Larry Potterfield's bad habit!


March 27, 2008, 08:43 AM
Last night I saw a TV comercial where Midway owner, Larry Potterfield used a UNIFLOW to charge individual cases held in a loading block - moving from case to case and row to row.

Now I may be wrong, but it sure seems like that would significantly increase the probability of a double charge.

I take an empty from a bin, charge it, and place it in a loading block on the other side of the funnel if I'm working up loads. If I'm on a run, I charge and immediately seat the bullet.

Just curious to know if you think Mr. P should change his practice for the television audience?


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March 27, 2008, 09:02 AM
Did he not look into every charged case after he was through with a block of cases?

Paying attention and checking every step is our only way of being sure, no matter which way we charge our cases.

March 27, 2008, 09:06 AM
Didn't see the show but I've been loading cases in a block for 40+ years and wouldn't do it any other way.

For pistol my cases are charged directly from the measure and, when all are filled, I hold the filled block up in such a way as to allow the light to shine into the cases and strike powder just at the top. If any are empty or vary, and that's rare, that case is dumped and refilled. The visual check of every charged case is my "quality control" system.

For rifle, there is no way I could double charge, they are loaded to more than 90% full. I weigh each rifle charge, dump into a funnel and move the funnel after each one is charged. (If I don't move it, I will know it and then correct the situation and clean up the mess!) When the block is fully charged, each case also gets the visual inspection for variations. That's done on each case, every time.

Safety comes from a proper mental attitude and having a sysem, using it consistantly and checking as you go. I could spend more time and have a more elaborate system, perhaps moving cases from one block to another at opposite ends of the bench as they are filled but that wouldn't do a thing to improve my safety. I have NEVER had a single problem with a squib or over-charge.

Mr. Potterfield seems safe enough to me.

March 27, 2008, 09:31 AM
I guess it's the years I've spent practicing lean manufacturing and one piece flow, that tells me there is little if any time to be gained charging a block of cases over doing them one at a time. Its the same handling and the same motion.

Ans its probably the twenty plus years I've spent as ES manager for a large US corporation - hearing over and over - "That's the way I've always done it." or " I wasn't thinking about what I was doing" - from some guy who lost a finger. But, the one thing I know for sure, is that you can't trust a person to pay attention 100% of the time, or be 100% safe. Our company cut our injuries by 70 percent, to 1/4 the national average for our industry and improved quality by standardizing operations to eliminate unsafe conditions.

It's not my eyes or my gun that gets blown up by your double charge WHEN it eventually happens. - But do a favor for your families - charge and aside the case or finsh your round to separate it from rounds yet to be charged.

You're Uncle Safety

Jim Watson
March 27, 2008, 10:42 AM
I fail to see that it matters whether you move the measure, move the block, or move the individual cases as long as you do that block check under a strong light to be sure each and every case contains one and only one powder charge.

I do handle the brass, going from a tray, box, or basket of primed brass to the powder measure, to a cartridge block. But I don't think that moving the measure from case to case in the block is going to blow you up, IF done right. In fact, there are measures made for the purpose.

March 27, 2008, 11:00 AM
Hey what works for one person sure might not everyone! But, I do not know how you can double charge a rifle case the size of say a 308 with something like VARGET and not notice it immediately? When I used a Uniflow I did ever case in a row, and the went onto the next row, till the loading block was done! A check for even levels and for full cases was made before seating bullets!

March 27, 2008, 11:16 AM
Seems like a non issue really, everyone has their own way and if it works for you why not. I also agree it is difficult to double load a rifle case since you would know as soon as you moved to the next case and powder was spilling everywhere from the overflow.

March 27, 2008, 11:28 AM
Just use a flashlight to check to see if all the powder levels are even before seating a bullet, or use a powder that fills more than half the case. It's perfectly safe.

lee n. field
March 27, 2008, 11:33 AM
Larry Potterfield used a UNIFLOW to charge individual cases held in a loading block - moving from case to case and row to row.

I've done that. I check powder levels visually once all the block is charged. I can't honestly say it saved a great deal of time.

March 27, 2008, 11:40 AM
I still use old Herters plastic loading blocks, and ones I made myself of wood.

They all hold 60 rounds, not 50 as loading blocks are made today.

In use, all the primed cases are set mouth-down in the block.

Then as each is charged, set down mouth up.

After charging all 50, I inspect the powder levels in each one, then hand start a bullet in each one.

The 60 round block leaves two rows of empty holes dividing the charged cases and the empty ones.
If I drop one I don't spill powder in the ones already charged.

And it leaves plenty of room to pick them up.

There is NO WAY I would run a block full of pistol cases under a powder measure like Mr. Midway does it.

I do agree that it is probably safe to do with rifle caliber ammo, but certainly never with pistol.

Still, I wouldn't do it with rifle either.


March 27, 2008, 11:49 AM
To quote ranger 335v:

Didn't see the show but I've been loading cases in a block for 40+ years and wouldn't do it any other way.

I do the same for the 40+ years but, as stated before, I have a large shop light over the bench and can see into every case when finished.

I also count and know if any case was double charged by counting to more than 50 with the MTM block for pistol.

I do the same as rcmodel and put primed rifle cases mouth down as he does and charge them and replace in the upright position.

March 27, 2008, 12:24 PM
There is NO WAY I would run a block full of pistol cases under a powder measure like Mr. Midway does it.

I do agree that it is probably safe to do with rifle caliber ammo, but certainly never with pistol.

I think your logic has it backwards. I would never load any bottle necked rifle cases that way. Those you could double charge in some cases, and not be able to tell it, especially with some of the small caliber cartridges.

I do almost all of my pistol cartridges that way, and have been since 1970. Run the block under the measure, charge them, then visually inspect before I go to the next step. In all those years I have never had a case get double charged when doing it that way.

It's easy to see that all the cases have the same amount of powder.

I have had cases get double charged when loading with progressive presses, like the Dillons. Something gets hung up, a primer goes cattywampus or a bullet hangs on a cartridge case or what ever, you have rework the lever, and if you aren't paying attention, you'll blow up your gun.

Based on that experience, this is a hell of a lot safer than loading with a progressive. I'm not going stop doing either.

As far as the safety issue, my take is that the less you handle a case during the loading process, and the more you inspect during that process, the less likely you are to have a problem. Charging cases in the block is safer, IMNSHO.

March 27, 2008, 12:30 PM
It's also possible to make a double-load when setting them aside as you suggest. All it takes is an interruption or a moment's inattention. It's the inspection step that saves you, not the way you move your hands when charging.

However you do it...

Before you seat bullets, look over the entire loading block carefully and deliberately, looking for a uniform level of powder in all of the cases.

If your lighting makes that hard, get better lighting. Use a flashlight.

Also: Avoid loads which are a tiny amount of powder in a very large case volume, for they make double-loads hard to spot.

March 27, 2008, 01:41 PM
I have alarms on each of my Dillon 650 tool heads and I weight charged cases on an electric scale to confirm weight range when working up loads.

Anyone want to compare time studies on reloading?.......;)

You are a great bunch of guys and a hoot chat with. I sure don't want to tick any of you off AND I sure do want you to be loading for a long time to come!


March 27, 2008, 02:34 PM
mallc, My use of the words "you" and "your" were bad choices. I wasn't speaking to you personally, but to a general audience. I meant no personal attack. I hope you can forgive my abrasiveness.

How you reload doesn't matter, as long as you end up with safe loads in the end.

March 27, 2008, 02:45 PM
One suggestion is take a second loading block and fit a plunger into each case hole - place the second loading block flat over the charged cases and see if all the plungers rise to the same height. Some find this a useful double check.

Myself I'm not sure I would be terribly consistent with a Uniflow moving all over but the RCBS fixed cavity powder measure works for a lot of people.

Urbana John
March 27, 2008, 02:48 PM
Well I've got a RCBS Uniflow, that I haven't used since I got the digital scale and the other powder measurer "thingy", so after the powder is put in the case, I hit the Dispense button and seat a bullet in the case that was just "charged".
By the time I get the bullet seated, the scale pan is full again and waiting!!!


March 27, 2008, 02:55 PM
so after the powder is put in the case, I hit the Dispense button and seat a bullet in the case that was just "charged".

Urbana John, That stands the hair on the back of my neck right up, as you don't get an inspection step where you can compare the case levels with each other and see that they're all the same.

You can see that a case is charged, but how can you easily spot a double charge?

I recall reading a story from a reloader who used to do exactly what you did, but changed his strategy after experiencing a squib. He got interrupted and managed to seat a bullet on an uncharged case. He decided he'd better start charging them all first before seating any bullets so that he could have a final inspection for powder levels.

March 27, 2008, 11:49 PM
=1 for rcmodels comment on the loadin blocks are 60 instead of 50
it gives you a movin barrier of sorts


March 28, 2008, 12:02 AM
I'm very new. Only a few months, in fact. I load pistol the way Potterfield did it - 50 in the block, zip through them in about five minutes. I check the wt. after every 10 rounds or so. If the charge is off (it's never been off by more than a fraction of a tenth) I adjust it and resume. Then, I check with a light for doubles/misses.

I guess I also tap the tray a couple of times and give it a little jiggle to settle the powder before I inspect.

Mal H
March 28, 2008, 12:59 AM
I load my cases exactly like Larry P. does - load up a loading block full of cases and run them under an RCBS Uniflow row after row. I also, religiously, check each and every case under a light.

I don't just glance in each case checking for a possible double charge, I view the powder in each case at a certain angle that varies depending on the amount of powder in the cases. When viewed at an angle, I see a small crescent of powder in a case. If I don't see the same relative amount of powder in each case, I not only know if there is too much powder in the case, I can also determine if there is too little. The latter has happened rarely when a temporary powder bridge has formed in the Uniflow and a case might get a smaller charge than required.

Now, having said that, I do see the logic of mallc's method. By charging one case at a time, that is, picking up one empty case from a bin, charging it, and then placing it in the loading block, there can be no doubt that all the cases in the block are filled with one and only one charge of powder. I can't buy the "what if I'm interrupted?" argument because if one is interrupted, they will inevitably finish the case they are working on and place it in the block. I don't see how anyone could load a case and place it back in the empties bin or set it down other than in the block. If the interruption is so severe that that isn't done, then the whole set should be emptied and started over after the earthquake has settled. :)

I would, however, take him up on the time challenge. ;) I don't think anyone can load a group of cases (say 50) using his method any faster than using my (or Larry P.'s) method for this reason - I can load a block with empty cases very fast because I'm not worrying about spilling any powder if one slips or one falls on the floor, etc. With his method, each case being placed in the block is full of powder and it is a natural tendency to take a little extra care and therefore a little extra time placing it in the block. 50 of those little bits of extra time add up.

Now, having said all that, I don't plan to change my method even though mallc's reasoning is sound. I won't change for this reason - when I am loading using the Uniflow, I get in a steady rhythm of both consistent hand movement and consistent sound of the charging handle. When all 50 cases are loaded in quick succession instead of being interrupted 50 times by reaching for an empty and then placing the charged case in the block, I am noticeably more consistent with charge weights. I listen for a "click-swish-click" as the handle hits the upstop, rotates, and then hits the downstop. If something goes slightly off, I notice it much more easily than if there are several seconds in between each charging operation. Until you pay attention to the sound and timing of the charging operation itself, what I'm saying may sound silly and unnecessary. I don't think it is.

Jim Watson
March 28, 2008, 08:32 AM
When I first got a dispenser, I tried it like Urbana John; dispense one, seat one. I never got a bad round, but it just left me feeling kind of queasy after years of doing block checks. So now I have a crossbreed setup. Dispense a row of five, eyeball, seat five, repeat.

March 28, 2008, 08:35 AM
I only use a loading block when working up loads.

My equipment is mounted on 8"x16" pieces of laminated desk top. I clamp them to my bench as needed. I use risers to set tooling at my best ergoniomic height and reach.

When I load on my Redding, I stage the measure to the left of the press. I place an akro bin of prepared brass on the left side of the measure and a Frankford Arsenal electronic scale to the right of the measure. Bullets go in an akro bin left of the press. ammo box goes to the right of the press

Standard work.
Confirm measure setting
Zero scale to charged case weight
Confirm seating depth with dial comparator mounted in turret

Pick up brass with left hand
Holding brass in left hand - Charge (click, click - observe powder fall)
Position in shell holder with left hand
Piick up bullet with left hand and position
Cycle press with right hand.
Remove round from press with right hand and place in ammo box

If the measure grits or every few rounds - weight charged case to confrim its within range. Seat bullet and check depth.

This process eliminates the loading block(s) and related pick and place motion all together. It "virtually" eliminates the possibility of a double charge and it keeps operator focus on the critical tasks for each individual round. The process includes multiple safety/quality checks and if the operator is interrupted, he/she has a single round to rework.

And yes - I did apply process mapping and time study to setting up my reloading process.

Your Uncle Safety.

March 28, 2008, 12:46 PM
In use, all the primed cases are set mouth-down in the block.

Then as each is charged, set down mouth up.

After charging all 50, I inspect the powder levels in each one, then hand start a bullet in each one.

Ditto! Have yet to double-charge a rifle case using this method.

March 28, 2008, 01:14 PM
I'm a one case at a time reloader; I also don't believe loading all cases in the block saves any time. To me the most important thing about charging one case at a time is the chance to inspect the case again, I've found some missing primers, cracks etc. Recently I've been reloading 9mm and I always seem to find one or two .380acp per 250 cases every time.

March 28, 2008, 01:26 PM
I don't understand why all the discussion over "my way is better than your way". Everyone is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. Work habits vary, personalities vary, etc. There is no "one way" to dispense powder into cartridge cases.

Over the last 45 years of reloading, I've tried every method mentioned in the above posts, and I've settled on the one that works the best for me, but since it's only "my" method, I'm not going to try to convince anyone else that it should be "their" method.

As long as you can assure yourself that each and every case has the proper amount of powder in it, then it's a non-issue.

Hope this helps.


Hoosier Reloader
March 28, 2008, 07:10 PM
On TV he was loading rifle cases. I don't see a problem with Larry's charging process. We only saw a few seconds of it. He was also moving his finger over each case and looking (under good light) into each case.
Once I get my powder measure set, I'll run 5 rounds & weigh the next one. Then run another 5 & check again & continue that process until
I'm done charging. After charging cases I visually look at the powder level in each case before seating the bullet.
Pistol loads should be treated different because they are.

March 28, 2008, 10:21 PM
As long as you take a good look in each case, I can't see why it would matter if it's one at a time or scanning rows in a loading block. I load on a Rock Chucker with blocks of 50. I use a good light and take my time. I couldn't care less about rounds per hour. I have never double charged a case.(Knock on wood) Reloading should not be a high speed event. Save that for the range.

March 28, 2008, 11:19 PM
I blew the crap out of a Dan Wesson .357mag revolver. Blew out 3 of the chambers and raised the top strap about 3/4" up from the frame. I was using a Hornady progressive loader and using cast bullets. I think some how I double charged a case. Now I only use a turret press and charge all my cases in a loading block. Then I visually inspect each one. I will never again charge a case
any other way. I was fortunate (thank you Jesus) I was not injured. My hand went numb for about 10 mins and that was the only harm. Be very careful. Kabooms happen. I had been reloading about 5 yrs. when it took place. DW replaced it for $94.00. That was 20yrs. ago.

March 29, 2008, 10:32 AM
I blew the crap out of a Dan Wesson .357mag revolver. Blew out 3 of the chambers and raised the top strap about 3/4" up from the frame.

I have done that four times; with two Colt Police positive 38 Specials, one RG 38 Special, and one Colt Pocket Positive 32 S&W Long.

I have also blown two CZ52s into little pieces and blown the extractor out of a P11 9mm a couple times.

I have also blown the extractor out of a CZ527 19B a couple times.

With the exception of the CZ527, the guns seem to have a kill zone pointed away from the shooter.
I can see where the metal will go, and I hold that rifle over my head. It makes the pieces hard to find.

I have put some big holes through wood and sheet metal from flying Shrapnel.

What does it all mean?
Those pieces of your cylinder [or extractors from non revolvers] could kill someone standing alongside.
Blowing up guns is something best done alone.

March 30, 2008, 09:30 AM
I try if possiable to use a powder that will over flow the casemouth if I inadvertantly double charge a case. I don't see what Mr. Potterfield was doing as a problem.

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