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Confused about weighing powder

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Kali, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. Kali

    Kali Well-Known Member

    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.

  2. SlowFuse

    SlowFuse Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. GT1

    GT1 Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    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.

  5. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. Kali

    Kali Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    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.

  8. 30Cal

    30Cal Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Well-Known Member

    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.
  11. splattergun

    splattergun Well-Known Member

    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.
  12. Kali

    Kali Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. GT1

    GT1 Well-Known Member

    Never move the scale around the bench(Any scale) after you've set it.
  14. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    Starting at 13.3 gr would be -10% of the maximum 14.8 gr.
  15. ngnrd

    ngnrd Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. witchhunter

    witchhunter Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member

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

    SlowFuse Well-Known Member

    +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.
  19. Searcher4851

    Searcher4851 Well-Known Member

    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.
  20. mdi

    mdi Well-Known Member

    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...

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