primed case is now ready to be charged with powder. Begin by locating
a suitable load from the reloading tables, and if a powder measure
is to be used,
filling the measures hopper with the appropriate propellant.
After filling the hopper, the measure must be adjusted to throw
the desired charge weight. This should be done according to the
manufacturers instructions for the type of measure being used.
Once the charge weight has been set, we recommend that an average
charge be determined. Throw ten charges, operating the handle exactly
as when charging cases, into the powder scale pan and weigh the
amount. This figure divided by ten will yield the average charge
thrown. If this amount does not agree with the desired charge weight,
you have further adjustment to do before charging cases. Once the
appropriate charge has been adjusted, youre ready to begin
charging cases. The procedure will vary at this point, depending
on the type of charge being thrown. The various types of powders
each have their own unique characteristics, and some adjustment
for these differences is required. Lets take a look at some of the
variables that must be considered, before choosing our next step.
The powder charge is thrown directly from the measure. The measure
shown here is a Redding 3 BR, a popular model among competitive
throwing large charges of long-grained extruded tubular powders,
you will soon find that operating the measure in a smooth and even
manner is extremely difficult. Even when using the best quality
powder measure, it is almost impossible to get heavy charges of
powder such as H4831 and IMR-4350 to regularly throw charges within
± .5 grain. To assure the utmost consistency, many reloaders
prefer to adjust their powder measures to throw a charge just a
few tenths of a grain under the intended load. With a powder charge
thrown directly into a scale pan, the charge is brought up to the
correct weight with a powder dribbler. When the appropriate charge
weight is reached, the case is charged from the scale pan with the
aid of a powder funnel or drop tube. Although time consuming, this
method does offer a good degree of safety when loading maximum or
near maximum loads.
Priming cases with a bench-mounted RCBS priming tool.
to medium capacity cases can normally be charged directly from the
powder measure, but the charge weight should be verified every few
rounds to ensure that the measure setting has not changed. Ball
or spherical powders are the easiest powders to work with in this
flow through most powder measures quite well. Contrary to popular
opinion, the shorter grained extruded tubular powders, such as 4895
(either Hodgdon or IMR), flow through most measures with acceptable
uniformity. The real key here is to operate the measure in exactly
the same manner each and every time a charge is thrown. Raise and
lower the handle with the same degree of force, speed , and cadence
every stroke and you will be surprised at how well these powders
can be thrown. Proof of this can be found in the fact that very
few competitive benchrest shooters bother with weighing their charges.
The vast majority throw the charge directly into the case right
from the measure. If you should see someone at a benchrest match
carefully weighing each and every charge, chances are that he (or
she) is a novice, and just hasnt conceded to the wisdom of
more experienced shooters. Try some different techniques with your
measure, weighing the charges thrown to determine which works best
for you. The goal here should be uniformity from throw to throw.
with their smaller charges, handgun cases can usually be charged
directly from the measure. Most powder measures will hold charge
to charge variation to within ± .2 of a grain quite easily,
if they are operated with smooth and uniform strokes. Handgun cases
in particular deserve special attention when charging, due to the
many loads using small amounts of fast burning powders. Unlike most
rifle loads, there is a great number of commonly used handgun cartridges
that can easily contain double, triple, and even quadruple charges
of powder. Those originally designed for use with black powder,
such as the .45 Colt, are particularly troublesome in this regard.
When cases that have the potential for being double charged are
loaded, the charged cases should be examined carefully under a strong
light. Case blocks holding the cases at evenly spaced intervals
may be used to hold the cases during the charging process, and again
to tilt them to an angle where the light can reach the powder. Holding
the block so that the powder is clearly visible, scan the block
slowly from case to case. Any that have been double charged should
be readily noticeable by the different level of powder in relation
to those on either side. If such a case is found, dump it out and
rethrow the charge. As an extra precaution, we recommend dumping
the cases charged immediately before and after the suspect case,
and recharging them as well.
trick that weve found useful for both rifle and handgun reloading
is to monitor the quantity of powder you have on hand in each canister.
At some point, you will find yourself wanting to load a quantity
of ammunition, but unsure of having enough of a particular powder
to accomplish it. There is a simple solution to this predicament,
as long as it is instituted every time a new can of powder is opened.
Before doing any reloading with a new can of powder, attach a label
(the self-adhesive 3" x 5" labels at your local stationery store
are ideal) to the side or back of it. At the top of the label, record
the amount of powder, in grains, in the canister. This can be found
by multiplying the powders weight in pounds by 7,000 (the
number of grains in a pound).
that point on, every time you reload, simply multiply the charge
weight (in grains) by the number of rounds you reloaded. This will
give you the amount of powder used in this particular reloading
session. Subtract this amount from the total amount left in the
can. By keeping a running total of the number of grains left in
the can, you will be able to easily calculate whether or not you
have sufficient powder for a planned reloading session. This takes
very little time, and is much more positive than hefting the can,
shaking it, and guessing how much powder you have left. An example:
you wish to load two boxes (40 rounds) of once-fired .308 Winchester
cases. The load you plan to use calls for 41.7 grains of IMR-4895,
for a total powder requirement of 1,668.0 grains (41.7 x 40 = 1,668.0).
Checking your label, you see that you have approximately 1,600 grains
of powder left in the can, enough for only 38 rounds. By knowing
this ahead of time, you will avoid running out of powder before
your reloading session is complete. Otherwise, you may be forced
to mix different lots of powder to finish the job, or load only
a partial box of ammunition.