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Old August 4, 2009, 03:00 PM   #1
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What is a good accurate reloading scale?

Since I started reloading 45 acp, I believe I need a new/different scale, there just isn't a lot of room for error on that cartridge. I have a cheap 21.00 digital, which seems to have a mind of it's own at times and a new Lee balance scale, which I only use to insure each load is the same. I ordered a set of scale check wieghts, but the more I think about it the more I think maybe a better scale is the way to go. I also load for my 300 Weatherby and 45 Long colt.

I came across the Ohaus Tripple Beam Scale Balance, which seems to be at a good price, but don't know anything about it. I wanted to spend around 50.00 for a I just being cheap here or will a cheaper scale do what I want, but still give me accurate readings? Alot of them seem to be pretty expensive.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:04 PM   #2
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I've personal experience with cheap $30 digital scales, and won't ever go near one for reloading. Mine was too erratic for such a potentially dangerous hobby. I still use the Ohaus 5-0-5 beam scale. Many other companies have similar scales, some even copies with their own name stuck on it. You can't go wrong with a beam scale once it is tared.
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Old August 4, 2009, 03:49 PM   #3
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I have an old Lyman beam scale that i bought in 1966, it still is as accurate as when I got it. I use it to check my Lyman electronic. IMO, the beams are the best...slow, but sure.
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:16 PM   #4
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I have reloaded for some time now. I can't even start to count the different powders I have used. However I have used four different scales and to date each one has given the same weight when compared against each other. All three have been easy to calibrate and read.

What I found was that a simple $30 scale did the same thing as a $100 scale and a $100 plus digital scale. There was no difference, the Lee cheap $30 scale did as well as a $100 plus Lyman scale.

What it boils down to is what do you like using. It has nothing to do at all with one giving the wrong weight. Now I did have one problem with a scale recently. My true friend the Lyman scale broke, it was my first scale and I had adjusted to it very well. The Lee scale while looking cheap and why not it is a low cost scale replaced it just well.

Ahh you say then why do you have more scales. Well because it looked cheap I didn't trust it so I bought a RCBS. The I thought maybe this scale is wrong so I bought the digital. You can guess what happened - they all read the same weight.

So if you want a good scale I suggest you buy one that you like because they will give you the same reading provided you have zeroed each one properly -etc.
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Old August 4, 2009, 05:54 PM   #5
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I have had two digital scales got got rid of both and just use my Lee beam scale. Both the Digital were just to erratic and couldn't trust them
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Old August 4, 2009, 11:29 PM   #6
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I have used the RCBS 10-10 beam scale for 21 years with great consistency. But I suspect a beam is a beam is a beam. That is, that the 5-0-5 or Lee scale would work just as well. Beam scales are slower but I don't see how they would have much variation.

You should be able to find a good beam scale for $30-$70.
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Old August 5, 2009, 12:04 AM   #7
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I have an old Herter's cast iron scales and a Lyman version of a 5-0-5 (D6?) The Herters is a lot more sensitive and repeatable. The lyman seems overdamped. I bought both on eBay maybe 4 or 5 years ago.
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Old August 5, 2009, 07:18 AM   #8
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I started off reloading back in '93 with the low-cost Lee Beam scale, then progressed to a $100+ digital scale 2 years later, and have since migrated back to a beam scale (1 year ago). I now have a Dillon Eliminator beam scale, and it's accurate, reliable, and doesn't take forever to settle in to a stable reading like the digital scales often do.

For me, the K.I.S.S. principle really applies here.
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Old August 5, 2009, 07:41 AM   #9
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There are a lot of electronic scales around that are postal scale conversions. I don't think they work as well. Most of them have a hard time holding zero when there is the slightest wind.

The two scales i have used that work well are the Dillon D-Terminator and the RCBS 1500. Both work well but the RCBS works better. The large platform of the Dillon causes it to move in the wind. The RCBS is rock steady unless that is a lot of air movement. The Dillon works on batteries for a long time. The RCBS needs to be plugged in. Both are expensive but worth the money to me.
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Old August 5, 2009, 08:38 AM   #10
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Any model beam scale is plenty good for reloading, no one makes bad beams. That's NOT true of digitals.

Target ammo for a .45 ACP is easily able to use properly dropped charges without weighing.
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Old August 5, 2009, 08:47 AM   #11
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IMHO, if you're going to be throwing up to 100 grs. in that Weatherby, you will HAVE to have an accurate scale. The higher the charge, the higher the risk for error. I have the Lee, too, but use a Hornady for heavy charges. If you don't have the money, shop at pawns and yard sales, and maybe you'll get lucky. I simply don't trust cheap digitals, and probably never will.

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Old August 5, 2009, 11:04 AM   #12
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My cheap Hornady magnetic scale is as good as a Dillon Electronic

when I started reloading in 91 I bought a HORNADY beam scale.
paid more or less 25$ (equivalent) for it.

Ten years ago I won a Dillon Terminator in a match, both of them weigh exactly the same.

For ease of use, I weigh the charges with the Dillon and check every 5th charge with the Hornady, and they both show the same weight.

I only do this with rifle ammo, I am very fussy when I reload for my 30-06. handgun ammo I reload on my lee 1000, and I only weigh the charges when I set the press for the caliber that I am about to use (I use a Lee Auto-Disk)

My conclusion, a reasonably cheap scale from a reputable manufacturer is just as good as a very expensive one.


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Old August 5, 2009, 11:37 AM   #13
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Get a set of check weights to verify the scale.
It is probably even more important with a cheap scale.
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Old August 5, 2009, 02:21 PM   #14
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I have and love my Lyman DPS3, I have a beam next to it and throw random cherges on it to verify, and check weights for it and after 5000+ loads has not given one incorrct weight. JMHO.
Has anyone had any trouble with one od these units?
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Old August 5, 2009, 10:30 PM   #15
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I purchased a Myweigh 101. accurate to .1 grn, 30 year warranty and made in usa. works awesome. also does grams, oz., carats and many units. lighted display. about $130 i think i paid last year.
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Old August 5, 2009, 10:40 PM   #16
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I'm old fashioned...I'll stick with a beam scale. An old Lyman Ohaus is my favorite.
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Old August 6, 2009, 02:50 AM   #17
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I've had very good results using the cheap Lee Safety Scale.
Some others don't like it. But, I do.
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Old August 6, 2009, 06:54 AM   #18
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Whatever scale you get

you need to test it to make sure that it is accurate. And, you need to have some way to keep testing it to make sure that it has stayed accurate.

Check weights are the easy way to test accuracy. Or, you can compare it to a laboratory scale if you have access to one at work.

But, you will need some sort of checkweight at home to make sure that the accuracy has not been lost, somehow. You can buy checkweights, or you can make your own if you have access to a laboratory scale. They don't have to be "round" numbers like 10 grains; they just need to be weights that you know accurately, like 7.6 grains. However, they should be weights that can be matched by the scale's increments. A check weight of 7.63 grains gives you a problem because it is too much to balance at the 7.6 grain setting and too little to balance at the 7.7 grain setting. It isn't much of an error, but on some scales you can see it is not exactly lined up. On an electonic scale, it is close enough to 7.6 and 7.7 grains that you might see the scale be extremely sensitive to some things that can cause it to keep shiftig back and forth between the two readings as you watch it.

The ways accuracy is lost differs with the different scale types. For a balance beam scale, the knife edge and the surface it balances on are critical. Ding either of those and the scale is off. Let dust accumulate in the balance surface, and the scale is off. The good news is that, with care in handling and a simple wipe-off with a Q-tip before each loading session, a balance scale will maintain its accuracy forever. However, be careful of air currents, because they can give you surprisingly large errors. If you have ever seen a laboratory-grade balance scale, you will remember that it has a glass case around it to shield it from air currents.

Electronic scales are more complicated, and I can't begin to even imagine all of the things that can go wrong with one. When I first start mine, zero drifts for a while - - they need to warm-up before they are checked for calibration. Even when warmed-up, they tend to not be sensitive to changes in weight on the order of a few tenths of a grain when that weight is added with a powder trickler. I need to keep taking the pan off the scale and putting it back to get the change in weight to register. That is somewhat like what I see happening if I get dust on the balance surface of a beam scale, but I don't think dust is the cause on the electronic scale. Also, I can get the electronic scale to give me weight variations of about 0.3 or 0.4 grains just by where I put the pan down. That effect seems repeatable, so I just need to be sure that I center the pan each time to get the same weight reading. Then there are the issues that I don't know about. These things are electronic, and my experience with other things elecronic is that they degrade over time. My old radios are not as clear as they once were. The temperture controls on my washing machine don't accurately contol temperature any more. My "sensor" toaster can't get the toast evenly brown any more. Hopefully, a scale built for relaoding has some better electronics than those other appliances, but I can't get away from the concern that it too will sooner or later have electronic problems that will affect its accuracy. So, I allways check it with check weights before AND AFTER I use it to make sure that it has not shifted during use. If it is a long session of use, I will check it a few times during the use. If it has drifted, I have to redo ALL of the weights for that session since the last time it was verified to have not drifted.

However, even with its potential for problems, I like my electronic scale for tasks like weighing a batch of bullets. But, I really don't like it for trickling-up charges. So, one of each is the answer for me. My balance beam is an RCBS 5-0-5, and I have never had any trouble with it. My electronic scale is a Cabelas model that is discontinued, so it won't do any good to give you the specs, but it was not on the expensive end.

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Old August 6, 2009, 09:05 PM   #19
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If you can find one, the VERY BEST I HAVE EVER SEEN
A friend gave me an OHAUS DIAL A GRAIN-a model 1110 or some such. Once its zeroed is set you can drop a charge on it and then just dial the beam to zero to read your load. I saw a few on E-bay last week going for under $50
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Old August 6, 2009, 09:15 PM   #20
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Do some of you still use slide rules fearing that modern calculators are not accurate enough?
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Old August 6, 2009, 09:18 PM   #21
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My old RCBS 5-10 by Ohaus still works perfectly - and it's never needed batteries
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Old August 6, 2009, 09:45 PM   #22
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Are you having a bad day or something? Why the jab at folks who use balance beams?

I can use a slide rule, but typically use a computer or calculator. And, I have had plenty of calculators that failed, typically by getting bad contacts so that they registered keystrokes incorrectly or parts of the readout characters failed so that I could not read answers unambiguously. But, a couple of times, they actually started doing calculations irratically and gave wrong answers.

So, I am sure that a digital scale can have unsafe errors, even if it is just irratic drift. Relying on one without checking it fairly frequently would be foolish.

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Old August 7, 2009, 07:12 AM   #23
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I would guess they all work well but I bought a used Pacific/Hornady M scale for 14 bux(ebay) and bought some check weights (45 bux) be sure.

Calibration was dead on, and the scale is very easy and quick to use.
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Old August 8, 2009, 09:09 AM   #24
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Between the three scales that I've owned (all three at one time) the real challenge on accuracy has been on very light loads...around 2 grains for S&W32 longs. Comparing the 510 with a Hornady M scale and an old 1960s Redding "hydraulic dampened" scale, the 510 and Redding aces out the Hornaday for most the repeatable weights. The Redding is so sensitive it is more difficult to use (gotta have still air around it) but it beats both for consistant dead nuts accuracy. I still have the Redding and 510. The Redding is my first choice based on comparing 1000s of charges between the three of them.

You can buy a mint Redding everyday for $25 and a Hornady for $40. For $50 you can find a mint RCBS 510 on ebay. It has identical workings as their 1010 but only weighs 510 grns. The 1010 is considered at the top of the food chain for beam scales but cost about 2x more. If you don't need the extra capacity of the 1010, a 510 will give the same performance.
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Old August 8, 2009, 11:26 AM   #25
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Get a set of check weights to verify the scale.
It is probably even more important with a cheap scale
+1, or in this thread +2.
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