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View Poll Results: Use what type of scale
Don't use a scale at all - measure by volume only 4 3.54%
Balance beam mechanical scale only 44 38.94%
Balance beam mechanical scale primarily with electronic occasionally 12 10.62%
Electronic primarily with Balance beam mechanical scale occasionally 19 16.81%
Electronic scale only 34 30.09%
Another alternative you (L.S.) forgot 0 0%
Voters: 113. You may not vote on this poll

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Old April 17, 2011, 05:27 PM   #1
Lost Sheep
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Use what type of scale?

Use what type of scale?

I have seen several discussions over the past couple of weeks, especially new handloaders deciding what to buy. I hope to get some light shed on the subject from viewpoints other than mine with the idea of getting the reasoning behind the choices. Said reasoning geared toward the newcomer to reloading.

1) Don't use a scale at all - measure by volume only

2) Balance beam mechanical scale only

3) Balance beam mechanical scale primarily with electronic occasionally

4) Electronic primarily with Balance beam mechanical scale occasionally

5) Electronic scale only

6) Another alternative you (L.S.) forgot

I will save the division of electronic scale vs electronic scale and automatic powder dispenser for another poll, but feel free to comment.

When you post your answers, please also tell us 1) if you weigh every charge, one in ten, one in fifty, what? 2) if you are loading for long gun or handgun and if large quantities or small. If your answer varies by type of firearm, feel free to vote and post twice, but tell us about it, please. (e.g. a guy who loads .223 for a tack-driving varmint rifle and also for a high-quantity AR-type could count as two different shooters/loaders and if he is also shoots silhouette, a third persona. If he also shoots IPSC or CAS maybe a fourth).

Using the reasoning in the above paragraph, I intended to allow voters to vote more than once, but missed that option, sorry.

Thanks for participating

Lost Sheep

I did not include the choice "I use both equally" because I figure very few sit on this fence. Besides, it is a philosophical question about your style of approaching each loading task, not a strict count of how often you read the scale.

Last edited by Lost Sheep; April 17, 2011 at 05:45 PM. Reason: Multiple votes
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Old April 17, 2011, 05:40 PM   #2
Lost Sheep
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The OP's answer

I voted 2) balance beam only

I load by volume (either dippers or a mechanical powder dispenser), but check the weight before each loading session. I check the throw weight every 20 or 30 charges to ensure nothing has gone out of adjustment and my dipping technique is still consistent.

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Old April 17, 2011, 05:42 PM   #3
mikejonestkd
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Great poll!!

Handgun cartridges : I loads a good amount of several cartridges and I use a LCT with Pro Auto disk and throw powder by volume, but check every tenth charge with a RCBS 750 electonic scale. I rarely weigh every charge, unless I am tweaking a bullseye load for my gold cup or my K-38 masterpiece.

Rifle cartridges: I don't load more than 50 or so per session, and focus on quality rather than quantity. I usually use a dipper to fill the pan of a RCBS 505 balance scale and trickle the last few grains till I get the charge I desire. I weigh all rifle powder charges, with the exception of bulk .223 ammo for plinking, which I just check every tenth round.
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Old April 17, 2011, 05:44 PM   #4
Blackops_2
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I voted balancing beam with electric. At the moment all i have is a balancing beam. But you can never be too precise IMO. And i would like to have 2 methods to agree with each other just to further the inclination that I'm spot on and have the exact measurement i want.

I trust a balancing beam more but when i load powder charges i put my dominant eye level with the zero mark and beam measure line and watch it closely to an extreme. And i suppose due to conditions in the room or dust/air condition what ever the case, the beam does slightly move up and down. So i watch it closely and make sure i have both lines exactly in alignment and not moving.

I like to be as precise as i can when loading for my rifle due to consistency. Sense LR shooting to an extent equates to consistency.
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Old April 17, 2011, 05:45 PM   #5
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I use all three, depending on the application.

For most powder duties I use a balance beam scale. When I'm making precision rifle cartridges or when I'm setting a powder measure the balance beam gets the nod.

However, there are those loads that I settled on a long time ago that I have calibrated dippers for. Those dippers are clearly marked in my tools and I can use them to make loads without weighing at all.

I also use a digital electronic scale for some weighing tasks, like weighing bullets when sorting them into like-weight piles.
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Old April 17, 2011, 07:12 PM   #6
603Country
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I used a RCBS 1010 scale for 25 or 30 years, but have gone to digital in the last couple of months. I don't think digital (at least the setup I have) is any faster, but I do think it's more accurate.
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Old April 17, 2011, 07:25 PM   #7
Eazmo
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voted electronic,
I'm just gettin started and thats all i have. But i do have two different one's to double check myself. as said just gettin started so i weight every round. when get auto disk up and running will still check every one. after measure has gained my confidence and sure it and myself are running smoothly I'll check every 10 or so at random.
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Old April 17, 2011, 07:51 PM   #8
Bill Daniel
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Use what type of scale

I voted balance beam only. I weigh every rifle charge and every 10th pistol. Hornady Classic for rifle and Dillon SDB for pistol. RCBS 505 balance beam.
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Old April 17, 2011, 07:54 PM   #9
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Lyman 1000, its' the monkey's uncle dude!!
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Old April 17, 2011, 08:00 PM   #10
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Digitals and beams have the same claimed accuracy but sensitivity to follow a trickler is usually much better in a beam and beams won't drift or crap out on you because gravity always works the same. Anyone finding a digital powder scale to be "faster" than a beam isn't using his beam scale properly.

Digitals shine when weighting things that vary more than +/- a half-grain, such as cases and bullets, but not powder.

My 46 year old Lyman/Ohaus M-5 (Same as the RCBS' 1010 today) still reads its 260.9 gr. test weight exactly, and exactly the same as it did when new and I fully expect it to last at least that much longer. Ain't no Chinese electronic gadget going to match that!

Last edited by wncchester; April 17, 2011 at 08:06 PM.
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Old April 17, 2011, 08:13 PM   #11
Jim Watson
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Digitals are convenient and I use one for most applications, in combination with a power dispenser in the PACT setup. But I always have my balance on hand in case the digital gives me anything to doubt.

Most applications, I adjust a volumetric powder measure to the desired charge weight and check one every once in a while.

I use the PACT auto dispenser for match rifle loads.

I measure light and manually trickle BPCR loads to the desired weight.
You read a lot about "grains volume" for black powder but that is best left for the flintlock. The Sharps Rifle Company recommended 130+ years ago: "For fine shooting, powder should be weighed on a scale."
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Old April 17, 2011, 08:19 PM   #12
Acerdog
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I voted balance beam with digital also. Guess i'm just to picky but i way every charge twice.
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Old April 17, 2011, 08:20 PM   #13
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For a new loader, balance beam is the way to go. Once you get a good feel for things, electronics are useful for things like checking the weight of a charge where you may not know just how much it is (say, for shotshells where you throw in a bushing and you didn't check the chart).

For experienced reloaders, an electronic measure/scale is a very useful upgrade; I've gone to one and it makes life so much easier, but I still fall back on my RCBS 1010 for double checking things.
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Old April 17, 2011, 09:34 PM   #14
jmortimer
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I "measure by volume" but you need a scale when you open up some new powder to make sure what you are using was properly labeled and when you change powders to make sure nothing got mixed up. Since I only use Unique I can go over a year or more without touching a scale depending how many pounds I buy. 8 lbs lasts me a long time and it's nice to have the scale gather dust. BTW, I only use balance beam and have two PITA Lee Precision scales which will last a lifetime.
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Old April 17, 2011, 11:01 PM   #15
chris in va
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I use dippers, so beam scale for me. Don't trust electronics much. Gravity is pretty consistent.
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Old April 17, 2011, 11:16 PM   #16
FrankenMauser
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Quote:
I did not include the choice "I use both equally" because I figure very few sit on this fence.
That would have been my vote.

I throw/trickle charges with a balance beam scale (RCBS 5-0-5), during initial load work-ups. However, I set and spot-check charges from powder measures with a digital. It's much faster to get an instant reading of "you're off by 0.3 gr, idiot"; rather than messing with the balance beam scale, to dial in the exact weight. And, it's very easy to toss a spot-check powder charge on the digital, while running my Dillon 550B - far easier than screwing with a balance beam.

I don't use the digital scale for load development, since most digital scales don't handle trickling well (and mine is terrible). Throw something on it, to check its weight, and it's right on, though.

As for spot-checking...
With my Uniflow, I check every 3-5 charges. It's not that I don't trust the measure, but that it's bolted to a piece of plywood I use as the base for my scale. It's right there.... why not use it?

With the Dillon 550B, I check every charge thrown by the machine, during initial set up for any load. That may mean I check the first 5-10, or the first 10-20, or the first 30-50. It all depends on how long it takes me to get bored, and realize I just checked 35 good charges in a row. The first 100-200 rounds going through the machine will see a spot check every 5-10 cases, after I stopped checking every one. After that, it's whenever I feel like it. It generally works out to every 20 cartridges, or so. But, can be as many as 40-50, if the powder is being metered very consistently. (I also eyeball every powder charge dropped, so I see when an over-charge (+0.2 gr) or under-charge (-0.2 gr) is dropped - in addition to the spot-checks.)
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Old April 18, 2011, 09:03 AM   #17
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I use a balance beam. The phases of the moon don't seem to affect it much. I check a few drops before reloading, and check again after 30-40. Usually when I take a stretch and gage what I 've done, I do a powder check. I eyeball every charge before I seat the bullet. "When in doubt, check it out" is what I go by.
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Old April 18, 2011, 09:36 AM   #18
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I use an electronic primarily, just because it's so much faster. But I'd never trust an electronic without some way to check it, so I regularly use various sizes of check weights and also confirm charges with my trusty RCBS 5-0-5. Doing both is probably overkill, but being a little bit too careful is a good thing.
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Old April 18, 2011, 10:30 AM   #19
emirikol
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Measuring powder, balance beam only

The electronic scale only gets used for bullet sorting and other tasks.
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Old April 18, 2011, 11:38 AM   #20
twins
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Voted for electronic scale.

RCBS Chargemaster Dispenser & Scale gets my vote. Sometimes +.1 or .2 grains over with larger extruded powder (ie, IMR4350) but always on mark with ball powder (ie, W760).
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Old April 18, 2011, 11:49 AM   #21
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I voted digital only. I bought a RCBS powder pro back in '98. At first I checked it against my balance beam ohaus, got tired of it always checking out the same. I then borrowed the BB to a buddy so he could get started loading. I have a lee BB around somewhere, never use it.

I also have a Lyman check weight set. If I use it, and they weigh---(no "t") the same each time, it must be right on,,,-right? If I then weigh---(no "t") powder on it, then the powder weigh(no "T")s the correct weight.

If, for some reason, you don't trust digital/electronic scales, then don't buy one. But don't come right out and say they're no good. Or falsely claim they're not faster or aren't accurate. Now, some of the 29 dollar battery operated junk on fleabay are seldom any good.
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Old April 18, 2011, 12:15 PM   #22
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Oh, one thing I forgot-----do any of you KNOW your scale is on a level surface? How about is it isolated from the bench vibrations? Is it exposed to drafts, AC/heating ducts, or electronic fields,(in the case of an electronic/digital scale)?

Having it off level, or subject to constant vibration is as bad as not using a scale at all. It's simple to make a separate platform with leveling screws, then check it with a good spirit level and set it. THEN don't move it without re-leveling it.

While gravity is pretty constant, having gravity acting at an angle to a scale results in errors.

Vibration will eventually act to dull the knife edges on a beam scale. No matter if the "V" blocks are some sort of hard rock,(agate-quartz), the knife edges are steel.
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Old April 18, 2011, 12:48 PM   #23
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Quote:
While gravity is pretty constant, having gravity acting at an angle to a scale results in errors.
That may be a problem for electronic scales (may be - I'm not sure), but it's not an issue for balance beam scales. The beam is "level" by definition when the scale is zeroed and will return to the same position, relative to the earth, regardless of how the base of the scale is moved. Zeroing the scale has the effect of removing any bias introduced by the base potentially not being level.

But don't take my word for it. Put your BB scale on what appears to be a level surface, zero it, and weigh an object. Then prop up one end or the other so it's obviously not level and zero it again (obviously, you can't have it so far off that you're outside of its zeroing range), then weigh the same object. You'll get the same result.
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Old April 18, 2011, 02:48 PM   #24
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Snuffy was referring to the other axis of the scale, for balance beams. Your "standard" axis is the Z axis, for zeroing the scale. However, if it is also out of level in the X axis, it causes drag on parts of the scale that should not be touching.

I ran a fairly involved test a few years ago**, to see just how much I should trust my balance beam scale. With a 15 degree tilt (top of the scale leaned towards me, with the standard axis zeroed), the 5-0-5 was off by 4+ grains with a weight of 55.5 gr selected on the scale. (55.5 is arbitrary, but was selected so the "tens", "ones", and "tenths" were all used. However, 55.5 gr is a good average for the range of max loads in several cartridges I load.)
Most upsetting, was that the reading was not repeatable. I got different (bad) results with each attempt.


**Some of you may remember my post about the various accuracy tests and per-tenth-of-a-grain deflection of the RCBS 5-0-5, from 2.0 gr through 400 gr. I can't find the original post. I must have titled it oddly, and used different language in describing the tests.
I know most reloaders think that kind of testing is a complete waste of time. I did it, because I wanted to know how the scale reacted in different weight "regimes", and how it reacted to different variables. My background is in aerospace. Nearly every tool we used was calibrated on a monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or annual basis. If a tool experienced shock, vibration, or contamination, it was recalibrated or replaced. Yet, reloaders assume their scales will remain perfectly calibrated for life.
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Last edited by FrankenMauser; April 18, 2011 at 03:56 PM.
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Old April 18, 2011, 02:58 PM   #25
Darren007
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Depending on what I'm loading I'll use either dippers or an electronic scale.

When I'm loading handgun rounds and using the powder dispenser I check the first 10 rounds and then only the 10th round after that with an electronic scale.
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