Digital scale or regular?


February 1, 2008, 01:50 PM
I was wondering if there was any particular reason to not get a digital scale. I am purchasing my reloading equipment now for the first time. Can you guys recommend a digital scale? I would assume there are some quality differences. I have read reviews and some of them are extremely negative.

Thanks for the input!

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February 1, 2008, 02:00 PM
digital scale? I would assume there are some quality differences. I have read reviews and some of them are extremely negative.

That is because some of us hate them. :D

But many folks absolutely love theirs. I'll just stick with a balance beam.

February 1, 2008, 02:05 PM
I use both. Maybe I'm anal(I seriously doubt it) or I'm just paranoid. I'm still pretty new to reloading so I check, check and recheck alot of what I am doing. I bought the Lee Annivesary kit that came with a balance scale and a few weeks later, Midway had the little Frankfurt Arsenal Micro scale on sale for cheap and I picked it up also. I use the micro digital to weigh alot of what I do but I also use the Balance beam to varify the digital scale. I'd say, start of with the balance beam and get a digital later when you see one for a good price if you like them.

February 1, 2008, 02:11 PM
I use a RCBS 5-0-5 scale and an RCBS chargemaster.

Most handgun rounds go thru the Lee Turret press with Autodisc. I use the 5-0-5 for checking charges after I get the autodisc set up to where I want it.

I could do without the Chargemaster but its good for loading my high power rifle rounds. Less time consuming than measuring with the 5-0-5.

The Bushmaster
February 1, 2008, 02:11 PM
I also have both. Rarely use my RCBS 5-0-5. I use my electronic 98% of the time and unlike Walkalong (he's a bit old fashioned).. Love it. Mine is a RCBS...It is a good idea to have both...

February 1, 2008, 03:20 PM
I should have mailed my PACT to the Bushmaster instead of bouncing it off the hard tile floor. Oh well, live and learn. :D

February 1, 2008, 03:26 PM
I have the same skepticism about my digi-calipers; I never question my 0-1" Starrett micrometer.

skepticism aside, the (Mitutoyu) digi-cal has been utterly accurate. Several factors can cause digital equipment to give false readings, low power being the most common. Perhaps people feel better knowing that balance scales can be fixed/tinkered with on the spot instead of replacing or sending off for electronic repair.

my $.02

February 1, 2008, 05:13 PM
I trust my Mitutoyo calipers 100%, I can't say the same for Harbor Freights.
Still use the 505 scale but my eyesight isn't what it use to be. Maybe it's time to go digital.

February 1, 2008, 05:18 PM
I've used a digital from day 1 of reloading and love it - the only problem came when I tried trickling powder into it. They don't like it and can give false readings.

The Bushmaster
February 1, 2008, 10:52 PM
Hummmm...Mine doesn't seem to have that problem with trickling. And it repeats itself...

I think we all have noted that "to each his own" when it comes to scales. I believe that all you can do is try each and see how it works for you. That's why I recommend getting a balance scale first. Then try an electronic one later. That way you will learn both and can make an educated decision.

February 2, 2008, 12:05 AM
Both! The digitals are convenient but WILL fail sooner or later and usually at the most inopportune time. My balance beams have always been ready for action. 30 yrs and still going strong. Never hurts to have a backup when measuring explosives that you are setting off a few inches from your face :)

I have to admit, I have been spoiled by the Chargemaster 1500. It was a tough week and a half waiting for RCBS to send me a warranty replacement.

February 2, 2008, 12:56 AM
Hey, we're in the battery powered age. Check out sights these days.:D

I've left my RCBS digital constantly on for a number of years now--why turn it off? Still works fine. Still have my old Lyman- Ohaus beam scale, circa late '60s, for back up and for trickling.

To be honest, I still feel better with balance beam back-up to occasionally vfy the accuracy of the digital.

February 2, 2008, 01:07 AM
Do the digital scales have to heat up for a while
when first plugged in ? Thought I read that in one of
the threads .

I got an old Pact of e-bay was supposed to have battery
power or you could plug it in . When it came it was only battery powered .
It keeps on wondering off zero no matter what kind
of batteries I tried .

February 2, 2008, 02:20 AM
I have both an old Ohaus 10-10 and a new Cabalas digital. I have check the Cabalas against the Ohaus numerous times when I first got it and every time it was dead on the money. My digital settles faster and easier to read then my Ohaus so now that is all I ever use. I don't use the AC adapter, I turn it on the first while I am setting up so it has time to stabilize and then I calibrate it and zero just before I measure the first charge. Never drifts and deadly accurate!

February 2, 2008, 08:10 AM
I have both, and wouldn't do without either. Digital makes reloading faster with the chargemaster, and the beam scale to check your work once in awhile for assurance.

Jim Watson
February 2, 2008, 08:15 AM
My PACT pooped out and will be going back to the maker next week, along with its matching dispenser. Actually, the scale still weighs, it just won't talk to the dispenser.

I will be relying on the old Lyman D7 for a while.

If you depend on your own loads to go shooting, you need a spare.

February 2, 2008, 09:55 AM
"I was wondering if there was any particular reason to not get a digital scale."

As a retired electronic instrument maint. tech, I think there are several reasons to avoid the currently available digital reloading scales. In fact, I feel they are an undependable solution for which we have no problem! A good beam scale is the way to go. Let me explain.

1. Notice how often those who use them also say they have a beam scale to check them against. There is a reason for that; digitals tend to drift calibration so you never really know if they are telling you the truth! Beam scales don't drift and change calibration as we work.

2. Electronic quality costs. A quality stress gage, the main working part of a scale, and the associated circuitry is much more expensive than what's used in common digital reloading scales. Even the best such scales require frequent calibration by someone who knows what he's doing and has the proper tools to do it with. You may notice that your grocer's ditital scale has stickers showing when it was last calibrated, it's usually just a few months between checks. Reloader scales NEVER get checked!

3. "Good" digitals cost a lot more than good beam scales. But, even if the digital works perfectly for awhile it is no better and is less dependable than a beam scale so what's the point of the current craze over digitals?

4. The most critical task for any scale is to weigh powder charges that are being trickled up to a specific weight. Beam scales follow small changes from a dribbler very well, digitals rarely do.

Digitals are said to be "faster" than beams. For the life of me, I can't imagine how that can be true in any significant way. My old beam scale settles in a couple of seconds, a digital will read in perhaps one second. That's twice as fast but it's still only a second! In a loading session of weighing charges for 100 rounds, it makes only a minute and a half of difference and that is lost in the noise of my work anyway.

Some say beams are harder to read. Not so if the scale is properly placed on a shelf at eye level, as it should be, rather than sitting on the bench top.

I bought my beam scale in '65. It's as dead-on accurate now as it was then. Anyone want to bet their digital will be that dependable? I think the famous RCBS warranty is only one year for their expensive digital scale; wonder why that may be? ;)

My old scale was made by Ohaus but I think any of those available today will do as well as mine.

There are no digitals in my future.

February 2, 2008, 10:08 AM
My mid 90's Dillon D-Terminator 1050 keeps accurately plugging away, and is neck and neck in the accuracy dept against a calibrated multi thousand $$$ lab balance up to several hundred grains. Where I really think a digital shines is in it's ability to tare, and quickly do +/- for bullets, cases, etc. It also has no problems trickling charges.

Still use my late 70's 505 and can't see that changing either.

highlander 5
February 2, 2008, 10:16 AM
for me those BIG numbers are easier to read than those little hash marks. I'm getting lazier in my old age

The Bushmaster
February 2, 2008, 11:01 AM
bfox...In answer to your question..."Do digital scales have to heat up....." Yes. They do require a few minutes (15) to warm up. I wouldn't worry about the "0" wander (you might have a draft in the room with you or, like me, a wife that walks like an earthquake around the house) as long as it gives accurate readings when weighing powder. I wouldn't have a battery powered one either. And for that reason I would recommend that you DO have a balance beam scale to varify and backup the Electronic scale. Lets face it electronics fail more often then mechanicals. That said...I still prefer my electronic scale. It's just plain faster and easier to read...

February 2, 2008, 11:18 AM
When I set up my gear again last year, I picked up that FA / Midway digital scale on sale--$29.95.

I used it somewhat, particularly for tare weighing. I double-checked it against my (Lee) beam scale, and vice-versa. I've discovered that it appears to be less accurate as the battery discharges--I can get variances as the usage time goes on.

Part of the attractiveness of the digital scale is, IMO, a false precision: It really does depend on the firmware algorithms to produce that single-digit number, and that code still depends on rounding at some point in the calculations.

I haven't used it for awhile, save for double-checking my balance beam.

Jim H.

February 2, 2008, 12:46 PM
Digital for me. I hate haveing to remove the little pan from my beam scale then have to replace it carefully so as not to knock the beam out of place. Then waite for the beam to settle, then move the trickler into position to top it off, but being careful again not to hit the pan. There are probably better beams out there, but digital is so much easier and faster.

Peter M. Eick
February 2, 2008, 01:13 PM
I have a 1010 rcbs and a chargemaster digital. Both give the same answer over and over so I stay with the chargemaster because it is faster.

My experience is I got faked out by the analog guys who convinced me that my digital was unreliable and I needed a 1010 to be safe. After reading the posts for several years I finally broke down and bought a 1010 to compare to my digital to.

Ya know what? Worst investment of my reloading career. I get the same answer every time I check the two against each other. I would have been smarter if I had just bought a check weight set up front instead of when I bought the 1010 at the same time.

My opinion now? Go digital with a check weight set and don't worry about it. Sometimes digital is faster and more convenient. My HP-35 Calculator was a big step forward in speed then the old slide rule. Think about this when making your choice.

Do you like slide rules or digital calculators? Remember both will give you the same answer if used properly and both will give a bad answer if broken.

February 2, 2008, 01:22 PM
Digital for me too. Its just too easy. Very accurate too. Im stuck on digital

February 2, 2008, 03:53 PM
I hope I'm never so set in my ways to not accept new technology. I graduated to digital back in '96 with a RCBS/ pact powder pro. It STILL works just fine. I paired it with a pact dispenser in 2000.

The beauty of a digital is you can use whatever you wish for a scale pan. The original works good, but I got one that incorporates a funnel. Just put it on the plenum, hit tare, it zero's out to that pan. You can also use it to weigh mail, try that on a balance beam scale!

As for speed, try weighing an unknown weight bullet on a balance beam scale. Sliding the weights around to find where it MIGHT be can take 30 seconds, a digital tells you within a second!

As for calibration, getting a set of check weights is all you need. Run them on the scale once each loading session, then you know it's right on. And NO the calibration weights that come with the scale are NOT check weights, these are;

Some use a certain bullet they keep separate and marked for a check weight. There's nothing wrong with that as it checks for heavier weights than the check weights do. But the check weights check the low end of the spectrum, if that's on, then the higher weights should be.

Some say florescent lights wreck havoc with their digitals. Mine doesn't mind them. What does send it into a frenzy is a drill motor on the same circuit with the scale. If I'm going to be trimming cases with a skill drill, I turn the scale off. Warm-up for mine only takes 5 minutes.

4. The most critical task for any scale is to weigh powder charges that are being trickled up to a specific weight. Beam scales follow small changes from a dribbler very well, digitals rarely do.

Well my pact/rcbs responds well to trickling. It HAS to to work with the pact dispenser. It does lag a bit in it's response, but you get used to it.

February 2, 2008, 04:05 PM
I went digital too.

I asked a friend of mine last week what he thought his loads were. He's using the beam scale. Found out that his loads weighed more than what he thought it was.

Suggested that he switch to digital.

The Bushmaster
February 2, 2008, 05:38 PM
One of the things I have noticed when using a balance beam scale is that I start to get greedy and smidge a little to the heavy side. With an electronic I don't...

Snuffy...You mean I can use my RCBS/pact Powder Pro with a dispencer? I can just buy the dispencer and use this electronic scale??? Be damned...I was wondering about that...

February 2, 2008, 05:44 PM
I use a beam scale myself, but I think that is because I am too poor right now to get a digital one! :cool:

February 2, 2008, 08:54 PM
Snuffy...You mean I can use my RCBS/pact Powder Pro with a dispencer? I can just buy the dispencer and use this electronic scale??? Be damned...I was wondering about that...

Yup! This one.

The little plastic bubble just forward of the power input is the infrared port that communicates with the dispenser.

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