Process, Process, Process

  • Last Post 3 weeks ago
Aaron posted this 4 weeks ago

Handloaders who have been doing this for many years tend to get a tad complacent in their loading process. While I have not experienced any issues yet, today was a solid reminder that the hand loading process needs to be followed to the letter.

While loading 38-55 cases held in a RCBS loading tray, with 24 grains Buffalo Rifle powder, one of the cases tipped and the powder spilled out of the case a little bit. I set the tray down, got the tipped case and dumped the powder back into the RCBS Uniflow powder dispenser. I recharged the case while holding it in the mouth of the drop tube and set it back into the loading tray. Something caught my eye about the previous 20 cases I had charged.

The powder content of the charged cases was visually different. Some had about 12gr of powder while others had about 36gr of powder. My drop tube was causing powder bridging and had I not inspected the cases before seating a bullet, the range report may contain interesting commentary about a hospital visit.

ALWAYS inspect your cases after charging them. Follow the loading process no matter how many years experience you have or how many cartridges you have loaded.

Tragedy averted.

With rifle in hand, I confidently go forth into the darkness.

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Oldman 1950 posted this 4 weeks ago

One simple tool that anyone can make to catch this mistake is a piece of dowel wood a little longer the the case and with a measured charge in the case insert the dowel into the case and mark it with a pencil even with the top of the case. Now cases can be quickly checked.


A. J. Palik

Any day you wake-up sucking air will be a good day

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RicinYakima posted this 4 weeks ago

Or after you powder the case, look in it, seat a bullet right then and throw the loading blocks away. 

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dbarron posted this 4 weeks ago

Loading blocks are convenient for organization, but: Never put powder in a case that’s right side up. Then look. Then seat. Repeat. If a case gets open end up, turn it upside down over the hopper before dispensing powder. Never, ever take anything for granted.

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John Alexander posted this 4 weeks ago

My approach for checking for double or no charge is to weigh each loaded case after the bullet has been hand seated ready for final seating.

Ten loaded and hand seated rounds in a loading block can be weighed in just over 30 seconds using one hand to set them on the scale and the other to take them off. Hard for powder to get in or out after that.


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dbarron posted this 4 weeks ago

I’ve done that when the number of charges dispensed ( check weighed) doesn’t jive with the number of rounds loaded. But you’re right. It’s so quick and easy, why not do it all the time? Another addition to SOP.

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bucksnort925 posted this 3 weeks ago

I never trust a powder measure. Weigh each load. Takes time but confidence of loaded rounds is one less thing that you have to worry about. Have seen bridging from powder measures and it scares me. Measures get me close most of the time but those variances do show up when you load.

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Bud Hyett posted this 3 weeks ago

I hate to answer a question with, "That depends". Forty years ago, I weighed each charge. I set the powder measure several tenths of a grain short and used a powder trickler to bring the load up to the desired value. Becoming more consistent with the operation of the measure, the weight over time became five or four tenths less than what was needed. Analyzing my data, I decided the consistent action of running the measure, the physical shape of the powder, the individual kernel size, the design of the powder measure drum and keeping a constant double head on the powder column were all attributes for dropping charges. I decided to set the measure to the desired weight and still weigh each charge.

  • The consistent action of running the measure - Turn the measure slowly up to load the drum, count three seconds, slowly drop back and count three seconds.
  • The physical shape of the powder - Black powder is my Ideal #6, ball powder for rifle competition is the Harrel, pistol flake powder for informal and serious pistol competition is the Dillon 550. 
  • The individual kernel size - Smaller powders are smaller drums. The Harrel for AA 4100 and Ramshot Enforcer, the RCBS Uni-Flow is still used for the larger stick powders with the trickler for the exact grain weight (H-4831). 
  • The design of the powder measure drum - The narrower diameter and taller column work better, I've used a small diameter drum on large stick powder by throwing a half-charge twice and trickling to the desired weight.
  • Keeping a constant double head on the powder column - I use a powder baffle one inch above the drum. I feed this with a funnel filled to its top to keep a constant pressure on the powder column feeding the barrel and the bottom baffle.


  • Black powder: I load each shell individually, seating the bullet as soon as I powder the cartridge.
  • Cast bullets: I dipstick each cartridge to verify the consistency of column height.
  • Jacketed: Visual check in each cartridge with a light.   

This is my experience and my present way of loading. I realize not everyone has the number of measures nor the various requirements for loading. 

Farm boy from Illinois, living in the magical Pacific Northwest

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Lee Guthrie posted this 3 weeks ago

I guess I'm just a sloppy rebel, BUT when loading rifle or large pistol, NOT for match and NOT for hunting, I use a load tray and throw charges with my RCBS powder measure.  I even run pistol through my Dillon with only the occasional check weigh and never visualize the charged case: this does require frequent cleaning of the charge station parts for "just in case".

When I started (in mid 60s) I was taught to actually look inside the cases  --  EVERY case.  I still do, but now I need more light to see inside.

I check weigh at beginning and end of a run, and if a long run check weigh every so often.  

I keep the powder measure full with a funnel in the top loaded with powder, and replenish it.  Along with the baffle in the measure that keeps a uniform flow.

Ball, flake, and small grain kernels throw pretty uniform, but its stuff like IMR 4831 that "crunch" and need more attention. 

Running the powder measure in a sloppy fashion can cause variations, so use deliberate motions when operating the charge handle.

If you eyeball each charged cartridge you don't have to "wonder" if the measure bridged or you slipped into a different universe and double charged (or missed one).

I even check weigh while running a MEC shotshell loader, and do it under "stress", i.e., during the loading process so that bumps and vibrations are the same for measuring as for loading.

It is simply a case of doing it the right way and being consistent. 

Failure to follow SOP will cause trouble.

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M1fuzz posted this 3 weeks ago

I charge in 10-15 case increments. Visually verify the powder in each of those cases w/ a good light. Then seat bullets in those 10-15. Then on to the next group.

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fa38 posted this 3 weeks ago

Depending on the powder measure that I use and the powder.  Flake powders, the measure gets rapped against the stop several times when filling of the powder chamber and the several times when dropping powder into the case.  With the flake powders I get a more consistent charge weight. I don’t know if the rapping hurts the powder measure but I have been doing it for over 25 years.  Before that I weighed each charge.

If I have 40 cases in the loading block I count each time I charge a case.  If at the end of charging the cases my count is 35 or 45 I did something wrong.  If the count is 40, I dip stick the cases with a dowel in bottle neck cases or long cases like the 32-40.  Pistol cases get a visual inspection.

I have started rapping the measure with non flake powders a couple of times when charging the drop tube. It does make a little difference with some of the powders.

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