Unique Questions


July 19, 2013, 02:18 AM
I am using Unique a lot for .41 REM MAG and .44 SPC, most often with mild loads. I get a lot of smoke from each round (usually 215 gr SWC in .41 MAG, and anything from 200 gr RNFP lead to 250 gr Keith in the .44 SPC). To generalize, my loads run 6.5 to 7.5 grains of Unique with these bullets...

Any idea why so much smoke?

As it is, 6.5 to 7.5 grains of Unique often fills only half the available space... I've seen articles on the web where black powder reloaders put cornstarch on top of their powder as an inert filler, to solve problems with position sensitivity.

Is that feasible to do with Unique in these calibers?

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July 19, 2013, 03:34 AM
I guess it depends on your definition of "smokey". Shoot a black powder load sometime and compare it to your Unique loads.

Unique is probably a little more smokey than most powders out there but shooting cast bullets also makes the rounds more smokey. The lubricant used on the bullets adds to the smoke when burned.

July 19, 2013, 03:46 AM
I complained in here when I loaded a lot of cast .45s with Unique, and it left my gun really sooty. So I shot a lot more with plated bullets, and it was still dirty. Not as bad as the cast bullets with their lube, but still dirty. I have a new batch loaded with Titegroup, I will see if it burns cleaner.

Steve C
July 19, 2013, 04:20 AM
The new Unique made in the last 15 years is a lot less smokey than the older stuff.

Years ago I went on a search for a cleaner powder for target loads using lead bullets in the .38 spl and .45 acp. As an alternative to Unique and W231 I tried AA2, Clays, Red Dot, and Tight Group. Came to the conclusion that with lead bullets it is the lube that produces the smoke and not the powders. None of the powders I tried was significantly cleaner. What I did find is that the Red Lube smoked less the the Blue Lube on the commercial cast bullets I was using.

If you are shooting lead you will have smoke but it is only really annoying when shooting indoors. All powder smokes to some extent, after all its called smokeless powder not smoke free. Smoke is just the result of combustion. If you shoot you have to clean your guns, no getting around it.

July 19, 2013, 04:55 AM
I would not suggest filler in with your powder.

It will mix, and you will not appreciate the results.

In BP, we add filler to the top of the charge, and then seat and tap the projectile right on top of it. Its packed in tight, not loose like a cartridge. The filler is usally used to lift the projectile out of the cylinder in a revolver- to help eliminate the "jump" to the forcing cone. Its of limited usefulness and debateable as to its effect- but it has little to no effect on burn rate or cleanliness.

If unique is too dirty for you, I would usggest a ball powder that burns more cleanly in those loads, although you could also try ( again try- not guaranteed) a hotter or even magnum primer to try and burn off the vapor more quickly during ignition.

I use a LOT of unique, and don't find it "smoky"- I do find it a little "sooty". You might try a different bullet lube as well.

July 19, 2013, 07:14 AM
It isn't worth the trouble to use a filler in these applications, and Unique does fairly well compared to many pistol powders as far as position sensitivity goes, unless you download it too far, where they all suffer.

If using a filler, the powder/filler needs to be slightly compressed. I experimented with fillers for cases with lots of empty space but gave up on them.

On the other hand, Super Grex (Discontinued), or the equivalent, under lead bullets will eliminate leading (Last resort) better than a gas check, but is a lot of work.

July 19, 2013, 08:58 AM
Although I don't load either of those calibers, I do use a lot of Unique. I have found Unique to be very smoky and dirty at low to mid-range loads. It seems to burn much cleaner for me when loaded in the higher ranges, both with lead and jacketed bullets. I know the lube is the biggest issue with cast bullets but the smoke from Unique was minimized by running the loads hotter.


July 20, 2013, 11:33 PM
Thanks for the insights. I shot again this weekend, with some varying loads and both lead and plated bullets, and got less smoke -- go figure. I suspect the grease in some particular batches of bullets is a major part of my problem. "Smoke" = just another variable to log into my notebook, as I search for the perfect load.

Added: I may also try Trail Boss, if I can find any, as a solution to filling up the case more fully for light loads, and as a way to get around position sensitivity (not that I have read Unique has a problem with that) in cases that have small charges in them.

July 20, 2013, 11:36 PM

Unique, or any other powder is not especially 'smoky' or even 'dirty' when loaded to normal pressure levels.

What is 'Smoky' & 'dirty' is lead bullet lube burning off the bullets.

That makes smoke & a mess on the gun, I don't care who ya are.


July 22, 2013, 03:27 PM
Yep, lead bullets have a tendency to smoke regardless of the powder used. It's not a Unique problem, it happens with every powder. Your problem is not Unique :)

I would also avoid adding flammable organic fillers in smokeless pistol rounds about as much as I would avoid adding gasoline to my cases. Cream of wheat you might get away with but something finely powdered like corn starch can actually detonate.

I used to do a demonstration in my science classes called "The Exploding Bucket" where I puffed about a tablespoon of dry corn starch into a sealed paint container of air and a lit candle. It was most impressive when the giant fireball blew the lid all the way to the ceiling. Under the right circumstances corn starch is far from inert.

July 22, 2013, 03:41 PM
Gotta be bullet lube. As a controlled experiment, load up similar rounds with plated or totally jacketed bullets, adjusting the charge to get the same general power factor. I bet the smoke nearly disappears.

July 22, 2013, 06:12 PM
I started using Unique and thought that there was a lot of smoke as well. I started watching other shooters and determining what they were shooting. Noticed many other brands were putting off equal amounts of smoke. I now am of the opinion that Unique is a little smoky but not as much/bad as I first felt.

I am now pleased w/ Unique.

July 22, 2013, 08:23 PM
Unique will work in low recoil loads, but it ain't happy. If you get lots of smoke and especially sooty cases, you are in the "under-pressure" region of Unique (and just about any other powder). Try loading a couple of rounds near or at the published max load and see how they shoot. If there is the same amount of smoke, it's probably the lube. If the shooting cleans up, it's the pressure.

Red Dot or Clays would be a better choice for low velocity/low recoil loads. Trail Boss works well too, but is about twice as expensive per shot as these other standard powders.

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