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Old 07-30-2018, 12:58 AM
Pondoro Pondoro is offline
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Default Digital Scales / Powder Dispensers

Thought I might buy one. Looked at the reviews. Lots of good reviews but every model also has some scary reviews as well. Scary as in "dispenses inaccurate powder charges." This has me wondering if my simple digital scale is accurate! I've never owned a beam type scale, I've always been digital. I keep it calibrated. I haven't blown myself up yet. What are your opinions? Digital scales and combination scales/dispensers. Do you trust them?
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Old 07-30-2018, 03:27 AM
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I had a cheap digital scale at one time and there was absolutely no way to trust it. While I'm sure that a more expensive electronic scale is likely to be better, I can't see how it would ever compete with a quality beam scale. A beam scale simply replies on gravity, I love mine and wouldn't give it up.

As for an electronic powder dispenser, I can see why the idea sounds or seems so grand... but I have had just the absolute finest possible service for years and years with my Lyman 55, I can't see what an electronic dispenser could possibly offer me other than questions as to whether or not it's always working properly. And for a lot of money too.

For me it's a Lyman 55 and a Dillon Eliminator (which is just a simple beam scale made by Ohaus and branded for Dillon.)
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:33 AM
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I have a ten year old, “lab grade” digital scale and a RCBS 10-10 beam scale. The digital came with a large clear plastic case to minimize air currents disturbances. I also have a set of check weights. The beam scale checks spot on to the weights, the digital varies .001-.002grains above 200 grains. I use the digital for quick weight checks but the beam is the Master scale. What it weights out goes into the loading log book.

I’ve thought about the electronic powder dispensers but see no real benefit vs cost of the unit. Like you, I’ve read too many negative reports on the reliability of these units to win me over to getting one. I’ll stick with my current method of powder loading for rifles.
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Old 07-30-2018, 07:06 AM
Forrest r Forrest r is offline
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I bought a rcbs charge master over a decade ago. If anything ever happened to it I would absolutely get another one. It's accurate enough and is the cat's meow when using stick rifle powder or working up test loads using the ladder test method.

I also have had 5-10 & 5-5 rcbs scales. The charge master has always been +/- 1/10th grain when weighed/checked on the beam scales.

It's nothing to put together 100+ test loads using different powders/bullet combo's for the pistols/revolvers (1/2gr increments) in a single reloading session. I cast & swage my own bullets so it seems like I'm always testing something. It's just easier to grab the rcbs charge master then it it to adjust the powder throw to test 1 load, re-adjust up 1/2gr, re-adjust up another 1/2gr, re-adjust up another 1/2gr, re-adjust up another 1/2gr, re-adjust up another 1/2gr, re-adjust up another 1/2gr, re-adjust up another 1/2gr, re-adjust up another 1/2gr, etc.

Actually the re-adjust up another 1/2gr isn't so bad. It's the fine tuning until I get there. And then weighing each test load that gets time consuming. Considering with the rcbs charge master all's I have to do is hit a couple of buttons and it weighs every powder throw it does.

Anyway I never had a use for a digital scale, like the beam scales. But a powder dispenser has a place on my reloading bench.
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Old 07-30-2018, 08:09 AM
Marshal Kane Marshal Kane is offline
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I use a digital scale and have been doing so for the past decade. I like it because of the quick readings. It's especially handy for weighing cases, bullets, and powder charges which I do often to load competition ammunition. As a backup or just to confirm readings, I still use my balanced beam scale. My digital comes with check weights which I use whenever I set up for reloading. I haven't invested in an electronic powder dispenser yet. As previously posted, they're still a bit expensive so I'm holding off. My manual dispenser has been with me for almost 40 years and still works fine.

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Old 07-30-2018, 09:05 AM
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+1 to what Forrest said. I have been using. Oahu’s beam scales and a Lyman drum dispenser since 75. January of this year I bought an RCBS dispenser/scale. I load hundreds of rifle rounds every week, ranging from 223 up to 50 BMG.
I am always trying new loads, and I shoot every week out to 1000 yards with the aforementioned range of calibers. I am on a weekly quest for sub minute groups at long ranges, and powder charge accuracy is critical.
The charge master is a huge benefit to me. Saves me me a LOT of time. I still use my beam scale to spot check the RCBS. I load a lot of stick powder in large capacity rifle cases like the 338 and 300 WM.
The RCBS dispenses these very accurately, which was my primary concern.
I was a bit behind the curve buying one, but I will never again be without one.
It is raining here this morning, and I have a bunch of prepped and primed cases waiting for me next to the big green machine. Headed that way shortly.
Highly recommend the RCBS chargemaster1500.

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Old 07-30-2018, 09:21 AM
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I have been using a Lyman Gen6 compact powder dispenser for a couple of years and have been pleased with it. Digital read out is simple to read and the touch screen makes it easy to operate. Accuracy of loads is generally within a tenth. Regardless, I run frequent checks on a Lyman balance scale for assurance. My only complaint would be that the keypad is a bit small for my fat fingers. I do recommend the Gen6 because it has many good features, is accurate, and will save you time at the bench.
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Old 07-30-2018, 09:22 AM
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I also have had an RCBS Chargemaster for about 10 years. Fantastic device, very accurate and consistent. I'll never go back to a beam scale.
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Old 07-30-2018, 09:58 AM
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My experience (luck?) with all things electronic convinces me to stick with my RCBS 505 beam. It takes all of two seconds for the beam to stabilize. Just how fast does it need to be?

I also use an old Herter's powder dropper that is a mite slow to dial in but is consistent a heck once the desired drop is set.
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:11 AM
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I have several good measures, and have owned a couple of others. I have one Ohaus scale. Since I can see how these mechanical devices work, and can easily avoid overcharging or undercharging, I would not even consider an electronic device that I would have to take on faith. It would offer me nothing positive, and some risk.

For me, case permanently closed.
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:22 AM
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Thumbs up RCBS 505

Quote:
Originally Posted by SMSgt View Post
My experience (luck?) with all things electronic convinces me to stick with my RCBS 505 beam. It takes all of two seconds for the beam to stabilize. Just how fast does it need to be? ...
Bingo! I love my RCBS 505 beam as well! I found it much better than the Lee one that comes with the "Lee Classical Turret" kit. So much so, that I refused to even try to use that Lee beam.

One thing I like to do is to actually tape the scale to the table after zeroing the beam. IMO, this helps to eliminate any errant powder flakes from interfering with how the scale sets and operates. Anal, but it works for me...
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:42 AM
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I use a beam scale because;
1.) learned reloading with one , Redding #1
2.) simple and reliable.
3.) no batteries to run out
4.) can finish reloading even when the electricity goes out.
5.) lights, ac units and motors coming on don't affect a beam.
6.) I'm an old fashioned sort and don't care for electronic stuff because it doesn't like me and I can't program anything.
After 50 years with a beam...I haven't blown myself up either.
Skin that cat whichever way suits you...they all good.
RCBS 5-0-5....I wish I had gotten it years ago but the Redding #1 just kept on working,
5-0-5 magnetic damping has that Redding oil reservoir beat Seven Ways to Sunday !
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Old 07-30-2018, 10:44 AM
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I have an RCBS Chargemaster and an RCBS 10-10 scale. I’ve been working up ladder loads for 6 separate guns - four .44 Magnums, one .41 Magnum and a .270 rifle - in .2 grain increments. 23.2, 23.4, 26.6, for instance - from min to max.

I then shoot two 6-shot groups of each one to narrow it down to the two best, then shoot three 6-shot groups to see which one I prefer. Then I load those going forward, a 1100fps or so LSWC plinker and a 1300-1400fps JHP hunting round for each revolver.

The rifle will be getting a 90% max or so load and it will only get one combination, which I will shoot from then on. The variations then will be with different powder types, like 4227, 4064, 4351, etc. with the same process. I typically do 3-shot groups with the rifle.

I am so particular that I dispense each one with the Chargemaster, about 2/10s of a grain short, then trickle charge every single one.

Once I get the loads sorted out, I’ll probably go back to a powder throw and weighing every 10th one because it worked out very well in the past, and is faster than weighing each one on the Chargemaster.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:23 AM
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As a (now retired) instrument specialist for USAF, I designed and managed the procurement of several weather sensor systems that are still in use at hundreds of airfields around the world.


The good quality powder scales are functionally similar to the electronic air pressure sensors we bought for providing the altimeter setting at airfields, except that the air pressure sensors are much more precise and are routinely calibrated with precision weights to one part in 3000. If the pressure is 29.92, the last digit will be accurate.


Most of the problems encountered with high-quality solid-state powder scales are caused by operator mishandling and failure to control the environment where the powder measurements are made. A little care and understanding can prevent all these problems. I bought and still use one of the first RCBS electronic scales (made by PACT), complete with a set of calibration weights.


First issue with any scale of any type is there must be NO WIND. The laboratory triple-beam mechanical balances that can accurately weigh your signature are enclosed in a glass case to prevent any air motion. The cheap beam scales bearings are too coarse to show slight wind, but the RCBS electronic is sensitive enough. So just the AC coming on can screw the readings, or a fan in the room.


The solid-state weight sensor measures both PRESSURE and TEMPERATURE, so the temperature must be kept constant. In the airfield air pressure unit, we used a small oven to hold the sensor temperature constant, assuring we were measuring changes in pressure only. A powder scale needs to be plugged in and allowed to warm up, and sit in a room with constant temperature. I went to one IDPA match where they were trying to use a digital scale outdoors on a cool windy day to measure gun weights, and the scale readings were erratic and useless until I had them move indoors.


So if you understand how good quality electronic scales work and use your head in controlling the environment and routinely checking with a good weight set, they are as sensitive and accurate as comparably priced beam scales. And faster.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loc n load View Post
+1 to what Forrest said. I have been using. Oahu’s beam scales and a Lyman drum dispenser since 75. January of this year I bought an RCBS dispenser/scale. I load hundreds of rifle rounds every week, ranging from 223 up to 50 BMG.
I am always trying new loads, and I shoot every week out to 1000 yards with the aforementioned range of calibers. I am on a weekly quest for sub minute groups at long ranges, and powder charge accuracy is critical.
The charge master is a huge benefit to me. Saves me me a LOT of time. I still use my beam scale to spot check the RCBS. I load a lot of stick powder in large capacity rifle cases like the 338 and 300 WM.
The RCBS dispenses these very accurately, which was my primary concern.
I was a bit behind the curve buying one, but I will never again be without one.
It is raining here this morning, and I have a bunch of prepped and primed cases waiting for me next to the big green machine. Headed that way shortly.
Highly recommend the RCBS chargemaster1500.
I agree with everything in the above post. I've had my ChargeMaster for about 8 years now. Previously used Lyman and RCBS powder measures with my 10-10 Ohaus
beam scale. I still use the Ohaus to spot check the ChargeMaster. But usually its spot on. When its not its within+/- 0.1 gram. I wouldn't be without one should mine fail.
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Old 07-30-2018, 12:02 PM
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I used a beam scale for 30+ year but decided to get a digital about two years ago I first bought a GEN6 Compact Lyman at Cabela's it threw exactly 60 rounds before the dispenser tube froze up, I return it and got the RCBS 1500 chargemaster and haven't had a problem with it. The one thing I like about the unit is It's not nearly as tedious when I'm working up a test load, not sitting there with a trickler and beam scale.
Saves me a lot of time.
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Old 07-30-2018, 12:38 PM
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I had two of the Lyman powder dispensers that dropped into a beam scale pan and had an automatic stop. Both bellied up after 10 years or so. Now it's a RCBS Chargemaster for the last three years and checking against a beam scale occasionally it has been spot on. So easy to use and makes loading for friends much faster.
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:27 PM
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OKFC05 writes well, and expresses, IMO, valid concepts. Furthermore, beam scales and other analog devices are also subject to the environment. I assume that most or all bench-rest shooters, who tend to load on-site, are well aware of this. Of course most of them use powder measures to throw charges, and scales only to set or check measures, and even there, there may be a question as to which is to be believed. Can you spell hygroscopic?

When some kind of powder measure is one's main production tool, the speed of measurement by a beam balance may not be a significant consideration. In a breeze-free basement, the original Prometheus (a beam balance with almost the speed of a powder measure) may be the last word.
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Old 07-30-2018, 01:36 PM
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I have had a Lyman DPS for about 12 years. I love it though it has changed how I reload. I used to deprime, prime and turn cases upside down then charge and seat. I now use a turret press, deprime and prime, charge and seat. It takes a few seconds to get the charge settled in so using a turret gets the charge ready by the time the case is ready to be filled. Being an old reloader I check every tenth charge on a balance beam scale. I don't remember when I had one off as much as a tenth grain but I still check. Without going to a progressive it has been the one thing that has sped up my reloading while still feeling like I am controlling all aspects. my turret still sets next to a Rockchucker for when I just want some test loads with various powders and don't want to mess with clean up.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:16 PM
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This is my set up for pistols. I always weigh an object that is close in weight to my charge. I use it to check my scale . I use a Chargemaster for rifles.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:20 PM
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By the way with the micro adjustment on the Harrell’s, I keep a record of the setting for my loads. Very repeatable.
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Old 07-30-2018, 02:45 PM
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Started with a RCBS 5-10 30 plus years ago. Bought a Pact Precision electronic in 1994 when Pact introduced the first electronic powder scale for reloading. My RCBS beam scale has been in a drawer since just as a backup. Have watched the introduction of powder dispensers but never upgraded until recently and I purchased the RCBS Chargemaster Lite. Great machine. Since I weigh every charge it speeds up the process a lot. I watched it a lot when I first bought it comparing the weights on other scales. It has not disappointed in any way. Highly recommend the Chargemaster Lite. The beam scale still in the drawer.
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Old 07-30-2018, 11:38 PM
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I have a Chargemaster 1500...2 actually. They both work vey well. I only use them for rifle loading. Chck them with scale weights. Never a problem. For handgun loading I set my Lyman 55s with the RCBS 304 or the Ohaus version of the scale. I check powder charges for rifles with the 304 just to make my mind settle down. I quite often load max loads in rifle but seldom do in handgun. When I load max loads of 296/H110 for mag handguns I also use the Chargemaster. Hey it works. I have also had a bunch of cheaper digital scales and to be honest...most have been pretty poor. The only ones that seem to really work well are the two Dillon electronics...one is at least 10 or more years old
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Old 07-31-2018, 02:04 AM
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Default I'm cheap....

I got by for years with a Lee Beam Scale and Lee Scoops. I got a 30 some odd dollar Harbor Freight digital scale with an included calibration weight. What you have to watch out for is when the batteries get low, the weighing slows down and I replace them. This scale has lasted several years, if it broke I would buy a new one.

I know that a lot of 'cheap' scales aren't worth having, but this one has done well by me. I wouldn't mind having a high class unit, but my income level dictates that I be a cheapskate.
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:21 PM
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I use an RCBS Competition Powder Measure for most everything. I use an RCBS beam scale to calibrate the weight of the charge to be thrown.

An electronic scale provides nothing of value. At great expense.
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Old 07-31-2018, 09:45 PM
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I use a Hornady GS-1500 battery operated scale. Seems to weigh very consistently, but I am pretty consistent about zero-ing it out pretty much every time I weigh a charge with it. I use it to dial in my powder throw with my Lee Auto Drum, then weigh every 10th charge. Seems to work very well.
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Old 08-02-2018, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
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I use a Hornady GS-1500 battery operated scale. Seems to weigh very consistently, but I am pretty consistent about zero-ing it out pretty much every time I weigh a charge with it. I use it to dial in my powder throw with my Lee Auto Drum, then weigh every 10th charge. Seems to work very well.
Use one of these also. Like it. My RCBS Beam Scale became 'sticky' and would hang up and give false readings. I check my Hornady scale with a bullet of known weight and re-balance occasionally. The weight of my powder tray is 153.3gr so when I take it off and pour into a case I get a -153.3gr reading - if that is off then I put the tray back on and reset the tare weight to 0.
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Old 08-02-2018, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by center_shot View Post
Use one of these also. Like it. My RCBS Beam Scale became 'sticky' and would hang up and give false readings. I check my Hornady scale with a bullet of known weight and re-balance occasionally. The weight of my powder tray is 153.3gr so when I take it off and pour into a case I get a -153.3gr reading - if that is off then I put the tray back on and reset the tare weight to 0.
Pretty close to my process - only my pan weighs 129.1gr.
Most of the time when I am reloading by the time I crank out 10 rounds and am ready to do my next powder check, the unit has automatically turned itself off. So when I turn it back on I re-zero it again.
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Old 08-06-2018, 01:15 AM
El Biblioitecario's Avatar
El Biblioitecario El Biblioitecario is offline
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I use an Ohaus beam scale because after 45 years of use (including Thomas the Cat knocking it on the floor) it still weighs accurately using the check weight. I am in a win-win situation, in that if I outlast the scale I can try a digital model, and if the scale outlasts me I can again play with Thomas the Cat.
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