Saturday, December 07, 2013

Lee powder measure test

It being too damn cold to go out and do anything, I finally got around to the further testing of the Lee Perfect Powder Measure.

I have a Hornady measure I've been using for years, and it's not worn out.  Reason I got this to try is I'm tired of measuring each charge with stick powders like IMR4895 or 4064 or 3031 or whatever, and you cannot trust the Hornady to consistently and accurately throw those powders: you'll get a few dead-on, then it'll throw one or two either high or low, or one of each.  The rotating drum catches grains and cuts them at times, too.

Same thing on the Dillon measure on my RL450: it's a sliding bar instead of a rotating drum, but it does the same damn thing.  So does about every other measure I've heard of.

A couple of weeks ago Dad came up for a fun show and one of my favorite reloading-supplies guys was there and had these.  Dad mentioned he'd bought one to replace his old(very old) Lyman measure.  I looked it over and asked the owner if he'd heard anything about how they worked with sticks.  He hadn't, but Dad  told me he'd been using his with IMR3031 with good results.  The price on these is quite good, so I got it.

Here it is.  Uses three screws to mount the plastic housing to the steel base.

It uses a cylinder with a piston to do the measuring; unscrew the knurled locking ring, screw the piston in to reduce the volume available, out to increase, tighten the ring to lock.  It's marked with a scale
and the instructions come with a formula to use to convert the scale(cc) to grains, the formula varying by the powder.  If you use it I'd consider that a way to get it close and then use a scale to zero it in, I'm far more comfortable with that than trusting the calculation.

I used it to load some ammo a few days ago, checking all the charges on a scale, and it worked pretty well.  Today I dumped in some IMR4895, checked the weight it was set for(33.0 grains if it matters), and started throwing charges and recording the weights, using my Midway electronic scale to do the weighing.  I'd raise the lever, pause a moment to let the chamber fill, then lower to dump the powder. 

Out of 50 throws, 48 were within 0.1 grain of the set 33.0, and two were 0.3 low.

If you break the 'within 0.1' down,   it was    33.0    32.9
                                                                      33        15

No, it's not perfect; this is FAR more consistent result than I've had out of any other measure with this powder.  And out of a total of 70-75 throws* I felt it bind on a grain of powder once, which is- again- FAR better than with others.  And that throw was exactly 33.0  Lee says it uses an elastomer wiper to close off the chamber from the hopper, definitely smooth operation.

One other nice thing about this: rotate the hopper to the right about a quarter-turn and you can lift the hopper off

to dump the powder back in the bottle.  There will be some in the housing, so be sure to throw the lever a few times to get it all out.

I'm going to do more testing with it, because I'm paranoid about the idea of over/undercharges, have to say it looks good so far.

*A few to settle things in, and the rest because I screwed up my notes and had to re-do two sets of ten.


Randy Morton said...

I use the same measure to load 3031 for a 45-70 and I've always had consistent results. I think you'll like the Lee.

Anonymous said...

For me its performance varies *wildly* with different powders. I use a lot of Unique which measures for crap at the best of times. If I ran the measure in exactly the same way every time I could get within about 0.2 grain, but that required a level of OCD I couldn't maintain. I finally wound up just discharging the measure right into the pan of my 505 and trickling up any light throws.

I use AA1680 for 7.62x39 and being a super fine ball that one measures just great every time. Though the drop from the scale can cause some of the powder to bounce out of the pan and dust the loading bench. I have a feeling when people talk about their scales 'leaking' this is what they are seeing.

Firehand said...

Could be; Deity knows some of the ball bounces around if you let it drop into the pan.

They all seem to have some quirks. I use Unique for some loads, and it can be a serious PITA. I discovered, on the Hornady, that when installing the measure for pistol loads if I rotate it back & forth a couple of times to seat it it'll feed Unique(and a couple of others) just fine; if I don't do that, or don't do it just right, won't run smoothly at all.

Anonymous said...

I had trouble using imr 3031 it varied to much but the hp38 did just fine.
Sincerely Stepinit