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Electronic Scales - Needed?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by viking499, Jan 10, 2009.

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  1. viking499

    viking499 Member

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    How handy are these? Are they needed if you have a beam scale to get accurate loads or are they just a "luxury" item?
     
  2. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    With prices close to the same for similar capacity and rated accuracy from a quality maker, it's really not a luxury IMO. I use both and like both, but if you want to separate bullets/cases by weight a digital scale is so much faster and easier.

    Both are extremely accurate if gotten from a quality maker, and the nod goes to digital for being more handy in my experience. Needed, absolutely not.
     
  3. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    You could make a good argument that beam scales are "more accurate" than digital scales ... let me explain. When a digital scale reads 44.4 gr what does that mean? If the scale is well made, it could mean that the powder weighs anywhere from 44.35 to 44.44 grains. Sometimes you'll see the digits switch back and forth between two values but you don't know which end of the range you're at so I dump those loads back in the hopper. With a beam scale, any movement of the beam slightly above or below center gives you a lot more information. Digital scales are definitely faster though, and when coupled to an automatic powder dispenser they make reloading a pleasure rather than a chore (for me). As for the accuracy of a good digital scale, I consider them more than good enough for my needs.

    :)
     
  4. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    Then we have the human error when reading a beam scale. No one sees the same thing when looking at two lines that must line up. Digital scales will be what you see on the read out.

    If you are seeing a digital scale that is "bouncing" between 44.35 to 44.36 or even 44.44 you are using a scale that costs in the neighborhood of $1,000. If you mean "bouncing" between 44.3 and 44.4 you are right on the edge of 44.3 to 44.35. I would call that pretty damned close to 44.3 grains...

    I use both, but prefer my digital electronic scale for speed and accuracy (in that my eye position will not deceive me)...
     
  5. smokey262

    smokey262 Member

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    I bought one of those $25 ebay ones. I love it for sorting brass and other uses when I want to see how much something weighs, quickly. It came with a check weight, and for a couple years now has been very repeatable.

    I still use my beam scale for working up loads though, because it is easier to trickle up to a setpoint.
     
  6. pcf

    pcf Member

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    Some of the cheaper ones just truncate the the last digit. The scale reading 44.0 is in the neighborhood of 44.00-44.09 grains.

    Then again standing over a digital scale and breathing through your nose can cause several tenth of a grain variations too. Or having strong airflow in the room. Unless I was loading a .17 I wouldn't get too worked up over the tolerances built into a digital scale. I prefer digital with big easy to read numbers, my near vision sucks, I have to pull more than a couple bullets when I realized that my beam scale was set to the wrong measurement.
     
  7. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    So in your example, why couldn't the "actual" value be 44.44? With only one decimal place of resolution, wouldn't a weight of 44.35 get rounded up to 44.4 and a weight of 44.44 get rounded down to 44.4?

    I only use digital scales these days so this is academic for me.

    Added in edit: The Bushmaster, I see your point ... when the display "bounces" between two readings, that may be the most accurate reading of all ... GREAT point!! Looks like I've been throwing the wrong loads back in the hopper! :(

    Sorry ... another edit: If the display is bouncing as in your example, the "actual" value is either 44.34 or 44.35 ... right?

    :)
     
  8. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    1858...All the scales that are designed to weigh gun powder only read tenths of a grain (.1) It would be hard to determine if it is bouncing between .34 or .35. (.01 through .09 is hundreds).

    Yup...Here it comes. Some one has a $1,000 scale that will tell us that that isn't true. His scale will read in the tenths, hundreds and thousands of a grain...
     
  9. Otto

    Otto Member

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  10. jfh

    jfh Member

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    I have both beam and digital, and largely use the beam scale(s).

    Galil5.56 gave a pretty good overview; the others are addressing some of the electronic scales 'pecularities.'

    I currently own two "cheaper" one--and, based on my experience there, the "Reloader 750" is superior (so far) to the FA one at the same nominal $30.00 price point.

    However, neither of these scales allow use of an AC adapter. And that issue--i.e., battery current--tends to be the problem with the cheaper scales. As the battery declines, the repeatability can change.

    The next time, I'll move up a notch to find one of those.

    Jim H.
     
  11. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    I have a 20 year old RCBS Powder Pro digital scale that uses a power supply adapter...No batteries...I believe I paid $80.00 for it all those years ago. I have some .38 Specials to load tonight so it's warming up as we type...
     
  12. Ol` Joe

    Ol` Joe Member

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    Benchrest shooters use powder measures that drop charges accurate to a tenth or two and can`t tell the difference from weighted charges. Why worry about weather or not a balance or beam scale is the most accurate for feeding a hunting rifle or pistol..
    :evil::evil:
     
  13. Shaner

    Shaner Member

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    If time or patience isn't on your side, then electronic scales are definitely handy.

    I don't view them as needed. I think, when properly used, a beam scale is a more accurate scale when comparing apples to apples. I personally don't use them. Why?

    1. As in my first statement, I have time and patience. I believe if I wouldn't have these attributes, then I have no business reloading.

    2. I'm old school. I enjoy using a quality beam scale.

    3. I don't trust electronic scales. The reason why I do beam scales is I know nothing physically damages it before, during, and after using it. I don't trust a computer chip to my guns or my well being. It's purely my take on it.

    YMMV
     
  14. ranger335v

    ranger335v Member

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    A hardy second to Shaner.

    "if you want to separate bullets/cases by weight a digital scale is so much faster and easier."

    And there you have it! But for weighing powder? Not so great.

    My beam scale doesn't have to warm up. It's probably 45 degrees in my garage loading room right now but if I went out there my beam scale would be dead on, instantly.

    All of our reloading scales are accurate to a tenth grain, that being 1/70,000 of a pound. That's more accurate than reloading really needs, small variations in primers and case volume make a bigger difference in pressures than .1 gr of powder.

    Granted, big, lit up digital scale numbers are much easier to read than a beam scale. That is, unless you place the beam scale on a shelf about eye level, as you should. Beam pointers are made to be seen straight on and there will be no parallax error IF we mount and view them correctly. But, there is NO difference in real accuracy between the types. That is, IF the digital is actually working correctly. And all warmed up, zeroed and calibrated properly, with no florescent lights or cell phones, etc. nearby. Both types are susceptable to wind currents but who wouldn't expect that of any sensitive instrument?

    I'll stick with my tried and true beam scale. Just don't need to weigh all that many bullets or cases, that's a luxery I don't wish to pay for. And I sure can't justify the high price of something I'd never trust to weigh powder!
     
  15. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    A digital scale is far from "necessary", but I find mine nice to have around.

    I seldom use my balance beam. The BBK stays in the garage so I don't have to worry about the temperature stabilizing when I want to use it. I just plug it in (never bought a battery for it) and let it "warm up" while I'm setting everything else up. Then I'll use the provided weights to calibrate the thing and I'll start reloading.
     
  16. BigJakeJ1s

    BigJakeJ1s Member

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    If you are trying to see if something is right on, slightly under or slightly over a pre-determined weight, a beam scale can be just as quick as a digital scale. Especially when trickling powder, some electronic scales (particularly those not designed for reloading) will not report small, slow changes to a weight, rejecting it as "noise".

    Where a digital scale really shines is in weighing things that you don't know ahead of time what they weigh. Like when adjusting a powder measure, you can throw ten measures in a pan, and weigh it, then to check consistency, you can weigh ten individual charges with no adjustment to the scale.

    Andy
     
  17. Galil5.56

    Galil5.56 Member

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    Being that I own, and have used both types for a very long time, what you implied about post is not correct. I never wrote, or implied that all it was good at was weighing cases/bullets. I could care less what folks use, and I'm about as old school as it gets. This is not a battle of old vs new school. GOOD QUALITY electronics work well, period... Do you use a ballistic pendulum for measuring bullet speed, a slide rule for doing ballistic calculations? Trust your life to electronic fuel systems, electronic smoke detectors, electronic pace makers... Because a digital scale makes some tasks easier/faster does not make it any less effective at weighing powder.

    Also, depending on where the main poise on a 5-0-5 scale and other models/brands exactly sets on a clean beam, can cause it to be off by a few tenth's, and I have seen this happen on more than mine. Despite this fact, I have many times endorsed a Dillon mechanical scale to all who read. Can a strain gage sensor fail, yep. Can a beam scale fail to be accurate, yep. As far as parallax, once you become experienced enough knowing where the beam line is in relation to the "0" mark to be on zero, there is no issue. Do I suggest a newbie do this, no.

    I still don't get the "high priced" comment... Even when I bought my D-Terminator over 15 years ago, it was $149. Midway has a 490 grain smaller capacity 1010 mechanical scale on sale for $134 (was $154.99), the RCBS 750 digital is $102... Yeah, I agree, that 1010 is a luxury item.
     
  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Still using a balance beam. :cool:
     
  19. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    Late as usual...We have already discussed this thing into the ground, Walkalong...:D
     
  20. lgbloader

    lgbloader Member

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    I have 3 beams and a 1 digital. I use the beam scale more often than the digital but I think it is more out of habit than anything else. I didn't get my RCBS chargemaster combo until the fall of 2007 and since I really only use it to charge my rifle cases, I sometimes forget it's there. I shoot way more pistol than rifle.

    LGB
     
  21. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    I know that the common digital scales made by companies such as RCBS display to tenths of a grain ... I have two of them! :)

    When weighing powder on a digital scale, these "actual" values will all be reported as 44.3 grains.

    44.25, 44.26, 44.27, 44.28, 44.29, 44.30, 44.31, 44.32, 44.33, 44.34.

    What I've learned from this thread is that when the display is alternating between two values, the resolution of the scale is +/- 0.01 grains even though we can't see that on the display. Maybe I shouldn't be throwing those ones back.

    I'm probably not making any sense.

    :)
     
  22. Sport45

    Sport45 Member

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    If the scale rounds to the nearest tenth then these will all register as 44.3, like 1858 said.

    44.25, 44.26, 44.27, 44.28, 44.29, 44.30, 44.31, 44.32, 44.33, 44.34

    If it truncates to the nearest tenth then these will register as 44.3.

    44.30, 44.31, 44.32, 44.33, 44.34, 44.35, 44.36, 44.37, 44.38, 44.39

    For what I do the difference is of no importance to me. Even with light pistol loads in the 4-5 grain range I don't see +/- 0.1gr making a real difference. Even if I'm loading at published maximum I don't worry about the 0.1gr I might be over.

    I have a Dillon balance beam and I'm not sure I can drop charges with any more accuracy using it. Certainly not when I'm only weighing one out of every 10 or 20 anyway.

    Let your targets tell you how accurate your loads are.
     
  23. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    I agree with you ... but the question asked by the OP in an indirect way was "which is more accurate?" Since we can probably all agree that volume, balance beam weight or digital scale weight are all GOOD ENOUGH, it's now an academic discussion. Talking of reloading by volume, I've recently discovered that my ChargeMaster 1500 doesn't like H110 powder so now I'll be going back to the volume method with my Redding 10X for .45 Colt loads. There's no way I'm going back to weighing loads using the 5-0-5 or whatever that thing is called!! :eek:

    :)
     
  24. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    1858 and everyone else...No...I have to disagree with you. according to my RCBS 5-0-5. My RCBS Powder Pro seems to stay at 4.3 (the agreed on example) even up to (a guess comparing it with the 5-0-5) 4.39. Then changes to 4.4. After years of playing with this Powder Pro and my 5-0-5 this is what I have come up with...

    The fluxuation you see of 4.3 to 4.4 and back to 4.3 is the electronic scale telling you that you are right on the threshold of 4.39 and 4.4...The same for 4.2 to 4.3 and back to 4.2...The digital scale is on the threshold of 4.29 and 4.3...There is no 4.35 rounded off to anything...It would still read 4.3............

    For me...It really doesn't matter. 4.3 +.09 is of no consiquence...I have always figured that I load my charges a bit heavy by +.1... So a load of 4.3 in my loads could be 4.39.

    Nodda problem...
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2009
  25. 257WbyMag

    257WbyMag Member

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    I came close to getting a digital and I backed out at the last minute. Got an RCBS 1010. I was turned off by some of the stories having to do with interference and leveling issues that I had heard of with the digitals. May be anecdotal stuff but the balance beam scale route just seemed to be the comfortable route for me to take at the time. In retrospect, I am glad that I went that route. No faults to anyone who successfully uses a digital one though. To each his own.
     
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