Steve Comus – GUN TALK

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Time to get ready for Dove season

Right measure: The full scoop on powder
When I first started reloading ammo in the mid-1950s, a friend who was the local guru of handloading helped me make, from scratch, the press, dies and everything that went with them.

He even ground down an empty .35 Remington case to hold the proper powder charge. I used that rig for years and still have it as a reminder of what it was like back in those days.

Recently, I was reminded of the old powder scoop days when I set out to load some ammo for a S&W Hand Ejector chambered for the .32/20 Win. cartridge.

great for loading some cartridges. Here, the scoop from the Lee die set is shown with that die set, as well as a Lyman M die, powder, primers, cases and bullets for the Smith & Wesson hand ejector chambered for the .32/20 Winchester cartridge.

Coincidentally, I also had recently been discussing reloading with a young prepper who was interested in having at least the minimal amount of gear needed to keep his guns going. Flippantly, I told that young guy that so long as he used certain powders, that he could dispense with a powder scale and just use a scoop to ration out powder.

Anyway, when I set out to load some .32/20s, I grabbed my dies, which happen to be from Lee, and which happen to include a small, yellow plastic scoop. Although I already had set up my powder measure and adjusted it in conjunction with my powder scale, I chuckled to myself and decided to see how dead-on the scoop would be and how it would stack up, load to load, with the powder measure.

Bear in mind that through the years, I had used the Lee scoops for different cartridges, and had found them to be quite accurate.

Much to my pleasure, I found that the powder charge from the scoop was precisely the same as that from the powder measure. And, the scoop was as accurate from load to load as was the measure. Makes sense, because both are volume measuring propositions.

My point in all of this is that if a person sticks to the relatively few powders listed in the data that come with the Lee dies, using only the powder scoop can work fine.

Overall, I like Lee dies for pistol and revolver cartridges. I recommend use of Lee’s carbide factory crimp dies for handgun cartridges — they should be considered mandatory for ammo to be used in semi-autos, because it puts the finished round totally in spec. I use those Lee dies in an RCBS Rock Chucker press.

For the larger centerfire rifle cartridges, I use the Redding Big Boss press, generally with either Redding or RCBS dies — that is when I am not using my Bonanza press with Forster dies.

When it comes to straight wall cases, consider the Lyman M die to be a must. It opens the mouth just right, without over-flaring as can happen with other expander dies.

One thing is certain: there is always room for more loading equipment, whether a shooter is just beginning or has been at it for over 60 years. Too much is not enough. Shoot straight and shoot often.

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Steve Comus is a nationally recognized hunting editor with Safari Club International and a former WON Guns and Hunting Editor. His column appears every other week in WON and he can be reached at scomus@cox.net.

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