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Can someone pull out their powder dippers and scale please?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Brandon H., Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Brandon H.

    Brandon H. Member

    So right now I'm loading up some 9mm, I have a jug of Unique I'm goin to use up. I have heard the numbers Lee provides with their powder dippers is always way low.

    I have the .5cc and I am very curious to see what it actualy throws. I use the method Lee recommends to dip, which is pushing the dipper into the powder to lit it fill up, then pull it straight up and swipe it with a card.

    Can someone see what the .5cc dipper actualy throws of Unique please :eek:, I would but I have no scale
  2. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    Conditions vary, which is why Lee cautions dipper users to verify by scale.

    A Lee .5cc dipper heaped up as high as it'll go gets me 4.2 or 4.3 grains of Unique consistently. If you're doing math, that's 91.3-93.5% of the stated 4.6 grains. Lee says humidity will drive the actual weight off by as much as 16% with some powders. My house is pretty dry (about 48% RH).
  3. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    What weight and style of bullet are you using?

    With a 115 or a 124 grain bullet, you are probably safe as long as you aren't compressing the powder. With my full tilt plated/jacketed 115/124 gr 9mm Unique loads, the powder is just slightly compressed. This is using the loading data given by Alliant for jacketed bullets. Of course, your results may vary between lots of powder and different brass thickness and sizing die dimensions.... so take that with a few grains of salt.
    So if your throw is 16% higher than expected due to humidity, you'd think that extra water weight isn't going to really affect the load. So in this one way, a dipper is going to be more consistent than a scale in terms of measuring the same amount of powder. OTOH, the lot to lot powder density variation is still going to be a factor. This is why you should still use a scale.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  4. Wil Terry

    Wil Terry Well-Known Member

    GOOD GOD, you are loading ammuntion without a powder scale ??!!!!!!
  5. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    Not just Lee dippers, any volumetric powder measure will vary a little from session to session and should be verified by a scale.
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    And powder weight by volume can differ slightly from lot to lot. The dippers are pretty safe, but anyone who reloads needs a scale. They are too inexpensive and too critical to safety not to own one.
  7. Magnum Shooter

    Magnum Shooter Well-Known Member

    +1 :what:
  8. powell&hyde

    powell&hyde Well-Known Member

    Solvent loss is definitely an issue, as well as moisture gain/loss. The point is that powder can and does change weight. We use weight for the simple reason that it is a whole lot easier to measure than volume. If you pour the same charge of powder into a case directly, then with a drop tube, and finally by swirling it through a funnel, it will take up three distinctly different volumes because it packs differently each way. But it's the same charge each time.

    Weight change in powder is real, but it is very small. It only affects those reloaders who are anally obsessed with getting charge weights exact to a tenth of a grain. It makes no difference whatever on target or chronograph readout.
  9. Brandon H.

    Brandon H. Member

    Just to clear it up, I haven't loaded anything yet, I'm waiting for my crimp die to get here because headspace wise all my guns clear except for the gun I want to shoot these loads with (Glock with lone wolf barrel)

    There will be LRN loads, I have on hand 115gr LRN, and about to order some 124gr LRN.

    Per Alliant email, start load for 115gr LRN is 5gr of unique. So the dipper may work for 124gr LRN... But yes I'm waiting for my scale. So far no KB :eek:
  10. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    +1 Wil Terry, without a scale! And the fact that you are working with 9mm is even worse considering 9mm is a high pressure, and pressure sensitive cartridge. What my Lee dippers may throw in my home, with my powder lot is not likely going to be consistent with what you would got. And even if it is, you are relying on second hand information.

    Go buy a scale.

  11. fguffey

    fguffey Well-Known Member

    In the big inning a reloader purchased a Lee reloading ‘kit’, scales not required, dipper only, I have a yellow set, a red set and a black set. I also have ‘kits’ that contain ‘A’ dipper. Lee developed his loads using dippers, companies wanted data in grains, so R. Lee went back to the shop and weighed the dipper loads and converted the dipper level full to grains. It’s all in his book on modern reloading,

    Oh, forgot, he and a friend used a business card as a rake to level the powder at the top of the dipper, before that he made the perfect dipper, something like a formula, he claims the diameter of each dipper limits the amount of powder that can be dipped, meaning the angle from the side of the dipper to the top of the pyramid of powder was the maximum load and the dipper full that is raked off with ‘their’ business card was minimum.

    There is the dipper, there is the powder measure both measure volume, then there are scales. Then we go back to the days of ‘Nevada Smith’ and the Internet, no scales.

    F. Guffey
  12. GLOOB

    GLOOB Well-Known Member

    This is the only way I've ever loaded with a dipper. For better accuracy with smaller charge weights, I just made smaller diameter dippers, so the pyramid was smaller. Leveling a dipper is often nothing but a waste of time, unless you need to reduce your powder charge a little for a one-time workup load.

    I didn't find any appreciable difference in precision between leveling the scoop and "max scoops" with most powders, so long as the dipper shape was appropriate. Obviously, a dipper wide and shallow like a spoon might leave a little too much variation in the pyramid.

    I have several pistol dippers made from 1/4" tubing that are many times taller than they are wide. They throw on the dot with ball powders, unleveled. Tall, skinny rifle scoops made from 357 cases, likewise.
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2012
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Brandon H.,
    If funds are tight (and these days most are) you can buy a Lee scale for ~$20. It's a pain to use but it's accurate. There are also cheap digitals around, though they aren't very good they are better than nothing.

    Not bashing, only worried for you...
  14. Brandon H.

    Brandon H. Member

    I appreciate the help guys, I will buy a LEE scale before I proceed.
  15. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Brandon, don't overlook the used market. Very good scales like the RCBS 505 are available used at a discounted price.
  16. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Well-Known Member

    I traded at a gun show for a Redding (and excellent one in good, but uncosmetic condition) scale for cheap.

    But here is my advice for Brandon H., (the O.P.). Get a decent scale for safety's sake.

    Many people swear by meting their powder by volumetric means as being more consistent than weight AS MEASURED BY RESULTANT GROUP SIZE. Group size, is, after all, what we are after, yes?

    But NO ONE I know suggests sharing their loads to other loaders by anything other than by weight.

    Consider this.

    Some people claim that charges by weight will yield more consistent velocities, pressures and better accuracy.

    Some people claim that charges by volume will yield more consistent velocities, pressures and better accuracy.

    If you are interested in safety, pay attention to the loading manuals. They are all published by weight and dependable by that yardstick.

    If you are interested in accuracy, the fields of interior and exterior ballistics is wanting good data.

    These forums are also in a position to benefit from someone who assembles good data that might shed some light on the "volume vs weight" question.

    In the meantime, by all means, mete by volume. But verify by weight.

    In summary: Get a decent scale.

    Mete your loads by whatever means you wish: weight, volume, counting individual grains or a combination of methods, but take load advice by weight, the communication standard.

    Lost Sheep
  17. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    Well, in 1969 I successfully loaded mebbe 1k .38 Specials with a Lee Loader with dipper, Bullseye and no scale. If you use common sense and follow directions, it's perfectly safe...
  18. DeadFlies

    DeadFlies Well-Known Member

    I recently loaded about 1000 rounds of 9mm and 250 rounds of 30-30 and I didn't weigh a single charge.

    Of course I weighed dozens of scoops BEFORE I started loading to make sure I could get consistent results. This probably is not the way to do match ammo (Richard Lee might disagree though...) but it's perfectly good way to quickly make plinking rounds on a single-stage press, IMHO.

    DO get a scale, though. I also loaded 100 rounds of 30-30 for hunting and I weighed EVERY one of those. Safety first.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012

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