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Old December 15, 2012, 05:37 AM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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Thoughts on budget scales. Beam vs Digital

This is not a question, but rather an opinion that others may find handy, especially if new to reloading as I was/am.

Initially, I bought all Lee gear and I, whilst I like it, I did find myself getting frustrated with the Lee Safety Scale. So much so that I ended up using a Hornady GS1500 digital.

I like the digital, and it allowed me to quickly confirm if my auto-disk was dispensing accurately or not.

However, for various reasons (namely the cold and worries over the digital's performance below freezing), I have dug out the Lee scale.

It is really not as bad as I first thought. Once zero'ed it is seemingly very accurate! More so than the Hornady.

So, if you are new to reloading on a budget and are charging via scale, dipper and funnel, don't discount the Lee scale.

Yes, there are better ones, but for the price and my loading volume, if is making my powder measuring easier for volumes not accounted for by the auto-disks.
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Old December 15, 2012, 06:11 AM   #2
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The Lee Safety Scale is incredibly accurate and it's -THE- scale that prevents anyone from attempting to claim that they cannot "afford" a scale.

It works very, very well.

Indeed, it's not at all speedy and is, in fact, a bit difficult to see and to use.

However...anyone who claims that it is crap, or junk, or useless simply shows their ignorance loud & clear.

I rarely use mine these days, but I do always have it. I know that it's ready to roll whenever I need it,
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Old December 15, 2012, 07:55 AM   #3
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Cheap digital scales suck. The Lee balance scale works, but having used Redding, RCBS, and Lymann beam scales, my Lee stays in it's box under the bench.
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Old December 15, 2012, 08:19 AM   #4
Pond, James Pond
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Quote:
Cheap digital scales suck.
Well, while the Lee is more accurate than the Hornady, the Hornady still measures out +/- 0.1gr.

That is plenty accurate for me, especially when I am making up mass loadings of a mid-power .44, .38, or .308, where exact measures are not crucial.
Even more so, when I am using it to double check the auto-disk charges every ten cases.

For my hot .44 loads, then, yes, the Lee is now my go-to scale, but I think that there is a place for an easy/quick to use cheap digital.

Put it this way, I'd still buy another.
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Old December 15, 2012, 10:02 AM   #5
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I have touted the wonder that is the Gemini 20 scale many times. Some folks have purchased one on my recommendation and have thanked me.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...w_bottom_links

the only negative is the extremely small pan. I use the pan from my Lee Safety Scale on top of it. Capacity is just over 308.6 grains. Measures to .02grains (yes, .02grains, not .2). Also has modes for grams and ounces

Incredible little piece of equipment. I check it regularly against the LSS, check weights and the 10gram calibration weights that came with it. Always on target.
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Old December 15, 2012, 10:19 AM   #6
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Keep in mind---digital scales can have fluctuations from temperature and humidity. Gravity is pretty reliable. If you're using a digital scale alone, you're really begging for something to go wrong. I DO use one, and check it against my beam scale periodically to verify things are as they should be.
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Old December 15, 2012, 10:37 AM   #7
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Good point.
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Old December 15, 2012, 12:06 PM   #8
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Well, IMO, the only problem with the Lee scale is it's different. It uses a vernier type poise rather than weights (poises) in notches. Some fellers can't/won't learn to read one. I have 3 beam scales and occasionally use the Lee because the poise can be locked in place (I've bumped the poise on my Lyman/Ohaus scale replacing the pan and if the pan is lifted too quickly the beam drops and the poise hops over a notch or two).

I purchases a digital scale (Mack 20) that was highly recommended on another forum. Not so hot for measuring a lot of powder charges (every time the pan is removed the "tare" must be reset, and I do believe cold affects it's zero (mid to high 30s at night). Still, a good scale as far as digitals go...

BTW, I reloaded mebbe 30 years (off and on) before I got a digital, and I've found I don't really need it 'cause I don't need to weigh 200 loads in 12.62 minutes...
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Last edited by mikld; December 16, 2012 at 11:56 AM.
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Old December 15, 2012, 12:41 PM   #9
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You should have both.

Digital are great but can drift.

Jame P works in a cold garage so the non digital is a far better choice there.

I use it to cross check. My bother got a auto digital dispense type (not sure what brand) and its cross checks as more accurate then a magnetic damped scale as there is a variation to those as well (3 tenths or so)

And invest in a good set o digital calibers that goes down to .001 (or split the down to .0005 +-
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Old December 15, 2012, 12:45 PM   #10
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An inexpensive digital scale with check weights is a good addition to a manual scale. There are some decent inexpensive digital scales out there.
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Old December 15, 2012, 01:10 PM   #11
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Another salute to Lee Precision gear. Genius in simplicity.
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Old December 15, 2012, 01:18 PM   #12
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^ Yes indeed, I have two.
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Old December 15, 2012, 01:26 PM   #13
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I have been using a cheap $20 digital scale for more then 2 years and it works every time.

I check it from time to time against the beam scale but, it has never been off. I always check it with a known bullet weight before loading.

"Cheap digital scales suck" I beg to differ. The name brand scales that cost 3-5x as much are the same thing with a brand name printed on it.
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Old December 15, 2012, 01:36 PM   #14
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I use an RCBS 10-10 beam scale, I have a small electronic scale made by frankford arsenal that has proved accurate everytime I've checked it but I stil can't make myself trust it, I simply don't trust anything electronic like that, I use the beam scale with confidence
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Old December 15, 2012, 02:07 PM   #15
tkglazie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xfire68 View Post

"Cheap digital scales suck" I beg to differ.
So do I. It is amusing though. A good tool is a good tool, regardless of price. Like a cheap set of Lee dippers- they are inexpensive and basic, but they work just as well as a set made of gold.

My cheap scale is a good tool. Will it last forever? I have no idea, thats why I have a backup one on hand, as well as my Lee beam scale.
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Old December 15, 2012, 02:25 PM   #16
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I still use my beam scale I purchased almost 50 years ago. I expect it will still be as accurate and usable 50 years from now. I don't think a digital scale will have near the lifespan of a decent beam scale.
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Old December 15, 2012, 03:54 PM   #17
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never had the battery die on my beam scale yet. I have 2 digitals also but they are always checked against the beam before use.
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Old December 15, 2012, 04:28 PM   #18
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I like this one for $25.99 plus shipping - uses AA batteries - I have lots of rechargeable AA batteries.

http://www.ballisticproducts.com/BPI...80300/#reviews
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Old December 17, 2012, 11:36 AM   #19
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Guess if you need 4-5 MOA the Lee or cheap scales will work fine for anyone. But for precision reloading, not so much.
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Old December 17, 2012, 12:12 PM   #20
tkglazie
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^ha, thats pretty funny. Clearly someone who has never used a LSS, or a Gemini 20. I guess 1/20th grain and 1/50th grain are not accurate enough for precision reloading?

Anyway, back on topic- another nice thing about a quality little scale like the Gemini being so inexpensive is you can have more than one. I like to use my backup when I do case and bullet sorting. If your work shop is setup in different sections it is handy to have a dedicated scale at each station. (I sort my cases and bullets on the kitchen table). Plus if a battery does die, grab another scale, check it, and proceed.
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Old December 17, 2012, 12:32 PM   #21
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My Lee Safety Scale was a POS. It got sold real quick. It would not hold zero and would not weigh the same charge the same more than 1 time in a row. My "cheapo" Frankford Arsenal scale that I have had less than a year has started to drift even with new batteries and it being calibrated.

It really boils down to what scale you can get to repeat itself and be reliable.

I do not think the LSS measures that accurately but anyways. Or else all the precision shooters would be using it and saving a ton of $$$
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Old December 17, 2012, 12:48 PM   #22
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The question was about budget scales, not fast scales. Properly used, a LSS is as repeatable and accurate as any scale on the market. But man does it take a while to settle down. I can see why someone who is already spending the money to get into serious precision shooting would upgrade for speed, if nothing else.

I break mine out occasionally just to keep in practice and to test my digitals. Always an adventure.
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Old December 17, 2012, 12:58 PM   #23
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I just never understood the LSS. It drove me absolute nuts and was frustrating. Seemed if I blinked it would be off. The adjustments to me were way to sensitive and my hands are not that stable trying to slide that tiny slider juuuuuuuust right to the 1/10th of a grain mark

I am not one of those reloaders who thinks that the only way to go is the most expensive, name brand tools out there I just like convenience and quality. Usually both of those together =$$$$ but not always
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Old December 17, 2012, 01:28 PM   #24
tkglazie
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Agreed.

If I HAD to use a LSS only, I could get by, but I prefer a cheap, quick and accurate digital to spot check my volume charges and do my sorting. If I loaded by weight only (like for BR shooting), I would get a chargemaster for sure.

To the OP's point, if you are starting out and pennies are tight, and you have patience and can get the thing to work well for you the LSS is very viable. If nothing else you are learning the hobby. If it takes you a little (or a lot) longer to throw a charge, so be it, you are still reloading.
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Old December 17, 2012, 01:59 PM   #25
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Beam. Check weights. Calibrate it every time it is moved. (don't move it) Keep a dust cover over it. Clean the fulcrum points regularly. Screw using battery powered mass produced electronic chips made in some third world country that are only good for cell phones. Measuring powder is much more important than that.
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