Ideal No. 6 Duplex Powder Measures
This is, by far, the most common Duplex Powder Measure. It is easy to find in any condition you want. You may have to look a while to find one mint in the box, but they are out there. They are a really good design and very accurate. The priming charge is adjustable, unlike some others. Ideal cornered the market.
I have two complaints. They do not hold a lot of powder, and they are heavy. The iron casting is really thick. It is heavy to carry to the range for Schuetzen Matches. Do not drop it on your foot!
I like to shoot larger calibers. When these measures were most popular, the 32-40 was the overwhelming favorite for "The Schuetzen Era." You can load a lot of shots in a 32-40 with the powder they will hold. I find myself checking often, to be sure there is enough powder in there! I can't quite bring myself to trust that small container for big cartridges.
The grain markings on the No. 6 measure are just an approximation. For you non-shooters, you have to weigh the charge on a scale for precise charges. This is particularly important with smokeless powder. When using Black Powder you are looking for a particular volume. For repeating rifles, you want enough black powder to support the base of the bullet. For Sharps Cartridges volume also supports the base of the bullet at some point you determine, trying for maximum accuracy.
If you plan to use smokeless Powder, get a Powder scale and weigh the charges. Use reference books for safe charges.
If you want to learn something new, search "Blown up Gun Images" on the internet.
My great uncle blew a firing pin through his brain. He either loaded smokeless powder into some 44-40 cartridges, or someone "Gave" him some reloads. The firing pin of a Model 1873 Winchester lines up perfectly with your eye. Someone thought you just put Smokeless in like Black Powder. Fill her up! This did not work out well! The hot charge blew the side plates out. It broke the toggles and pins inside the action. The firing pin was gone! ( In his Brain!) It is a long steel rod. Educate yourself for safety!
Ed Curtis was kind enough to send me this image of an original Ideal No. 6 ad. It is a little faded and stained, so I made it big enough to be readable.
You can see that the engraver, who made the printing plate above, did not get the proportions of the powder measures just right. The measures look short and fat. This is common in these old plates. They had to make everything fit on a page. As you can see here, they look a little different in person. The engravings look darn good otherwise. As always, I like to look at the Details.
If you look close, you will see the short "I" drop tube on this measure. The smallest diameter of the hole in the drop tube is .230. This would work for 25 caliber shells easily.
There are other clues that indicate this is a very late production measure. The early measures had coarse rounded knurling on the screw heads. Sometimes straight lines and sometimes angled straight lines. The late measures had flat diamond pattern knurling.
Check out "Reloading Tools of the Black Powder era," Volume 1, pages 167 thru 172. They found these No. 6 powder measures listed for sale until 1947. The pictures will also give you an idea of the different knurling on the screws.
Late measures may have had this small inside diameter drop tube as a standard part, since about all shooting was done with small calibers.
This measure has not been used much. My photos with my I-phone are so poor you can't see the chipping on the paint. The measure looks better than it actually is. Since the pictures are coming out so well, I am going to keep using the phone for my images. No sense in buying a big time camera.
The only other odd thing I see on this measure is the knocker to settle the powder. It is cast brass rather than cast iron. I have not noticed that before. Some of the closeups show the brass color where the paint is chipped.
Check out the locking screw on the center image. This is what I mean by flat, diamond shaped knurling. You will see these screws on a late model measures, bullet lubricators, etc. The bottom view of the drop tube shows the small .230 hole. This might work on 22 caliber cartridges. I have never tried it. The outside diameter of a 22 caliber case should be around .236.
The graduations for the small priming charge are a little different from the No. 2 measure. Upper left you can see it is marked from 1 to 10. The No.2 went up to 15 grains. It is possible that 15 grains were not considered necessary at this late date. As a general rule, popular calibers became smaller through the years. Except for occasional fads like Black powder silhouette shooting.
The large 7/8 inch barrel is marked just the same as the earlier No.2 measure. From 10 to 140 grains of powder. These graduations were originally intended for 2F Black Powder. I doubt they have much relationship to smokeless powders. These markings are a little light. Note there is no nickel plating. Sadly, they were probably trying to save money.
As always, set the charging bar, drop a charge and weigh it! Make sure you are getting the right weight of powder.
If you looked at the No.2 powder measure images, you saw the later type patent brass adjusting bar. Those were graduated from 0 to 35 grains of Black Powder. They slide in and out of the large charging barrel, to drop smaller charges, when the 7/8 inch barrel is all the way in.
The No. 6 measure added a new twist. It has Two little brass bars for small powder charges. These added bars were probably a product of the smokeless powder era. Smokeless powder came in flakes, granules, balls and tube shapes. These different bars probably make the measure more accurate for these different powders.
The 0 to 15 grain graduations are for the small bar only, with the other two bars all the way in. The little screw with a flat side, turned parallel to the bottom of the small bar, allowed this.
The 10 to 50 grain markings are used when both brass bars are moved in and out together, with the large 7/8 in barrel all the way in. Twist the flat sided screw so it lines the two brass bars up with each other. It helps keep them moving together.
The picture above left shows another pesky little pin that can fall out and be lost. This pin is important as always. The handle has a detent or stop on the back, so you can feel the mid point of travel. The shape of the handle is also unusual. Without the pin and spring, the handle rubs on the side of the measure. Everything works better with that pin and spring in there. As an added caution, be careful of the little sliding bar for the primer charge. If the lock screw loosens, the bar will fall out. Probably at a bad time. You can't go down to the hardware store and buy these. Both are often missing.
Looking at this measure, you can see quality machine work and castings. I am not sure when the ad at the top of the page was printed. Six dollars for the No.6 measure seems quite reasonable now. I doubt they cost much more when they were discontinued in 1947.
If these are stored in a dry place and cared for, they have and will last for generations. That seems like a good deal to me in this throw away society we live in.
I bought this powder measure recently. As you can see, it is not "Mint" in the box. One screw is replaced and it shows a lot of wear on the paint from long term use. This measure caught my attention because it had a lot of "Character". The owner thought so much of the measure, he made a Box for it. It is rough sawn pine and is reinforced with sheet metal. He must have spent a lot of time making this box to protect his prized measure.
He also did us a favor by saving a folded sheet of information about the No.5 and No.6 measures.
If you get an old box full of stuff, please do not throw it away until you give it some hard thought! There might be things in there you are not familiar with. You might be tossing a rare box, rare paper, or a rare tool, just because you have not seen it in a book! This happens a lot! Some of my rarest tools came from boxes of "Stuff" no one valued!
If you do not think this is a neat Collectors Reloading Tool, you should probably collect "Pez" dispensers or "Suppository" molds instead! Leave serious collecting to Historians!
This is what I got for my money. A well used, but not abused No.6 powder measure that should be good for another ten generations! A cool old homemade box to protect it. One home made and one factory drop tube. And, a legal size document from Lyman with instructions!
No one thing here is more important than another. It all goes together. A slice of HISTORY that is often lost or thrown away! But, these instructions are pretty cool!
This side of the instructions has a lot of information. All in one legal size sheet, we see that the No. 5, the No.6 duplex measure, and the No. 5 Micrometer measure were offered at the same time. Sometime after Lyman took over Ideal. And, we have Instructions for the use of the measures here.
For some reason, I always thought the No.5 Micrometer Measure was for Pistol Cartridge Reloading. It only adjusts up to 50 grains. My mistake is clear now. I only load Black Powder Loads. Maybe a priming charge of smokeless occasionally? But I never load any cartridges with smokeless alone. It is not my area of interest.
These are pretty good images. Zoom in if you can not see something clearly.
The other side of the instruction sheet is a list I have not seen Before.
Lyman was supposed to have bought rights to the Ideal tools in 1925. So, this paper dates from 1925 or later.
This is really cool! However, I must put the usual disclaimer here!
Check reloading manuals!
Check powder Manufacturers recommended loads!
Weight your charges of smokeless on a quality scale!
Check these numbers!
Double check EVERYTHING! Then Triple check! Or, you could end up like my Great Uncle with a Firing Pin blown through you eye and into your brain! Or, a missing Left Hand! Or, both!
This Guy Loved His Prized No.6
What Can You Do With a No.6 Measure?
I have always liked the No.2 powder Measure because it holds lots of powder. The No.2 never came with a long drop tube, but you can make one! Other than those small powder chambers, the No.6 does the same thing.
(1) - You can drop a single charge of either Smokeless or Black Powder up to 140 grains.
(2) - This can work for Percussion, Black Powder Muzzle-loaders too. Old time bench rest shooters would drop measured charges into small glass tubes, then carry the tubes in a box to the range. Pour the pre-measured charge in the barrel and load the bullet.
(3) - Percussion Muzzleloaders often dropped a small charge of fine 3 or 4 F Black Powder down the barrel of their Muzzle-loading Bench Rest rifles. Then dropped a large charge of 2 F Powder. The fine powder helped ignite the Big Black Powder charge. You could do the same thing with a No. 6 powder measure. Stand the rifle up in a rack, place a funnel in the muzzle, then drop a fine and coarse powder charge with your No. 6. All with one up and down stroke of the handle.
(4) The 200 yard Schuetzen competition started out with single charges of Black Powder. Then Shooters found that a little 3 or 4 F Black powder in the bottom of the Cartridge case might make the bigger 2 F Black Powder charge burn better. The rifles seemed to shoot better or cleaner with a little bit hotter charge near the primer.
(5) - Then Target Shooters found that a little bit of Smokeless powder in the bottom of the cartridge case worked too. The small smokeless charge made the Black Powder burn cleaner in some cases, and accuracy could be improved. I often do this with my Sharps Rifles. I put 6 grains of 4759 Smokeless in the bottom of my 50-70 or 45-70 cases, then fill the case with 2 F Black Powder up to where I want the base of the bullet in the case. This load often shoots very clean, even though I am using a Black Powder charge for most of the load.
(6) - With the No.6 you could drop two different types of Smokeless Powder.
(7) - Ed Curtis went through a phase where he was collecting and shooting British, Big Bore, African Big Game Rifles. He did not have British Smokeless Powders here in the U.S. He tried the recommended loads of Smokeless Powders we have here in America. They did not seem to ignite well and would not shoot well at all. He got an idea! He loaded a few grains of fine Black Powder in the bottom of those Big, Long, British cases. Then he loaded the recommended charge of American Smokeless Powder. The small charge of Black Powder ignited the Smokeless charges much better. He said the difference was like Day and Night! Accuracy improved, The rifles seemed more powerful, and there were no signs of excessive pressure.
All of this and more, can be done with the No.2 and No.6 Duplex powder measures from Ideal. You can do it easily and with precision.
Another Part of The No.6 Powder Measure Story
I spotted this measure on the internet a while back. I called Ed Curtis and he gave me some background. Someone had introduced this Replica No.6 Measure. They were offered for sale in a few magazines. He did not know if they were still available.
I was surprised, because the No.6 powder measures are pretty easy to find. They are also a really great design. Why were these made? I am not sure! It was listed for $350.00 plus shipping. Much more than you can buy an original for. BUT, it is another variation on a Tried and True Original!
Jim Bought this measure and was kind enough to send more and better information. These images of the instructions are much better.
He also sent these front and back photos, comparing an Original No. 6, (left), with this newer version of the Ideal measure. This is important because you can compare the two measures and get an idea of what changes were made by this Manufacturer.
Books always show a single image of a tool. You get no frame of reference.
This is why a website is so much better than a book. It can hold more pictures and allows quick, easy updating when new information becomes available. Thanks, Jim!
I have no idea if these are still made. It is another variation of the No.6 measure. Check out the instructions and make up your own mind. You may want to find one of these for your collection!