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Unique difficult to ignite?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by au_prospector, Apr 17, 2013.

  1. au_prospector

    au_prospector Active Member

    Aug 10, 2011
    North Georgia
    Is Unique a bit more difficult to ignite? I shot some .38 and .45 ACP I hand loaded with Unique and afterwards I noticed the shooting bench was peppered with powder. All rounds went downrange. Come to think about it, after a shooting session of my 20 GA loads powered by Unique, the barrels seem quite dirty with gunk and unburnt powder.

    I used Remington SPP in the .38 and Winchester LPP in the .45 and Winchester 209 primers in the shotgun shells.
  2. steveno

    steveno Participating Member

    Jul 21, 2004
    Minden , Nebraska
    Unique is an easy powder to ignite but burns cleaner the closer to max you get
  3. sbrader

    sbrader New Member

    Feb 12, 2012
    I can't provide any scientific data on Unique's tendency to ignite, but I can share my experiences with Unique. I started reloading using only Unique because it was versatile enough to work effectively in all three calibers I reload. Everyone reports that Unique is rather dirty and, I suppose it is. What I did notice, though, was that I needed to load Unique at mid-range or higher of the published load data for it to burn as cleanly and completely as possible. I have branched out to other powders, too, but I still keep Unique around and use it regularly. I just recognize that I will not be loading mouse fart loads with it. I tend to load it fairly stout and have had great results in accuracy and cleanliness.

    That's just my personal observation, of course. I'll be anxious to see what anyone else has to offer.

  4. blarby

    blarby Mentor

    Feb 25, 2011
    Calapooia Oregon
    I have used, and still use, a lot of unique. 45, 44, 12 and 20 ga.

    I don't use it in 12 and 20 anymore due to unburnt powder at listed charges. In metallic I load it in the top charges- as others have, and it ends up burning just fine.
  5. Rodfac

    Rodfac New Member

    Dec 13, 2012
    Unique is easy to ignite, difficult to meter accurately in any measure I've tried and does spray burnt powder flakes over the area in front of the firing line. For the metering problem, I switched to Win 231 or HP38, or more recently Win WSt for all light to medium loads that I formerly charged with Unique. Best Regards, Rod
  6. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Participating Member

    May 20, 2010
    Sacramento, CA
    Unique is easy to ignite, but it is a low(er) pressure powder meaning it doesn't generate a lot of pressure for it's weight compared to faster powders like Red Dot, Clays, Titewad. That is a good thing because it means you can push a bullet faster with Unique without going over pressure compared to those faster powders.

    The down side is that it needs to run in the mid to high pressure range (> 10,000 psi) to burn cleanly and closer to the 20 k's to burn completely in a handgun length barrel. The unburned flakes are not really a problem. OTOH, if your cases are sooty, if you get blowback in your face, then you are running too low and the case is not expanding enough to seal off the gases.

    Hodgdon's Universal is a competitor to Unique and tends to burn more completely even in underpressure instances, but will still be sooty/smokey if the pressures are too low and it's more expensive.

    When I first started with Unique I was over-conservative and was loading low charges in 45 ACP which is a low pressure round to begin with. I was getting blowback into my face and after a shooting session, I swept up a pile of flakes in front of the shooting bench that seemed like it could load up several more cartridges :)

    I like Unique. I don't have problems with metering that some other loaders have. I just make sure it is loaded to where it burns clean(er). I use it in 9/38/357/40/45/.308(light charges). In fact I picked up another 8# jug last November before the craziness and am very glad I did.
  7. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Active Member

    Oct 6, 2012
    Central of the Commonwealth of PA
    I run Unique in all my 9mm. It burns fine and clean. No hiccups. In 9mm I'm using a lot less grain of powder than your 38 and 45.
  8. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Mentor

    Oct 19, 2010
    East TN
    Unique can be position sensitive in a large case like 45 Colt. If the powder is against the primer during firing, the velocity of the bullet will be higher than if the powder is against the bullet. I could see in the latter case, some grains of spent material could be sent out the barrel.

    Besides many handgun applications, Unique is my powder of choice for 20 and 28 gauge. There would be a few particles of something left in the barrels, but it never accumulated. Stayed at the same quantity if I shot 25 rounds or 200.
  9. mebe007

    mebe007 New Member

    Mar 29, 2013
    Eastern Virginia
    I use unique in almost all of my target .380 and .45 acp loads as well as powder puff 44mag loads. never had any issues with ignition. however when shooting powder puff loads in the 44 mag you just might think it was a black powder gun. smokey lol
  10. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Participating Member

    Nov 28, 2010
    That is not unusual for lite loads but has never affected accuracy. Mid range and higher wont do it.
  11. KansasSasquatch

    KansasSasquatch Participating Member

    Jul 22, 2012
    LV county KS
    I agree that it can be dirty and even at mid to high range loads in .45acp. But it seems to clean up more easily than other powders. It's almost like you can wipe the casings one and be clean enough to reload while other powders seem to bake a layer of crud onto casings no matter what charge is used. I love using Unique and if I could only have one pistol powder it's what I would choose.

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