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Old June 12, 2011, 07:23 AM   #1
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Unique vs Universal Clays vs W231

I've been using Bulseye in my 45 ACP lead target rounds and they seem to work pretty good (so why's what we do, no?). I was thinking on trying something just a touch slower burning. Those that use one of the three listed, why? I shoot 230 gr lead RN at about 800 fps
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Old June 12, 2011, 08:20 AM   #2
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I have been using 5.4gr of WW231 lately, with good results. The bullet is a lead RN from a Lyman 4-cavity mold, and cast from WW+2% tin. The lube is White Label BAC and it's sized to .452". You might start about 4.9gr and go to 6.0gr, which is over-max in SOME books.
The velocity in my gun, which is a 5" Colt-clone, is 845fps, and I've used RP2 1/2, CCI300, and Federal 150 primers, all with quite similar velocities.
Lately, I've been trying some combos with a homemade lube, pan-lubed, sized "as-cast", in Remington cases, as they are some thinner, so they'll chamber.
The .452" bullets are fired from W-W cases.
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Old June 12, 2011, 08:42 AM   #3
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I got to using Unique because it's the one powder the gun shop always has on hand. When you're out that counts. I've never been let down yet. The shop says it's one powder they keep backups on. I never asked if they keep backups on any other. I'll ask the next time I need powder though. This question got me curious now.
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Old June 12, 2011, 11:10 PM   #4
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I'm one who likes Unique. Not saying it is better/best but you can load most anything - hand gun, shotgun, and 45/70. I will continue to use it but any of the powders you listed are good choices. Many/most recommend loading to the higher end with Unique as it will be cleaner. Unique is not really picky about position, i.e. it is not position sensitive.
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Old June 12, 2011, 11:48 PM   #5
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I use Bullseye for 45ACP, but prefer W231/HP-38.

My favorite load is 230 gr RN with 5.0 gr. Very accurate, less snappy recoil and cleaner burning.
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Old June 13, 2011, 12:18 AM   #6
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If you are looking for something slower then I'd reach for Universal or 231. I used to be a big Unique fan, but at that burn rate Universal meters better and burns cleaner. Though I've used both, I don't reach for either in 45 too much because the quicker powders work so well.
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Old June 13, 2011, 01:36 AM   #7
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I like Unique. With moderate to 'hot' loads, it burns fairly cleanly. It's very easy to work with (except in certain powder measures, but Bullseye has the same problem). And, it's forgiving - slight compression, and/or minor charge weight deviations do not have the massive effects seen with some other powders (such as W231 and Titegroup). A little goes a long way. As jmortimer said - I haven't found it to be position sensitive, either.
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Old June 13, 2011, 10:28 AM   #8
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I use Universal in .45ACP. Burns clean, meters well, is fairly economical.

I think I'm the odd guy out when it comes to reloading; I've never used Unique.
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Old June 13, 2011, 11:49 AM   #9
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W-231 is ain incredibily versatile powder. I have used it for mild .357 mag, 44 mag and .45 Colt loads when I wanted plinker round power but I wanted clean cases too. It worked in all of them just fine. I even loaded up a few .480 Ruger rounds using 231 and it worked OK in that as well. Like all powders it burns cleaner toward the upper ends of the pressure range, but those are still pretty tame velocities usually.

Universal and Unique have always been my mid-range loads for .357, 44, and .45 LC. I started with Unique and still have some, but eventually I saw the light and switched over to Universal. Same applications, in fact the charge weights that work the best for each are typically the same weight or very close. And Unique isn't all that bad for clean burning when you get toward the upper pressure levels, same eith any powder. And it isn't as bad as some people claim when it coes to metering in powder measures. So, it's not that bad. But Universal is even better. Burns a little bit cleaner perhaps and measures a whole lot better. So I buy Universal now. But if all the Universal supplies dried up overnight I could use Unique and not feel too bad for the mid power loads.
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Old June 13, 2011, 02:55 PM   #10
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Most of my shooting with the 45ACP is done in Action Shooting. It's what auto pistols are about. Bullseye works the gun well, and the powder is clean enough that it doesn't slow the action down when you're running 200-300 rounds through rapidly. Most of the time, at local meets, you go through 150-170rnds.
Unique, on the other hand, tends to 'gum up' a bit towards the end. I use a gel-lube and that contributes.
WW231 causes me the least problems, so I like playing with that. Uni-Clays lets me run the velocities up a bit for steel targets, and still stay clean.
That being said, I will ALWAYS have a can of Unique in the locker. If I'm not using it in the .45, it's being burned in the .41 Mags.
Some of the problem with a 'dirty powder' is that we're using lead. Depending on which bullet-lube we're using...THAT contributes, too. Using LLA will really smoke things up, and that collects on the gun. When using BAC, or White Label Red Carnuba, there's not so much trouble that way, especially if you push ther velocities a bit.
Have fun,
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Old June 13, 2011, 03:21 PM   #11
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As a few of you know who I have traded powders with know, I will not use 231 in anything. It's nasty and I've yet to find an accurate load in any cartridge using it. Yeah, you can hit yer truck with it at 25 yds but if a pistol powder won't shoot right at an inch at 25 yds from bags- it's crap in my book. I use Unique a lot as well as AA5 and HS-6. All of those have shown to be superb in accuracy and they aren't nasty. I've never tried Universal Clays and probably won't considering what I'm using works.
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Old June 13, 2011, 03:25 PM   #12
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I don't care for Unique. I much prefer Universal Clays which has a similar burning rate. I find it a bit faster than Unique.
However if I want a 230 gr bullet at 800 fps I use WW231 or AA2. Unless I want heavy loads I prefer 231 to either Unique or Universal.

All my shooting is practice for SD. I don't care if my loads won't group 1" at 25 yards. If they stay well within the kill zone at 15 yards that is all I care.

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Old June 13, 2011, 03:48 PM   #13
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Loader9- you can always try HP38.
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Old June 13, 2011, 04:36 PM   #14
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I don’t think slower is the direction you want go in a semi automatic pistol. These are short recoil mechanisms, barrel pressures push against that cartridge case at unlock. High unlock pressures will accelerate that slide. Accelerate that slide to where you have mechanical issues.

I had a Colt Combat Elite peen its frame out with about 3000 rounds. It was due to a factory defect, it unlocked early in the pressure cycle and that slide just slammed hard against the frame. Colt replaced the frame but did not fix the early unlock. It took the M1911 experts at Wilson Arms to fix the gun.

It is my considered opinion what you want in a M1911 is a fast burning powder that provides a sharp kick but a fast pressure drop. A low pressure at unlock is easier on the mechanism.

As an example of a “bad” powder, based on Gunwriter recommendations (darn shills) I tried Blue Dot with a 230. Cases ejected about 25 to 30 feet away, recoil was real hard. Even for 800 fps loads. I believe Blue Dot gives high residual barrel pressures after unlock. Blue Dot might work great for something like a Thompson Machine Gun, that thing has a huge breech block, might work better in artic conditions, but high pressures at unlock will peen a M1911 frame in short order.

I don’t believe W231 is a slower burning powder than Bullseye, or at least not by much. It is an outstanding powder with a 230 LRN. I have used anywhere between 4.6 grains, which are powder puff loads but function the mechanism, up to 5.5 grains. I prefer 5.0 grains with a 230 LRN.

My Unique data is below. Unique is a great powder and will work well in the 45 ACP. For my pistols I would use 5.5 grains. Someone with a SIG (I think) tried 5.5 grains and it would not cycle his pistol.

Bullseye was the first powder used in the 45 ACP, going back to at least 1910, and it is still my favorite M1911 powder.

Kimber Custom Classic

230 gr LRN  4.5 grs Bullseye Mixed Brass WLP		
21-Jun-06 T = 97  °F	
OAL 1.250" taper crimp .469"
Ave Vel = 805.2		
Std Dev =11.4		
N =32

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
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Old June 14, 2011, 09:28 PM   #15
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With 230gr LRN, been using Unique and Universal. But recently, have tried "Clays". Very impressed! 3.7-4.0 is very accurate[3.7!] Mild, accurate and CLEAN. Whats not to like? Oh,BTW, I'll always hang on to Unique. It just works.
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Old June 14, 2011, 09:45 PM   #16
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I started out with Win 231 8 years ago and still use it, meters well and is clean burning.

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Old June 15, 2011, 07:45 AM   #17
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da 45

Considerable experience has me normally reaching for W231.

I also can suggest Universal over Unique, for its easier metering, cleaner burning nature, and stellar accuracy potential.
HOWEVER, Universal in 45 ACP can show wide velocity variations EVEN THOUGH 25 yds accuracy can be superb.

Bullseye, while accurate, has shown a tendency to foul my guns to failure by 150 rds.
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Old June 15, 2011, 02:47 PM   #18
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I've never uses w231 but universal is a better option than than unique IMO.

Universal is certainly cleaner meters perfectly. Unique is dirty and doesn't meter as well.

Ive had awesome results with Universal in 9mm and mid 44 mag loads.
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Old June 15, 2011, 07:36 PM   #19
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Universal does well with 230 grain bullets at full speed, but I get unburned powder and wide velocity swing with it in target loads.
W231 (HP-38) would be my first choice.
No experience with Unique.
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Old June 17, 2011, 07:16 PM   #20
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Thanks all!

I've had advise suggesting W231 and is what I'll try next. All in all it looks like any of the three (plus the Bullseye that I use now) will do what I need it to do, I'll probably end up trying all of 'em eventually.
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