This month at Accura we are giving away a Lyman Gen 6 Compact touch screen Powder system. This is a really nice compact fast powder measure for the money. We did a full review showcasing the features and functions. To watch this review there is a link below for the full review. Since we are giving away a powder measure, I felt it was only fitting to do a powder measure 101 and explain the different types of measurers and some pros and cons for each type of setup.
The first and cheap powder measure to get is a mechanical scale($20-100). This is a very cheap option to get into reloading and is pretty accurate. This works like many other weighted scales like the older doctor’s office scales before we went digital.
So, pros for this setup would be if you’re doing small batch reloads and looking for very exact powder amounts. Or building a load table were each load will be different. Another pro would be that this does not use electricity to run, so if the power goes out or if you’re setting up a doomsday setup this would work amazing.
The biggest con to this one would be that it’s slow compared to other powder measures.
The next setup would be the modern advancement from the weighted scale, the trickle measure and digital scale($30-150). In this setup, you use a trickle measure filled with powder and manually dispense onto the scale cup. This way will be faster and easier to read now that we have a readout for how much you have dispensed. This is similar to the newer setups we will get to later, but this would be the manual mode.
Pro, still an inexpensive option to people getting into reloading and it’s going to be faster than the mechanical scale. You also have more control with manipulating the powder trickler rather than scooping and trying to pour/shake a little amount like .1 grains of powder. This would also be a great setup for load development since each load is going to be different.
Cons would be the same as the first with speed. It’s going to be faster than the first setup but still fairly slow for reloading a larger amount of ammunition. Another would be that it needs the power to work. You could use the trickler on the mechanical scale for more accurate throws of powder.
The next step up from here would be an automatic powder measure system. ($180-500) This is the type of powder measure we are giving away this month. Building up from the last setup this automates that setup. It has a digital scale and a powder trickler that is electronically controlled. This setup holds more powder and has a few neat functions. The first and obvious would be that you enter in the amount and the machine does the rest. Another neat function if your loading a lot of rounds would be the automatic throw function. After it has dispensed the load it will wait for the scale to go back to zero. This isn’t on all automatic powder dispensers so check before you buy if this is a feature you’re looking for. On larger, more expensive powder measures is a memory function. This allows you to save load data for different reloads you have developed and recall and dispense them. The Lyman unit we are giving away doesn’t have this, but I didn’t see it as a function I would look for since I write all of my load data down.
Pro, these are fast and it can afford you to be lazy, and I love that. Most of my reloading has been handloading 6.5 Creedmoor and with rifle, it’s better to measure each powder charge. Having the automatic function is nice when I’ve already set up my load and I’m trying to just bang them out. Another pro would be that it’s pretty fast compared to going manual.
Cons on this would be that it’s still fairly slow compared to our next two powder measures. Even though it technically slow it’s still very accurate for precision loads. Another con would be that electrical interference is something to be mindful about. We have had some auto powder throws that when too close to powerlines are thrown off. Possibly a con for some is size, they do take up more bench space then some of the other throws if space is a premium.
The last type of powder throw is a mechanical type powder throw that you would see in a progressive/turret/standalone setup($30-250). There are two main variations of this with one being activated by the press and the other is a standalone powder throw. Each setup you have to adjust the powder measure with a scale to make sure it is adjusted correctly. The name of the game with these is speed and volume. A lot of high-volume shooters will have this setup to load a lot of rounds in a short period of time.
Pros, they are not that expensive and are very fast.
Cons are subjective to your application, first would be that they take longer to set up and get going. Powder throws on progressive presses are more consistent. With a stand-alone powder throw, you have to be consistent in the way you activate the throw. These types of throws also can’t be jammed up with different powders so be careful when setting them up and make sure you get good clean throws.
So that is what you will normally find at all of your friendly sportsmen/reloading stores. It comes down to price, speed, and what your plans are for it. Every tool has a purpose and one is not inherently better than the other, just have different uses.
Good luck, and I’ll see you out on the range.