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Old June 26, 2011, 07:36 PM   #1
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Pre-measuring powder?

I'm not able to go to the range as often as I'd like and I usually have more (rifle) powder, bullets, and primers than brass.

Powder charging for me takes the longest (my OCD side comes out). So I'm wondering when I've loaded the next batch of ammo for the next trip to the range, can I pre-measure out the individual charges of powder for the following batch of ammo for the subsequent trip(s) after that?

So I'd just have to pour our each powder charge out their individual containers into the primed (and prepped) cases and seat bullets.

I'm assuming if doing this is feasable that the containers holding individual powders would have to meet certain requirements. I think, I've heard somewhere powder containers have to be opaque as to not let light in.
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Old June 26, 2011, 07:45 PM   #2
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Deepcore--What ya shooting?. Im with ya all the way on the OCD thing for sure. Im not sure if i follow you on the pre-measure thing though. So you want to have powder pre measured and just dump it in as you load?. That seems a little strange. Let me know what you ae shooting and i will see if i have some brass i can just give you. Brass is not that costly at all. Send me a e-mail and see what i can do for ya.Your idea is sound,but your getting into a zone of not safe if you ask me. Powder measuring is the most important stage in reloading. Should be done with care as you load your cases.

I hope my post does not sound bad,Im sorry if it does. We are all just here to help each other. Send me a e-mail. I sell brass on the side so i might just be able to help ya out
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Last edited by 4runnerman; June 26, 2011 at 07:52 PM.
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Old June 26, 2011, 09:16 PM   #3
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I tend to agree with 4runnerman, unles you have a way of labeling the charges, you will not remember what powder and at what weight. Not the best idea for reloading, keep your powder in it's original container.

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Old June 26, 2011, 09:37 PM   #4
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I'm not sure this will answer yer question but when I was shooting benchrest, I had a sleeved Remington action with a full bull stainless barrel in .261x 47 Dietz. I used a Wilson Hand loader to knock the primers out, a Lee priming tool, and the Wilson bullet seat die to seat the bullet. Because of the limitations of making several hundred rounds of EXACTLY .261 necked brass, I would load powder charges in brown pill bottles and take that with me. I had a range box that everything was in so sunlight was not an issue. Worked for me but that may not work for you. How did you intend to size the cases and reprime them?
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Old June 26, 2011, 10:59 PM   #5
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It was just a thought guys.
I only have two powders on the bench IMR 4598 for rifle and W231 for pistol.
And I'm talking about .308.
I have (just to throw a round number out there) say...1,000 primers....1,000 bullets, and say..500 pieces of brass.
I will only load 100 rounds at a time. For two main reasons: 1. 100 is good enough for me for days worth of shooting (quality vs quantity) and the 2. If I want to change something I won't have leftovers to deal with.

I'm also a creature of habit. When I find something that works well for me I tend to stick to it (like my pistol loads). Now...just started loading for rifle this year and like i said... The thought just crossed my mind.

Now, while I do load only 100 rounds at a time. I was wondering while I have the powder scale out. And let's face it (at least for me), whether I have the ole beam or the new electronic powder charger out, after find the level spot on my bench, going thru the warm up process, calibrating, setting up the trickler, sacrificing the goat, blessing the scale with holy water, hanging up the crystal, lighting incense, then making "only" 100 powder charges (I exaggerate but you get the idea I hope)...what I was wondering is while I have the scale out of making say another 100 or so powder charges and put them in small (individual) bottles so that I can just pour the charges in the brass and be able to skip the blood sacrifice to to the powder scale for a couple of loading sessions.

I know there's another option to make things faster..loading by volume. But for me that's fine, for me, for pistol. And I have thrown an initial charge with my Dillon charger and then brought it up the rest of the way with a trickler using a scale. I know there are accurate volume chargers out there but like I said powder charging brings out my OCD side.

Last edited by deepcore; June 26, 2011 at 11:13 PM.
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Old June 26, 2011, 11:03 PM   #6
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I have a press that mounts on a small portable table. I have tried weighing powder charges on the range but suspect a measure or dippers may be a better idea if you've settled on a load.
Schutzen shooters get by on very few cases, in certain calibers I suppose we could too.
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Old June 26, 2011, 11:14 PM   #7
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Also taking about loading at home (all of it/them).

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Old June 27, 2011, 01:15 AM   #8
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The two schools of thought on powder measurement

Reading between the lines of the original post, I think you must weigh each charge?

As an alternative to pre-measuring charges for later use, you could use an electronic powder measure that weighs out each charge, trickles it up to weight and beeps when it is right on. Pre-measuring weighed charges into individual containers is not going to be much faster when you consider that you will have to open and handle each one.

But there is a school of thought that says measuring charges by volume is superior to measuring by weight.

Have a look at this thread

Effects of Tiny Variations

There is another thread (for which I do not have the address anymore, sorry) that described a manufacturer (rifles, ammo or powder, I don't remember) that put on a class. Part of the class had this challenge. A number of rounds were loaded with weighed charges and a like number of rounds were loaded with charges thrown by volume alone. The volume charged cases were consitently more accurate on the target than the weighed charges.

Theory says the weighed charges should be more accurate, but empirical testing shows otherwise. If anyone can explain it, I would love to know how the theory and the experience can be reconciled.

Of course, one could go the extra mile and dole out a bunch of charges by volume and then discard all charges that did not come in at some particular weight. That would eliminate the question of weight vs volume.

Eliminating that question would, I think, give direction to the O.P.'s question.

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Old June 27, 2011, 01:30 AM   #9
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It depends on how much accuracy you're trying to wring out of each cartridge.

On one side, you have the school of loading fast and efficiently, using powder measure thrown charges. And, let's face it--for casual shooting or even for most matches, that is good enough to load accurate ammunition.

However, between that side and the other side of the equation--as in, anal retention carried to the most extreme degree--there are plenty of steps. And, unless you're a competing benchrest shooter, I'm not sure that all of these steps will do you any good.

Here's a short story...when I was scheduled to attend my first sniper school, my Department placed 500 rounds of Gold Medal Match 175 grain .308 on order. Unfortunately, this was right in the middle of the big ammo crunch of a few years back, so ammunition was not forthcoming.

I waited as long as I could, then took matters into my own hands. I got out my carefully hoarded stash of Lake City Match .308 cases, that I had carefully cleaned, trimmed and prepped for a rainy day. I set up my Dillon 650, and set the powder measure for 42.5 grains of RL15. With less than a week to go, I cranked out 500 rounds, loaded to 2.820 COAL of .308 match ammo, loaded with the Sierra 175 grain MatchKing.

At the school, the load performed consistently and well, averaging one-half inch groups, fired from the prone at 100 yards. Absolutely no problems with the ammunition at all. The rifle was a box-stock Savage 10FP, with the Ultimate Varmint stock and a Nightforce 8-32 NXS mounted.

Now, if you're loading for a custom rifle with a custom barrel and all the trimmings, I could possibly see hand throwing each charge after putting the powder through fine mesh to eliminate the "fines", weighing each case, neck turning and inside reaming, uniforming the primer pockets and even weighing the primers, then seating to a uniform depth and measuring said depth; weighing a lot of 1000 bullets and separating them by 1/10th grain increments; measuring for run-out and uniforming meplats. (Told you, this is retention at its finest!!!) As an example, I saw a screamer group at the McMillan factory, and I believe that it was fired by Gale McMillan himself. This group--if I remember correctly--was fired at a benchrest match, and measured somewhere around .003!! No, that's NOT a typo, either. I would LOVE to see the case prep involved in those rounds.

But, in the end, you might just be better off finding a powder that both you and your powder measure like--and going for broke.
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Old June 27, 2011, 05:08 AM   #10
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Being a muzzleloader I use plenty of pre-measured powder.
Just get the "vials" used in muzzleloading and Bob's yer uncle...

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Old June 27, 2011, 08:38 AM   #11
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My OCD is so bad that I'm sure I'd reweigh the charges before I assembled the rounds.

Getting additional cases sounds like the best approach.

Just think of the money you'd save on chickens and goats.
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Old June 27, 2011, 11:12 AM   #12
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Sounds like a plan to me. I'm sure you wouldn't just toss a bunch of unlabeled containers of powder charges in a box and head off to the range. What could possibly be a down side? Spillage? What would be wrong with putting 41.5 gr in 5 vials, 42.0 in another 5 vials, then 42.5 gr. in another 5, etc.? (or in .3 gr. increments if you choose?). A lot of folks reload at the range

If you're talking a pre-charging measuring session (measure a bunch of charges and keeping them separate in containers for following reloading sessions), why not? Again, they will be labled and stored properly. I think it just adds another step to the process, but if you are more comfortable doing it this way, why not?
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Old June 27, 2011, 01:58 PM   #13
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To me, since you are loading all rounds at home, it sounds like more bother than it's worth. If your bench is that out of level and it takes a "blood sacrifice" before you trust your scale, I'd be looking in a different direction than collecting 100 pill bottles. As Powderman said a powder measure works fine for most applications. Adjusting my scales(either one) takes only a few seconds, hard for me to believe that it would be that much different for anyone else. I have enough clutter in and around my bench with bullets, brass and powder in 8# jugs, I couldn't imagine 100 more pieces of clutter. But that's just me.....I like the KISS method.
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Old June 27, 2011, 02:19 PM   #14
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I understand why you're thinking about it, but I don't think you'll be satisfied doing it that way. For one thing, it will take a fair amount of space to just store 100 or 200 individual powder charges. But if I was doing it that way, I might see if I could find a bunch of those little plastic cups with lids like they have at fast food places for ketchup and dressing. They might take up less space than pill bottles.

I understand the OCD part about weighing each charge for rifles. But I'm wondering about why it takes so long to set up the scale. I have an RCBS Chargemaster 1500 (just the scale, not the dispenser part). It just sits on the table where I load. I guess it's fairly level, but I haven't given it much thought. If I'll be reloading a fair amount, I just leave it turned on for many days. But even if I start it cold, it only takes a couple minutes to warm up. I know the instructions say to let it warm up more but I don't. And you're supposed to calibrate it each time you turn it on, but I don't. After getting used to it, I found out that it's not sensitive to levelness, it doesn't need to warm up, and it hardly ever needs calibrating. I have a 75.1 gr bullet that I use as a check weight. Every time I have ever put it on the scale, it has read the same. My Lyman 55 and Lee Perfect dispensers also just sit on the table all the time. About all I have to do is dump some powder into them and then adjust them to throw the right amount. That takes a couple minutes, but I record the settings, so it doesn't take long to go back to something I used before.
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Old June 27, 2011, 03:30 PM   #15
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But there is a school of thought that says measuring charges by volume is superior to measuring by weight.

Have a look at this thread

Effects of Tiny Variations
I've got another thread running here now on this topic...
Extruded/stick powders are notoriously difficult to measure to great accuracy in a volume (powder drop) measure.

Ball powders, because of their shape, pack tightly together. Stick, on the other hand- not so hot...the shape of the powder precludes a great deal of consistency in weight when using a volume measure. "Shaking", or vibrating the press around causes the powder in the meter to settle and results in an increased charge. The decapping/re-sizing dies cause quite a bit of vibration to the press.

There's a small reloading supplier not too far from me, and I was discussing this problem with him. He agreed it's an issue, and said it's best to have the powder drop mounted elsewhere so it's not affected by the vibrations of the press. Not feasible in my mind though, since that defeats the purpose of having a turret or progressive press.

Do any of you intentionally shake/vibrate the press to "shake down" stick powders when metering to try to get better consistency?
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Old June 27, 2011, 10:58 PM   #16
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Sounds like a big pita to package and label powder charges. Makes more sense to pre prep brass and have it handy. Trim, debur the flash holes, and prime.
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Old June 27, 2011, 11:37 PM   #17
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Hello, deepcore. I have been doing this for quite some time. I have an original .577/.450 Martini-Henry rifle, that I have turned up a dozen cases for on the lathe. I bored them to hold a max. of 70gr. black, as I thought this was plenty..not the 85+ of the originals. I use small plastic vials to hold various weighed charges of smokeless..these are held in wooden loading blocks labeled on each row as to the charge weight. I load at range with small arbor press & custom die I made.
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Old June 27, 2011, 11:44 PM   #18
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Makes more sense to pre prep brass and have it handy. Trim, debur the flash holes, and prime.
I agree. I measure, charge the case, and seat the bullet. I weigh most charges. The only ones I don't are conservative loads using Lee dippers where I weigh the first few.

If I were to pre-weigh charges, I would want to weigh them again before loading. So it would seem logical (to me) to return pre-weighed charges to the cannister, or leave the pre-measure step out completely.
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Old June 28, 2011, 12:38 AM   #19
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Hello again, deepcore. There is another way..though you must have a powder measure that is absolutly accurate and repeatable. The Bench-rest boys have been doing it for ages. I like a snowy or rainy day for this..starting below starting loads, I try to set measure on an even number & write it down on 4X5 card, I throw 10 charges in scale pan & weigh..divide by 10..this is 1st. charge setting. repeat up thru working loads...but NOT near max. loads! If there is any doubt, throw 10 charges again to verify. This will give you a charge table for THAT lot of powder. Might be a good idea to note humidity when you do this. Also before going out to range..might be wise to verify charge weights on scale. I used this method when working up loads for a .22 Hornet. Brought sized & primed brass & only powder charged & seated bullet with Wilson chamber type tool..I have the micrometer top, & was able to seat bullets with palm of hand. Saved a bunch of time!
Another time I used this is when I was working up loads for a .25-20 S.S. Stevens 49. Was breech-seating bullet with plugged case using action to cam bullet into leade. Had limited cases..primed by hand & dropped charge..I did look into each case to verify charge height. The only drawback to this is you get alot of onlookers, and questions from folks who never saw this done before.
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Old June 28, 2011, 12:54 AM   #20
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Once you've gone to the trouble of weighing the charge wouldn't it be just as easy to dump it in a primed case as a pill bottle? Sounds like you just need more brass...
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Old June 28, 2011, 01:05 AM   #21
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Powder is kept in sealed containers to prevent humidity variations among other reasons. I'd discourage small pre measured smokeless powder charges.
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Old June 28, 2011, 07:53 AM   #22
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Like many of you, I find that measuring powder is the most time-consuming part of reloading for bottlenecked rifle cartridges, especially with stick powders that don't seem to flow as well through a measure as ball powders.

I've often wondered how useful it might be to have a rack of test tubes for pre-measuring powder. Something like this. Fairly inexpensive, with caps.
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Old June 28, 2011, 09:03 AM   #23
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Deepcore, What you could do is buy a BR type powder measurer like one of these

Depend on powders you sure could be alot faster. I have a Bruno that has click setting give you an example 73.2 clicks = 41GR/ h-4895 I used that load in a 308 with 168gr match bullet,52 clicks = 28gr/ N-133 68gr bullet in a 6ppc.

My measurer doesn't work good with long stick type powders but the others work great.
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