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Is there a better powder than Unique?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by ssyoumans, Jan 6, 2012.

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  1. ssyoumans

    ssyoumans Member

    Jan 15, 2010
    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.
  2. Captaingyro

    Captaingyro Member

    Nov 27, 2008
    Greater Waxhaw Metropolitan Area (NC)
    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.
  3. TwoWheelFiend

    TwoWheelFiend Member

    May 15, 2011
    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.
  4. john wall

    john wall Member

    Jan 8, 2006
    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!
  5. kludge

    kludge Member

    Jun 15, 2006
    +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...


    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.
  6. oldgold

    oldgold Member

    Mar 31, 2004
    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.
  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    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.
  8. USSR

    USSR Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Finger Lakes Region of NY
    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.

  9. glockky

    glockky Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    Webbville, KY
    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.
  10. thorn-

    thorn- Member

    Jun 25, 2007
    Tallahassee, FL
    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.

  11. joed

    joed Member

    Sep 17, 2009
    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.
  12. RandyP

    RandyP Member

    Jan 28, 2009
    Win 231/HP-38 for me too. But I don't reload .40.
  13. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

    Oct 19, 2010
    East TN
    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.

    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.
  14. rangerphil

    rangerphil Member

    Nov 2, 2007
    Another vote for Universal. Meters well and has great flexibility across multiple calibers. It's the only handgun powder I use now.
  15. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Member

    Nov 21, 2010
    Homestead, FL
    I use HS-6 for everything I can.
  16. Constrictor

    Constrictor Member

    Jan 3, 2007
    I have no problems metering unique and its been my favorite powder for 20 years.
  17. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

    Sep 15, 2007
    S.E. Minnesota
    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.
  18. vfjr

    vfjr Member

    Jan 14, 2011
    colorado springs co
    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.
  19. Hootus

    Hootus Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    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.
  20. BullfrogKen

    BullfrogKen Moderator Emeritus

    Jul 28, 2005
    Lewisberry, PA
    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.
  21. CZ57

    CZ57 member

    Jan 6, 2005
    Heart of Texas
    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. ;)
  22. Red Cent

    Red Cent Member

    May 20, 2010
    McLeansville, NC by way of WV SASS 29170L
    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.
  23. Old Grumpy

    Old Grumpy Member

    Jul 15, 2009
    Central Illinois
    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.
  24. mtrmn

    mtrmn Member

    Apr 22, 2011
    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."
  25. kingmt

    kingmt Member

    Nov 17, 2009
    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.
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