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Old October 29, 2011, 04:52 PM   #1
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Whats scale/ calipers did you buy? Why? Are you happy with them?

I have a hornady ap lnl press, i ordered hornady nitride .45acp 3 die set, as well as a crimper die. I have 500 bullets. Now im trying to figure out which scale and calipers to buy. Ive been reading a lot of reviews on midway and other sites about the hornady scales as well as there calipers, and they have the same cons, not consistent! Im not stuck on hornady, I have read reviews about other companies as well, and it seems that all affordable scales are Im looking to spend $30 on calipers and $50 on a scale..... Am i being to cheap? What is a reasonable price for a GOOD scale/calipers? I havent reloaded yet but i know I will be shooting a lot of .45acp once i get my silencerco osprey (im putting it on my auto ordanance thompson M1 tommy gun)

I would love to here some of your reviews if you own a scale (electronic/ manual), calipers(digital/ other). Which one did you get and why. How well do they work? I am not trying to spend an arm and a leg for this stuff, but i dont want to end up buying junk. I guess i will be using the scale to measure not just powder charges, but completed rounds for consitency. And the calipers are just to measure the completed bullet and empty brass. Any recomendations would be appreciated! Thanks
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Old October 29, 2011, 05:23 PM   #2
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In 1975-1976 I started loading and bought with my gear an RCBS 10-10 scale. (I didn't know any better, it just happened to be available.)

Now, having seen other scales, this Ohaus-made RCBS 10-10 scale is, in my opinion, the best I have ever seen. The micrometer readout is so much easier on the eyes than the 5-0-5. And a whole universe better than the vernier on the Lee scale (though the accuracy of all these is about equal, their convenience runs the full range of my experience). The 10-10 capacity goes up to 1000 grains. Most others do not. That might make a difference to you, for your stated uses.

My friend has used electronic scales, but gave me one of his to sell because it took 45 minutes to set up and settle down. He now has a Chargemaster from RCBS that he likes much better, especially since it dispenses powder for him. I prefer mechanical over electronic every time. Just a prejudice of mine, fed by his experience with his earlier electric.

I do have an inexpensive electronic scale that performs adequately, but the finest measure is provides is only 0.2 grains.

My prejudice for mechanicals spills over onto calipers.

I hope my thoughts help.

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Old October 29, 2011, 05:28 PM   #3
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I own four scales and one caliper. I don't have a micrometer, but I want one.

My caliber is a low-buck Frankford Arsenal dial-type, non-digital. Works phenomenally well and has for the last 5 or so years. I think I paid $29.95 for it. I'm sure it's cheap, but it is definitely a quality item that hasn't ever failed me and never gets out of sync or gives me trouble.

My go-to scale is a Dillon Eliminator beam scale. Snagged it used from a guy in my local forum. (he regrets selling it now) Like most bean scale, it's made by Ohaus and rebranded with the pretty blue Dillon color. Scale has been terrific for me.

It replaced my last scale, the uber-cheap Frankford Arsenal mini-digital scale. These scales go for $20-$30 and it sounds like if you buy a dozen of them, 6 will be good, six may be lousy. Mine was fairly good, but I would have to re-calibrate more often then I wanted and the scale seemed to have "good" and "bad" days and getting a proper read was simply too important to me to leave it up to this scale. I'll still use it on occasion for weighing and comparing empty brass, or some items that need to be weighed quickly and not really where accuracy is critical. I can't say mine was awful, but I have a hard time recommending it now.

That scale replaced my Lee Safety scale, a beam scale. This scale is made from cheap materials and at it's price point, NOBODY can ever convince me that they can't afford a scale. (it goes for around $20 new) It's not very easy to read or to use, but it's VERY accurate. So it's definitely not the best choice, but if it's all about the budget, it may indeed be the best choice for the money.

I recently picked up a Lyman 1000 beam scale that's probably even better than my Dillon, and I grabbed it because it was super cheap at a gun show. Sold as used, appears to never have been out of the box. I've never used it, but I expect that it's a terrific scale.

I'm not an old guy (like so many of the grand old gents we have in this forum! ) but in my experience at the bench, a good solid beam scale beats the pants off any digital scale and the "fun" that comes with them when they don't feel like working completely right all the time.
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Old October 29, 2011, 05:48 PM   #4
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well i guess im gonna go with the hornady calipers, none digital. Its a little more than the franklin arsenal. If it doesnt work rite i hear i can just send it in to hornady for new ones. Im still not sure about the scale. The RCBS 1010 is like $151.00, and in some reviews they say they cant get the micrometer to zero. Even though those reviews say that i think it might be the best for my needs, but $151.00 ouch! I heard the same about the lyman 1000. Thank you guys for your input. Much appreciated!

I am also leaning more towards a beam scale than a digital.
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Old October 29, 2011, 06:01 PM   #5
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I have a Browne & Sharp dial-caliper(manual 6"), An older LEE balance scale & a REDDING balance scale w/LYMAN weight set, and a full set of LUFTKIN micrometers(if I ever need them). I agree with a couple other gentlemen on this forum, I prefer manual to digital any day(no batteries to die or replace). Good places to get the manual stuff is,, and of course ebay. Also "Starrett" has a full line of calipers and quality measuring equipment.
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Old October 29, 2011, 06:26 PM   #6
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ive used expensive (brown & sharp, mitutoyo, starret) to cheapie calipers as long as they all are and can be calibrated. they seem to all work the same and are just as accurate compared to each other. i prefer the dial calipers vs. digital. i have a couple fowler brands and a cheap one from autozone. fowler is a pretty good price and quality.
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Old October 29, 2011, 06:34 PM   #7
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My calipers are some Frankfort Arsenal dial type that my younger brother gave me, he got them from our dad, who bought them new around 15 years ago. They work well, and I couldn't beat the price.

My scale is the Hornady beam scale. Works well, is accurate, and didn't break the bank to buy it.
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Old October 29, 2011, 06:35 PM   #8
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Lyman Beam 500 scales used for years with no problems, past 2 years an RCBs750 digital use it mostly with Lyman as back up and double check. Couple sets of Harbor freight digital calibers that have worked perfect for years, just remember to turn off after your finished reloading and have spare batteries
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Old October 29, 2011, 06:51 PM   #9
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I have a RCBS 505, so far I'm very pleased with it. I also have a digital electronic caliper that came from Harbor Freight.

RCBS 505, see:

caliper see, for $20.00:
It cost $20.00 and it works fine.

Or for $12.99:

RCBS is really good stuff, and the customer support is great.
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Old October 29, 2011, 07:05 PM   #10
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I started with a RCBS Partner electronic scale. It worked fine for a few years. I let it warm up, calibrated it with the provided weights, and it didn't drift much.

Until it did. Apparently the load cells that are at the heart of the thing are mounted in epoxy (sometimes) and this can age and then they go wrong.

I got a RCBS 10-10. Wonderful scale. As the scale is zeroed with a leveling foot, after setting the micrometer poise to zero, I can't imagine one that would not zero. Unless someone didn't follow the instructions...

I really like how the 10-10 knocks down and stores in its own case, protecting the knife edges and agates.

If you get a quality beam scale and take care of it, it will outlive both you and your children.

I got Fowler dial calipers for around $50. You can spend a lot more on a Starrett, but the Fowler seems to be made well. A search showed a place selling them for almost half price ($28).

Depending on how clean you can keep your reloading bench, you may want to look for a pattern without an exposed gear rack. Once you get dirt in those fine gears, the calipers are toast.

...but completed rounds for consitency
Well, this is going to be a problem. In theory, if you have absolute uniformity in components, you should be able to weigh completed rounds and check for missing or double charges. Unfortunately, you have maybe +/- 2 or 3 gr variation in case weight and the same or worse variation in bullet weight. The result is something like +/- 8 gr variation in completed round weight, with no variation in powder weight. Can you distinguish powder variation when buried by the "noise" of case and bullet variation? No.

Good luck.
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Old October 29, 2011, 07:23 PM   #11
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dmazar your rite. Thanks. I didnt think of the difference in brass, or primer effecting the weight of a completed round. Shows how new i am to this. Im really leaning towards the rcbs 1010. ($151.00 worth of ouch) but i hope i get what i paid for. I still have to build my reloading bench, so i still got a long ways to go. Gives me some time to save for that 1010. Long as i dont run into any good bargains on another

Again thank youll for the input
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Old October 29, 2011, 07:34 PM   #12
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RCBS 505, it seems to work well, though it is hard on my eyes. I bought a Hornady GS-1500 electronic, thinking it would be easier to read. But, it isnt consistent .I can weight out , say 5.0 gr, dump it, dump the charge back in, and it may say 5.2, do it again, 4.9.......not sure whats up with that

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Old October 29, 2011, 08:52 PM   #13
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Hello Indi. When I started loading using a press..(used Lee-Loaders prior), I purchased a used Redding scale. Then after a few years, I purchase an RCBS 505. These served me well, & I saw the RCBS 10-10 and had to have one..this is a very fine scale, and used it for years. As I am a cast bullet shooter, the chore of weighing countless bullets on a ballance beam scale became too much, and after checking over all the available electronic scales, settled on Denver Instrument..and have never looked back. I have had this scale in constant use for over 20 years.
The calipers/micrometers were easy...I am a Tool & Die maker, I bought the same brand I have been using for well over 35 years now..Starrett.
I have the carbide faced, .0001" satin chrome, lock & friction thimble, 0-1"
For work, I sprang for the stainless steel 0-1"..might be worthwhile if you plan on carrying it in your range box.
The caliper is the Starrett 120 series 0-6".
While these measuring tools are will only have to buy them once..and your grand kids will still be using them.
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Old October 29, 2011, 09:01 PM   #14
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for work and for home use when I need something measured I go to Starret. You may pay a bit more but it is nice knowing youll only ever buy one and ikely give it to your children.

I like my redding scale but I only have experience with that one so i may be biased.
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Old October 29, 2011, 09:04 PM   #15
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I vote with Ideal Tool. I have a RCBS 1010 that I used for 25 years and I have a PACT digital that a son-in-law gave me. In the last year I've parked the 1010 scale and have gone with the digital scale. My calipers (Lyman stainless, I think) and my micrometer (Starrett) are dial type. Regarding digital scale warmup time, yes that irritates me a bit, but 10 minutes or so isn't that long to wait. If I could just remember to plug it in first thing when I start setting up the reload gear, it'd be warmed up by the time I actually needed it. I just can't seem to remember to do that.
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Old October 29, 2011, 10:23 PM   #16
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I guess i will be using the scale to measure not just powder charges, but completed rounds for consitencyFor pistol
That won't work. Bullet and case weights can vary more than many powder charges.

I prefer the digital 6" caliper that can be zero'd at any position. This is a handy feature for comparing sizes/changes.

Virtually all digital calipers are made elsewhere and most in China.

The $20 Harbor Freight caliper often is on sale for $10-$12. It rounds to the nearest .0005" . I've checked the two I have against a good mechanical caliper and they are within .001" or less. They will not last as long as a high quality Starret or others. They are cheaper to relace many times for the price of the Starret

Last edited by 1SOW; October 29, 2011 at 10:28 PM.
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Old October 29, 2011, 10:43 PM   #17
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If you can afford it buy a set of Starrett dial calipers and you'll never regret it. I use the RCBS Charge Master and very pleased with it.
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Old October 29, 2011, 10:55 PM   #18
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I have to add that I only use the RCBS 10-10 scale to set up and check powder measure "throws"...if I had to weigh hundreds of bullets I'd probably save up for a quality digital scale.

My understanding is that "quality", "digital" and "inexpensive" are hard to achieve all at the same time. You can get an inexpensive digital scale, and you can get a quality digital scale.
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Old October 29, 2011, 11:24 PM   #19
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My scale is an RCBS 5-0-5 purchased in 1980. I've never seen the need for anything else, and I'm someone who used to use high end digital scales in a chemistry lab all the time. Digital doesn't give you any real advantages for reloading that I can see, unless it's paired up with an electronic powder dispenser. I have a Lee scale that came with my turret press but it's still in the box and will likely stay there unless I manage to break the RCBS somehow.

My caliper was an old-school vernier type, not dial or digital. I need bifocals to read it these days, so I broke down and bought a Frankfort Arsenal digital last year. So far it seems to be OK, but for a measurement that is really important I'll probably break out the magnifier and verify with the proven mechanical one just in case.
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Old October 30, 2011, 12:05 AM   #20
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RCBS 5-0-5.
Cabela's digital scale (unknown model number - not recommended - only used for weight sorting of bullets and cases, and spot-checking charges on the progressive press).
Hornady dial calipers (I wouldn't have paid for them by choice, but had to order something, to use some company credit... but they are good quality).
Chinese digital calipers (same as the Harbor Freight calipers - they're crap, but close enough for most reloading jobs).
Chinese micrometer (crap, but accurate).

Buy quality once, or buy cheap forever. (I'm still working on that, too...)
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Old October 30, 2011, 01:06 AM   #21
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I have a Dillon Eliminator scale ($55) and a pair of Cabela digital calipers ($14 on sale).
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Old October 30, 2011, 07:58 AM   #22
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Dillon beam scale is as good as any, better than most, lower priced than RCBS.
This set of calipers will work just fine
Both will keep you well within your budget.
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Old October 30, 2011, 08:09 AM   #23
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but completed rounds for consitency
Will not happen!!! There is a weight variance between bullet to bullet and from case to case. One case may read 10.5 grains and the next 10.8 grains the same goes for bullets, when you put them together the combination of the two will give you as much as a half to one grain variance. Unless you weigh each case and bullet and sort them, you will never see the same weight on a finished case to case. (I have tried that and in my opinion it is a waste of time.) You can weigh a completed case to see if you left out the powder charge since the variance will be much greater.

When it comes to scales, there are many outside factors that effect their accuracy. Drafts in the room, is the shelf it rests on level, has it been zeroed properly, does your heating or cooling system have a vent near the scale, are there open windows near the scale, do you have a overhead fan on. On electronic scales the problems get worse, do you have a filtered power supply, does your line voltage change during the day because of your utility company, did mama turn on the electric drier while you were reloading, do you have 10 appliances on a 20 amp line, do you have overhead fluorescent lights, is there base metals (steel) like tools next to the scale.

We are measuring very small amounts of weight (powder) and each one of these has an effect on your scale, not to mention that a scale in Denver (6,000 feet above sea level will not measure the same as mine at 325 feet above sea level in Chicago. (different barimetric preasures, do you have a storm rolling through.)

That is why quite a few reloaders will stick with balance beam scales. Me I use both and check them often. (get a set of check weights)

Good luck

Am i being to cheap?
Yes, spend the money on a good scale!!!
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Last edited by Jim243; October 30, 2011 at 08:30 AM.
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Old October 30, 2011, 08:36 AM   #24
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I use a 30 auto parts caliper,digital and a
a tiny digital scale .......10000+ rounds never an issue

No need to go overkill as so many reloaders do
This is not rocket science IMO,its pretty easy simple stuff
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Old October 30, 2011, 08:57 AM   #25
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You knew you were going to get flamed on that post.

I agree in keeping it simple, but that tiny digital scale is subject to battery drain and will change values depending on the life of the batteries. Been there done that. Not worth the powder to blow it to hell. My safety is worth more than $24.95.

And by the way, this is rocket science.

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