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Old November 25, 2007, 08:17 AM   #1
Join Date: June 5, 2007
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Does someone make a low powder alarm?

I had a near miss last week, first one ever in 30 years of reloading. I was at the range shooting my .45acp and about 20 minutes into it I opened a new box of ammo that I had reloaded. About the 4th shot in the shell fired but with such a low recoil it didn't work the slide. I dropped the mag. and raked the slide and the empty came out. With the slide held back I looked down the barrel and no obstruction was seen. I thought what the heck was that? I loaded the mag back in and the next shot was also the same result. Well that did it, I put the .45 away and headed home. I couldn't for the life of me figure out what had happened. I broke down the remaining 200 rounds or so that I did in that batch and about 20% had little or no powder in them. I am running a Lee 1000 and have been for years and this is the first time anything like this happened. I took the powder measure apart and everything was ok. So the next day I loaded up the hopper with 231 and proceeded to load. When the case came around to be crimped I was so paranoid that I looked into each case to make sure the powder was the correct height. Well about the 20th round a case was missing the powder. I cleaned all the stations out and took the powder hopper off and dumped it into a empty can. I worked the hopper several times and everything was ok. As I was putting the powder back into the hopper something caught my eye and I dumped the powder back out into the can again. I slowly poured the powder back into the hopper and sure enough a used primer was in there. How the heck it got into the can of 231 I will never know. So the primer would partially block the powder flow on and off. Well now I am paranoid and I don't trust the machine anymore because I can not physically see the powder level unless I stop and get up and careen my head around to see every round. So hence my question, does somebody make a low powder die that you set up to alarm when there is to much powder or not enough? I know this reloader only has 3 positions so either I would need to upgrade to the Load Master or switch to something else. Any suggestions?
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Old November 25, 2007, 09:09 AM   #2
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Dillon and Hornady make them as may others. I have Dillon's and they do take up a station in the press.

That primer must have gotten in the powder once you unsealed it. Right? Get a fresh can and keep it closed unless you are actually filling your powder measure then go back to loading like you did for the last 30 years.
Check 6
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Old November 25, 2007, 01:27 PM   #3
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Can you mount a mirror so you can see the round with powder in it?

RCBS makes a progressive loader that will lock the press if there is no powder in the round. You must correct the problem before you re start loading.
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Old November 25, 2007, 02:05 PM   #4
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Dillon makes a "powder check die" that buzzes when there's too much or not enough powder in the case. Dillon also makes a flashing alarm for the powder hopper which fits Dillon powder measure only, and possibly others with same inner hopper diameter. Not an aswer for your Lee measure.

Hornady's "powder check die" provides a visual check of the powder level. I was told that there's a version that locks up the progressive press if there's no powder in the case, but I don't have that one.

I use the Dillon die, it prevented problems more than once for me.
I am not sure what to recommend, as your press has no room to mount the checker die.
I gave up on Lee presses long time ago, but I don't want to rekindle that kind of discussion.
A possible alternative - weighing each loaded round. If there's powder missing, you will see it on the scale.

Last edited by Linear Thinker; November 25, 2007 at 09:53 PM.
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Old November 25, 2007, 02:25 PM   #5
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Hornady Power Cop

I usr the Hornady Power Cop and would not load without it. It gives a visual signal when the load is either under or over loaded. It does require you look at it, each time you index the press.

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Old November 27, 2007, 03:55 PM   #6
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I had one such experience with my Lee 1000, while loading .30 Carbine. Since then I also have been checking the level in each case before seating the bullet. I got one of those table mounted magnified lights. Yup, I gotta sit straight up and peer through the lens, but I now want to personally confirm a load, and not a double). Even with those new fancy sensors, I'll not be SURE, until I personally SEE the powder level.

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