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Old 03-14-2020, 09:32 AM
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Default When I screw up I go big.

As someone new to reloading I've made a boo-boo that might entertain those who've been doing it a while. I thought I was being careful but obviously not careful enough.

I was reloading 9mm and checking the weight of powder charges a couple times in each block of 50 I did with my Lee balance beam scale. Eventually I got to thinking that the cases seemed to be more full than they should be so I did some investigating. The problem was that my scale had at some point lost it's zero, and I hadn't thought to check that for quite some time. Apparently the vibrations on the bench had caused the little thumbwheel to move changing the zero.

This could have been avoided if I'd been watching the VMD chart setting on my powder measure, but I'd been relying solely on the weights showing on the scale. As soon as I noticed the problem I also saw how far off the volume setting was.

Once I rezeroed the scale I saw that I'd been overloading by a fair amount. Now I have a thousand rounds or so that will need rechecked as I don't know exactly when the problem started.

Here's my plan going forward, any suggestions are welcome. Since my beam scale can only measure up to 100 grains it's not going to tell me if a cartridge is overloaded, so I ordered a digital scale that has a 50 gram capacity (771 grain) and supposedly is accurate to .001 gram, or about .015 grain, so that should be accurate enough to tell which ones may be overloaded. I'll weigh every round and questionable ones will have to come apart.

Up till now I only had an inertial bullet puller and anticipating taking apart hundreds of rounds with that isn't going to cut it, so I ordered the RCBS collet puller which I hope will make the job easier.

They say we learn from out mistakes. I'll bet I don't make this one again. Since I'll now have both a digital and beam scale I'll be able to double check charge weights on both scales in the future. And I'll pay close attention to the VMD settings as well when changing from one caliber to another.
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Old 03-14-2020, 09:46 AM
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1K rounds to break down? That is unfortunate, but you caught it before anything went boom. Get another scale to make comparisons to. Iíve got the original scale that came with my Lee turret kit, but also use a good RCBS balance and a Dillon electronic. I picked both up used for about half what they cost new.
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Old 03-14-2020, 09:54 AM
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Do you have to break them down, or could you just weigh each of them, and compare their weight to the weight of a correctly loaded one?

I realize the weight and scale would have to be precise, but don't most of the scales, like the RCBS, weigh in tenths of a grain?

(sorry, but I'm clueless about reloading, at least at the scale of 1000 rounds at a time)
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:28 AM
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Lee beam scale. Not the first time I've read of an issue with that.

Get a more solid reloading bench, get a better scale. My RCBS 505 has not lost its zero setting since I bought it around 1980.
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:30 AM
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Me personally? I think I'd have to pull them all.
Why?
What if a bullet or case had a slight defect, making it light then the over-charge brought the entire weight of the cartridge up to normal?

Nothing says you have to get in a hurry about it.
Pull them all. And thanks again for sharing. I gave you a "like" for being so honest.

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Old 03-14-2020, 10:38 AM
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Ouch! I hate to be the bearer of bad news but weighing the completed cartridges is unlikely to be successful for you in culling the over-filled cases. Depending on if you've sorted your brass by head stamps, the brass can vary by around 2 grains for the same head stamps and up to 8 grains for mixed head stamps. I wouldn't do that and feel very safe. I would have to recommend pulling the bullet heads, dumping them and re-throwing the powder from a more accurate scale or powder feed. -S2

ETA: here's a link to an earlier post that I did to show the differences in casing weights:
Some (probably useless) Brass Facts

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Old 03-14-2020, 10:41 AM
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Wow, I had no idea the weight of the components would vary that much. Thanks
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by armorer951 View Post
Do you have to break them down, or could you just weigh each of them, and compare their weight to the weight of a correctly loaded one?
Oh yes! With mixed brass, the weight of the cases can vary way more then a powder load. Better to pull 1K reloads then blow up a gun.
OP, sounds like you were weighing each charge. Invest in a powder measure. My RCBS uniflow once set, will vary no more than +/- .1 grain with ball powders.
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:44 AM
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I would pull them all, as well. Just too much variation and the stakes are too high.

JT
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:48 AM
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Speedo2 is exactly right. You will have too much variation in individual bullet and case weights to identify over-charged rounds by weight. You can prove this to yourself by simply weighing a few bullets and cases. Your issue is familiar to many of us, I reckon. Some lessons are hard learned, as in pulling down 1000 rounds. Good thing is you noticed something was amiss and figured out the problem.

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Old 03-14-2020, 10:59 AM
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It's a good practice to check a scale's zero every time you use it. It takes just seconds.
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:11 AM
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OP, the last thing you want to do is add insult to injury. DO NOT use the collet bullet puller to break apart your potential thousand round mistake.

The collet will, 99% of the time, damage your bullet. While it would be much faster, do you really want to toss up to a thousand bullets? Dedicate a day and pull those rounds apart using your kinetic bullet puller.
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:16 AM
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Pull them all, without question. Full stop.

I try to limit the amount of vibration that reaches my precision gadgetry. My bench is isolated from a wall-mounted shelf. When I'm rolling the press I keep the scales on the adjacent shelf.
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:23 AM
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Iíve had to do a 100 rounds one time because of a stupid mistake on my part. Canít imagine doing a 1000. On the upside you will get really good with the hammer puller
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrrifleman View Post
OP, the last thing you want to do is add insult to injury. DO NOT use the collet bullet puller to break apart your potential thousand round mistake.

The collet will, 99% of the time, damage your bullet. While it would be much faster, do you really want to toss up to a thousand bullets? Dedicate a day and pull those rounds apart using your kinetic bullet puller.
I've never tried using my collet puller on pistol rounds, just rifle. But, if they are lead bullets I fully agree with this. If they are jacketed, it would depend on whether the collet can get a solid grip on the bullet profile. I know that on jacketed rifle bullets my collet puller does zero damage to the bullet.

With that said, get a good good inertia puller such as the RCBS and get ready for several days of banging apart ammo. I would break it up into several days of processing 100-200 rounds myself to prevent burnout. And buy yourself a quality balance to replace the cheap Lee one you are using. I prefer mechanical over electronic, but I am also an old neanderthal anyways, as far as my loading equipment goes.
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:43 AM
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To be safe, I'd use my inertia bullet puller and pull all of them. 1000 rounds is a lot, but an unsafe pressure round might cost a lot more than the time to pull and re-reload those 1000 rounds.

My balance beam scale is from Lyman. I did learn a long time ago that the vibration from the press slightly shakes the reloading bench, which can affect the scale's zero. I put a small trophy shelf on the wall above the bench, no more vibration and the scale stays perfectly zeroed.
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Old 03-14-2020, 11:50 AM
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You can't have too many scales! The RCBS/Lyman/Ohas 5-0-5 & 5-10-5 scales are some of the best! and most expensive!! I also use a Hornady "Magnetic Dampened" beam scale, I wasn't so sure when I bought it on sale 30 years ago, but it may be better than my 2 electronic scale. I have a Dillion beam scale also, $80 wasted, piece of junk!

I posted in another thread, that the electronic dope scales are inexpensive but very accurate, but you will need a pan (you can use anything) but Lyman makes a plastic pan with a built in funnel.

I never had to break down 1000 rounds before, but I have done 100 a few times. I also have a container of junk, mistakes and other peoples reloads I won't shoot. Every other year or so I reclaim the brass and bullets. The powder gets burnt and the primers get trashed. I own both types of bullet pullers, and collet works best but 9mm doesn't have much area to grab hold of.

If you shell retainer gets too worn to gran the extractor grove, most hammer type pullers allow you to use the correct shell holder you used to load them.

It gets old beating on the basement floor, wait for fair weather and do it outside or if you have a garage, try that. But very few tables will withstand 1000 tear downs!

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Old 03-14-2020, 11:50 AM
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Pull them. As mentioned the weight is too variable.
Been there, done that. It took awhile, but did 50 or 60 at a session and it got done.

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Old 03-14-2020, 11:54 AM
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I have a different take on it. Go ahead and weigh them, using an empty case, bull let, and powder charge in the scale as a baseline. Pull the heavy ones. Chances are, it’s an overweight powder charge, but even if it isn’t, no harm, no foul.
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Old 03-14-2020, 12:11 PM
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Looks like it's time for a bullet pulling party OP. Buy a few more pullers, your favorite snacks and drinks, then invite a few of your good friends over for an afternoon of fun. Amazon has a great price on kinetic pullers.




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Old 03-14-2020, 12:18 PM
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Before you pull all those loads.............

You might measure the last few loads and find out what they weighed.....................

If the amount of powder is still a standard loading or at maximum a NATO loading, I see no problem........
if your weapon is in good condition.

However , if the amount of powder is near a +P loading, for safety reasons, breaking them down is the best option.
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Old 03-14-2020, 12:38 PM
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Default inertia vs collet puller

For pulling round-nose bullets like the 9mm (either lead or jacketed) I've found it best to use a combination of both types of pullers . . . minimizes damage to bullets and makes for a much cleaner process.

Use the inertia puller to get the bullet started past the taper crimp and far enough out of the case to allow the collet to grab hold of the bullet at its full diameter. Then use the collet puller set up in single stage press to pull the bullet the rest of the way out.

My experience using the inertia puller alone . . . especially with lubed lead bullets . . . is I ended up with a powder encrusted bullet that is a mess to clean before reusing the bullet.

I agree with others who recommend pulling them all . . . consider it a learning experience you won't soon forget.

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Old 03-14-2020, 01:08 PM
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I think I would stash the ammo, go find a Ruger Blackhawk .357 with a 9MM cylinder, then shoot it all up. Depends of course on how much of an overload You're talking about. Another reason to drink blue.

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Old 03-14-2020, 01:41 PM
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At least itís 9mm. For the time and aggravation involved in trying to recycle components, I think Iíd just toss them. Not like itís 1K of .41 mag.
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Old 03-14-2020, 01:56 PM
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Other then weighing all cases... you could “bite the bullet” and trash the whole lot... AND then buy a powder measure. Feeling the pain now will reduce future mistakes.
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Old 03-14-2020, 02:06 PM
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Regardless of the brand, or type, of scale you use, you may want to consider a couple calibration weights in 1 and 5 grams. They are a quick and foolproof way to check your scales accuracy. They aren't expensive and if you try to avoid touching them, never go out of calibration. 5 grams is the biggest I can go on my 100 grain scale.
And my Lee scale is suprisingly accurate. I mean dead nuts accurate.

Sorry about you having to pull all of those but at least you found out now instead of the hard way.
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Old 03-14-2020, 02:08 PM
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Reloading pistol ammo I weighed every 10th charge. Rifle, every one.
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Old 03-14-2020, 02:09 PM
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Are you being violent in the way you operate your measure? I've used the Lee balance beam scale for many decades. I've never encountered this problem.
More than the scale, you have to get a more stable platform to operate on.
I've pulled thousands, myself, but for other reasons (I realized that one of the cases was empty and I pulled all of them to make sure I didn't miss another.)
Also, don't listen to the radio or such while reloading. This is a hobby that requires your absolute attention at all times.
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Old 03-14-2020, 02:10 PM
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Handloading ammunition is a continuous learning process that doesn't end until you stop handloading. Seriously....everything that has happened to you I've done over the last 30 years.

I tend to load in large batches with a Dillon 650(at least a 1000 rounds) so major mistakes are nasty. I use 2 scales when check weighing; one digital and other balance beam. I recalibrate before starting a run or the next day. I weigh charges on each scale at least every 100 rounds. I refill my powder measure every 100 rounds. I check bullet weight regularly. I sort range brass by headstamp for each batch(9mm brass is extremely variable). Make all these simple thing standard routine and you'll be fine...don't get down on yourself.

I once made 500 45 ACP handloads that were at least 30% bad. I put them aside and pounded them all out one winter.
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Old 03-14-2020, 02:23 PM
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Just a couple thoughts; first I have been using Lee Safety Scales since the early '70 (along with 3 others) and have never had one "lose zero". If the OP means the sliding poise has moved, the poise is equipped with a lock and it's just a push of a small button and the setting won't move. Just checked mine the brass adjusting nut is hidden between the beams and can't easily be bumped and normal use of the scale won't move the nut. Perhaps handling the beam when setting up a finger can get down far enough to move the screw?

I was told a very long time ago "the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time". So when faced with a huge problem//task, I break it down into easy to handle steps. If I needed to pull 1,000 rounds I would only pull as many as I felt comfortable doing at one setting, whether it be 100 or 10. And before you know it you will have pulled 1,000 rounds, no sweat...

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Old 03-14-2020, 02:33 PM
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This seems like a perfect excuse to buy the ultimate 9mm bullet puller...a Ruger Blackhawk convertible.

On a more serious note, this is why I like fixed-cavity powder measures.
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Old 03-14-2020, 03:13 PM
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There is no doubt in my mind that you should pull them. There was a time not long ago that I weighed each bullet and separated them by weight before reloading them. In the typical box of 500, most were within 2.0 grains of each other, however, there were always a handful with were 4 grains over or under the stated weight. These were .38 and .45, which were probably heavier than your 9mm, but you can see that plus or minus 4 grains is much more than your powder weight. As coincidence has it, I just pulled about half of a batch of 300 9mm which did not plunk. I'm sure that I have not pull that many in total for the entire 35 years that I had that kinetic bullet puller. Lesson learned.
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Old 03-14-2020, 03:21 PM
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Don't feel like the Lone Ranger.
Years ago I read one of Dean Grennell's columns where he said he set his charges by adjusting his powder measure so 10 charges equalled 10x the load wanted, he figured there would always be slight variations, not so great as to be significant.
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Old 03-14-2020, 04:21 PM
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First, get rid of the poopy Lee scale. The most important piece of gear you have is the powder scale & measures. Set your scale on a shelf on your walll above the bench, never move it. This reduces a lot of vibrational issues.
2nd, forget trying to weigh loaded rds to find a charge variation. Even n 9mm, total loaded weight can be +/- 4-5gr. Cases vary, bullets vary, you end up with stacking tolerance issues. Just pay attention to your powder charging. Verify 3-4x then check again before throwing charges. Using a check wt will help you determine your scale is accurate. The check wt must be certified or something you verified on a scale verified accurate with certified check wts.
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Last edited by fredj338; 03-14-2020 at 04:22 PM.
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Old 03-14-2020, 04:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrrifleman View Post
OP, the last thing you want to do is add insult to injury. DO NOT use the collet bullet puller to break apart your potential thousand round mistake.

The collet will, 99% of the time, damage your bullet. While it would be much faster, do you really want to toss up to a thousand bullets? Dedicate a day and pull those rounds apart using your kinetic bullet puller.
Take a couple aspirin first. And get out the ear muffs.
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Old 03-14-2020, 04:48 PM
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Give us your load data from the over loaded cartridges. Maybe within the capabilities of your gun, or someone's you know. Like the Ruger mentioned above.
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Old 03-14-2020, 05:02 PM
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What powder were you loading? What was the charge you ended up throwing? It might not be necessary to scrap everything.
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Old 03-14-2020, 05:08 PM
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Pulling 1,000 rounds does not sound like fun. I agree with the others that there seems to be little other choice than to pull them.

From a glass-half-full perspective your processes worked! You caught the problem before it developed into a much worse scenario. If I'm reading the story correctly it seems *two* things had to go wrong for this to happen: The powder measure got messed up accidentally as did the scale.

The other thing this story shows is to not let the safety checks and processes we have encourage us to turn off our brains.

In the micro sense pulling 1,000 bullets is a bummer. But in the macro sense good on you that you'd set everything up to catch the mistake - and sharing it for others to learn from.

OR
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Old 03-14-2020, 05:57 PM
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Originally Posted by armorer951 View Post
Do you have to break them down, or could you just weigh each of them, and compare their weight to the weight of a correctly loaded one?

I realize the weight and scale would have to be precise, but don't most of the scales, like the RCBS, weigh in tenths of a grain?

(sorry, but I'm clueless about reloading, at least at the scale of 1000 rounds at a time)
This is NOT a good idea because there is a lot of variation in case weights between brands and within cases with identical head stamps.

Good news is that having used the RCBS collet puller I can say it's a quick and easy process provided you are pulling jacketed bullets. If you are pulling lead bullets plan on throwing out the bullets because lead is much slippier than brass or copper so you'll have to really squeeze the bullets to get them to pull. You may even find that your only option is an inertial puller which is a HUGE PITA.

BTW, I learned a similar lesson using that exact same Lee "Safety" Scale. to put my opinion a bit gently it's a cheap piece of junk. I can also recommend avoiding the Lee "Perfect" powder measures because they are also cheap junk.

Suggestion One, get yourself an RCBS Competition Powder Measure and a Notebook. Because with that measure you can keep a record of the volume setting for each load recipe and use that setting for every time you load that particular combination. BTW, if you do this make sure to record the lot number for the powder and any time you change to a new lot of powder do a bit of weight checking and record the new value in your notebook.

Suggestion Two, get yourself an Ohaus scale. You will find RCBS and Lyman both sell scales made by Ohaus under their brand and they are very good beam scales.

Suggestion Three, DO NOT keep your scale(s) on the same bench as your reloading press. Scales are sensitive instruments and constant vibrations can knock even the best scales out of whack.

Last edited by scooter123; 03-14-2020 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 03-14-2020, 06:37 PM
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Once I zero balance my scale, I tape that little adjusting wheel to the bench to keep it from spinning.
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Old 03-14-2020, 06:39 PM
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OP, if you do decide to pull 1000 rounds, let us know how many you did before you gave up. I've pulled a few in my time and would most likely toss the batch or hire a teenager to do it!
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Old 03-14-2020, 09:15 PM
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The GOOD news is that those loads are 9mm..............
with a smooth wall bullet.

Not a 38 Special or .357 magnum with a CRIMP !!!!!

They will come apart a LOT easier............
but do they need to ?

Good luck figuring it out.
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Old 03-14-2020, 10:35 PM
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We all make mistakes. I like my Little Dandy powder measure whenever I can use it. For anyone who doesn't know, it uses a series of 26 fixed rotors so it's pretty consistent. Next is the Uniflow if I don't have the right rotor.

But, yeah, I'll add to the chorus saying you can't reliably weigh each round and find the problem children. Breaking them down is just tuition in the school of hard knocks.
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:01 AM
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Everybody calm down a bit before telling him to pull down 1,000 cartridges.

We don't know what powder he was using or what "overloading by a fair amount" may be. A fair amount over a starting load? A fair amount using a slow burning powder? More information regarding the powder charge, primer, bullet, etc. is in order.
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Old 03-15-2020, 02:44 AM
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Wow, that's a real bummer!

Sadly, as has been stated already, I can't see how you can realistically expect to weigh them & feel assured you found all the overcharged ones.

I'll second the idea, if they're not compressed loads, that they might could be shot in a pistol strong enough for them. Lots of pistols can handle MAJOR power loads with pressures in the mid 40K psi range. Just depends on how you've got those cartridges assembled.

Otherwise I'd be tempted to just trash them. Pulling a 1000 rds. is a crazy lot of work.

.

Being mildly "charge weight" paranoid, I load off my Charge Master 1500 & do a sanity check every 10th load on the M5 beam scale sitting right beside it. I use "check weights" to verify they both read then same.

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Old 03-15-2020, 07:32 AM
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Buy an elbow brace.
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Old 03-15-2020, 09:48 AM
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First let me say that I am blown away by the number of responses (mostly positive) to my mistake, and the amount of well thought out advice given. I really didn't expect this level of support.

I'll try to address a couple things brought up here. The 9mm being reloaded included both 115 and 124 grain FMJ bullets which were loaded with CFE pistol powder. When I first saw the problem the powder load was more than the maximum listed in the Hodgdon table so no question those rounds need to come apart.

When I talked about weighing the rounds to try and determine whether they needed to come apart it's because I'm not sure exactly when the problem started. I've only been reloading since the beginning of the year but have changed the setting on the powder measure a number of times as I switched between 9mm and 223 loading. I know for sure that at first I had checked the zero on the scale as well as looked up the VMD setting to double check, and we've been shooting those rounds without any indication of a problem.

About a month ago I bought a second powder measure so I could keep one set up for 9mm and the other for 223 as those are the only two calibers I reload at this point. Somewhere along the line I set the 9mm measure up going by the charge weight showing on my Lee balance scale which unknown to me was not correctly zeroed. And I didn't double check the VMD which would have shown the problem. Big mistake on my part, I know that now. I just don't know exactly when this happened.

I have my reloads pretty much lined up by chronological order so working backwards I should be able to find out where the problem started and loads done before that should be ok. I have already separated those earlier loads by headstamp and made up check rounds with the correct charges. My thinking is that by comparing the suspect loaded rounds to what I know to be correctly loaded ones I should be able to tell if they are good. If I don't think I am getting clear evidence of which are good and which are bad I will pull them all.

I've read opinions advocating both the collet puller and inertial puller as being best. I have an inertial puller and have ordered a collet puller which I got today but unfortunately the proper collet for it isn't scheduled for delivery till Wednesday. So I can't compare them yet.

I started pulling ones I know are bad yesterday with the inertial puller and it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I was hitting it on the corner of my bench which has an angle iron frame and wood top but it took 10-15 hits to dislodge a bullet. I then put a 25 lb plate from my barbell set on the table and hit the hammer on that which usually did the job in 3 strikes, not so bad. The main problem is that I lose powder out the top on every round. Not a lot, but the collet puller would in theory preserve all the powder making it the better option, perhaps.

At any rate I pulled about 150 bullets yesterday and it went faster than I would have thought. If I have to do it that way it's definitely possible.

I actually have more like 2k rounds loaded but I'm assuming the ones loaded last month are ok, but they all will be weight checked. As previously mentioned they have been shooting without problem and I'm 99% sure they are good, the weight check is just because I'm now a little paranoid.

Going forward since I bought a digital scale and still have the balance beam as well as fully intending to watch the VMD on the powder measure I will have a triple check on anything I do. That should be sufficient.

Any new skill has a learning curve. I hope that I am now over the hump on this one, and future mistakes will be smaller ones.
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Old 03-15-2020, 10:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post
It's a good practice to check a scale's zero every time you use it. It takes just seconds.
This is an essential practice.
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Old 03-15-2020, 12:05 PM
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Thanks for the update, mmb617. As you've found out, whacking the inertial puller on a rigid item helps a lot. I hit a big vice on my bench. Laws of physics! Also, keep an eye on the bullet as it dislodges. You'll see when it's almost ready to come loose and go with light whacks at that point. Keeps from shaking powder out of the puller.

One more piece of advice. I suggest as you learn reloading, that you stick to small batches. Of course, fixing mistakes is easier. But also, it's worthwhile to mess with different powders, charges and bullets. That's a benefit of reloading - you get to tune your loads.
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Old 03-15-2020, 12:07 PM
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Couple of thoughts; my RCBS 5-10 lives on a small table on the bench and sleeps under an inverted plastic shoe box. The only time it leaves the table is when it gets cleaned. At the beginning of my charging routine, I zero it every time. I have seen .1 variations in zero from time to time (earth settling under my shop? Change in the magnetic fields/gravity? ). But I make sure before I weigh any powder the scale is checked...

I don't pull bullets often, but when I do I prefer an impact type. One practice I learned a while back was to use a lead ingot/puck as an anvil for the hammer type tool. The lead is way quieter and does not deaden the impact enough to hinder bullet pulling/movement. I did pull a bunch (125-150) older Greek military ammo to reuse the brass and just did a few each day. Sometimes I held the puck in my left hand, hammering with the tool in my right hand (I often use a muffin pan for ingots after I clean some alloy) and that was much quieter than banging on the puck/ingot when it's laying on the bench. Mebbe because I was a lifelong machinist/mechanic I really dislike hammering on cement or when using a mallet, hammering on steel...
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