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Old February 22, 2012, 08:33 PM   #1
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Unburned Powder Left In The Bore?

I made and shot my first batch of reloads this afternoon...everything made it to the paper, no squibs or FTF pistol didn't blow up...
BUT I noticed some flakes of unburned powder in the barrel and in the cylinder. Is this normal for Universal????????
I'm using the Lee 4 die set with the factory I not appling enough crimp?

Speer 125gr. TMJ
Hodgon Universal 5.6grs
Fiocchi Small Pistol Primer
OAL 1.435 (shortest was 1.433)

I used the Lee Auto Disk Powder Measure on my Classic Turrent Press but I double checked every charge on the scale. Every charge was exactly 5.6grs
I was shooting these in my Tarus 608 .357Mag
If something seems too good to be true it's best to shoot at it just to be sure
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Old February 22, 2012, 10:16 PM   #2
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Normal You will find that to be so with lots of different powders

nothing to worry about..Keep shooting and enjoy..john
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Old February 22, 2012, 11:06 PM   #3
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I haven't used universal,but with some powders they need higher pressures to burn completly(leaving specs of powder in the chamber and bore).I usually don't use those powders for low pressure loads to eliminate it or up the charge a bit to help stop it.Either way it doesn't hurt much ,other than maybe more cleaning,and if they are accurate,why change.
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Old February 22, 2012, 11:30 PM   #4
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Congrats on getting those very first hand loads downrange! You've definately moved up to a higher plane in the shooting sports.

I've never used Universal powder, but the post of above mine is probably correct in assuming a lower than necessary pressure for it. For mid range 38 Spacial loads I like to use Unique powder. It burns well under the 150 to 160 grain cast bullets that I like and it burns pretty clean for me.

Update: I checked the Hodgdon reloading site for 125 grain bullets and Universal powder. They show a starting weight of 4.7 grains behind a Hornady 125 grain bullet and a max load of 5.2 grains. Looks like your load is a tad above their recomended max load and is probably up in the +P 38 Special regime. So much for our lack of pressure guess.

Check the Hodgdon Web Site below for details on their data:
US Army Distinguished Rifleman
Washington State Distinguished Rifleman
NRA Police Distinguished Expert

Last edited by Scharfschuetzer; February 22, 2012 at 11:46 PM.
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Old February 22, 2012, 11:56 PM   #5
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When I reloaded 41 Magnum years ago for my 4" S&W M-57 I was using 8 grains of Unique, getting unburned powder, reduced my load to 7.5 grains, no unburned powder, same performance.
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Old February 23, 2012, 08:29 PM   #6
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There might be something like that going on as well,never tested it.
I know one other way to get unburnt powder specs is when the primer(usually a mag primer) starts to move or unseats the bullet before the powder gets a chance to ignite well, so because the bullet is moving and creating more volume for the powder,it never builds up enough pressure to burn efficiently.

I did test that with a couple loads using small mag primer in 45ACP, changed to standard and the powder cleaned up plus they shot better groups and felt stronger.

That my theory and I'm sticking to it
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Old February 23, 2012, 09:45 PM   #7
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Unlike others, I HAVE used Universal, and still do for 20 and 28 gauge, 32SWL, 38, 9mm, 357, 45 and on and on. It is much better cleaning than Unique, but there might be a few unburned flakes. If you are getting a lot of unburned powder, you will need to recheck your load and your process, including your crimp to help build some pressure for complete burning
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Old February 24, 2012, 11:45 AM   #8
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Universal, in general, burns very clean, as well as completely, as long as the pressure is up to a reasonable level. Without looking up the data, I am not sure how light your load is, but if there is room to up the charge, you could try bumping it up .1 or .2 Grs and see if the unburned powder goes away. Clays, Solo 1000, or WST may be a better way to go to get a complete burn at that pressure level. Those work well for me with a 125 Gr plated in .38 Spl.
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Old February 24, 2012, 11:59 AM   #9
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I made and shot my first batch of reloads this afternoon...everything made it to the paper, no squibs or FTF pistol didn't blow up...
That's a good day.

I haVE TR (ooh, I hate that caps lock button) I have trouble (typing?, yes) getting Universal to burn completely in light .357, .38 spl, .44 spl and .45 Colt, so you're not alone. Universal is great in auto pistol loads and full magnums.

I have better luck with Clays, HP-38 and Trail Boss in light loads.
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Old February 24, 2012, 12:54 PM   #10
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Powder zombies are pretty normal and really don't affect anything. You can increase the start pressure with the FCD but I don't think that is the best way to go about it. Use the FCD to guarantee that the bullet don't pull from recoil. Warm up the load to get better combustion, or switch to a faster powder if you need low velocity. E.g. Hodgdon Clays will burn cleaner than Hodgdon Universal for a given velocity.
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