Handloading is a really interesting hobby and I’ve been reloading both centerfire and shotshell cartridges for years. I enjoy most of the handloading process and I really enjoy the results. The accuracy my rifles give has greatly improved when I tailor a load for each of my individual guns. It’s quite rewarding to attain really small groups with my own creations; likewise turning clay targets into dust with my shells is also very pleasing. Handloading offers a great many advantages, lower cost of ammunition, better accuracy, and the ability to produce ammunition when shortages occur.
As I stated, I enjoy most of the reloading process, but the one exception is tedious and time consuming process of measuring the precise and large powder charges needed for rifle cartridges. Using powder dippers and tricklers to place powder on a scale to get exact charges is boring, really boring. But there are options that speed up the measuring process and streamline the entire procedure.
The electronic powder measure can be a terrific tool if used properly. Most of the reloading manufacturers have units that vary in price and perform many different functions, but basically they give the handloader repeatable and quite accurate powder charges. Lyman, Hornady, RCBS, and others offer a charger for just about any budget. The good units aren’t cheap and probably not for the user who loads 20 to 100 rounds per year, but if you shoot a lot of rifle cartridges one of these might be for you.
For pistol cartridges, I use a simple mechanical powder measure. Depending on the cartridge, most of the charges weigh 3 to 5 grains. Rifle cartridges are another matter. My .204 Ruger needs powder charges in the range of 29 to 32 grains. My wife’s .270 uses 51 to 55 grains depending on the bullet, and my .300 WSM uses up to 64 grains of my favorite powders. Measuring these charges by hand takes what seems like forever; my solution, a Lyman Gen 5 Digital Powder System.
My unit throws extremely accurate charges. While working up a new load or using powder with a different lot number, I use the load the measure throws. I often double check using a mechanical beam or electronic scale. I’ve found my Lyman measure to be consistently accurate to within .1 grains. If I’m loading to maximum charges, I set the electronic scale just a few tenths of a grain below max, then transfer the charge to one of my scales, top it off with a powder trickler and Voila, I have extremely consistent and accurate ammunition. Using my Lyman system has cut my powder charging time by about 75%. The system has a repeat feature, after charging a cartridge or placing the powder on a different scale for topping off, I place the plan back on the Lyman and it automatically rezeros and throws another accurate charge within a few seconds. While that takes place I move the funnel to the next cartridge and move the charged cartridge to another tray all prepped for bullet seating and inspection.
If you load a lot of rifle ammunition and want to speed the process, yet maintain accuracy and safety, try an electronic powder measure, you love the speed reload.
Be safe and good shooting.