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Reloading Inconsistencies

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by gdbabin, Jul 22, 2010.

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  1. gdbabin

    gdbabin TS Member

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    I’m really getting frustrated. I just weighed a batch of 200 or so shells I just reloaded.


    I have based my findings on the following ideals as weighed on my Pact calibrated digital scale:


    STS hulls (de primed) – 110.2 gr


    DR fig 8 wad – 35.4 gr


    W209 – 14.9 gr


    Am Sel – 20 gr


    Shot – 492 gr


    Tally this all up and the result is: 672.5 gr/shell


    My shells vary from the 650gr to 680gr or so with no adjustments or changes/additions to components.


    MEC 650, universal charge bar.


    What gives?????


    Guy Babin
     
  2. goatskin

    goatskin TS Member

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    Your shot drop is the most likely suspect. A 7½ BB weighs ~1.2-.5gn (IIRC, w/o getting my scales out), so a few less or a few more, make a lot of difference.

    Second, weigh several hulls; I'll bet you have more variation than you expect there.

    To verify anything, you're going to have to cut a couple of shells.

    Bob
     
  3. tuscarora 99

    tuscarora 99 TS Member

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    Hey Guy, I would guess it is all the soft shot you've been using recently lol. But in all seriousness, i would guess most of that variation is from variation in shot weight. I measured a bunch of shot drops with with our mec universal bar, and it always varied by close to ten or 15 grains one way or the other. I never understood why we could not get a consistent shot drop. That is what i would look at, maybe more experienced people will add their opinions. I'll see you next Saturday.

    Sincerely, Osker
     
  4. Quack Shot

    Quack Shot Active Member

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    Hi Guy,

    First verify your scale. I've had electronic scales fail and become inconsistent. One actually became worse as the weight increased. I weighed the same 50 caliber bullet ten times and got a different weight each time. It was either the bullet or the scale. Since the bullet didn't change, I opted to blame the scale. Checked the bullet on a balance scale and it was the same each time. I have a slight distrust for electronic scales. I've had four of them go south. I like the speed and convenience, but if I'm trying to do serious work, I use my balance scales.

    I find a pretty significant variation in the weight of hulls and between shot drops. A few pellets either way makes a difference. If using Remington hulls, just the normal length variations could amount to a good part of it. I don't think much about weight variations between finished shells, since I test my loads for consistency by running them over a chronograph. If you are using components from different lots, they can vary. I would check the weights of at least twenty samples of each component and take the average. Then look at the percentage of variation in the finished hulls compared to that average. I wouldn't worry about it until the Winter. It can help keep you occupied when the shooting drops off. :) Last time I bothered to weigh a bunch of finished shells, the variation seemed to be about twenty grains or less. Not too far away from the thirty grains you experienced. Try weighing a few different lots of factory shells.
     
  5. short shucker

    short shucker TS Member

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    Remington hulls can be inconsistant in length, therefor a lot of total weight inconsistancies will exist. Weigh a batch of hulls and you'll see what I'm talking about. This compounded with a couple of pellets here and there you have your answer.

    ss
     
  6. ms_yuan

    ms_yuan Member

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    "My shells vary from the 650gr to 680gr"

    So, another way to look at this is your shells are 665 gr, +/- 15 gr

    That's 665 gr, +/- 2.2%

    If your variance is all in the powder drops, well, you're in trouble, but if it's in the shot, you're golden. Dollars to donuts it's in the shot and the hulls.
     
  7. gdbabin

    gdbabin TS Member

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    I should have stated in my original post that the largest contributor to my variance IS shot drops. I've checked and checked again. All the other variances are so minor, they don't really count. Ya gotta love Gary's UNLOADER (although mine has only the very nice low-rent wood).



    Carl, I've checked my scale too and it isn't the culprit--at least not now. I wish it was!




    Osker, Yes the batch I just weighed was Eagle; howsomever Mr. Hard Shot, I had similar variances in drops with Lawrence. BTW, ck out the Lawrence or Eagle thread if you haven't already.



    My next step is to try the brand new fixed MEC meter bar I just bought to see if it drops more consistently than my universal (which was brand new appx. 10k rounds ago). I'll bet it won't as it's really the same technology--I'll try to be optimistic tho.




    If things don't improve, I don't know what I'll do. I'm tempted to throw the whole cursed operation in the lake--if only I had one! I'd really be mad if I were to buy a highfalutin Spolar just to find out it dropped Pb just as poorly as my trailer-trash 650 does.




    Perhaps I shouldn't worry about it but, any shot drop of #8s exceeding 492gr is illegal, and drops in the high 470s are jipping me out of BBs. If I wanted 1oz loads I'd be trying, probably in vain, to load them. With my mediocre shooting prowess I need every projectile I can get!



    I don't want to verify every friggin shell I load. It'd be nice if I could trust the cursed thing to be consistent with only spot checks every 100 or so--just like I trust my dog Gaby.



    Is asking the contraption or any other for that matter, to produce shot drops within +/- 3 grains or so expecting too much?


    Guy
     
  8. TEXASZEPHYR

    TEXASZEPHYR Member

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    Guy, I can understand your frustration, however I bet that the factory loads are not much if any better than what you are getting. That is the reason that we have an alowance with the rules that makes a cap on what we can use. The original thought about 3 dram equiv loads equal 1200 fps left the limits at 1260 or so as an alowance because mfgr's couldnt get the consistency to make all 1200 fps loads equal 1200 fps. just figure what your top spread is in the lead and adjust it so that the max variation is the top amount loaded (1 1/8) if you like. then the 3 percent you are over will be cov ered. Good luck

    Bob
     
  9. Hap MecTweaks

    Hap MecTweaks Well-Known Member

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    "Is asking the contraption or any other for that matter, to produce shot drops within +/- 3 grains or so expecting too much?"

    Guy

    YES. Try weighing new factory premium loads then dissect a few and weigh those component's too?

    Over the years I've found that a solid mounted loader and a smooth working charge bar (both directions) loads my most consistent shotshells.

    Hap
     
  10. JTEA

    JTEA Member

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    I think you're looking at the wrong side of the picture. I would get out the chronograph and pattern board as Quack Shot stated. Test enough of them to know what you have, I would shoot at least 10. If they run within 10 - 15 fps then go shoot them and forget about it. You may have a larger problem with your loader than you realize, or you may be fine. My old Hornady had a rubber bushing which wore down over time. Problems would arise when it wore grooves into the rubber.

    JT
     
  11. dverna

    dverna Active Member

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    On the PW 800+ with electric drive I get less variation but it is a different machine. I occasionally need to weigh half a bucket of shells when I screw something up and I can find the shell with no powder. My variation is about +/- 8 gr (this is from memory but I can check it if you want). A shell with no powder (18 gr) is easy to find.

    Hulls vary but shot drops are likely your problem. Try loading #5 shot on a MEC Jr. in 20 ga and see how bad the shot drops are (I gave up and use a dipper for hunting loads; and find it more consistent).

    The Eagle shot I have seen is very poor - maybe it is better now. "Square" shot is more likely to cause bridging and bad drops.

    If you really care about good loads get STS or West Coast shot. Lawrence has also been very good.

    Whatever loader you have, a very solid bench and mounting method is a MUST. Smooth operation of the machine is also a must.

    In the end, the variation you are getting will be more of a mental thing than the real reason you miss a bird. But this damn game is 95% mental ---- so if it bothers you, address it. Use factory shell variations as you goal. Once you are as good (or better) than factory, the "doubt" is gone and you can move on.

    Don Verna
     
  12. Unknown1

    Unknown1 Well-Known Member

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    All shot contains pellets above and below the size marked on the bag... there are both 7 1/2 and 8 1/2 (and some 9s) in a bag of Eagle #8 shot and there is no guarantee that they are uniformly distributed in the bag. Remember that you're dropping by volume; drop more small shot, load is heavier (less air); drop more larger shot load is lighter. If all the shot in a bag was precisely the same size, shape, drop weights would be much more consistent.

    You can correct it if you are willing to screen the shot before using it and remove the smaller sizes.

    MK
     
  13. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    The only component that you need to check with this level of accuracy is the powder drop. Get that +/- 0.2 grains and life is good. Your shot weight is going to vary several grains as you know but that isn't going to cause you any safety or performance problems.

    That being said, if you get a shell comming off the loader that has a bulged crimp or a concave crimp, by all means cut it appart and check your shot drop, there may be an obstruction/malfunction that you need to deal with.
     
  14. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    You could always weigh each drop and trickle shot to get exact duplication to .1 GR. I doubt your shells would weigh the same then either. I think +/-2% is pretty close for shotgun shells.

    I just got and set up a Pacific 366. I used the bushings that came with the machine so I was looking a 1.15OZ of shot and 19.0 GR of greendot.

    I was not totally confident that I had no double or missed charges, so I weighed them on an electronic gram scale. I got 43.5-45 Grams thru out but mostly 44.3-8 so I opened all of the ones that were above 45 Grams, and below 44.3. None were out of the ordinary whatsoever. There are 15.44 grains in a gram so my bad shells weren't even 7-8 grains heavy. 5-6 pieces of #8 shot weigh that much.

    I wouldn't worry about it.

    If you don't do EXACTLY the same thing on EVERY pull of the handle you will induce more variation than anything else. That's why machine shops have automated machinery now. It removes the human element, and thus makes more consistant parts.

    Randy.
     
  15. Neil Winston

    Neil Winston Well-Known Member

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    Guy, you are doing something wrong with the scale or the scale itself is wrong. The variation you cite is impossible. When the scale is working you can sort out low or empty power loads essentially errorlessly and if they varied anywhere close to what you quote, you couldn't.

    Neil
     
  16. gdbabin

    gdbabin TS Member

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    Neil,
    You post really takes me aback and causes me to wonder, chiefly because I respect your wisdom and appreciate your intelligence. I feel like I'm just not getting something—entirely plausible!
    I calibrate my scale before every session with the fixed weights that came with it and then do the zero routine with the cup on the platen. It seems to tare correctly every time with the exact same readings for the weight offset of the cup.

    I just now conducted the following experiment:


    One shell made in a batch has a total weight of 656.2, while another from the same batch weighs 673.2.

    I cut them open and weighed shot and powder:

    Shell#1: (656.2) 473.7; 19.5

    Shell#2: (673.2) 491.9; 19.3

    Delta: (17.0) 18.2; .2

    Total shot/powder delta: 18.4

    Total fully loaded delta: 17.0

    The 1.4 is attributable to the hulls


    With these findings, I don't see how my scale or my use thereof could be suspect. In my view, the experiment supports the theory that the scale is at least consistent if not fully functional, and that inconsistent shot drops are the majority cause of the delta


    Please let me know what you think Neil. I promise I will take action to further verify the functioning and my operation of the scale.


    To address some of the others who’ve posted,


    OCD? Hardly, just trying to learn and make sure there isn't something I could do to increase the quality of my product.


    My press is very firmly mounted on a piece of oak that is carriage bolted to my solid hardwood bench. I do focus on using the same cadence and stroke every pull of the handle. I also realize shot weight and shape does vary, even in any given bag.

    20 to 30 grain total weight swings seem excessive to me. I will weigh some STS factory shells to learn how much they vary.


    This weekend I’ll try a brand new MEC fixed charge bar to see if it performs better than my universal.


    Thanks everyone,


    Guy B.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. W.R.Buchanan

    W.R.Buchanan Member

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    I think the point to take away from this post is that Guy is trying very hard to make the best possible product for his own use, and understand what he is doing. I have found in my 30 years of reloading cartridge brass, before my recent foray into shotshell reloading, that he who has the best ammo shoots better than those who choose to shoot just anything.

    I actually know several guys who can and do reload any hull that hits the ground around them. They just feed the hulls to the machine and what comes out the end gets shot. They never change the setup,for anything,,period. I saw two of them just about come to blows over a bag of Win Universal hulls someone had thrown in the trash. This is not what I call "attention to detail".

    I see from Guy's picture of his bench that he is meticulous enough to actually care about what he is doing. The rest of us might take notice that in reloading anything,,, "being meticulous is your friend".

    Isolation of the variables in loading can be frustrating and with shotgun shells more so than cartridge brass the average spread of the final product may be larger than what you might expect.

    I would suggest,,, Weighing a batch of hulls, and finding 25 or so that weigh exactly the same or very close. That will remove that variable. Next you could weigh each powder charge and each shot load on the scale. Then assemble and weigh the final product for consistancy. This would tell you exactly what your final product should be under the best of circumstances.

    Then you would use that number as the zero point for what you personally want as an acceptable +/- deviation.

    Then you could do 25 or so powder drops and the same for shot drops, to find out how well the machine repeats. This will tell you what the variation is going to be and give you a controlled average performance for your machine.

    With bushing controlled metering I think that is about as good as it's gonna get. What I have outlined above is the surest way to establish what the limitations of your tools, and components are.

    The only other variable you might be able to control is you.

    Good luck Guy

    Randy
     
  18. laura!

    laura! Member

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    Guy, here are the weights, in grains, of a random sampling of 25 Nitros. OK, OK, so it's not so random; I only had one box. The average weight is 688.2 and the median weight is 687.4. The greatest difference in total is 16 grains.

    680.6
    683.1
    684
    684.5
    684.5
    684.5
    684.8
    685.4
    685.9
    686
    686
    687.2
    687.4
    688.9
    689.1
    689.4
    690
    691.1
    691.5
    691.9
    692.1
    692.8
    693.8
    695
    696.6

    I am rather afraid to weigh and post a random sampling of my own shells, but in the interest of full disclosure, I will do that next.

    If you chronograph some of your own shells, make sure you also chrono some STS & Nitros. The variation in the factory shells will make you feel much better about your own shells!
     
  19. joe kuhn

    joe kuhn Furry Lives Matter TS Supporters

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    Guy,

    I took some measurements with my own scale & a Mec 9000 with a 1 oz bar. Scale is an electronic Salter Brecknell CB50. Shot was West Coast hard #8. Avg = 449.1, standard deviation = 2.75, 10 different shells, range from 443.4 to 452.6.

    Then I measured the same shot load over and over again picking up the scoop on the scale until it errored and setting it right back down. To my surprise I didn't get the same number 10 times. I got 447.9, 447.9, 447.8, 447.8, 447.8, 447.8, 447.8, 447.8, 447.7, 447.7. Then I started playing with the position of the scoop on top of the scale and the weights kept going down to 447.6 and 447.5.

    I think I need new batteries. Have you changed your barreries lately?
     
  20. goatskin

    goatskin TS Member

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    Guy, the Universal Charge Bar is your culprit.

    Mosttimes, when you get them dialed-in (a non-intuitive process), they are good-to-go forever ... as long as you use the same band & size of shot, same lot of powder, etc.

    Sometimes, they are like an 8mo-old Lab puppy ... who knows?

    THE way to give a UCB the best chance of working is to start low ... real low, like 7/8 oz or so, and work UP a twist at a time, until you're there and then lock things down.

    Starting 'about right' and tweaking up/down a mark or two at a time NEVER works.

    I've heard a lot of explanations why that might be so, and one or more of them might explain it. Dunno.

    The fixed bar WILL solve your problem, tho, but they weigh a bit light. If you are wanting a TRUE 1-1/8oz of hard 7½, get the 1-3/16oz bar; the 1-1/8 bar will drop 1-1/16oz.

    Bob
     
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