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Old November 29, 2018, 02:21 AM   #1
joeanybody
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Safety checks

I was in Midsouth Shooting Supply today (their warehouse is on my way to work, lucky me no shipping charges). They had a gun on display with half of the action missing. Apparently someone's scale broke so it was reading 2 grains lower than it should have. As I understand it, nobody was hurt just some brown pants.

So my question is this:what safety precautions do you take when setting up?

I seriously doubt that many people give their scales a 50point inspection when they startup everytime.

I use the two scale method. I use a frankford arsenal electronic scale and a lyman d-7 scale. First I zero both scales. Second, I throw a random charge out my powder measure. First measurement is on the electronic scale then I measure it on the beam scale. They gotta match. If it doesnt, then gotta figure out what is wrong. Is this too much? Too little? Could be done differently?

As is the case with most of us, I imagine, I am terrified of something like that happening. I think that those little safety checks at the beginning can and do help, but always wonder if I can do more without going overboard.
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Old November 29, 2018, 08:03 AM   #2
wv109323
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You can use a set of weights to verify your scales. Or use a jacketed bullet. They should be very close to their advertised weight.
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Old November 29, 2018, 08:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
So my question is this:what safety precautions do you take when setting up?
I verify my scale by weighing a dime: 35 grains.

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Old November 29, 2018, 09:13 AM   #4
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I had my RCBS scales weights checked by a calibration lab only because my son's, at the time, girlfriend's dad worked in the lab, so it was free. The good news was they were with in .03 of the stamped weights.

I've had a M5, for 20 years and a 505 for about 10. They do get linearity errors that require some cleaning of the the arms knoches, pivots blades and the agates. I use a cheap set of makeup brushes and a syringe with isopropyl alcohol. The syringe is used to inject with some force into and around the agates. This only rarely done because both scales live in DIY clear plexiglass boxes with hinged lids. The hinge is hi-tec duct tape.
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Old November 29, 2018, 09:18 AM   #5
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When you buy a scale take any random bullet weigh it and write the weight down, keep that bullet with the scale and reweigh it occasionally to check for scale drift. Every reloader should also have a decent beam scale to check thier digital against.

Until recently I have been using a beam scale but bought a $20 scale off Amazon a couple of months ago to weigh the occasional stray bullet. First day I used the scale I checked it against the beam. The bullet weighed 7.775 grams on the electronic on day one. I just weighed it again and it was 7.774 grams. That $20 Chinese no name scale weighs down to the milligram or .01 grains and has been dead on plus or minus a kernel of Varget (2 milligrams) for two months now but I still check it against the beam on random charges if I am weighing powder.
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Old November 29, 2018, 12:00 PM   #6
joeanybody
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The dime is a good cheap idea. Just gotta make sure it stays clean so theres no variance. A set of check weights is a better possibility.i think I'll start using a dime instead of a random powder throw at my start up set up. I would use a bullet but I might not have the same one on hand every time.

Stay safe everyone!
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Old November 29, 2018, 03:35 PM   #7
hounddawg
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Quote:
I would use a bullet but I might not have the same one on hand every time.
even dimes are not all equal, so you will still need to keep the same one. I just weighed 10 and they varied from 34.66 to 35.72. The calibration weight was 10.000 grams dead on and the test bullet was 7.774 grams. I keep that test bullet in the scales little box. I need to start using a 39 grain bullet since that is closer to my normal load
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Old November 29, 2018, 04:28 PM   #8
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Stay away from maximum loads....if +2 grains of powder causes your rifle to explode you pushing the envelope just a bit too much.

Pay attention to no charge and double charge.

Make sure you are using the right powder...the wrong powder will blow a rifle .

Check your scale , test weight and free moving .

Reloading isn't Rocket Science but it does require common sense...Don't be acting the fool !
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Old November 29, 2018, 05:59 PM   #9
hounddawg
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Quote:
Stay away from maximum loads....if +2 grains of powder causes your rifle to explode you pushing the envelope just a bit too much.
even that won't keep you completely safe. The Hogdon load data for H4350 in a .260 Remington and their minimum load for the 142 SMK is hot. I would bet you would blow cases apart well below their maximum. I blew a primer and flattened two more at 1 gn over minimum and over 2gns below maximum. I dropped a full 2.0 gns below minimum and still getting 2800 plus for a 142 gn SMK which is damn good for a 6.5 (exception being a 6.5 - 284)
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Old November 29, 2018, 06:03 PM   #10
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I have shifted to electronics.

With those you Zero (tare) out the pan.

When you get a charge, it only shows the charge, take the pan off and it should show pan weight in a negative number.

If you know your pan weight (yes you should) you have an auto check each time you weight a charge.

See it start to move more than 1/10, Zero it again.

What gun? I do find it hard to believe that a rifle case with 2 gr will blow a gun up.

Proof loads are 150% of the normal pressure.
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Old November 29, 2018, 06:21 PM   #11
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I'd like to know how the person that blew that rifle up knew he was over only by 2 grs.
I think there is a lot more at play here than 2grs. over max load.

Anyways, I also use electronic scales, I turn them on an hour ahead of time and let them warm up.
I calibrate it with the check weights that came with it and the scale is good to go.
I have two electronic scales so I check loads across them to make sure they are ready to go.
I check a minimum of 20 charges to get my powder measure settled in and while reloading, check every so many rounds before I seat the bullet.

I have a powder checking die that is hooked up to my Hornady control panal also watching for low and high powder levels and it works well.

I also watch down in the cases of my pistol rounds while I'm reloading.

Rifle loads I do in a loading block and use Hornady's Auto Charge powder dispenser. If it goes over by .1gr it stops and beeps and won't continue until I reset it.

I can't do much more than that.
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Old November 29, 2018, 06:32 PM   #12
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Yep, nobody said it was a rifle. How about a cheap .32 ACP?

Coin calibration came up in a thread in February of 2009. This was one of my posts in it:

Quote:
Originally Posted by me
Forget about coins as weight standards and buy check weights. Search on Midway for them. In another forum recently we had a fellow ask everyone to measure a quarter because he assumed they are all the same weight. I weighed 35 randomly selected quarters on a lab scale that resolves 0.001 grams (approximately 0.015 grains) and got the following results:

Mean (average) weight:
87.62 grains

Highest:
89.02 grains

Lowest:
85.70 grains

Extreme Spread:
3.32 grains

Standard Deviation:
0.78 grains from mean.

Wear and design differences seem to take their toll on coin weight consistency.
So, the extreme spread of variation was almost 4% or almost ±2%. 2% should not get you a burst gun if your load is known to be safe. So the coin can tell you if you are in the ballpark. It just can't tell you that to a tenth of a grain. 2% can, however, knock you right off a sweet spot. In a second post in that thread I suggesteted seeing if a local pharmacist would check a coin on a calibrated scale for you.
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Old November 29, 2018, 06:49 PM   #13
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The Quarter is not a good candidate for use as a weight check. For one, it's weight is completely outside of normal powder drops, whereas a dime falls nicely between handgun drop weights and most rifle drop weights. Also, there is not the variance of designs, thereby resulting in weight variances, that is found with Quarters. For guys using balance beam scales such as myself, the dime works well. Just MHO.

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Old November 29, 2018, 07:33 PM   #14
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The little dish that came with my cheap GEM20l weighed 42 grains the day I bought it and still weighs 42 grains. I'm sure someone out there will say I need an official standard to be 100% accurate but I'm pretty sure that little dish will still weigh 42 grain as long as I'm alive.

I've had one of my digital scales start to act wonky and was drifting all over the place so I bought a replacement. It turned out the battery was bad and has worked fine since then. Now I've got 2 digital scales I can use to verify if one of them seems off.

I've used balance beam scales before and IMO they are much more prone to user error than a digital scale.
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Old November 29, 2018, 08:03 PM   #15
hounddawg
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good point on the pan Reddog, never thought about that but that is a pretty good check weight. For any critics it is the repeat ability that counts. As long as Reddogs scale says that pan is 42 grains he is good to go. If it says 41 or 43 there is a problem. Every scale I know of comes with a checkweight, it may not be suitable for trade but it is damn well accurate enough for what we do as long as the scale does it consistently.

Shooting is a game of consistency from the reloading bench to the shooting bench

Oh an no doubt beams require technique but once modded and learned they are as accurate as a electronic costing ten times as much. With that said I am going back to electronic myself for the convenience. I have one of these in the mail.


https://youtu.be/mvlYptBai6Q

$200 bucks shipped, why pay more if you don't need to. I was considering buying a scale that runs about three times as much but that little $20 scale convinced me that the inexpensive ones can be pretty damn accurate. If it had a AC option and a bit more capacity I would just use it.
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Old November 29, 2018, 10:24 PM   #16
joeanybody
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I bought my beam scale used so it didnt cone with a checkweight. My electric came with a 50gram checkweight but that is 772 grains which is over the d-7's 505 grain limit. Which is why I developed the calibrate electric first then use that against what I get on beam method.

No it wasn't a rifle it was a super Redhawks? (Maybe blackhawk, I get them mixed up) in 44 mag. There might be something else to it. I know that Guy said that the bullets were NOT crimped so bullet setback could be issue. Pulled remainder bullets and weighed the charge is how they knew that the charge was over what he thought they would be.after inspection of his scale they discovered one of the rods that the beam balances on was bent. Causing it to not read proper.
This of course is all just conversation with clerk not the actual guy. The staff at midsouth are great people and will help you with problems so it was another customer. I took a pic of it but have idea how to share it with the group.
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Old November 29, 2018, 10:37 PM   #17
joeanybody
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It blew the top half of the cylinder and the top bar of the receiver completely off the revolver. It was a nice looking gun too.

Last edited by joeanybody; November 29, 2018 at 10:49 PM.
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Old November 29, 2018, 11:55 PM   #18
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I guess I'm not O/C enough. I use a Dillon beam scale ($55 I think) and use a set of $6 check weights (seriously, if $6 for check weights is too much, then maybe reloading isn't something you should be involved in) to verify my powder drop for the session.

Once the scale is zeroed against the check weights, I drop a charge, then re-check my scale with the check weights again. If everything checks out, I begin loading cartridges.

Every 100 rounds I'll re-check my scale with the set weights.

I thought this was a little overkill, as I've never had the scale drift more than a tenth by the hundred (only three times that I can think of actually), but I'm a firm believer in Murphy's Law.

I've loaded and fired a little over 11,000 rds of .223 rem and about 3,000 rds of .30-06 this way and never had an issue of any kind in terms of powder charge weight drift/over-pressure signs, etc.
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Old November 30, 2018, 11:11 AM   #19
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I am still a newbie i actually weight the charge on two different scales. I have lots of time on my hands so that is not any issue for me. One is a balanced scale the other is digital both need to agree

Last edited by Dano4734; November 30, 2018 at 12:41 PM.
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Old November 30, 2018, 09:00 PM   #20
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Quote:
joeanybody asked:
So my question is this:what safety precautions do you take when setting up?
I load on a single-stage press, so I have the luxury of not having to worry about the powder measure throwing right every time. I set my powder measure to throw light each time and then tickle up to the desired weight.

Quote:
I seriously doubt that many people give their scales a 50point inspection when they startup everytime.
You are correct.

I'm not even sure that my beam balances have fifty (50) distinct points that would require inspection.

I have two beam balances and an electronic scale. When I need to verify my scales, I use (a) known reference weight(s) and then a Lee powder dipper to dip a known volume of a known powder. The weight(s) and then powder sample are then tried on the balances and the scale. If the results are consistent then I know, 1) a volumetric measure, 2) a beam-balance, 3) a second beam-balance. and 4) an electronic scale are all delivering a comparable result across two, possibly three samples.
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Old November 30, 2018, 09:17 PM   #21
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I want to clarify that in my 42+ years of reloading, I have not always used the method decribed in the prior post. I started out with an original Lee Loader, so I used their volumetric scoop with their load tables and recommended powders. I later repurposed a Lee Load-All to volumetrically drop powder for 30 Carbine and 223 Remington. When I got an RCBS Uni-Flow and an RCBS balance, I started checking the Load-All. Surprisingly, the Load-All was more precise in dropping 20.3 grain charges than the Uni-Flow. I eventually worked out the issues with the Uni-Flow and as time progressed, I added a second beam balance and then an inexpensive electronic scale to give me four data points in determining consistency.

I DON'T rely solely upon my equipment. Each batch of cartridges is visually inspected no less than three times to ensure powder is present and that it is within the limits of what it should be. If you're dealing with cartridges for which a full charge doesn't fill the case, a visual inspection (particularly if conducted using a strong light from an oblique angle) can readily identify under- as well as over-charges.
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Old November 30, 2018, 09:30 PM   #22
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Quote:
wv109323 wrote:
...use a jacketed bullet. They should be very close to their advertised weight.
I've had to sort 55 grain and 60 grain bullets out of a mixed bag. The 55 grain bullets ran between 54.4 and 55.7 grains. That's enough of a spread when it is extrapolated to greater weights to cause problems.
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Old December 1, 2018, 11:04 AM   #23
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Quote:
I seriously doubt that many people give their scales a 50point inspection when they startup everytime.
Maybe not a 50 point inspection (does a scale even HAVE 50 points? ). But I do set it up (RCBS/Ohaus 10-10 balance scale - yes, made in China) and make sure the balance is "floating" freely - i.e. I can see it smoothly rocking back-n-forth as it settles to zero. Sometimes, I'll see - as it nears zero - it abruptly stops (it's a very subtle thing to see). That tells me it's time to wipe the fulcrum with a dry Q-tip.

The next step is to use check weights. I make sure it reads zero with check weights to the lower nearest 0.5 grains to the actual needed charge weight. Why not the next higher 0.5 grains? Because if I forget to set the scale to the actual charge weight, it'll result in an undercharge; not an overcharge. Safety.

With my process, it would be nearly impossible to throw a two grain overcharge. Nearly impossible.
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Old December 1, 2018, 11:43 AM   #24
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A few things; in 1970 I had a squib, so now I look in every case before a bullet is seated (even 223). I set up my bench with all the stuff I'm going to need for one reloading session. I put a sticky note on my powder measure with all the pertinent info./data. I level/zero my beam scale, then set thee charge. Most of the time I start with previously sized and primed brass so I set it on the bench and get the powder and bullets out. I place the powder beside the powder measure. Now I sit down and adjust the powder measure. I double check using the sticky note. Before I throw one powder charge; Correct powder? Check. Correct scale setting? Check. Correct bullets? Check. Correct scale setting? Double check. Then I can proceed to stuffing some brass. After I charge the brass, I look in every charged case sitting in my loading block (I keep a Mini-Maglight there just for this purpose)...

May sound like a bunch of redundant messing, but I have never had a Kaboom, and only one squib in well over 30 years of reloading...
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Old December 1, 2018, 12:00 PM   #25
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I've only been reloading few years, but I have read a couple of books and have learned quite a bit from reading forums like this one.
I use a Franford Arsenal electronic scale and a Lee balance beam. I normally use the check weight with the electronic scale, then check that against the balance beam. I also keep a 55 grain bullet for performing another cross-check.
Once the scales are set, start loading cases. Before seating bullets, I check all cases to ensure they have powder. I also check charges, with both scales, about every tenth drop.
One powder at a time on the bench. Sticking to a routine is key to safety. One step at a time, and always check every step to make sure.
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