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Old January 22, 2012, 01:11 PM   #1
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Powder Check Die

I had this thought as I was reading the thread about the guy purchasing a Dillon 550 or a 650.

Just curious for those of you who have a Dillon press if you use a powder check die or if not.

I have a 1050 but I don't use a powder check. Typically I look into each case to verify the level. That said, after several thousand rounds, I haven't had one throw a terrible weight (It's always within .1). Have you guys ever had drop a seriously erroneous weight? The 1050 is set up so that you can't accidentally bring the press down onto the same case twice(ratchet system), so as long as you are going all the way up and all the way down in your throws, there shouldn't be any major differences.

That all said, safety is my first concern. I never load hot loads and I always weigh every couple to ensure the correct volume of powder. I'm just wondering if the powder check is an (i hate to use the word) unnecessary precaution.
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Old January 22, 2012, 01:56 PM   #2
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No power check-die here. I use a 550 and my experience and procedure is pretty much the same as yours. I’ve had two experiences with incorrect power charges. The first was under charges. Like you I look in just about every case and weigh a charge every now and then just for grinds and giggles. I noticed the power level looked low in a case so I weight it. It was! Next few were on the money then another low. I took the powder thrower apart and found a small piece of paper/cardboard, (have no idea where it came from) in the opening above the powder bar. The only over charge, more than + .1 gr. happened when I short stroked the handle then completed the stroke. When the powder spilled over the top of the case I knew I had done a no no.
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Old January 22, 2012, 02:15 PM   #3
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I have a 550 and use the rcbs lock out die.
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Old January 22, 2012, 02:15 PM   #4
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my 650 is ultra consistent powder weight wise. it either drops a charge within .1 or not at all. i visually look in each case before seating the bullet.

its why i no longer use my bullet feeder. i like the room in the tool head area of the press for my hands for checking different things.
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Old January 22, 2012, 02:43 PM   #5
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I have a pair of 550's and do not run a powder check die on either. If I had the freedom of an extra station, I might be tempted, but I wouldn't rely on it 100%. I believe simplicity and having control over what you are doing is more important. The 550's make this very easy. Never had a squib or a double charge.

I run a Pacific 366 for shotshell loading. Having 8 things happening at once, where at any given stroke at least 4 things bad can happen: primer doesn't drop into the holder, shot charge doesn't totally drop, crimp starter doesn't form a proper crimp, and making sure I add the wad - all which have happened a few times. While my 366 is fast, reloading on a Mec 600 Jr. is a lot more fun.
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Old January 22, 2012, 02:48 PM   #6
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I have a pair of SDB's and both do a consistent job of metering powder. I always check the first and last cartridge with powder to insure all is well. That's 2 of 100 which gives me a good feeling of what is in the middle. I also have two sets of Lights above the reloading bench that gives me a good look into the cases as they move thru the presses. After 30,000 or so rounds thru the two presses I have not had a squib or FTF. I have had some cases that did not pass the chamber check, mostly 9MM.
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Old January 22, 2012, 03:05 PM   #7
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I have a 650 ...and I always have a powder check die installed ..and adjusted properly it does what its intended to do it tells you if there is a small variation.

I use a strong light / and mirror so I can look into the case as well....but if your target drop is 4.4 grains ...there is no way you can visually check or see if the press is only dropping 4.2 most powders. The powder check die, in most calibers, will pick up an issue of over 0.1 grain ...and on handgun rounds - where the min and max is often 0.4 grains apart on a lot of powders ...its good to know if the powder measure drops more than o.1 variation ..for any reason.

99.9% of the time, my press drops right on its goal ....but on one occasion, we were loading some .45 acp ...and the powder check die started alerting us to an issue. Turns out there was a nut and bolt loosening on the powder measure causing the problem. We kept using a scale on every case the press alerted us to ...until it started swinging back and forth - over 0.2gr deviation ... But because we had the powder check die installed ....we knew everything that passed thru the press was a good round ...and on goal for powder.

When we shut everything down ...took the powder measure apart ..we found the problem ..and everything went back to normal.

A visual inspection would not have caught the problem ...until it was way worse ( and beyond the min probably ) ...causing us to worry / and maybe having to pull a bunch of bullets - because of uncertainty.

If you have a 1050 press ...why not purchase and use the powder check die ...what would it hurt to be sure ..??

I also have a number of grandkids - that load some on my press...the powder check / or any beep alert ....lets me know there is an issue / without me hovering over their shoulder all the time - or no beep means that everything is being done correctly / so its worth its weight in gold as a training tool for young or inexperienced loaders....but even with experienced loaders...a visual inspection will catch any no-drops of powder or a big swing ...but is it enough ...especially in high pressure rounds like .40S&W, I don't think so. So I use the powder check all the time ...and consider it a reason not to buy a press without it. It tells me, I'm 100% on my loads when I'm loading a high volume of rounds for handguns 1,000 rds an hour...and peace of mind...that's my 2 cents...

The logic of having a press ...with a good tool ...that tells you if you have a powder drop problem ...and not use it makes no sense to me. But its your guns ..and your hands pulling the I guess its up to you / but safety features are usually worth using ...because stuff happens...even on a good press that is 99.9% accurate...

Last edited by BigJimP; January 22, 2012 at 03:10 PM.
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Old January 22, 2012, 03:14 PM   #8
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To answer your question, only if you have ever had a squib, then you will use it all the time. And no I have never had a squib but yes I do use one.

Let me explain, every and I mean every rifle cartrage gets weighed for the last 8 years (over 20,000). With the last purchase of another AR, I needed to find a faster way to load my 223s. I had the solution, a Lee Classic Turret press, but did not feel comfortable just dropping powder and going on to the next step (yes I trust my powder measure) but this isn't about trust, it is about NEVER making a mistake.

So out comes the check book and in comes the Powder Check Die. Now I load away and KNOW that the charge is correct.

Catching one SINGLE short charge will more than pay for the cost of the Powder Check Die (guns are expensive.)

Only you can tell if you need one or not.

Black die on the right is the Powder Check Die.
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Old January 22, 2012, 05:58 PM   #9
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Interesting views!

I plan on using a bullet feeder in the near future, preventing me from using the check die. I appreciate all the input.
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Old January 22, 2012, 07:31 PM   #10
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I use the lock-out at #3 and RCBS seat/crimp at #4. It is a little awkward to get the rhythm going at first but I got used to it. After one squib in Granny Oakley's .38, I won't use a progressive without it.
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Old January 23, 2012, 11:53 AM   #11
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A bullet feeder doesn't interfere with the powder check die on a Dillon 650 ...the bullet is placed on the case in station 4 of 5 in the toolhead ...???

powder check die is installed in station 3...on a Dillon 650...
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Old January 23, 2012, 12:23 PM   #12
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the powder die is in station 3 on a 650.

die positions
3powder measure
4seating/powder check
5crimp die or seating if powder check is used
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Old January 23, 2012, 12:58 PM   #13
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^ That's weird. My 650 reprimes and throws powder at the same station, #2.

I use the powder check. Every once in a while mine will throw a heavy charge and I am glad that it is there.
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Old January 23, 2012, 02:36 PM   #14
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^ That's weird. My 650 reprimes and throws powder at the same station, #2.
Mine also, I don’t know how the powder measure can be installed in station #3
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