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Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

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  • Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

    Sartorius GD503 Evaluation

    Bottom Line Up Front
    The Sartorius GD503 is a superb scale and has delivered what I am looking for: increased reloading speed and increased precision. My old setup allowed me to measure to +.05 grains at a rate of one charge every 27 seconds on average. The new setup allows me to measure to +-.01 grains(fraction of a kernel) at a rate of one charge every 15 seconds. I already had $1000 invested in my old setup. So, moving to the new Sartorius GD503 was a no-brainer. On the other hand, the $300 Sartorius AY123 is an excellent choice and I would not hesitate to go that route if I were on a tighter budget.

    Introduction
    Sartorius recently introduced a new scale that may be of interest to reloaders. An excellent review of this product can be found at accurateshooter.com: http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2011...-0005-of-grain/
    So, rather than re-hash info found in this article, I want to evaluate the new scale using criteria important to me as an F-class shooter and as the primary reloading “mule” for a family of 4+ shooters. Here are my priorities:
    1. Speed: We shoot just about every weekend and loading 300 rounds per week can get a bit tedious. Anything that makes the process faster is of interest. Time is money and I’m willing to pay up if the time savings are there.
    2. Precision: I already have(had :-)) a great setup that measures consistently to +-.05 grains. It would be nice to see a significant improvement over that level of precision with no increase in reloading time.
    3. Reliability: I’d like a piece of equipment that is reliable and long-lasting. For $900, I want a scale that will last many years if I take good care of it.
    Comparing the Old and the New

    Old Setup

    My old setup is shown in the picture above and consisted of two RCBS Chargemasters and one Acculab VIC-123. The Chargemasters would pre-weigh the charge at the exact target weight I was shooting for. Then I would perform a final weigh on the VIC-123 with whatever small adjustments were needed: either trickling a few kernels in or taking a few out with my fingers. Using this method, I could achieve accuracy of +-.05 grains at an average speed of 27 seconds per weigh. It was possible to get a little more precise, but it would take much longer to weigh each charge…..too long.

    PROS of Old Setup:
    1. Accurate: +-.05 grains
    2. Fast: 27 seconds per weigh
    3. Repeatable: Using a check-weight at various times over many months, I have consistently demonstrated the Acculab is an accurate, repeatable scale.

    CONS of Old Setup:
    1. Three devices: I need two chargemasters to keep me from twiddling my thumbs. This takes more space.
    2. Noisy: Some people might think the whir of the Chargemasters is music to their ears: not me. 
    3. Drift on the Acculab VIC-123: To use this scale properly, you must re-zero the scale regularly: often every time you weigh a new charge. This is not as big a deal as it sounds but the process could be faster if this step were not required.
    4. Acculab sensitive to environmental variables: To get the most out of this setup, you must warm up the scales for at least 30 minutes, eliminate all drafts by turning off the heat/AC, and eliminate electrical surges by turning off things like the AC.

    OVERALL Assessment of Old Setup:
    It works well once you understand the nuances of the Acculab scale. The new Sartorius GD503 will need to make a big impression for me to change my system.

    New Setup

    New Setup: Equipment:

    1. Sartorius GD503 purchased from balances.com (great folks, they pre-programmed it by emailing me and setting it to grains per my request).
    2. Omega Power Trickler: You can trickle single kernels with ease.
    3. Lee Perfect Powder Measure: You can spend a lot more money on a measure but you won’t get one that is better. I owned a $250 Harrell’s Premium Power Measure, but prefer the $20 Lee.

    PROS of New Setup:
    1. Much Faster: 15 seconds per throw/weigh vs 27 seconds for the old setup. Starting with sized/primed cases, I am loading 140 cartridges in 35 minutes.
    2. More Precise: I am now measuring to +-a single kernel of powder. The GD503 can measure to a small fraction of a single kernel in weight and it does this very quickly. The VIC-123 can only measure to the nearest whole kernel or two.
    3. No Drift: There is essentially no drift if you let the GD503 warm up for at least 30 minutes. This means you can perform and extended weighing session without the need to re-zero the scale.
    4. No Added Cost: Compared to my old setup, the GD503/Omega Trickler is no more expensive.
    5. Quiet: No more noisy RCBS Chargemasters. I know…this is a nit-picky comment.
    6. Less Space: 3 scales have been replaced with one scale and a trickler.

    CONS of the New Setup:
    1. Reliability? $900 is a big investment for a single piece of electronics and I hope this scale proves to be reliable for many years: time will tell.

    Video Demonstration:

    Here is a short YouTube video I created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byikX...layer_embedded


  • #2
    Re: Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

    Great review. After a lot of research, I picked one of these up a few months ago (from the same vendor). Worth every penny.

    I determined that this balance was worthy of a good home so I made a poor mans vibration isolation table and plugged it into a voltage modulator.

    The primary reason I bought the GD503 was to check the accuracy of my Harrell powder dispenser. Balance beam scales are only really useful when targeting a pre-set weight and even then, questionable if you don’t have a check weight for the specific weight you are targeting. So an electronic balance was needed to answer my question. The GD503 is the least expensive electronic balance that is worth using for reloading (my opinion).

    There is a lot of talk about the accuracy and precision of Harrell powder measures. I have never weighed/trickled every charge for .223 and hoping not to start. My objective was to determine if I should change my practices. Although I have not completed my study, with proper technique and RL15, the Harrell (with me as the operator) is capable of +/- 0.2 gr of a 24 gr throw. That is good enough for me. With poor technique, it throws +/- 0.6 gr…. I think the issue most people have with the Harrell is that they throw one charge, place the pan on a scale, trickle, pour into case, then throw another charge. Doing this, I got very inconsistent throws.

    The key to the Harrell is to get into a rhythm and operate the handle the same every time at the same time. I now throw powder into 100 cases and only measure the first, last, and somewhere in the middle. Takes about 5 min to charge and verify 100 cases.

    Mostly out of curiosity I find myself weighing everything now…. primers, cases, bullets, etc.

    I plan to put a small shelf on the wall next to the balance so I can separate the Omega trickler from the balance. I am glad I got the extra long cord.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

      So after reading your review the 900 dollar cost has saved you space on your bench and a few seconds between loads. Has it improved your groups...I seriously doubt it....powder loads IMO are a small factor in the process, the OCW Test proves this over and over again. I'm curious what your results are.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

        I guarantee it has improved his ES/SD, which beyond 300 yards means smaller groups. I keep seeing the Omega Trickler with this scale, why don't you have a hole drilled in to the side piece of glass?
        I AM A VETERAN, My Oath Of Enlistment Has No Expiration Date!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

          I worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years as a research scientist and have used many very expensive (many multiples of $900) analytical balance, most of them were made by Sartorius. They make good stuff.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

            I watched the video, looks like a bunch of fiddle f#**##* around. I don't have the luxury of a second person seating my bullets, so the speed is a non issue.
            And having a powder dispenser mounted on the front of my work station is a no go also.
            But I am interested in that scale! I could make a similar system work for me if it did prove to be worth it. I'd like to hear from some of the benchrest dudes on this scale, or system. They seem to know how to make accurate ammo. It does look somewhat more accurate than the RCBS.
            For speed on my chargemaster, I just use two powder pans, though you have to zero the pan each time. But I'm rarely in that much of a hurry.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

              I have a pretty similar setup... after using a Chargemaster 1500 + an AccuLab VIC123 for a couple years (and being frustrated to the point of about throwing the damn thing across the basement more than a few times), I bought a GD503 about a year and a half ago, and never looked back.

              There was still that time delay between how long it took me to trickle up the charge on the GD503 and how long it took the Chargemaster to dispense the next charge. A tray of 50 rds took me, on average, about 65 minutes. In order to try and save some time, I'd multi-task a little... prime the first 5-10 cases, then start charging them. I'd still finish up priming the remainder well before I even got half done with the charges, and would then start seating them as well. Still, it took bloody forever.

              I finally decided to try using the powder measure, accepting that I may have to set it a little lower than the 0.1gn under I normally set the chargemaster in order to prevent over-throws. I figured that while I may spend more time trickling up, I'd probably still make up time over how long the Chargemaster spends churning out the 'average' charge, much less the ones it sits there hunting for. Boy, was I in for a surprise.

              Average time for a tray of 50 cases went from 65 minutes, to just a fuzz under 30 minutes. Throw in a little extra time for priming and seating, and I'm probably still under 40 minutes.

              I ended up (for now) with almost the exact same setup as the OP - a Lee PPM thrower, Omega trickler, and Sartorious GD-503. I still like my Harrell's Custom 90 measure, simply because I feel the increments are more repeatable than the plastic threads and 'lock-nut' on the PPM. But on stick powders, the PPM is damn hard to beat at any price.
              All right, breaks over. Back on your heads!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Sartorius GD503 Scale Review

                Here is an update. I've loaded over a thousand rounds now. Starting with sized & primed cases, I'm able to load 140 cartridges in 35 minutes. That's about one case every 15 seconds vs one every 27 seconds with the acculab/vic combo. This system is lightning fast and as accurate as you are going to get.

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