There are a couple of powders that reloaders like to have on their bench. These powders are univerally recognized as having a wide range of applications in various cartridges.
Unique, manufactured by Alliant, is one of those powders. It has a wide range of applications in pistol calibers, and is also one of the standbys of cast bullet loads. Most data in the Lyman Cast Bullet handbook includes a load that uses Unique.
These powders may not be the best, the most efficient, the fastest, or the designer powder for a particular cartridge, but they are effective in a wide range of calibers, giving good performance with each load.
Last spring I bought a jug of surplus 4895. The jug came labeled as IMR 4895 with the understanding that it was surplus, not canister grade powder. I started using it for cast bullet loads in the .30-30 Win and found that it gave good accuracy. Particularly, that 27 grains of that powder launches the Lyman 311041 bullet at an average 1927 fps with no leading. The load shoots into the bead of my front sight, which covers just under 3 inches at 50 yards. The group at that distance is just about an inch and a half. This is excellent hunting accuracy. My ballistic calculator shows that sighted 2 inches high at 50 yards, it will be on target at 125 yards and down two inches at 150 yards. At 150 yards it will still carry 843 foot pounds of energy.
Stepping up to the .35 Remington cartridge, I learned today that the same 4895, 34 grains, drives a 200 grain Remington Core-Lokt bullet at about 1850 fps. This load prints on the target at 1.1 inches at 50 yards. This is also excellent hunting accuracy. It has the trajectory of the .30-30 load above. Sighted an inch and a half high at 50 yards, it is down two inches at 150 yards and carries 863 fpe. No deer sized animal could tell the difference between the .35 Remington load and the .30-30 load. 90% of all deer are shot at ranges under 100 yards, so these two loads will take care of most of the hunting I do.
Well, okay, you say. How about a real cartridge? One that can reach out and touch something. How about the .30-06? With a 150 grain Hornady SST bullet over 52 grains of that same surplus 4895, the bullet leaves the barrel at 2925 fps. Sighted in to be a little over an inch high at 100 yards, it is close to target center at 175 and only 4 inches down at 250 yards. At that same 250 yards, it is carrying over 1700 lbs of energy. Did I mention that particular load gives great accuracy from my rifle, putting 4 shots into 0.75 of an inch at 100 yards.
These figures come from actual shooting, by the way. The velocity figures are out of my guns. I used a ballistics calculator to give the long range figures because I have no where to shoot past 100 yards.
Surplus 4895 is an extremely versatile powder, one that should be on every reloaders bench. Unfortunately, the supply seems to have dried up. When I burn through the eight pounds I have on hand, I might have to buy the canister grade 4895, either from IMR or from Hogdgon. IMR has a lot of data on 4895 in a wide range of cartridge sizes. I've only used it in the above three cartridges, each with a particular niche. 4895 has proved to be very useful in each of them.
As an aside, I'm told that Alliant Reloder 22 is singularly versatile in magnum cartridges. I have no experience with it, but I know one reloader who won't use anything else in .270 Win and .300 Win Mag. He's sold on Reloder 22 for large cases.