Manual Scales

May 13, 2017
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#1
I have a small electronic scale I use for weighing brass but when it comes to weighing powder I use a manual beam scale.
I don't load large quantities of ammo so I don't need the high volume electronic powder thrower measures that is now popular.
Anyone else using beam scales and which ones do you use?
 
Apr 17, 2017
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#3
I still have the same beam scale that I started out with over 30 years ago. It's a "Texas" brand, which I don't think even exists anymore in the reloading world. But it works and it's accurate and it continues to serve me well. I keep thinking about getting something different, but then I wonder why. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!
 

Skookum

Entropy Personified
May 6, 2017
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#4
I still do the majority of my loading on a vintage Ohaus 5-0-5. I have a Scientech SA310 analytical balance that will weigh 0.0001 grams (0.0015 grains, a single kernel of Varget weighs 0.02 grains).

I have done tests to verify the accuracy and repeatability of my Ohaus 5-0-5 and found that over a 20 charge data set, my ES was 0.09 grains and my SD was 0.03 grains. That is good enough for what I do in all but a few occasions.
 
May 18, 2009
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#5
I use a ChargeMaster but I still have the old Herters scale that Grandpa bought back in the late 60's. Its oil dampened but I run it dry. I'm pretty sure Redding made it. I've also had an RCBS 1010 and foolishly let it get away. Another great scale is an RCBS 304. It takes up a lot of space on the bench but its easy to use. And expensive!
 
May 13, 2017
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#6
Thanks for the replies. I was over on Accurate shooter forum and they were discussing ways to improve their scales and one thing they were doing was sharpening the knife on the scale beam . My 1970s vintage RCBS 10-10 has never been touched in any way since it was new from the factory so I decided to clean it and take a closer look at what they were doing and after careful inspection I soon figured if it isn't broke don't try to fix it. The knife edges are sharp enough to shave my finger nails after all of the years usage it has gone through and I don't plan on making any changes to them or the scale.
 
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Rocketvapor

Sergeant of the Hide
Dec 10, 2018
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#7
I've found 'Sameness' and Sensitivity being about as important as absolute Accuracy.
The long term Sameness is what most like about beam scales. As long as they are in good repair they will last a 100 years :)
Dirty knife edges or whatever is used for the poise will affect Sensitivity. Loss of Sensitivity makes all charges look the same.
Approaching the target weight from above and below by adding or removing a very small amount of the target is a good test of sensitivity.

With any precision device, temperature (even temperature compensated laboratory balances) can effect measurement Accuracy.
Allowing the device to stabilize to a constant temperature can help over one reloading session. If it's the SAME temperature as last time all the better.

Electronic scales have gotten a bad rap. Having a digital scale that barely has the resolution for weighing powder allows a count (or two) of auto zero, a count or two of linearity, even when CALIBRATED, and a count or two of electronic noise at the target weight. Most vendors will supply you with a Calibration weight that usually isn't anywhere near your target powder charge. What cartridge takes a 50 gram charge? :) Most scale manufacturers will pick a calibration point that provides the best linearity over the entire range. That weight is needed but it might not suit your application. In addition most are supplied with chrome plated magnetic steel cal weights.
Non-magnetic (or nearly so) cal weights are better. You would be surprised how much some locations are saturated with electric fields.

My suggestions (not only can I spell Metrologist, I was one :) ) are as follows:
Purchase at least 3 good calibration weights (you might already have an acceptable one for full scale calibration).
Get one that is close to your primary charge weight.
Load powder to something around 25 to 30grains, get a 2 gram weight.
Load to 50grains, get a 3 gram weight. Those will check your scale, beam or electronic, close to your target.
Either is better than trusting a 50 gram calibration weight and you can get by with just one.

Now, get a 'Sensitivity' calibration weight,
If you think you are throwing charges to +/- 0.1 grains, prove it with a 0.1 grain sensitivity weight.
(5 milligram would be good for +/- 0.1 grain, 1 milligram for those OCD that weight each charge to 0.02 grains :) ).
There's no need for lab standard weights, just good quality. If protect them they will also last 100 years.

If you calibrate a digital scale at 50 grams and notice that the calibration is not linear at your target weight, fudge the 50gram calibration a little.
You can Zero will a small bit of paper, cal at 50 plus the paper and it will read a little high at 50grams. That should raise the reading at 3 grams if needed. Or, zero then add the 50gram cal weight and a small piece of paper. Now the scale will read low at 50 and lower at 3 grams.
You can't tell if you don't have a target cal weight though.
Use the sensitivity weight to verify the scale can sense a small change. 3grams should be 3 grams (46.3grains) and the 3 grams plus the 1 milligram sensitivity weight should now indicate 3.001grams (46.45grains or the rounded up or down even number).
I know, numbers and math make it harder than necessary :)

A hint with digital scales is to tare with the container you use to toss with but EVERYTIME you remove it look at the weight displayed of that container. It will show as a negative value but if it does not settle to the same value each and every time the scale will need to be tared again and the last charge might be suspect.

Watch out for scales that advertise +/- 0.1 grain accuracy but only indicate even numbers :)
Some electronic scales use Al Gorithms to display some units. Use conversion factors and your cal weights to find the unit that your scale measures best at.
I have one that changes range and goes from 0.001gram to 0.002 grams but still displays to the nearest 0.005 Carats.
A fairly easy conversion.

Crap, that was long.
 

Rocketvapor

Sergeant of the Hide
Dec 10, 2018
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#9
With IMR4350 I set out a few short, medium, and long kernals to add as necessary to reach the target :)
Not necessary with BL(C)-2
 

Rocketvapor

Sergeant of the Hide
Dec 10, 2018
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#13
Beam scales? Now I know why you guys don't sort cases :)
Solar charger for my AA scale batteries. Got my own grid.
 

Rocketvapor

Sergeant of the Hide
Dec 10, 2018
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#15
.3g (capacity or case weight?) is 4.6 grains.
What is the difference (capacity) between a .223 case and a .223AI case?
That I can see.
 

Rocketvapor

Sergeant of the Hide
Dec 10, 2018
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#17
That's what I figured :)
>>> :)

and NO I don't shoot well enough to see a difference of .3 grains in case capacity.
A whole grain, probably. 2 grains, definitely.

But we're getting a little off topic. I have nothing against beam scales. Just have the capability to produce repeatable charges.
A good calibration weight of appropriate value is a nice to have tool.
 
Last edited:
Feb 7, 2013
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The West
#20
If you want the best beam you can get contact Scott Parker...I’ve had one of his tuned beams for about 12-14yrs.

I haven’t not used it in a year or more as I bought a fx120i I was board the other day and checked the SP beam against the fx the beam was within 1 kernel +or- every time over 30 throws.
I still have a Parker tunned beam. I used to put a camera on the indicator and feed it to a laptop so it made it much more comfortable than bending over to look straight at the indicator, it also took out any issues with angles.

Today, you have to love the autothrower with the 419 upgrades, especially the acrylic lid, funnel, cup and load tray; not a single spilled kernel
 

47guy

Private
Jul 15, 2017
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reno,nevada
#21
I still have a Parker tunned beam. I used to put a camera on the indicator and feed it to a laptop so it made it much more comfortable than bending over to look straight at the indicator, it also took out any issues with angles.

Today, you have to love the autothrower with the 419 upgrades, especially the acrylic lid, funnel, cup and load tray; not a single spilled kernel
when i used the SP beam i made a stand for it on my bench that brought it up to just below eye level.

as far as the auto throw i had one and it would not throw any better than a charge master...i ended up selling it...i did not have any of the 419 up grades and ive thought about buying another one and doing the up grades but i do not load large batches like some of you guys do...100 at a time is about it so the cost(for me)is not justified.
i keep thinking about selling the SP beam but keep it because if the FX goes down ive got a solid back up.
 
Feb 7, 2013
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The West
#22
Never sell your Scott tuned scale. I’ve had a Sartorius go bad and dropped a FX120. I’m on my 3rd exspsive balance. I also had a chargmaster that was completely inaccurate. The beam scale comes out any time I think somethings been funny.

Btw the secret for the autothrower is drilling a hole in the wind screen and setting it several grains low, much lower than you might if you were dumping by hand and trickling up.

I also drill a hole for a Dandy electric trickler and trickle up by hand if I need to creat a new set weight or add a single kernel. The yellow trickler is assume for ladder loads because you set the base weight for the auto dump, then quickly trickle the new charge, set then let it auto dump the next 4 or whatever and repeat.

Both the tricklers need to be tunned with the angle. On the 419 you can use the adjustable feet. With the set up it has more than cut my reloading time in 1/2 because I can seat or do other tasks ass it dumps and trickeks.
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Freediver111

Sergeant of the Hide
Feb 28, 2018
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Oregon
#23
I’m not a super high volume reloader, but my beam scales have been collecting dust ever since I got a Chargemaster Lite. For the price and my needs, it’s tough to beat.
 

47guy

Private
Jul 15, 2017
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reno,nevada
#24
Never sell your Scott tuned scale. I’ve had a Sartorius go bad and dropped a FX120. I’m on my 3rd exspsive balance. I also had a chargmaster that was completely inaccurate. The beam scale comes out any time I think somethings been funny.

Btw the secret for the autothrower is drilling a hole in the wind screen and setting it several grains low, much lower than you might if you were dumping by hand and trickling up.

I also drill a hole for a Dandy electric trickler and trickle up by hand if I need to creat a new set weight or add a single kernel. The yellow trickler is assume for ladder loads because you set the base weight for the auto dump, then quickly trickle the new charge, set then let it auto dump the next 4 or whatever and repeat.

Both the tricklers need to be tunned with the angle. On the 419 you can use the adjustable feet. With the set up it has more than cut my reloading time in 1/2 because I can seat or do other tasks ass it dumps and trickeks.
That’s a nice set up...I’d get lost with all that bling lol!

Mine is simple....
 

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Subwrx300

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 15, 2014
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Cedar Springs, MI
#26
I still do the majority of my loading on a vintage Ohaus 5-0-5. I have a Scientech SA310 analytical balance that will weigh 0.0001 grams (0.0015 grains, a single kernel of Varget weighs 0.02 grains).

I have done tests to verify the accuracy and repeatability of my Ohaus 5-0-5 and found that over a 20 charge data set, my ES was 0.09 grains and my SD was 0.03 grains. That is good enough for what I do in all but a few occasions.
Skook, have you ever run an RCBS 1500 against your Scientech?

@Diver160651 same to you; what kind of weight precision/accuracy did you see with your RCBS?
 
Feb 7, 2013
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The West
#27
Skook, have you ever run an RCBS 1500 against your Scientech?

@Diver160651 same to you; what kind of weight precision/accuracy did you see with your RCBS?
The Scott Parker tunes scale from the 50’s is always Kernal accurate unless you bend something. The digital can drift, gempro’s and all the cheap stuff you really gotta watch.

The FX120 is about 3x faster than the beam because as it auto-dumps and auto trickles up I can seat and prep
 

Subwrx300

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 15, 2014
863
453
63
Cedar Springs, MI
#28
The Scott Parker tunes scale from the 50’s is always Kernal accurate unless you bend something. The digital can drift, gempro’s and all the cheap stuff you really gotta watch.

The FX120 is about 3x faster than the beam because as it auto-dumps and auto trickles up I can seat and prep
I'm not so much thinking about speed but a pure accuracy check. I've considered getting a nice balance to use (much like @skook) as check.

Alternatively, an FX120 with the 419 auto-trickler is on my short list.

Gonna send you a PM about separate 1500 topic.
 

Rocketvapor

Sergeant of the Hide
Dec 10, 2018
139
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#30
How about a Round Robin :
:oops:
I've got a chunk of metal that happens to be pretty darn close to a round number of grains.
Might be a little over or a little under.
Something in the neighborhood of 29 or 30 or 31 grains :)
I mail this chunk of metal to a member. It's flat and light so should go into an envelope with one forever stamp.
The material isn't as durable as stainless steel but if handled gently should make it around several locations.
They weight it record results then send it on to another member, and so on. When we get a satisfactory number of tests, or run out of participants, we regroup and analyze results.

Addresses would only be exchanged via PM between someone in possession and the next recipient.
Weighing methods, how to safely handle the weight, and reporting can be worked out.
Any takers?
 

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Subwrx300

Sergeant of the Hide
Jan 15, 2014
863
453
63
Cedar Springs, MI
#31
How about a Round Robin :
:oops:
I've got a chunk of metal that happens to be pretty darn close to a round number of grains.
Might be a little over or a little under.
Something in the neighborhood of 29 or 30 or 31 grains :)
I mail this chunk of metal to a member. It's flat and light so should go into an envelope with one forever stamp.
The material isn't as durable as stainless steel but if handled gently should make it around several locations.
They weight it record results then send it on to another member, and so on. When we get a satisfactory number of tests, or run out of participants, we regroup and analyze results.

Addresses would only be exchanged via PM between someone in possession and the next recipient.
Weighing methods, how to safely handle the weight, and reporting can be worked out.
Any takers?
Actually a pretty cool idea. Maybe measure 10 times per user and aggregate by scale model/type. Interesting experiment to say the least!
 
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Rocketvapor

Sergeant of the Hide
Dec 10, 2018
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#32
Thanks. There are accepted test procedures for a Round Robin. The primary purpose is to benefit the individual participant.
A traceable standard would be best. Sending a $100 2 gram weight around would cost just a little more.
A little bit of your time and a postage stamp.
If this gets enough interest maybe a separate thread?
 
Last edited:
Feb 7, 2013
2,725
997
113
The West
#33
How about a Round Robin :
:oops:
I've got a chunk of metal that happens to be pretty darn close to a round number of grains.
Might be a little over or a little under.
Something in the neighborhood of 29 or 30 or 31 grains :)
I mail this chunk of metal to a member. It's flat and light so should go into an envelope with one forever stamp.
The material isn't as durable as stainless steel but if handled gently should make it around several locations.
They weight it record results then send it on to another member, and so on. When we get a satisfactory number of tests, or run out of participants, we regroup and analyze results.

Addresses would only be exchanged via PM between someone in possession and the next recipient.
Weighing methods, how to safely handle the weight, and reporting can be worked out.
Any takers?

Isn't that what certified calibrated weights are all about?

My Sartorius lab balance was 0.00001g but it was from work and about a 5K scale; our FX120s are around .001g or .02gr. All of them can drift.. Using calibration weights properly, a solid bench, RF reduced area and low air currents help..

All this and neck tension my be some power of X, more important than the ability to load to 1 kernel.. We have to be careful we chase the real devil. 1 kernel isn't it.

my 2 cents
 
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MarinePMI

Battery Operated Grunt
Jun 3, 2010
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San Diego, Ca
#38
The dumbest thing I ever did was let an Ohaus "Dial-o-grain" scale slip by me. Those things are rarer than hen's teeth, and the cat's meow for a manual scale. I have abuddy with one, and everytime I use it I shake my head at not snagging the one I saw in a small Texas gun shop 10 years ago (and it was $350 back then!).

For now, an old RCBS 505 suits my needs when I want to double check the CM or FX-120.
 

Skookum

Entropy Personified
May 6, 2017
1,294
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Your mom's
#39
The
The dumbest thing I ever did was let an Ohaus "Dial-o-grain" scale slip by me. Those things are rarer than hen's teeth, and the cat's meow for a manual scale. I have abuddy with one, and everytime I use it I shake my head at not snagging the one I saw in a small Texas gun shop 10 years ago (and it was $350 back then!).

For now, an old RCBS 505 suits my needs when I want to double check the CM or FX-120.
Dial-o-gram scales are still available. It's the same scale, but as you said the Ohaus made RCBS Dial-o-Grain scales are kind of rare. I saw one pop up on Ebay a month or so ago and it went for $250
 
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MarinePMI

Battery Operated Grunt
Jun 3, 2010
3,197
1,713
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San Diego, Ca
#40
Yeah, I just hate having to do the conversion from grams to grains. Wish they still offered it in grains. It's be interesting if @Mile High Shooting or Eurooptics could make a big enough order to make it worth Ohaus' effort to re-introduce them or do a limited run.

It'd make an interesting offering that was half way in between the FX-120 setup and the cheesy ass Chargemaster that always over throws.