Is there a better powder than Unique?


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ssyoumans
January 6, 2012, 11:34 AM
After many years of mainly using Unique and Bullseyes in the calibers below, I've decided to try another powder and am looking for suggestions for powders that works better than Unique in the following caliber / loads.
9mm w/124gr Plated RN & 124gr MBC LRN, and 115 & 124 JHP
40 S&W w/165gr Plated FN and 155gr JHP and 155gr Plated HBRN
45 ACP w/230gr LRN, 185gr JHP, 200gr Plated SWC
380 ACP with 100gr Plated RN and 95gr LRN
*
So, what do I mean by works better: I'm not looking for max power but not a powder puff load either.* Want something with good accuracy, better metering in Lee Autodisk/charge bar, clean burning, minimal pressure spiking and temp sensitivity (from 35 degrees to 100 degrees).
*
I've used Power Pistol in 9mm & 40 S&W & some 380.* Meters better, but flashy. Haven't been "sold" on it yet.
I've used Bullseye in 380 ACP and 45 ACP, and may continue to do that, as it meters nicely and works well for me in those calibers, and it is my primary powder in 38 Spec.
I have a can of W231, but haven't opened it yet.* Seems like it might work?
*
What about AA5 or Clays Universal? How do they stack up to the criteria in the above uses?
Not real interested in VV powders, as they are a bit pricy to become my MAIN go to powder.
*
I'm not getting rid of Unique entirely, just opening up to the possiblity that there may be a better powder.* It was the first powder I bought in 1991 for loading 9mm and I've been hooked on it ever since.

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Captaingyro
January 6, 2012, 11:48 AM
Universal Clays is as close to a Unique replacement as you're going to find. It's clean burning and meters pretty well.

TiteGroup is also a very good pistol powder, pretty fast, and very ecomomical. Charge weights are very low. Sometimes it doesn't play nice with the lube on cast bullets, causing quite a bit of smoke, but with jacketed and plated, it's great.

TwoWheelFiend
January 6, 2012, 11:56 AM
I use unique for everything. Its a great powder, low charge weights and burns very clean. Blue Dot is also a good powder but its very dirty burning. After shooting a box of .44 mags loaded with BD i always have burnt powder all over my arms. And for magnum revolver rounds i use a lot of Winchester 296.

john wall
January 6, 2012, 12:03 PM
Speaking as a Commercial reloader, for your applications, stay with what you have.

Unique has been around since 1898. There is a reason for that. THEY GOT IT RIGHT!

kludge
January 6, 2012, 12:09 PM
+1 for Universal.

I tried Unique. I'm sorry I did. I used near top loads to avoid the unburned power, just like everyone says, but no dice in .38 SPL or .45 Colt. Lots of dirt and unburned powder. And like you, it won't meter worth crap in the Lee Pro AutoDisc (+/-0.5gr, with very few charges on the mark). I does OK in the Perfect Powder Measure (+/-0.2gr). On the other hand the AutoDisc is DEAD NUTS ON every time with No.7.

For the .40... Universal, No.7 work great, give top/near top loads. SR4756 gives a bit more than Universal... It's been hard for me to find though.

SR4756, No.7, and Universal are low-flash powders, probably in that order. Compare the flash to Accurate No.5...

http://jeffreybehr.zenfolio.com/p548446203

Hodgdon won't publish any lead loads for .40, so I use No.7 for that.

Clays works great for the .45 and is very clean burning, and ECONOMICAL like Bullseye but without the filth.

Universal will work very nicely in 9mm too. It's probably not the best (most velocity) for .380 but gets the job done.

I'll probably use up my Bullseye in .38 SPL (it's dirty but it works well) and then switch to No.2 completely.

oldgold
January 6, 2012, 12:23 PM
I've been loading for pistol since the mid eighties. I've tried a bunch of different powders but always come back to WW-231. .380 to .45 acp. Not the cleanest or most accurate all round, but it has been the best choice for me. One powder for the five most common calibers I load.

Walkalong
January 6, 2012, 12:26 PM
Universal, AA #5, WSF, True Blue, & N340 are all worth a look as far as medium speed powders go. I have used a lot of AA #5, and am very fond of N340 for certain things. AA #5 is a bit more versatile.

Unique is used heavily for a reason. It has a rep for being dirty, and while it isn't squeaky clean, it's not what I would call dirty either.

USSR
January 6, 2012, 12:42 PM
All this talk about not liking Unique because it's "dirty", but hardly ever any talk of it producing bad results on target, hmm? Reminds me of IMR4227: little bits of unburned powder left over after using it most times, but often GREAT results on target. Seems some guys got their priorities a bit mixed up.

Don

glockky
January 6, 2012, 12:57 PM
I dont think unique is truly that dirty. And i have great luck with it metering in an auto disc. I think unique definately has a spot on most reloaders bench. I dont use it exclusively but have some loads that it works great for.

thorn-
January 6, 2012, 12:59 PM
I started with HS6 in 9mm. It worked well. I've bought a pound of Universal for44mag, and decided to load a few 9mm with it ... i wasn't really impressed. Nothing particularly bad about it, but HS6 worked just as well and I believe took less powder. Then I tried WSF, and it's become my favorite for 9mm.

thorn

joed
January 6, 2012, 01:17 PM
Unique being dirty wasn't my reason for giving it the boot, I never saw a powder meter as badly as it does. No matter how precise I'd get charges there were times where the measure would throw a squib. The third time that happened I was done.

Switched to Universal and Power Pistol, I'll never go back.

RandyP
January 6, 2012, 01:18 PM
Win 231/HP-38 for me too. But I don't reload .40.

cfullgraf
January 6, 2012, 01:56 PM
I have loaded Unique in just about every hand gun cartridge that i load, or at least eight of ten. I don't remember if I have ever used it in 40 S&W and I just got the equipment to load 32 ACP but have not loaded it yet. I also use it in my 20 ga and 28 ga shotgun loads.

That is not to say I do not use any other hand gun powder, but if limited to just one handgun powder, Unique would be it.

Reminds me of IMR4227: little bits of unburned powder left over after using it most times, but often GREAT results on target. Seems some guys got their priorities a bit mixed up.


I tried IMR4227 in my 22 Hornet. It did not perform as well as W296. Less velocity, not as accurate. But that is one data point.

I stopped using Hercules 2400 (showing my age here) in my 357 Magnum because it left unburned grains of powder in the cases and cylinder. Same performance on target as W296 but not as clean. Of course, another single data point.

Drifting a bit, come to think about it, except for 700-X, I don't care much for any IMR powder. I must like 700-X because it is a flake powder.

I guess I am biased. i do understand that other folks have good success with IMR powders.

Back to the original topic. Unique is, well, unique.

rangerphil
January 6, 2012, 02:03 PM
Another vote for Universal. Meters well and has great flexibility across multiple calibers. It's the only handgun powder I use now.

J_McLeod
January 6, 2012, 02:26 PM
I use HS-6 for everything I can.

Constrictor
January 6, 2012, 02:32 PM
I have no problems metering unique and its been my favorite powder for 20 years.

zxcvbob
January 6, 2012, 02:38 PM
I really like Rex-3 powder, but that doesn't help anybody cuz I discovered it just as it was disappearing forever :( I wish I had more than 2 pounds of it.

WSF is a great powder. It burns slower than Unique though. There should be WSF load data for all of those cartridges.

The next powder on my list to try is Ramshot True Blue. I believe it is rebranded Winchester 540.

vfjr
January 6, 2012, 03:35 PM
So far Power Pistol in 40 has been good to me with 155 gr XTP and 180 gr Lead MBC. Trying HS6 right now, haven't been to the range yet with it.

Hootus
January 6, 2012, 04:04 PM
Open up that container of 231 and give it a try. It meets all of your criteria in all of the calibers you listed. The one possible exception might be temperature sensitivity which I read one thread on somewhere, but have not verified. 231 has served me well in 380, 9mm, and 45acp loads. And it meters extremely well and accurately in the Lee Auto Disk.

BullfrogKen
January 6, 2012, 04:30 PM
Try that 231. You might find it works the way you want it to.

I've used AA No 5 in everything you listed except .380. No 5 is my go to powder for moderately-powered target loads. Has been for about 15 years now.

CZ57
January 6, 2012, 04:40 PM
Walkalong already mentioned it, Ramshot True Blue is a universal type powder. It is a very fine ball propellant that meters like fine sand. Very uniform in ballistics probably due to its metering characteristics. There is good load data for your listed calibers at www.ramshot.com One of the most accurate .40 S&W powders and does very well in .45 ACP as well as 9mm. I haven't tried it in .380 but it is listed as an appropriate caliber. ;)

Red Cent
January 6, 2012, 04:48 PM
Interesting. No one mentioned American Select.

I load for trap, skeet, sporting clays, SASS pistol, Sass rifle, SASS shotgun, 45 ACP, 9MM, and 45 Colt. I use American Select for all of them. Slow burning, nothing snappy, and meters well.

Again: Hang a fish aerator on your powder dispenser and rid the bridging problem, even Unique.

Old Grumpy
January 6, 2012, 04:58 PM
I've used W231 and Unique for years and both work great. However Unique does not meter as well (for me) as many other powders. Last spring I picked up some Titegroup and found it worked as well as Unique while metering as smoothly as W231. I load .45 acp, .38 spl, .357 mag, .44 spl, and .44 mag with Titegroup (target level loads). For hunting loads in the magnums there are better powders, but for target velocities I'm happy with W231 and Titegroup.

mtrmn
January 6, 2012, 05:57 PM
I hunted for something better than Unique for a while-never found anything that would equal it, much less out-perform it.
Universal Clays was outstandingly dismal on paper, although it did shoot clean. Never found one load in 45, 9mm, 38 super, 38 spcl, 357, or 380 that Unique didn't out-perform. I know it's starting to sound like a rant so I'll stop now before I get away from "just the facts."

kingmt
January 6, 2012, 07:23 PM
Wow. Hot topic.

I got a 8lb jug of the stuff to try in 380 ACP but it didn't do what I was trying to do but some time years down the road I my try it in something else. In the back of the closet it will go for now. I bought 30lb of WC Blank that is very useful powder that can be used with Bullseye data when measured by weigh but is almost twice the volume. Super fast powder that is very clean & meters perfect. You can go slightly over the Bullseye data by working it up but the data is close enough to use as is. Not sure how easy it is to get now because I just bought all I could find.

I have even used it in 30-06 with great results @ 12gr witch is about max.

Disclaimer: There is a warning on it to not use with any projectile because it is very fast burning.

Yarddog
January 6, 2012, 07:38 PM
Started with it and it will always be on my bench, Unique that is ; )
Y/D

steelerdude99
January 6, 2012, 08:07 PM
ssyoumans,
When you get the charge you want in the cartridge, Unique works fine. It's a just a challenge to get the charge ya want. As you have some win231, it's just a matter of trying it. HP-38/win231 has many loads for it and meters much better on the auto-disk than Unique. I don't like that unique is a flake powder and does not meter all that well. The inter round differences can be .1-.3g with the small charges vary the most. One more thing, Unique is shotshell powder as its primary usage. Its secondary use is in handguns. See the web site:

http://www.alliantpowder.com/products/powder/unique_handgun.aspx

chuck

Blue68f100
January 6, 2012, 08:13 PM
Unique does not meter worth a flip on a progressive where you can't do multiple taps to settle the powder.

Any thing better , YES ... WSF, WST, 231 and more.

If you only using one powder your leaving a lot on the table.

SlamFire1
January 6, 2012, 09:23 PM
All this talk about not liking Unique because it's "dirty", but hardly ever any talk of it producing bad results on target, hmm? Reminds me of IMR4227: little bits of unburned powder left over after using it most times, but often GREAT results on target. Seems some guys got their priorities a bit mixed up.


Home Run Don!


And don't forget the "better metering". Comparing ball powders and Unique in the 45ACP, the extreme spreads and standard deviations are better with Unique than AA#5, a ball powder.

More mixed up priorities.

ssyoumans
January 6, 2012, 09:38 PM
I originally bought the W231 for 380 and 45 ACP, not sure about it in 40 S&W, but since I have it, i'll give it a try.

I think I will also try a lb of AA5. I haven't heard anything bad about it yet.

cfullgraf
January 6, 2012, 10:20 PM
Unique does not meter worth a flip on a progressive where you can't do multiple taps to settle the powder.



I must being doing something wrong. Unique meters great for me, even on the Hornady progressive and I do not wrap and tap the measure. 700-X is meters great on my Dillon.

Must be all the moonshine vapors in the East TN atmosphere.

Ky Larry
January 6, 2012, 10:50 PM
AA#5 shoots as good as Unique, meters better in my powder measure(don't have a progressive press), and burns much cleaner. Therefore I don't see how I've got my priorties mixed up.

New Unique is not dirty. A few years ago, Alliant cleaned it up quite a bit. Old Unique wasn't called "Flaming Dirt" without a reason. Now that was some nasty stuff.

kludge
January 6, 2012, 11:45 PM
And don't forget the "better metering". Comparing ball powders and Unique in the 45ACP, the extreme spreads and standard deviations are better with Unique than AA#5, a ball powder.

More mixed up priorities.

This is exactly the kind of advise I listened to when I bought a pound of Unique. Best thing going for .45 Colt, they said.

So, I loaded up my first 50. Throws were +/-0.5gr. Utterly frustrating. The fans said not to worry, it'll be OK... The highest ones were at max for standard pressure, but I was shooting them in a Ruger, so at least they were safe.

Velocities were all over the place from 750fps to 925fps, as you might imagine (4" barrel). I didn't even bother calculating the SD.

It's just the Pro AutoDisk, I told myself, but my other (also a Lee) powder measure won't do any better than +/-0.2gr. But I'm not going to go spend a bunch of money on something wlse, when it's the ONLY powder I have an issue with.

And who sits around and taps on their powder dispenser all the time? That must be maddening.

With Universal, the most a throw is ever off is 0.1gr, and No.7, well, I'm just surprised if it's ever off. (BTW No.7 has been my most accurate powder in the .40S&W.)

Also, I love the comments the NEW CLEAN Unique. After years of shooting Universal, I was surprised at the mount of crud. I can't even imagine how dirty it used to be... I have to knock out all the crud left in the cases before I put them back into my ammo boxes.

For the record though, I have no doubt that Unique works well for them, and does everything they say. God love 'em (the Unique fans). I'm not one of them. I guess I have different priorities.

... Oh, and Hodgdon Clays for the .45 ACP. ;)

zxcvbob
January 6, 2012, 11:57 PM
For the record though, I have no doubt that Unique works well for them, and does everything they say. God love 'em (the Unique fans). I'm not one of them. I guess I have different priorities.
That's what I find so fascinating about this thread, and the related "Powders you love" and Powders you hate" threads that are going on. There are powders that I hate that other people love, and vice versa. :)

(Unique works well for me in hot-loaded .380's and in .38 Special +P. I haven't tried it anywhere else yet, but it should be good in 9mm)

ssyoumans
January 7, 2012, 09:50 AM
Alrighty, thanks for all the input.

For now, I think I am going to try the W231 since I already have some. I feel it will work pretty good in 380 and 45 ACP, but wasn't as sure about 40S&W or 9mm.. Seems like it gives up a lot of velocity compared to other powders, but I'll give it a try.

I think I am also going to buy a lb of AA#5. I don't see anyone really saying anything bad about it really, maybe a little temp sensitive.

I don't have any plans to completely abandon Unique, as I still use it for mid-level 44 Mag and a few others, just thought it was time to get off the Alliant powder train that I've used for years (Bullseye, Unique, Power Pistol, Blue Dot, 2400), and try some others.

I looked at the Ramshot powders, and I like them for my rifles (TAC & Hunter), but I couldn't figure them out from the powder burn charts. Some charts had them faster (Ramshot & Hodgdon), some had them much slower (VV). I may come back to them at a later date.

steelerdude99
January 7, 2012, 10:32 AM
ssyoumans,
Don't forget about the loads offered on the Hodgen/IMR/Winchester site (see http://hodgdon.com ). It does not have the best user interface, as it gives a web browser error rather than saying that "you did not agree to terms".

But anyhow, here goes: Under the data pull down, select reloading or loading OR the "click here to enter the Reloading Data Center". [ Different ways to get there ]. In the middle of the page, you'll see "By clicking the 'I Agree' button, I understand/accept and will agree to abide by the precautions and warnings outlined below. " Click agree and then read the terms. The concept of that in and of itself bothers me, "agree" ... and then see what it is you agreed to. If you click on the Cartridge or Shotshell loads before agreeing, it will give ya 404, file not found web browser error. After that, select pistol or rifle and then the cartridge (e.g. 40 S&W, 9mm Luger ...) and then click "get data". After that you can further filter by selecting powder, bullet ... I found six WIN231 recipes for the 40 S&W.

Good luck,
chuck

918v
January 7, 2012, 05:01 PM
Universal Clays does not deliver the same accuracy as Unique. Power Pistol does, and meters better.

Bigdog57
January 7, 2012, 05:37 PM
I once tried Unique in .38 Special (Ruger Securitysix) and .45ACP (Colt M1911A1) -I promptly deposited the remainder in my garden.

Whoever coined the term"Flammable Dirt" was dead on right. It gummed up both guns to the point of failure. I keep them clean, and cleaned while shooting that day. No help. Just plain garbage, in MY personal experience. Other loaders like it. Just didn't work for me.
I bought twelve pounds of Bullseye - it's my 'goto' powder these days. Much mo' betta!
Have had good performance from the old classic, Red Dot. My Number Two 'go to' powder.

918v
January 7, 2012, 05:42 PM
Oh, stop it.

Jim Watson
January 7, 2012, 06:00 PM
Use the 231.
You have some and it works.

I have loaded most non-magnum handgun ammo with W231 (or the now identical HP38) since the CH rep recommended it over the large flake 700X in my first progressive. I have tried this and that but always gone back to 231.
There is one exception, it is fine in everything from .38 wadcutter to +P, 9mm and .45 power factor loads to hardball. But it is erratic in powderpuff loads like midrange .45s.
I am at present using Solo 1000 (touted as the Cheap VV N310) but it does not meter very precisely even with the aerator trick, not much better than 700X. I have some Clays and Bullseye and will see if they do better for the 700 fps stuff.

EddieNFL
January 7, 2012, 06:28 PM
I started loading when Unique was consider the ambrosia of the gods. Tried it a few times over the years, but never did develop a taste for it. I'm more "specific job, specific powder," oriented, I guess.

Master Blaster
January 8, 2012, 12:32 PM
You know, today I went and looked up the 200 LSWC .45 load data in Lyman 49. They don't even show a load for Universal (clays). The top two accuracy loads are 6.0 gr bullseye, and 6.0 gr W231. I have found Lyman picks good powders for the loads they publish. Hodgdon does have a load for universal in their annual manual. Some time back I tried it and had very poor accuracy. Maybe I should try it in 9mm with jacketed bullets to use it up.

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