Lee Dipper Users


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IdahoSkies
February 2, 2012, 03:17 PM
I am buying components for some handgun loads (have just loaded rifle loads before now).

As I am looking at load data for 38 spc. loads in the lee manual the powder minimum and maximums are different from the lee dipper charts, even for the recommended dipper.

For example: From Lee's Reloading:
125 Grain Copper plated bullets loaded with Accurate #2 have a minimum-maximum load of 4.2-4.7 grains, and is to be loaded with a .3 cc dipper. On the chart provided with my dippers Accurate #2 has in a .3 cc dipper equates to 3.6 grains, well below the 4.2 minimum load.

The same thing happens with other powders. For example a 125 Gr Jacketed bullet data for HP38 has a minimum-maximum load of 3.8-4.8 and the dipper chart gives 3.2 grains of powder in the .3 dipper, the recommended dipper in Lee's reloading.

What gives? Why the discrepancy?

Help!

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NeuseRvrRat
February 2, 2012, 03:45 PM
loading data evolves over time. powders change slightly, people blow themselves up, guns are destroyed, lawyers are involved. so, i'd guess your dipper charts and lee manual are from different years.

ArchAngelCD
February 2, 2012, 03:47 PM
Because powder densities are so different there is no way to make a dipper that will exactly "throw" the powder weight you are looking for. The best they can do is give you .1 cc increments and list the one that will deliver the powder weight closest to what will work. While dippers worked very well years ago when the number of rifle powders were a lot less than now they really don't work as well with the numerous numbers of pistol powders now available. I highly recommend using one of the inexpensive powder measures available on the market. For just about the price of a dipper set you can have a more precise tool.

Accurate powders as well as HP-38/W231 are ball powder that meter extremely well in powder measures.

rcmodel
February 2, 2012, 03:52 PM
Accurate powders have been made in Scotland, Belgium, France, Israel, Czech Republic, and South Africa!

They were switching suppliers so often the loading manuals couldn't keep up with them.

The only sure way to know what a dipper dips is by using a scale to weigh what it dips anyway.

If you don't have a scale you are flying blind.

rc

IdahoSkies
February 2, 2012, 04:56 PM
I have a scale. I was just hopping to avoid measuring out each 3 grain pistol load, as I do with my rifle loads. That was the idea behind the dippers. Guess that doesn't work so well.

rcmodel
February 2, 2012, 05:01 PM
It works fine, if you use the scale to figure out which dipper to use for the charge you want.

Just don't ever depend on the Lee chart to be right, because it never will be.

The key to dipper accuracy is to find a method of using it that works for you, and stick with it.

I like to push the dipper base down in the powder and let it overfill when I pull it back out.

Then strike off the excess with a knife blade, credit card edge, etc.

I find just scooping powder up with one leads to a lot of charge variation.
Because it packed powder in the dipper a little different each time you scoop it through the powder.

One you get going, they can be just as accurate as a powder measure if you always use "the method" you use to fill it each time.

rc

Elkins45
February 2, 2012, 06:26 PM
In every instance where I checked my late 70's vintage set of Lee dippers against a scale they threw a lighter charge than the chart indicated. I think they chose to deliberately err on the side of caution.

rfwobbly
February 2, 2012, 08:32 PM
I have a scale. I was just hopping to avoid measuring out each 3 grain pistol load, as I do with my rifle loads.

Almost all powder measurement systems are based on volume. The dippers are the most basic of those systems. It sounds as if you're ready for the next step up, which would be a powder measure. Most powder measures are infinitely variable, so you can adjust them to "throw" any weight of powder you desire.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-rRTCvGrCcMc/TSyQbX6QrsI/AAAAAAAACu0/trbUyZ43RhU/s800/IMG_4277.JPG

The idea is to use your scale to adjust the amount of powder you'd like to "drop". When the adjustment is finalized, the adjuster is locked in place and the powder measure can then be used to measure out powder very fast and accurately. Maybe as fast as 30 identical drops per minute.

Powder measures are lubricated by the graphite on the powder itself, and thus wear very slowly. Finding a good used powder measure is an easy task, since really good ones have been around since the early 1970's. The photo above is of my 1973 model RCBS UniFlow which is still dead-on.

;)

4895
February 2, 2012, 09:59 PM
You might be better off making your dipper with a spent shell casing and a piece of coathanger wire. You could saw and file the brass down to where it drops a very consistent amount when leveled with a playing card,etc.

kbbailey
February 2, 2012, 10:14 PM
I use Lee dippers, even though I have an adjustable powder measure.
I would like to suggest to anyone starting out that a small electronic scale is well worth the cost.
You can customize dippers by cutting them down to your desired size, or cut shell casings down to size etc.

Lost Sheep
February 2, 2012, 10:30 PM
I have a scale. I was just hopping to avoid measuring out each 3 grain pistol load, as I do with my rifle loads. That was the idea behind the dippers. Guess that doesn't work so well.
Not at all. You just have to weigh the charge the dippers throw and choose the one that gives you the weight you want. As several have said before me, if your technique is consistent, the powder charges dipped will be, also. But don't depend on the chart to tell you what weight you are getting. Weigh a few dips and use the weight YOUR technique with YOUR powder is VERIFIED at.

(edited for brevity)
Because powder densities are so different there is no way to make a dipper that will exactly "throw" the powder weight you are looking for.

I highly recommend using one of the inexpensive powder measures available on the market. For just about the price of a dipper set you can have a more precise tool.
Really? A full set of dippers is about $14. Most powder measures (that I know of) are at least 2 to 5 times that much. Granted a measure is a bit faster and PERHAPS easier to be precise with (though I will argue that point).

Just make sure you calibrate the weight at the begining of each loading session and check it a few times as you go.

As far as making a dipper that will throw the exact (precise) weight you want, that's easy. Many ways to skin that cat. Take a cartridge case, solder a handle onto it. Then cut it down to just the height that will dip the desired weight. Or fill the bottom with hot glue or spitwads to leave the cavity the right volume to deliver the desired weight. If you have a Lee dipper that throws a little too much, drill a hole in the bottom and put a machine screw (of the right diameter) to make an adjustable bottom to the dipper.

Just make sure you calibrate the weight at the begining of each loading session and check it a few times as you go. (Bears repeating)

Good luck,

Lost Sheep

PapaG
February 2, 2012, 10:46 PM
I use them a lot, since the first ones came out back probably in the late sixties. My method is to take a powder charge from the book (and I only use "starting charges" with dippers) and dip and weigh on a powder scale until I find the right dipper (the slide chart that comes with the dippers works as a guide but there are many new powders that have come out that aren't on the chart). Then I dip and weigh ten charges and see if the total weight is 10X what one is. If it is good, then I load. I only use them for small lots and I try very hard to be uniform in my technique. Some people dip and smooth off the top with a scale or ruler. I dip and give a slight sideways shake. I hold normally within +/- .2 grains.
Much faster if you need ten or twelve cartridges than setting up a measure, and I have four of them.

ArchAngelCD
February 2, 2012, 11:43 PM
Really? A full set of dippers is about $14. Most powder measures (that I know of) are at least 2 to 5 times that much. Granted a measure is a bit faster and PERHAPS easier to be precise with (though I will argue that point).
I just looked on Midway and a Lee perfect Powder Measure is on sale for $19.99 so yeah, really... It is just about the same price. Your post sounds confrontational, why?

JRH6856
February 2, 2012, 11:55 PM
The Lee Perfect Powder Measure is about $20.00-$25.00. It is calibrated in cubic inches, just like the dippers, so it's like a big adjustable dipper and fills in the gaps. You can use the chart of Volumetric Densities in the Lee manual to convert grains to cubic inches. Set the powder measure for the desired charge, verify the thrown charge with the scale every 10 or so charges. Adjust as necessary (rarely is).

FROGO207
February 3, 2012, 07:18 AM
I still find it easier to set the weight of my different scales by weighing and adjusting rather than using the marking scheme of that particular scale. I have used them so much I can usually come within a grain or so of weight by guess with any of them when starting to set them up each time. There are some uses that dippers work better for me however. I load my 38 SPL practice rounds with them and also load the majority of Trail Boss loads I use with them. YMMV:)

GLOOB
February 3, 2012, 02:42 PM
Powder density varies. But in some cases, the volumetric measure will be more accurate, anyways. E.g., if that extra .2 grains is from moisture/humidity, then you're still getting the right throw. Whereas a scale would be shorting you. People tend to stop thinking about any other variable once there's a number on something. If it says "3.2" on the scale, they take that as the ultimate truth. Hardly. Since there's much less variability in the dipper, it would usually be just as accurate to guess that the [powder/chart/ scale] is deviating from the norm.

Bottom line is that you start with a starting load for a reason. And you work up your load with your individual components, firearms, process, and equipment.

Duckdog
February 3, 2012, 08:53 PM
I use a measure, dippers, and the auto disk. For pistol loading, it's hard to beat the Lee Turret with a Lee auto disk... at least IMHO. Granted, a progressibe is nice, but the turret sure is a nice press.

chris in va
February 3, 2012, 10:29 PM
I just make my own using spent cases and wire.

Lost Sheep
February 3, 2012, 10:59 PM
I just looked on Midway and a Lee perfect Powder Measure is on sale for $19.99 so yeah, really... It is just about the same price. Your post sounds confrontational, why?
I will beg your pardon, then. I did not mean to come across as confrontational, only firm in my belief. So, I apologize.

Why? Because so many loaders decry the Lee Dippers (and even all Lee gear). So, I got a little defensive. Not one of my virtues.

I also stand corrected. I had no idea the Lee Perfect Powder Measure was that low in price. I am accustomed to the RCBS, Redding and Lyman units costing much more.

I actually prefer the Lee AutoDisk (either model) because I use a Lee Classic Turret these days. In the rare instances I want to use a powder measure, I choose the dippers. Partly because they have no moving parts at all, but mainly because keeping the hopper of a measure filled is something I choose not to clutter my mind with.

I once had to pull 30 rounds to find the half-dozen I had loaded without powder. I was using a Pro-1000 progressive and failed to pay attention to the powder drop. Neve again. You cannot run out of powder using dippers without knowing it. This is just a choice I made.

Lost Sheep

JRH6856
February 4, 2012, 12:34 AM
once had to pull 30 rounds to find the half-dozen I had loaded without powder. I was using a Pro-1000 progressive and failed to pay attention to the powder drop. Neve again. You cannot run out of powder using dippers without knowing it.

Apparently you aren't alone since Hornady and RCBS make dies to check cases for powder on progressive presses.

Friendly, Don't Fire!
February 4, 2012, 12:44 AM
I purchased a set of the Lee yellow dippers. I use them primarily to throw a charge into the scale pan that is just a bit on the low side. I then trickle up to perfect weight on the scale. I do this only for those loads where I want the powder weight perfect in each cartridge.

For other cartridges that can have slight variance in weight, I use my RCBS Powder Measure with Micrometer Adjustment. That will throw nearly perfect loads every time, regardless of powder and regardless of the weight of powder I am throwing. I also like the fact that I can come back a year later, dial in the micrometer index number for a given load and the measure will be perfect, right on weight-wise!

Lost Sheep
February 4, 2012, 02:13 PM
I purchased a set of the Lee yellow dippers. I use them primarily to throw a charge into the scale pan that is just a bit on the low side. I then trickle up to perfect weight on the scale. I do this only for those loads where I want the powder weight perfect in each cartridge.

I have been planning on running an experiment that you have been doing (but without recording the results), so I am prompted to ask you this question; Have you taken note of the weight of powder thrown by the dipper alone? How much does it vary?

I have always contended that it is consistent if care is taken to be consistent with the dipping technique, but have not run the tests to REALLY prove it since 1978 when I did it rather informally and didn't write anything down.

Do you have any observations about the variance in weight that might be useful to the rest of us?

Thanks for sharing.

Lost Sheep

rsrocket1
February 4, 2012, 03:49 PM
The Lee Perfect Powder Measure is about $20.00-$25.00. It is calibrated in cubic inches, just like the dippers

I think it's in cubic centimeters but yes, they should be the same. The important thing is that if the OP got a powder measure, it would solve his need for measuring each load.

If the OP can develop a consistent way of dipping (lots of recommendations on the net and even here on THR), a dipper can be just as consistent as a powder measure. If loading mid rang loads, he'll be well within the safety zone. If the dippers are at one edge of the load range or the other, the a custom dipper should be made.

gamestalker
February 4, 2012, 05:51 PM
I use the Lee dipper's, but I don't use them as a unit of measure. I measure with a scale and only use the dipper's as a tool to pour powder into the scale. I do try to find the dipper that will best equate to the charge I'm weighing. But most often the dipper's won't function close enough for my taste.

A story about my beginnings with regard to dipper's. When I started reloading several decades ago I bought a dipper set as my only measurement device. Not realizing that dippers are not an accurate or effective means of measuring powder, my first reloads resulted in separated cases and blown primers. I stopped what I was doing and bought, and have used an RCBS beam scale as my ONLY powder measurement tool, and have never had a single repeat event as above.

788Ham
February 5, 2012, 12:31 AM
Get a powder trickler and dribble the last 1/2 grain into the pan, ain't nothin' scientific about that!

RandyP
February 5, 2012, 10:20 AM
As others have ably posted, the dippers work just fine and when properly used give very consistent results, but the sliding chart is most always not 'accurate', most often giving a lighter load than a reloader wants. (read lawyer-ese for CYA)

I have used the dippers, the Lee Perfect powder dispenser and mostly now the Auto-Pro disk. For batch reloading IMHO the Perfect measure is faster to use since you don't need a funnel to avoid spill over.

For my use, I load low-mid range plinking ammo and would feel well served using any of the methods or dispenser styles. Pistol reloading 'usually' involves higher volumes of ammo, and I have no need for 'gnat's eyelash' levels of charge weight 'accuracy'.

GLOOB
February 5, 2012, 03:48 PM
I have always contended that it is consistent if care is taken to be consistent with the dipping technique, but have not run the tests to REALLY prove it since 1978 when I did it rather informally and didn't write anything down.

Do you have any observations about the variance in weight that might be useful to the rest of us?

I'm not sure how to work out the statistics on this, but when I measure the sum aggregate of ten scoops of AutoComp (DIY scoops, 4-8 grain-sized, 3/16" brass tubes for the smaller charges and .380 shells for the big ones), I seem to always get the same number within a tenth or two. But that's a dense powder with small grains.

Tom609
February 5, 2012, 11:12 PM
You could saw and file the brass down to where it drops a very consistent amount

Another way is to drip wax into the empty case, and through trial and error, fill the case with enough wax so that it will then hold the exact amount of powder needed. it dries hard and smooth and powder doesn't stick to it. i also sometimes use Lee dippers, but as RC said, confirm the volume.

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