Universal Clays?


something vague
February 21, 2009, 09:39 AM
I am thinking about switching to a new pistol powder for my 9mm, 38spl. and light .357mag loads as my container of Unique is just about empty. Unique was ok and could create some very accurate loads in my guns but was not too impressed by the cleanliness of the powder. I also had trouble with the flakes metering through my powder measure with extreme consistancy. It was always + or - 0.2 grains it seem liked and I could actually feel the inconsistancy in my plinking rounds as I went through a clip.

Anyways I have heard some pretty good things about Universal as far as being clean. Can anyone with experience with this powder tell me anything about it? I actually wanted to get some Power Pistol but my local shop doesn't carry it. Other suggestions are welcome as well.

If you enjoyed reading about "Universal Clays?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
February 21, 2009, 09:47 AM
My shooting buddy, who I've just gotten hooked on reloading, has standardized on Universal Clays for all of his handgun rounds. He loads for .380 Auto, 9mm Luger, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, and .40 S&W. Universal Clays is not the "perfect powder" for any of them but works darn well in all, giving satisfying velocities and a clean burn. Plus it meters real well through the Lee Pro Auto Disk.

February 21, 2009, 09:50 AM
I've been using Universal for .38 Special (mild 148 LWC to moderate 158 gr SWCs), 9mm, and .45ACP. Have not tried .357 Magnum - I've been using Titegroup for that lately. I like Universal. It shoots clean out of my 9mm, leaves some unconsumed powder in my .45 (I've been told I need to bump my load up a little and that should helo), and also in the ultra mile 148 .38s, but does better as I get into the 158s.

FUnny...I was thinking of trying Unique next, or Win231.


something vague
February 21, 2009, 09:58 AM
Thanks for the fast responses. Quoheleth, if I was you I would def go with Win231 if you feel the need to change. My buddy uses this and I have used his setup to make some 9mm. I was very impressed with the metering capabilities of W231. It seems like it would also be a very economical powder as the burn rate seems to be a bit faster than that of Unique. But I can't hate on Unique completely, it gave me many very accurate loadings in all my guns but is just a little harder to work with. Maybe a nicer powder measure would meter it better but mine sucked at it. I'm still using a Lee cheap powder measure which works well with other powders, ball especially.

February 21, 2009, 10:47 AM
I use Universal for .380, 9mm, 9mm Largo, .40, and .45 with good results. I had unburned powder in 45 but was able to fix that by using a slightly heavier crimp (Lee factory crimp die). I double checked to make sure that I wasn't over crimping since I use Berry's or Rainier's bullets. Universal isn't the best for all the different calibers but works good for training/practice ammo. It meters +0.1 grain in my Lee Auto disk.

February 21, 2009, 10:53 AM
I have never tryed Universal Clays. I have used Unique A LOT though. And while I find it to be incredibly accurate, I do agree that it is incredibly dirty. And to think that it used to be a lot worse before they "improved" it! I do really like it though.

Just a side note--I have never found Unique to be too inconsistent in metering...maybe it's just my setup?

Redneck with a 40
February 21, 2009, 11:17 AM
I've loaded some 135 gr Berry's in 40 S&W, with 6.4 grains of Universal. Its a great load, accurate, clean, they clock about 1150 fps. This is my first batch with Universal and I like it. I did 250 rounds.

February 21, 2009, 12:16 PM
I use Universal for 32 SWL, 9mm, 38, 357, 45, 20 gauge and 28 gauge - works well

something vague
February 21, 2009, 02:37 PM
What do you have for powder metering equipment. I am actually contemplating on getting a new powder dispenser but there are so many options out there. I would like it to be reasonably priced but one that can accurately meter out 2 to 3 grains.

February 21, 2009, 02:42 PM
Universal Clays is my one and only handgun powder. I load .45 acp, .44 mag .40 S&W, .357 mag, .38 special and will also use it on 9mm as soon as my dies come in.

I find it a very good powder and it does flow very consistantly through the Lee Auto-Disk powder measure.

February 21, 2009, 04:59 PM
I like Universal for my handgun rounds except for my .45 Colt. My .45 Colt loves Unique.

February 21, 2009, 05:20 PM
Odd, because the .45LC is what made me hate Unique so much. Godawful mess.

Universal Clays is the modern version of Unique. I use it or AA#5 in just about everything handgun. I suspect AA#5 and WW-231 are pretty similar.

Mark whiz
February 21, 2009, 08:25 PM
I've gotten some good loads using Universal in .32ACP, .38Spcl, .357Mag, & .45ACP. It seems to do better with lead bullets rather than jacketed ones - with 158gr LSWCs in .38 & .357 in my 4" Ruger Security Six it cuts some incredible groups.
I can also give a thumbs up to AA#5 for all those calibers too in lead, plated, or jacketed bullets.

February 21, 2009, 08:37 PM
Remember that there are several variations of Hodgdon's Clays Powder.

Clays: Is the cleanest burning , most consistent. The superb burning characteristics of this powder produce soft, smooth recoil. These features transfer directly to handgun applications where target shooting is the main goal. 45 ACP and 38 Special are only two of the cartridges where CLAYS gunpowder provides "tack driving" target accuracy with flawless functioning.

Universal Clays: Handles the broadest spectrum of cartridges for both pistol and shotgun. From the 25 ACP to the 44 magnum and 28 gauge to 12 gauge, UNIVERSAL CLAYS gunpowder provides outstanding performance. As with all the "CLAYS" gunpowder series powders, clean burning and uniformity are part of its attributes.

HP-38 or WIN-231: are the same powder: HP38 is a spherical powder that is great for low velocity and mid-range target loads in the .38 Special, .44 Special, and 45 ACP. This high energy powder provides economy in loading.

Myself I like Hodgdons Clays very clean and consistent on the chronograph.
HP-38 is the new Win-231 a very good .45 ACP Powder.
HS-6 Dirty period.
Tightgroup while a very good all around powder, for me I still prefer
Hodgdons Clays and or HP-38. For the clean burn if nothing else.

February 21, 2009, 11:14 PM
I've been using HP-38 for 45 colt. seems to work really well.

February 21, 2009, 11:57 PM
I use Universal Clay's in my .45 ACP loads. It's similar to Unique (which I used to use) ballisticly but Clay's burns much cleaner. I really like it.

February 22, 2009, 07:43 AM
Universal is the only pistol powder I use for 9mm and .45. It is not as popular which keeps it in stock and always availible. I have not found any reason to switch it will do about everything I need, accuracy, clean burn, fast, slow, meter well. It's UNIVERSAL.

February 22, 2009, 07:51 AM
I don't think you'll be disappointed with Universal Clays. It's an extremely consistent and clean-burning powder. I use it to reload 380 ACP, 9mm, 38 Special, 40 S&W, 357 Sig and 45 ACP, and also for non-magnum loadings in 357 Mag, 44 Mag and 454 Casull.

February 22, 2009, 10:25 AM
I hate to be the spoiler here. While I have used Universal with good effect on 45ACP loads, my 38 special cowboy loads do not burn well. Lots of unburned powder. The gun is a real mess after shooting these. As others have suggested maybe the crimp needs work. Universal may work well for 38 special loads but it doesn't seem to burn clean for cowboy loads, in my experience.

February 22, 2009, 10:35 AM
universal works great in my 45 colt but is loaded near max to burn clean....well sorta clean anyhow

February 22, 2009, 10:53 AM
Barbarian, to what velocity are you loading your "cowboy loads"? I agree that Universal (like Unique and any other medium burning powder) doesn't do well at low pressure.

I've read of some .38 Special cowboy shooters trying to get 550 fps with a 100gr bullet in order to minimize recoil and maximize their score. The pressure generated by such a load would be less than 5,000 psi, which IMHO is ridiculous. And I'm sure a real cowboy would agree with me...

February 22, 2009, 01:03 PM
universal & unique are close in burn rate. i feel universal is alot cleaner at lower pressures though.


February 22, 2009, 02:06 PM
I use Universal for 38/357 and 40 S&W. It meters great through my Lee Perfect Powder measure dropping charges easily within +/- 0.1 grain. It burns clean in the loads I use it in. It does seem to be a lot more readily available than other powders.

Give it a try.

All the Best,
D. White

February 22, 2009, 02:10 PM
I have come back to UC cause of shooting poly/moly coated lead bullets to help decrease the amount of smoke when shooting indoors....

Mal H
February 22, 2009, 03:10 PM
I have pretty much standardized on UC for practice and plinking loads in several calibers. I guess I better like it 'cause I have about 10 lbs of it.

As barbarian stated, however, it is not the powder of choice for lighter than normal loads such as Cowboy Action loads. It will leave unburned flakes in the cylinder and action. No matter how hard I tried to get a good light .45 Colt load with UC, it always left some unburned powder behind. No amount of crimping seemed to help. But it was clean unburned powder! :)

February 22, 2009, 06:46 PM
Odd, because the .45LC is what made me hate Unique so much. Godawful mess.

You mean .45 Colt Right? ;)

Anyways, Unique beats Universal hands down in my .45 Colt. I can deal with the mess as a trade off for accuracy.

February 23, 2009, 04:53 PM
I use it in 45LC as a standard and make what I call .44 mag specials. Since I don't keep any 44 special brass around. Always works great for me, metters well to boot.

Ala Dan
February 23, 2009, 06:02 PM
Since I don't shoot cowboy action matches, I too have standardized
all of my handgun loads using Universal. I load for .38 SPL/.357 Mag,
9m/m Parabellum, and .45 ACP; with .44 Mag possible. ;) :D

something vague
February 24, 2009, 06:19 PM
Thanks to all the great responses, I ended up buying a pound and using it in some 9mm test rounds. My initial 15 test rounds, at 3 differnent size charges, all produced great accuracy. My higher end of the load scale ended up shooting 4 rounds in less than 1/2", and the fifth round 1.5" away from the group. I loaded up 50 of those rounds and was absolutely impressed with the accuracy and cleanliness of the burn. I was able to get close in accuracy with Unique, but no where near as neat of a gun after the shooting session. And the shooting was all done in 30 degree weather, although I may have to mess with the load again in the summer depending on how temp sensitive this stuff is.

February 24, 2009, 07:47 PM
HS-6 Dirty period.

Why is HS-6 so dirty? I've been loading my 40's with it and it's not any more or less dirty the the other powders. Could someone clarify why?

February 25, 2009, 03:00 AM
"Why is HS-6 so dirty? I've been loading my 40's with it and it's not any more or less dirty the other powders. Could someone clarify why?"

Burn rates are why. HS-6 has a relatively slow powder burn rate.

It wants pressure, 9mm pressures are where HS-6 starts to clean up and become consistent. It starts to shine @ app: 28,000 cup of Pressure.
While using HS-6 at the minimum load weight it will be dirtier than at the higher safe pressure load weights.
The .40 S&W is also a high pressure cartridge and will perform well with this powder also at the higher safe pressure powder load weights.

The .45 ACP not so well with max safe pressures at app. 17,000 cup
HS-6 will be dirty.

In Comparison: Powder Burn Rates Fastest to Slower
7 Hodgdon CLAYS
10 Hodgdon TITEGROUP
22 Hodgdon HP-38
23 Winchester 231 (same as HP-38)
26 Hodgdon UNIVERSAL
35 Hodgdon HS-6
Ref:> Hodgdon's Web. Site (http://www.hodgdon.com/burn-rate.html)

Many Hodgdon Universal Clays fans may like Hodgdon Clays even more.

For me I load 9x19, .38 Spec., .357 Mag., .40 S&W and .45 ACP...
Reload the 9's and .45's primarily.

The .45 low pressure round is my main reason for not using HS-6 or any other slow burn powder. For me I like Clays, and HP-38.
This also is more economical to load with requiring a lower weight of charge...

It would not surprise me if Hodgdon discontinued HS-6 in the future.

February 25, 2009, 09:58 PM
Universal works great with high pressure cartridges like 9mm, .40 or .357. It will work with .45 or .38, but you won't get a great chamber seal. In 9mm and .40, Universal will give you serious velocity with minimal pressures. It does recoil a bit more than Clays due to the burn rate difference.

I use Universal for my .40 loads, due to power requirements for USPSA and using a 4" barrel. I like it in 9mm too, flaaaat shooting and no signs of pressure.

Peter M. Eick
February 26, 2009, 07:31 PM
Just keep in mind that Universal is not ALWAYS better then Unique. I found that Unique was more accurate in the 380 auto and the 40 so I use it over Universal. Universal was better in 10mm and 9mm though.

If you enjoyed reading about "Universal Clays?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!