Confused about weighing powder


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Kali
February 13, 2013, 09:24 PM
Hey all,

Brand new reloader here. I have a single stage lee press im trying to get my first batch of reloads through. I also have a lyman reloading handbook.

It came with a "lee safety powder scale" which is a pretty cheap little balance scale. Im in the market for a better scale but tonight, its what im going to be working with.

Heres my question. So I run my powder through the "lee perfect powder measure", and into the scale cup, ( I know the basics of working a beam type measuring device), measure the powder, adjust the screw, measure again, etc until its pumping out ~14 grains of powder every crank of the handle. Can I tighten the nut and use the lee perfect power measure and go ahead and do about 100 rounds or do I have to keep remeasuring every round?

The reason I ask is I am finding this scale to be cheap, finicky, and generally a pain to use if I have to pour each measured round into the pan, weigh it, somehow pour it into the brass (getting all the grains off that stuck to the metal) without spilling and then repeat X100. How often do you guys recheck a device like the lee perfect powder measure?

Im planning on 14 grains of 2400 for .357 with a 158 grain JHP.

Any advice appreciated.

-Ryan

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SlowFuse
February 13, 2013, 09:29 PM
A general rule is to check every ten or so after you get it set to the weight you're needing. You really just need to do a spot check at an interval (whatever you feel comfortable with) to make sure your measurer is still throwing accurately.

GT1
February 13, 2013, 09:33 PM
You don't have to check every round, I would spot check every 15-20 to make sure it was still throwing consistently.

You are batch loading, you can see in the case if something doesn't look right after you know what a correct charge should look like. I make a point to always look in the cases.

The Lee scale is as accurate as any, but as you found out a real PITA to manipulate.
Most folks like the RCBS 505($80). I like the Lyman 500($50), plastic base but full size and same easy to use poises and agate bearings as any full size beam. I hot glued some weights in the base so it is 'planted' on my bench.

rcmodel
February 13, 2013, 09:33 PM
+1
Absolutely no reason to weight every charge.

Get it set to throw 14.0 grains, Lock it down, then check a charge every 10 rounds or so.

Then, set all 50 charged cases in a loading block.
Then inspect the powder levels in all 50 before you even think about seating the first bullet.

Any variation worth worrying about will be plainly visible when compared to 49 others.

rc

243winxb
February 13, 2013, 09:38 PM
Till you get to know your measure well, check often. Run a lot of powder thru to condition the measure & settle the powder. I have a bullet marked at 158.7 gr as a scale check weight. Scale should be at 0 empty. Drop 10 charges into the pan for an average. Should be the same at the start/end. I check every 10th powder drop when the load block is full. On the progressive every 20th. Plus looking into each case before seating the bullets. I would not start at 14 gr. 14.8 is maximum.

Kali
February 13, 2013, 09:46 PM
Till you get to know your measure well, check often. Run a lot of powder thru to condition the measure & settle the powder. I have a bullet marked at 158.7 gr as a scale check weight. Scale should be at 0 empty. Drop 10 charges into the pan for an average. Should be the same at the start/end. I check every 10th powder drop when the load block is full. On the progressive every 20th. Plus looking into each case before seating the bullets. I would not start at 14 gr. 14.8 is maximum.
Thanks to all of you for the fast help.

As to why I should not start near the maximum, is that because its dangerous to the reload process or that it just makes for a heavy recoil shot? Im no stranger to shooting heavy loads(purchased) out of this pistol, just brand spankin new to reloading them.

rcmodel
February 13, 2013, 09:57 PM
You should never start at MAX load data, because they didn't pressure test the data in your gun, with your exact bullets, powder, cases, & primers.

A 10% reduction from Max, or starting with the starting load and working up to max or near max gives you a chance to spot any pressure defugilities before you blow yourself up or shoot your eye out.

Your gun will thank you if you don't blow it up.

Your mother will thank all of us if you don't shoot your eye out.

rc

30Cal
February 13, 2013, 09:58 PM
Max loads generate the maximum safe pressure. Has nothing to do with recoil.

If 14.8 is max, then 14.0 is not where you should start. 10% below max is the standard place to start. It's called the "starting load."

When you're near the max, you need to remember the behavior of your powdermeasure and make sure it's variations aren't going to throw you a load beyond the max.

I'd weigh often until you have a good feel for how your measure behaves.

243winxb
February 13, 2013, 10:03 PM
The 14.8gr maximum comes from Alliant's Powder Guide 2013. Different Components = Different Pressure. As already said, work up the powder charge for safety.

BYJO4
February 13, 2013, 10:18 PM
Starting low and working up is for your safety. In addition, you will often find the best accuracy at the lower end. You increase in small increments looking for the accuracy with the componets you are using. How frequently you check your charges depend some on how consistent both the type of powder and powder measure are that you are using.

splattergun
February 13, 2013, 10:22 PM
So I run my powder through the "lee perfect powder measure", and into the scale cup

The reason I ask is I am finding this scale to be cheap, finicky, and generally a pain to use if I have to pour each measured round into the pan, weigh it, somehow pour it into the brass (getting all the grains off that stuck to the metal) without spilling

I dispense the powder into a small plastic scoop( something I got out of an Oxyclean tub) 1st, not directly into the scale pan. Then I pour the powder into the scale pan. The reason being, some powders like to bounce out of the pan as it's being dropped, which can throw off your weight. (sometimes mistaken as leakage)

Next, if powder is sticking to your scale pan, the pan could be dirty or oily. Clean it.

Last, use a shell block and a powder funnel. That will alleviate much of your pain. Or, as I do sometimes, put the mouth of the shell under the dispensing tube, charging the shell directly.

Once I've adjusted the PPM, I weigh every 15th charge on the scale to verify. THis is my pistol proceedure. When loading rifle, I measure every charge.

Kali
February 13, 2013, 10:24 PM
Got it. Im just gonna go 12 to be safe. You're right also about not being able to trust this scale right now, if I move it 1/4 inch, its off.

GT1
February 13, 2013, 10:46 PM
Never move the scale around the bench(Any scale) after you've set it.

243winxb
February 13, 2013, 11:02 PM
Starting at 13.3 gr would be -10% of the maximum 14.8 gr.

ngnrd
February 13, 2013, 11:07 PM
Got it. Im just gonna go 12 to be safe...
Undercharged loads can be just as dangerous as overcharged loads. Please, for your own safety, step away from the reloading bench at least long enough to read the reloading manual you have... and maybe a couple more.

witchhunter
February 13, 2013, 11:19 PM
Use a dryer sheet to wipe out your funnel and pan to keep the powder granules from sticking. It takes a little practice for beginners to get their powder measures to throw accurate charges. Work on consistent motions.

Hondo 60
February 13, 2013, 11:22 PM
Absolutely no reason to weight every charge.

IF it's dropping the same consistent weight.
Once I have my powder measure set, I weigh every 10th charge.

SlowFuse
February 13, 2013, 11:26 PM
+1 what ngnrd said.

Take your time to study another manual or two. Then check reputable references for load data and stick to the specifics. Guessing starting loads and setting your load at max right from the start isn't the most ideal way to go.

Searcher4851
February 14, 2013, 12:44 PM
Another +1 to what ngnrd said.
Reloading is only as safe as you are willing to be. There's guessing, and there's educated guessing. The educated guessers tend to retain their fingers longer. One should read and understand what's involved in proper reloading before dropping the first charge of powder. Reloading is one area where the old adage 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing' can be so true. An improper load can be just as dangerous to anyone around you when shooting, as it is to you.
Safety first can make reloading an enjoyable hobby in itself for a long time to come. Haphazard reloading practices can end your reloading endeavor in a heartbeat.

mdi
February 14, 2013, 01:45 PM
Your Lee scale may look cheap, but it's prolly as accurate as any beam scale around (for reloading). I have 2 beam scales (lyman, RCBS), a digital scale, and a Lee Safety Scale. All scales will weigh to within .05 (half of a tenth of a grain) of each other. The big difference is the Lee scale uses a vernier type poise anf the other beam scales use a weight in a notch type. Many fellers can't/won't learn to use the vernier poise so they consider it junky. One plus for the Lee over other scales is the locking feature; you can lock the poise on a designated weight and it won't change if the pan is replaced a bit too hard or the scale bumped (my Lyman/Ohaus will jump 2/10 gr. if I remove the pan too quickly). If you don't like the Lee scale then replace it, but you won't find one more accurate.

Depending on the powder, weigh every charge for the first dozen or so then one out of 5 or 10 once the measure has settled down and throwing consistant charges within your tolerances. When I'm working up a new load I like to keep powder charges to .1 grain, and with some powders and my spiffy new C-H powder measure, it doesn't happen, so I weigh them all...

Always start with the "starting charge" listed in your manuals. As noted by the fellers above, the loads listed were tested in a known good/solid firearm, or a universal receiver with a test barrel. Your gun may not be of the same quality/strength/tolerances as the test fixture and rarely is good accuracy obtained at max. charges.

Go slow, double check everything, and enjoy one of the most satifsying aspects of the shooting hobbies...

Skylerbone
February 14, 2013, 02:10 PM
+1 on getting a funnel, the Lee will cost you all of $4.00 and directs your powder into the case. The other inexpensive item of help is a powder trickler that allows you to add small amounts to your scale pan until balanced.

Keep the measure 1/2 full if possible and throw 10 charges after any adjustments. Dump those back in the tube and measure the 11th and 12th. With spherical powders both of my Hornady measures and the Dillon won't be off by more than .01

There are plenty of other opportunities for bad things to happen beyond powder charge so another +1 on studying. The best way to start is IMO to find an experienced person to help.

dickttx
February 14, 2013, 04:43 PM
Don't know if it is only terminology or not, but I NEVER try to WEIGH anything on a beam scale. After you zero it on a solid surface (not your loading bench, or it will move and lose zero everytime you run a round through your loader) you should set your target weight on the beam. When you dump your powder set it on the scale and it will be light, heavy, or, hopefully, right on zero. Keep adjusting your powder measure until you pretty much get zero everytime. When you develop confidence that the measure is throwing consistently, then weigh about every tenth round to see that nothing is changing. With a new scale or measure it may take quite a few rounds for me to develop confidence.

SSN Vet
February 14, 2013, 05:33 PM
Keep adjusting your powder measure until you pretty much get zero everytime.

if you're using a disk type powder measure, you have to change the cavity sizes in ~.4cc incriments.... so you often can't achieve the desired load to the exact number you want.

So us Lee auto disk users do indeed have to weigh the charge, by adjusting the poise to zero the scale. Then you chose the disk that gets you the closest to your target.

if you use the adjustable charge bar, you can do it exaclty as dicktxx described.

I've been tinkering with vernier scales for ages an have no problems with the Lee safety scale. I have a $500 lab scale in my office and when weighing a specific penny and dime (my economy check weights) the scale is always spot on to the nearest tenth or better. Hard to tell beyond that, as the lab scale flutters around quite a bit at the .01 grain increment.... If someone opens the door across the room, the air current will make that scale jump.

dickttx
February 14, 2013, 06:05 PM
Yeah I am a PAD user too, but he said he was using the Lee Perfect Powder Measure.
So far I have been able to find a good and safe load just using the disk. I use my Lee dies and PAD on my LnL AP, along with a lock-out die. Don't have to worry about two stations to expand/flare, and drop powder, or buying the part that is required for each caliber if you want to combine. Without the turning, banging, etc. that happens on my LCT the PAD is even more consistent. Wish my Safety Prime would work on the LnL too, instead of using those primer pick-up sticks.:D

HighExpert
February 14, 2013, 07:39 PM
I don't know if you have noticed, but 2400 is a rather powerful powder. The pressure range from minimum to maximum more than doubles. I would start at about 13grainstead of 14gr. This will give you a little more headroom to make a mistake with seating depth or your scale. My Lyman shows the max charge at 14.9gr and some manuals show it at 14.8. I don't think you will notice a whole lot of difference in the shooting between 13gr and 14gr but your gun will. If you intend to shoot lots of rounds of any magnum cartridge the gun will last longer and stay tighter with slightly reduced loads.

ArchAngelCD
February 14, 2013, 08:19 PM
Got it. Im just gonna go 12 to be safe. You're right also about not being able to trust this scale right now, if I move it 1/4 inch, its off.
Guys, I think when he said I will go 12 to be safe he was talking about checking every 12th charge, not 12 grains.

ngnrd
February 14, 2013, 08:47 PM
Could be... but that's not how I read it.

Kali
February 15, 2013, 01:08 AM
Guys, I think when he said I will go 12 to be safe he was talking about checking every 12th charge, not 12 grains.
I was talking about grains. My Lyman manual says 11.3 low and 14.9 high. So I thought low-mid would be a good place to start.

I ended up spending over an hour just trying to tune the powder measure and the scale. Finally got it spitting out 12.5 grains consistently when my lady came home and interrupted my work flow. Planning on some more reading and loading the first cartridges sometime this weekend.

ArchAngelCD
February 15, 2013, 01:30 AM
Well so much for that one! lol

GLOOB
February 15, 2013, 06:32 PM
OP, be sure to record the number on your Lee PPM. It can be reset to that spot quite accurately. Beats the heck out of going through all that everytime you want to go back to the same load.

moonzapa
February 16, 2013, 12:15 AM
Throw a charge and weigh it every 10th load. That should be sufficient for load reliability. When you get further ahead and get comfortable with reloading you may want to go to an electronic powder scale. I'm using a RCBS Chargemaster 1500. Cost quite a few bucks but it gets the job done much quicker and it's very accurate, within 1/10 of a grain.

Good Shooting!

Skylerbone
February 16, 2013, 03:12 AM
If you watch the MidwayUSA flyers they occasionally sell their Frankfort Arsenal electronic scale for $19.97 or thereabouts. It's nice to have an inexpensive back up and digital is fairly quick with a readout.

My Pact scale is more than 25 years old at present. With a son in Scouts, we used the scale to weigh his derby car and it was 12 grains and change shy of the maximum limit (wrote it down but don't recall exactly). The Mettler Toledo used for the official weigh in, which was both newer and far more expensive, provided the exact same weight.

mljdeckard
February 16, 2013, 03:17 AM
I am using the Lee PPM, and I have seen that when I am using powders like Unique, as the hopper empties, it starts to throw lighter charges. Just something to watch.

ArchAngelCD
February 16, 2013, 03:23 AM
OP, be sure to record the number on your Lee PPM. It can be reset to that spot quite accurately. Beats the heck out of going through all that everytime you want to go back to the same load.
Oh, I agree 100%. I have a separate sheet of paper for every powder I use in my load binder and I record the setting for every charge weight I have ever used. It sure does save time when you can go right to the proven setting and most times when you weigh the powder to verify the charge it's right on the mark!

mdi
February 18, 2013, 01:45 PM
Don't know if it is only terminology or not, but I NEVER try to WEIGH anything on a beam scale. After you zero it on a solid surface (not your loading bench, or it will move and lose zero everytime you run a round through your loader) you should set your target weight on the beam. When you dump your powder set it on the scale and it will be light, heavy, or, hopefully, right on zero. Keep adjusting your powder measure until you pretty much get zero everytime. When you develop confidence that the measure is throwing consistently, then weigh about every tenth round to see that nothing is changing. With a new scale or measure it may take quite a few rounds for me to develop confidence.
C'mon, Every time you put something in the pan of any scale, you are weighing whatever you put there. :p You may be setting your specific target weight, but each powder charge you put in the pan is weighed. If that charge is under, the powder measure is adjusted and the next charge thrown is weighed again...

dickttx
February 18, 2013, 02:01 PM
Exactly what I was saying mdi. But it seemed like the OP was putting powder on his scale then trying to adjust the scale to find the weight.
I grew up in a cotton patch and we weighed cotton. You didn't know what the sack of cotton weighed so you hooked it to the beam scale and moved the pea out until the scale leveled. Deduct three pounds for your sack, and that was what you got paid for. We later got real modern with a spring scale that just showed you the weight.:)

TenDriver
February 18, 2013, 02:04 PM
Harbor Freight has digital scales on sale at the moment. Several read grains. I still haven't unpackaged me Lee scale and may not since I bought a digital scale on the outset. Didn't want the error possibility with the Lee.

308win
February 18, 2013, 02:17 PM
Your Lee scale will weigh as accurately as anyother beam type if you make sure it is level and don't move it during sessions. It just doesn't look expensive - because it isn't. I have two 505's and an old Lyman Ohaus M5 and the Lee is as accurate as the others.

Skylerbone
February 18, 2013, 02:19 PM
It surely is a matter of terminology but it's nice to teach everyone the correct terms to keep us on the same page, same with procedure as dickttx points out.

Reminds me of a girl I met in college who decided to make Rice Crispy Treats (she was a math major). What she told me she read: "Grease bottom of pan". What she did: flipped that pan over and covered it in margarine. Yes, they still stuck to the pan!

mtrmn
February 18, 2013, 03:50 PM
A couple pointers. Most have been covered. Make sure all sources of air currents (fans, open windows etc) are shut down while using your scale.

When working up a load, only load up a dozen or so rounds to start with. Shoot those and see if you're happy with them. If not, go try another load. I personally load about 10 rds with 1 powder charge, step up about 3 or 4 tenths of a grain and load 10 more, etc. When testing I usually have at least half a dozen different loads to try before I settle on something. Once I've decided I like a particular load, THEN I'll start loading in volume.
Unless you like to pull 90 rds of ammo apart and start over.......just sayin'.

GLOOB
February 18, 2013, 03:54 PM
Personally I don't weigh every Nth charge. After I determine a throw's spread, I take it for granted that it's going to stay in that range. The only thing I'm looking for is bridging. Visual inspection on a loading block is good enough for that, IMO. It takes a minimum amount of powder to bridge. If you can't see that difference on a loading block, then you're not spending enough time on that phase. That's the most important step, IMO.

Jhass
February 19, 2013, 08:17 AM
He bhas the exact reloading manuel as me. All of his questions are answered in the first 3 chapters

carbine85
February 19, 2013, 12:55 PM
I use powder baffles in my powder measures. It keeps the weight off the powder consistent.

Ike Arumba
February 19, 2013, 09:06 PM
In my last session, I reloaded 7.62x54R until I ran out of H4895. After the hopper of my Lee PPM got below about 1/3rd, I weighed every charge. I was surprised to find no trend toward lighter charges all the way to the last full throw. I did keep tapping the hopper along the way to keep max powder height over the outflow hole. But I even got a couple of full-weight charges after the outflow hole was uncovered. That was a real surprise.

I bought Prvi Partizan ammo in 7.62x54R and .30-30 Win, shot them, and then reloaded the cases. They worked fine, but I found many instances of the primer standing slightly proud of the case head with the .30-30. I got a Redding primer pocket tool and fixed them up.

Rollbar
February 22, 2013, 03:15 AM
Since we are talking about the Lee Powder Pro I have a question with the powder listed below.

New to reloading and just bought the Lee P-Pro and waiting on my press etc.

Question, will the Green Dot and the HS-6 (It's all they had in town) work ok in this Powder Pro system?

I bought two, one for each caliber so I won't have to keep measuring/tuning.

Going to load .45acp/38spl Lead SWC.

Thanks,
Jim

P.S. Does Lee make a baffle for these powder dispensers ?

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