One of the most important aspects of reloading is measuring your powder charge. Getting the perfect charge comes down to finding the right powder measure.
You need to find a powder measure that consistently throws accurate charges time after time. It shouldn’t matter what type of powder you use the charges need to remain consistent.
Variation in Throwing Charge
New reloaders seem to get fixated on getting exactly the same powder throw every time (as they should). Just remember that there’s always going to be a slight variation from one throw to the next.
You should choose a powder that gives you a little bit of wiggle room. Even the best reloading equipment on the market has a slight measurable variance. All you can do is minimize outside influences and regularly weigh your loads.
What’s The Best Powder Measure?
The Hornady Lock N Load Powder measure is by far the best powder thrower currently on the market.
It doesn’t matter what type of powder you’re using you’ll have consistent powder throws. Ball, Flake and stick powders all run through this powder measure flawlessly.
Personally, I use this powder measure with the Hornady case activated system, but it can also be attached to a separate stand. Using the case-activated system is necessary for high volume reloads, while a separate stand might give you more accurate throws.
The Hornady Lock N load powder thrower offers the widest throwing range of any powder measure on the market. With the optional accessories, you can accurately meter charges from .5 to 265 grains of powder.
Depending on your choice of powder you can expect a variance of plus or minus .1 grains per charge. So for a high volume reloader that doesn’t need extreme accuracy, this would be an excellent powder measure. You can always use a separate powder trickler to further fine tune your charge.
This powder measure will work with any powder, but works best with traditional ball powders. If you purchase this unit I would highly recommend the Hornady Micrometer metering insert.
The micrometer makes changing your powder charge much easier than the standard method. If you plan on throwing a lot of powder buy the Hornady Lock N Load Powder Measure.
The RCBS Uniflow Powder Measure is another fine powder measure. This powder measure can also be used with a powder measure stand or with their RCBS case activated linkage kit.
The Case activated linkage kit allows you to use the powder measure with your reloading press. I would highly recommend you to purchase the case activated linage kit if you’re going to reload at a high volume.
The biggest advantage that this powder measure has its consistent powder drops. This powder measure is excellent at dropping both ball and flake powders.
Some of the competitors powder measures have difficulty with flake powders, but this press consistently throws accurate powder drops. Like with all powder measures there can be some noticable drift in powder weights. So it’s important to check your powder charges frequently while reloading. This unit is consistently accurate to +or- .1 grains. This would be a great powder measure for any reloader.
This Lyman powder measure is another excellent option. This powder measure is very similar to the others mentioned. If you know how to properly adjust this powder measure you will get reliable charges. The reason this isn’t one of my favorite powder measures is because of the degree of difficulty beginners have with it.
I have had a lot of reports of inconsistency with this scale from inexperienced reloaders. I have a hard time determining if this is lack of knowledge since I’ve never been able to replicate the issues they were having. Where people get into trouble is unrealistic expectations with their equipment and improper cleaning techniques. Beginners don’t understand how to properly care for and use their equipment so they have a lot of difficulties.
I personally haven’t had any issues using one of these powder throwers. It’s accurate with almost every powder that’s gone through it. There is a slight variance with flake powders, but this is to be expected. Flake powder has a tendency to stack up in powder measures which makes a less uniform density. I would recommend sticking to ball powders if you are going to use this powder measure.
If you are looking for an automatic powder dispensing scale you can’t beat the RCBS Chargemaster. This is the perfect unit for the beginner reloader. This is a no nonsense automatic powder dispenser that just works.
This unit is actually a combination of the RCBS Chargemaster 1500 scale and the chargmaster dispenser. Sold separately these are two of the best digital scales and powder measures on the market.
The RCBS chargemaster is extremely easy to use and can be mastered by by the absolute beginner. Unlike some of the cheaper units you shouldn’t have to fiddle with the powder dropping speed.
Without any adjustments this powder dispenser will automatically measure out your powder charges. All you have to do is enter the powder charge in grains and press the dispense button.
It is consistently accurate up to plus or minus 1/10th of a grain of accuracy regardless of the powder. You can setup this powder dispenser to automatically drop charges every time the plate is pressed on the scale.
There are a number of other useful features not found on the competition. You can program up to 30 different loads and save them into the memory of this unit.
The next time that you want to make a similar load you simply click on the designated load and it will dispense it for you. If you are using the auto dispense feature this scale will keep a running tally of how many bullets you create. Which is helpful for large scale reloads. If you want the most precise and easiest to use automatic powder dispenser, this is the scale for you.
The Lee Precision powder measure kit is a method that I really wouldn’t recommend or use. These powder dippers are definitely the old way of reloading ammunition.
Surprisingly though there is a market of people that reload this way. The only reason you should purchase these dippers is if you can’t afford a powder measure.
With these powder dippers you simply scoop the correct powder charge and dump it onto your reloading scale. When trying this method for the first time I would highly recommend a reloading powder trickler. The only way to get an extremely accurate measurement will be slowly adding powder with a trickler. I guess this method of measuring your powder works and I do have a set of these I wouldn’t recommend measuring using this method.
Choosing The Best Powder Thrower
The majority of people are going to want a powder thrower that attaches directly to your die area. This type of powder measure throws consistent charges for large volume reloads.
If you are going to reload small batches you might be better off with a automatic powder measure attached to your digital scale. For the vast majority of people that want to shoot bulk pistol ammo a traditional case activated powder measure is going to be most reloaders best bet.
Different Types of Powder Measures
You can buy the best reloading press on the market, but that won’t mean anything if your charges aren’t consistent. Your powder measure needs to be able to consistently give you accurate powder throws regardless of powder type.
It shouldn’t matter if you use ball or flake powder your powder measure should give you an accurate throw.
There are many types of powder measures on the market. From the most basic premeasured scoops to powder measures built in to digital scales. There’s no one real solution for everybody.
There are three basic types of powder measures. Which one of these powder measures is best for you will depend on the application that you want to perform.
- Volumetric Powder Dippers- The volumetric powder dippers are the most basic type of powder measure. These work by dipping a measuring spoon into your powder and measuring the weight on a digital scale. The only real advantage to this method is the cost. It is very difficult to get consistent reloads using this type of powder measure.
- Automatic Powder Dispensing Scales- Automatic powder dispensing scales work exactly like the name implies. These powder measures automatically dispense powder onto a scale and measure out the correct amount of powder. This type of scale is best used with a single stage reloading press. This type of scale is used to make small to medium sized batches of extremely precise reloads.
- Case Activated Powder Measures- Case activated powder measures are probably the best solution for the majority of reloaders. This type of powder thrower can be used either mounted to a reloading press or as a stand alone unit. Case activated powder measures are the most versatile type of powder measure on the market. They can be used with any press from the most basic single stage to the most expensive progressive press.