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quick review-new lee auto drum powder measure


dave33

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Got a chance to play with the new auto drum last night for a few minutes. Didnt load any ammo, just wanted to get a feel for how this new powder measure was going to work. Currently I use the pro auto disks and a modified adjustable charge bar and they generally work fine but they leak some powder and dont meter larger flake powder worth a crap in small charge weights. Setup of the auto drum is straightforward, unscrew the auto disk measure and screw in the auto drum to the powder charge/case flair die. No adjustment was needed, ran a piece of brass up into the measure and it activated the drum and flaired the brass exactly as the auto disk was adjusted to. I removed the safety reset feature for now while I am evaluating and will probably leave it off as I dont think of it as a necessary safety item, I ALWAYS look in every case before placing a bullet, but will decide later on that after loading with it some. For test powders I used titegroup, e3, and Accurate #2 as this gives me a broad range of physical size to try. The auto drum was exceptionally consistent with all three powders and NEVER SPILLED A SINGLE KERNAL OF POWDER. I believe there is a very small "break in" period needed to get all the inside parts, especially the elastomer wiper, well coated with graphite powder residue but once thats done it is scary consistent. I started with titegroup figuring it is pretty dirty stuff, should coat the inside well, plus it meters good. I got +/- .2 gr variance for the first few pulls, and as it started to tighten up I started weighing 10 throws to get an average. The weights slowly crept up a few tenths of a grain for the 10 pull average until it leveled off after 4 or 5 of these, and from that point on I got within a +/- .3 grain variance for 10 pulls. I thought that was pretty good until I started messing with the e3. It only got better. I got a +/- .1gr variance on 10 pulls several times. Okay, thats great but how does it meter small charges, thats the part Im mainly concerned with. I got the same +/- .1gr 10 pull variance all the way down to 2.5gr of e3, in my book thats pretty awesome. For the leak test I used Accurate #2, if you are not familiar with this powder its about as fine as powdered sugar, if anything is going to leak it should. But it didnt, not one single kernal could I find anywhere.

I believe the auto drum is a much superior metering design for larger flake powder for one main reason. The pro auto disks are a constant depth and change volume by having much smaller or larger diameter holes. The auto drum has a much larger diameter fixed hole and change volume by depth thereby making powder bridging much less likely. The cavity also slants verses being perfectly vertical like the disks, an Im sure that helps as well. If this thing will hold up and stay consistent you may see it on top of a lot more than just lee presses. Its super easy to set up, adjust, and take down, and its pretty cheap, right now I like it a lot. We will see how the long haul goes.

Edit to add:

*Let me clarify one point, when doing 10 pulls to get an average I wasnt weighing each separage charge, I dumped 10 into the pan and weighed them all together, and was getting .1 and .2 gr variances for the 10 together. Another words if the charge weight was 3.3 for a single charge, I would weigh 10 and come up with 33.4, 33.3, 33.4, over several tries. This was also verified with two different scales. To me thats awfully consistent.*
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Good review l was thinking about getting one the price looks reasonable for the auto drum

It was $44.99 shipped to my door in two days from Titan reloading. If you dont have a lee powder through expanding die you would need of those.

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Thank you for the review . . . I suppose. You see, now I am forced to try one! :blush:

Try it, you'll like it... :D And if you dont you sure arent out much, heck I would probably buy it from you.

For comparison's sake, how does it stack up against a Dillon powder measure? (Which is all I have)

I have never used a Dillon before but I think it would have a few advantages. It costs about half or less of a Dillon measure. Installation on a press takes litterally a few seconds, simply screw it into a lee powder through expanding die. If you dont have a powder through expanding die, that only takes seconds to screw in and adjust for flair. You can buy sets of the metering drum inserts, they are pretty cheap, and swap them out in seconds instead of buying a dedicated powder measure per tool head which is pretty popular among Dillon reloaders. It doesnt leak powder at all and the way its designed I dont believe it can. It may be more accurate, mine is scary accurate even with larger flake powders that have given me problems before with my other measure.

Im not talking bad about the Dillon measure, Im sure its great, I even researched how to rig one up to work on my lee press but never went through with it. Lee just seems to be on to something pretty cool here. Im going to be putting it through its paces in the next few weeks, hopefully it works as well as I think it will.

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The quick change drum kit looks pretty handy, but wish you could get all small drums instead of 2 small and 2 large. It looks like the small works with all pistol calibers.

Was going to order last night, but $13 shipping is pretty steep. Hopefully it's available soon on Amazon with Prime free shipping :)

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The quick change drum kit looks pretty handy, but wish you could get all small drums instead of 2 small and 2 large. It looks like the small works with all pistol calibers.

Was going to order last night, but $13 shipping is pretty steep. Hopefully it's available soon on Amazon with Prime free shipping :)

The large drums in the kit can be converted to small drums with supplied inserts.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm going to order one too. I run a dillon 650 and it is a bit of a pain to change powder bars. I can see this would be killer to have different drums setup for different powder charges or powder types. and just swap out the powder and the right drum and away you go.

I currently have toolheads setup with both dillon measures and lee disc measures (and don't mind the lee disc too much) but I can see this may be best of them all. I do wish they'd put a bigger powder reservoir on it though.

I'm feeling pretty confident that it'll be good. :)

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Well I've ordered one and the extra drum kit. Also for anyone using one on a 650 it's a good idea to get the riser. It adds some height which gives more room around the dies.

The auto drum, extra drums and riser still costs less than getting a spare dillon powder bar with the uniquetek micrometer installed and this will give me 6 drums I can set for different loads or different powders. I'm hoping it's good. :)

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They're now available at Midway to avoid those crazy high shipping charges the other two sites above have. I just ordered one along with the quick change extra drums. Midway has their regular promotion going now if you spend at least $100 which is pretty easy to do there :)

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nice. :) I just saw the midway $10 off coupon. oh well. mine is ordered. we'll see how it goes. I'm cautiously optimistic. I was going to buy the uniquetek micrometer adjuster pre-installed in either dillon or arredondo powder bar. That cost is $120 and yes it's easy to adjust but I still have to dump powder out every time and then adjust the bar. dumping powder out of the dillon measure is a pain. have to take it off the toolhead and tip it out or buy a blank through flowing powder bar. either one is a hassle. the lee you can have multiple drums set for any powder you like. plus the lee you can turn off the powder flow. dump out the charge from the drum and remove the hopper without removing the whole powder measure. at $4 for each drum you can have boatloads of them. :)

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