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Better digital scale for reloading pistol

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by CarlMc, Apr 1, 2012.

  1. CarlMc

    CarlMc Safely north of Seattle Active Member

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    I have a Hornady GS-1500 scale that has a scale resolution of .1grains. Accuracy is less than that, =/- 0.2grain. That's a potential error span of .4 grains. I'm loading Titegroup in 38 Special, which is my entry into reloading. The specified load for my combination is from 3.2 to 3.8 grains. Clearly since the span from min to max is 0.6 grains, and the accuracy is +/-0.2 grains, I don't have enough room to work comfortably. In order to get more accuracy and resolution, I need a lower capacity scale, with my pan being about 100 grains right away.

    What digital scales out there aren't unnecessarily expensive, have a second digit (I used to be an industrial scale technician a long time ago, and always want one more digit than the stated number) and have a range suitable for reloading pistol loads? I didn't see this problem coming, although I should have. It took me awhile to find a scale that was affordable and did what I wanted, but screwed this one up.
     
  2. sneakboxer

    sneakboxer NW OR Active Member

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    I have the same scale and don't like it for powder. Its ok for cases and bullets but i always fall back on mechanical. I don't have the funds for a good electronic scale yet. I use check weights and a Lee scale to check my RCBS powder measure. The measure is within about a 1/10 with ball powder. Pistol powder makes me nervous so i don't push the limits, for that matter i don't go within .3 of max unless i weigh every charge. With scales i think "you get what you pay for" holds true thus, i'm still rocking the teeter-totter. Check weights made me sleep better too.
    Best of luck,
     
  3. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I gave up on digital and went back to my RCBS 5-0-5 scale I weigh every load pistol or rifle. I'm real OCD when it comes to reloading.
     
  4. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    For Electronic Scales that are not overly sensitive for reloading I've used the RCBS scale that's integrated into my Chargemaster for a couple of years now. I use check weights to test right after calibration, periodically during load sessions, and at the end to verify that it's still accurate. Works flawlessly.

    Recently bought a Dillon "D-Terminator" scale for stand alone work. It too has proven to be flawless in it's operation and the check weights show it to be dead on.

    There are lots of super-sensitive scales one can buy for a wide range of prices. Some are so sensitive that if someone "breaks wind" in the same room the readings will not settle down for 5 minutes:laugh: For the most part I find my scales accurate enough that they can discern the differences in charges that vary by no more than 3-4 GRANULES of powder.

    As for Beam Scales, they're fine. They've worked well for years. As for being more accurate than electronic? Maybe so, maybe no. Consider that there can be enough friction in the bearing to keep the scale from responding to very small variations in weight.

    Both do the job and I don't see the benefit of checking one against the other. Use check weights otherwise you may end up chasing your tail until your head disappears up your ---
     
  5. taylor

    taylor Willamette Valley Well-Known Member

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    Please look into a Gempro 250 for around the same as a RCBS its the best quality I found after looking all over at different studies and reviews. It measures in thousandths .000 not .00 internals made in Germany assembled in China.
    Go to Youtube and theres a comparison of RCBS and Gempro 250 by a reloader. They run about $160 and you will like it.
     
  6. WillaminaOR

    WillaminaOR Near Willamina, OR Member

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    First I bought a Lyman for about $120. It wouldn't stay consistent. Measure a given item one day and it'd give me another weight the next day. So I returned it and I bought this one American-Weigh-Gemini-20-Portable-Milligram from a different supplier. Accurate +- .02gn. Sometimes the weight floats a bit, 6.00gn drifts up to 6.02 or 6.04, I just have to remember that'd still be 6.0 (No more, No less) on a less accurate scale. Still working on the first set of batteries too.

    Bryan
     
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  7. CarlMc

    CarlMc Safely north of Seattle Active Member

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    That's the ticket!
    Until my temporary cheapness is overcome, I'm going to whip up a dipper and use my Lee balance to confirm that I'm close enough.
    Thanks!
     
  8. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    That appears to be more "chronic cheapness" rather than "temporary" ;) :)
     
  9. Mikej

    Mikej Portland Gold Supporter Gold Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Is that for real, or do my eyes decieve me? Less than 25 smackers for a scale that measures to the 2 100ths?

    I'm using the 5-0-5 RCBS and feel comfortable with that, trust my eyes and feel better than an electronic device. Also, I find that Titegroup just doesn't meter as well as say W231 for some reason. I would submit that your thrower is not metering Titegroup as well as it would another powder Also using a powder that require more for a certain caliber is not going to be as critical if your off by .2.

    I thought in the begining I NEEDED an electronic scale, but have prefered the relationship I have with my "Teeter Totter?".

    Mike
     
  10. WillaminaOR

    WillaminaOR Near Willamina, OR Member

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    Yeah, for real.

    I had access to an RCBS beam scale at my neighbors, I think they work fine. A 5-0-5 is most of $100 though so I figured if I was spending that much I'd spend a bit more and have the digital convenience. So wrong, maybe I got a bum scale? Like I said, took it back and started looking at beam scales again but then happened on a few people taking about scales like the one I bought second. Went ahead and took the plunge. I think mine cost me $21 or so delivered from deal extreme but I had to wait for it to come from China. The little pan on it is to small for powder but I just set a regular powder pan on top of it and go, or the cap from the powder bottle. If someone wanted to see it with their own eyes and try it out you're welcome to ask to stop by or I'd bring it over if I'm going to be in the neighborhood.

    Bryan
     
  11. Taurus 617 CCW

    Taurus 617 CCW Northern Idaho Member

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    I bought an inexpensive Frankford Arsenal pocket scale as a test run in the digital world. I ended up liking it so much that I made it my primary scale. It is very accurate and it can discern between a few granules of powder. My hunting rifle loads are within a few powder granules each. The scale only ran me $35. My only beef with it is that it doesn't take conventional batteries, only a watch battery size, and there is no AC power plug in feature.
     
  12. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    It's also unfortunate that a set of basic test weights (which one should have regardless of the type of scale) cost as much or more than the FA Scale.
     
  13. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    I've never used a digital and I do fine with my old Hornady. Reloading for 27 + years now, rifle, pistol, shotgun

    I get sub MOA with a good bolt gun or AR15 and hand weighed charges
     
  14. CarlMc

    CarlMc Safely north of Seattle Active Member

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    So I did a bit more study on weight vs. volume, and decided to make a dipper our of a 22magnum case. Kept trimming it down to bring the weight down and eventually I realized it was the same length as a 22LR case! Perfect fit for 3.8gr of Titegroup, however, so I loaded 200 rounds with it. Worked like a champ.

    Titegroup changes volume pretty dramatically with slight movement, so by using a dipper it was a lot easier to use consistent motion to get the right volume. Once I filled the dipper, any movement afterwards to knock the powder off of the dipper handle packed the powder down, but once measured, I didn't care. So that makes me think the problem really wasn't my scales as much as it is that Titegroup packs so easily it's difficult to get consistent volumes and thus weights.
     
  15. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    Not just titegroup. Many powders do this so it's always a good idea to use a baffle in the powder measure. Some powder dispenser manufacturers idea of a baffle is a narrow plastic rod across the reservoir just above the big funnel portion. One made of metal that forms a tent above this funnel area with two round cut-outs on opposite sides does a great job. Make one to fit your dispenser out of some roof flashing aluminum with one of the templates posted under "Uncle Nicks Powder baffle templates". It's a PDF that you dan download.

    With a powder like Titegroup I would do like he suggests and use two baffles with the cutouts indexed at 90 degrees of each other.

    All of my powder dispensers have these baffles and the powder is kept from packing down. The powder "column" is no higher than the distance from the baffle to the metering cavity so the charges stay more consistent.
     
  16. CarlMc

    CarlMc Safely north of Seattle Active Member

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    I was pleased to find that the Lee reloading kit I purchased included a fairly well regarded measure, the Perfect Powder Measure, and had forgotten all about the baffles, which I had also looked into previously. I'm not set up at my final location yet (2x6 screwed to a Husky X-Horse worbench in the family room...) and I know that I'm likely a big part of the variability, but I was doing some testing and finding that the thrower would throw consistent charges for a few, according to my digital scale and, then start to migrate. Could be alleviated by the baffle, but there's so many other variables (I work in R&D, so experiments and variables and all that are part of my way of thinking) so I thought I'd ask rather than reforge old paths. I also know that digital scales, as they "warm up," shift a little. My little scale turns off if unused after a minute or so, and its accuracy also changes. Grains are one of the smallest weight increments there is, and this unit is at the very end of most scale's accuracy limits. I also used to be an industrial scale tech in a previous life, and am intimately familar with behaviors like this.

    Part of the "valve" in the measure is a small hole that's supposed to act like a baffle, limiting flow, but limiting flow is all a component of the slump angle of the powder, and that varies with humidity and static, which right now in the Seattle area is high (well, is it ever low?)

    It's painfully obvious that I am the biggest reason for variability. I'll be getting better at this, and in doing my learning via the interwebs, its difficult to get a good grip on what the right advice is. I'm an occasionally over-analytical new handloader. I'd be frustrated with me...
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2012
  17. noylj

    noylj high desert Active Member

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    Not only can the bearing surface be dirty or grimmed up, but just the magnetic dampening takes away more sensitivity than most people think. Then, there is any weight change over time of the poises and wear to the beam. Believe me, +/- 0.1 grain is not inaccurate.
    I can't say you are wrong, but as far as I know, the 1500 has the same +/- 0.1gn accuracy as all other reloading scales. The only scales I know of that are actually +/- 0.2gn are the cheap (leass than $40) digitals.
    Who told you it was only accurate to +/- 0.2gn? I think they are just trying to push their 13th century beam balance on you.
    You can easily check the scale's sensitivity by dribbling a few kernels of powder in the pan.
    If you REALLY think you need more balance, you will need to spend at least $500 and more like $1000. Look for +/- 0.0001gram analytical balances for your needed accuracy.
    I have a safety tip that I have followed for decades:
    If the range from starting load to max load is less than 1 grain, that is not an appropriate or "safe" powder to use. If instead, it is less than 0.5gn, I just shake my head and hope no one hurts themselves.
    Clays and TiteGroup are not powders to make any errors with...
     
  18. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    This can be a problem if one merely turns on the scale and starts weighing powder charges. It's definitely a problem when the "battery saver" mode is constantly turning of the unit. I have two digital scales I now use regularly. One is integrated into my Chargemaster and I never turn it off. When I start a session I calibrate and then periodically hit the "zero" button just to make sure any "drift" is eliminated. On my "battery saver equipped" model, I just hit the zero button before each measurement. Only takes a fraction of a second and it accomplishes two tasks. It first compensates for any drift from zero and it also resets the battery saver clock so it isn't shutting off in the middle of the fine adjustments to the load.

    For those who like to pick the "fly poop" from the pepper, or have to have "down to the granule" loads because they're shooting at targets darn near to the horizon, there are far better scales than what are sold for common "Reloading". For those shooting 100-300 yards, there are other factors besides the +/- .1 gr. accuracy of a scale.

    FWIW, a shooter named Rick Graham recently walked away from a NW 3-Gun match with top spot in all three categories almost setting a world record in the process). He uses an RCBS Chargemaster to dispense his loads and takes them just the way the machine drops them. No checking on a second "lab grade" scale or anything.
     
  19. CarlMc

    CarlMc Safely north of Seattle Active Member

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    The GS-1500 has a stated resolution of 0.1gn, which is not the same as the accuracy or repeatability. The accuracy is stated to be +/-0.2gn. It can display all the digits it wants, but if the error band is 0.4gn wide and the charge range given is only 0.6gn wide, you can see the problem with confidence. I'm not going to explain instrumentation accuracy/resolution/repeatability, but if I'm shooting for 3.8gn of powder, according to the accuracy stated for the scale, I could be loading anywhere from 3.6 to 4.0gn and the scale is still within specs.

    I just need to get a set of check weights to get this mental wrangling over with...
     
  20. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    BINGO!