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Old 09-21-2018, 10:37 AM
Texas Star Texas Star is offline
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Default Clays vs. Unique

I've loaded some ammo with Unique, which went well, but it's a little smoky.
I'v'e read that Clays burns cleaner.

Is that so, and do you otherwise have any preference for it over Unique?

Use is mainly for medium to heavy handgun ammo. I usually wouldn't load many light-for-caliber bullets. I don't expect it to replace 2400, 296, etc. for really heavy loads.

So, apart from cleaner burning, a real advantage, is there much to choose between Unique and Universal Clays?
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Old 09-21-2018, 10:40 AM
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I’ve found the two to be almost interchangeable.
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Old 09-21-2018, 12:55 PM
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I shoot on an indoor range , cast lead bullets with lithium-beeswax lubricant. I don't notice any difference in the two when shooting 38 special and mid range loads.
Maybe I'm not as bothered by a little gun smoke , my first revolver was a replica 1851 Navy cap and ball, compared to black powder , both are smokeless . Both will burn clean if loaded to their required pressure, light loading both will develops a low pressure and incomplete burn that most translate as a "dirty " burning powder.

Universal was developed to get some of Unique's big market...I've tried it and prefer Unique . Don't light load it and it will burn clean.
Gary
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:10 PM
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Any powder burns "dirty" when not loaded to optimum levels, and Unique has gotten a bad rap because of this. Light loads of Unique are often "smokey" or "dirty", but it has always burns clean for me at mid to upper loadings...
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Old 09-21-2018, 01:33 PM
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I prefer Universal to Unique because it meters much better from a powder measure.

Last edited by longaction; 09-21-2018 at 07:35 PM.
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Old 09-21-2018, 03:38 PM
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There are actually three Hodgdon powders in the shotgun propellant family, but the two in question are "Universal" and "Clays". "Universal" (or Universal Clays) is ballistically much like Unique. "Clays" is in the same ballistic class as Bullseye, Red Dot, and 700-X. I load "Clays" like it is Bullseye or 700-X. Whether a propellant burns clean or dirty (whatever that means) makes zero difference to me.

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Old 09-21-2018, 03:45 PM
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Universal Clays v. Unique are pretty darn close.
Universal meters a little nicer. Unique is generally a bit cheaper/lb.

What exactly are you loading?

Last edited by yeti; 09-21-2018 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 09-21-2018, 05:21 PM
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Back in the day, about 20years ago, was shooting USPSA Limited with a 45. Load used, and given to me by my gunsmith, was a 250gr RNFP with Clays. Had no problem loading to a 180PF, major was 175.
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Old 09-22-2018, 02:13 AM
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Let me say upfront that I'm not a fan of Unique for several reasons, too
many to go into here. If you want a good powder for medium to heavy
handgun loads, a step below 2400 and 296 level, try Longshot.
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Old 09-22-2018, 10:10 AM
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Default Durty vs Clean

Let's really clean it up here!

I throw in Alliant American Select Shotgun Powder.
I've had really good experience reloading Handgun
with it.

I like all the above mentioned powders.
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Old 09-22-2018, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texas Star View Post
I've loaded some ammo with Unique, which went well, but it's a little smoky.
I'v'e read that Clays burns cleaner.

Is that so, and do you otherwise have any preference for it over Unique?

Use is mainly for medium to heavy handgun ammo. I usually wouldn't load many light-for-caliber bullets. I don't expect it to replace 2400, 296, etc. for really heavy loads.

So, apart from cleaner burning, a real advantage, is there much to choose between Unique and Universal Clays?
You need to be careful when talking about powders. In the title and first sentence you talk about Clays then you talk about Universal Clays. They are two completely different powders with drastically different burn rates.

Like said above, there are 3 powders in the Clays family, Clays, International Clays and Universal Clays. That order is fastest to slowest. Hodgdon made a mistake IMO in the naming, too much confusion.

I think Universal meters better than Unique but they are pretty much interchangeable in application but not load weights. One note, Universal can spike pressures when loaded to the top of the pressure range.
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Old 09-23-2018, 04:55 AM
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What gets me in all these discussions is the lack of mentioning accuracy (specified by group size for number of shots at what distance). For about 15 years now, all any one cares about powder is how "clean" they are.
Here is ONE burn rate chart (they all vary as they are also effected by specific test conducted and lot number variations):
2. Vihta Vuori N310
3. Hodgdon Titewad
4. Accurate Nitro 100
5. Alliant Bullseye
6. Accurate Solo 1000
7. Scot Red Diamond
8. Alliant Red Dot
9. Alliant Promo
10. Hodgdon Titegroup
11. Accurate No. 2
12. Alliant American Select
13. Winchester AA Plus
14. Hodgdon Clays
15. Vihta Vuori N320
16. Ramshot Competition
17. Scot Royal D
18. Winchester WST
19. Hodgdon HP38
20. Winchester 452AA
21. Scot 453
22. Winchester 231
23. Ramshot Zip
24. IMR 700X
25. Alliant Green Dot
26. Hodgdon International Clays
27. Vihta Vuori N330
28. IMR PB
29. Accurate No. 5
30. Scot Pearl
31. Winchester 473AA
32. Hodgdon HS-5
33. Winchester WSL
34. Alliant Unique
35. Hodgdon Univ. Clays
Note: HP38 and 230 have ALWAYS been exactly the same powder.
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Old 09-23-2018, 08:53 AM
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There is actually a laboratory test performed to establish the "Relative Quickness" of a propellant. However, in real life, the rankings as shown may not be correct, depending upon the specific cartridge and load used. At best, those "burning rate" comparison charts are just rough ranking approximations and should not be relied on for reloading purposes.
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Old 09-23-2018, 10:12 AM
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I dont understand why so many insist on using Shotgun powders for loading Handgun cartridges when there are some excellent powders available that were specifically designed for Handgun loads.

Shotgun powders were developed to be used in a CONFINED Charge environment. With a Shotgun load you have the powder at the base of the hull that is held in place with the Shotgun Wad which is then followed by the Shot. After this column is loaded into the hull it is then crimped so that everything is held in place. BTW, Wads are chosen specific to the powder used and the weight of shot used to insure that the end result is a well packed column.

With a handgun you aren't using a Wad to keep the powder charge compacted at the case head, you have that powder just "rattling" around in the case. So, Position Sensitivity becomes a factor that can effect accuracy and energy produced.

Another factor with using Shotgun Powders in handgun loads is that most Shotgun powders were engineered for optimum performance in a Shotgun load, so the powder shape was set by that particular use. As a result many, or most, Shotgun powders meter poorly. How poorly, well with a powder such as Unique or Longshot there is a real potential for a charge weight variation of as much as +/- 1/2 grain. If you are loading for a 5 grain powder charge that is a 10% potential variation, if you are loading with a 20 grain powder charge that is a 2.5% variation.

BTW, I have actually done Statistical Capability studies of every powder I use and at a 5.8 grain charge weight the Standard Deviation for Unique and Longshot is 0.17 grains using my RCBS Competition Powder Measure. Multiply that by a factor of 3 and you have the total range for 6 Sigma, or the maximum range of variation accepted by the Automotive Industry world wide. Note, I will load 40 caliber with Longshot because it works so well for the 40 or 10mm but when I use this powder every single charge is trickled to weight. As for Unique, that gets used in my 20 gage Shotshell Target loads.

I'll also note that I haven't done any capability studies with my Shotgun powder charges but suspect that with the larger charge volume required for a shotgun charge that the variation of a powder is actually reduced. What I do know is that even if the variation is 2.5% it's not enough to effect the accuracy of my shotgun loads. What effects the accuracy of my shots is how well disciplined I am about pulling the trigger when the barrel is in correct alignment with that little orange disk. Some days I feel like I can't miss and some days I feel like I would have trouble hitting a Barn.

My suggestion is that all you you take a look at the excellent Handgun Powders produced by Accurate or Vihta Vouri and H110/W296. They meter wonderfully with a standard deviation between .01 and .02, burn clean, and feature Position Sensitivities too low for me to measure with my Shooting Chrono Chrongraph. BTW, Vihta Vouri 3N37 is wonderful in 38 special to lower recoil 357 Magnums and also a great performer in 9mm loads. Basically it's a low position sensitive Unique that also meters almost as well as water. As for the Accurate line, between #2 and #9 you will find that they work for almost any Handgun load you can conceive of except for the Magnums or Super Magnums.
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Old 09-23-2018, 03:00 PM
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It has already been mentioned, but I'll reiterate:

Make sure you are talking about the correct "Clays" powder.

"Clays" is a very fast powder and is not equivalent to Unique. It really isn't even equivalent to Bullseye. It is no where near as versatile as Bullseye, in that pressure spikes much more quickly, especially with heavier bullets. For example, you can make full power 230 gr hardball .45 auto loads with Bullseye. I've never seen a Clays load in any manual can.

"Universal Clays", commonly just called "Universal", is very close to Unique, possibly just a tiny bit faster. It meters better than Unique, and I like it with jacketed bullets. .45 auto FMJ loads are impressively clean. Not so much with lead, it smokes a lot more. I haven't used it enough to know for sure, but I think it burns hotter than Unique, which may be burning the lube and causing the smoke.
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Old 09-23-2018, 03:37 PM
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Bullseye, Unique and 2400 cover all the loads I need in .38, .357 and .44!
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Old 09-23-2018, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
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Bullseye, Unique and 2400 cover all the loads I need in .38, .357 and .44!
I have a slightly different take on that powder trinity.

W231(HP-38), W540(HS-6) and W296(H110) are the three I can load anything with.

Soon it might be W244, W572 and W296 but we will see.
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Old 09-24-2018, 12:18 AM
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I don't have a Holy Trinity of powders, but if I did it would be Bullseye, Unique, and 2400. There are even some pretty good lead bullet CF rifle loads which can be made up with all three.
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Old 09-24-2018, 12:54 AM
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My 3 favorite powders are 231,Unique and H110. I can do anything I need with these 3.
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Old 09-24-2018, 02:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post
I dont understand why so many insist on using Shotgun powders for loading Handgun cartridges when there are some excellent powders available that were specifically designed for Handgun loads.
Scooter,
Shotgun powders have been used both shothell loads and handgun loads since the start of smokeless powders. Bullseye was originally a handgun powder and there are decades of shotshell recipes for Bullseye. Titegroup is the powder used in Remington handicap factory loads and it is a very dense powder that leaves a large air gap in handgun loads (it is advertised as being position insensitive). Most fast burning shotgun/handgun powders are position insensitive to all but those interested in chronographing their loads.

In only the past few years have there been "exclusive" handgun powders that seem to me more and more common. Even those powders that are touted as being "shotgun" powders are still perfectly useful in handgun loads. I've gone through a couple of pounds of Alliant 20/28 and find it very good in handgun loads. It burns similar to Unique with about 5% less charge needed. Understandably, Unique is called for in lots of 20 and 28 gauge loads and 20/28 is an ideal powder for these gauges in that it is more dense than Unique so the stack height can be shorter as Unique tended to cause stack height problems.

It's very safe to work up loads with "shotgun" powders in handgun applications if you know what you're doing. It is NOT a good idea to adapt a "handgun" powder (such as BE-86, Sport Pistol or Power Pistol) in a shotgun application.

The OP question is perfectly reasonable being that Unique and Universal Clays are both fully suitable for handgun loads. Hodgdon did make Clays, Universal and International as direct competitors to Alliant Red Dot, Green Dot and Unique respectively and there are plenty of recipes for all six in handgun applications.
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Old 09-24-2018, 05:54 AM
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OP--If you're looking for a cleaner pistol powder, try something faster. If you mention what cartridges you're loading for, I'm sure we could all scrounge up some recommendations--or just list every powder on the chart between us!

For .45 ACP and .38 Spl, for instance, I think that WST will perform adequately. In higher-pressure cartridges, I've become a big fan of Power Pistol.

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I dont understand why so many insist on using Shotgun powders for loading Handgun cartridges when there are some excellent powders available that were specifically designed for Handgun loads.
Because many of them are excellent pistol powders?
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:28 AM
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I agree with those who have observed that accuracy isn't given much consideration by so many these days.

People have thrown the term "cleaner burning" around in internet forum posts for years now. What does cleaner burning mean to them? Do they even know?

I've been handloading since the mid-1970s. For the first couple of decades I enthusiastically experimented with each and every propellant powder on the market at that time. I wanted to get to know all of 'em. Perhaps one becomes jaded, but I came to realize that there was no future in chasing each and every "new and improved" propellant because the new and improved wasn't truly delivering on the hype and sure wasn't providing anything that couldn't be provided by the old familiar propellant lines.

At this point I view Unique much like a favorite comfort food. I'm so familiar with its characteristics for use in handgun cartridges that I am close-minded about even trying anything supposedly "similar only better." I don't even want to know.

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Old 09-24-2018, 10:03 AM
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I've spent most all my life getting my hands dirty . So , is the powder " clean shooting " ? I could care less . For me it's all about accuracy . Regards, Paul
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Old 09-24-2018, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nightowl View Post
Bullseye, Unique and 2400 cover all the loads I need in .38, .357 and .44!
I was happy with these 3 powders for 46 years ....then the great powder shortage of 2013 caught me with my pants down...
I couldn't believe the dealers shelves were empty of all handgun powders. That made me buy whatever was in stock and learn to use it. I now have been exposed to :
700X , Red Dot , HP-38, Universal , Titegroup, Acc #2, Acc. #5 , Acc. #7.
I didn't like the powder shortage but it did expose me to other powder . To be totally honest Bullseye , Unique and 2400 are still my most favored powders for accuracy.
And in the accuracy department , some of the above powders come close but none of them beat the original basic three.
I do like the Accurate line of powders and Red Dot .
Gary

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Old 09-24-2018, 03:11 PM
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Perhaps we can offer other powder options that will really work well for you, Texas Star.
Just let us know what you want to do with the load.

Quote:
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I was happy with these 3 powders for 46 years ....then the great powder shortage of 2013 caught me with my pants down...
I couldn't believe the dealers shelves were empty of all handgun powders. That made me buy whatever was in stock and learn to use it.
Same situation for me.
Literally forced to branch out and develop new loads or pause reloading for a year. The latter wasn't an option, so I started to work up off-label powders for specific handgun loads. I've been very pleased with many of the developed results and continue to load them. Some of the shotgun powders make ideal target/competition loads in 45, 44, 40, 38/357.
Still like and use Bullseye, Unique & 2400.

Now working on new Alliant Sport Pistol loads to see if I like it more than Bullseye. We'll see.
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Old 09-24-2018, 08:51 PM
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While I was a little contrite with my Bullseye,Unique, and 2400 post, I really have tried other powders. I have used Clays, Titegroup, Trail Boss and I recently bought a can of Clean Shot. And I realize that we tend to like what we know and are comfortable with and works like we want it to work. Some people like to experiment. Not everybody will use the same powders.

But, I have found the three I use the most to be capable of what I want to do, mostly .38 Special target loads, .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum loads, so I stick with what I know best. I'm not an experimenter.
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Old 09-24-2018, 09:58 PM
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Bullseye, Reddot, Greendot, 2400 (sometimes)and some Unique keep my handguns loaded. Some of my rifles too.
I'm not much of an experimenter but I've been reloading pistol and rifle since the mid 60's.
These work and if the accuracy isn't there, it's probably me or my less than quality reloads, not the choice of a powder or a primer.

No I don't care to change, nor jump to a 'new & improved' anything as soon as they hit the market 'cause they are just the same thing in different packages.
It's smokeless powder,,it burns at a certain rate,,it pushes the bullet down and out the bore. Then the bullet is on it's own.
There's only so many different burn rates and so much that makes any difference.
The powder won't scrubb clean your gun bbl, make you a better marksman or buy you lunch.
If the powder leaves a bit of 'ash' in the bore and that's a big problem, take up BB guns.
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Old 09-25-2018, 11:54 AM
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FWIW; when I could not find Unique I purchased some Universal and now I use Universal instead of Unique in 90% of my handgun cartridges (9mm-45 Colt)...
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Old 09-25-2018, 12:23 PM
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I agree with post 28.....

both are good powders but I set them both aside when I,
load a 135gr bullet or heavier in my 9mm pistols and reach for the..........

BE-86 powder, for loading short cases, if more speed is needed,
along with accuracy.
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Old 09-25-2018, 03:40 PM
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Unique,2400,H110/296 and 4227 are all I have ever used.

Worked for Elmer and Skeeter, more than good enough for me...
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  #31  
Old 09-27-2018, 01:06 PM
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The faster shotgun powders also work well for making reduced CF rifle loads. The typical recipe is 13 grains of something like Red Dot in any .30 (or larger) CF case with any weight or type of bullet. MVs are in the black powder range, say 1200-1600 ft/sec. The Lyman lead bullet reloading manual contains a very large number of rifle loads using pistol and shotgun powders.
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  #32  
Old 09-28-2018, 12:54 PM
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I have never paid any attention to how "clean" a powder burns, but do pay attention to how accurate they shoot. I seldom use Unique unless I am loading one at a time weighing every charge, I find Unique does not meter very well and is inconsistent as it is bulky. I prefer powders such as 231 and most Accurate Powders, AA#5, #7, #9.
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  #33  
Old 09-28-2018, 08:57 PM
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noylj, what about Accurate #7 & #9 and Trailboss? I'm thinking of using the latter for potential target 32 S&W loads and am using the former two for warm to hot 327 FM loads.

Froggie
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Old 09-29-2018, 01:21 PM
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AA7 is excellent for .38 Super/9x19/9x21/.40 S&W and, probably most 33-40 ksi cartridges. AA9 is excellent for magnums, but often can't produce the same level of accuracy/velocity as AA7 in the smaller cartridges.
TrailBoss is very good for .45 Auto and I could see it being good in the .32s if there is enough case capacity. Not for wadcutter loads and don't compress this powder.
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