View Full Version : Hand weighing charges . . . .

Montana Pete
02-20-2010, 09:54 AM
It is my practice to throw charges from a measure, pour them into my scale pan, and trickle powder to within about 1/10 of a grain.

This slows down the reloading process considerably. However, I do it for two reasons.

1. I almost blew myself up last summer using charges I "trusted" from my measure. Something was haywire that day, never sure what. So checking charges with my scale maximizes safety.

2. It may not shrink groups to do things this way, that is -- match charges to 1/10 grain-- but the way I figure it, it can't hurt.

I am not one of those guys who goes to the range and shoots 100 rds. My sessions are very slow and painstaking, and it is not uncommon of me to fire just 25 or 30 rds, then go home. So I don't need large batches of ammo, and therefore slow reloading speed is not quite as tiresome for me.

I should add that I am shooting a 22-250 varminter and have no experience with true benchrest rifles.

Is this what other people do also?

02-20-2010, 10:09 AM
I throw mine also 0.1 short or so from a electronic dispencer and trickle up to what I want on a 1/100 gr. scale (0.01) that really only gives 0.02 due to the fact I don't cut the powder granulars. So Iin my mind the charges are as close as humanly possible....er, that is I am human and I still have made a mistake some where, just not in the charge weight I hope. I still use my Dillon 550 for AR and pistol loads even some hunting ammo if the powder is one that flows good from the measure, but never Match loads anymore, it seems to work for me loading slow, since I started going the extra my scores have improved and the dogs gets longer naps.

02-20-2010, 10:13 AM
Most of the time I "throw" them and only weigh one every 5 or 10 throws. If I encounter a problem here, I've been known to dump them all and start over. However, before I seat the bullets I do inspect them all looking into each case in the block checking to see that they all at least appear consistantly filled to the same level in the case. I generally load powders and charges that nearly fill the case making a visual inspection easy.

I've got an older Lyman/Culver measure and a new Harrell's. The Harrell's will spoil you, it did me. I love the thing and have been surprised by just how consistant it is.

And then there are the times I will do like you. But not as often now as when I started loading. This is usually when I try with a new powder I'm not familiar with.

Boyd Allen
02-20-2010, 10:41 AM
Closely looking at all of the cases in a loading block, at the same time, to compare powder levels, is a very important safety precaution. What can happen is that you will get bridging within a measure that causes less than a full charge to drop, and the powder that did not will be added to the next charge.

02-20-2010, 12:20 PM
I've found that my micrometer adjustment on my powder measure moves as I throw charges, which isn't a problem when I trickle up extruded powder, but with ball powder I put a piece of tape on it to keep it from moving after it's been set. I do the visual level inspection as well.

When I select a load (pistol in particular) I make sure it fills at least half the case so that a double charge will overflow and I'll know immediately that I screwed up. nhk

Montana Pete
02-20-2010, 12:40 PM
Thanks for helpful responses.

As for examining the powder level in all the cases in the block, once charges have been supplied, I do it for everything, but this step is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL for certain loads.

When is this eyesight check totally critical? Example-- I have a pet load used for the .44 Magnum revolver using 5 grains of Red Dot behind a 240 gr. cast bullet. This charge only fills about 25 pct. of the case. A double charge would take the gun apart. And what's scary, a double charge would not be apparent without a careful visual inspection using a penlight flashlight.

This is very sensitive stuff. There are old reloaders, and there are bold reloaders, but there aren't many old, bold reloaders.

f d shuster
02-21-2010, 11:34 AM
Takes me an average of 15 minutes to weigh 20 charges on the RCBS 505 scale, and to me, that's acceptable. When I hear about all the hassles involved with the electronic scales (drifting, warm up times, drafts, false readings, etc.), and knowing that a lot of mechanical measures will not throw stick powders consistantly, I see no other alternative. If larger quantities of ammo is req'd (AR-15 for CMP & Hi Power matches), then ball powder is used with an RCBS Uniflow.

jackie schmidt
02-21-2010, 12:34 PM
Much of the "should I or should I not" concerning weighing charges at the range centers around whether it is viable at typical 100-200 yard Benchrest Matches.

If I am at the range testing and practicing, I can take what ever time I need to weigh every charge, whether it is with my Denver Electronic or my little Ohaus beam that I bought 30 years ago. But, each has it's limitations at matches.

The big drawback to most electronics is they drift. Lay a case on, zero, take it off, throw the charge, set the case on, it's a tad light, you add some powder, set the case back on, and the darned thing weighs LESS. Get the idea.

The beam is usless without a good cover, just handling everything while trying not to be too clumsy can be a hassle.

Then you have to get the powder into the case. It sticks to the pan, it overflows, it, well, you get the picture.All of this happenning while the Range Officer is calling your relay to the line.

The RCBS Chargemaster looks good on paper, but it still uses the same little scale that won't weigh the same charge the same twice.

Right now, I have a lot of cash tied up in the very best electronic, a cheaper electronic, and my old beam balance. And you know what, I still am not sure if I am going weigh charges at a Match, or do it the way I have for close to 15 years.

It all looks good on paper, but translating all of this to the loading area, with the wind blowing, and the loading table shaking all around, it can become a exercise in futility.

I may just start loading in my Motorhome. But then, I will miss one of tghe main things I do this for in the first place. Shootin the Bull with my friends.:D

We have our first Unlimited match the last week end in March at Tomball. I guess I will find out there how it's all going to work........jackie

Joe Salt
02-21-2010, 03:57 PM
Jackie Get yourself some laboratory glass tubes with corks, thats what I use when need to take extra loads. Should be able to find some on the web.

Joe Salt

Bob Kingsbury
02-21-2010, 04:27 PM
When my rifle won't repeat, its not working. When my scale won't,
and it defies my best attempts , I find another way. My acculab
is one of those things, that just needs a new address, and it will
be fine. I have a competitive edge that has not failed yet, so I'll
keep trying. I have an rcbs in a non magnetic stailess steel cabinet
that works, but magnets may not be the way to go. I found an old
redding with the oil paddle. The vee was slightly rusted, so it was
honed and now works well enough to give me confidence. It was not
immune to drafts though. I built a plexiglass cover and put a hole in the side
for a trickler. The whole thing sits on top of a high tech cinder block
for stability, and can be viewed at eye level. Now my shop has ceiling fans
that run 24/7. so there are drafts. The plastic cabinet had a slight airgap
under the front edge which at first I thought would not be a problem.
when the trickler had brought the beam to perfection, withdrawing
the trickler from the hole in the plastic cover, caused the beam to
drop just over a tenth, every time. Apparently there was sufficient
air moving under the edge and out the hole to disturb the reading.
A strip of insulating foam was added and that works fine. Is this
better than the electronic and can I take it to the range, I doub't it.
But, It will weigh one kernal of powder and do it consistantly

02-21-2010, 04:37 PM
Joe Salt....in short range benchrest..we change powder charges throughout the day. Also, if just range testing, we do the same. Test tubes just don't work for that purpose.

Montana Pete, The PPC is at the top end of weight of charges that I throw directly into a case. 22-250 is about 5 grns more and it always seemed to me that a 22-250 will got to hot real quick when at the top end loads so a slightly heavy change will pop primers. I did this several times before I gave up and started weighing them and the problem went away. Just something to think about.


02-21-2010, 05:27 PM
I don't know how many 22-250 cases I've loaded but it'd be a whole lot. And about 90% of them, I've loaded straight from the measure. I use H380 because it is so powder measure friendly. I do a tap-tap at the top and bottom of my stroke to guard against the powder bridging and to ensure a constant fill of the powder chamber. And lastly, as posted several times, I eyeball, under a strong light, the powder level in the cases before seating my bullets.

02-21-2010, 06:37 PM
I do not weigh every varmint hunting load, maybe every 5, on my cheapo Hornady digital scale. Check it with the Redding beam scale periodically, and its right on.

Loads in 6BR and 30BR are trickled to zero. Now, a good measure will throw loads to within .1 grain. I wonder whether that is close enough to produce quality competition cartridges? Do you trust your powder measure to keep them that close?

02-21-2010, 07:48 PM
Now, a good measure will throw loads to within .1 grain. I wonder whether that is close enough to produce quality competition cartridges? Do you trust your powder measure to keep them that close?

In a word, yes. In fact, .2 won't make a bit of difference--especially if you ignore the windflags!

02-21-2010, 07:50 PM
Joe Salt....in short range benchrest..we change powder charges throughout the day. Also, if just range testing, we do the same. Test tubes just don't work for that purpose.


Most "tube shooters" I've seen pre-load a hundred or so of several different charge weights and try them all and see which works best and then save the other ones they don't use for another day.

02-21-2010, 08:00 PM
The RCBS Chargemaster looks good on paper, but it still uses the same little scale that won't weigh the same charge the same twice.

Hmmm...I've had THREE Chargemasters now and never had this problem you mention once.

The trick (or common sense) to electronic scales is to first, throw away the plastic pan. They are static electricity magnets and will make your scale flutter like crazy. Second, get 'em level! If they aren't, they won't be consistent. Third, make sure you don't have static electricity built up in the wind cover if you're going to use it. Touching it with pure copper or using dryer sheets on it should solve that problem. If you do these things, the CHargemaster will work flawlessly and give very repeatable readings.

02-22-2010, 09:14 AM
Why have you had three Chargemasters, if there so good?

02-22-2010, 09:58 AM
I use a Lyman powder measure,Lyman balance scales as back up and an RCBS 750 electronic scales, throw each charge check on electronic scale and every 5th load recheck on the balance beam, target shooting only and I normally only load 20-30 rounds at a time. No distractions in shop nor vibrations,etc. Works for me however not for high volume shooters. Oh, and I check charged cases in loading block with LED light. I've never had problems
with my RCBS scales, like all tools believe it is the way they are used or maintained.
40+ years of reloading no accidents and I want it to remain that way...

02-22-2010, 12:05 PM
Why have you had three Chargemasters, if there so good?

Bought the first one when they were first introduced. Used it all over the place. Literally logged about 15,000 miles with it sitting on my back seat. Loaded with it at every match I went to plus every practice session for both long and short range shooting disciplines. Don't know how many thousands of rounds it dispensed but it was enough to finally wear it out. One day, it just wouldn't turn on. Sent it back to RCBS, they sent me a new one no questions asked and I didn't even have to pay shipping. Now I use the new one plus another supplemental one for high volume loading. Two is quicker than one!

02-23-2010, 07:40 AM
Yes they are, I run 2 of the PACT's for the same reason.....even stopping to trickle on my 1/100th scale I don't have to wait for another pan full.

Montana Pete
02-24-2010, 09:43 AM
There have been a few posts in this thread about possible error in scales -- drifting for the electronic ones, and so forth.

One tip-- use one of your own bullets to check your scale. For example, weigh a 55 grain .224 bullet. If you are right on the 55 mark of your scale, you know your scale is generally accurate. If you are a tenth off or so, could be a manufacturing variance, but you at least know your scale is generally right.

02-24-2010, 03:17 PM
Most scales come with check weights. I use them on the electronic and beam measures.