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  #1  
Old 10-04-2023, 2:12 PM
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Default Best Handgun Reload Powder

I am currently using Alliant Bullseye powder to reload 9mm, .38, .357 & .40 s&w. Seems to be very smokie for a smokeless powder. Any recommendations for something less smokie, cleaner?
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  #2  
Old 10-04-2023, 2:36 PM
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VV N320 and N330 are very clean - both in the handgun and on the press - and should cover most of your needs.

I have been using the N330 in 9mm for a couple of years and really like it. In fact, the UPS person just left me a care package of some today

EDIT: it is a little more expensive, but I feel it is worth it.
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  #3  
Old 10-04-2023, 2:46 PM
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I read the thread title and was going to suggest Bullseye for a time-tested all-around pistol powder, but since you’ve already tried that, I’ll suggest Win 231/HP-38 as a second choice, and TiteGroup as a third. Unique gets an honorable mention.
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Old 10-20-2023, 3:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Ryerson View Post
I read the thread title and was going to suggest Bullseye for a time-tested all-around pistol powder, but since you?ve already tried that, I?ll suggest Win 231/HP-38 as a second choice, and TiteGroup as a third. Unique gets an honorable mention.

Good choices from what I have seen.
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  #5  
Old 10-04-2023, 2:54 PM
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Used BE when i started for 9, 40 and 45. Switched full time to VV N320 as BE was too smoky for USPSA (we'd shoot thru barrels a lot back then), then switched again to Sport Pistol which was virtually identical to N320 for loads and cleanliness. Plus it was 1/2 the price of VV back when i switched.

Stayed with SP to this day although it's not quite as cheap as it used to be, but what is these days.
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Old 10-04-2023, 3:27 PM
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Often times the smoke comes from the lube. Especially that hard crayon type lube wax. And, this same lube is often
mistaken as being lead and not just unburnt crud.

Try comparing a fmj bullet of same weight & design to a cast bullet with identical powder charge and assembly practices.
Video the event or have someone else do the shooting so you can see the comparison difference from another angle.

Smoke and flash is one thing outdoors in broad daylight. Indoors, with poor lighting and poor ventilation, it's a real
educational experience if you're paying attention.
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Old 10-04-2023, 9:07 PM
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I don't know if its more or less smokey but I use mostly AA #5. I have used it in 357mag, 38 spl, 9mm and 45ACP. Its not really for hot loads like full power 357mag where I use H110 or hot 45ACP where I use Silhouette but it seems to be a very versatile "everyday" target load powder. Its very available. Maybe give it a try.
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Old 10-05-2023, 5:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhodesengr View Post
I don't know if its more or less smokey but I use mostly AA #5. I have used it in 357mag, 38 spl, 9mm and 45ACP. Its not really for hot loads like full power 357mag where I use H110 or hot 45ACP where I use Silhouette but it seems to be a very versatile "everyday" target load powder. Its very available. Maybe give it a try.
Agreed. Unique used to be my go to powder. But it's bulky, doesn't meter well, and a rather dirty powder. But, very useful in quite a few calibers. I now use AA#5. Similar in burn rate to Unique, but smaller grained so it meters better, and more constant. Seems cleaner.
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Old 10-05-2023, 11:41 AM
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Power Pistol is a good choice for full power loads, but you will trade smoke for muzzle flash!

.357 really requires Win296, Alliant 2400, or something similar.
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Old 10-05-2023, 11:58 AM
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If Bullseye worked well enough, but smokey, consider BE-86. I'm a fan & used it in 9mm, 10mm, 357 Sig etc
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  #11  
Old 10-05-2023, 12:14 PM
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win wst good powder. Meters well for me.
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  #12  
Old 10-05-2023, 4:21 PM
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If you can find BE-86, it is a very good versatile powder for normal medium speed loads. I have gone through about 14 pounds of it since it came out but its been non-existent out here in TX since moving here in 2020. I settled on W231/HP-38 as my all around powder for handguns. It?s a ball powder so it flows like water and meters very well and it burns very clean.

I enjoyed Bullseye after buying a 4 pound jug in 2010 but it left my hands black when shooting my SS Ruger Service Six and after a couple hundred rounds that stainless gun looked like a blued gun although cleanup was no big deal.
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Old 11-14-2023, 7:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rsrocket1 View Post
If you can find BE-86, it is a very good versatile powder for normal medium speed loads. I have gone through about 14 pounds of it since it came out but its been non-existent out here in TX since moving here in 2020.
There was a lot of mention of BE-86, so I thought I might try that one also. I looked and right now as of this morning Brownells has BE-86 in stock in 8lbs. with "no haz mat fees". Just thought I would share that if you wanted to get some more.

https://www.brownells.com/reloading/.../be-86-powder/

Good luck,

Jay
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  #14  
Old 10-05-2023, 4:24 PM
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Another vote for BE-86...
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Old 10-20-2023, 9:28 AM
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Unique. It meters ok with me and I like the sooty cases. Makes it easier to see which cases are mine when I'm policing my brass.
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Old 10-20-2023, 3:02 PM
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My understanding is BE-86 is Unique with a flash suppressant.

While not optimal for different cartridges, it will obtain very functional performance for a great many.
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Old 10-20-2023, 8:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JagerDog View Post
My understanding is BE-86 is Unique with a flash suppressant.
Same here, brother....

I've also found that BE-86 meters better through my RCBS Uniflow-III Powder Measure.
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Old 10-21-2023, 9:02 AM
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Originally Posted by golfish View Post
Same here, brother....

I've also found that BE-86 meters better through my RCBS Uniflow-III Powder Measure.
Last I looked, it appeared Alliant converted a lot of their Unique pistol data to BE-86 and dropped the Unique data from their website.
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Old 10-21-2023, 5:51 PM
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Last I looked, it appeared Alliant converted a lot of their Unique pistol data to BE-86 and dropped the Unique data from their website.
Nope, still there.

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Old 10-21-2023, 9:49 PM
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Nope, still there.

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I didn't say they dropped all the Unique data. Just that there used to be more (pre- BE86).
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Old 10-20-2023, 3:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shenecke View Post
I am currently using Alliant Bullseye powder to reload 9mm, .38, .357 & .40 s&w. Seems to be very smokie for a smokeless powder. Any recommendations for something less smokie, cleaner?
Look at Winchester 231 or Hodgdon HP-38.
They are the same powder.

Smoke can also be caused by cast bullets though, especially if you are using a basic wax lube.
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Old 10-20-2023, 5:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ar15barrels View Post
Look at Winchester 231 or Hodgdon HP-38.
They are the same powder.
Yep these are my go to pistol powders. I was told many years ago to make sure to have plenty of 231. You can try out other powders but....
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Old 10-20-2023, 8:54 PM
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BE-86 is a sleeper powder. It works well in .357 mag, .45 acp. Haven't tried it yet in .38 spl or .45 Colt, but, will. Mark and myself kinda stumbled into BE-86 a few years ago and, it works.

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Old 10-21-2023, 9:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pennstater View Post
BE-86 is a sleeper powder. It works well in .357 mag, .45 acp. Haven't tried it yet in .38 spl or .45 Colt, but, will. Mark and myself kinda stumbled into BE-86 a few years ago and, it works.

MLC
Like Unique, it won?t be as efficient (low charge weights) in the small stuff or achieve max velocity in the big stuff, but generally good performance in a large swath of cartridges.

45 ACP Ball = 123456. 1.23?, 45, 6 grains of Unique.
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Old 10-21-2023, 6:46 PM
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Use what you can get right now, as you clearly still have primers, too.

I have been pretty happy with Universal for 9mm, .38 SPL, .357 MAG (non-full house loads), and the wife's (stupid-silly, AKA"cute" .25 ACP reloads (I make her reload these .25 ACP "her damned-self"). When I run out, I'll probably buy it again, as it seems like the most versatile pistol powder I've used, per Modern Reloading 2nd Edition, and Hogdon's Reloading data on their web page ( https://www.hodgdonreloading.com/reloading-data-center ).

(For .357 Mag, full-house loads I've been using Lil'Gun, and almost have it up to Full-House PMC Bronze specs...)

When I started, Unique was my go to, but seems to have less load data for calibers I looked at...
However when loading on the heavier charges in 9mm, like toward NATO velocities,
I did notice there was powder floating through the air, and on stuff, and a LOT...

Even .45 Colt, and Shotshells, too, so I plan on buying 8 more pounds, god willing,
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  #26  
Old 11-14-2023, 6:23 AM
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Back in the good old day I did most of my handgun reloading with Bulls Eye, Unique, and 2400. What was unique about Unique is that I could use in in 12GA (trap loads), reduced loads in rifles using lead bullets (303 British w/ bullets meant for 32 S&W), and handgun (38 Special, 45 ACP, etc.)
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Old 11-20-2023, 10:14 AM
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Dont be a cheap ahs and internet Wore and buy some manuals. Angry rant off.
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Old 11-20-2023, 11:10 AM
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Clean you say?!?

700X and 800X!!!

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Old 11-20-2023, 9:15 PM
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I just ran a test of 200 .38 specials, 100 with Bullseye and 100 with 231, both using the same bullets.
I shot 100 Bullseye one week and cleaned my revolver. Took about 30 minutes to get all of the soot off (Stainless Steel).
The following week I used the 231, it only took me 5 minutes to get the soot off.
Big difference.
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Old 11-21-2023, 8:17 AM
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I like BE 86, but it seems more of a medium to full power powder in .38 special. Not sure how it would do for low end loads. 231 is great for that in 38. I used to shoot a lot of it with Speer 148gr HBWC and 3.4gr of 231.
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  #31  
Old 11-30-2023, 6:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shenecke View Post
I am currently using Alliant Bullseye powder to reload 9mm, .38, .357 & .40 s&w. Seems to be very smokie for a smokeless powder. Any recommendations for something less smokie, cleaner?
Late reply but nothing wrong with Bullseye. I have been using it for 40+ years. It is all about accuracy and you will clean your handguns after shooing.

W231 is comparable.
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  #32  
Old 12-03-2023, 8:41 PM
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I don't know that there is a single "best" powder out there. Rather, there are "best" powders for certain applications.

My Bullseye loads for .38 Special are pretty clean, actually. This is true for my powder-puff load and my +P+ (old FBI-style) load. This is my primary powder for this cartridge, with Titegroup as my backup powder. The +P+ load leaves the cases so clean that they don't even have to be tumbled. Just load 'em up again and go.

Same goes for Titegroup when used at, say, .38 Special and above pressures. At .45 Colt pressures, it does put soot on the cases, but it goes bang reliably and consistently. Titegroup is my primary powder for .45 ACP and .45 Colt, and it's my backup for .38 Spl.

W231/HP-38 is likewise a well-known and rightly respected powder. It can be hard to get in some markets, though. But if you can, you've got good stuff.

For magnum-style handgun rounds, I tend to prefer both 2400 and that new Accurate 11FS powder.

2400 is well known for very, very good reason. It's so doggone versatile that it almost borders on a "universal" powder if you're talking about revolver cartridges. Almost. Works well with reduced rifle loads, too. It's my first choice for .357M, .44M, and ".45 Colt Magnum".

11FS is essentially H110/W296 with a flash suppressant added, and that seems to work consistently with standard pistol primers, much like 2400 does. However, I'd still recommend magnum primers just on principle. I've found this powder to behave very well in magnum revolver cartridge applications, while giving me some decent velocity increases over 2400. If I were to run out of 2400, 11FS would be my go-to powder for these applications.
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  #33  
Old 12-16-2023, 10:20 AM
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For those of you that are big fans of Win 231, have you tried Win 244 and how do you like it? I got some when pickings were slim and haven?t had a chance too use it yet. Was led to believe it?s like 231 but cleaner?

For OP, I like Unique because it?s a flexible midrange powder that I can use to make ?light? to almost ?full power? loads for a multitude of cartridges. I settled on Unique after the newness and curiosity of reloading wore off and before availability became an issue. I like having 1 pistol powder and 1 load per pistol cartridge. Reloading rifle cartridges satisfies all my loading curiosity.
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  #34  
Old 12-16-2023, 12:42 PM
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My buddy wanted to try out the 244 so I split a jug with him. I loaded bout 1k rounds of 9mm with it. Stuff meters great...but I never liked 231 and I dislike 244 more than 231.

If anyone wants to trade me some Competition, Longshot, H110, Titegroup, Clays, for ~3.5# of 244 please let me know. I'm in LA. Dang might as well post this in the reloading sale section haaha.
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  #35  
Old 12-16-2023, 3:46 PM
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I use HP-38 for .38spl and .40 my 9mm load uses WSF just because when I first started reloading that was what I could get. It worked well and I like the load so I just sayed with it.
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  #36  
Old 12-24-2023, 1:55 PM
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I am very pleased with longshot (which is technucally a shotgun powder) with my 40s$w loads.

I dont know why its not recomended fir other calibers though.

There is conflicting load data out there in this combo. My Hornady book says max danger level load with 185?s is 8.0. But people on other forums report success taking it to 10mm (10 grains !)

I shot a few at 6.7 grains which felt same as WWB, i loaded another batch at 7.5
which felt snappy but not unpleasant out of my 4? barrel P99.
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Old 01-06-2024, 2:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falstaff View Post
I am very pleased with longshot (which is technucally a shotgun powder) with my 40s$w loads.

I dont know why its not recomended fir other calibers though.

There is conflicting load data out there in this combo. My Hornady book says max danger level load with 185?s is 8.0. But people on other forums report success taking it to 10mm (10 grains !)

I shot a few at 6.7 grains which felt same as WWB, i loaded another batch at 7.5
which felt snappy but not unpleasant out of my 4? barrel P99.
Longshot has an incredibly gradual pressure build and will make absolutely screaming hot ammo fairly safely.

It's not a bad powder, it's just a bit much for regular range ammo. You can decrease recoil significantly using a faster burning powder.

It's a good powder for making 9 major/+p+ 9mm too, going way beyond recommended charges.
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  #38  
Old 12-28-2023, 5:40 PM
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My go to powders are 231 (9mm, 38 sp) unique ( 45, 38,10mm) and 2400 ( 44Sp,44 mag, 357 and 30 carbine).. don?t need anything else. I settled on these decades ago after reading ?pet loads? by Watters. He did the testing for me.
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Old 01-06-2024, 12:02 PM
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I prefer ww231/HP-38.

For those cartridges AA#2 works well too.
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Old 01-06-2024, 2:21 PM
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Power pistol is great for me I use it in 9mm
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