Newbie questions about powder measuring and dispensing


March 31, 2007, 06:09 PM
Hi All,

I'm a newbie when it comes to reloading and I have some questions about powder measuring and dispensing.

As I mentioned in a previous post on this forum, I have a Lee Handpress and I'm loading up rounds for .44 special and for .38 special handguns. I have Lee and Speer reloading manuals and a book (called "the ABC's of Reloading") as reference sources.

I have only been using Unique powder so far. Most of the steps of the reloading process have been relatively straightforward for me. However, I have been having trouble dispensing and measuring my Unique powder accurately and efficiently.

I have been using a set of Lee dippers (15 dippers in the set). The set inclues a card that translates the volume of each dipper into its equivalent weight in grains. However, I have found that the volume that I measure from a dipper is much lower in weight than the value that is printed on the card.

As an example, the card says that the 0.7 cc dipper is supposed to equal 6.4 grains of Unique powder. However, if I weigh one scoop from this dipper with my Lee Safety Scale, the value that I get is closer to 5.5 grains of Unique.

Is it normal for there to be such a big difference in the printed and actual values? If so, what causes these differences (humidity?)?

Another problem that I have is in physically loading the powder into the brass casing. I am using a red plastic funnel that came with my Lee reloading kit and it sits on top of the shell that will receive the charge. The flakes of Unique powder stick to the sides of the funnel due to static electricity. Even if I tap the funnel or try to push these flakes in, they will not go down the funnel.

Should I be worried about these sticking flakes? I'm concerned that i will get inconsistent loads or underpowered/squib loads.

Is there any way I can avoid this static build up? Do they sell metal funnels or some other non-static material funnel? is there a better way to dispense the powder into the casing?

Currently I have been measuring every powder charge with my Safety Scale before pouring the charge into the casing. I use a Lee plastic dipper to scoop out an amount that is close in weight to my desired charge amount. I then use a partially filled dipper to put smaller amounts of powder onto the scale to get to the exact amount of powder by weight (according to my Safety Scale).

This method seems painfully slow - is there something that I can do with my existing equipment to be more efficient yet still consistently dispense measured loads? Am I doing something wrong?

Thanks for your help. Reloading is fun and gratifying, but I'm getting a bit frustrated with the powder charing process.

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March 31, 2007, 06:14 PM
Can't help with your equipment . . . no experience with it. I use a Lyman Digital dispenser/scale or Herrill Brothers measures . . . both are damned accurate & greatly speed-up the charging time.

March 31, 2007, 06:28 PM
For static, use a dryer sheet. Clean your equipment, and then just rub the dryer sheet over it a few times. Buy a Lee Perfect powder measure if you don't have one. I use my 2 Lee handpresses for all my loading, have not used my bench press in years.

March 31, 2007, 06:31 PM

You are the man! Great idea. I will pick up a Perfect Powder Measure tomorrow if the local shop has one. I'll also pick up some anti-static laundry wipes too.

March 31, 2007, 06:48 PM
I have only Lee plastic parted measures, so maybe it's different with other brands, but I've found (and you'll see in directions somewhere, I think) that if you run a bunch of powder through it, the graphite (or whatever the coating is) will coat the plastic and the powder will flow freely. I couldn't get my adjustable charge bar to dispense evenly with Clays until I dipped it in Unique and swished it around a few times to coat it. The funnel is the same way, and also the dippers, if you notice. Just take some Unique in a small bowl or something else that's clean, twirl your dippers in it until they have a light grey coating on them. That will help you avoid static. Then pour the remainder from the bowl, through the funnel, into the can to coat the funnel. I've read somewhere that the powder measures will have a lot of static until you run a whole hopper of powder through them. This seems to be the case.

Also, Lee Dippers won't dip flake powders accurately at all. I've always ended up adding some to the pan when using dippers. THe Perfect Powder MEasure worked almost perfectly if you move the handle up, tap twice, move handle down, tap once. The reason being that the flake powder needs to settle in line to get a proper volumetric fill.

March 31, 2007, 07:01 PM
Thanks FieroCDSP - I will give that I try.

I was just reading the instruction manuals from the Lee website for the Perfect Powder Measure. They clearly state that you need to run some powder through the measurer in order to avoid static build up (so the graphite will coat the parts).

Thanks again for the advice! This is a great forum.

March 31, 2007, 07:07 PM
Dude, time for an upgrade.
And Unique does not like Lee.
I switched to Titegroup.
Try this.
Go to for supplies. Buy the kit here. Get Pro disk up grade.

In the books. In the powder charging section. You should have noted.
Powder weighs different lot to lot.

April 1, 2007, 08:31 AM
Thanks all for your replies. I tried Fiero's suggestion early this morning and swirled my funnel and dippers around in a paper bowl filled with Unique and I have less static cling. I had a few grains stick on the inside of the funnel as I charged my casings, but I could push them into the neck of the funnel with my finger and they slid into the casing. Now the charing process is much easier.

I am definitely considering upgrading to a turret press, but for now I'm going to stick with my hand press and little dippers.

April 1, 2007, 10:02 AM
A tip using those dippers. Use a business card to gently "rake" across the top of a dipper loaded with powder. The level "scoop" will be very accurate and consistent.

Also, when you do this with an individual dipper and a specific powder, record the weight of the powder with the dipper exactly "level." Do this with each dipper you have and record the weights for each powder. Then you'll have a very accurate measurement system for your system.

BTW, if you don't have a powder scale, buy yourself one. They are an indispensable tool, even if you're using dippers.

You can fix "static cling" by rubbing a dryer sheet on the problematic part.



April 1, 2007, 12:30 PM
I have dippers,have a Lee LoadAll2,and have had a Perfect Powder Measure and ALL of these have always measured on the light side...sort of a built in safety factor is my thinking.
That said if you get a Lee scale with discs I'd start one or two sizes above the stated 'cavity' AND CHJECK IT WITH A SCALE.
I"m betting it will be closer to the desired weight if you do that.

April 2, 2007, 06:26 PM
Watch your weights vary w/ different powders. Compar unique to bullseye for example. Since the dippers are controlled by area (volume) the size and density of your power will drastically effect the load you will get out of a dipper.

RCBS uniflow (ain't great) but once you get it set it seems to work well. I still put every other charge on the scale (just anal about my loads I guess).

cracked butt
April 2, 2007, 10:17 PM
Lee purposely sets the weights of of the dippers for volume a little low, they even have a statement in their literature that says that they want to know if you find a powder that is metering out more heavily than what's listed in their charts. I think they base the measurements off the heaviest lot of powder they encounter.

Powders will change density due to humidity, evaporation of solvent components, and might vary from lot to lot. Usually different lots are blended together by the manufacturers to keep the desity fairly consistant.

I really love the Auto-disk for flake and ball powders, Unique included, and the Lee perfect Powder Measure for IMR powders.

April 2, 2007, 11:10 PM
Just get a Redding powder measure and be done with it. Set the measure with a good scale, verified by scale check weights, lock it down and double check a charge every hundred rounds or so.

There's no need to weigh every charge. If benchrest shooters don't do it, why should you?:D Volumetric consistency is as important, or possibly more important than weight consistency.

April 3, 2007, 07:30 PM
I'd agree with previous posts here, particularly dryer sheets. They work wonders for static and sticking powder.

I use a lot of Unique and find that it meters well. I think you have discovered that most of the charts published by Lee for powder weights are on the conservative side. I have found the same thing on the disks of their powder measures.

One question. Have you checked to see if your Lee safety scale is consistantly showing the same weight if you measure the same charge repeatedly? The reason that I ask is that I bought one years ago and returned it because it was inconsistant. They may have improved the design since then.

April 4, 2007, 05:39 AM

Thanks for the tip - that's a very good suggestion.

I haven't checked the consistency of my safety scale, but I will.

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