Is Lee load data underloaded ?


April 9, 2008, 06:28 PM
This is my dilema. I'm loading 30/30 rounds using a 170 grain jacketed round nose bullet (Hornady), Win 748 and the 1.9 (Listed as 29.0 grains) dipper which is recomended by Lee. In the Lee book it Reads: Win 748 Start grains 29.7 , Lee dipper 1.9 , 2007 velocity. Never exceed 32.0 grains , 2145 velocity. In the Hornady book it list 33.1 grains = 1900 FPS, 34.8 grains = 2000 FPS, 36.5 grains = 2100 FPS. 36.5 grains is the max listed by Hornady.

Here is what I would like to know:

1) Why is the max load in the Lee book listed as 32.0 grains max and Hornady says it's 36.5?

2) The Lee 2.2 dipper is listed as 33.6 grains. According to the Hornady data I could bump it up from the 1.9 (29.0 gr) dipper to the 2.2 (33.6 gr) and still be within the safe limits, right?

Before anyone mentions it, I know I really need a scale; it's on my next thing on my list to buy, I'm just trying to work with what I got. Also I'm not trying to really find the max load I can use (yet:)) I just noticed the data was way off between the two and want to know why.


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Mike 56
April 9, 2008, 06:46 PM
All the manuals have different load workups when i am working on a new load i always try to back it up from a second source. As for the dippers they are deceiving you need to check them with a scale. For instance if you run a dipper though the power you will have less power than if you pour powder into a dipper and some powders are just hard to measure by volume.


April 9, 2008, 06:51 PM
+1 on a scale.

Lee probably does go pretty conservative due to the dipped loads.

Powder varies in density from lot to lot, depending on a lot of things.

Lee knows you can't get in trouble with the dipper they give you with any lot of recommended powder.

If you want to use Hornady data, you need to buy a scale and find out what your dipper is really dipping.

If you want to shoot max loads in a 30-30 you probably should check each load on a scale anyway. There is not a lot of room for error with most 30-30 rifle actions


dagger dog
April 9, 2008, 06:59 PM
If you look at the Lee data it is not specific, as makes of primers ,brass, bullets. This puts it in a rather generic area.

With pressures , depending on such things as how hard the jacketing material, that surrounds the lead core on rifle bullets, how "hot" primers are , how thick the case walls on the brass.All these have direct effect on chamber pressures.

To keep ahead on the liability situation, the loads published are designed to be damn sure not to blow up somebodys rifle or fingers.
The dippers are whithin that design spectrum.

The load data in the bullet, and powder manfactuers, books are specific and closer to the acutal maximum loads.

April 9, 2008, 07:49 PM
I found that the bushing charts from Lee are not very accurate at all for throw weights. I used Excel and made my own charts by measuring the weight thrown by every bushing. I consistantly came in with lighter weights than the Lee charts.

April 9, 2008, 09:08 PM
+1 on getting a scale...

I have a Bair #917 scale I dont have any use for... if you're interested...

April 9, 2008, 09:39 PM
No substitute for a scale.

I've found most loads in the Lee book using Unique to be a tad light, but I thought the .40S&W loads on the hot side. Start at the minimums of your data and work up slowly if you are not happy with the minimum loads.

Stay under maximums. In my experience, when shooting the difference between 6.6gr and 6.0 gr of Unique is just not all that noticeable to make using the hotter near max load worthwhile.


Steve C
April 10, 2008, 12:57 AM
To load ammo at an optimum level you need more accurate tools. At minimum you need a powder scale so you can weigh each charge.

The Lee dippers and the associated charges on the chart are a guide and due to the variance in the way they can be used the Lee load guidelines are on the lighter side for safety reason. I've never been able to get as much powder in the dipper as they say it will throw. They will get you close to the final load an you can then trickle the rest of the way when using a scale.

Using the scale to measure powder for a couple boxes of rifle ammo isn't a big task but if you are loading several hundred rounds its best to buy an adjustable powder measure. You will still need the scale to set the measure and to QA check consistence over time.

April 10, 2008, 01:50 AM
I'm not a big fan of the dippers; I would expect that due to differences (minor though they may be) from lot to lot with powder that they would be on the conservative side... invest in a good scale (the balance beam ones work just fine, any of the brands like RCBS, Hornady, etc. would be fine) and a decent powder measure... I'm a fan of the Hornady powder measure, and my buddy's Lyman 55 works pretty well too. Not so much a fan of the Lee Perfect Powder measure; when I used one long ago it leaked finer powders.

April 10, 2008, 03:31 AM
When I first started reloading years ago, I used Lee loaders a lot. While generally they throw light charges don't count on it.

The dipper in the 41 Mag set consistantly overcharged when throwing 2400. Enough so that primers were backing into the recoil sheild on my Blackhawk and jamming the gun! It could have ruined a lesser gun.

Get a scale.

April 10, 2008, 09:35 AM
short answer...yes

long answer...

volumetric measures of powder measure just that...volume. The pressure generated from the charge (which is what your really after) varies with the mass of the charge. The volume and mass of the charge are related by the density and packing characteristics of the powder. Volumetric systems for measuring powder don't account for slight changes in the environment that can cause variations in the density and "packability" of the powder.

Such as....
1. humidity variations (which I think has the greatest affect)
2. density variations from one lot of powder to the next.
3. temperature variations
4. other environmental variations

Lee knows this and tabulates dipper sizes and publishes VMD factors that are conservative for those who do not measure the actual mass of their charges.

Many (if not most) re-loaders use volumetric measures to throw their charges, but they use a scale to determine the mass of the charge thrown for any given volume. Then they increase/decrease the volume until they get a dipper or auto-disk that throws the desired "mass".

A good rule of thumb for getting the right dipper/auto-disk that corresponds to your desired mass the first time is to take Lee's recomended volume and bump up to the next increment larger volume.....set up....throw test charges......measure mass on your scale.....tweek if needed.

How close you want to push it to the limit with volume only powder measures is a personal decision.

As for me, I enjoy reloading a lot more when it doesn't result in personal injury.

Happy trails.....

OBTW....the little Lee Safety Scale cost less than $20 and is known to be very accurate. It's not the best and it's not the most convenient. And it only goes up to 100gr. so you can't use it to measure the mass of your cast bullets........but it get's you a scale and all the inherant safety that comes with measuring mass instead of just volume

April 10, 2008, 09:55 AM
another thought....

who determines the max. load you load and shoot in your valued firearms.

Lee? Hornady? Lyman? Winchester?

when they all say something different.


you do.

re-loading manuals are GUIDELINES.....valuable info. based on the experiences of others.....but....ultimately it's your decision and responsibility.

that's why having multiple references is important.

But that doesn't mean you have to purchase a library (though you'll probably want to eventually).

There is SO much published on the web. it's ridiculous......and I'm not just talkin' about Bubba's favorite pig load (though that may be excellent info.)

Most all of the powder manufacturers and bullet manufacturers publish load data on their websites. And each approaches the subject from a slightly different angle....assuming your starting with their powder or their bullet.

Lot's to learn ....

Lot's of fun to be had while doing it.

April 10, 2008, 05:21 PM
Looking things over, I believe that Lee didn't come up with that load info, I believe they got it from Hodgdon, here this is from

Bullet Weight Manufacturer Powder Bullet Diam. C.O.L
170 GR. SIE FP Winchester 748 .308" 2.550"
Max Grains Velocity Pressure
32.0 2145 36,000 CUP

April 11, 2008, 03:45 PM
dwave is right, and what Lee does in his book is take the max charge data and reduces it by 10%. That's what he calls the starting load. If you read the rest of Lee's Modern Reloading book he will state that in there somewhere.

+1 on getting a scale here to, no matter what powder measure you're using. I have the Lee Pro Auto Disk, and for a load I was making I found that I had to use a disk setting three steps bigger than what Lee's book called for.

April 11, 2008, 04:02 PM
I use the Lee dippers...

to put powder into the pan on the scale. Then I trickle the remaining part. I use the Lee book as a starting point, but more and more I find myself lloking at Lyman 48 in it's place. The bullet and powder manufacturers' data is more important to me.

dagger dog
April 11, 2008, 04:22 PM
K3's got the right idea, the dippers make it so much faster once you find the correct one, then just trickle the rest, once you get the hang of it you can even 2 dippers to get the correct weight.

As far as the data in Lee it is great for working up loads when switching components, or in starting new loads when no specific data can be found.

April 11, 2008, 05:02 PM
once you get the hang of it you can even 2 dippers to get the correct weight.

Yup. There's endless combinations that can get you very close. I've gotten to where my technique allows me to throw the exact charge onto the scale about once every 7 or 8 throws.

April 11, 2008, 08:53 PM
ive read that the dippers will give you a safe powder charge for your gun.

A while ago i read an article online that said lee made the dippers to be a nice volumetric charger in order to , and i qoute.

prevent the hand loader from overcharging a cartridge due to atmospheric moisture altering the weight of the powder. Theory is that the powder in arizona will weigh less then the powder opened up and loaded in new york city, because one has more atmospheric moisture. so instead of loading to much powder by weight in arizona, use a volume based powder scoop to avoid over charging your cartridge.

thats what ive read. The main issue is, have the reloader load his ammo at home a bit weaker then SAAMI so that he wont blow his 1903 springfield up and sue your company into history.

Jeff F
April 12, 2008, 11:06 AM
I have used the Lee dippers before and they can be handy and fast. I have always checked the powder charge with a scale and checked it a few times. You have to be consistent in the way you load the dipper. I scoop it full then scrape it level with a business card.

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