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Good digital scale for long distance shooting?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by zenshootist, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. zenshootist

    zenshootist New Member

    Mar 6, 2011
    San Antonio Tx
    I continue to hear that good, very accurate, digital scales are hard to come by. Since I'm an aspiring long range shooter, I'm wondering what people use to measure powder for 800+ yard shots. I want to buy a very good scale that I can use for heavy loads - something that will measure to the hundreth grain consistantly. I can't help but notice there aren't a lot of high end digital scales on midway/sinclair/brownells - I totally get that the scale is the most important piece of equipment for this type of shooting - looking for suggestions ...
  2. rg1

    rg1 Participating Member

    May 26, 2006
    Here's a review of one of the highly recommended scales, the Gempro 250:
    I've read that 1/100 grains measurements are more critical in small caliber small charges of powder and less critical for large caliber long range rifles that take larger charges.
    Note that the above link at the bottom of the page has some other tests and reviews of top of the line scales. Evidently the experts, not me, can notice a difference of 1 kernel of powder in low capacity cases while even they say that in large capacity cases they can't see the difference?
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013
  3. mdm

    mdm New Member

    Sep 5, 2008
    N. Alabama
    We can go down the “digital is best” and “beam is best” trail for hours. However, I will say that a good beam scale is all that is necessary. Measuring to 0.01 grains is not necessary for excellent accuracy. There are too many other variables inherent in reloading that will make the +/- 0.01 grain weight accuracy run hide in the closet. That level of accuracy in charge weight isn’t going to achieve enough to make it worth the effort.
  4. dagger dog

    dagger dog Senior Member

    Jan 30, 2008
    SO. IN
    IMO all digital scales should be shot a close distance, that way you're sure to hit it the first time.:evil:
  5. Bart B.

    Bart B. Participating Member

    May 20, 2008
    Exact charge weights are not needed for best accuracy at long range. A 1/10th grain spread is all that's needed if the right powder's used for the cartridge and bullet weight. I used a cheap, very old, Redding beam scale measuring powder to such a spread shooting long range matches scoring high enough to be classified with the top 2% of all competitors shooting shoulder fired rifles slung up in prone. It's measured my three check weights exactly the same since 1966.

    If one measures a 50-grain charge weight to 1/100th grain accuracy, that's .02%. Do they weigh the priming pellet inside the cup that weighs about 1/2 grain to the same tolerance and know how much of the total primer's weight of about 7 grains it is?

    Some excellent extruded powders' granules are about 3 or 4 per 1/10th grain; does one cut a granule to a shorter length to make the charge to 1/100th grain repeatability???????

    Testing loads for accuracy at 1000 yards, that 1/10th grain spread in charge weight was good enough to shoot 15 and 20 shot test groups as small as or smaller than long range benchrest records. And sometimes with new, virgin brass. (Wish I had been able to shoot them that good in prone.) The most accurate long range rifles (both benchrest and shoulder fired in prone) shoot inside 3/4 MOA at 1000 yards. Once in a great while a single few-shot group out of thousands will be close to an inch or two but all the other groups are much, much larger.

    Precise powder charge weights are way down on my "must have" list for best accuracy hardware at long range. Even well made, mass produced commercial match ammo with 3/10ths grain spread in charge weights will shoot 1 MOA at 1000 yards in decent rifles. A lot more important are most of these others:

    1. Properly equipped person (has the perseverance, aptitude, skills and knowledge to make stuff shoot accurate)

    2. Barrel (uniform bore, groove and twist dimensions, properly chambered)

    3. Bullet (well balanced & at least .0003" larger than barrel groove diameter.)

    4. Powder (extruded, low fps SD and least fps change per 1/10th grain weight change)

    5. Primer (ones properly seated, producing lowest velocity spread)

    6. Action (bolt & receiver face squared, doesn't twist loose from epoxy bedding)

    7. Firing pin spring (at least factory spec; 10% more is often better)

    8. Sight (one that holds zero with heavy recoil; repeatable adjustments)

    9. Case gauge (to measure case headspace to set die in press just right)

    10. Sizing die (full length, neck honed to .002" less than round's neck diameter)

    11. Neck turning tool (promotes a little more uniform case neck grip on bullets)

    12. Mechanical beam scale (weighs powder to 1/10 grain, cases to 1/2 grain)

    13. Case weight (a 1% spread's good enough but some think half of that's better or even zero)

    14. Stock (fits the shooter, holds the barreled action repeatably, doesn't warp)

    15. Seating die (most anything will do well if fired cases are properly sized)

    16. Bullet runout tool (measures bullet runout at bullet tip relative to case shoulder axis)

    17. Powder measure (one that throws stick powder to a 3/10ths grain spread)

    PS: If the experts shooting benchrest with small 22 through 30 caliber cases through 300 yards throw charges directly into cases metering to a 2/10ths grain spread and win matches as well as setting records without weighing to individual powder particles, seems to me a 1/100th grain charge spread would be totally invisible on paper.
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013
  6. ranger335v

    ranger335v Senior Member

    Dec 3, 2006
    "- something that will measure to the hundreth grain consistantly. ..- I totally get that the scale is the most important piece of equipment for this type of shooting - looking for suggestions "

    First, while that does seem intuitive, I suggest you get a better source of reloading info. You might count individual kernels of powder for every charge and still get lousy accuracy at any range; .1 gr is the standard for consistancy and even that may be over kill.

    The challenge for obtaining top accuracy and extremely low velocity spread is achieved by careful load development, not by striving for minute levels of consistancy in powder charges. The people who say otherwise may believe their own BS but if they really think .01 grain charge accuracy is a limiting factor in accuracy at any range they still have a lot to learn! The differences between individual primers and individual internal case volumes and how fouled a bore may be will make a bigger difference down range than .1 gr. of powder! Even a mild difference in the ambient temperature between shooting morning and afternoon today or between today vs. next week can change the powder burn rate enought to exceed the differences such tiny variations in charge weight can make.

    Get a common beam scale, they are all as consistant as they need to be. Then develop a good load that can tolerate all the other and the much greater effect normal random variations we can do little to nothing about. Or get a magnifying glass and start counting powder kernals! ;)
  7. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Mentor

    Jan 8, 2011
    My Pact BBK has performed flawlessly for over 15 years.
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    This, we never weighed charges when charging cases at a match. We were very careful throwing charges striving to be as consistent as possible. (Practice with the measure), but all we did was throw charges straight into our cases.

    The right load in a capable rifle is far more important, and the ability to shoot it of course.
  9. Bart B.

    Bart B. Participating Member

    May 20, 2008
    Back in early 1991, I and a few other former US Palma Team members worked up some loads with Sierra's prototype 155-gr. match bullet. Our loads had to use new, unprepped cases about 170-grains in weight, Fed. 210M primers, any powder of choice but metered, not weighed and that bullet seated to 2.80" OAL.

    Some of us tried ball powders; horrible accuracy at 1000 yards. Even though it had the lowest charge weight spread, lowest muzzle velocity spread as well as lowest spread in pressure.

    Extruded powders had best accuracy and the load chosen was 45.3 grains of IMR4895. The Dillon 1050 metering powder to a 3/10ths grain spread and seating bullets completed the operation after another 1050 uniformed new Winchester case mouths with a Lyman expander and seated primers. 20 rounds at random were taken to a 600 yard range and fired in a Win. 70 Palma rifle for accuracy tests. All 20 went into 2.7 inches at 600 yards. A picture of that group is in a fall 1991 issue of Handloader Magazine.

    Later than year, when a few thousand rounds so loaded were used in the first match with Sierra's new bullet, a couple dozen top competitors from around the world felt it shot about 1/2 MOA at 600 yards in all sorts of rifles.

    Exact powder charge weights are not all that important
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  10. 45crittergitter

    45crittergitter Senior Member

    Sep 24, 2003
    I had bad luck with a PACT BBK (multiple trips back to the factory for repair), but love my Dillon D-Terminator.
  11. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Sep 10, 2008
    SW Arizona
    A person would have to chop up powder kernels to achieve charges to the .01 gr., which is not going to make any difference what so ever. As far as powder charges are concerned, internal case capacity is what matters. This is why competitive shooters weigh their brass. And depending on the powder, I've known a few old school BR shooters that didn't weigh at all, they would just fill the case so that each had the same degree of compressed charges.

    And understand, I'm not suggesting anyone just fill brass up with powder, this requires the right powder, and experience regarding compressed charges.

    After having read about compressed charges, a fellow I knew, who misunderstood the concept, loaded a compressed charge using a powder not intended for such. The result was a devastating KB, he completely destroyed a rather expensive action, and suffered some serious injuries as well.


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