Every reloader has his or her favorite powders. When I first started reloading handgun cartridges, I used what everyone around me used — which I found wasn’t always the best choice for my needs. After experimenting with lots of powders, I settled on a few favorites.
As a general rule I prefer flaked powders over ball (spherical) powders. I’ve found that they meter more consistently in a wide variety of measures, and they seem to burn a bit cleaner than their ball equivalents; this may have something to do with the graphite coating all ball powders appear to use.
For all-around use in a wide variety of pistol cartridges I really like Hodgdon Universal Clays. It is extremely clean (the cleanest I’ve yet used) and is useful in a large number of calibers. My only complaint is that is isn’t suitable for light loads in spacious cases, because it often fails to burn fully. This results in lots of unburned powder flakes that always seem to end up under the extractor. I’d like to find an equivalent powder that is more suitable for light loads, but haven’t found it yet.
For magnum cartridges, I like Alliant Blue Dot. It is very consistent, burns cleanly, and gives superb velocities. I’ve used it in the .357 Magnum, the .44 Magnum, the fire-breathing .445 SuperMag, and the obscure .451 Detonics Magnum. In each case it performed superbly. So pleased am I with Blue Dot that one of these days I plan to try some of the other “Dot” powders.
Though I’ve tried lots of others, these are the ones I keep coming back to. There’s nothing like “old friends” that you can count on!
-=[ Grant ]=-