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Old June 3, 2013, 09:06 PM   #1
kwm1971
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Scale Calibration weights

I have a lee beam scale, that I would like to check my zero on. Just like to make sure I am zeroing good. I've heard of using coins and test weights. Could I use the bullet that I am loading? I am using a hornady .224 55gr V-max, so should it be dead on 55gr?
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Old June 3, 2013, 09:10 PM   #2
Fire_Moose
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Re: Scale Calibration weights

Probably not. Most bullets will be +-.7 gr I've found.
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Old June 3, 2013, 09:35 PM   #3
jepp2
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Quote:
I am using a hornady .224 55gr V-max, so should it be dead on 55gr?
The only way to know for sure is to use something with a known weight. If you have a friend that has check weights, you could take either a coin or bullet to them and have them give you the true weight. Then you could have a reference check at a single weight point.

Another option is to get a scale weight check set. I have the Lyman set link.
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Old June 3, 2013, 10:47 PM   #4
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I own 4 scales. I use a Lyman weight set to verify and calibrate.
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Old June 4, 2013, 06:09 AM   #5
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weighing the check-weight?

I own one scale; I use a Lyman Scale Weight Check set to calibrate then verify.
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Old June 4, 2013, 06:27 AM   #6
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I don't think powder scales need to be "exact" according to some official weight standard. They only need to be repeatable from day to week to month. Doesn't matter if one's 1/3rd or 3/4ths grain off that standard. Reloaders use scales more for consistant weights than exact weights; right?

But having a few weights across the range you use the scale at and marking them with their weight shown on your scale will give you a means of ensuring your scale is repeatable from day to week to month. . .or year, if necessary.
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Old June 4, 2013, 06:46 AM   #7
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Please, I don't want to sound like a jerk but zero is zero what you are really trying to check is span or is the scale measuring the weight accurately.

I have found Hornaday's to be usually within a couple tenths. I would weigh 4 different bullets and if all the weights were consistent and within a couple tenths of the advertized weitht then i would add these weights and weigh all these bullets together. If you are still within a couple tenths then you should be good to go.

Also when you take the weight off the scale and then put the same weight back on does it go to the same reading?

Of course check weights or testing it against a known good scale is better but sometimes you have to make do with what you have.

Hope this helps!
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Old June 4, 2013, 07:08 AM   #8
buck460XVR
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Quote:
I don't think powder scales need to be "exact" according to some official weight standard. They only need to be repeatable from day to week to month. Doesn't matter if one's 1/3rd or 3/4ths grain off that standard.

^^^This, one reason manuals recommend starting low and working up. Goggle for the weights of different coins, if you use a new one they are pretty close. Or......splurge on a set of check weights, they never go bad.
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Old June 4, 2013, 07:26 AM   #9
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Consistency is the most important thing in reloading.
If, as been emphasized, the scale is dependably repeatable, and the loads are checked with a chronograph, then the results will be satisfactory.
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Old June 4, 2013, 08:26 AM   #10
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If, as been emphasized, the scale is dependably repeatable, and the loads are checked with a chronograph, then the results will be satisfactory.
Please explain this a bit more.

'Tis a well known fact that a given charge weight of a given lot of powder used in a given cartridge load will produce a wide range of average muzzle velocties across all sorts of barrels. Change the lot number for that powder and a different set of muzzle velocities will be at hand across all those barrels.
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Old June 4, 2013, 08:45 AM   #11
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As I recall when the scale of the late Jack O Conner was checked, the scale was off by about three grains.
O'Conner was the guru of the Winchester 270 as being the greatest all around cartridge ever.

BUT when you are loading cartridges in the 60,000 to 65,000psi range and original factory was 50-55 thousand psi, your performance will be better.

Thats why we check scales against known weights sets. And pocket change is not calibration weights.
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Old June 4, 2013, 09:16 AM   #12
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Check Weight set - bought an RCBS set years ago for the heck of it - came in VERY handy.
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Old June 4, 2013, 09:18 AM   #13
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BUT when you are loading cartridges in the 60,000 to 65,000psi range and original factory was 50-55 thousand psi, your performance will be better.
What's the objective and reason for loading ammo way hotter than standard safe max pressure?

While you may think "your performance" will be better, it will definitely be more dangerous. Rarely, if ever, do such loads shoot as accurate as normal, safe max loads. Therefore, I don't think the "load performance" will be any better; safe, either. I'd rather pitch my tent back a ways from the edge of the cliff, not right on it. Same reason mountain climbers weighing 150 pounds don't use 160 pound test rope.

Are you making proof loads?
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Old June 4, 2013, 09:42 AM   #14
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what make you think the scale has changed? unless you messed with it after it left the factory it should be good to go. I have had a Hornady scale for over 25 years and haven't seen any reason to question it
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Old June 4, 2013, 10:08 AM   #15
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Real, "scientific" check weights can never be a bad thing but the notion that a reloader needs them to be able to safely load ammo is silly.

I have a couple dozen boxes of handgun and rifles bullets. I have yet to see a single bullet vary more than 0.6gr, and that is out of a very old Hornady 180gr 40cal box. The rifle bullets, I have Hornady, Sierra, Nosler, Barnes and Speer. I have to search through the boxes to find one that is off by more than +-0.1gr, with an occasional example over by 0.3gr, mostly in the Sierra and Barnes.

If you've got a box of 55gr Hornady, the vast majority are going to be either 55.0gr or 55.1gr.

Weigh a few individually. If your scale is telling you anything outside of 54.8-55.2 with any consistency, the SCALE is wrong, the bullets aren't off by that much. If you're consistently getting very close to 55.0gr, which is strongly suspect that you will, take 10 that weigh that amount and weigh them together (assuming the scale goes to 550.0gr). The most discrepancy they should have would be if they were all very slightly over (or under) weight and the errors added up to an extra (or short) 0.5gr or so, 549.5gr to 550.5gr.

This really is plenty close enough for reloading. We're not verifying the International Standard Kilogram here and checking for loss from radioactive decay.

Strictly speaking, your original question of "check my zero" requires no check weights, by definition. When there's no weight on the scale, it should say zero. It's verified.
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Old June 5, 2013, 06:30 AM   #16
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zero ain't a weight

Fine if yer just weighin' bullets......


My normal range of powder charge weights runs from 3.2g up to 26g or so. So I set my scale to the intended charge weight and verify it with my check set; know what I mean?
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Old June 5, 2013, 08:14 AM   #17
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Bart, I was just agreeing with you.
If the scale shows the weight of a sample is the same every time it's checked,
then the scale is dependable.
The sample doesn't have to be an exact weight that the scale agrees with.
And if the scale is dependable, the chrony will verify that the chosen powder loads are consistent.
If, of course, the reloader gets the rest of the process correct, for making reliably consistent ammo.
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Old June 5, 2013, 10:57 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WESHOOT2
My normal range of powder charge weights runs from 3.2g up to 26g or so. So I set my scale to the intended charge weight and verify it with my check set; know what I mean?
This ^^^. All balance beam scales aren't as linear from zero to max as we would like to believe. Depends somewhat on how precise you want to be, but doing as Weshoot2 says gives me an added feeling of confidence. My OCD likes that.
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Old June 5, 2013, 03:43 PM   #19
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When weighing charges where 3.2gr is a full charge and 3.6 is over max, then a .1 or .2gr error is big thing. When weighing 70gr, its much less important.

I use the bullets to be loaded, and if the scale is .1+/- of nominal weight, I call it good. Results worked up on my scale are consistant, even if they are not exactly what is listed. Done right, it is safe.

I do have a couple check weights (came with my scale) and they do work. I just don't usually bother with them, but that's just me.

If I'm loading 150gr and every bullet checked goes between 149.8 and 150.3, I good with it. However, if they all go 146.3 or 158.1, for instance, then its time to check the scale.
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Old June 5, 2013, 05:10 PM   #20
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Hi Kwm1971,
If you are using another persons load specs, (which you should only do if you have checked them against min/max loads), then YES, you want your scale to be as accurate as possible. If you are building your own load then reliability/repeatability is sufficient.
Also being a stickler, you wanted to "check your zero" take everything off the pan and see if it reads "0", done
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Old June 5, 2013, 05:26 PM   #21
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Quote:
I have had a Hornady scale for over 25 years and haven't seen any reason to question it
Same with my Hornady that I bought around 1980 or so.... until I bought and used a chronograph a few years ago. Then I was seeing around +50fps difference in velocity in what I was reading I should be getting on the Internet (or magazine articles). So I went and bought a set of RCBS check weights. Guess what, the scale was reading right where it should be! Waahoo. Problem not here. A real comfort that it wasn't the scale (ie. powder load) . Check weights are good just for the piece of mind!
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Old June 5, 2013, 07:50 PM   #22
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I've been using the same beam scale for 48 years. It came with a single "test" weight of 260.9 grains; it still reads dead on and I don't think that's unusual for any common beam type powder scale. The only way a beam scale could change accuracy would be for the beam's notches to slip and that ain't gonna happen.

Anyone who believes a book is magically correct for all cases and powder lot numbers for all time can get in trouble if he trys loading at max with a scale that's significantly off but I've never heard of that happening with a beam scale. If it is off, even off a lot, if the user properly develops his load with that scale all he will ever need is consistancy, not spot on accuracy, just as O'conner found out.
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