'm trying to get back to just using powders that measure well in a progressive press: Bullseye, WSF, AA#7, 2400, 296. Those 5 cover *all* the handgun bases (and the 2400 is redundant, you don't really need an intermediate step between AA#7 and W296.) Actually, I think you could do it all with just 2 powders: Bullseye and Power Pistol.

But I like Promo so much and it's so cheap I'll keep using it even though it meters like sawdust. It's also supposed to be good for reduced cast bullet loads in rifle cartridges.

September 19, 2008, 02:15 PM
I love Unique, but when I want a higher density "Unique" that is cleaner, I load Power Pistol. Aside from a little flash, I have been pleased by how well PP works in my usual Unique powered cast and jacketed bullet loads. Charge weights are very similar for similar velocities, accuracy is good and it meters like a ball powder. For some reason many think cast and PP is a bad combination, but IMO and experience this is not the case.

September 19, 2008, 09:06 PM
I've used Unique with 3.3 grains and 148 hard cast bullets with great results other then the dirty part. I just bought a lb of 231 to test. It meters better, but I haven't shot it yet so I don't know how accurate my rounds will be.

I've also had great results with 4 grains and 158grain hard cast bullets.

All have been low pressure and dirty, but accurate.

September 20, 2008, 03:24 AM
If that 148gr bullet is a DEWC try 3.5gr of W231 and you will be very happy. I am shooting a 4" S&W M686. I charge 4.1gr W231 under a 158gr LSWC with equal success. The only "dirt" I get when using W231 isn't from the powder but from the hard lube on the bullets.

September 20, 2008, 09:44 AM
for bowlin' pins with my 686 I like 7 1/2 grns under 158 JHPs. Easy on the gun, easy on me and easy on the pins.

September 20, 2008, 11:49 AM
I like Unique for versatility but it is a little dirty.

tiger rag
September 21, 2008, 12:03 AM
I am a unique fan very versatile . Use it for most of my range practice loads for many calibers 9mm 45acp 45lc 38spc 357.I always keep this pwdr in stock.A little dirty but newer Unique seems to burn cleaner.

September 21, 2008, 01:07 AM
I used to use Unique, but now I use Titegroup almost exclusively. It seems to meter more uniformly in the Dillon and lets face it, UNQ is just flippin' dirty unless you're loading pretty stout +p type stuff to burn it all.

September 21, 2008, 06:10 AM
Marty -

Fact is, smokeless powder needs high pressure for a complete (clean) burn.

When the gun fires, the powder starts to burn, the pressure increases; the bullet leaves the case, the combustion chamber volume increases. Continued burning keeps the pressure up, but expanding combustion chamber volume keeps the pressure from rising too much.

If you want lighter loads and just decrease the powder charge to get there, then the expanding combustion chamber volume is likely to prevail. You get incomplete combustion and a dirty burn.

Instead of decreasing the charge weight, select a faster burning powder. That will get the pressure up and get the burn done in a shorter time, while combustion chamber volume is still small.

Conversely, if you want to increase the muzzle velocity do not try to get there by just dumping in more powder. The pressure will come up too fast relative to the rate of combustion chamber expansion, and you are in danger of an overpressure and blowing up yr gun. Instead, select a slower burning powder.

September 21, 2008, 07:15 AM
Unique is kind of dirty, and yes, it certainly does meter terribly. But I get great results with it in my 30-30 Win behind cast bullets. And I can get almost 800 loads out of a pound, so if you like to practice a lot it's a very inexpensive way to go.

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