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Hercules Unique versus Alliant Unique

This is a discussion on Hercules Unique versus Alliant Unique within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; I have some Hercules Unique that is probably about 30 yes old. I have noticed that all Unique powder now says it is made by ...


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Old October 27th, 2013, 06:39 AM   #1
 
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Hercules Unique versus Alliant Unique

I have some Hercules Unique that is probably about 30 yes old. I have noticed that all Unique powder now says it is made by Alliant, not Hercules. Is it the same stuff just the company name is different now? I recently reloaded 150 rounds with it and just tried some of them out yesterday. I am using Missouri Bullet Co 240 grain SWC Elmer Keith hard cast bullets along with 10 grains of the Unique. I found that while this is an acceptable round, it was nowhere near as stout as some factory loaded 240 grain JHP I have. I also loaded up some 240 grain Hornady XTP hollow points with the same charge. Most of the info I found seemed to indicate that this combo is pretty "standard" but I honestly felt it was a bit weak. It was fine for the plinking we did, but I am looking for a hotter combo.

So my question is this, is the age and/or brand of the Unique I have an issue? I had no misfires, but I did find that the was a fair amount of smoke, more like you'd see with black powder but not quite that much.

I have also reloaded some 380 shells and these seemed fine. I have been reloading rifle for many years but just recently started with pistol ammo. Just hoping for a little feedback.



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Old October 27th, 2013, 06:56 AM   #2
 
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I'm still working through my last several pounds of old Hercules Unique bought back in the 1970's and early '80's. That old powder (AKA -Flaming Dirt) is still good to go in my book.

From my understanding the newer Alliant Unique is cleaner burning than the old.

I assume you're loading .44 Magnums? Unique makes a excellent powder for target loads. But to get the maximum performance out of the Magnum a slower burning powder is needed, like Alliant 2400, H110/W296, etc.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 07:07 AM   #3
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ChiknNutz, Unique is a poor choice for magnum velocities ... it burns too fast to develop enough velocity without going over pressure limits. A better choice would be 2400, W-296, or H-110 (same stuff).

Alliant re-formulated Unique several years ago. It is supposed to burn cleaner and ignite better with lower pressure loads (less position sensitive). Grain-for-grain, it is still the same for powder drop. In other words, 10gr of Hercules Unique should produce the same pressure and velocity as 10gr of Alliant Unique.

Edited to add: I see I was a little slow on the trigger and posted about the same stuff as MikeyB.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 08:27 AM   #4
 
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Thanks for the feedback. Yes I am loading 44 magnum in my Bisley model SBH. I have seen a lot of people recommend the 2400. I am using up what I have just because I still have a lot of it. It was part of a reloading package I bought years ago used. This was a lightly used 4 pound keg and I still have at least half of it is say. It does seem to burn kinda dirty so it matches what you said about them reformulating it to burn cleaner.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 09:41 AM   #5
 
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I can't tell much difference

Both old and new unique seem to perform the same to me, most of the smoke is most likely from the bullet lubricant................Don in SC
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Old October 27th, 2013, 10:23 AM   #6
 
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The new unique is cleaner burning and gives a bit more velocity per load.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 03:44 PM   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 218bee View Post
Both old and new unique seem to perform the same to me, most of the smoke is most likely from the bullet lubricant................Don in SC
Yep, lube generates far more smoke, carbon and general gunk that a few grains of even the old Unique. Use it and be happy.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 04:18 PM   #8
 
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240 grain SWC Elmer Keith hard cast bullets along with 10 grains of the Unique.
Yep. That is my standard .44Mag load too when using Unique/Universal. ". Use it and be happy. " ... I agree .
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Old October 27th, 2013, 04:38 PM   #9
 
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This is my first go using anything but jacketed bullets so I wasn't expecting as much smoke. No problem, adds to the effect of shooting an old school revolver.

Based on my old Speer #9 manual, it indicates I can go up to 11 grains of Unique. Is that about as high as you can go with a 240 grain bullet?
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Old October 27th, 2013, 05:39 PM   #10
 
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Do not exceed posted maximum loads in the manuals. As others have pointed out, Unique is a mid-range velocity load, not for magnum load development. Keith's load with his bullet design is very accurate and a good load for general use. Unique is less smokey today than before, but it is just as good.
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Old October 27th, 2013, 08:49 PM   #11
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unique in a 44 mag

I would check the old powders condition. If you smell alcohol when you lift the cover, it's probably ok. Look for red dust (basically rust on top) I've found powder to last a long time(decades ) if kept cool and dry.
My pet load for my Red hawk 44 is 10.5 of Unique. Averages 1138 fps for a 250 gr Lachmiller GC SWC.
http://rugerforum.net/attachments/ru...pa250020_1.jpg
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 05:43 PM   #12
 
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I am a bit confused. Upon review of my Speer manual #9 (1974), the difference between 2400 and Unique is negligible, yet you have to use almost twice as much 2400 as Unique. However, I know that 2400 is the original powder used to develop the 44 magnum by Elmer Keith (though 20-22 grains behind a 240 grain bullet). Still, I have ordered some 2400 after seeing it recommended by many as I am hopeful it will yield more magnum-like results. Can someone explain what I am missing?

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Old November 3rd, 2013, 06:18 PM   #13
 
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I'm not sure about that ancient Speer manual, but new Alliant data says 10.3 gr of Unique gives 1175 fps and 21.0 gr of 2400 gives 1434 fps - both from an 8.3" barrel.

Alliant Powder - Reloader's Guide

BTW, I started with that exact Speer manual in '75, your picture brings back fond memories; but really it is better to use up-to-date data.
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Old November 4th, 2013, 08:48 AM   #14
 
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Geez, Son 'O Gael, watch out what you're callin' ancient...hell, I've got skivvies that are older than that Speer manual (wearin' a pr. as we speak!)...just kiddin' guys, lest you get your panties in a knot...the OP's manual is pretty old, and I'd suggest a more modern version or cross check it with another maker...if you're sneaky enough, you can do it in a gun shop!

As to Unique's ability to generate Magnum velocities, I'd defer to Iowegan...2400, Win 296, AA#9, or 110 are all better for the really high end stuff, but I'd also say that 1128 fps from 10.5 gr according to "gunman"s chrono, is a pretty stout load as it is and good deer medicine inside, let's say, 50 yds. Your velocity may vary depending on barrel length, but any good LSWC 240 gr bullet at that speed and placed in the boiler room is a good combination for venison in the freezer.

Modern Unique is virtually the same speed as "ancient" Unique, and despite the manufacture's assurances, every bit as dirty and hard to meter in my experience...but still a good powder for medium loads in the bigger revolver cartridges.

Best Regards, Rod

Last edited by Rodfac; November 4th, 2013 at 08:50 AM.
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Old November 12th, 2013, 11:14 AM   #15
 
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I resonantly shot soon of my 2400 loads made up for my 44 carbine with 19.5 grs(1625fps) thru my 4"RH Big flash (to short of barrel) didn't try 7.5 but I will with a tarp to see how much unburnt powder there is. Not a fan of large muzzle flash. I like Unique (MO) for the 38 and 44 cartiages.
In Speer #14 the loads have changed for Unique (lower) and none of the 2400 or Unique powder loads use magnum primer.

Last edited by 3Recon; November 12th, 2013 at 11:25 AM.
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