Dan Newberry's Optimal Charge Weight Load Development go to ocwreloading.com

green 788

Note: The acronym OCW and the phrase "Optimal Charge Weight" as related to the reloading of metallic cartridges are terms originated by the author of this site. When referencing OCW or Optimal Charge Weight in your personal documents, please add a link to this website for clarification purposes.

Tools, page 2


Powder measure.  Some of the better powder measures can cost you a bundle. The powder measure simply "throws" a pre-set amount of powder for each pull of the handle, and by doing so it does speed up the loading process. If you don't have one of these, you'll have to dip the powder from a paper cup or the like. The good news is that I said some of the better powder measures are expensive. One of the best on the market is the Lee Perfect Powder Measure, and you can have it for about twenty dollars. It's very repeatable, and mine is still throwing accurate charges after more than three years of steady use.
Powder trickler.  This is a little unit that allows you to "trickle" small amounts of powder into the scale pan by turning a knob. If you use your powder measure to "throw" a charge which is just a shade under the intended amount, you can then use the powder trickler to bring the scale slowly to the zero line. (Powder measures--even the higher dollar ones--don't always get the charge weight just right. The powder trickler allows you to "fine tune" the charge to the exact weight you desire). For my part, I no longer use my powder trickler. I just scoop a tiny amount of powder from the hopper (using a Lee dipper--these come with some models of the Lee dies) and "shake" it into the scale pan. Some folks pinch a bit of powder between their fingers and sprinkle it into the pan to achieve zero. I've heard it advised that touching the powder isn't a good idea, so I think I'd avoid the "pinch" method.
Case lube pad.  This is really about the same thing as an ink blotter. You apply case lube to the pad and "roll" the cases on the pad to coat them lightly with sizing lube prior to sizing. Some lubes are of the "spray on" type, and in this case you won't need the pad. If you don't have a pad, you can simply use your fingers to put a light coat of lube all over each case.
Brass tumbler.  Clean brass is nice. It keeps the dies in better working order by reducing the amount of debris that accumulates inside them. You can get a fairly decent vibrating tumbler for under fifty dollars, or you can spend a couple hundred bucks for a nice "drum" or "rotary" tumbler. The drum tumblers generally hold more brass, and operate more quietly than the vibrating
models. This said, you can simply use some four ought (0000) steel wool and some white vinegar (or any number of other substances) to clean your cases one at a time. I don't tumble brass nearly as often as I used to. I've found that so long as the case is free from protruding debris they will size and function just fine. A quick wipe with a shop towel dampened with white vinegar is
usually more than enough.
Primer pocket uniformer.  This tool is designed to square the primer pocket and make it even so that the primer seats flush into the case head. Again, the benefits of performing this maneuver are debatable. If you have a lot of brass that seems to have uneven primer pockets, you might want to spend the twenty bucks on the tool, but in my opinion if the primer pockets are that out of
square you should probably replace the brass.
Case trimmer.  What? A case trimmer "nice but not necessary?" Yes. Granted you cannot safely load brass after it has exceeded the maximum safe length but if your brass has not stretched beyond this limit you're fine to continue reloading it until it stretches to that point. If you do not have a case trimmer, you'll have to discard your over length cases. You might find--as I have--that in certain rifle chamberings trimming is rarely necessary. There might be some initial stretch, but it tends to settle down after reaching a certain length. Your sizing practices will also affect how much your brass stretches.
If you want to get a dozen or more loadings out of your cases, a case trimmer is worth the investment. Lee actually markets the most economical system, which is simply a mandrel with a cutter that you insert into the case as far as it will fit. It only cuts the necessary amount to bring the case back into spec. These are only about six dollars for the case length gauge (the mandrel) and about four or five bucks for the cutter, which works with all of the case length gauges. Other makers such as RCBS sell their case trimmers for around fifty bucks a unit.
Concentricity gauge.  As mentioned earlier, this unit will allow you to check the straightness of your loaded cartridges. If something goes wrong with the set-up of the sizing or seating die, your cartridges may end up with really crooked bullets. Bad brass is another cause of high runout. A concentricity gauge will help you identify the problem. If you don't have the seventy bucks to spend on this unit, simply roll your completed cartridges on a mirror surface and watch the bullet tips for an obvious oscillation of the tip against its image. If you have excess runout, you can usually see the evidence of it in the mirror. This isn't a precise measurement, but it's better than no check at all. Runout amounts too small to be seen on a mirror roll are not likely to harm accuracy as much as some folks might lead you to believe.
Electronic scale.  These are handy for making quick measurements of brass cases (to ensure that the cases are of about the same weight, a presumed accuracy advantage). I wouldn't advise using an electronic scale for measuring the powder charge unless it is of exceptional quality. The scales which cost under 200 dollars are not in that category. They can lose their zero while
you're in the middle of weighing charges and you may actually end up over-charging some shells. A fifty dollar beam scale is much more reliable than a 150 dollar electronic scale.
Bullet ogive comparitor.  These devices allow you to precisely measure the cartridge's overall length from the ogive of the bullet instead of its tip. Often the bullet tips are not of equal length. Lead tipped bullets can batter five or ten thousandths during shipment. Plastic tipped bullets and even match hollow points aren't always uniform in length. With the ogive comparitor, you can measure the COL (cartridge overall length) from the bullet's ogive. This would tend to yield a more uniform measure. Is it necessary? Not really. Even though there is some disparity in the length of the bullet tips, a properly fitting seater die will seat the bullet with pressure on the ogive, not on the tip. Once you've found an accurate and repeatable seating depth you can measure the COL from
the bullet tips and average the measurements. That should get you where you need to be. If you simply must have an ogive comparator, you'll find them for around 30 dollars.
Flash hole deburring tool.  Since all indications are that the benefits of flash hole deburring are questionable, I would include the flash hole deburring tool in this category. This is a tool, normally under 20 dollars in price, which is designed to cut the burr on the inside of the case away from the flash hole (the hole through which the primer's fire reaches the powder charge). This burr occurs on some, but not all of the cases during manufacture. If you see obvious brass burrs obstructing the flash hole, you can simply insert a jeweler's screwdriver or even a toothpick and move the burr aside where it won't interfere with the primer's flame.

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