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Old January 26, 2013, 11:45 AM   #1
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I started out with a Lee Loader and then moved to a single stage press with Lee 4 die set. I use the Lee dippers in conjunction with a beam scale, and I weigh every charge. I always thought I would eventually move up to something with all the bells and whistles, but I don't trust the consistency of any of the powder dispensers. I inspect every case before setting the bullet and have even weighed every completed cartridge as a final check. So far in 1200 rounds of reloads I have not had an issue. It sure is slow, but I guess I would rather err on the side of caution. I know that most will spot check what their dispenser is throwing, but what about the ones they don't check. So am I being overly cautious or do the "fancy" set-ups work just fine?
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Old January 26, 2013, 12:33 PM   #2
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I look in every case before I set the bullet on to check the powder level. When I first started reloading I used to check a lot of the powder charges to make sure the powder measure didn't make a mistake. After months of wieghing charges and having them always weigh what they were supposed to I started to trust the measure and a visual check before the bullet was set on was good for me. Also if you weigh a hand full of bullets and a handfull of brass and see how much difference there is in weight it will show you that weighing loaded rounds is not reliable.
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Old January 26, 2013, 12:55 PM   #3
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Nuttin' wrong with your methods. I've been reloading, off and on, for 30+ years and still use much the same process. Different powders meter differently, so when I'm using a powder that's not too consistant, I'll weigh all the charges. I look in every case to make sure there is powder in there and it ain't too much, regardless of weighing charges or just throwing charges with my C-H powder measure.

I'm the only one I have to answer to so I reload the way I want. I don't have a quota, so if I only wany to assemble 20 rounds at a setting, I'll be OK with that. I'm the only one to shoot any of my reloads, and I have way more reloading time than shooting time, I can take as long as I ike to produce my custom ammo...

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Old January 26, 2013, 01:04 PM   #4
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AL45-- I have been reloading for ??? Well im 51 now so enough said there.
I still to this day use a single stage press and i load for 7 rifles and a pistol. Never had a issue either in both producing enough to shoot or a squib.
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Old January 26, 2013, 02:06 PM   #5
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Nothing wrong with that - I visually triple check ever charged case to ensure there is powder in each and every one before I seal it off with a bullet. I use a single stage, which I feel gives me more control over individual quality. I may only be able to load 50 rounds in 45 minutes, but I'm loading for me, not the Army Pistol Team, and my free time is better used on a hobby I enjoy.
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Old January 26, 2013, 02:21 PM   #6
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I 'batch' load.

I'll 'do' all brass at one time till I get to charging with powder, then I use loading blocks. Can't say that the over all time is less, but I think it is more consistent and when I get to charging and seating, very thing seems to fly

Not as fast as my progressive but I feel more fulfilled and know that I have a better end loading.


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Old January 26, 2013, 04:28 PM   #7
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I started out loading with a single stage. I would size and prime 50 cases and put them in a loading block with primers facing up.

Then, weighing each powder charge, charge each case and put them (case mouth up) into a second loading block. All 50.

Next, I would run a flashlight over the 50 cases to see that they all had powder and that the powder was the same depth.

Then, set a bullet atop each case, seat and crimp and place back into the first loading block. (I was using a 3-die set where the seating and crimping was done in the same step.)

I managed about 50 per hour which was enough for me at the time.

If you want to keep doing the single-stage batch processing, you can cut your processing time by about 25% if you combine the seating operation with the crimping operation, but after that, time savings with a single stage press batch processing will be elusive.

Aside from saving time weighing charges, small time savings may be had by placing your components on the bench more efficiently, figuring out ways of handling primers more efficiently and small changes like that.

You can save time by reducing the number of times you weigh powder charges. Many loaders weigh every 5th or 10th powder charge. This is effective at determining if your powder measure starts "drifting" off of its previously set charge weight. (This drift can be caused by a couple of issues, powder settling likely the most problematic.)

The other concern with powder measures is whether they drop the same amount (over and under the mean) every time. Particular powder measures are reputed to be precise with powder "A" and not with powder "B", but another powder measure might be precise with powder "B" and not powder "A", so savvy loaders would have both brands of powder measure to use with the powder which each measure "likes".

So, Test any powder measure for consistency. Set it up, run a dozen powder charges through it, then drop 10 charges, weighing each one and recording the weight. If they are all the same weight, good. If they vary, see if you can modify the way you operate the measure to make them come out the same. Using a baffle in the powder hopper sometimes helps, likewise making sure you operate the handle with the same speed every time. Some powder measures actually have a knocker (like an old doorknocker) you can lift and drop to vibrate the measure in the expectation of settling the powder in the measure cavity precisely the same for every drop.

Some people eschew powder measures entirely, and use a dipper. They cannot grind or cut powder kernels, never run out of powder without you knowing it, are consistent if you are (which does require some care) and are a LOT cheaper than a powder measure.

Thanks for asking our advice.

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Old January 26, 2013, 06:44 PM   #8
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I have slowest in the East sewn up then. I too weigh each charge mainy because I am loading some Red Dot that has been in my cabinets since George Bush I was president. My 9mm likes 4.3 grains and not any less and 4.5 is max, so slow and careful produces good results.

I was a little sad to see Alliant has removed Red Dot from its handgun load list since the "new" cleaner burning formula came out a few years back. I guess when these old cardboard sided containers are gone I will break out the Titegroup.

Last edited by rlc323; January 26, 2013 at 11:40 PM.
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Old January 26, 2013, 11:49 PM   #9
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Thanks guys. I have used the Lee dippers, but I have experimented with them by weighing several "dips" in a row, and find that they are usually not exactly the same every time. Though seldom off by more than a couple of tenths of a grain. Also, they tend to throw under what they are supposed to throw. Nonetheless, they are an effective way of safely dispensing powder, and faster than weighing every charge,
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Old January 27, 2013, 01:10 AM   #10
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Also, they tend to throw under what they are supposed to throw.
Yes, they are notorious for meting less than advertised in the table that comes with them.

The technique you use will have a much greater effect on the repeatability than with any other method of powder dispensing. Figuring out what will work for you will take practice. Keeping the manual dexterity skill to do it identically the same way every time takes more practice. Many loaders do not find it worth the trouble. They are doomed to the mechanical or electronic powder measure.

I use the Lee Pro Auto-Disk for mid-range loads for the speed. I got rid of all my powder measures because when I need more accuracy than the Auto-Disk or dippers can give me, I weigh each charge.

Those are my choices. Everyone has their own which I cannot fault. Once you figure out what works best for you, go for it.

Lost Sheep

edit: Lee suggests this dipping technique. Hold the dipper with the cup vertical (insofar as is possible) and push the dipper straight down into a bowl of powder, letting the powder fill the dipper up by falling into it by gravity alone. Lift straight up and strike off the mound of powder with a card.

I normally use this method: Scoop by passing the dipper in a shallow arc, ending with the dipper cup vertical, then tap the handle with my index finger to knock the mound of powder off the dipper.

Lately, I have been experimenting with a third technique. Holding the dipper horizontal, shove the dipper's cup into the bowl and withdraw when the powder mounds up and spills into the cup. Then knock off the excess mounded on top by either of the two methods described above.

Let us know how it goes for you.

Last edited by Lost Sheep; January 27, 2013 at 01:18 AM.
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Old January 27, 2013, 06:55 AM   #11
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Thanks guys. I have used the Lee dippers, but I have experimented with them by weighing several "dips" in a row, and find that they are usually not exactly the same every time. Though seldom off by more than a couple of tenths of a grain. Also, they tend to throw under what they are supposed to throw. Nonetheless, they are an effective way of safely dispensing powder, and faster than weighing every charge,
I had to re-calibrate my dippers, the throw weights for some powders are low by as much as 20% (but the charts for others were very close). There's certainly no need to weigh every charge for plinking loads. I've dipped over 17K rounds and no issues yet. I also made some dippers of my own.

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Old January 27, 2013, 09:44 AM   #12
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I know that most will spot check what their dispenser is throwing, but what about the ones they don't check
I check them all using a powder check die.

In this video I tied into the die to stop the machine from loading if the powder charge is either too high or too low.

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Old January 27, 2013, 10:13 AM   #13
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I'm either the second or first slowest. I hand prime and use dippers and use Classic Turret in Single stage mode. As for the Lee Precision dippers, they do throw light charges, but if you scoop/dig or modify a larger dipper to a lower charge volume you can get right on. I get about +.1/-.1 which is good enough for me. I only weigh the first couple few dipper loads of a new batches of powder and then put the scale away until I buy new powder. I hate using scales and the dippers are the safest way to reload. The key is to get a repeatable technique and again, I find if I scoop rather than plunge I get very close to advertised weight or modify dipper volume or make custom dippers, but not as nice as those pictured above. I think KISS is best and a nice steady safe pace. I'm not a high volume shooter and I'm not in a race or contest to brag about how many rounds I spit out.
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Old January 27, 2013, 04:18 PM   #14
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Western Powders (Accurate and Ramshot) have the only sites that give density information. They have both VMD's and a bulk density and tolerance for each powder. That tolerance can be as high as ±5.6% in some instances. This tells me Lee's VMD tables and even the VMD's that Western itself gives cannot be counted on to throw the same weight from any given dipper one lot to the next. You have to pick a Lee dipper and check. With spherical propellants each lot should be pretty consistent. With stick powders there can be transportation settling, though, so I would double-check every container with them, even if the lot number is the same.

I don't see any reason to believe other maker's bulk density variation is any different. This may explain why the Lee tables usually throw low. They probably evaluate VMD in a way that favors the high end of the density range when they know it. That way you don't get fooled into throwing a high charge with one of their dippers by mistake. Just keep verifying VMD's and you'll be fine.

Some benchrest shooters find powder dispensed by measures to be more accurate than weighed charges. This has to do with the dynamic interplay of packing density and burn rate. Weighing controls how much potential energy you put into a load, but packing density affects how quickly it can be provided by altering its burn rate. By fixing the volume, the powder measure at least partly compensates for density variation by adding more charge weight when tighter packing will make the powder light up more slowly.

If you really want the maximum control, you have to zero your scale with a primed case on it, dispense powder into it from a measure, then weigh it to see if you dispensed your target weight or not. If not, dump the charge out, make sure no grains are left behind, then repeat the process until you get the exact charge and density simultaneously. It's a big waste of time in most applications, though I have done it for load work-up purposes. It is a waste of time if your cases do not come from the same lot, are not all trimmed to the same length and not all weighing within about 1 grain of one another. Otherwise the difference in their internal volume will likely swamp out whatever value all that charge dispensing trouble you just went to had.
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Old January 27, 2013, 08:20 PM   #15
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I appreciate all the information and glad to know that the dippers are fine unless your trying to create a super accurate load. I do like using them.
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Old January 27, 2013, 08:33 PM   #16
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So far in 1200 rounds of my reloading on my progressive press my powder dispenser was very consistent. I forgot to check any that I reloaded in the 2nd hour though.
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