Weight of powder dipped by volume vs. published min-max charge data

Weight of powder dipped by volume vs. published min-max charge data

This is a discussion on Weight of powder dipped by volume vs. published min-max charge data within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I got a lb. of Alliant Power Pistol and built 5 test cartridges using the data in the Lee Reloading book for a 9mm 115gr ...

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Thread: Weight of powder dipped by volume vs. published min-max charge data

  1. #1
    Member Array ThePontificator's Avatar
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    Weight of powder dipped by volume vs. published min-max charge data

    I got a lb. of Alliant Power Pistol and built 5 test cartridges using the data in the Lee Reloading book for a 9mm 115gr FMJ bullet.

    The lee book says to use a .5cc dipper.

    The published minimum-maximum weights for a charge of this powder is 6.2gr not to exceed 6.7gr

    However, the weight of a level dipper of Power Pistol using a .5cc dipper is about 5.5gr

    Hmmmm.....

    I was thinking that maybe my vintage Ohaus powder scale is "off" (I'm taking it to school this week to use some check weights on it). I did do some Googling and read that a typical volume of dipped powder using Lee Dippers is less than the minimum starting charge.

    The five rounds I tested worked fine. No slide cycling issues. I've also loaded about 1000 rounds of 9mm using the .5cc dipper and Alliant Bullseye and have experienced no problems.

    (I am also going to weigh a dipper of Bullseye as well)

    What's the story on this discrepancy?

    Lee Precision obviously knows this exists. I'm looking for the rationale.


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    I would never use a dipper without verifying its weight accuracy with scales. I've never been able to get the consistancy I desire with a dipper, only with a dropper.
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Sometimes, it's easier to use a dipper Thant to weighcharges from a traditional powder dispenser. Especially when using powders that do not flow well such as longer grained powders for rifle cartridges.

    What I do is use the dipper that gets me closest to my desired " weight" and then trickle the powder after that until the scale balances.

    But, I only do this when I want the very best accuracy for rifles.
    With most of my pistol loads, I have found that if I am using a chosen load that directly correlates or is the same as a dipper, than a dipper is close enough for Goverment work.

    I have found that even the powder dispenser such as manual ones supplied with " kits" throw an " in the ball park " charge from round to round, but even this is quite adequate for handgun loads.
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    The discrepancy comes from the fact that a dipper that uses volume to measure is not the same as a powder scale that measures weight.

    The thing about dippers is that they use volume for a specific powder. If you deviate from the specific powder, then the dipper will usually be either plus or minus its stated value because the powders are all different. For instance, a flake powder like Unique or Bullseye will show a different weight than the same measure with a ball powder like Win 231.

    That is why must consult the chart that comes with the kit of powder dippers. I have the whole set from Lee but I havent used them in years because an actual powder measure that weights the powder is so much more accurate, usally within a tenth of a grain on most powders.

    I use the Dillon 550B measure that works just fine with both rifle and pistol powders.

    Using a dipper is to use old technology. Now that powder scales are so easy to get, I'd put the dippers away and use a scale. Dippers are usally a couple of grains off. Measures are usally within a 1/10 of a grain so there really in no comparison when it comes to accuracy.
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    All of my stuff is old, old, old! I still use the same single stage press I bought 27 years ago, and haven't had a need to change anything.

    Now, like HotGuns correctly pointed out, there is no need to use dippers. The scale is much better.

    As old as my stuff is, I have yet to see a factory round I can't reproduce, except for those that use blended powders.

    Currently, the only factory fodder that goes thru my guns are 9mm because they are so cheap. Everything else is " home brew".
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Weight is weight; volume is easily likely to be some other weight, until verified.

    I'm sure some old sage said that, millennia ago, more or less. It's as true now as it was then.
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    Member Array ThePontificator's Avatar
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    I think I'm going to get myself a Lee Perfect Powder measure. It's within my meager price range. If I had a powder trickler I'd likely be using it already.

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    A powder dipper is no different than using a fancy powder measure. Not talking scales. It depends on the user to develop a consistent motion when filling the dipper or measure. Vary your motion and the charge will change. If you consistently fill your dipper and it is 5.5 each time then you are doing it right. There is no problem.

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    Member Array DrahtDog's Avatar
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    I always verify with a scale before using any type of volume measurement. Also the first step of using a scale is to calibrate or verify the accuracy with your check weights.

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    Senior Member Array revldm's Avatar
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    I used to reload a long time ago and one reason I quit was I never could get a powder scale or a powder measure to give the same charge evey time. I always would worry that the load would be too hot and blow up my gun. Then there was the issue of which powder should I use and do I need diffrent powders for diffrent calibers? I still have primers and powder left over from the Clinton era. I would rather just trust factory loads and forget it.

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    Senior Member Array BamaT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrahtDog View Post
    I always verify with a scale before using any type of volume measurement. Also the first step of using a scale is to calibrate or verify the accuracy with your check weights.
    This is exactly what I do. I use the Lee Autodisk powder measure quite frequently, but I always verify the weight this may. This may be overkill, but I verify with my old RCBS balance beam scale, and a digital scale, both calibrated with weights. My Autodisk is very consistent; it is using volume, but I believe it is much superior to the dippers, and I do verify powder charge weight, several times.
    Last edited by BamaT; August 26th, 2012 at 07:41 PM.
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThePontificator View Post
    I think I'm going to get myself a Lee Perfect Powder measure. It's within my meager price range. If I had a powder trickler I'd likely be using it already.
    I hear those are nice. I just trickle powder by hand when I am trying to get it just perfect. But you will eventually find out for yourself that unless you are going for precision everytime, the variance from charge to charge is still plenty good for pistols. I dont even go for an exact measurement on the loads I use long distance shooting with the handgun.

    Here are 40 and 50 yard groups with the 45 acp. I didnt measure each charge. Just put it under the powder dispenser once it was dialed in to the approximate weight I wanted and loaded each case straight from the spout. I doubt very, very seriously factory ammo would have been any better.
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    VIP Member Array SmokinFool's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    I hear those are nice. I just trickle powder by hand when I am trying to get it just perfect. But you will eventually find out for yourself that unless you are going for precision everytime, the variance from charge to charge is still plenty good for pistols. I dont even go for an exact measurement on the loads I use long distance shooting with the handgun.

    Here are 40 and 50 yard groups with the 45 acp. I didnt measure each charge. Just put it under the powder dispenser once it was dialed in to the approximate weight I wanted and loaded each case straight from the spout. I doubt very, very seriously factory ammo would have been any better.
    Yep, once a powder measure is "dialed in," the small variance from throw to throw will not have much of an effect on accuracy for most handgun loads. I do trickle the last little bit to get to an exact load weight when I shoot bullseye competition. Other than that, I just "set it and forget it."

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array SmokinFool's Avatar
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    By the way, ThePontificator, if you do decide you want to try the "trickle" method, a manual trickler is not very expensive.
    Last edited by SmokinFool; August 27th, 2012 at 01:06 AM.

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    I've never used the Lee dippers but MEC's(shot gun) powder bushing chart has the same error to the light side. At a guess(it's only a guess), I would say the the charge volume/weight charts err to to the light so that a well packed scoop will not be over weight.

    I would also say that if you are overly concerned with being exact on your powder charges, that the trickler used in conjunction with the closest dipper would be better than the Lee Perfect Powder Measure by it's self. And a good trickler(are there any bad ones?) is about half the price of the PPM. I use the PPM for my rifle loads but trickle up for consistency in everything but my .223 plinking loads. The PPM is going to have a +/- .2gn at best and if you have any inconsistency in your throw method it will be more like +/-.3gn.
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