using old style powder drops for field loading

captdan

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Minuteman
May 9, 2009
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Fellow shooters, I've recently decided to try my hand at reloading at the range. I have ( among other types) , an old Neil Jones powder measure. I've practiced with it making various drops, and found it really works quite well.
My at home test showed within 10-20 drops and using a spreadsheet my standard deviation with Staball powder was .092, or .1 (-/+). After comfortable with testing my powder drops I moved to the range.
When there I shot my 6.5 CM at 100 yards obtaining a decent .4 MOA grouping. Yes, the gun has done better but I was curious about the constancy between using a volume old style measure and my FX 120i. Could someone in the field obtain decent groups reloading in the field?
My gun is an AI-AXMC, 6.5CM. The load that day was Hornady brass, 38.0 gr of Staball, and a Berger 130 VLD projectile. I was able to gain under .5 MOA all day long.
Seems that a .1 grain difference does not produce large variations, at least at 100 yards. I'll expand my ranges in the next test and see.

My dial indicated 52.5 for the 38.0 g of Staball. Last night I loaded a few 30-06 using 4064. The instruction sheet that the Neil Jones comes with indicates a conversion factor depending on the powder used. With this factor the user divided the desired load and finds the dial setting. After the math the dial number indicated was 71.9. I dialed in 72 and the measure did indeed drop 45.0 g.

The obtain the 72.0 indication I had to turn the dial back to zero ( being careful not to bottom out the measure). Then 7 turns with 10 numbers each = 70, then turn past zero to 2.0 on the dial indicator.

My question for others that use these old measures: I've heard others say " 45 clicks to obtain a certain load with a certain powder). Are the "clicks" not actual clicks but the numbers 1-0 on the dial? If so, that would mean 62.5 "clicks" for 38 Staball, and 72 "clicks" for 45.0 4064.

Any insight of how best to use these measures would be appreciated. Of note, Neil still makes then, as does Harrell's.

The end result is that if for some reason you were mobile in the field and could not return to home base you could indeed reload without a scale simply using a kit along with a Jones or equivalent powder measure. I know this is no revelation as bench rest shoots have been doing this for decades, but it seems almost like a lost art. The rest of my kit includes L.E. wilson neck size die, seating die and K and M arbor press. It all fits in a small kit and could be very handy when needed.
 
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Mike Casselton

Non-Bidenary Trunk Monkey
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  • Nov 25, 2007
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    No reason not to load and test at the range if you're using ball powder.

    I know with my Harrell's, each click equals a tenth of a grain of common ball powders.

    Also,
    You might want to up your 6.5 CM/ Staball load.
    With a 130gr bullet, you're going to be north of 44gr before getting to book maximum loads.
     

    captdan

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    May 9, 2009
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    True regarding the 38.0 G load. I was well low due to the fact that I didn't trust the powder measure, and I didn't want an inadvertent overload. I've now used it enough to gain more trust in that it's actually providing correct measurements. I've also got a Harrell's and an older Belding and Mull. I've never used any of them in the field before the other day. Just a test to see what could be done in a pinch, and something to ponder.
     

    Mike Casselton

    Non-Bidenary Trunk Monkey
    Full Member
    Minuteman
  • Nov 25, 2007
    8,313
    13,526
    Lithia, FL
    StaBall drops very consistent, even in less expensive powder measures.
    It will stay well under .1gr even with less than perfect technique on the measure.

    With good technique, it will stay within .05gr or less.

    I wouldn't hesitate to take your Harrells and do some drop tests at home to find how yours is set and where on the micrometer your desired weight is.

    Once you know that, take a bunch of primed cases to the range and work your way up to your maximum and accuracy needs.

    If I had the larger Harrells I would do the same thing.
     
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