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Thread: Measuring powder

  1. #1
    Yakiman is offline
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    Measuring powder

    I have never shot competitively and always just use a spout or adjustable powder measure but I see comments about loading 31 or 43 or other seemingly odd weights of powder. Are people actually measuring by weight- can't see how you'd get those specific quantities measuring by volume.

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    My Lee Perfect Powder Measure (not rated for black powder; I use it anyway) drops powder to within .2 gains typically. So you can get very accurate drops volumetrically. The trick is to go through the same motions every time. Any deviation in how you touch the measuring device can result in the powder settling more or less in the chamber and altering your drop.

    But, I always calibrate the volumetric drop by scale. So, if I need 40 grains of powder, I will adjust the grow on the powder drop until it consistently drops 40 grains of powder. Then I spot-check every 10 rounds or so.

    However, last Christmas Santa brought me the RCBS Chargemaster Dispenser that hooks up to my RCBS 1500 Chargemaster scale. It is not rated for black powder, but I use it for it anyway. It works great. Now, I measure by weight every competition charge.

    The way I typically do a load workup is I start at a known low-end, and go to a known high-end, in 5 grain increments. So, for a musket, I might start at 35 grains and work up to 60 grains in 5-grain increments, at least 5 shots, usually 10.

    Once I find the best load that way, I might go back in 2-grain increments around the best group to see if I can get it a little tighter.

    Steve

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    Lou Lou Lou is offline
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    Loading from the can on the line is dangerous. A spark could ignite the bomb in your hands. Thus the premeasured charges. My two cents
    Lou Lou Lou Ruggiero
    Tammany Regt-42nd NYVI

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    PoorJack is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yakiman View Post
    I have never shot competitively and always just use a spout or adjustable powder measure but I see comments about loading 31 or 43 or other seemingly odd weights of powder. Are people actually measuring by weight- can't see how you'd get those specific quantities measuring by volume.
    Actually, you can't get consistently accurate charges going on volume alone, especially when using cheap powder. The amount of "fines" that is, grains smaller than that listed on the container can drastically affect the charge weight. BPCR competitors who are really serious will buy the best grade powder they can get and even then some will sift the powder to insure consistent grains. The Lee measure and Lyman 55 both throw pretty accurate charges, but as Steve said, you MUST work in a consistent manner and check about every tenth charge and keep about the same amount of powder in the hopper while working.


    Yes, we have some "odd" charge weights but many in the NSSA are after the best possible accuracy from their arms and that means experimenting to find what consistently works in a given arm not what internet wisdom or historic methods indicate.
    "A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition"
    Rudyard Kipling

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    Yakiman is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lou Lou Lou View Post
    Loading from the can on the line is dangerous. A spark could ignite the bomb in your hands. Thus the premeasured charges. My two cents
    Never loaded from a can, horn or flask - always from a separate measure - but my question was about volume vs weight. What I think I'm hearing is that the best accuracy is going to come from carefully pre measured quantities based on weight instead of a certain size volume spout or adjustable measure.

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    PoorJack is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yakiman View Post
    Never loaded from a can, horn or flask - always from a separate measure - but my question was about volume vs weight. What I think I'm hearing is that the best accuracy is going to come from carefully pre measured quantities based on weight instead of a certain size volume spout or adjustable measure.
    Pretty much. Problem with volume only measurement, you're stuck with relying on the size of the powder grains being consistent within the lot and from lot to lot. Cheaper powder is cheaper for a reason. The chemical reaction (ignition) has a set amount of energy released and that energy can only be changed by adding more material or removing material (smaller/larger powder grains). So if the QC on the cheap powder isn't good, your volume can have varying weight (amount) of powder in the charge. Follows that the consistency and accuracy will suffer. Try taking a fixed volume of 2f and 3f and compare weights. They will be different and have differing burn rates based on surface area of grains.

    When I'm prepping ammo for a skirmish, aside from bullets already being weighed, I verify my powder measure throwing a specific weight. I'll start loading rounds. I'll check every tenth round. If it falls withing +-.2gr, keep loading. If it's outside that, disassemble the previous rounds back to the last check, salvage the powder and determine cause before proceeding.
    "A man can never have too much red wine, too many books, or too much ammunition"
    Rudyard Kipling

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    What I think I'm hearing is that the best accuracy is going to come from carefully pre measured quantities based on weight instead of a certain size volume spout or adjustable measure.
    Remember, "grains" is a unit of weight. There are 7000 grains in a pound. One grain is 1/7000th of a pound. If you want to make sure you are getting the right amount of weight, you need a precision scale repeatable to within a tenth of a grain.

    You can approximate a given weight of anything using an appropriate volume. For example, you could get yourself a box that will hold one pound of feathers. But if you pack the feathers in harshly one time, but gently the second time, you'll end up with a different weight amount of feathers both times. And if some feathers are bigger than others you might get more in the box one way vs. another way. This is why volumetric measures are approximations. Now, if you use a volumetric powder measure consistently the same way each time, you can get very accurate (by weight) drops. Like I said, My Lee Perfect Powder measure drops powder +/- .2 grains The volumetric measure on my Lee Pro 1000 for modern ammunition likewise drops powder very consistently when checked by weight.

    If you want to be certain that you have the right amount of powder by weight (grains), then use a precision tool for measuring weight. If you are careful and consistent, you can do fine with a volumetric measure - but you should always verify your throw by weight with a scale.

    Steve

  8. #8
    Dheisey#7003 is offline
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    I do what most of the others do. I use a volume measure that I check with a scale. Then I use the volume measure- +/- 2 grains works for me for musket team. For revolver individuals I weigh them, it seems to be the most consistent for smaller loads. I have about 100 tubes for revolver. I do not let them bounce around much either, I keep them in an ammo case that holds them upright and secure.

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    I weigh every charge for all but my wife's Sharps. When we did load development, I weighed her charges, but the best was almost exactly a Lee 2.8cc dipper full of Swiss 1-1/2F. To this day, we load her Sharps rounds with a Lee dipper with no ill effects. I have a bench mounted powder measure I use for smokeless, but I have never used it for black powder. It's out in the shop and we usually load skirmish ammo on the dining room table, so I just never tried it.

  10. #10
    Muley Gil is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hal View Post
    Iweigheverychargeforallbutmywife'sSharps.Whenwedid loaddevelopment,Iweighedhercharges,butthebestwasal mostexactlyaLee2.8ccdipperfullofSwiss1-1/2F.Tothisday,weloadherSharpsroundswithaLeedipperwi thnoilleffects.IhaveabenchmountedpowdermeasureIuse forsmokeless,butIhaveneveruseditforblackpowder.It' soutintheshopandweusuallyloadskirmishammoonthedini ngroomtable,soIjustnevertriedit.
    I've used the Lee dippers for almost 50 years now. If you maintain a consistent method, the dippers are as accurate as a powder measure.
    Gil Davis Tercenio
    # 3020V
    34th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry
    Great, great grandson of Cpl Elijah S Davis, Co I, 6th Alabama Inf CSA

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