switching to Unique for .357/.45colt


May 16, 2010, 09:53 PM
A major change in my reloading....I'm going to use only Unique for my cast bullets. 158 gr .357 and 255 gr .45colt.:banghead:

Any favorite/pet loads??

Any advice on lube would be welcome also:confused:

If you enjoyed reading about "switching to Unique for .357/.45colt" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
May 16, 2010, 10:13 PM
9.2 grains for 255 SWC .45 Colt - Alliant lists max load at 10 grains but 9.2 is what my Lee Powder Dipper throws and I have not made any custom dippers. I only use Unique to keep things simple.

May 16, 2010, 10:52 PM
I don't use Unique much but there are MANY loads out there using Unique. It's been around for a very long time so the data is extensive.

The classic .45 Colt load is 9.0gr Unique under a 250/255gr LRN/LSWC bullet.
The classic .38 Special load is 5.0gr Unique under a 158gr LRN/LSWC bullet.

Jesse Heywood
May 16, 2010, 10:55 PM
For 357, 158 gr SWC - 6.0 gr Unique in 6" 686. Moderate recoil, good accuracy

May 16, 2010, 11:51 PM
I would give you mine but my Unique is about 45+ yrs old! I am using my dad's old powder and primers and have not had a single FTF in my S&W model 60 .38/357. It's dirty but goes bang and using a crono have better SD than WWB .38special. It is softer shooting than the bullseye loads I have tried so I bought some new Unique when my collectors can of Unique is gone.

May 17, 2010, 01:54 AM
9.0 grains under a 255 grain Kieth bullet in .45 Colt.

I would restrict Unique to .38 special cases, and use Hodgdon H110 in the .357 Magnum cases.

May 17, 2010, 07:22 PM
I use 7 gr. of Unique for about 95% of my 357 shooting. Bullets from 140gr. to 158gr. all cast out of wheelweights.
It's a good moderate 357 level load. It's great for bowling pins or even hunting up to Mule deer.
Cheap also, 1000 rounds out of a pound of powder. I buy Unique by the 8lb. jugs. :)

May 17, 2010, 07:32 PM
Universal Clays will do the same thing, with about the same charge weights, and much less mess, particularly in the .45 Colt. BTDT. Filthy mess. Unique will work in moderate cases when it's pushed hard. In the Colt, it's awful.

I wouldn't take Unique for free if I had to use it. In fact, I gave away about 2/3rds of a pound after using Universal Clays in my 45 Colt, .45 acp, and 10mm. AA#5 is also very good.


May 17, 2010, 11:05 PM
Hmmmmmmmmmm...good to be reading these mentions.

I myself finally am ready now for beginning to Load .45 Colt, and in fact I do have both Unique, and, Universal Clays on hand to try out.

I wonder if Barrel Length is a factor in how 'dirty' Unique may be?

That is, if a longer Barrel would give it more time to clean itself up?

Jesse Heywood
May 17, 2010, 11:21 PM
While it doesn't burn as clean as W-231, I haven't found Unique to be that much dirtier than most other powders. But, I usually don't load to the max.

May 18, 2010, 01:18 AM
Unique is a good powder. I have been using it for many years. I never knew it was "dirty" until I started reading online forums. :eek: :confused:
Unique is the one powder that has been continually available here for the past two years.
Sorry, no pet loads. I am loading 44 SPL. Pick a load out of your manual.
Oh, I do like the Lyman Alox bullet lube.

Fractal X
May 18, 2010, 08:02 PM
For .357 I've been using 5.5 grains of Unique under my hand cast 140gr SWC's.

When I got started (on the cheap) I was tumble lubing with LLA and I'd get some leading. It wasn't bad but it was still more of a hassle to clean. Awhile back,I picked up a used Lyman 450 lubrisizer on ebay and have been using it with Lyman's Orange Magic lube and my leading problems have left me.


May 18, 2010, 08:12 PM
IMO, Unique needs to be pushed hard (smaller cases with higher loads) to burn cleanly.

The .45 Colt has too much room for a clean burn. Also, if you use the blue Crayola type lube, it tends to get very dirty.

I was shooting Unique with cast bullets (blue lube) at an indoor range. Some of the other shooters asked if I was shooting black powder. They were serious.

If you like Unique, knock yourself out.

May 19, 2010, 08:24 PM
158 gn LRN pushed by 7.2 gn Unique. Moderate load , great for punching paper.

May 19, 2010, 10:07 PM
LOTS of powders "burn dirty" when loaded at the lower end of the range. If you get what looks like soot running along the side of your brass (broad longitudinal smudge) you might want to bump up your charge (WITHIN published load limits). What's happening there is you're not getting enough pressure to seal the case properly when it's fired. The faster powders don't seem to do that as much, since their pressure spikes way earlier than Unique - but they're better suited to target loads.

May 20, 2010, 07:01 AM
I love Unique. Ya it's a little smokey but I kinda like that, Maybe thats one of the reasons that it's available when others are not. A couple more patches when cleaning is no big deal. Uniques versatility is why I like it so well. I use it in 44 mag-special, 45 acp 38 etc. I also use Bullseye and W-231 with great success.

Peter M. Eick
May 22, 2010, 07:45 PM
I never found Universal Clays to be as accurate as "flaming dirt" Unique. This is my 38's and 357's.

I am shooting more and more Unique now with Lead just because it works. Cleaning is not that big of a deal if I can get the accuracy.

May 23, 2010, 01:44 AM
Unique dates back to pre world war II, it has been that long lived and reliable. The name unique is used because it fills so many loading needs, from shogun, pistol, small case rifle and with care and know how, reduced loads in large cased rifles.
I have not reloaded any unique in .357 for about 10 years now,the last sitting was to load a large quantity of .357 at one sitting, it took most of the winter to load 300 boxes at 7.5 grains per shot.
I agree with others though, I never knew unique was dirty, I have shot it in every gun I have ever owned, except those that were designed for smoking powder. If you want dirty, try some of this modern day ball stuff.
Old manuals list unique for .357 with charges that scare even me, I have tried it clear up to 8.0 grains and more, 7.5 should be listed as max in everything .357 that isn't a pressure gun.
The one downfall to unique is the sharpness of the muzzle blast, it sounds different that anything else, and will ruin your hearing sooner, even in the field I carry and use earplugs.
I have never used unique in a .45 Colt, but have in .44 Spcl. and Magnums with good results.
Good luck and safe shooting.


May 23, 2010, 09:33 AM
158 gn LRN pushed by 7.2 gn Unique. Moderate load , great for punching paper.

I shoot a 158gr JHP over 7.2 gr Unique and that load has lots of excited exclamation marks around it in my log. Shoots really well for me.

May 23, 2010, 09:43 AM
You won't be disappointed with Unique. If I had to pick one pistol powder to do me for life...Unique would be the one.

I like 8.5 grains in .45 Colt for general range use, and bump up to 9 grains for a factory duplicate load with 250-grain lead bullets.

6.5-7 grains with 155-160 grain cast bullets in .357 will do ya proud. Nice load that outpowers +P .38 by a good margin, but easy on guns and you can shoot it all day in a K-frame Smith without stressing it.

9 grains if Unique with 210-grain cast bullets is also a good general-purpose load in .41 Magnum. Chronographed out of my 4.625 inch Blackhawk at 1100-ish fps, and 1070 from my 4-inch Model 58 Smith. Bump that up to 10 grains yields 1200 in the Ruger, which doesn't give up a lot to the top-end loadings with the 210 grain bullet.

Peter M. Eick
May 23, 2010, 10:54 AM
Tuner, I have to agree with you. After contemplating my roughly 40 different powders on the bench, I have decided that I need to spend more time shooting and less time fretting about getting every last bit of performance out of my reloads. I am just punching paper so why mess around with everything from Longshot to hp38.

Unique seems to give me the best performance in general with lead over many cartridges. As I burn out my other powders I will start just stocking up on a few good ones like Bullseye, Unique, 2400, and Trailboss, although I am thinking of dropping bullseye and replacing it with power-pistol.

The only specialty powders I will then let in for a while are sr4756 for the 38/44, 4227 for the 357 maximum/SuperMag and AA9 for the 357 Sig. They just work too well to not keep around for my favorite cartridges.

While I freely admit I have had a lot of fun experimenting with every new and a bunch of old powders over the last decade, now I want to focus on just a few good powders and lead bullets.

May 23, 2010, 12:23 PM
Yep, Peter. I'ver gotten along nicely for the past 30-odd years with Unique and 2400. For cast bullets, the two are hard to beat. About 6 months ago, I started using a little Bullseye again in .38 Special after a long time not shooting any of that caliber, and mainly because my Little Dandy doesn't meter Unique well with a charge weight of less than 6 grains...which is a bit much for use in Model 10 revolvers. If I had a metering system that would throw Unique in standard .38 volumes, that's what I'd be using.

Peter M. Eick
May 23, 2010, 08:24 PM
I have gotten my uniflow to work well with unique. Use a baffle and the micrometer screws. Keep the reservoir full and have at it. It is all in the swing. If you are consistent you can get within +/- 0.1 most of the time and really rare 0.2. When the uniflow is on my pro2000, I get +/- 0.1 all the time. It has to do with the shaking of the press during actuation. That really makes it a lot more consistent for some reason.

I normally run 5.0 grns of Unique with a 158 swc or if I am wimping it, I go down to 4.5 grns. 5.0 grns works a lot better though. Far better accuracy.

May 24, 2010, 07:05 AM
Eh...I don't shoot enough .38 to justify spendin' the money on a new powder dispenser.
I can get by with Bullseye as long as I'm anal over double-checkin' the charged cases before I forge ahead.

May 24, 2010, 07:49 AM
9.2 grs Unique under a 255 gr cast bullet works great in my 7.5" Blackhawk. I can use a Lee dipper (I prefer to use dippers), the load is comfortable and more accurate than I am. I clean the guns after every session, so I don't worry about any Unique "dirtiness". The same load worked well in a NM Vaquero but I use that mostly with BP reloads these days.

I haven't used Unique with 38/357s but will certainly give it a try. If it works, it will let me cut down on the numbers of powder types I keep since I shoot more 38 special and 45 Colt than any other centerfire calibers. Of course, I'll always have some Bullseye around for 38 special WCs.

If I can find a Unique load I like for 44 special (240 gr cast bullets fired from a model 29) that would be great.


May 24, 2010, 10:00 AM
6 grains unique under 158 grain LRNFP in .357 works well in my Vaquero and Marlin 1894CB. Mild recoil and very accurate.

May 24, 2010, 03:55 PM
Usually load 7.0 grs of Unique under a 255 gr SWC with Orange Magic lube for my Smiths. Mild load. Have loaded as low as 6.5 grs. I have loaded the same bullet [except at Brin 19-20] with a load that is double digit [1025-50 fps] in my Blackhawk and don't have a leading problem. Now use H-110 for the hotter hunting loads. Used Blue Angel lube for years with good luck, but it does smoke more. What's great about Unique is I can use it, with good result,in so many other calibers!

May 24, 2010, 06:30 PM
.357 Mag. 6.0gr. Unique, under a 158gr. swc. Works great 4 me.

Maj Dad
May 24, 2010, 08:44 PM
I cast an RCBS 150 gr SWC for my 357s & load it with 6.5 gr Unique. Moderate, accurate and fun. I can shoot them all day long and never notice recoil, and do not recall thinking ever that they leave my weapon dirty. Every time I shoot any of my firearms, I clean them afterwards because shooting them leaves them... dirty? I used to notice that 2400 left a lot of unburned powder in some loads (44-40 in 92 Win comes to mind), but I always thought it was a function of pressure and bullet weight versus the powder itself. I am with Tuner on Unique as the sole pistol powder I would choose if limited to one only. It is also the one I could use with my 12 & 20 ga shotguns - it really is unique... :D

If you enjoyed reading about "switching to Unique for .357/.45colt" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!