I'm just curious what procedures are used to make sure that only the exact amount of powder is dropped into your case? Not just double charges but any kind of powder error.
I really should get that Lyman manual but this forum works well in any case.
I previously posted about weighing finished results and was informed that there is too much variation in the weight of cases and bullets for the information to be reliable.
visually inspecting each case before seating the bullet seems to be overly cumbersome.
I had an additional theory that probably wouldn't work but we'll see.
I thought it might be possible to measure out the exact amount of powder that you plan to use on your reloading run.
Say that you want to load 100 rounds with 5 grains each. You measure out ONLY 500 grains. Any powder left over or running out early means that there was an error in your run.
So, tell me why this wouldn't work. :D
and feel free to let me know the real was it should be done, unless a visual inspection of each round really is the best way.
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March 23, 2004, 05:29 PM
Greeting's Mr. Dove-
Well, I'm a little old fashoined but I still prefer to
weigh each powder charge, before I give it my
final approval. This requires throwing charges
from my RCBS "Uniflow" measure that register a
little under the desired charge; and topping it off
from my RCBS powder trickler. Then, after all the
rounds have received the proper charge; I use
my MAG-LITE to look inside each case while still
in the loading block! Just a little extra insurance,
thats all. ;) :cool: :D
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
March 23, 2004, 05:54 PM
If you are loading on a single stage press with separate powder measure, that book you are reluctant to buy will recommend that you start with a number of primed cases mouth down in a loading block. Pick one up, measure or weigh in the powder charge, and place it mouth up in another loading block. When you are done with that batch, go down each row in the loading block under a strong light to detect excess or short powder charges. Or foreign matter in the brass you did not notice or dislodge in the brass preparation.
If you are loading on a progressive press, it is easy to look in each case as you place the bullet under the seating die. You can buy a Dillon powder sensor die or an RCBS lockout die to catch a major error in powder charge, but the old Mk I eyeball works well, IF you use it regularly.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no gimmick to replace careful workmanship and inspection in the loading process. Batching out powder and coming up with leftover or short would only tell you that you had a bad round SOMEWHERE. That would not substitute for examination of EACH round to catch an error IMMEDIATELY.
Buy the book. Useful as this forum is, you cannot learn to reload one question at a time on the internet.
March 23, 2004, 06:06 PM
So mr_dove, what would happen if you doublecharged three loads and missed three? It would still work out to give no excess powder.
March 23, 2004, 06:16 PM
Jim Watson just gave some excellent advice. Place all your unloaded cases into a loading block upside down. Turn them rightside-up, charge them with powder and place them in a different loading block.
Not only does this procedure greatly diminish the possibility of double charging a case, it also enables you to run the tip of your ring finger over the bottom of the case so you can detect any high primer that might have escaped earlier detection.
Unless you are loading a great many cartridges at a sitting, it isn't really a great inconvenience to weight each charge. Set your measure to throw a tiny bit less that desired, then finish off with a trickler or some other slow-feed device. I use an empty case of a caliber that I do not have a gun for and twirl it slowly over the scale pan to let the granules trickle out one or two at a time.
And I ALWAYS eyeball each case in the loading block when I have completed the charging. Haven't had a kerboom yet.
March 23, 2004, 06:39 PM
Don't forget about cumulative error. Most powder scales are only accurate to +/- 0.1 grain. A powder dipper can vary a like amount due to user variation. If you charge your 100 cases (as in your example) with an extra, unmeasurable 0.05 grains, you will be short one complete charge by the time you finish. How will you know that the loss is due to cumulative error or due to a double charge?
One person I know uses a dowel to double check powder charges. The dowel is a loose slip-fit in the case. He put in a carefully measured charge, dropped the dowel in and made a fine line with a marker around the circumferance of the dowel where it met the case edge. He fills a block with charged cases and drops the dowel in each case and verifies that the line is at the case mouth. He only uses one load that he has worked up and this method works for him in his situation. Been doing it that way for 50+ years. When you stop and think about it, this is exactly how a powder check or lock-out die works. Just a manual version, Mark I.
Safe reloading is the result of unvarying repitition. Get a couple of manuals. Develop a process that works for you. Follow that process religiously. Eliminate distractions.
March 23, 2004, 06:46 PM
After a few screw-ups, mostly under charges, I added another step to my process. I weigh each completed cartridge on a digital scale. It's really quick and easy to do.
March 23, 2004, 06:54 PM
I 2nd the eyeball. I recently upgraded the lighting in my reloading room because I couldn't see well enough into the bullet seating position in my progressive. 1 shoplight later the MK I Eyeball was performing to spec again. ;)
There are some things you can cut corners on, reloading really isn't one of them. Really anything involving firearms. The lock out and powder check dies are just supliments to good process and are there to improve your chances of catching a mistake not catch it for you. Sort of like a manual safety or a loaded chamber indicator. Neither one guaratee safe gun handling, it's all about the operator.
March 23, 2004, 07:12 PM
If you're loading on a multi-station press, I'd suggest an RCBS Lockout die. It'll stop the handle in midstroke if your powder charge is too high or too low. As I recall, .5gr too high triggered it on my press, and about .3gr too low triggered it another time. I wanna say it was more precise than that, but I didn't write the values down, and feel comfortable relaying these numbers for sure.
March 23, 2004, 08:56 PM
When you reload you can't have any distractions. If you're paying attention to what you're doing then you're not going to put too much powder in the cartridge case. I use a Lee turrent press and powder dispenser sits on top of expander die--powder flows through the die into the cartridge case. I watch that the powder measure disk goes all the way forward when my press handle is in the down position, and all the way back when handle is in up position. I usually weigh powder charge for one out of every 10 rounds. The only way to check powder charge after you've seated bullet is to pull the bullet with a bullet puller. This is a tool that I wouldn't be without.
March 23, 2004, 09:29 PM
Are you going to use only the 500 grains of powder, and always weigh each charge taken from the 500? If so it would be a check but third rail's objection would still hold and you would still have to check each case.
Assuming you will put the 500 grains of powder in the powder measure.
1) When the powder gets low in the measure you will probably get lighter loads due to less weight pushing on the powder.
2) Assume a .1 gr error on each load from the measure (not impossible) that totals to a total error max of 10 gr. It would look like two uncharged cases if always low, or you would run out of powder with two cases left if high. Obviously the highs and lows would somewhat cancel out, but probably not exactly. The error gets worse with your method, if the run gets larger.
3) Checking the measure constantly for it being empty, seems harder than placing the filled cases in a reloading block in a good light checking them.
The best way, and the only way that I know of thats fool proof, is to charge the cases then check them separately on a single stage press. On a progressive, check the charged case visually, or use a powder check dies that are available.
March 23, 2004, 10:38 PM
It might be an Alabama thing, but I'm with AlaDan. I weigh each charge. I charge each of 50 cases and then use a flashlight, not candle, to visual each casing for a double charge. At this point, I'll seat and crimp.
I admit that it is tedious and time consuming, but it beats television for an after dinner past time. I also suggest, if you have playful cats, to lock them out of the reloading area while so engaged.
March 24, 2004, 01:31 AM
I don't weigh each charge on every caliber I load for, but I do visually inspect the powder level of each one with the Mk 1 eyeball.
It only takes a few seconds to shine a light in the block full of cases and see that all powder levels are the same. Maybe a few seconds longer with that bottlenecked .17...
March 24, 2004, 06:21 AM
Well, I'm a little old fashoined but I still prefer to weigh each powder charge, before I give it my final approval.
That's nuts. :scrutiny:
If you're worried about double charges, start reloading with high-density cartridges. For instance, it's possible to double, triple, quadruple, or n-tuple charge a .38 special. With 9mm on the other hand, most loads fill the case so that a double charge results in spillage; same with most rifle loads. Opt for bulkier powders if this is a big concern for you. You could still get an overload from a double/partial charge, but this really isn't likely if you're using a powder measure.
I use a Hornady Powder Cop die on my progressive to be sure.
March 24, 2004, 07:04 AM
I usually load on a fully progressive press, RCBS AmmoMaster. I sit slightly above the press, I watch the powder go through the clear plastic drop tube, then I look down into the case at the bullet seating station (I always have a flexible light aimed at this area of the press) and can see if there is powder and if it is at an unusually low or high level in the case. Yes, I have double charged once, and by using this technique, it was caught at the bullet seating station and was corrected on the spot. I have also managed to get a squib, again it was caught at the seating station and corrected.
March 24, 2004, 07:39 AM
I'm a little old fashioned.
I like to use powders that fill the case almost to the base of the bullet when properly charged.
That way, when you have a double charge, powder spills out onto the ground, and you know immediately to stop and examine things a bit more closely.
With the manum cartridges, that's no problem, and with 9mm, .45 .40, 10mm, 357SIG, etc, no problem.
The problem starts when you load calibers like .38 special, .45 colt, etc.
Anyway, the case doesn't need to be full, it only needs to be over half full, that way a double charge will spill over the top.
BTW, all this caution has never yet saved my bacon, I've never had a double charge. (Dillon 550b.)
I think it makes the loads a tad more accurate, though.
Anyway, your loading area should be well lit, and you should at very least eyeball every charge.
March 24, 2004, 11:55 AM
I'm a Dillon 550 newbie, and am sensitive to this issue.
I can see the powder charge in the case (9mm & .45ACP) as I put the bullet on. It's obvious if the level is higher or lower than correct for the charge. If it even looks different I weigh the charge. The other night I had some tumbler media stuck in the bottom of a 45 case so the powder was almost to the brim.
Another important thing, esp on the 550, is to get a consistent rhythm and always "break" it at the same point. i.e., either ONLY break immediately after pulling the handle or ONLY break before pulling it (not my choice). And ALWAYS perform a full "What's my status?" check before resuming.
March 24, 2004, 07:33 PM
With all due respect for your ideas, I have no need
and NO DESIRE to produce a mass amount of ammo
during a certain time frame. I am not a commerical
handloader who must meet a certain mandate; I
only handload for my own use! :(
Therefore, I feel comfortable in my efforts to weigh
each powder charge for all calibers that I load for;
and those are: .38 Special/.357 magnum, 9m/m,
.44 Special/.44 magnum, and .45 ACP! When I sit
down to load, I work on only one caliber at a time.
I don't assume anything; I'm always checking and
re-checking, not taking anything for granite! That's
me, and my style my friend. Slow? Yes Accurate?
Hell Yes! And on range day, the result's speak for
I can't ever see myself moving to a progressive
type press. Heck, I learned on a RCBS Jr in the
early 70's; and just graduated to the Rockchucker
in October of 2000! A progressive would have been
nice in the early years, when I was loading a lot
more caliber's; but now days I like machinery that
is a lot like me OLD and SLOW! :cool: :D (LOL)
I've never experienced a KA-BOOM, never had a
"squib load", etc. So, I guess I will continue to
be "Nuts". Take Care-
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
March 24, 2004, 08:35 PM
Sorta my thoughts also, except for the accuracy point. With my shooting, that point may be hard to prove. But safety comes first and speed is inconsequential. I load for myself, making use of bad weather and off season time (also dog house time when the wife is in ill temper).
March 25, 2004, 06:25 PM
I weigh each rifle charge, and ANY experimental load. I don't use overly fast powders, so any double is very obvious to visual inspection.
Ialways do a visual inspection before seating a bullet, be it looking over a loading block round by round, or looking into the case on my 550.:D
Them that put convenience ahead of safety are fooling themselves:rolleyes: and perhaps putting reloading as a hobby in jeopardy. :cuss:
March 25, 2004, 10:04 PM
and a powder that fill the case and still safe.you will see and over load and it will protect you from bullet setback as well,thanks,keith
March 26, 2004, 12:51 PM
When loading single stage I weigh every time. I use a manual drop followed by an electronic drop attached to a scale.
For my Pro 2000, I like the Lee Factory Crimp Die. I don't have room for a lockout die. So, I have standardized my actions. If a bullet is seated in the fourth stage, I know that I have powder in the third. If not seated, I know that I need to drop the powder. I weigh every tenth charge. I use to use my electronic scale, but I'm beginning to prefer the manual for this task. My only complication is that I had my powder drop linkage fall apart once without me taking note. I loaded a number of empty cases. I now check the linkage every half-hour or so.
March 26, 2004, 01:07 PM
Gary, how much variation do you find when weighing every tenth round? I used to do that, but I found the weight never changed with my 550. Now I check the weight when I refill primers every 100 rounds, still with no variance.
March 26, 2004, 01:33 PM
That is a good question and a source of frustration. I stopped using the electronic scale because I wanted to find the source of my drop variation. I switched to ball powder and still wasn't dead on, but better than Universal. I have always had a powder baffle. My loads continue to drift more than I like. I'll adjust my drop every check or two. Maybe it is my pull, or it could be the RCBS unit, but I haven't heard many complaints..
March 26, 2004, 01:37 PM
That's one advantage of a cheap beam balance. All I have to worry about is whether the marks line up, being blissfully unaware of small variances. ;)
Guy B. Meredith
March 28, 2004, 02:22 AM
I'll second uglymofo's comments.
I have a Hornady LNL AP with an RCBS lockout die in the third position (Hornady has five) and it has saved my skinny arse a number of times.
March 28, 2004, 02:18 PM
Must be an Alabama thing, I weigh each rifle charge due to the case size but since I use Unique in my pistols I just check every 10th round or so. And I always load about 1g under the max anyway. I also use two loading blocks, once charged they go on the other side.
March 28, 2004, 05:35 PM
Best way to avoid a double charge is to use a slower or bulkier powder...always visually inspect the powder charge in each case, and weigh any that look off...(Sounds like a lot of work but I manage to do it) ...but the best way is to...
Just put one charge in there to begin with...
March 29, 2004, 11:17 AM
yeah, seems like the general concensus is eyeball and weighing (either individually or randomly).
thanks for the tips guys.
March 29, 2004, 04:07 PM
I always put the Mk 1 eyeball on it, too. Yesterday I was loading a handful of test rounds for the .308, and when I inspected them I found I'd missed putting powder in one completely. I think that's the first time I've done that, but a quick visual was all it took to catch it.
March 30, 2004, 12:54 PM
You measure out 500 grains
You build 100 Rounds
You find that you have have powder left over (5 grains)
You have caught the fact that you missed putting powder in one.
Your scheme worked
You look at the 100 completed cartridges in front of you.
Duhhhh! ................................( Which one?) ????????
March 30, 2004, 08:28 PM
Well...what he was looking for was a scheme to avoid "double charges"...not necessarily squib loads...:)
Seriously tho... there are some good ideas here. I find the lockout die to be a bit much, but the various powder checker dies are good tools... they detect high and low charges... if you have a space on your loader that is a good use of it.
But... I don't think that any scheme is foolproof as you so aptly pointed out....Any tool or method is just that ... just a tool. You still have to use it in a way that makes sense to you.
I personally know competitive shooters who have Dillon equipment (what else?) set up with an audible powder checker die... and on the last station is a factory crimper die...
Then... they weigh every finished round on a digital scale to check for high, low... or no powder... THEN... they insert every round into the chamber of their barrel to make sure that they will chamber!
Do I think they are excessive????
No... I think their methods are merely born of experience. They check, double then triple check. ..Then they are pretty confident their ammo is not going to be a problem. With all the pressures of competition, the last thing they need to worry about is out of spec ammo... now they can concentrate on sight alignment and trigger release with no distractions.
I pretty much check, double check, triple check.... and then one more final check until I am satisfied that I got it right.
Am I excessive... Sure ... I admit it ... I want every round of ammo I load to be as perfect as I can possibly make it....because mistakes can and do happen even to the best of us...
Here... check out this thread...it is an eye opener...