I think my scale is to blame...


September 12, 2011, 10:05 PM
I have been having a terrible time getting my .308 Kimber 84M to shoot a 5-shot group consistently under 1.25"-1.5". I've tried 150 and 165 grain bullets, 3 different powders, and dozens of different loads. No matter what, all groups are nearly identical. Factory ammo shoots better. I was using the Lee beam scale that came with my Anniversary kit.

I was also loading some .30-30 the other day and ran out of bullets, so I put the powder in the cases and came back this evening with a new Frankfort digital scale. For comparison I checked each round and found that the Lee scale was on average .5+ than the Frankfort. Also, the extreme difference between charges ranged .4 +/-. I was aiming for 35 grains and some charges were between 35.4 and 35.8!

So, I'm going to try reloading some .308 with the new digital scale and see what happens.

Anyone ever have an experience like this?

If you enjoyed reading about "I think my scale is to blame..." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
September 12, 2011, 10:19 PM
My Lee scale is spot on as far as accuracy goes.

I don't know how close you were getting the beam on the mark with the lee scale. If the beam is off just 1/8 of an inch from the POINT of the mark, there can be a .3-.5 grain difference than the amount it is set to measure.

Also make sure the metal plate on the pointer side of the beam is centered (or close to centered) between the dampening magnets in the base of the scale.

It also helps to make sure that the slider on the right is locked with the amount powder you want measured. It does move easily, so push that little plastic pin in to lock the slider. That may also help.

And I'm assuming the scale is on a nice level surface because that can throw things off.

I think everyone has had pretty good luck with this scale--check out this thread:

I hope this Helps!

September 12, 2011, 10:22 PM
"Anyone ever have an experience like this? "

If you mean an inaccurate digital scale, yeah.

September 12, 2011, 10:39 PM
do yourself a BIG favor, and get a good beam scale. i had the same problems with my lee scale and found the RCBS 505 on ebay for 55 bucks or something like that. local gun store wanted almost twice that much. it is so much more accurate and consistent than my lee scale. i have a digital scale too, frankford arsenal, but i seem to always use my RCBS beam scale, especiall when loading for my 300 win mag. .....

September 12, 2011, 11:09 PM
I also use a RCBS 5-0-5 beam scale
I have used it for approx. 37 years--it is sill super accurate.
You can get the same scale from Dillon--"the eliminator"--$55 new

September 13, 2011, 01:59 AM
I have the Lee scale and the RCBS 505 scale. I was having a problem with the scale, At least I thought it was the scale. I couldnt get it to stay zeroed so I stopped using it and decided to buy the 505.

Best choice I ever made. Very accurate and I don't see how you can't make sure its zeroed the way its designed. Also dialing on on your charge is very simple.

I would recommend the 505 to anyone. Also, I have asked about digital scales and have checked reviews....Digital scales was something I wanted until I asked and read and read. There inaccurate sometimes and so on. So I gave up on that and stood with the beam scale.

Im much happier and all the loads I have made so far have been fine.

September 13, 2011, 03:30 AM
Something that may help to make your loads more consitent in performance is changing to a slower burnng powder. A slower burning powder will typically produce less variance between charge weights, than a faster burning powder will. Since I don't laod for the .308 all I can use as an example is my 7mm RM. loads. I load with RL22 and wiht the 139 gr. bullet the charge range is form 66 grs. - 69 grs. according to Hornady. The estimated velocity range from the low end to maximum is only around 100 fps. or so as opposed to the estimated velocity v.s. charge variance of a fast burning powder. At 100 yds the variance in velocity is hardly noticable if at all. At 200 yds. this still doesn't really have much of an impact. In consideration of the load you are working with, the variance of .4grs. - .5 grs. would be even less a factor with a typical slow burning powder.
Another performance indicator in the reloading books is the most accurate data tested is nearly always the slowest burning powder options published for that cartridge. I know now days it is not unusual for a hand loader to pick the powder that is the most economic in terms of usage, but it comes with another expense we need to consider, accuracy and consistency.

September 13, 2011, 04:31 AM
I would be much more inclined to think the inexpensive digital scale you used is off instead of the Lee scale being off. The only reliable way to check the accuracy of a scale is to use a marked weight (calibration weight) like one that should have come with your digital scale. Don't assume the digital scale is correct and the beam scale is incorrect. I have heard a lot of complaints about a Lee scale but it being inaccurate is not one of them...

September 15, 2011, 10:23 PM
I didn't like the Lee scale when I first got it so I bought a cheap digital scale. It was a waste of money but it did force me to get used to the Lee scale and once I did I realized that it is accrurate. My next purchace will probablly the Dillon Eliminator balance scale.

September 15, 2011, 10:28 PM
My Lee Scale was off by as much as .8 to 1.0 grains on a good day.. It was the most inconsistent scale I have ever used.

I checked it with a Lyman 500, and also with a Dillion Digi scale. I just threw it in the garbage because I didn't want to put anyone in the position of hurting themselves, or beating their head on the table because you loads were all over the place.

Ditch it!

September 15, 2011, 10:29 PM
Nothing wrong with a Dillon scale but I really like the RCBS scales which I'm told are made by Ohaus. BUT, I do own a Lee scale and use it at times because it's always 100% correct. (usually to check other scales)

September 15, 2011, 10:57 PM
Nothing wrong with a Dillon scale but I really like the RCBS scales which I'm told are made by Ohaus.
Both the 505 and the Eliminator are made by Ohaus. The beam, specs and features are identical on both units. Dillon sells the Eliminator at list for $54. Midway sells the 505 discounted for $74.

September 16, 2011, 10:58 AM
WOW, AACD. My Lee scale was never accurate. You could weigh the powder. Dump it into a different pan. Reset the Lee pan, and dump the powder back into the Lee pan, and it would weigh something different. And all you did was transfer from one pan back to the other. It was crazy mind boggling, and very discouraging.

September 16, 2011, 01:27 PM
IMHO only, the only problems I've heard with Lee scales is operator error. Lee scales come with a vernier poise and setting/reading one is difficult for some folks. I have three scales (Lee, Lyman/Ohaus, RCBS 5-0-5). I keep them all clean and on the Lee I use a pencil eraser to clean the pivot (razor blade?) and make sure the beam is centered in the base...

September 16, 2011, 01:54 PM
Scales, both beam and digital, must be perfectly level on both axis to be accurate & consistent.
Once the scale base is leveled front to back and end to end, only then zero the scale.

You might buy a small bubble level at the hardware store and check the bench top where you use the scales.
Betcha it isn't level!


September 16, 2011, 10:45 PM
I just picked up a Dillon Eliminator scale, and do like it so far, but the chrono will be the true test. I have a Lee scale, and cant tell you how many times I took a little scoop of powder out because it was heavy, only to put it all back plus sum because it was light.

Good point rc, be sure your bench is spot on level.

September 16, 2011, 10:47 PM
You know what they say about opinions.

September 16, 2011, 10:50 PM
With the lyman 500 my chrony gives very consistent readings. I quite like the lyman 500. Easy to use and quite accurate as my last load testing shows on another post.

September 16, 2011, 11:34 PM
Both the 505 and the Eliminator are made by Ohaus. The beam, specs and features are identical on both units. Dillon sells the Eliminator at list for $54. Midway sells the 505 discounted for $74.
That's good to know, thank you for the info...

September 17, 2011, 12:40 AM
i use a beam and 2 electric scales , also a cheep electronic scale just for checks like i had to do tonight , thought a round might have got skipped of a charge so i just weighted 1000 223 most showed 172-175gn then a 150gn showed its head, bingo a skipped charged, cheep scale saved me from a squib round.

check and check again.

September 17, 2011, 01:36 AM
I thought I'd throw this in too, as ArchAngel said the only way to really know is to get a calibration weight. Just as important is response to changes in weight. Throw a charge and trickle in a few grains of powder and watch for the movement, if it seems sluggish the knife edge could have a ding which could add some friction as will dust and debris in the notch where it rests. A pass with a fine stone will repair the knife edge, a little solvent and compressed air will take care of the notch. You probably know this but just in case, the slightest air movement wreaks havock with a balance beam, depending on your room ventilation you may want to have your scale well protected back in a pocket. Even if the calibration is off if it's consistent it shouldn't be affecting your accuracy at the range, having said that I'm assuming you're using the scale to set a powder measure. If you're using an inconsistent scale and weighing each charge that's another story.

September 17, 2011, 03:02 AM
From the sound of your powder charge for a .308 cartridge it seems you are using a rather fast burning powder. My suggestion even if the groups improve some,would be to load a slow burning powder if accuracy is your ultimate goal and high velocity doesn't bother you. Slow burning powders will perform very consistently even when the powder charge has a rather large spread. This is especially true if your charge is near the middle of the road and up. An example of this is I use RL22 for my 7 mags and the powder charge listed for a particular bullet is 66-70 grains. I've often grabbed a box of 70 gr. charged bullets with great groups (1/2" MOA) and then started shooting another box loaded to 68 grains, this is at 200 yds. for both. The difference in my groups was not at all noticably varied, the chronographed velocity was no more than 50-75 fps. It's just another positive point regarding the slow burning powders.
Another quality is they deliver maximum potential velocity without having to teeder on excessively high pressures in many applications. Many bench rest shooters, if not all, use only the slow burning ones becasue they are so reliably consistent, especially when the charge is topped out or compressed. Make no mistake though, a proper load work up always applies, regardless of the powder used one must always work up to avoid serious issues that can present!

Master Blaster
September 17, 2011, 07:33 AM
you have a 1500 dollar rifle and hundreds of dollars worth of components and you are trusting your precission to Two crappy $25 scales. Hmmm I wonder what the problem could be?

September 17, 2011, 09:05 AM
I'd check the lee vs. a check weight. Also, if you are having issues with it, move it to a different, level, surface and check it there. Vibrations, air currents, etc... can make the scale read off.

Master - There aren't many expensive balance beam scales. Most sit at around 50 dollars, but that doesn't mean they are more accurate.

Master Blaster
September 17, 2011, 09:59 AM
yes I have an Ohaus labeled by dillon about $50 its been quiet accurate when tested with check weights. If you are reloading rifle a good powder measure Redding , Lyman etc $100-$150 is even better than the scale. Benchrest guys use a $300 harrel and only check with a scale when they change loads. Its all about consistency, Personally I would not trust any consumer level electronic scale to be accurate, but a decent $50-$100 balance set up properly will last a lifetime and be 100% reliable.


September 17, 2011, 10:17 AM
I have the Frankfort ans was suspicious at first because I was getting faster velocities than anticipated.. I finally bought a set of RCBS check weights and it was spot-on! the 10 grain weight registered at 10.0 and the 20gr at 19.9.

September 17, 2011, 10:38 AM
I've been using a Lyman M5 for about 45 years.
In that period also a lot of others and some high dollar lab scales.
The point brought up about the surface being level can't be over emphasized.
And keep the scale covered, none of them like dust.

T Bran
September 17, 2011, 12:25 PM
I have a cheapo smartreloader electronic scale it is not trustworthy at all just sitting with a charge of powder in it sometimes just goes haywire. The numbers start doing a count down then stop and go the other way all the way back to the starting point before the cycle begins again. What is bad is the check weights say its ok.
Ill stick with my little Lee beam scale till I see another one that catches my wallet off guard. The check weights say my Lee is ok as well for whatever its worth.

September 22, 2011, 01:09 AM
Since the RCBS 505 has figured prominently in this thread, I'll toss my questions in here. I'm just setting up to begin reloading. Lee 4-hole turret, Pro Auto Disk, RCBS 505. In running test charges to see how things work and specifically what charges are thrown by specific disks/cavities, I've had disastrous results (in a few different respects).

Assuming the scale is working (dust-free, bubble level shows the surface near perfect, sits inside a cabinet on a shelf, easy to zero before each weighing - no moving air), and I'm able to work it (see below), the Auto Disk is basically throwing out near-random quantities. Powder is HP-38, cases are 9mm.

Three cavities on two disks have yielded results that vary by large amounts in consecutive charges - the variations with each cavity far exceed the total range of charges I'm planning to use to work up my plinking load (4.3 - 4.8 for a 115g FMJ). We're talkng 3.9 to 5.1. I've spent hours and thrown dozens and dozens of charges. Of course there's not a chance I'd even attempt to load any ammo with results like this.

So unless the Auto Disk is somehow malfunctioning - I can't operate the 505. Which is believable - I find it almost impossible to use. By this I mean the poises - especially the smallest, 1/10 of a grain poise - are so tiny and light that moving them without spoiling the measure by also moving the beam is comically difficult. My vision is excellent and my hands are as steady as a surgeon, and I've been meticulous with this to the point of exhaustion. I use a pencil tip to delicately bump up and move the poises.

I thought HP-38 worked OK in most powder measures. So I'm at a loss.

I'm sure the 505 must be a good tool - what am I missing that makes me nearly unable to use it? Or alternatively, is my Auto Disk seriously malfunctioning? (I have one of those charge bars, but I thought the Auto Disk was OK for charges in the 4+ range)

September 22, 2011, 01:31 AM
I can't answer your question directly, 16"50calNR, but I can say that if I had, and will have a turret/progressive soon (finally closing on the house with my garage/shop), I will have an RCBS dispenser or Hornady dispenser, and not the disks from Lee.

I also have debated getting a RCBS Chargemaster or Hornady auto measure, but I can use a Lee dipper into my Lyman 500, and trickle to the exact weight in less time than it takes those machines to weigh out. Although I did see a yellow machine on youtube spit out some serious weight really fast. Close to 60 grains in like 8 seconds or something crazy, but I don't need to load that fast. LOL

I have used, and still use the Lee dispenser for my TB .44 mag loads. I have to take the handle, raise it, and bump it twice, and then drop the powder, and I will get good results.
I doubt your 505 is off. Get some check weights to verify. I would be the Lee is either new, and just static prone right now, or the disks are just off.

If you enjoyed reading about "I think my scale is to blame..." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!