Reloading Links Portal‎ > ‎9mm‎ > ‎

Low Flash Pistol Powders

Muzzle flash info hand gun powders

POWDER            (GRAINS)            RESULTS

ALLIANT             5.9      Elongated yellow MF

ALLIANT POWDER     6.0      Large elongated yellow-white MF

HERCULES            4.8      Medium yellow-orange MF with down range orange sparklers

ACCURATE #7         8.2      Small dull red glow MF

UNIVERSAL           5.0      No muzzle flash MF

HODGDON HS-6        6.6      Small dull red glow MF

231      5.3      Negligible to yellow flared MF


Ramshot Silhouette is very versatile and extremely low flash. Data is available for most popular pistol cases and you can safely use load data for Winchester's discontinued WAP (Winchester Action Pistol) for Silhouette. Ramshot has added a very effective flash retardant but the loading properties are the same. Silhouette flows through the PM like water, is very linear in it pressure curve and is beautiful in 9MM, BTW...

HS-6 is very low flash and W231 is also low flash.

You can use HS-6 for your 9mm and .45 Auto rounds.
You can use W231 for all 3 handgun calibers.

I have experience with Power Pistol in 9x19 & 45 ACP. It has a fairly large flash which is a very bright white.

Herco has a smaller flash and being a dark orange is less blinding.

Looking for low flash? I recently tested VV-N340 in 9x19 & 45 ACP full power loads. I could not believe the results from shooting at night. Flash is nearly zero! I estimated the dark orange flash to be 1/20th that of Herco (did not compare but probably 1/1000th of Powder Pistol).

VV-N340 gives very high performance in 9x19 & 45 ACP

George Helser

I know what you mean. I don't like the flash. But then again, some Hydashoks will give you some flash too.

BUT PP is getting me the performance I need. Tried slower low flash powders as well but when I need the velocity, it's Power Pistol to the rescue!


Th VV N340 and N350 powders DO give lower flash signatures and they ALSO give the performance ... I just got a few pounds of VV and now I'm just using the remaining PowerPistol for the low-end reloads ... and I have been almost an exclusive Alliant user since 1988 (they were Hercules) ... I was impressed ... the only challenge is finding it! I get it from Midsouth Shooters' Supply


True, that Alliant Power Pistol does give you more muzzle flash than VV N345, N350, or 3N37, but at the same time, a 4 lb keg of Power Pistol costs me less than 50 bucks, whereas the VV powders cost 20 bucks more for that amount.

The other thing about Power Pistol is that it makes a lot more noise than other powders. When I fire my Glock 17 with my own load (Remington 124 grain FMJ, 6.4 gr Power Pistol, COAL 1.15") there are some who think that I am firing 357 Sigs.

When I fire my Glock 23 (Rainier 165 grain TCJ, 6.6 gr Power Pistol, COAL 1.13") those same folks think I am firing my 10 mm.

Chemical grenadier


In 9x19 & 45 ACP, Power Pistol gave far lower velocity and far greater flash than my loads in Herco or VV-N340.


I am paying $20 per pound (plus tax) for VV powder vs $17 for other powders. I am using less VV powder per load than other powders.

In summary, I get high velocity, low fouling and nil flash with VV powder at no extra cost.
I think if VV hired a PR firm in the US they would greatly increase sales!

The VV flash was a very dim hollow orange cylinder, like the illumination was only at the periphery of the exhaust.

In 9x19 the Herco flash was, at night, a dull orange ball about the size of an orange.

I was firing full power loads.

Using Herco powder, the flash was much bigger in 45 ACP compared to 9x19. That might be due to the lower pressure in 45 ACP. VV powder had nearly zero flash in both caliber’s.

VV publishes data comparing pressure and velocity vs temperature. In a particular 9mm load, pressure increases 7% when the temperature increases from 70F to 126F. I don’t think this is out of the ordinary.

However, I have been testing VV-N340 for only a few months. I will be sure to test my full power VV loads at high temperature to insure safety although with CCW my arm is unlikely to go far above body temperature. (It is too darn hot to carry IWB right after it comes from the glove box after exposure on a hot day!)

VV powder looks very promising for power, low residue and nearly zero flash.

George helser

VV powder costs more, but (at least with pistols) you'll use less powder per cartridge, so your cost per 1000 rounds is about the same. I'm phasing out my other powders and going with VV and surplus powders exclusively.


I think you would be very discourage to find out how many powders are made outside the US. I think (I am not in the reloading room right now) but most of the Hodgden powders are from Sweden (or is it Norway) and Australia. I believe Allient is importing some of their powders from Australia. and I think AA's are from Sweden also?

I checked my powder cans, looks like a lot of Eastern Europe and Australian powders but Allient seems to be US made.

Anyway, universal clays has a pretty mild flash (in my opinion) and the velocites are right where I expect them. If I were trying to push it in the 40's I would go for AA5 or AA7.

Peter m. eick

Think of Universal Clays like you do Unique (except skip the dirty smokey crappy-metering part) and figure out if Unique is the best choice for high-velocity loads.

After you ponder that start thinking about H110, W296, AA9, A2400.......



Universal Clays is all I use for 9mm anymore. It leaves a bit of bluish black discoloration by the rim and thats it. IME it's very accurate too.


I've tried many different powders and by far VihtaVuori vn310 is the cleanest power for the 9mm. Of the others listed above I'd say Titegroup would be your best bet. Bullseye and 231 are cleaner now than they used to be, but are not the best choice in 9X19.


AA#7 and HS-6 are excellent choices and if you like to spend money for powder, few are better than V-V 3N37.

The answer to this question depends on what level of performance you want and what type of bullet you will be using. Steve C is correct, Power Pistol has more flash than any sane person would want for a defense load, so I don't understand why it gets loaded in NATO spec ammo. But, it does.

If you need a NATO type load and want clean, I couldn't disagree with anyones choice because that performance range is within the reach of most of them except very fast burners. Universal Clays makes sense.

If you want to replicate a very good +P defense load that is clean with low flash, that's another matter. If you look to the guys that load 9mm major for IPSC, the choices will shrink rapidly. Not that you want to go to that extreme, but say for a good 124 gr. JHP load, AA#7, HS-6, WSF, V-V 3N37, or just make it easy on yourself and get some Ramshot Silhouette. Clean, very low flash with very good velocity potential. The closest rival to V-V 3N37 we have, and at a price that's easier to swallow.;)

Silhouette is treated to keep flash as low as you're likely to get. It's a spherical powder that meters better and the performance potential is about as good as it gets and IS used by guys loading 9mm Major. Power Pistol doesn't quite get there. It's been a few years, but I learned that Cor-Bon uses AA#7 in their +P loads, though Alliant claimed it was Power Pistol. It's easy to understand why Cor-Bon would use #7. At the velocity they achieve flash is very low and if you try that with PP and fire at night, you'll think you're shooting a mini flamethrower. Not good for the troops, but what else is new? Supposedly, the military version has a flash inhibitor. The last thing you want is an inconsistent powder charge and it is extruded flake, anyway.

Another tidbit: Power Pistol is a larger flake variant of Bullseye. This is done to slow the burn rate.

AA#7, V-V 3N37, HS-6 and Silhouette are the best choices available for hi performance 9mm. Yes, I have and use them all! You can use 231 and others (a tiny bit faster, and those slower to around Unique/Universal) to get close, or to 9mm Nato spec, but they will be at max pressure whereas #7, 3N37, N-350, HS-6 and Silhouette are just getting warmed up. WSF is a contender here also, but data above NATO performance is not commonly available except with the IPSC guys over at Brian Enos' Forum, and that's pretty much the case with most of them unless you have a manual that used the former pressure limit of 35,700 CUP that is very close to the current +P max of 38,500 PSI. Most quality made 9mm pistols are designed for the former spec, but they may be undersprung to conform to current SAAMI spec ammo that has a pressure max of 35,000 PSI/ 33,000 CUP. Longshot will also get you there, but is very loud at max pressure.

Silhouette (Formerly WAP), in my oppinion, was Primex's attempt to produce a competitive powder to 3N37 and the base chemistry is similar to two of Primex's (Hodgdon & Winchester) other powders: WSF and HS-6. At max charges, Silhouette loads will run .1 or .2 grains lighter than 3N37. A visual inspection of the two powders, Silhouette and 3N37, will sure make you wonder!

Those that I have recommended are all Ball-type powders that meter well, but nothing meters better than AA#7. It has the highest bulk density of any handgun powder available to handloaders at 985 grams/liter. One advantage #7 has is that it will push 147 gr. JHPs to the highest velocity. You won't see this with 9mm Major competitors because they prefer bullet weights of 115 and 124 grains to maximize the effectiveness of compensators on their pistols. A very honorable mention goes to Vectan SP-2, if you can find it. There is no current US importer. SP-8 is a very good powder and like AA#7, it was designed for 9mm. Data is extremely weak and hard to come by.

I currently have 4 lbs of Silhouette (a little less now) and will be working it out in 9mm and the .40 S&W, where it has already shown great potential. If interested, shoot me a PM in the future. 3N37, HS-6 and #7 are already proven. #7 is Accurate, and has very low flash with 124 gr. JHPs. HS-6 is pretty much the 9mm performance powder that all others are judged by. Blue Dot will give you even higher velocity than PP, but flamethrower flash is a characteristic it shares with PP. This will be common with any extruded flake propellant at high pressure. 800-X is a powder I never use. I don't recommend using a powder that is difficult to meter when you are working towards the pressure max of a cartridge.

Along with Silhouette, I'll be using the Montana Gold (Brass Jacketed) 124 gr. JHP, CCI-500 and Win. cases loaded to 28.5mm/ 1.122".;)

This description for WAP is from Winchesters #14 reloading Guide.

"NEW WAP Winchester Action Pistol propellant is one of the two new powders introduced in 1994. After years of product development, a clean burning, low muzzle flash, low recoil propellant was completed to be factory loaded in Winchester 9mm and 40 S&W ammunition. WAP has a lower flame temperature than competitive products which extends barrel life This powder is the propellant of choice for premium factory loaded high performance ammunition. Ideal for use in competitive action pistol competition in 38 Super, 9mm, and 40 S&W."

Description for Ramshot Silhouette.

Silhouette is a double based, modified (flattened) spherical powder that performs well in medium sized handgun cases. Silhouette's low flash signature, high velocity, and clean burning properties make it a perfect choice for indoor ranges and law enforcement applications.
Ideal Calibers: 9mm, .38 Super, .357 Sig, 10mm
Bulk Density (grams/liter) 800