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charge weight vs. volume?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Getready4it, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. Getready4it


    Jul 29, 2010
    I'm new to reloading and have been trying to work up some .45 acp loads. I started with a Lee Classic Turret kit. I have a few different powders that I want to try to see what works for my pistol and my shooting. So far I have tried to achieve some starting loads using the Auto Disk Powder Measure and the Lee dippers both with included data and the Lee manual. I'm using the Lee Safety Scale to weigh the charge and while I'm not thrilled with the performance of this scale, I have read just as many good reviews as bad ones. I know there are better instruments for weighing the charge. My concern is that both the Auto Disk and the Lee dippers seem to give a light charge based on the data within the Lee manual and each of the measures I've used. With Accurate #2 I noticed as much as 1.5 grains of difference. I still use the scale to check my charge and I feel the scale is reasonably accurate. I have only loaded in ten round batches and the ones I have shot were shot in mags loaded with four of my hand loads and four factory loads to give me some basis of comparison. Each yielded similar results. Is this variation in the Auto Disk and the Lee dippers normal? What type of scale is an improvement to the Lee? Can you offer any advice on scale choices? The problems I have with the Lee is that I can't seem to get it to retain zero and adjust it to weigh a charge at the same time. Granted, I'm used to using much larger less sensitive tools and I do not have the hands of a jeweler(sp?).
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  2. dudel


    Dec 10, 2008
    Texas Hill Country
    Lee dippers for sure (and possibly the auto disk) throw light charges on purpose (for safety). It's a way to compensate for humidity and different dipping techniques. Dippers work well, but it helps if you "calibrate" them so you know what the throw is for your powder and technique.

  3. Colorado4Wheel


    Nov 2, 2006
    Ignore the data and just use the scale. The data is very conservative just so they can "claim" it's safe to reload with out a scale. That's crazy.
  4. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    C4W & Dudel are both correct. The dippers are fine for rough loading, but should be verified w/ a scale, preferably a good scale. IMO, the Lee is useful, but not a good scale. An adjustable volumn powder measure will allow you more variation in charge wts/volumns. Again, IMO, go cheap on dies & even a press, but spend good money on a scale & measure. That is where you are most likely to get into trouble reloading, powder charges.
  5. PCJim

    PCJim Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2008
    You need to have your scale on a level surface, and in an area where there are no air currents. While most think it only happens with sensitive electronic scales, even beam scales can vary if there is an air current from an a/c register, open window or fan. Unless the knife blades or their rest is damaged, you should be able to maintain a zero balance on the scale before adjusting it to the desired charge weight.

    A very simple and effective means to test for air currents is (and I know this seems silly) to stick your index finger in your mouth to wet it on all sides, then remove and hold it near the scale. Any wind current will cause the moisture to evaporate quicker on the side where the current is, and your finger will feel cooler on that side.
  6. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    The Lee volume system throws light, period. It is very consistent though. If the chart says cavity X throws 5.0 grains and you find it actually throws 4.6, it will always throw 4.6. The cavities are impossible to come out of adjustment as well. As long as you use cavity X you will always get 4.6. Use the chart to get you close to what you are looking for. Then use your scale to determine which cavity will actually get you the weight you want, and jot it down for future reference.