by Germán A. Salazar
There are a few little items which I find newer shooters ask about with some frequency and some which thy don’t ask about but should!  Over time, as these items pop up, I’ll work them into the site.  Here, in no particular order of importance are a few useful hints and tips for reloaders.  As always, you can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Let’s take a look at the basic powder throwing and weighing setup.  The first pictures shows the powder measure mounted on a shelf at eye level.  This is also a great place for a mechanical scale if you use one, as it keeps the beam in line with your eyes.  However, the important thing to note here is that the powder jar has notes on it.  Specifically, there are a lot of references for the setting on the measure that relates to a given weight of powder.  These aren’t absolute, but they save a lot of time when starting a session as they let me get close on the first try and then I can fine tune.  The powder type (H4350 in this case) is also written on the label so that when I get nervous halfway through a session, I can reassure myself that I am using the correct powder.  The front of the jar has the factory label unobstructed but since the notes are on the backside, a little extra doesn’t hurt.

You can see that the Sinclair and NECO concentricity and case gauges are nearby also, that’s because I give them very frequent use so I don’t want them hidden away in a drawer.

Let’s move on to weighing the powder charge.  I use an older Ohaus Navigator scale; I switched to it about 7 or 8 years ago, mostly because I got tired of straining my eyes to see the scale pointer on the mechanical scale.  I don’t think that any electronic scale is necessarily an improvement in terms of accuracy for Highpower shooting.  Electronic scales have a few deficiencies, one is that they drift a bit which we’ll address in a moment, the other is that they lead to a false sense of extreme precision.  My scale reads to two decimal places as most do, but being a bit older, the second decimal place is only a 5 or a 0, the more modern ones read in increments of 0.02 gr.  The false sense of precision I mentioned is that second decimal place, really, it isn’t going to make a bit of difference in your score and you can go mad trying to get it the same on each charge.  I ignore the second decimal place completely.  For instance, if I want 53.5 grains, I don’t care if the scale reads 53.50 or 53.55, it’s all the same to me.  However, if it reads 53.45, I will trickle up to the 53.50 or 53.55 weight.

Notice the little green label on the scale with the charge weight written on it.  I put one of these out for each load that I use (there’s a stack of them in that little cardboard box on the right).  This is a good reminder of exactly what we’re looking for in the charge.  It’s easy to get distracted and get some numbers confused during a session so a constant visual reminder right in my line of sight is a great way to avoid problems later on.

Another item of note is the bullet sitting on the scale.  My pan weighs 142.1 grains, every time I lift it off, I expect to see a reading of -142.10 or -142.15.  If I see something different, then I recalibrate with the bullet, a Sierra 142 with just enough masking tape added to one side to make it weigh 142.1 gr.  Why don’t I just recalibrate with the pan?  Because by the time I see the drift, I usually have already thrown a charge into the pan and I hate to put it back.  The bullet is a fast and easy method, I simply drop it on the plate, hit the zero button and I’m back in business without any real loss of time.

I try to throw a little light and trickle up, but obviously some charges will be heavy and need to be reduced.  The tweezers on the right corner are very handy for that.  Steal your wife’s at your peril, better to make a run to the drugstore!

Another item of note is the leather bag on the left side to support my hand while trickling.  This is a #16 Brick Bag made by Protektor bags and it’s a perfect rest for the wrist.

A plastic coffee can lid is the best primer tray I know of.  It’s cheap, easy to find, easy to replace, let’s you tap it to flip primers, etc. 


Something a little more involved and beyond the true “Basics” element of this article is bullet pointing.  However, there are a few quick tips here for those who do it.  My procedure for setup is:

  • run the stem up
  • then raise a bullet into the die
  • lower the stem to just contact the bullet
  • lower the ram slightly
  • screw the stem in 1/4 turn
  • raise the bullet back up into contact with the stem
  • tighten the lock nut on the stem while under bullet pressure
  • lower the ram, run the die head down 10 numbers
  • start pointing bullets

This is a quick way to set up the die and will give consistent results from one session to the next or one lot of bullets to the next.  I only point the number of bullets I’m loading that day and this method lets me return to a consistent amount of pointing easily.


Something a little more involved and beyond the true “Basics” element of this article is bullet pointing.  However, there are a few quick tips here for those who do it.  My procedure for setup is:

  • run the stem up
  • then raise a bullet into the die
  • lower the stem to just contact the bullet
  • lower the ram slightly
  • screw the stem in 1/4 turn
  • raise the bullet back up into contact with the stem
  • tighten the lock nut on the stem while under bullet pressure
  • lower the ram, run the die head down 10 numbers
  • start pointing bullets

This is a quick way to set up the die and will give consistent results from one session to the next or one lot of bullets to the next.  I only point the number of bullets I’m loading that day and this method lets me return to a consistent amount of pointing easily.



Seating depth is one of those things that I’m fairly fussy about.  Principally, I want to make sure that I seat bullets to the seating depth that I’ve determined is best for the load and rifle in question.  Therefore, I check seating depth with the Hornady Stoney Point tool each time I reload a set of brass.  Frankly, it’s a pain in the neck with the tubeguns because the little screw to lock the rod falls inside the tube, although it’s accessible through the bolt slot.  I need to get a longer screw for that…

When using the seating depth tool, it’s convenient to use a wood dowel to push the bullet back out as it tends to get stuck in the rifling.  However, there is a very real danger of forgetting to remove the wood dowel.  Make a safety flag on the end of the dowel from duct tape, it’ll save you from a real serious problem one day.

1 Comment

  1. Rocketguy says:

    I like that trick using a modified bullet as a quick scale zero aid.

    Like

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