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Better powder dippers?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by A strange person, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. A strange person

    A strange person Well-Known Member

    I've always used Lee's powder dippers, and I can't say I'm crazy about them. I wish their cups had sharper edges, and didn't have that broad, flat handle that powder tends to sit on after scooping (knocking it off also knocks powder out of the cup). Unique powder, in particular, is almost impossible to meter consistently with these dippers. H110 is a nightmare because of it's propensity to stick to the handle, to the point where I have not been able to use it at all yet. Trailboss does allright, though. I searched midway, and they don't have any other powder dippers whatsoever.

    Does anyone know where I can get some dippers like I described, or have ideas as to how to make them perhaps? I definitely don't want any expensive, bench-mounted powder throwers.
  2. daboone

    daboone Well-Known Member

    Straight walled cases can be cut then filed down to the desired size and some heavy gauge wire soldered to the case.
  3. A strange person

    A strange person Well-Known Member

    That sounds awesome.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam


    Make them out of straight wall pistol cases, or cut-off bottleneck cases.
    I have some I have made from .22 RF, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, & .223 rifle cases.

    Trim to length to get the desired dip weight.
    Then solder a copper wire handle on them.

    With that said, you are not going to get consistent "dips" with any flake type powder like Red Dot, Unique, etc. with any dipper.

    A powder measure is much more consistent after the powder settles in the hopper and you get up to speed.

  5. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Thoughts from another strange person.

    I am totally with you on most of your points.

    Two where I differ: The edges of the cups do not bother me. When I use my dippers, I DO knock off excess powder. But I do it the same way every time (and if the tiny mound left afterwards is not precisely the same as every other time, I dump that dipper and redo). I get very consistent results with every powder I have ever tried.

    Lee's recommended dipping method is to push the cup straight down into powder and to let gravity fill the cup. This supposedly prevents forced "packing" or compression of the powder in the cup to give a greater-than-desired charge. I can see that. But if that is the way to do it, the handle should be vertical. And the bottom of the cup should be pointed. In that way, you could even dip right out of the original container (as long as the handle was long enough).

    I have been working on a design for that, but pouring the powder straight into a cartridge case or into a smallish funnel is not as easy as with a sideways handle. A bottom dump would be ideal, but that design is complex and uneconomical.

    I suggest you look at getting a wide selection of straight-walled brass (pick up some at your local range) and soldering or gluing handles to the cases. (A stiff zip-tie wrapped around an extractor groove works well, too).

    The zip-tie solution has very little flat area to collect powder and a cartridge case has a fairly sharp edge. To adjust the amount of powder you dip, shim the bottom with cardboard or wood glue or something like that or trim the case length.

    Lost Sheep
  6. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    i don't use the Lee dippers anymore, but I have a lot of them, even an old full set probably several series before the set they sell now.
    You want to use a dish wide enough and deep enough to make a single deep pass through the powder and then just a single sideways shake, no bumping the dipper against something.
    The Lee dippers are all slightly on the light side and with practice you can dip powder to within a couple tenths always.
    All you need for middle of the road loads.
    If you start getting up towards max loads you need a good scale and probably a powder trickler.
    Depending what you're loading, there are some powders where a couple tenths make a big difference.
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    The most consistent dipping method I have found is to submerse the dipper straight down in the powder and let it fill to over flowing.

    Then pull it straight back out and strike off the excess with the edge of a knife blade, or a credit card or something.

  8. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    Most important thing to using dippers is to use the exact same method each time for getting your dipper load.
  9. A strange person

    A strange person Well-Known Member

    Does anyone know if Hodgdon universal might fare any better in this regard?
  10. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    If I'm only loading a few rounds I just scoop a dipper full of powder (last time it was Varget), tap off the clingers, and dump it in the scale pan. I already know it's gonna be short. Next I go back for a bit more and tap it into the pan until it comes up to weight, like you would do with a trickler. If it nudges over, the Lee dipper edge is ideal for removing as few as 3-4 pieces of Varget, giving me the ability to get it just right.

    This does not work as well with ball or flake powders.
  11. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    I got the whole assortment/box of Lee yellow plastic dippers (I think they were about $12).:cool:

    I don't use them for throwing charges, only for throwing light charges into the scale pan then trickling-up to the EXACT charge on my scale with my RCBS Dribller!

    I do that for my accurate rifle. Anything else and I basically throw with my RCBS Micrometer-Adjustment Powder Measure (which dials in EXACTLY the same, every time)!:)
  12. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Indecision - the key to flexibility.

    The only sure way to tell is to try. rcmodel was unable to get consistent dips with flake powders, but I get within 0.1 grains consistently with my technique (similar to JohnM's description, but small details differ). I use a lot of Unique and Bullseye with consistent results in the 5 to 12 grain range.

    5" to 6" wide shallow bowl, 2" to 3" of powder in it. Start with the dipper completely empty and make a single pass through the powder in an arc that does not touch bottom with the mouth or the dipper leading the way (like the intake on a jet engine). When the dipper comes out, hold it level over the bowl and tap with a forefinger to knock the mound off the top of the cup and to knock off any powder laying atop the handle. If the remaining mound of powder is identical to your ideal scoop, proceed. If it is not, do not tap it again (that settles or compacts the powder, leading to an overcharge). Start over.

    Patience and a steady hand is required. You can't be in a hurry. It works for me.

    I only do this with mid-range loads. If near either end of the load spectrum, I weigh each charge.

    I think (but have no real evidence but the occasional mention on these forums) that most dipper users dip a below-charge weight, then dump the powder into a scale and trickle up to the desired weight. Dippers are a lot cheaper than powder measures and if you are going to weigh anyway, why not?

    It is good to see what others have come up with, but ultimately, don't care what others do. Take the examples you hear and find your own path. Verify it works, perfect it and stick with it. Lastly, don't get chained to it. Some day another solution may come along. Stay flexible and open to new ideas.

    Lost Sheep
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Universal meters better than most flake powders. I do not remember using dippers with it, although years ago I used some home made dippers like rcmodel described. It will meter better than Unique, but the way Unique meters doesn't bother me, as it shoots great despite that.
  14. daboone

    daboone Well-Known Member

    I like to share this well stated quote because it clarifies a lot about powder measures in general including the humble dipper. Most powder measures are just a form of an adjustable cup.

    I have permission from Rocky to repost this.

    "There are several facts and truths about this issue - some of which nobody believes.

    One: Most measures are better with one type of powder than another. Be it flake, extruded or spherical, some measure are liable to choke on at least one. It's just the way it is.

    Two: Operator technique is at least as important as mechanical factors when it comes to dispensing consistent charge weights.

    Three: The water content of the powder changes, and that affects the WEIGHT of a given charge, but not the actual amount of powder IN that charge. So a measure that's set to dispense 50 grains of powder one day may dispense 49 or 51 grains on another day. BUT IT IS STILL DELIVERING THE SAME AMOUNT OF POWDER! If you change the setting to get the "right" weight, you are actually changing the charge.

    Four: It is NOT always that vital to get a charge weight down to the exact tenth of a grain. It can be important in very small charges for very small cartridges, but not in most rifle rounds. Instead, what you want to achieve is ±1% of the desired charge weight or less. For a 50-grain charge, that means anything less than a half-grain either side is not only acceptable, but you probably cannot tell the difference on target. (And that's one that hardly anybody believes, but it is true.)

    Five: The only way to get exact weights is to - weigh. That means weigh every charge. You can use a trickler, a spoon or even tweezers, but if you insist on getting right to dead-nuts on, that's the only, uh...way. Or get a digital dispenser which does the weighing for you. (But read #4 again. Really.") Rocky Raab
  15. BADUNAME37

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    My powder is kept in a strictly-controlled environment, dehumidifier all summer, heat all winter. Relative humidity maintained between 45% and 55%.

    For my extremely accurate loads, I weigh every single load! I throw low into the scale pan then use my RCBS Trickler to bring the weight up to exact on the scale.

    I'm sorry, you are not going to convince me that throwing by volume beats weighing every load.

  16. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    There are a lot of benchrest shooters who would disagree. Many (not all, but many) load by volume.

    I know of a master class (sorry cannot remember where I heard of it) wherein they load 20 rounds with a charge of powder tuned for the rifle to be used. 10 are dropped by volume and 10 are weighed. Then the 20 rounds are fired, alternating, with the weighed charge rounds fired at one target and the volumetrically charged round at the other. The alternation evens out the effect of barrel warming and fouling. Invariably, the volumetrically charged rounds yield the smaller group.

    Of course, if you were so inclined and had a rifle up to the task, you could run the same experiment yourself.

    Volumetric or weight? Of course, there is a third way to mete powder. But no one I know of uses it.

    Lost Sheep
  17. Revolver218

    Revolver218 Well-Known Member

    As JohnM says, use the dipper exactly the same way each time. I use 4 Lee Dippers for reloading .38 and .357 using W231 and BE powder. The amounts I use for each are in the middle range so that if I stray a fraction over or under it's no big deal. The smallest dipper is perfect, the second I filed down, and the next two sizes I partially stuffed with a small piece of a paper towel, hard packed with a small dowel. Using a full bowl of powder, with a little practice you can be very accurate. I come to within a tenth of a grain on every load. Still, every 10 loads I dump a load into the scales just to be sure. To paraphrase JohnM, consistency is the key.
  18. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    Adjusting the Lee Dippers

    In addition to the two ways Revolver218 described to adjust Lee dippers there is this:

    Make a hole in the bottom of a dipper and put a screw or bolt in it that fills the diameter of the cavity. In this way, your Lee dippers can be made to operate just like your typical micrometer-adjusting powder thrower (but without the hopper and grain cutting problems.

    Lost Sheep
  19. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

    I don't see how those dippers can be very accurate.

    Ya, it costs a few bucks, but my life, health, fingers, eyes etc. are worth the cost of a good powder measure.
  20. JohnM

    JohnM Well-Known Member

    If you've never used dipping measures then you can't say one way or another.
    I hardly use any of mine anymore because I have a bench mounted measure that's just so much faster.

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