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How often do you verify the powder charge weight, and what's an "acceptable" range?


Cuz
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Ok, the thread on OAL variance has convinced me to ask a question I've wondered for a while.  When reloading, how often do you stop to verify the weight of a powder charge in the case, and when you do, what is an acceptable range from your desired charge?

 

I load on a Dillon RL550B, and when I'm loading, I tend to verify the charge weight about 4 times per 100 rounds.  Three times is somewhat random, and the 4th is always when the low primer buzzer goes off.  My scale measures out to .05 gr.  So if I'm loading 3.8gr of TiteGroup I will accept anywhere from 3.75 - 3.85.  If it's higher or lower, I dump it into the powder bin and continue loading.  I keep a little scorecard of each weight, and if it starts to drift over a few consecutive weighed charges, I "may" make an adjustment.  I will admit that I very rarely make an adjustment, so I know I could eliminate most of the verifications and be fine, but I do it anyway.

I do notice that the weights tend to drift a little between a full powder hopper, a half full hopper, and an almost empty hopper.  I solve this by filling it, and then topping it off every 200 rounds or so.  This keeps things running pretty smoothly.

 

My BIG problem is that I just ordered a new scale that measures out to 0.002 so now there will be slightly more variations in weight.  I'm hoping this more sensitive scale doesn't cause my OCD to go through the roof.

 

Anyway, what do you all do?

 

I guess I will also add that all of the above is pretty easy to do on the manual indexing RL550.  But, I have a new RL1100 that I'll be setting up soon and I think it will be harder to keep up that regiment.

 

Thanks,

-Cuz

 

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I verify the weight a few times when I start to load, like at 10 rounds 25 rounds and then 50. After that I watch the powder station to verify a round gets a proper fill. I think a range of plus or minus one tenth grain is fine.

I have a Dillon 550 and a Star loader and feel their powder measure is adequate for any pistol situation. A tenth of a grain is mathematically about 1/8" at 25 yards.

I can load ammo that shoots less than 2" at 50 yards on my Star with thrown powder charges.(Bullseye powder)  I just tested a stock CZ 75B with WW231 powder and a cast bullet. Groups were 1 3/4" at 20 yards. This is with no load development just fit the bullet to the bore and picked a charge of WW231 that was compatible with my lead hardness.

The pistol will be far more accurate than the shooter. Work on the shooter development and not load development.

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38 minutes ago, Sarge said:

MAYBE every 500 rounds. I have a uniquetek micrometer bar and it’s always right where I set it every time I check.

  My 650 throws accurately no matter how much powder is in the hopper.

Just curious Sarge, have you ever weighed 10 consecutive charges?  Also, what is the sensitivity level of your scale?  0.1gr, 0.05gr, or maybe 0.02gr?  I only ask, because most reloading scales are accurate only to 0.1gr which means that 10 consecutive charges all weighing 3.8 gr on the scale could actually be anywhere from 3.75 - 3.84gr. If you accept an accuracy range of +/- 0.1gr it really means you accept from 3.65-3.94 which is really a .3gr difference. 
 

of course the big question is does it matter, and how much does it matter. That’s why I’m asking all of you. 
 

thanks for the response. 

 

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8 minutes ago, KLWorkman said:

I verify the weight a few times when I start to load, like at 10 rounds 25 rounds and then 50. After that I watch the powder station to verify a round gets a proper fill. I think a range of plus or minus one tenth grain is fine.

I have a Dillon 550 and a Star loader and feel their powder measure is adequate for any pistol situation. A tenth of a grain is mathematically about 1/8" at 25 yards.

I can load ammo that shoots less than 2" at 50 yards on my Star with thrown powder charges.(Bullseye powder)  I just tested a stock CZ 75B with WW231 powder and a cast bullet. Groups were 1 3/4" at 20 yards. This is with no load development just fit the bullet to the bore and picked a charge of WW231 that was compatible with my lead hardness.

The pistol will be far more accurate than the shooter. Work on the shooter development and not load development.

Lol, but it’s so much easier to obsess about load development…

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1 hour ago, BritinUSA said:

I used to manually cycle the powder bar a couple of times before a reloading session, as the powder can sometimes settle into the bar. Then I weigh the first 2 cases through to double check. Then load up as many cases as I have on hand.

This. Cycle the powder bar a couple of times, check the weight, load, don't check again till the next session.

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1 hour ago, Cuz said:

Just curious Sarge, have you ever weighed 10 consecutive charges?  Also, what is the sensitivity level of your scale?  0.1gr, 0.05gr, or maybe 0.02gr?  I only ask, because most reloading scales are accurate only to 0.1gr which means that 10 consecutive charges all weighing 3.8 gr on the scale could actually be anywhere from 3.75 - 3.84gr. If you accept an accuracy range of +/- 0.1gr it really means you accept from 3.65-3.94 which is really a .3gr difference. 
 

of course the big question is does it matter, and how much does it matter. That’s why I’m asking all of you. 
 

thanks for the response. 

 

When I set up a new load, I throw 10 charges and weigh all 10 together and then divide by 10. That gives you the average charge weight. So, if I throw 10 charges and I'm looking for a load of 3.2 per charge, I end up with 32 grains in the pan. Since most scales may only read .00, this will give you a more accurate reading (if your charge is a little over 3.2, your 10 charge weight will reflect this....32.8 EG.)

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6 hours ago, GrumpyOne said:

When I set up a new load, I throw 10 charges and weigh all 10 together and then divide by 10. That gives you the average charge weight. So, if I throw 10 charges and I'm looking for a load of 3.2 per charge, I end up with 32 grains in the pan. Since most scales may only read .00, this will give you a more accurate reading (if your charge is a little over 3.2, your 10 charge weight will reflect this....32.8 EG.)

That’s a good point, now that you mention it I think I remember reading that on This site back when Brian was selling Dillon stuff.  It was in his helpful info section. I had forgotten about that. It would have saved me about a $100 on the scale I bought as it wouldn’t need to be so sensitive. I gotta remember to ask questions BEFORE buying rather than after, while I’m waiting for it to arrive…

 

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Once I set OAL I never check it again until I change bullet profile or mfg.

 

I check charge weight for the first round in a loading session, nothing more.

 

Reloading for practical pistol is really super simple.  In my experience I'm getting more than acceptable accuracy and consistency doing as little as possible. 

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1 minute ago, SGT_Schultz said:

Once I set OAL I never check it again until I change bullet profile or mfg.

 

I check charge weight for the first round in a loading session, nothing more.

 

Reloading for practical pistol is really super simple.  In my experience I'm getting more than acceptable accuracy and consistency doing as little as possible. 

Exactly. Taking a case off the press and weighing the charge is a pretty simple way to end up loading a squib or a double charge. Trust your press.

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I used to do it every 2-300 rounds.  Ended up with a squib at a match, and I'm 99.9% sure that it was from having a brain-fart, checking a powder charge, and forgetting to dump it back in the case.  Now I check once at the beginning of each loading session.  Haven't ever had it change on me and I've never had another squib.

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54 minutes ago, sauza45 said:

I check at the start of the loading session by dropping 10 and doing the average of all 10. Then double check my oal and then load all the rounds and 

don't check it again until next load session.

Same.  If I'm shooting for 3.4gr and my total for 10 is 33.9-34.1, I'm happy. 

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3 hours ago, SGT_Schultz said:

 

Reloading for practical pistol is really super simple.  In my experience I'm getting more than acceptable accuracy and consistency doing as little as possible. 


I think that about sums it up. I tend to over-complicate most things. 

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34 minutes ago, Cuz said:


I agree with that, BUT,

if it’s 33.1 or 34.9 would you make any adjustments?

 

Yes, I'll make adjustments until I get 10 throws that fall into the 33.9-34.1 range.  I'm using an RCBS dispenser and there's only so much fiddling I'm looking to do.  Depends on what powder I'm using as well - right now I'm on AA2 which is like dust, so it seems to meter very consistently.  

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Ya see, I need you guys to reinforce that fact that a reasonable amount of tolerance is acceptable in the games we play. If your OAL, charge weight, actual bullet weight, etc. are off a little it really doesn’t matter, at least not with 9mm minor PF ammo. 
 

Thanks. 

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45 minutes ago, Cuz said:

Ya see, I need you guys to reinforce that fact that a reasonable amount of tolerance is acceptable in the games we play. If your OAL, charge weight, actual bullet weight, etc. are off a little it really doesn’t matter, at least not with 9mm minor PF ammo. 
 

Thanks. 

How's this - last weekend I ran test loads over a chronograph for 145gr Acme's using AA2.  Charge weights ranged from 3.2 - 3.6 grains.  5-shot groups.  The spread in the average MV between the mildest and hottest load was only 50fps.  So if you're loading at 3.4 (which is what I settled on, based on desired power factor), I could be off by .2 grains either direction and I know it's safe AND makes minimum PF.  

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1 hour ago, Cuz said:

Ya see, I need you guys to reinforce that fact that a reasonable amount of tolerance is acceptable in the games we play. If your OAL, charge weight, actual bullet weight, etc. are off a little it really doesn’t matter, at least not with 9mm minor PF ammo. 
 

Thanks. 

 

It sounds like you need to convince yourself

 

Make a sample set with as large a charge weight variation as you want and deem safe.  Then go shoot them for groups and POI at a significant distance( 20 - 25 yards would work) on a USPSA target.

 

Compare what you get to the size of an A zone.  You will see how little all this matters.

 

Before I began competing in this I competed in NRA service rifle for years and I continue to shoot precision rifles for fun.  I know how to make match grade rifle ammo.  And you would be amazed at how little work it actually takes to make extremely consistent rifle cartridges.

 

Here's how I load my pistol ammo

  • I fill up the powder hopper and throw a couple of charges to make sure charge is where I want it
  • I start loading ammo

I don't check OAL unless the make or profile of the bullet changes

All my brass is a complete mix of brands, with zero knowledge of how many times its been fired or what the case OAL happens to be.

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