Necessity of a Powder Check Die?


January 2, 2009, 11:38 PM
I hope everybody's 2009 is starting off okay.

I searched a while for the following on THR and couldn't find anything so I thought I'd ask. What is the necessity of a powder check die?

I say that because while I am just about set on a Lee Classic Turret (love the LNL but think it's probably overkill for my needs and I already have all my Lee dies for .357, .40, .45 and .44), I keep thinking it might be nice to have some kind of powder check (which would push me to a LNL I guess, right?). Many of the benefits of a progressive or turret seem lost if you independently charge the case rather than rely on the mechanism. When I had the old 3-hole I just charged them separately by hand and visually confirmed powder levels.

So the basic question is: What do you folks do that have a turret or progressive if you DON'T have a powder check die? I'm thinking put up a light like Rusty has to visually check before seating a bullet...other thoughts?

Thanks in advance and I hope everybody has a good weekend.


If you enjoyed reading about "Necessity of a Powder Check Die?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
Peter M. Eick
January 3, 2009, 08:32 AM
My rules are simple.

If a double charge will overflow the case or fill it so full you cannot seat the bullet, then I don't use the powder lock-out die.

If a double charge will not overflow the case, then I use the powder lock-out die.

I will risk the no powder problem on certain loads but I try to avoid the double charge problem religiously. For this reason I have a powder check, and 2 powder lock-out dies. One big foot and one small foot. If you buy one you will see what I mean. It was easier for me just to buy another then switch them.

January 3, 2009, 09:02 AM
Two points worth mentioning come out of this....

My rules are simple. If a double charge will overflow the case or fill it so full you cannot seat the bullet, then I don't use the powder lock-out die.

Peter has a great point. It depends on the cartridge and the powder you are reloading. If a second shot of powder will overflow the case OR comes close enough to keep you from starting the bullet, then you don't need a powder check.

I say that because while I am just about set on a Lee Classic Turret...

So the question really is, "What is the quality of the powder dispenser Lee provides with that press?" If you'll scan the first 2 pages of this forum I think you'll find no less than 3 threads concerning Lee powder measure questions. That should raise very big red flags. Do you see any questions about Hornady, RCBS, or Dillon powder measures?

While I love Lee dies, and have used and respect Lee presses, IMHO their accessories, like the Lee all-plastic powder measure, are at best troublesome, and at worst junk.

If you are truly concerned about safely and accurately dispensing powder, then I urge you to look for a press that fits your needs AND is equipped with a high quality powder dispensing system. Your present Lee dies will easily fit all but 1 press currently for sale. Therefore, don't let your reloading dies make your decision for you.

Happy new year to you too.

January 3, 2009, 01:29 PM
Okay, thanks for these initial responses and hopefully more will weigh in. I actually try to use loads/powders that are obvious when double charged, and I'm very careful about that, so likely a visual check will work fine. As for the LCT, it's not that I'm letting my dies make my argument for me but the LCT seems to get very good reviews from most of the threads I've read, and while the "more is better" part of me is still considering the LNL, I like the thought of being able to switch out turrets and do 100 at a time of .45, .44, .40 pretty easily.

On the powder measure thing, I've seen a couple of threads on it but it seemed like more related to rifle...something I'm not loading for right now and if I did I think I'd use a different charging method.

So my follow up question is for those Classic Turret users out there...are you satisfied with the Pro disk measure? Problems? Additional feedback would be appreciated, but thanks Peter and RF for your quick responses!

January 3, 2009, 01:54 PM
Never have used one, don't plan to either. Not knocking them, just they would be unneeded for how I reload. I don't write this aimed at anyone in particular, but I will say every time I see those Youtube videos of folks flinging away ammo at warp speed on their brand new progressive to show how fast they are, w/o even a cursory glance into the case, I cringe.

It seems since I started reloading; speed, and name dropping are more en vogue than loading blocks, 100% visual checks, really learning your craft, not taking short cuts, and actually enjoying reloading as a hobby rather than just a PITA chore. I have never reloaded to save $$$, and would do it even if factory ammo was less.

January 3, 2009, 02:35 PM
I like my RCBS lock out die. If the phone rings or kids come by and ask what i'm doing, it gives me insurance.
It works fine.

January 3, 2009, 06:18 PM
I have one and it has never been needed (i.e. I've never double dropped or missed a drop). But, having a spare station in my RCBS 2000, I figure "why not use one"? Too much safety is not a bad thing.

January 3, 2009, 06:38 PM
I don't have a spare station on my 550. I don't think that they are a bad idea, but I don't think that they are critically important either.

January 3, 2009, 11:09 PM
I started reloading back in the mid 70's.
I still continue to learn about reloading and I doubt I ever will stop.
About a year ago, I finally purchased my first progressive press.
I figured that after 30 years, I hopefully knew enough about what I was doing that I wouldn't cause any problems for myself.
When my buddy started using my 650, I went out the following week and bought the powder check for it. I needed the peace of mind. :)

January 3, 2009, 11:23 PM
+1 on using a powder that a double charge of won't fit in the case, but one time of having to stop and drive a bullet out of your gun after a primer had just enough power to drive it into the rifling and stick it will make you wish you had checked that cartridge to make sure there was powder in it.

January 3, 2009, 11:44 PM
I reload with a Lee Classic 4-Hole Turret Press and a Lee Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure and have yet to have a problem with double-charging. That said, I do not work in the dark - I have good lighting and am easily able to visually check each load. I also check every tenth load with a scale to make sure the powder measure is throwing true. I do not feel the need for a mechanical check such as the powder check die.

I don't anticipate ever buying a progressive press because A) I don't expect to ever get into high-volume reloading and B) I have never been comfortable with letting the equipment control the process. With the turret press I see one cartridge from start to finish and I am in control of the process. A progressive press is 'keeping too many balls in the air at once' for my comfort level, (even with a powder check die).

I read the threads bashing the Lee Pro Auto-Disk Powder Measure with awe and wonder. Perhaps I got the only one that works:what:? I keep it clean and give it an occasional 'dusting' with mica powder (Frankfort Arsenal Case Neck Lube) and it functions just fine.

January 4, 2009, 02:06 AM
Just to weigh in on the lee auto measure, i have had no problems with it in several thousand rounds in the last few months. When I am charging cases I am using the auto index and if you dont try to achieve 400 rounds an hour you can verify the charge very easily. With ball powder such as 231, hs6, or any of the ramshot powders All meter very consistantly. The only pain is finding the correct charge weight on the disks, they never match what is in the book. Once you find it the weight stays correct.

January 4, 2009, 02:55 AM
Using a Dillon 550 here, no powder check. I got a clip-on book light from the nearby Borders Books and aimed it into the case at the bullet seating position. Works for me.

January 4, 2009, 06:25 AM
IMO most loading errors are operator-induced, not the fault of the equipment. You can perform all the safety checks you like but, assuming you're human, sooner or later you'll screw up. Most screwups don't cause serious damage, but sometimes they do. I always use a RCBS lockout die on my LnL, and it's saved me from a couple of squibs and doubles. They were my fault, happening when I was distracted by operating glitches. I'll probably do it again. That's why I use the lockout die.

January 4, 2009, 07:15 AM
Not for me. I use a 4 station press with the auto indexing taken out of use. I usually weigh each powder charge & look them over with a light before bullet seating. It may be a little slow but it works for me & i've never had a powder problem.

January 4, 2009, 08:13 AM
I have never been comfortable with letting the equipment control the process. With the turret press I see one cartridge from start to finish and I am in control of the process. A progressive press is 'keeping too many balls in the air at once' for my comfort level

That's the beauty of the Dillon 550B, and why I chose it long ago. If you feel like having all 4 stations filled, fine. Want to use it one round at a time, monitoring each step very carefully and only moving until your satisfied, no problem at all. I guess it's not a true progressive in the fact that you index the shell plate manually, and some will say that in itself is not good because you could continue to charge the case if you don't move rotate the plate... Never a problem here. You can do the same one at a time with auto index machines as well.

I do knock the Perfect Powder measure to the fullest extent, but think their disk type is pretty clever, and in my experience and reported customers experience, they work pretty well.

Peter M. Eick
January 4, 2009, 09:08 AM
I tend to agree with you but I view this in light of a statistics.

I use a manual progressive (pro2000) and I make between 30 and 40,000 rnds a year. Some years less, some more. I have made about 250,000 rnds so far and no blow ups yet.

But lets consider things a second. Is a double charge a 1 in a million event or a 1 in a hundred thousand event? If it is a 1 in 100000 then I have dodged 2 of them but they may be in the ammo pile right now. If it is a 1 in a million event then maybe I am just lucky so far.

This is where the lock out die comes in. I am trying to stack the odds in my favor so when that split second lapse of concentration occurs I have a mechanical backup to keep me safe.

One thing I learned from safety investigations over the years was that all safety incidents occur because of a chain of events. Break any link in the chain and the safety event will not occur. This is how the lockout die works it tries to address that link in the chain. Same thing with charges that overflow the case if you double them.

January 4, 2009, 09:36 AM
I use a Dillon XL650 and the powder check die/ system. I feel the powder check system is worth its weight in gold.

There are other problems with gunpowder than "double charge", how about slightly over charge.. maybe enough to cause a "kaboom" or perhaps just enough to mess up your chronograph data on a load you've put a lot of time into. How about "undercharges?". These too can disrupt one's chrono-load work, a shooting contest or even cause a squid which are embarrassing, annoying and potentially dangerous.

Powder checks are a required part of my progressive reload operation.

January 5, 2009, 01:40 PM
+1 on Tuckerp229's statements.

Not all problems come from double charges. I too use a Dillon XL-650 and the cost of the powder check station is a non-issue. After investing over $1,000 in the total package I feel the added safety is relatively insignificant. Why ruin a shooting session with even a small malfunction like a squib.

If you enjoyed reading about "Necessity of a Powder Check Die?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!