Blast-o-matic powder suggestions...


February 7, 2003, 03:19 PM
Guys, if you're not able to visually inspect each case when you're loading for a semi-auto, it might be a good idea to go with a powder that meters VERY consistently. If you get a bridge with stick powder, you could get a squib, double-charge, etc...

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Steve Smith
February 7, 2003, 03:48 PM
Just a week ago this actually happened to a fellow Highpower shooter using a Dillon 550. Blew his AR upper into a few pieces...shooter was ok.

Diagnosis was as follows:

Powder bridged in powder funnel and the case was topped with a bullet but no powder.

Next charge fell and dislodged bridged charge, dumping all...the shooter noticed a lot of powder fell all around the case, but ASSUMED THAT THE POWDER WAS FROM A MISSING PRIMER AND CONTINUED TO LOAD. He then put a bullet on the full case (approx 36 grains) of 2230 powder (yes that is a ball powder). And seated it. Sho-nuff, He blew the gun.

What to take away from this:

Assume nothing.

Many of us HP shooters use Dillons, but most of us ream the powder die with a taper reamer to help prevent bridging. I haven't had a bridge yet since I reamed the funnel.

Use a powder that fills the case so an overcharge is obvious. (the charge of 2230 that this shooter uses allows for a large part of a double charge to be contained within the case)

If you have powder dump all over, STOP AND PULL EVERYTHING that's on the shellplate. Something just went wrong. If your powder die just dumped, you have two stations in front of that. The problem could be even further than that, but it will most likely be in the cases that are still in the shellplate.

Correct the condition. My corrective actions (based on this other fellow's misfortune) are to purchase a 650 powder check die and modify my 550 toolhead to accept it (already done by others). Check the powder funnel for rust and re-wax OR have it chrome plated...checking on this). Be more aware of what's going on with the press at all times.

I hope you other progressive shooters get something out of this too.

February 7, 2003, 03:50 PM
Call me chicken, but I will not run a bullet into a case unless I can see the powder. I choose powder and charges which nearly fill the case-even my 45ACP, so I can tell from a lot of angles whether or not there is powder in the case. Might not be as economical as using bullseye, but then I no longer have the problem of digging bullets out of the barrel.

February 7, 2003, 04:16 PM
Steve, I've seen this mentioned but never read the process: would you explain "ream the powder die"?


Rick from Kalifornia
February 7, 2003, 05:15 PM
Could you post a photo or link to a photo showing the modifacation for the powder check on the 550 tool head and instructions as to how to perform this, TIA

Steve Smith
February 7, 2003, 05:30 PM

Get a 1/8" to 5/8" taper reamer and a little cutting oil and go to town on the powder funnel from the top down, of course. You need to stop BEFORE you will affect the lip that the case mouth contacts to raise the funnel. Basically you're taking that big shoulder off the inside. Polish a little with some very fine paper and you're done. That funnel can rust in humid conditions, so wax it every once in a while and keep an eye on it.

For the powder check mod, I'll try to get that friend to give me the pics so I can post them here. Basically its just a V cut on the flat side of the toolhead. You will seat in the fourth position.

Steve Smith
February 7, 2003, 06:09 PM
I'll try to post these. Thanks to Jeff R., a Highpower High Master, for these pics and the work to do this himself.

Steve Smith
February 7, 2003, 06:10 PM
Side view...note that the white piece of paper is just to help you see what's going on.

Steve Smith
February 7, 2003, 06:12 PM
The whole enchilada.

February 8, 2003, 12:03 AM
That's one of the maon reasons that I got a Dillon *{650}* with a powder check die and automatic indexing.!

Even with that, I only use powder/charge combinations that will overflow the case in the event of a double charge.

I realize that the individual in question DID have an overflow, but a powder check die would have picked both up the ucharged case and the double.

The Dillon 550 is one of the finest reloading machines made. There's no question of that. But I'm willing to pay a little extra for the added safety of the 650. Just MNSHO.

Steve Smith
February 8, 2003, 09:23 AM
Chezgriz, in retrospect, I think I agree with you...but I really didn't need the "I told you so"....thanks.

Unfortunately the 650 is autio indexing...too bad you can't get a manual indexing, 5 stage, powder checking press from Dillon. This is America...I want everything, first quality, and be quick about it!

February 8, 2003, 12:07 PM
Steve, I reload on a 550, and the 650 powder-check thingy interests me. Im not familiar how the powder-checker works, I viewed your pics, and still cant figure out how. Could you familiarize us with its operation, because I think alot of us might be modifying our toolheads soon! Thanks-

Rick from Kalifornia
February 8, 2003, 04:34 PM
Thank you very much for the information. i will be performing this modifacation shortly. thanks again.

Steve Smith
February 8, 2003, 10:03 PM
From what Dillontold me, you set the powder check for certain level and it will alarm if your charge is way low or way high. I asked for specifics, but they said it is caliber dependant.

No biggie, I dont' need an alarm for .5 grains off, I need a "this bullet wont' make it out the barrel" or "you're going to blow yourself up" alarm, which is the whole point. We know how accurate the measure don't need to worry about inconsistency...this will help ease concerns about a bridge, which IS a possibility.

February 8, 2003, 10:46 PM

If the 650 was manual indexing, I would have bought a 1050.

To me, at least, autoindexing is an indispensable safety feature.

HOWEVER: If for some reason (which I can't imagine) you wanted to index a 650 manually, it wouldn't take five minutes to remove the indexing pawl, and then you'd have a 5 stage, electrically fed 550.

And I didn't say I told you so!(LOL)

February 9, 2003, 11:14 AM
One can set a 650 check die to much closer than .5g.

Steve Smith
February 10, 2003, 01:16 AM
Not having the opportunity to play with one (yet) I don't know how closely it will check. My intrest in it is not to check accuracy, but safety anyways.

Geez, folks, I'm not doing this for an argument! I am hardly going to sell my 550 and swap everything over to a 650 for the sake of a powder check. This mod is perfectly fine.

February 10, 2003, 09:47 AM
Seems to me he had at least two chances to prevent the accident that happened. First, making assumptions about the spilled powder, and where it came from, and secondly, not visually inspecting each case before placing the bullet on top!

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