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Old January 24, 2013, 12:35 PM   #1
Join Date: January 23, 2013
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 46
.45 acp loads with "OLD" Unique powder

My first post here so be gentle with me please. What with all the rush to buy anything that shoots before our gov tries to take our rights away, I bought a Springfield Armory XD .45 with 4 in barrel. I have previously loaded 357's for my revolver but have not done so in about 30 years. Anyway, now that I have a .45 I'd like to start again but would like to use up some old Unique I have. It's been kept in a cool dry area of our house. It looks, pours, smells fine to me. My question is should I use this up or not? If using this old powder, what would be a good load using cci primers and 230 FMJ. Thanks in advance.
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Old January 24, 2013, 12:56 PM   #2
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Use it for sure! Sorry I cant help with load info, I dont have manuals or log books in front of me right now.
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Old January 24, 2013, 01:04 PM   #3
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5.5 grains should be a good starting point.
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Old January 24, 2013, 03:33 PM   #4
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Top loads of Unique for 230 fmj's in 45 ACP would be around 6.5 grains with an oal from 1.250-1.260". I'd recommend 5.9-6.1 grains of Unique. I had some 1985 Unique powder that when compared to early 2000's Unique the difference in velocity was only 5 fps or basically the same. Agree that a start charge at 5.5 would be safe and would most likely cycle fine but I again think you'll get good results at 5.9-6.1.
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Old January 24, 2013, 05:05 PM   #5
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Alliant has changed the formulation of Unique in the last 15-20 years IIRC, so current data may not be safe with older powder - in this case I believe the data for the current formula is lower than what it used to be but it's best to double check . I have a Lyman #46 manual from 1983 at home, and I would be glad to tell you what it says later this evening if you don't get an answer before that.
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Old January 24, 2013, 05:16 PM   #6
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I have written extensively on the thermodynamics of powder deterioration and the lifetime of powder.

This is one post:

A rule of thumb is 20 years for double based powders and 45 years for single based. The lifetime of ammunition depends on the lifetime of the propellant.

Heat is the worst enemy of gunpowder, heat breaks powder down. If stored in arctic conditions, -40 F, unchanging cold and no humidity, I have no idea how long it will last, maybe a century, but stored in hot conditions, take a look at this:

United Nations (UN) Manual

IATG 07.20 Surveillance and in-service proof

See Paragraph 7.3, how temperature reduces the lifetime of ammunition.

Understand that militaries undergo stockpile surveillance programs to weed out ammunition that is just about to go bad, or has gone bad. That is why there is all this cheap surplus ammunition on the market, the original owners dumped the stuff as unsafe.

Assuming your Unique is not red, is not outgassing, smells OK (bitter is bad) then it does not have any of the gross indications of deterioration. Which does not prove that it is perfect, but it may be useable.

I like my 230’s just at 800 fps. I tested my Kimber with 1989 vintage Unique, stuff I bought in 1989, and my pistol functioned fine.

Kimber Custom Classic M1911

230 LRN Valiant 5.5 grs Unique lot UN331 1989 Mixed brass WLP (brass)
OAL 1.250" taper crimped 0.469"
16-May-09	 high 83  °F

Ave Vel =	827.4				
Std Dev =	17.63	 	 		 
ES =	85.68				
High = 	871.6				
Low =	785.9				
N =	31				
230 LRN Valiant 6.0 grs Unique lot 6/21/1998 Mixed brass WLP (nickle)	
16-May-09	 high 83  °F		OAL 1.250" taper crimped 0.469"

Ave Vel =	885				
Std Dev =	16.79	 	 		 
ES =	67.26				
High = 	917.8				
Low =	850.5				
N =	30				
accurate lots recoil15' foot ejection					
230 LRN  6.5 grs Unique lot UN387 6/21/93 Mixed brass WLP 		
OAL 1.250" taper crimped 0.469	 	"		
18-Mar-07 T = 62 °F						
Ave Vel =	926.4					
Std Dev =	16.64					
ES	71.16					
High	963.4					
Low	892.3					
N =	32				
light leading accurate centered hard recoil, 20 foot ejection						

If I'm not shooting, I'm reloading.
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Old January 24, 2013, 05:42 PM   #7
Join Date: January 23, 2013
Location: Central Florida
Posts: 46
Thank you all for your quick replies. Is this a great forum or what!?

Ifishsum - I'd really appreciate that info if possible. I've got a Hornady manual
hidden away somewhere in the house. The challenge is to find it.
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Old January 24, 2013, 06:06 PM   #8
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That was my first load I ever handloaded back in the mid 80's. A Lyman 225 gr RN lead bullet with 6.5 gr of Unique with a CCI primer. No start load for me back then, it was my dads load and so I used it. It was brisk but I never had any problem with it and loaded hundreds and hundreds of them.
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Old January 24, 2013, 06:26 PM   #9
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I have an old issue of Guns & Ammo magazine (40yo), and in an article about handloading the .45 ACP, the comment that they have in the margin for a load of a 230gr JHP over 7.5 grains of Unique is, "Getting warm"!!! I think that's a full grain over what is today considered a hot load of Unique. Has the powder changed that much, or are we just smarter about loading?
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Old January 24, 2013, 06:47 PM   #10
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Volume, from my Star powder charge bar, that used to drop 5.0 Bullseye, now drops 5.3 of todays Bullseye.

It now takes 7.5 new Unique to fill the volume of an older 7.0 charge bar.

The charge bars haven't changed over years, but what was was Hercules is now formed by Alliant.

Since I don't load on the edge of sanity, it hasn't been a concern, yet.

Bullets are hard cast H&G 68s, size .452", fired in Colts, a ggggock, Norks, and a Systema.

Bread and Circuses don't pay the Bills.
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Old January 24, 2013, 07:11 PM   #11
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I found a lb of unopened 40 year-old Unique last year. Just finished shooting it up. Worked just as good as the new.

Here in NW New Mexico, the climate is dry 10 months of the year, a bit hot & humid during July and August. Temperature range where stored was typically 60 to 70 degrees 10 months, and 70 to 80 in July and August. (60-115 outside)

If it smells like smokeless, it's fine. If it smells strong acrid....make it fertilizer.

I shoot 6 grains (new or old Unique) with 230gr. FMJ or hollow points in my Kimber Target II, and in two guns I no longer own, a Ruger .45 Convertible, and an old Colt 70 series Gold Cup, but you ought to work up to that in YOUR gun.

Last edited by GWS; January 24, 2013 at 07:22 PM.
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Old January 24, 2013, 07:34 PM   #12
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I bought this one about 1970. Opened but very little used out of it. Couple of years ago I compared some .41 Mag loads shot in my Redhawk using this with some new, and could not tell any difference.
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Education teaches you the rules, experience teaches you the exceptions (Plagiarized from Claude Clay)
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Old January 25, 2013, 04:40 PM   #13
Mike / Tx
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I bought this one about 1970.
I have one just like that x2, and have been working on one for quite a while.

I keep my 230gr load simple at 5.5grs. It shoots fine and accurate from my SS Govt 1911.
Mike / TX
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Old January 25, 2013, 10:08 PM   #14
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Live45 - Lyman #46 shows the following for 230gr jacketed MC:

Unique start 5.0gr vel 677 pressure 10,000 CUP
max 6.8gr vel 916 pressure 16,900 CUP
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Old January 25, 2013, 10:24 PM   #15
Join Date: January 23, 2013
Location: Central Florida
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Thanks for that Lyman data. I'm thinking I'll start around 6.0 and work up to maybe 6.5
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Old January 26, 2013, 12:56 AM   #16
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I agree with post #4.
I would be more cautious if using WLP
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