Help me, internet Gods of reloading.


April 16, 2007, 12:02 AM
I don't know if it's my "newness" to the reloading hobby, but I'm having a slight problem. I am waiting on my dies and priming tools to come in, but I have my Lee scoops, Modern reloading manual (by richard Lee) and lee scale. I wanted to get a feel for using the lee scoops, so I broke open my brand new bottle of Unique, found my load that I am looking for (158 grain jacketed bullet in .357) which lists a starting load of 7.2 grains (and recommends a .7 dipper.) I pull out the sliding reference that comes with the lee dippers, and it states that the .7cc scoop with unique yields 6.4 grains of powder( I understand that the recommendation in the book just puts me in the ballpark with the dipper) . HOWEVER. No matter what I try, I am metering out 5.3 to 5.4 grains of powder. consistently. The scale has been zeroed. I tried the single slow scoop with gentle side to side shake method, the single slow scoop with the card scrape method, the slowly press scoop into powder and let powder trickle over sides till full method, the scoop many times in an angry, frustrated motion while cursing plastic parts method, the scooping slowly while apologizing and pleading for cooperation joy. What am I doing wrong?

Thanks in advance,


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Mal H
April 16, 2007, 12:13 AM
What am I doing wrong?Your problem is that you are believing the slide that a particular scoop will give you an accurate weight of a powder.

I have never found that the Lee scoops will dip out anywhere near the weight of any powder that their indicator says it should. They are invariably off on the light side.

Use the scoops for a starting measure and always weigh each charge. Or if you wish, you can use the scoops, but weigh the first couple of tries and use the scoop that actually equals the weight you need.

April 16, 2007, 12:15 AM
Spring for an RCBS Uniflow, all troubles will go bye bye. I use the Lee scoops for trickling powder for rifle charges, and not much else.
BTW, the Lee Perfect Powder Measure leaks with ball type powders, so I wouldn't buy it right away, even though it is inexpensive.

April 16, 2007, 10:33 AM
the scoop many times in an angry, frustrated motion while cursing plastic parts method

:D That's my second most favorite method!

Seriously, since you seem to have the set, try the next bigger scoop, 1.0 cc, and see how that weighs out. It will be over the starting charge, but hopefully just over. If it turns out too heavy to try, you can make your own scoop. Get a fired case of the same general size you are looking for (probably a 9mm for this use) and see how much it throws as a scoop. Cut, grind, or file it by trial and error to get it throwing the desire weight. Glue or solder on a handle of some sort.

If you do that, don't forget to label it after you do all that work to get it just so.

April 16, 2007, 11:47 AM
My load all 2 bushings also measure light,as do my set of powder scoops.Just seems that Lee has always had a built in safety factor in their powder measuring devices.
More of a pain in the butt than most of us want.:banghead:

Mark whiz
April 16, 2007, 12:43 PM
Here's something to try, it may or may not help. For black powder shooting, I will overfill the powder measure, tap it twice, and then "slice" off any extra powder that is still over the top of the measure. Try that with the Lee cups, weighing it each time to get an average. Try more taps until you get close to what the weight SHOULD be (if possible). For small ball powders, this might do the trick, stick powder probably wont fare as well.

The Bushmaster
April 16, 2007, 01:09 PM
You aren't doing nothing wrong...That's why you have a scale...:D

April 16, 2007, 01:31 PM
same story with the Auto-disk measure...

I'm no expert.....but here's what I believe is the "issue"....

the density and "packability" of the powder varies slightly with many environmental factors.....

humidity, temperature, etc..... can have a very slight affect. Also, the powder can have slight variations from one batch to another.

Measuring powder to the tenth of a grain is a pretty darn precise business and even small fluctuations in the environment can show up.

bottom line....VMD is approximate.....

rule of thumb.....take Lee's recommended volume and go one size dipper (or disk) higher. Weigh a few charges and adjust as necessary.

Unless you're using a measure that can change the volume with a continuous adjustment (i.e. adjustable charge bar, perfect powder measure....) your likely not going to get the exact weight you picked from the manual without weighing each charge on the scale and trickling powder.

But unless your working up loads for extreme accuracy or pushing max. loads, the charge had from the closest dipper (or disk) is likely going to work out just fine.

Matt Dillon
April 16, 2007, 02:27 PM
You mention that the scale has been zeroed, but have you used check weights to ensure that it is calibrated correctly? If not, you will want to purchase a set and check your scale often.

April 16, 2007, 02:39 PM
I use the LEE perfect powder measure. I've loaded about 3000 rounds so far. I find that it throws within + or - 0.05 grains. It does leak a bit with ball powder but is just a bit messy and does not seem to affect accuracy. I notice LEE has some factory seconds available for $22.00 - well worth the money to me.

You can try checking the scale cheaply by weighing a <100 grain bullet to get a ballpark accuracy check - of course depends on the quality of the bullet as well! My scale was right on with 55gr FMJ .224 bullet from Hornady.

Mal H
April 16, 2007, 04:00 PM
I find that it throws within + or - 0.05 grains.Whoa! Let's stop right there, NavyLT. Is there a decimal point misplaced in that? Lee might call their powder measure "Perfect", but they don't mean it's that perfect!

The Bushmaster
April 16, 2007, 04:24 PM
HeedJSU...If you have your balance beam scale on a level surface and you have insured it is absolute "0" you will not need check weights. Though they are useful to insure that you are set correctly. For a balance beam check weight I'd use a penny and maybe a designated bullet that you have weighed on a calibrated electronic scale or a known calibrated balance beam scale. Weigh and mark them so you can use the same penny and or bullet every time you want to check your balance beam scale. Balance beams do not require check weights, though, as I have said above, they are useful.:)

April 16, 2007, 09:35 PM
I find that it throws within + or - 0.05 grains.

Whoa! Let's stop right there, NavyLT. Is there a decimal point misplaced in that? Lee might call their powder measure "Perfect", but they don't mean it's that perfect!

Many of the 223 loads I've been looking at have a 2.0 grain range between minimum and maximum. I hope that there isn't a more than 0.05 grain precision factor - that could lead to serious safety issues. Also, consider that for my 5.0 grain Win231 load for 45 ACP that 0.05 grain accuracy is 1% - that is a huge error range for a balance (I'm biased in this due to being an analytical chemist).

April 16, 2007, 10:27 PM
NavyLt..I'm afraid I'd have to agree with Mal H on this one, and I'm a Lee equipment fan. First, if you are using bullets as a check weight, you may want to weigh all 100 in the box. If they are all exactly the same then please let me know what brand so I can buy some! Second, most powder scales will only advertise accuracy to .1 grains. Yes, you can "guess" at a point in between, but it is not very accurate as they are not scaled for that.

April 17, 2007, 12:00 AM
SSNVET is the one who got it. i used lee dippers same time i use a scale. a lot of things will effect you powder from age, humidity. just too much. so what you need to do is get one method of filling the dippers. then weigh it. Thats the load weight of the powder density. At the time you did it. Do the same thing a month ago and you will have a different charge. Most books state its ok to be plus or minus 10%. With this in mind i have a full set tooo. if im looking for a certain weight that i can not come up with with a single lee dipper than i will try a different dipper or a combination of two dippers. Somtimes you can get the load you want. Other times you will subject to weighing every charge.

Lets say your comfortable using a different dipper knowing that you will be off a 10th from what you wanted. Well you can either accept this and use the load or determine a different method of coming up with a quick powder charge. One thing i would stay far far away from trying to make up your own dipper. there is no reason to try to invent the wheel again. Chances are you may make this work. Then a month from now find this home made dipper completley useless. then you will buy another bottle of the same powder different state of powder and you can not seem to get the dipper to work.

Other times if you are within the load you can make up your own load. test the rounds and find out if its something you like. then record the data for the load you made

April 17, 2007, 12:16 AM
Thanks for all the info and suggestions, guys. I sat down tonight (after I got the rest of my stuff) and scooped and weighed (right click, copy, paste X1000) till I was freaking sick of doing it. I found that the scoop i was using (the wrong scoop by published methods) was throwing the weight I wanted consistently (wanting 4.2 gr of Unique, getting 4.3 occasionally, coming up at 4.1 to 4.2 a majority of the time.)
It's working so far, but i will be swapping to the auto disk or perfect powder measure soon. I reloaded my first batch of .38 spl tonight, and I'm hooked.

Thanks to all you guys for your help so far: You've been a priceless reference.


April 17, 2007, 12:16 AM
Use the dippers to get close on your scale then finish with a trickler. The charge from dippers can vary plus or minus a full grain. And for who knows why, Lee has them calibrated in CC's. CC's are not a standard unit of measure for reloading. You won't find any reloading manual with loads measured in CC's.

Mal H
April 17, 2007, 12:52 AM
mek42, I trust you know that most consumer scales used for reloading, both balance and electronic, can't weigh with an accuracy greater than 0.1 grains. Sure, it's possible to guess at .05 grains with a good balance scale (the electronics always round to the nearest .1 grain), but the accuracy is not really there.

If you are using an analytical scale to weigh your powder to a true accuracy of .05 grains, then you are taking a long time for each weighing session. I have several analytical scales around here (e.g., Mettler & Voland), but I wouldn't want to wait for them to settle for each load of powder when reloading 500 cases.

Now, to suggest that a volumetric dispenser is going to be accurate to 0.05 grains with smokeless powder is ... well, it's ludicrous.
April 17, 2007, 03:37 AM
Somewhere I read that the scoops are approx %10 low for safety. When I first got back into reloading after the service I used them for all my reloads. They were accurate enough that my 70 yr old Savage 99 would print inside 1 1/2 inches with cast bullets at 100yrds. Remember the max loads ain't always the best for accuracy, consistency within limits is what counts. In other words keep above the mininum load & below the max & stay consistent, find a load in that range that works best & use it. Be safe & have fun. Hope this helps some.

April 17, 2007, 06:56 AM
you're gonna drive yourself nuts if you try to keep to less than +/- .1, and that's too still way, way too fine to worry about for pistol IMO.

If you're +/- .2 you'll probably never be able to tell with most powders in .38 Sp. The only exception might be something real fast like AA#2 or Bullseye. If you don't believe this load some at maybe 7.5, 7.6 & 7.7 (or whatever is within suggested range) and try them out. You probably won't be able to tell the difference.

Take 1/10th grain of powder and pour it on a table top. There's barely enough to see.

I use AA#5 for 45 acp, some 10mm, and mid-range 45 Colt. My Dillon or Hornady measures throw dead on most of the time. AA is a real fine powder so it meters super well. Universal Clays also throws well. Both are cleaner than Unique IMO.

If you ever see commercial ammo loaded, it moves so fast you can't even see the individual rounds. Bet theirs isn't accurate to +/- .1. With just normal measures (Hornady, RCBS, Dillon) you can do way better.


April 17, 2007, 08:10 AM
Mal H - 0.1 difference is fine, but when you asked about a decimal place with the initial 0.05 I thought you were saying that there's normally a 0.5 grain precision error.

I'm using a consumer grade powder scale right now but would probably upgrade to an analytical balance if I ever win the lottery or anything. The balances I'm familiar with are usually as quick as what I use now to get to 0.1 mg which is 0.0015 grain.

April 17, 2007, 08:20 AM
FYI: the lee PRO auto-disc powder measure is better than the regular auto-disc.. well worth the $$ difference

April 17, 2007, 09:16 AM
Now, to suggest that a volumetric dispenser is going to be accurate to 0.05 grains with smokeless powder is ... well, it's ludicrous.

So true.

Consistent VOLUME is as important or even more important than wieght anyway. I know some will argue this, but I believe it.

is 0.0015 grain.

No $50 to $100 dollar beam scale can do this, sorry.:)

Mal H
April 17, 2007, 10:31 AM
... not to mention that the smallest single grain of any commonly available powder weighs far more than that.

April 17, 2007, 01:01 PM
You won't find any reloading manual with loads measured in CC's.

accept of course.....Modern Reloading, 2nd ed. by....who else...Richard Lee :) :)

April 17, 2007, 01:22 PM
Being somewhat of a "hack" engineer, I'm fully convinced that every measurement made by man (at least on this side of eternity) needs a +/- attached to the tail end of it.

The trick is to know how much +/- is too little (your paying more accuracy than you can really benefit from) ... and how much +/- is too much (risk going kaboom).

Favorite expressions along these lines....

"Don't measure with a micrometer what you cut with a chain saw."

"Foam is forgiving and it ain't machined steel."

"+/- a pube" followed by "a red one or a black one"

"Wood moves"

"put it out in the cold/hot (as appropriate) warehouse for an hour and then measure it again".

Being new to re-loading, I'm trying to figure out how much +/- I need.

My Lee scale boasts +/- 0.1 gr. But any two times I set a charge weight, I'm likely to introduce something around .05 gr in error just in setting the vernier. Then there's paralax (and heavy breathing ;) ).

I'm thinking that +/- .2 gr is good enough for most re-loaders (i.e. those who don't seriously compete) and I should stay shy of max loads by at least this amount. Does this sound reasonable?

Does any one know if the various publishers of re-loading data incorporate a "factor of safety"?

April 18, 2007, 11:17 AM
I'm convinced that consistent VOLUME is far more important than consistent weight. Benchrest shooters load at the range with powder measures, not scales. Very good measures, mind you, but by volume nonetheless.

Maybe this is because powder density can vary from day to day. I dunno. But good, consistent volume technique depends as much-or more-on operator technique as does weight measurement. Just get a system which works and go with it.

April 18, 2007, 12:43 PM
I am using the RCBS Uniflow. It is near dead on every time with BL-C(2), IMR4064 and IMR4320. I still weigh every fifth charge but it's largely a waste of time, but a waste of time I'll continue to indulge in.:)

When I say near dead on, I'm talking less than a .5mm pencil lead width from dead center. I didn't know that "could" be true.

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