The Great Debate — Weight vs. Volume in Powder Dispensing
When we first ran this story a while back, it spurred a hot debate, with strong opinions on both sides of the issue. Some guys argued vehemently that volumetric powder dispensing was best — citing the experience of short-range benchresters, most of whom still throw their charges. Others say weighing your charges is best, so long as you have a very precise, and very repeatable scale. We know some of the top 1000-yard shooters weigh their charges to the kernel.
Most competitive long-range shooters weigh powder charges for their handloads. Some even use ultra-precise magnetic force restoration scales to load to single-kernel tolerances. But is weight-based measuring always the best way to fill a case with powder? Another option is volumetric charging. This method fills a precisely-sized cavity with powder and then dumps the charge into the case. A Harrell’s rotary powder measure works this way, as does the sliding powder filler on a Dillon progressive press.
For long-range applications, most people believe that precise weighing of powder charges is the best way to achieve optimal accuracy and low ES/SD. However, those short-range Benchrest guys do pretty darn well with their thrown charges, at least at 100 and 200 yards.
Our friend Dennis Santiago recently observed something that made him scratch his head and wonder about weighing charges. His AR-15 match rifle shot better with volumetric (cavity-measured) charges than with weighed charges dispensed by an RCBS ChargeMaster. Here’s what he reports:
Cavity vs. Dribble (Dennis Santiago Report)
I had the chance to compare nominally identical ammunition loaded two ways. These were all .223 Remington match loads using 77gr Sierra Match Kings over 23.4 grains of Hodgdon Varget. Same gun. However I loaded some ammo with charges dispensed with a Lee cavity-style powder measure while other rounds were loaded with powder weighed/dispensed by an RCBS Chargemaster. The cavity-drop ammo (with powder dropped from the Lee unit) was consistently better than the weighed-charge ammo. I have no idea why…
So, ladies and gentlemen — what do you think? Why did Mr. Santiago’s volumetrically-charged ammo shoot better than ammo filled with weighed charges? What’s your theory? Gary Eliseo suspects that Dennis’s Chargemaster might have been drifting. What do you think? Post your theories in the comments area below.
- Weight vs. Volume — The Great Debate
- Thrown (Volume) Charges vs. Weighed Charges — What is Better?
- Cortina’s Corner: ChargeMaster Tips (The Trickle Test)
- RCBS ChargeMaster Slow-Motion Video
- RCBS ChargeMaster on Sale: $272.46