Lyman Model 1200 DPS
DPS? That translates into Digital
Powder System: Madison Avenue English for a combination powder measure and weighing scale
with a programmable memory tossed in for good measure.
Lymans Model 1200 is a fairly
compact unit - light too. Eleven-and-a-half inches wide, its 7 inches deep and 5
inches high. When installed, of course, the powder reservoir tube adds almost 8 more
inches in height to the rig. Easy to use, its everything the Lyman ads claim it is -
well, almost everything. Its unbelievably accurate and remarkably sensitive - almost
delicate, in fact - so it must be used, moved and stored with those characteristics in
mind. Its equipped with a memory capable of storing 30 different loads too. But is
it fast? Hardly. (Well get into that a bit later.)
Because its so sensitive, the
1200 must be set up on a perfectly level surface, one immune from vibrations of any sort.
That eliminates loading benches, of course. For testing purposes, my office desk was
cleared off and the 1200 installed there. All windows had to be shut and the air
conditioner turned off because even the slightest draft can affect a reading.
While were on the subject of
sensitivity, it should be noted that the 1200 should never be shaken or turned upside
down. Dropping a 1200 probably wouldnt be a very good idea either. To sum up: The
Model 1200 is a very touchy electronic instrument. It must be handled with care.
To check the 1200s accuracy, a
competitive electronic scale was positioned nearby so its readings could be compared with
those of the 1200. To begin with, 20- and 50-gram brass test weights were placed on both
scales. Both instruments read exactly the same. Later, when the Model 1200 was dropping
measured charges, quite a number of them were transferred to the other scales powder
pan. Both instruments read the same - every time. If the 1200 were churning out, say,
40-grain charges, those same charges read precisely 40.0 grains when spilled into the
other scales pan.
Since the 1200 require a half-hour
to warm up thats what I said: half an hour - the sooner the ON/OFF button is
pressed, the better. During warm-up, the scale and powder dispenser are locked out. The
1200 cant be calibrated or zeroed either. The tubular powder reservoir can be
installed and filled with propellant though. In the meantime, keep an eye on the LCD
window. Its message will alternate between Warm-Up and the number of minutes
and seconds to go before the warm-up period is completed. The only functions available to
the operator during warm-up are those provided by the memory. New settings can be entered;
existing ones can be edited, recalled or deleted.
A warm-up period can be cancelled at
any time simply by pressing the CANCEL button on the keypad. User directions caution that
if the 1200s circuits arent brought all the way up to operating temperatures,
accuracy may suffer slightly until the proper heat levels are reached. They might be off
.10 grain or maybe .20, plus or minus.
Once warm-up is concluded, its
time to zero the scale and dispenser. First, the scale is set to zero, then a 20-gram test
weight is placed on the scale, a zero reading is obtained, the weight removed, the scale
set to zero again and finally the powder pan is placed on the scale and the zero button
pressed one last time. At that point, scale and dispenser are both calibrated. The entire
sequence takes about 30 seconds.
Now the 1200 is ready to spit out
measured powder charges. First, punch in the desired weight of the charge by pressing the
appropriate numbers on the keypad. Next, press the ENTER button. The small tube jutting
over the powder pan resting on the scale will begin to rotate, spilling powder into the
pan below. As the charge nears completion, the tubes rotation will slow, then stop.
If the charge isnt quite complete, the feed tube may rotate just enough to kick out
one or two more powder granules. When the programmed weight is reached, the 1200 beeps
loudly, and the feed tube stops rotating. The pan can then be removed and the charge
dropped into the waiting cartridge case.
Instead of pressing the ENTER
button, the process can be quickened by pressing the FAST button and holding it down until
the LCD panel shows most of the charge has been dropped. Lets say 37 out of a
programmed 40 grains have been spilled into the powder pan. At that point, the FAST button
can be released and the ENTER button pushed. The three remaining grains of powder will be
dumped into the pan but at a noticeably slower pace to prevent an overcharge. By using
that approach, charging time dropped to 18 to 20 seconds per case.
Thats considerably longer than
it usually takes to slip an empty case under the discharge tube of a manually operated
powder measure and crank the handle once. What does the 1200 offer in exchange for the
extra operating time it demands? Consistently exact powder charges, right down to the last
Another approach that can speed up
the charging process is to dump powder into the pan first, using a powder dipper adjusted
to throw 2 or 3 grains less than the desired charge. Place the pan back on the scale and
press the ENTER button. The feed tube will rotate just enough to bring the pans
charge up to full weight.
Placing a load in the memory bank is
so simple, I did it right on the first try. Just hit the NEW MEM button. That triggers the
LCD to flash Mem-01. When the ENTER button is pushed, the LCD flashes Cart,
then displays C=. The cartridge designation can then be punched in with the
aid of the keyboard.
Each key represents a number and
three or four letters. Sometimes, a key must be pressed several times in succession to
bring up the required letter. Once the cartridge name is punched in, the display pauses a
few seconds then POWD is flashed on the LCD. Punch in the name of the powder, press ENTER
and after another slight pause, the LCD will flash Wght, the display W0.0
gn. Enter the charge weight, press the ENTER button once more and that load is
safely stored in the 1200s memory. Pressing CAL/ZERO cancels the memory mode.
To order the machine to begin
pumping out one of those memorized loads, all thats required is to push the RECALL
button twice. The first stored load will flash on the LCDs panel. If thats the
desired load, press the ENTER button twice and the feed tube will dispense the correct
charge. If the first load in the memory bank is not the one sought, keep pressing the
RECALL button until the wanted load appears.
Pressing the FAST button will also
bring successive loads into the display panel. If its necessary to back up, pressing
the TRICKLE button will take care of that. To return to the standard dispense mode, just
When a memory-stored load is no
longer needed, it can be cancelled. Its place in the memory bank is left empty. That
prevents other loads stored there from changing positions. A new load can be entered in
the now-empty location.
Emptying the 1200 of powder, once a
loading session is over, brings out one of the less endearing sides of the 1200s
character. As mentioned before, shaking the 1200 or up-ending it is not a good idea. Some
of its electronic innards might object. Instead the first step, when unloading powder, is
to lower the cleaning chute that leads to the powder box located beneath the tubular
powder reservoir. The chute is located on the backside of the 1200. A container must be
placed under the end of the chute when its lowered, otherwise powder will spill over
Once its empty, the powder
tube can be removed. Next, slide the small latch on top of the unit to the left. That
frees the tubes base. Lifting that piece off the 1200 reveals the powder box
underneath, still partially full of powder. Next, place the end of a small, cane-shaped
rod in the coupling connected to the feed tube. Those tiny holes in the coupling were put
there to accept the rods end.
Holding the coupling still, with the
help of the rod, allows the feed tube to be unscrewed and removed. That, in turn, leaves
the way clear for the powder box to be slipped out of its nest. Pressing against its back
with the fingers lets the box pop out just far enough for the fingers to grasp it and pull
it free of the unit. Any powder in or underneath it can be whisked out with the aid of a
small brush supplied with the 1200. Reassembly is in reverse order.
The whole thing sounds more
complicated than it is, but obviously it does chew up some time to disassemble, clean and
then reassemble. Frankly, it takes much of the fun out of using the 1200 too. As long as
different powders are used for different loads, of course, it goes without saying that
utter cleanliness is a must.
In my judgment, a Model 1200 should
prove to be extremely useful to a competitor who reloads hundreds, perhaps thousands, of
rounds a year. To a shooter like that, consistent, dependable velocities are a basic
requirement of his or her sport. One thing a 1200 is guaranteed to do is drop uniform
powder charges. Its memory capability might prove to be an advantage for such handloaders
Its ability to weigh accurately is
another plus. Anyone who depends on cast bullets will find the 1200s scale can make
life easier for weighing, segregating by weight and identifying those bullets with hidden
As far as the experimental
handloader is concerned, it seems to me a 1200 would be of limited value. It can throw
incredibly accurate charges, of course, but its memory banks would be of no particular
benefit and more time would probably be devoted to disassembling, cleaning and
reassembling than to charging cases.
In short, Lymans Model 1200 isnt
for everybody. Its a marvelously accurate machine, no two ways about that, but it
has a few minuses as well as all those pluses. It has to be handled and positioned with
care. For the handloader who insists on accuracy, sensitivity and repeatability above all
- and whos willing to pay $333.25 for them - this computerized powder
measure/dispenser is capable of boosting reload quality to an entirely new level. - Al