View Full Version : Powder measures...

William H. Shuey
12-06-2010, 08:10 PM
I have a Christmas sale flyer from MidSouth Shooter's Supply and they have a couple of these computerised powder measure and charge dispensers on sale, Hornady, Lyman and RCBS. Does any body out there have any experience with these items?? I'm wondering about buying a nice Christmas present for me.

Bill Shuey
1st Maine Hvy. Art.

12-07-2010, 07:44 AM
I'm also interested in buying myself something neat. After all, it'll be the right size, and color and I won't have to return it. All I know is no manufacturer will recommend for black powder and they have a small problem with rod like smokeless powders. They don't seem to throw consistent charges with them. But it may only be a tenth or so off. I thought I heard that one manufacturer (can't remember) had a solution for that problem. Can't remember if it was a manufacturing or procededural solution. Keep on searching the www for answers before you commit. Not much to go on. After that it's either price or personal preference.

Ron/The Old Reb
12-07-2010, 08:44 AM
Before for you invest in one get on Midways or Cabela's web sight and read all the reviews. I too, a couple years ago got the hots for one of these measures. But before I committed to buying one I read all the reviews that I could fine. Some people bragged them up as the best thing since slice bread. Others said that they were nothing but junk. I found that there seamed to be more cons then pros. I remember one where the person said that when he was in the basement reloading and his daughter was up stairs talking on a cell phone it made the measurer go wacky and would not throw an accurate charge. So I stayed with my old B & M measurer and my old OHAUS D5 scale. May be slow but a lot less headaches.

Gary Van Kauwenbergh, 101
12-07-2010, 09:03 AM
I have the older RCBS electroninc scale and powder measure, and I do like it - but I only use it when I'm putting together a batch of "match grade" ammunition. I.e., weighing all the bullets too. I think the new ones operate faster. I usually get within five grains of my desired weight with a Lee powder scoop, then let the machine throw the rest of the charge.

Is it necessary? No.

Would I buy it again? Yes.

Greg Ogdan, 11444
12-07-2010, 01:35 PM
You may want to check the forums at 6mmbr.com. There are several threads dealing with just such measures and how to "hot rod" them and also make them more accurate. Still $200 plus seems like a lot to pay for a powder measure. Just my $.02

Pat in Virginia
12-07-2010, 04:33 PM
Bill, you may also want to consider what your homeowners and/or medical insurance company might do if the unexpected happens and you were using a device that the manufacturer has specifically stated wasn't designed for use with black powder. I believe in most states, If the insurance company can prove that you were grossly negligent then they are off the hook with regard to covering the loss. For example, if your car is stolen and you went away and left it running then I believe in most states the insurance company is off the hook with regard to covering the loss. I don't mean to be a wet blanket, but I faced this question when I bought my Lyman BP measure. I originally bought the one for smokeless powder and then as I was reading the instructions it stated specifically it was not for use with BP. I sent it back as it was sold to me for BP use and got the Lyman BP measure in return.

There is a reason why they have to change the internal parts of a BP measure to be extra careful where static electricity is concerned. You have a bomb right in front of your face if something untoward happens and there is a static spark. Ask yourself the question: "Can you stand the potential damage to yourself and to your house if the insurance company won't cover let alone the problems even if they will."

Check out the, Lyman BP, Harrel BP, and the old B&M (Belding & Mull) powder measures if you want one that is specifically designed for black powder. Also, realize that a B&M will probably throw charges to within .2 of a grain (when using Swiss 2F or 1 1/2F) if you do your part.

The gentleman, Joe Hepsworth, who led the Long Range Muzzle Loader team from the US in the 2009 World Championships, now deceased, would use a B&M to throw charges on the range when he wasn't seriously competing. LRML matches begin at 200 yards and mostly go to 1000 although some go to 1200 yards in England. I recently read something that indicated what a deviation of so much powder would do at a certain range in a LR target rifle. I'll see if I can run it to ground,

12-08-2010, 10:47 AM
Gents: have been following this thread with interest, thinking of investing in one myself. Was kinda thinking along the line of a Lyman 55 BP, but wonder if the more expensive ones you guys are mentioning would be worth the extra investment. Are the main advantages the calibration or consistency of charge? How about removing the unused powder between sessions, I imagine some are easier than others? Thanks in advance, best follow someone if you have to go through a minefield. Tom

Pat in Virginia
12-08-2010, 01:14 PM
As promised I dug up the information on how much variation in bullet strike elevation results from a variation in powder weight.

Back around 1888, John Halford, one of, if not, the leading British marksman did some experiments with Curtis & Harvey #6 (Swiss 1 1/2 has about the same ballistics - think of Swiss 1 1/2 as being the larger granules of 2F and Swiss 2F as being the smaller granules of what we think of as 2F).

He found that 1 grain of powder difference made a difference in impact of 1 minute of angle at 1000 yards. Now that doesn't necessarily mean that at shorter ranges it would also have the same variance. It would be nice to assume that, but it really should be tested and verified. He was probably using a bullet somewhere around 550 grains, but no less than 530. His charge was probably somewhere between 80 and 90 grains of Curtis & Harvey #6 (or today's Swiss 1 1/2).

I'll see what some of the LRML (200-1000 yards) shooters think and get back to you?

12-08-2010, 02:23 PM
There is a reason why they have to change the internal parts of a BP measure to be extra careful where static electricity is concerned. You have a bomb right in front of your face if something untoward happens and there is a static spark.

Your might find this experiment of interest: Can a static spark set off black powder? (http://www.ctmuzzleloaders.com/ctml_experiments/sparks/sparks.html)


12-08-2010, 02:29 PM
Back around 1888..........

The experiments by William Metford pre-date that by 20 years and relate to .45 cal rifles. William Metford and Henry Halford worked together for many years on long range target shooting in particular.


Pat in Virginia
12-08-2010, 04:52 PM
David, also, kindly provided the following information:

William Metford wrote:

"I find from careful experiment that at 1,000 yards 95 grains will throw the
bullet nearly 4.5 minutes of angle higher than 90 grains, and about 2.25
minutes of angle at 500 yards. This will equal to 9 inches per grain at
1,000 yards, and 2.25 inches at 500 yards."

It's interesting to note that a difference of 5 grains of powder gave a difference of 4.5 minutes of angle in Metford's case, i.e., .9 minutes of angle per grain difference, if you will allow me to extrapolate. Halford was saying that 1 grain made a difference of 1 minute of angle at 1000 yards. So the results are close enough to be consistent. Halford preferred an 80 grain load per his book, but he didn't say that is what his findings were based on.

It is also interesting to note that the difference between 1000 and 500 yard remained consistent, i.e., a factor of two in range and elevation differential but the minutes of angle remained the same, approximately 1 minute of angle at each range.

Now as David points out the LR results were for .45 caliber rifles. Will they carry over dirrectly to .58 caliber rifled-muskets? That too much to expect, but might there be a similar relationship with perhaps only the minutes of angle per grain being different?

Pat in Virginia
12-08-2010, 04:59 PM
With regard to the experiment David mentioned, I had already seen that and I'm not willing to accept it as conclusive. Maybe I'm bull headed, but those English, American, French etc. powder monkeys that served the cannons generally wore felt shoes when entering the powder magazines. I assume for a reason they found out the hardway.

Also, would the experiment stand up in a legal proceeding when a manufacturer has said, in essence, don't use this product for black powder, and someone did and an accident occured. And, the insurance company wants to avoid paying damages.

I couldn't stand the loss.

Pat in Virginia

Scott Kurki, 12475
12-14-2010, 04:14 PM
It is my understanding that it is the heat from the spark that ignites the powder. If that is true, I would think that the amount of heat needed would depend on the size of the powder granules, smaller granules requiring less heat to reach flash point. Since the powder in a can is only generally the size on the label, meaning it does contain finer powder, you could have an ignition with very little heat. So if your spark creates enough heat to ignite the size granules of powder it comes in contact with, you could have a problem.

Everything in life has its own set of risks associated with it. Some people have a higher tolerance for risk than others. Personally, I am not very risk tolerant so I take steps to minimize as much risk as possible when handling black powder, which includes eliminating sparks that could cause heat which could ignite powder.

Paul Stephenson
12-15-2010, 08:29 AM
Does anyone use the Cal - Graf black powder measure ?

12-19-2010, 04:18 PM
When I first got into skirmishing about 8 years ago I bought a Cal-Graf powder measure. It came with no instructions but wasn't too hard to figure out how to assemble & use. Several years ago I bought a Harrell measure to use with smokeless powder & found out in ordering it you could get it with an aluminum powder cylinder for use with black powder. I got it that way and thats all I use now. The Cal Graf is OK and was a lot cheaper than the Harrell, but once you use the Harrell with its micrometer adjustments you will be hooked for good.