Reloading scales preference

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tookalisten

Blackhawk
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Jul 19, 2009
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Tried the Search feature; but did not have any luck - so:

Which powder scale for rifle reloads is your preference?

I have been reloading pistol ammo of several calibers for years and recently ordered my dies to start reloading for 30-06 and .243 rifle ammo.

For pistol - I have been happy with the Hornady basic digital scale but notice it often gets off .2 and I frequently re-zero/tare to double check the settings.

Now that I am getting into rifle reloading, I want to upgrade my scales. Should I go with a beam scale or are the new digital powder system scales worth the cost?

And, if you have a tried and true brand/type - appreciate hearing what you are using.

Many thanks!
 

Poco Oso

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Jan 31, 2012
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I'm still using the balance beam scale that came with my old LEE classic kit. I've checked it against various electronic digital scales and was surprised at it's accuracy. I keep looking for a reason to get a nice, good looking, new one but can't seem to justify it. :D
 

Jimbo357mag

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I would never rely on a digital scale without check weights to calibrate it before using and to occasionally check accuracy. There are many balance beams for up to 500 grams for less than $100 but I would stay away from the Lee scale because it is a PITA to use but it is accurate and reliable. :D
 

loaded round

Hunter
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Balance beam scales are for intents and purposes obsolete these days in all types of laboratories; basically they're too darn slow and fragile. All labs are now using single pan digital balances, and yes quality digital balances do come with calibration weights, and some even half self calibration internals. My Dillon balance does have a calibration weight.


Jimbo357mag said:
I would never rely on a digital scale without check weights to calibrate it before using and to occasionally check accuracy. There are many balance beams for up to 500 grams for less than $100 but I would stay away from the Lee scale because it is a PITA to use but it is accurate and reliable. :D
 

Chuck 100 yd

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Redding balance scales. I bought a new one, was given one from a friend and bought two others off of e-bay. They all four read exactly the same with a check weight. You can never own too many quality tools.
I also have my dads Redding scale that he bought back in 1955. It also is calibrated exactly the same as the others. My dads scale is oil dampened but we never put oil in it for fear of the mess it could make if tipped accidentally. We reloaded at the kitchen table. The newer scales are magnetically dampened and much faster to use.
The one electronic scale I have owned, a Pact brand $100 scale, went back to the factory once for repair. The next time it acted up I put it out of it's misery with my .44 mag BH. Just the slightest amount of air movement would cause it to go nuts.
I am old school and prefer mechanical devices to electronic .
 

contender

Ruger Guru
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Well, over the years,,, I've owned several balance beam sets, and sold most of them except two that I now own but haven't used. They are back-ups in case my electronic ones fail.
I use a Dillon a lot, as well as the Lyman auto dispensing one. I really like the Lyman one for rifle ammo. As noted,, calibrate & double check.
 

Chuck 100 yd

Hunter
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I am sure that electronic scales have come a long ways in quality since I had the Pact scale. I may try another sometime.
One of my issues with them is the thought of trusting an electronic device ,with my safety,that was made by someone who works a 12 hour shift for a bowl of rice and a fish head. The Redding scale is made of cast iron and steel in the good old US of A.
 

Twoboxer

Single-Sixer
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190
loaded round said:
Balance beam scales are for intents and purposes obsolete these days in all types of laboratories; basically they're too darn slow and fragile. All labs are now using single pan digital balances, and yes quality digital balances do come with calibration weights, and some even half self calibration internals. My Dillon balance does have a calibration weight.

First statement is true but terribly misleading. And calibration weights = quality isn't true at all.

Lab grade scales are completely different than any digital scale you can acquire for less than ~$600. The "cheap" ones all use strain gauge balances; the "expensive" ones use magnetic force restoration balances and other mechanisms.

The performance, consistency, accuracy, and reliability differences between (eg) a Hornady GS-1500 (~$25) or a Gempro 250 (~$125) or an RCBS Chargemaster 1500 Scale (~$335 with dispenser) and (eg) an A&D FX120i (~$625) are significant. (I have all of them, some based on forum recommendations lol.)

And the A&D scale represents only the beginning of the "lab grade" spectrum.

Whether or not a scale comes with one or more calibration weights says nothing about the quality of the scale. That's only about the price point and profit margin sought by the vendor. Perhaps SMART digital scale marketers include the calibration weight(s) lol.

Certified calibration/check weights are expensive. But the weights we see are relatively inexpensive because (eg) medical-level precision is not required in reloading. But repeatability is. If I develop a load at say 25.0gr, do I really care if the load is really 25.02gr? No, I only care that the next time I throw that load and my scale says 25.0gr that it's the same as the last time.

People's means and needs vary. Some folks get nervous when they weigh something (eg 55.2gr) and after an hour's scale use re-weigh that item and find it's 55.4gr. Some never do that, some never use grain-level check weights. And some folks reload in a noisy (RF) environment while others have no such interference. Etc.

So you can find as many folks saying their digital reloading scale is great as you can find folks with the same strain gauge scale who complain about fluttering, loss of zero, need to frequently re-calibrate, lack of repeatability, etc. You don't find many (if any) users of mag force scales complaining about those issues.

Having said that, with careful use and frequent testing with check weights in the GRAIN range (eg RCBS Standard Scale Check Weights 60.5 Grains (~$30) ) some lower-cost digital scales can be used without tearing your hair out.
 

loaded round

Hunter
Joined
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Messages
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Valley Forge, Pa
Present terminology is balance. Scales are the obsolete twin pan, triple beam, or bathroom scales. Calling a modern digital balance a scale is like calling a firearm a ''gun''.


Twoboxer said:
loaded round said:
Balance beam scales are for intents and purposes obsolete these days in all types of laboratories; basically they're too darn slow and fragile. All labs are now using single pan digital balances, and yes quality digital balances do come with calibration weights, and some even half self calibration internals. My Dillon balance does have a calibration weight.

First statement is true but terribly misleading. And calibration weights = quality isn't true at all.

Lab grade scales are completely different than any digital scale you can acquire for less than ~$600. The "cheap" ones all use strain gauge balances; the "expensive" ones use magnetic force restoration balances and other mechanisms.

The performance, consistency, accuracy, and reliability differences between (eg) a Hornady GS-1500 (~$25) or a Gempro 250 (~$125) or an RCBS Chargemaster 1500 Scale (~$335 with dispenser) and (eg) an A&D FX120i (~$625) are significant. (I have all of them, some based on forum recommendations lol.)

And the A&D scale represents only the beginning of the "lab grade" spectrum.

Whether or not a scale comes with one or more calibration weights says nothing about the quality of the scale. That's only about the price point and profit margin sought by the vendor. Perhaps SMART digital scale marketers include the calibration weight(s) lol.

Certified calibration/check weights are expensive. But the weights we see are relatively inexpensive because (eg) medical-level precision is not required in reloading. But repeatability is. If I develop a load at say 25.0gr, do I really care if the load is really 25.02gr? No, I only care that the next time I throw that load and my scale says 25.0gr that it's the same as the last time.

People's means and needs vary. Some folks get nervous when they weigh something (eg 55.2gr) and after an hour's scale use re-weigh that item and find it's 55.4gr. Some never do that, some never use grain-level check weights. And some folks reload in a noisy (RF) environment while others have no such interference. Etc.

So you can find as many folks saying their digital reloading scale is great as you can find folks with the same strain gauge scale who complain about fluttering, loss of zero, need to frequently re-calibrate, lack of repeatability, etc. You don't find many (if any) users of mag force scales complaining about those issues.

Having said that, with careful use and frequent testing with check weights in the GRAIN range (eg RCBS Standard Scale Check Weights 60.5 Grains (~$30) ) some lower-cost digital scales can be used without tearing your hair out.
 

DGW1949

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Texas
Call me old school, but I've been using an old RCBS 5-0-5 for years without issue.
Thing is though....if ya want it to read right, ya gotta keep it clean, ensure that it remains level during use, and don't use it around any sort of draft or breeze (open windows, fans, A/C vents etc). It would also be prudent to recheck it's zero ever now and then while it's in operation, much the same as ya would with any other measuring device.

Buy a good tool, take care of it, and use it properly.
Perty-basic stuff, really....nothing there that needs over-thinking.

DGW
 

RememberBaker

Bearcat
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Aug 12, 2014
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The Green Mountain State
I've got an RCBS 5•10 scale and an RCBS Digital scale, I don't recall the model, and an RCBS Chargemaster. The Chargemaster is tough to beat if you are loading extruded powders that don't meter well, like IMR 4350 or any of the long powders. I wouldn't be without it.
 

WIL TERRY

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Single Chute, SD USA
An OHAUS Dial-A-Grain...and nothing less. I would not have an electroscale on the ranchita and gleefully shot all those I've tried over the years !!!
And so it goes...
 

loaded round

Hunter
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Aug 3, 2003
Messages
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Location
Valley Forge, Pa
Betcha you still drive a Yugo also! LOL!


WIL TERRY said:
An OHAUS Dial-A-Grain...and nothing less. I would not have an electroscale on the ranchita and gleefully shot all those I've tried over the years !!!
And so it goes...
 

Rick Courtright

Hawkeye
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
7,897
Location
Redlands CA USA
Hi,

There are four balance beam scales here, and one electronic. Guess that says something about my preference.

Two of the balance beams, an RCBS 5-0-5 and a Lee, were purchased new and cared for reasonably well. The other two were different RCBS models obtained in "boxes of goodies" and each has sustained some damage so they're "retired." One still passes a check weight test, though. The electronic one is a small, inexpensive model like one sees online at most all the reloading vendors' websites.

There's also a set of Lyman check weights that are used with moderate frequency. They tell me the old 5-0-5 is still dead on as it was when I bought it around 1975. As already mentioned, the Lee isn't the easiest to use, and only has a 100 gr capacity, but the check weights verify its accuracy is spot on, too. I can attribute part of that to their being well proven pieces of equipment, and part to the fact gravity is at work 24/7 and remains consistent even when batteries die or the power goes out to a cord plugged into the wall.

The electronic one is good for separating freshly cast bullets by weight before sizing and lubing and gets a good workout doing that job now and then. But it's way too persnickety to trust for dead nuts powder usage. Though I suppose it's ok for "blasting" loads, I don't really trust it when all it takes is a flicker from a fluorescent light or a static charged cat to fly across the bench to send it into convulsions. And since such behavior already seems to be a well known "quality" of electronic scales, I don't feel a need to spend any more for a "better" model just to prove that to myself.

Remember, reloading is one of those hobbies where we can get to the same destination via many trails. So if you like balance beam scales, and like many of us are "old school" enough to believe in gravity and paper log books, get one of those. If you're one who thinks all life can be reduced to ones and zeroes, get an electronic scale and store all your reloading notes in "the cloud." It's a safe bet ONE of those groups may well still be using the exact same piece of equipment they buy today 40-50 years from now. The other group? I dunno...

Rick C
 

Ray Newman

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Joined
Jun 3, 2006
Messages
519
Location
WA ST
I weigh with a RCBS 10-10 which is probably close to 30 years old by now. About two years ago, I did send it off to be repaired/recalibrated -- the only repair ever needed. Very robust and sturdy scale. I wonder how many rounds it loaded before the knife edges and bearings needed work?

To set up, put it on the eye level pull out shelf on reloading bench cabinet and level it. Then do a quick weight test with the RCBS check weights. The pull out eye level shelf is handy as the beam pointer is just that -- at eye level -- and it far easier and less tiring to read the beam pointer.

As an aside, it amazes me how many reloaders do not have and/or do not use the check weights to verify that their scale(s) works properly.
 
Joined
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I use a Franklin electronic scale to set up my Lee Perfect Powder Measure. Then recheck the settings with a Lee balance beam scale. "Trust, but verify". Works in the reloading arena also. :mrgreen:
gramps
 

Jimbo357mag

Hawkeye
Joined
Feb 22, 2007
Messages
10,198
Location
So. Florida
After reading this thread I got out my $35 Frankford Arsenal portable digital and gave it a try alongside my Lee scale. I found out it still wanders around '0' and the really frustrating thing is the auto-shut off and having to reset the tare weight. I just can't trust it and I work better with the manual scale. ...so I packed it back up. It might work for measuring one thing after another like bullets but for powder ...no thanks.
 

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