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Powder Cop vs, RCBS Lock-Out Die. (Pay attention Flipz) Lots of PICS.

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by GioaJack, Nov 6, 2010.

  1. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
    1
    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Being the compassionate individual that I am when it comes to helping bewildered newbs I spent a good portion of this lovely Colorado day conducting a comparison between the Hornady Powder Cop and the RCBS Lock-Out Die. (This would have been posted sooner if not for the constant harassment by some GTR posters and the fact that I stopped to watch the NASCAR race. There's only so much I'll sacrifice for a newb.)

    The Powder Cop and RCBS accomplish basically the same thing, alert the loader to either a no powder or double powder condition. They do this is distinctly different ways however.

    As you can see, the two dies are similar in appearance but that is pretty much the only similarity. In this photo the Hornady Powder Cop is on the left and the RCBS Lock-Out die on the right. Both dies are screwed into Hornady LNL Quick Change bushings.
    [​IMG]

    The 'white plastic' foot seen on the Lock-Out die in the above photo is one of two supplied with the die. It is for cases starting at 9mm. The following photo shows both adapters, the larger one obviously used for cases such as .44, .45, etc. Removing the plastic foot once it has been installed is not an easy matter, it took the use of a pair of pliers to accomplish it and left scrape marks. Someone with stronger fingers might be able to do it without the use of a tool. I wonder just how long these 'feet' will last with frequent changing but knowing RCBS' customer service I suspect they would replace them with little trouble.
    [​IMG]

    Since the Powder Cop was already installed on my LNL's we'll start with that. It should be noted that I have Powder Cops installed on both my LNL'S and have been using them for over a year and have become very comfortable with them. Although I shall try to avoid unwanted personal bias in the review of both dies it is a natural reaction that at times is hard to avoid. In this photo you can see the Powder Cop installed in the station directly after the powder measure. Even though your tool head may be set up in a different configuration bot dies require that the follow the powder throw. With the Powder Cop nothing hangs below the bottom of the die. (Fine, the picture is fuzzy... sue me.)
    [​IMG]

    The Powder Cop operates on a very simple principal; if the powder charge is correct the center rod rises until a pre-set white 'O' ring appears even, (or where ever you set it) with the top of the die. The center rod has a series of indents in it for the 'O' ring to be placed and in conjunction of turning the die body up or down has an almost infinite range of adjustment. Although the next photo is a bit difficult to see, (include this one in your suit), it depicts how the rod looks with a correct charge. For my personal tastes I have it set so the top half of the 'O' ring protrudes just above the die top. I takes only a couple tenths of a grain variation to distinguish between a slightly low or slightly high charge.
    [​IMG]

    The next photo depicts a double charge of 3.6 grains of Bullseye. (I use as little as 2.5 for my grandson's .38 loads and 2.8 of HP 38 FOR MY .380 loads. The Powder Cop handles those reduced loads without problem.) A double charge is instantly recognizable and alerts the loader to a serious problem. After becoming familiar with using the die it is equally easy to identify when a charge is slightly low or slightly high and the loader is left with the decision if it is acceptable or not.
    [​IMG]

    Due to the amount of photos this review will take several postings. Don't start asking questions until I get them all done, you'll screw up my rhythm and I'll have to start over. (None of us wants that.)

    Continued on next posting.
     
  2. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
    1
    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO

  3. IndyGunFreak

    IndyGunFreak

    25,915
    1,152
    Jan 26, 2001
    Indiana
    Not to confuse you Jack.. but I see you got a new handle on your Roller handle. I know you said the "original" was to small for your hand.. How is the new one working out? Did you get it at that place I'd sent you, and if so, which one did you get?
     
  4. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
    1
    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Powder Cop/Lock-Out continued.

    The following photo shows the RCBS Lock-Out die installed in the LNL with a Quick Change bushing. The only distinct difference between the two dies is that the RCBS has the detection rod and plastic foot extending below the die base. The rod retracts into the die as the case rises and it's length is exposed above the top of the die.
    [​IMG]

    This photo shows the 'gold ring' that is adjusted much as with the Powder Cop to indicate a proper charge. It is normally adjusted so it is even with the die top but it is raised here just to be clearer in the photo. (I'm very considerate to the viewing audience.)
    [​IMG]

    In this photo you'll notice that the 'gold ring' is considerably higher than the die top and that the detector top has reached the end of its travel. This configuration is a positive indication that the powder charge was correct. Had there been no powder, or a double charge the interior workings of the die would not have been released and inhibited the press handled from being lowered any further. The loader then raises the handle, corrects the problem and if necessary reorients the cases on the shell plate. The die provides for a positive stop of the machine and unless you apply the force that Zombie Steve thinks is normal you'll have to correct the problem before proceeding.
    [​IMG]

    Overview:

    So, which one is better? Beats me, you have to decide. One thing is for sure, it depends on what you want to do with a powder checker. If you want to load rifle cases you're stuck with the Powder Cop, pure and simple... the Lock-Out die is nit designed for them. If you want to load .380's you're going to have to experiment and see if it works, the RCBS instructions state that it only works from 9mm and up. As you can see from the following photo the smallest plastic foot on the Lock-Out doesn't come close to fitting in a .223 case. It does, however it in a .380 which is on the left and 9mm on the right. If you want to use the Powder Cop for .223 you simply turn the detector rod upside down and use the thin end to insert into the case. Larger rifle calibers use the same configuration as for pistol.
    [​IMG]

    Ease of set-up? Initially it goes to the Powder Cop, hands down. Is that because the Lock-Out is so complicated that a flatlander will never figure out how to use it? Nope, it's because the instructions suck. You stand a better chance of reading a Korean newspaper than you do of making any sense out of the supplied instructions. I had to go to several on-line sites to figure the thing out. (UltimateReloader has an excellent video on setting up the die. Kudos to Gavin, he does a wonderful job with his productions.)

    Once you've figured out how to set up the die repeat adjustments are a no brainer so that really shouldn't even be a concern when deciding between the two.

    There you have it, the HornadY Powder Cop and the RCBS Lock-Out die. They both do the same thing but in different ways.

    The argument can be made that the LockOut is the safer of the two since it locks up the machine. The validity of that statement would be unarguable.

    Others would say that the Powder Cop is distracting because it gives you something else to look at. To that I say, poppycock. Just what are you looking at or monitoring when you're pulling the handle of the press down? The Powder Cop is inches in front of your eyes and it's warning is so obvious you'd have to be asleep not to notice it and take corrective action to fix a problem. There are certainly reasons why one might choose the RCBS over the Powder Cop but that isn't one of them.

    With a five stage press where you choose to seat and crimp in different stations, (I don't know why you do but knock yourself out) you'll have to use a PTX with either die.

    I load only lead so I use a Lyman 'M' die to expand then seat and crimp in one station. It doesn't effect my accuracy, I've already progressed to the point where I cam hit a specific wall while standing inside of a barn.

    Both die can be purchased on-line, naturally, with the Powder Cop running around $28 and the RCBS around $54.

    Just like Fox News says... We report, you decide. Good luck.


    Jack
     
  5. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    10,016
    1
    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO

    The new handle is much, much better. I think we got 'em at the place you posted, I'm not sure, Little Stevie ordered them when we were doing handles for Star sizers. IIRC they were a little over $5 a piece. Very much worth the money.

    Now stop hijacking my thread... you have any idea how hard I worked on the damn thing!


    Jack
     
  6. Bob2223

    Bob2223 Jack's buddy!

    1,232
    1
    Mar 26, 2009
    Spencer Indiana
    Well since I only use a powder check die for rifle the RCBS would be useless for me!
    The Hornady powder cop does any caliber and is so simple to use a mountian man can do it.

    Nice write up Jack!


    Bob
     
  7. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
    1
    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    No comparison to the Dillon powder checker thingy on my 650 that goes "beep" if the charge is wrong?
     
  8. Bob2223

    Bob2223 Jack's buddy!

    1,232
    1
    Mar 26, 2009
    Spencer Indiana
    If the battery ain't dead :whistling:




    Bob :supergrin:
     
  9. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    11,682
    1
    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    It's easy enough to check, you just push on the sensor and it will beep. you can also watch the thing actuate like the powder cop to verify the operation.

    Don't know, my 650 came with the Dillon thingy. I don't knwo if it's competitively priced, adaptable to other machines, more or less easily adjustable. I just know it's been around a long time and the RCBS and Hornady units seem to attract a lot of attention as though they are something new and superior. I was just wondering if they do anything better or different.
     
  10. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

    14,949
    173
    Nov 2, 2006
    CO
    All you do is tap it and it goes "beep". Its the same as the low primer alarm and will get a little quieter before it dies.
     
  11. Bob2223

    Bob2223 Jack's buddy!

    1,232
    1
    Mar 26, 2009
    Spencer Indiana

    Just messin with you guyz I'm sure it works :supergrin:


    Bob
     
  12. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

    14,949
    173
    Nov 2, 2006
    CO
    If the user of a Hornady style "zones out" he has no protection. Same as if I zone out while "just looking in the case". Hornady would make it easier to "see" into a 223 for instance and give a nice reference of where the powder is compared to the zero set on the die. But it does nothing if you zone out.

    RCBS will let a monkey pull the handle and (if working) would stop the press even if you don't pay attention.

    Dillon lets you kinda zone out a little but in the end you still need to listen for the beep. It's a pretty loud and annoying beep so it's easy to hear/notice.

    In the end they all can fail. Horandy is so simple it's kinda hard for it to fail but it's still a mechanical device.

    My issue with all these things (much less so with the hornady) is that they almost encourage you to not pay attention. "I have a Lock out die/dillon buzzer cop so I don't need to worry about a double/single/squib. I get a kick out of people who gets squibs and then say "but I had a xxx!" "Yeah, you did but it failed and you fell asleep at the wheel". I think it's a little easier to fall asleep when you think Dillon/RCBS is watching your back.

    Most people have issue with squibs/doubles on a progressive clearing a jam NOT just loading along when everything is going well. I am not sure which I would pick. For me zoning out can be a issue but I am afraid I might be more likely to do it if I had one of these things.
     
  13. Myke_Hart

    Myke_Hart Handloader

    1,858
    20
    Dec 5, 2007
    Mount Eden, KY
    You kids and all your toys that beep. I enjoy my silence when I reload.

    Plus batteries will be scarce when the zombie epockylips gets here.:supergrin:

    Just joshin ya! :rofl:
     
  14. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

    14,949
    173
    Nov 2, 2006
    CO
    If that dillon beeped even for a split second when I was using that press it would be annoying as hell. I don't mind the low primer alarm. You can always watch it and catch it before the beep (5 primers left). But anything else beeping would be annoying for sure. Unless it caught a problem. Then I would be happy to hear the beep.
     
  15. Flipz

    Flipz

    1,515
    0
    Nov 9, 2009
    Maryland
    Fantastic review GioaJack! I really do appreciate you taking the time to put it together. This self admitted reloading newb will feel much safer because of it. I'll be ordering my LnL and dies this week so I appreciate how fast you got the review together. Just trying to keep all my limbs here. Thanks for the help.
    Flipz
     
  16. at_liberty

    at_liberty

    609
    4
    Jun 19, 2010
    Upstate SC
    With due respect to the effort for the review, I had to remove my lock out die, which itself replaced the Powder cop, so that I could have a station for the Lyman M-die, which has proved essential for lead bullets in .45 ACP.

    When loading other calibers or jacketed .45, the lock out can be reinstated.

    I have gone to some lengths to provide brilliant lighting and a discipline to sight check every case before placing a bullet, but if I have a station available, a lock out is still an asset.

    The powder cop wasn't as much use to me because I didn't learn to watch it. Y:wavey:MMV.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  17. dkf

    dkf

    5,442
    133
    Aug 6, 2010
    Never heard of a Lyman U die, only Lee. Maybe he means M die?