A Shooting Times reader was concerned they were using too much powder when reloading a cartridge. Bruce Potts had some advice.
A reader asked: I see you quote some reload data in your rifle tests but when I load the same weight powder it does not always all go in. What am I doing wrong?
Shooting Times’ rifle reviewer and stalker, Bruce Potts had this advice for reloading a cartridge: You are doing nothing wrong and it can be caused by two main factors. The type and make of case you use for reloading can vary in the internal sizes and thus powder capacity; just because it is a .243, for instance, does not mean that all .243 cases have the same brass wall thickness and this affects internal dimensions. This means that reloading a cartridge can be a tricky business as a powder charge that fills up a case, seated with a heavy or long bullet, can cause a compressed load. There are many differing powder types and styles on offer to cater for all the differing calibres and bullet weights. Each powder has its own density and bulks out a case differently dependent on the charge used and on how it is applied.
If you use a powder meter, often a longer-length drop tube allows the powder kernels to align themselves better and fill the cartridge case more densely. Another way to avoid air gaps between powder kernels that is now popular in the US is to use a powder funnel and “swirl” the powder around the lip of the funnel. This, again, gives a more regular densely packed case of powder.