I've started something new this weekend...

I've started something new this weekend...

This is a discussion on I've started something new this weekend... within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; My reloading procedure has been to dispense powder from a Frankford Arsenal IntelliDropper, and, I really like this machine. I had a ChargeMaster until it ...

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  1. #1
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    I've started something new this weekend...

    My reloading procedure has been to dispense powder from a Frankford Arsenal IntelliDropper, and, I really like this machine. I had a ChargeMaster until it went crazy, The IntelliDropper is less expensive and equally consistent or better than the ChargeMaster. It also has a few features the CM doesn't, like auto-dispense mode, and powder dispense calibration and optimizing - without doing internal settings. Anyway, I drift....

    So I dispense the powder, then weigh it on a beam balance scale for confirmation and make any weight adjustments necessary. It's time consuming, but not too bad. It's not something you'd want to do for hundreds of rounds at a time, but it's not bad for 10-25 rounds.

    But, this weekend, I bought an RCBS Uniflow (small). It's quite compact and that was very important for me because I'm pretty much out of useable, efficient space on my reloading bench. I mounted this compact throw in one of the positions on my Redding T7 press. Don't know how that's going to work out yet.

    So now, I'll dispense from the Uniflow instead of the IntelliDropper, but I'll still weigh each charge on the beam balance. This won't be a much faster than using the IntelliDropper because as soon as I put the empty pan back on the IntelliDropper, it automatically starts dispensing the next charge. By the time I get the beam balance confirmation and the powder into the case, the IntelliDropper is very close to having the next load ready. Without question, the Uniflow will dispense faster, but I still have to confirm on the beam balance, adjust as necessary and transfer the powder to the case. The Uniflow won't be automatically dispensing the next load. Plus, I'll dump from the Uniflow to a case, and then transfer to the beam balance pan. Dumping directly to the beam balance pan doesn't work well at all - powder jumps out of the pan from the drop.

    Anyway, the primary purpose of this is to see how accurately the Uniflow dispenses powder, specifically IMR 8208 XBR; that's pretty much become my go to powder. The goal is to eventually eliminate the beam balance IF the Uniflow proves to dispense precisely and consistently enough.

    I will keep you updated on the results.
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    VIP Member Array G26Raven's Avatar
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    Tangle, I will be interested in hearing your results. I use a Chargemaster and with the powder I use, Varget, I get a bit more variability in what it dispenses than I would like. I end up pouring about 15% of the loads back into the tube because they are not exactly what it's set for and then dispensing again.
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    Well, the first thing I've learned is that the Uniflow is about as consistent as I am. That is to say, if I use the same stroke and stop strikes, I get pretty impressive results. If I hit a stop a bit light, the charge is slightly light; if I hit it too hard, the charge is way high.

    The other thing I've discovered is that everytime I move the powder measure on the turret, it compacts the powder a bit. Even those little stop taps compact the powder a bit. I'm anticipating, as in haven't got there yet, the charge will get lighter as the amount of powder in the hopper decreases - we'll see.
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  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by G26Raven View Post
    Tangle, I will be interested in hearing your results. I use a Chargemaster and with the powder I use, Varget, I get a bit more variability in what it dispenses than I would like. I end up pouring about 15% of the loads back into the tube because they are not exactly what it's set for and then dispensing again.
    I wonder how much of that is due to the long grain Varget powder???

    Also, there are some internal parameters you can adjust on the ChargeMaster that may produce faster and more consistent results. But you could find adjustments made to optimize for Varget, don't do well with another powder - but that's just a thought, have no experience with that.

    I think the IntelliDropper is a little more consistent than the CM, and it does have that powder calibration feature that optimizes the dispenser for a given powder at the touch of a button.
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  6. #5
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    I have now discovered one more thing - if you feel the crunch that comes from the throw cutting a granule, you can count on that charge being high. Hmmm...
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  7. #6
    VIP Member Array G26Raven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    I wonder how much of that is due to the long grain Varget powder???

    Also, there are some internal parameters you can adjust on the ChargeMaster that may produce faster and more consistent results. But you could find adjustments made to optimize for Varget, don't do well with another powder - but that's just a thought, have no experience with that.

    I think the IntelliDropper is a little more consistent than the CM, and it does have that powder calibration feature that optimizes the dispenser for a given powder at the touch of a button.
    I think you're absolutely right about the Varget. I also pre-load Blackhorn 209 powder for my muzzleloader into film cannisters for field use and the charges are much more accurate.
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    Distinguished Member Array darbo's Avatar
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    I don't have the RCBS system but do use the same style Hornady powder measure on my Hornady AP. I generally use a ball or flake type powder and it measures very accurately. Having said that I generally load for range type ammo and not the extreme precision you develop.

    Trying to use Varget in that type of dispenser just didn't work very well. I guess if a person wanted to do a partial charge and then trickle the last bit it might work but that is just too time consuming. I'll stay with ball or flake powders that meter very well in that type of cylinder measuring system.
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    Wow! After all this time, I have 6 charges loaded. So far, the Uniflow has been about as inconsistent as it gets.

    All of a sudden, from the 5th charge to the 6th, the powder weight jumped high. I wound up adjusting the volume screw nearly a whole revolution before it came back to the correct charge weight. I think this may be due to powder "layering". That is, powder down in the hopper has more weight against it than powder higher up in the hopper. That means the powder in the lower section is more compressed.

    There is a sheet metal gadget (forget what it's called) that goes in the bottom of the hopper to help with powder that problem.

    Also, I realize powder throws don't do extruded powder as accurately and consistently as ball or flake, but IMR 8208 XBR is a short granule; this variation is way too much to be due to the powder.
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    Quote Originally Posted by darbo View Post
    I don't have the RCBS system but do use the same style Hornady powder measure on my Hornady AP. I generally use a ball or flake type powder and it measures very accurately. Having said that I generally load for range type ammo and not the extreme precision you develop.
    Apparently, I don't get "extreme precision" to start with

    Quote Originally Posted by darbo View Post
    ...Trying to use Varget in that type of dispenser just didn't work very well. I guess if a person wanted to do a partial charge and then trickle the last bit it might work but that is just too time consuming. I'll stay with ball or flake powders that meter very well in that type of cylinder measuring system.
    That makes sense; I have heard long grain powders don't dispense consistently from powder measures (throw types). That being though, @G26Raven is dispensing from an electronic dispenser that measures by weight and has built in trickling. I think what is going on there is the trickler is not tuned to the long grain powder and when it senses (by weight) that it's getting close, it goes into the trickle mode. If the trickle settings aren't right, "one" trickle could dump too much powder. Fine tuning the internal parameters might improve the problem or eliminate it. But then if they're set for Varget, it might not dispense his muzzle loading powder consistently.
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  11. #10
    Distinguished Member Array darbo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tangle View Post
    Wow! After all this time, I have 6 charges loaded. So far, the Uniflow has been about as inconsistent as it gets.

    All of a sudden, from the 5th charge to the 6th, the powder weight jumped high. I wound up adjusting the volume screw nearly a whole revolution before it came back to the correct charge weight. I think this may be due to powder "layering". That is, powder down in the hopper has more weight against it than powder higher up in the hopper. That means the powder in the lower section is more compressed.

    There is a sheet metal gadget (forget what it's called) that goes in the bottom of the hopper to help with powder that problem.

    Also, I realize powder throws don't do extruded powder as accurately and consistently as ball or flake, but IMR 8208 XBR is a short granule; this variation is way too much to be due to the powder.
    Well that's disappointing you are getting such inaccurate charges. The metal thing is called a baffle. Do you have the baffle down at the bottom of the powder tube? If yes then I'm out of ideas!

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by darbo View Post
    ...I generally use a ball or flake type powder and it measures very accurately. Having said that I generally load for range type ammo and not the extreme precision you develop....I'll stay with ball or flake powders that meter very well in that type of cylinder measuring system.
    @darbo , I'm with you on the ball and flake powders In fact, the military uses ball or flake (don't remember which) and so does Black Hills in their MK 262 "sniper" ammo.

    I think what the trade of is, is temperature stability. I was looking for a powder that I wouldn't have to be concerned with large differences in temperature throughout the year. I was at the range last year when it was 9°, that's nine degrees! This past summer I was at the range two days at 100°! Keeping records of load data for various temperatures didn't have much appeal to me so I started using Varget. Varget is extremely insensitive to temperature. But, I pretty quickly found a problem with Varget.

    I loaded up 20 test rounds at Sierra's maximum recommended charge of 23.9 gr for their 77 gr SMK. In my BSF 14.5" carbon fiber barrel AR, that produced a velocity of 2430 fps and some slight pressure signs. I switched to IMR 8208 XBR with the same bullet. Sierra doesn't list a load for 8208 for the 77 gr SMK, but IMR does so I went by the IMR max load of 23.2 gr. Again for 20 rounds, I got about 2567 fps without pressure signs.

    The difference in velocity is a whopping difference of 2567 fps minus 2430 fps = 137 fps! Remember, same gun, same bullet, max loads as recommended. Now let's say the Varget did not produce any more pressure signs than the 8208. That means perhaps I could increase the charge. In this gun, for this bullet, the velocity goes up about 11 fps for every 0.1 gr of powder. To increase by 137 fps I would have to increase the charge by 1.25 gr. That would be 1.25 gr over recommended max.

    And, I've talked to and heard of others that see the same velocity limitation with Varget. Looking at the Sierra Reloading Manual, Varget has the lowest velocity of all the powders they list except one, 748 - it's slower than Varget.

    If velocity doesn't matter and you aren't going to dispense from a powder throw, Varget is a good choice. Since velocity does matter to me, especially when there's a difference of 137 fps, so it's not a good choice for me. IMR 8208 XBR also has low temperature sensitivity, not as low as Varget, but close.

    However, given that even the short grain 8208 doesn't seem to be dispensing well from a throw type dispenser, it's sure making ball and flake powders attractive. All along, a goal has been to get to a point where I can use a throw type dispenser to speed up the reloading process. From what I'm seeing so far, that's not looking good for 8208. I may give TAC a go through the Uniflow. If it's consistent, I may have to keep up with charges vs temperature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by darbo View Post
    Well that's disappointing you are getting such inaccurate charges.
    That it is - was not expecting that.

    Quote Originally Posted by darbo View Post
    The metal thing is called a baffle.
    There ya go - I could not think of the name of that - thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by darbo View Post
    Do you have the baffle down at the bottom of the powder tube? If yes then I'm out of ideas!
    I don't - I'll see if I can get one for the Uniflow. I have one for my Hornady but that measure is set up for use with the Hornady Lock n Load progressive press and won't work independently.
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    @darbo , found a baffle at Midway for $3.86. Of course to be sure I get it before Thanksgiving, I had to pay for overnight shipping, but at least I won't have to wait for a week to get it.

    BTW, what kind of ball/flake powder do you use? What caliber? Thanks!
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  15. #14
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    I found that with a positive up and down stroke, “Klunk-Klunk,” and two taps with a screw driver handle, “Clink- Clink,” the Uniflow is very consistent when making pistol cartridges, but I haven’t used it for the larger rifle volumes yet.

    I weigh every fifth charge if they are hot and every 20 or so for target fodder. Hammering up and down threw the rivet and knerelled knob right off the lever. Never used the knob anyway. The lever is wrapped in thin foam and green masking tape.

    The other important thing for me is the audible process is used to minimize errors. The klunks and clinks are one with a quick visual right before placing a bullet and pressing. I get a rhythm going and confidence that there are no double or empty charges.
    Empty cases can never be near bullets. The only time I touch a case is to charge it. Only a charged case can proceed to the right where the bullets are.

    When making some specific loads, I do still trickle charge.

    A friend of mine put a homemade baffle in his, says he needed it to do rifle consistently. I haven’t found the need yet.
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    @Struckat , you confirmed my suspicion that one would have to be very consistent to get consistent results.

    I'm going to defer further testing until the baffle comes in; I'm hoping that will be somewhat stabilizing.
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