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American Handgunner Sept/Oct 2012 Digital Edition - Page 36
HANDLOADING sAGe ADvIce FroM tHe HANDLoADING GUrUs JoHN tAFFIN Three Old reliables Be UNIQUe AND HIt tHe BULLseye WItH 2400! three old reliable powders: bullseye, unique and #2400. sure to bring a tear to the eye of any old-time reloader! Unique U nique goes all the way back to 1900 when Laflin & Rand also developed it. Then in 1902, just as with Bullseye it was switched to the DuPont label and then in 1913 it also became a Hercules powder; and as with Bullseye, it’s a double-based powder with 40-percent nitroglycerin content. Not only is it a great sixgun powder, many rifle shooters use it for reduced loads with cast bullets. There are those who have always complained Unique burns “dirty.” In fact, in recent years Alliant has marketed a cleaner burning Unique. Who cares if powder burns dirty, whatever that means? Anyone who has spent any time at all with the .44 Special surely knows the “Skeeter Load.” This load consists of a 250- to 260-grain cast Keith bullet over 7.5-gr. of Unique and does 900 to 1,000 fps depending upon the sixgun. Skeeter Skelton made this load famous in his writings, however it was not original with him, as he actually got it from Elmer Keith. Take this same load and place it under a 200-gr. SWC cast bullet in the .45 ACP and you have Jeff Cooper’s recommendation for a full house .45 ACP load. It’s also a grand powder for the .45 Colt, .44-40. and .38-40, with my standard load being 8.0 grains for all three. However, I sometimes go 8.5 or 9.0 grains with the .45 Colt. These loads are in the 900 to 1,000 fps range or more again depending upon the sixgun. W e are indeed fortunate today to not only have so many powders to choose from, but also have them easily accessible. We’ve always had lots of powders, but finding them was certainly not easy in the late 1950s. There were, however three standout powders which were seemingly always available and easy to find, Bullseye, Unique and #2400, all available from Hercules. Bullseye goes all the way back to 1898 when it was developed by Laflin & Rand. In 1902 it was switched to the DuPont label and then in 1913 Hercules took over some of the DuPont powders, including Bullseye. Of course, today all former Hercules powders are produced under the Alliant label. Bullseye is double-based, with 40-percent nitroglycerin content. It takes up so little powder space care must be used to prevent double-charging the cartridge case. A loading block allowing you to look into each case before seating a bullet is good insurance, as well as a powder sensor on the loading press. From day one Bullseye has been the powder for target shooters, at least when target shooting was king. Everyone who paid any attention at all knew the standard loads for target shooters were 2.7 grains of Bullseye under a 148-gr. wadcutter in the .38 Special, and 3.5 grains with a 200-gr. bullet in the .45 ACP. With charges such as these, 1 pound of powder resulted in just under 2,600 .38 Special rounds and 2,000 .45 ACP rounds. With 4.5 grains under a 246-gr. roundnose bullet, the standard factory .44 Special load can be duplicated. And 5.0 grains with a 250-gr. bullet in either the .44 Magnum or .45 Colt makes for an accurate and pleasant shooting midrange load. inally we come to #2400 which goes all the way back classic #2400 has been produced in several to 1932. Just as with Bullseye packages over the years, by both Hercules and alliant. and Unique it is a double-based powder, however the nitroglycerin content is half as much at 20 percent. It This is a warm load and should be was originally designed as a rifle powder approached with due caution. When the for such cartridges as the .22 Hornet and .44 Magnum arrived he used the same .25/20, however it did not take long for bullet over 22.0 grains. With the .45 Colt reloaders to find it was the powder for he recommended his bullet, #454424 full house loads in the .357 Magnum and over 18.5 grains. With Heavy Duty loads .44 Special. In fact without #2400, there in the .38 Special it was his #358429 would not have been a .357 Magnum. If over 13.5 grains. Again all loads should anyone can be given credit for making be approached with due caution. #2400 famous it is, of course, Elmer If these three old standbys had disapKeith. For several years he had been peared from production in the 1950s experimenting with heavy loads in a we would have been in a real quandary. .44 Special using #80 powder, however Today they are just as good as ever, when he discovered #2400 he found however they have competition. With what he needed for the rest of his life and Bullseye-level loads we can do quite developed several loads that will always well substituting AA2 or WW231. With be known as the Keith Loads. Unique, either Universal or Power Pistol His loads consisted of heavy powder will do everything we need. Finally, charges using his bullet design. For the #2400 loads can be assembled with .44 Special it was Lyman’s #429421, #4227, AA9, H110 or WW296. Yes, they weighing 250 to 260 grains depending can be replaced — but it simply upon alloy, over 17.5 grains of #2400. wouldn’t seem quite right. 2400 F * 36 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER2012