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View Full Version : Freaking unique is driving me CRAZY!!!!!!


sofbak
07-07-2012, 6:57 PM
Still trying to get consisten throws through a Lee Pro auto-disk. Based on a lot of user recommendations, I put the adjustable powder bar in it today and tried some more unique. Also tried a dryer sheet. Still getting inconsistent throws that vary by as much as 0.4 grains... Here are the details

1. I adjusted the bar to the approximate size, then make 10 throws before I even bother to measure them.

2. I measure at least six throws to get it dialed into the target weight, and I dry cycle the turret through a complete rotation for each throw.

3. Once I think I get it dialed in, I make ten throws and weight them to see what the variance is-still dry cycling the turret through a complete rotation for each throw.

4. Trying to hit 9.4 grains, I threw ten charges ,the lowest was 9.35 and the highest was 9.6, with an average of 9.45.

5. So I loaded up 12 cartridges. Then I made four more "check throws" and they came out 9.75, 9.75, 9.6 and 9.6!!!! WTF??? With no changes to the bar, and no changes in the number of lever cycles or rotations per thrown charge, why the heck so much variance?

6. I checked the scale zero, and it was still good.

So now I have some "mystery loads" that are greater than 9.3 and less than 9.8. Glad I'm shooting a ruger.

Anybody got any ideas on why this lee auto-disk is all over the map? I'ts not leaking, everything is tight, and I'm giving as consistent a pull motion as I possibly can. But it just won't do more than three or four throws in a row at the same weight.:mad:

Bill Steele
07-07-2012, 7:20 PM
Still trying to get consisten throws through a Lee Pro auto-disk. Based on a lot of user recommendations, I put the adjustable powder bar in it today and tried some more unique. Also tried a dryer sheet. Still getting inconsistent throws that vary by as much as 0.4 grains... Here are the details

1. I adjusted the bar to the approximate size, then make 10 throws before I even bother to measure them.

2. I measure at least six throws to get it dialed into the target weight, and I dry cycle the turret through a complete rotation for each throw.

3. Once I think I get it dialed in, I make ten throws and weight them to see what the variance is-still dry cycling the turret through a complete rotation for each throw.

4. Trying to hit 9.4 grains, I threw ten charges ,the lowest was 9.35 and the highest was 9.6, with an average of 9.45.

5. So I loaded up 12 cartridges. Then I made four more "check throws" and they came out 9.75, 9.75, 9.6 and 9.6!!!! WTF??? With no changes to the bar, and no changes in the number of lever cycles or rotations per thrown charge, why the heck so much variance?

6. I checked the scale zero, and it was still good.

So now I have some "mystery loads" that are greater than 9.3 and less than 9.8. Glad I'm shooting a ruger.

Anybody got any ideas on why this lee auto-disk is all over the map? I'ts not leaking, everything is tight, and I'm giving as consistent a pull motion as I possibly can. But it just won't do more than three or four throws in a row at the same weight.:mad:

The adjustable charge bar will not affect your charge to charge consistency, at all. Well, that is not entirely true, if you are dropping small charges the adjustable bar will make your drop to drop consistency much worse than the fixed holes in the disks.

There are a few people on these threads that have said they get very accurate drops with Unique, hopefully one of them will be along to suggest a few ideas. I have never gotten very good consistency with Unique. That is one of a few reasons why I don't like the powder and don't use it anymore.

The good news is Unique is not very sensitive to variations in powder drops, so if you are not loading max loads, it may not matter all that much. Just make sure your largest drops are no more than Alliant's max for the weight and type of bullet and you should be good to go.

XDRoX
07-07-2012, 7:32 PM
Like usual I agree with Bill. I've never had good luck with Unique metering well, but then again it never mattered much. Unique is unique in that it doesn't need super accurate drops to be effective.

So many other factors are more important than powder drop for accuracy I woundn't loose sleep over Unique not metering well. When Unique was first invented most guys were loading with a powder scoop not a fancy powder measure. It's one of the most forgiving powders out there.

Fjold
07-07-2012, 7:54 PM
I tend to throw by ear, which means that I listen to how hard I hit the stops at the top and bottom of the stroke to make it sound as consistent as possible. This seems to help a lot with consistency.

sofbak
07-07-2012, 8:13 PM
........

The good news is Unique is not very sensitive to variations in powder drops, so if you are not loading max loads, it may not matter all that much. Just make sure your largest drops are no more than Alliant's max for the weight and type of bullet and you should be good to go.



... Unique is unique in that it doesn't need super accurate drops to be effective.

...It's one of the most forgiving powders out there.

Thankyou for the shared experience.

I think I'm ok here, but never hurts to check. In the "standard" long colt section, the max load for a 250 gr LRNFP is 9.5 gr. I'm over that by about 0.25 gr (maybe), but as I mentioned I'm running this through a Ruger new Vaqeuro. Two different things tell me I'm not in any trouble here:

1. I e-mailed Lee and asked if the "Ruger and T/C" load tables applied to a new Vaquero. Their response was "yes, if it's ruger revolver, you can use the Ruger & T/C tables".

2. I looked in the chapter in the Lee manual about pressure, and according to their testing, a 1% change in charge has a 2.5% average change in pressure, and a 6.1% max. My charge overage is 2.6% max which would give me a max pressure difference of 6.5%.

The Lee manual doesn't show the pressure for the 9.5 gr load, but I have to assume that if it's in the standard long colt table, it has to be the range of 14000psi or less. So a 6.5% increase would put me at 14,910 psi which is well within the capability of the ruger, and way below the pressures in the Ruger & T/C tables.

Also, the bullet has a BHN of 16 which is pretty hard, so I don't think I'll have any issues with gas cutting.

Did I miss anything?

mjmagee67
07-07-2012, 8:44 PM
I love Unique, but I could never get a consistent charge with my powder thrower. Thats why I changed to Bullseye and I know many have moved to 231 for the same reason.

Bill Steele
07-07-2012, 8:45 PM
If Lee said you could use the Ruger/Thompson Center loads in your Vaquero then your logic sounds right. Frankly I am surprised as I always thought those guns were to be kept at normal .45LC pressures.

I will tell you one of the other things I didn't like about Unique was the way it worked around max loads. For me it was a very docile powder up until you got to max where it goes around the knee of the curve right smartly. This phenomenon seemed most pronounced in the higher pressure rounds like .44RM. I don't load .45LC, but some of those Ruger-TC loads look a lot like a .44RM, so all I would say it take it slow and go easy.

One of the best pieces of reloading advice I think I ever read on these threads was, "if in doubt, there is no doubt, pull them". I wish I could remember who said that so I could give them credit.

kurac
07-07-2012, 10:55 PM
I quite using Unique years ago, I think I might even have the remainder of a container laying around here somewhere. Now I just use W231 which meters like a dream.

VooDooV
07-07-2012, 11:15 PM
Im not formiliar with any of the auto droppers so I dont if they have a tapper or aggitator.

Does yours.

Cheep
07-08-2012, 5:02 AM
I always keep the powder measure more than 3/4 full and I haven't had that problem with Unique...

sofbak
07-08-2012, 7:48 AM
I always keep the powder measure more than 3/4 full and I haven't had that problem with Unique...

Yeah, I had mine full to about 3/4 too, but didn't help.

Looks like the best answer is to move on to another powder.

Anybody in the San Diego area want a steal of a deal on nearly a lb. of unique?? Loaded 100 cartridges out of this bottle, and I'm done with it.

22popnsplat
07-08-2012, 1:09 PM
Unique is dirty and does not meter well in most powder measures , The lee powder measures has its faults but throws ok in consistancy . I use a uniflow and if it wont meter through there i get out the belding and Mull , its a little difficult to use but will meter anything

bandook
07-08-2012, 1:14 PM
It's tough to hit exact weights on Unique with most powder dispensers. But as others have already mentioned, it's fairly insensitive to charge variation.
Also, the current SAAMI secs are watered/lawyered down so an occasional .25 grain over max in a LOW PRESSURE cartridge is a non-event

bandook
07-08-2012, 1:19 PM
...I will tell you one of the other things I didn't like about Unique was the way it worked around max loads. For me it was a very docile powder up until you got to max where it goes around the knee of the curve right smartly. This phenomenon seemed most pronounced in the higher pressure rounds like .44RM...

Interesting... Will need to experiment in a GP100.

sofbak
07-08-2012, 4:18 PM
...
I will tell you one of the other things I didn't like about Unique was the way it worked around max loads. For me it was a very docile powder up until you got to max where it goes around the knee of the curve right smartly. This phenomenon seemed most pronounced in the higher pressure rounds like .44RM. I don't load .45LC, but some of those Ruger-TC loads look a lot like a .44RM, so all I would say it take it slow and go easy

I experienced a mild version of this with my first series of unique test loads. I had 8.55, 8.7, 8.9, and 9.15 grains loaded (all averages of 10 test throws before loading). With 12 of each, as I worked my way up, I could feel a slight increase in recoil with each, but the highest load was substantially "zippier" than the 8.9. Still nothing close to hand cannon status, but that last increase was definitely noticable. 9.2 gr. must be getting close to the knee in the curve.

Bill Steele
07-08-2012, 5:24 PM
I experienced a mild version of this with my first series of unique test loads. I had 8.55, 8.7, 8.9, and 9.15 grains loaded (all averages of 10 test throws before loading). With 12 of each, as I worked my way up, I could feel a slight increase in recoil with each, but the highest load was substantially "zippier" than the 8.9. Still nothing close to hand cannon status, but that last increase was definitely noticable. 9.2 gr. must be getting close to the knee in the curve.

Having experienced it and knowing what it feels like is great learning.

One thing about handgun powders is you can reach unsafe pressures before you get that hand cannon feel. Faster powders can take you over pressure and still have relatively mild recoil. Recoil is a result of Muzzle Energy and that is a product of the weight of the bullet and its velocity. With fast powders you can get to usafe pressures before you get to enough velocity to make it feel like you are generating a lot of energy.

I wouldn't get rid of the Unique, I would just shoot it up. You know what you are doing with it now. Next buy, try something new. Every order I place with Powder Valley has some 4lb, 5lb and 8lb bottles of my favorites, but it also has a few 1lb bottles of something new. Great fun.

sjg1966
07-28-2012, 3:06 AM
So I am in the same boat with Unique. I was loading some 10mm today and my Redding #3BR was all over the place +/- .2gr so or once I thought I had dialed in at 7.2gr pefectly. Well maybe 1 out of 5 would be on at 7.2gr, so I just trickled in or out to get to 7.2gr. I guess I've been spoiled by W231 being so consistent with it's drops from the Redding.

I've got almost 5# of Unique and thought about lighting it on fire (just kidding), but now that I re-read this thread, I guess and be somewhat at ease with the +/- .2gr variances??? Just want to make sure that is the case though so if not please let me know. Maybe I will try it with 45 and 9mm too then, I don't think I will buy anymore and what I have will be around a long long time anyway.

Thanks for reading......Steve

Wrangler John
07-28-2012, 4:34 AM
I use Unique exclusively for .44 Magnum and .45 Colt lead target loads among others. I buy it in 8 pound canisters so I don't run out too quickly. It measures perfectly in my RCBS, Redding and Hornady measures. I use the oldest RCBS Uniflow powder measure with the small capacity rotor for 8.0 to 10.0 grains of Unique. When setting up a measure I clean the parts with acetone or carburetor cleaner then compressed air (do not use these solvents on plastic parts). Then for each session I lube the inside and especially the measuring chamber with a few puffs of graphite powder. This carries off any static electricity and lubes the interior.

The problem lies in trying to equate a weighed charge with one measured volumetrically, especially flake powders. Powder weight can change with humidity and temperature, while the volume will remain the same. Granular orientation also effects charge weight. So as long as the volume is consistent a two-tenth of a grain weight difference on either side is insignificant and within standard recommendations.

Unique is not a "dirty powder" this is an old wives tale. If a powder leaves a few unburned, or partially burned kernels in the bore it has no significant effect on performance. Alliant advertised that the new Unique is "cleaner burning" than old lots to satisfy such comments, but really it made no difference on the target one way or the other.

All that being said, I would not recommend Unique for semiautomatic pistol loads, its bulk and physical properties are better suited to magnum and large capacity revolver cartridges when used with cast bullets or single shot pistols.

Bill Steele
07-28-2012, 6:43 AM
So I am in the same boat with Unique. I was loading some 10mm today and my Redding #3BR was all over the place +/- .2gr so or once I thought I had dialed in at 7.2gr pefectly. Well maybe 1 out of 5 would be on at 7.2gr, so I just trickled in or out to get to 7.2gr. I guess I've been spoiled by W231 being so consistent with it's drops from the Redding.

I've got almost 5# of Unique and thought about lighting it on fire (just kidding), but now that I re-read this thread, I guess and be somewhat at ease with the +/- .2gr variances??? Just want to make sure that is the case though so if not please let me know. Maybe I will try it with 45 and 9mm too then, I don't think I will buy anymore and what I have will be around a long long time anyway.

Thanks for reading......Steve

I would just make sure my target load weight was at least .2 tenths below max and load away. Unfortunately, you will be throuigh that 5lbs in no time.

Unique is not my favorite powder, but if it was the only powder available to buy, we reloaders would be a better off than most other labels. It will work fine in your 9mm and .45ACP as well.

Have fun, good luck.

HermanH
07-28-2012, 6:53 AM
Agreed. For years I've used Unique and it's really more for plinking around, definitely not something I want to use for accuracy loads in large quantities. Like mentioned above, I got for the "middle" of the powder charge for a given bullet weight and just let it be.

I have to believe that the reason for the inconsistency lay it the fact that not every flake is the same size. I recently went with a RCBS Chargemaster 1500 after 20 years of using their drum and scale method and I've watched this machine work. Every so often when it's close to the setting ( i.e. 4.4 grains for my 158 lead), sometimes one flake goes it and the audible goes off, sometimes 2 or 3 goes in. Flakes simply don't meter very well at all but that's the reason Unique is so readily available I guess. I just learned to not get so frustrated and just make batches for plinking. I have good ball powder for accuracy loads.