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Thread: powder scale accuracy

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub
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    powder scale accuracy

    If I'm reloading varmint loads or something for long range I weight every charge and I've noticed my scale has a habit of bouncing between +/- 0.1gr for a given weight. For example I can drop a charge and it will weight 24.5gr and if I take the same charge off the scale and put it back on it will read 24.4gr. This makes sense since the scale (FA DS-750) is only accurate to .1gr, so if the charge is somewhere between it will oscillate.

    Obviously the FA scale is on the low end price wise (and presumable quality wise) but I don't see any scales that have accuracy greater than .1gr

    What are you getting by paying $50+ more for a Lyman, Hornady or RCBS scale? Are they more sensitive while still keeping the same accuracy?
    I never leave the range with less brass than I brought.

    Reloading for 9MM, 300BO, 30-06, 223, 6.5 Creedmoor...

  2. #2
    I have one of those littler buggers with my archery gear....and to be honest I wouldn't begin to trust it for reloading. Mine wanders all over the place.

    To answer a little more directly, I reload with a Lyman 1200...and it can and does oscillate between 10ths when a charge is very close to the next 10th.

    My expectation with the FA scale is about 4/10s.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Always use a digital by one touch weighing.
    Pick up the pan with the charge in it and set it back down.
    Never use a reading from a trickling process.

    I never use a digital for weighing powder because of the possibility of the possibility of slip stick operation.
    I have a Dillion Determinator and a RCBS Rangemaster (Pact).
    I also have 7 beam scales....
    I prefer to use a RCBS 505 or a Webster scale 3 poise.
    Last edited by EDG; 04-10-2018 at 01:50 PM.
    EDG

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

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    The lyman and more expensive scales still read to .1 grn but their resolution and lag time are much different. There are scales that read finer out there The gem pro 250 reads to .02 grns and can be trickled into with practice . Its around $100.00 at least when I bought mine. I have seen digatals that read to .002 grains but they are expensive and touchy.

    One nice accessory for any scales is a set of check weights, with these you have several options. You can check the scales thru the weight range and know what its doing for sure. If the weights read off any amount its the scales, calibration level or set up. Another thing is with the right combination of the weights you can check the scales setting right at the powder charge weight to check setting and the scales . They are like the standards for mikes over 1"

  5. #5
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    Before any session that involves using my PACT Professional Scale, I go through the calibration process. Then when I've got the powder measure(s) throwing the amount I want, I throw 10 powder drops and weigh again on the scale. This will tell me the standard deviation of the powder drops.

    With fine powders that measure easily, I try to hit the 10 throw amount right on the head. For example, if I'm throwing 9.9 grains of powder for my load, then 10 throws at that setting should read 99.0 grains, etc. If there's any deviation from that reading, I'll adjust the powder measure accordingly.

    I also keep a set of check weights next to my scale, and regularly check them against what the scale is reading. Another thing I did was weigh the powder pan several times to make sure the weight was correct after calibration, and then I wrote that weight on the bottom of the scale pan with a fine Sharpie. By undoing the zero function with the pan removed, I can weigh the pan again and make sure the reading is what I've written on the bottom. This is a simple check that can be done without re-calibrating the scale. Then I replace the pan on the scale and zero it again.

    Hope this helps.

    Fred
    After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. - William S. Burroughs.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by EDG View Post
    Never use a reading from a trickling process.
    That not terribly feasible from a measure that trickles to the reading.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I do trickle into my gem pro and it does work it takes a little practice to get the technique right as once the scale zeros or tares out it takes a little weight change to make it start again. I start a little lighter than I do with the beam scales. With a good trickiler and the right technique I can see the readout move around .04-.06 grain, but this takes practice and a good trickiler> I made my trickler and instead of the threaded tube. I used a piece of brass tubing and pressed a compression spring into it. This made more of an auger type surface by the end of the tube individual granuals are dropping from it. It has 2 drive knobs one 1/4" dia for faster speed and one 1" dia for more finesse.

    The electronic powder drop scales combinations are in a different class from the scales in this respect, They start the charge out from zero never stopping along the way to have to restart. They run up the high speed until close then to zero with the slow speed never allowing the scales to tare out and have to restart. My old rcbs system with the powder measure and separate scales linked by a port was slow but very accurate. It could be sped up by dropping a charge in it 4-5 grains light ( this amount allowed it to start high speed and switch to low speed as needed) then hitting the start button. On a separate scales trickler the scales tares out then you trickle up and it has to register the change before it starts reweighing. Sometimes a few granuales of powder starts the scales again and you can trickle it up.

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub
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    Quote Originally Posted by EDG View Post
    I never use a digital for weighing powder because of the possibility of the possibility of slip stick operation.
    Can you explain what you mean by this?

    Also, I guess I could have been clearer, I wasn't talking about trickling a charge but dropping a charge into a powder pan and then putting that on the scale. In any case I get your point on that account.
    I never leave the range with less brass than I brought.

    Reloading for 9MM, 300BO, 30-06, 223, 6.5 Creedmoor...

  9. #9
    Boolit Bub
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    Thanks for the tips guys. I do have a single calibration weight, but not incremental weights, and I do check zero and reference weight often.

    Is there a particular upgrade you would recommend for a budget conscious reloader?
    I never leave the range with less brass than I brought.

    Reloading for 9MM, 300BO, 30-06, 223, 6.5 Creedmoor...

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    While the digitals work and are getting better. Having one of the beam scales on the bench is handy. A used rcbs 505,510, 0r 502 isn't all that expensive. The older reddings oil dampened are good accurate scales and also sell pretty reasonable ( I just bought one at a gun show woth original box and paper work for $10.00) The lyman, hornady and other versions of the beam mechanical scales used are very reasonable. The lus is set it up on a level surface zero and ts ready to go.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    That is a big hint about digital of scales.
    Just because you like to use them and they give you a big number that is easy to read does not mean they are always trustworthy.
    Pick up the charge and then set it back down and see if you get the same reading.

    Quote Originally Posted by Boogedy_Man View Post
    That not terribly feasible from a measure that trickles to the reading.
    EDG

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Some scales tend to stick then slip then stick especially when lighter loads are used. I had that happen with an early electronic scale. It would also drift a lot. After I let it sit as new for 8 years I returned it for a newer model that had both problems corrected.

    Quote Originally Posted by easilydistrac... View Post
    Can you explain what you mean by this?

    Also, I guess I could have been clearer, I wasn't talking about trickling a charge but dropping a charge into a powder pan and then putting that on the scale. In any case I get your point on that account.
    EDG

  13. #13
    You don't need to spend a fortune. I'd just get a decent beam scale from a reputable manufacturer of your choice.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    My opinion only:

    In the grand scheme of things, + or - 0.1 of a grain of powder means nothing when shooting varmints.
    However, if you are in a national benchrest match where the top four competitors are within 0.001" of first place you might wish you had a more accurate scale and did a better job of case preparations.
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  15. #15
    Benchrest competitors drop their charges from measures--admittedly very precise and expensive measures.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    I have the same scale as the OP & I have used it for about 6-8 months for "non specific" weighing like for bulk batch loads before, but I have gone back to using my 30+ year old RCBS beam 5-0-5 scale most of the time now. Particularly for ladder test of tenth grain increments. I have got the procedure I use for weighing in the cycle of loading using the 5-0-5 down to a rhythm now, so that it is now repetitive muscle memory.

    { I just can't get to trusting my RCBS or Lee powder measures to throw consistent powder with certain powders I use. I just don't trust them. Some powders I trust, others I do not...Could be a "mind thing". I dunno. So I do a lot of weighing. NO over powder issues though & great accuracy. Teeny bit more time, but a Good thing not a bad one anyway.}

    Like others mentioned, I'd get a good beam scale & use the FA elct.scale for when you travel & re-load then, if ya do, or stick to just weighing boolits/bullets and maybe for bulk batch weighing of the same weight if ya like. ( occasional checking of powder throws)... Or do what ya like... LOL

    Just a suggestion!

    G'Luck! with whatever ya decide to do!
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  17. #17
    Boolit Man
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    After eight years I toke my Lyman electric scale from its box again.
    I was in a slight hurry, so I decided to use it, to make ammo for a match.
    During the match I remember why I put that darn thing into its box.
    Next week, it will become a nice 120$ target practice.

    From now on, its only my rcbs 5-0-5.

    Now we are on the subject: Any good recommendations for a GOOD (and possible quick)electric weighing scale?

    Thanks in advance

  18. #18
    Boolit Master

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    One thing I have went to for my scales and auto measures is a Leveling plate. This is a simple steel, aluminum, brass, or wood plate the scales fits on easily with a little room to spare and 3 screws one center on ne end and one in each corner of the other end. These screws allow the plate to be leveled to 0 at the start then the scale only needs to be zeroed and isn't making up for of level or in a bind from front to back level being off. For most measuring scales a 8" square works well. For mechanical scales it varies if you trickle then make it large enough to hold the trickler also. If metal is used 1/4" thick is plenty heavy, with wood I use a hard maple or walnut sand smooth and finish then a good oil finish. The 3 point feet makes a very solid surface that levels esily even on uneven surfaces. Another plus can be a ground wire to lessen static electricitys effect on the scales.
    One plus to the old oil dampend scales was the sensitivity ( not the resolution or calibration) could be changed with the weight of oil used. Mot recomended 30 wt non detergent oil. 5 weight made it more sensitive to minor changes water even more so. but with the lighter fluids it takes longer for the beam to settle.
    The digitals seem to need a solid stable surface to read accurately, vibration and electric frequencies seem to affect them also. SOme of the digitals come with a anti vibration mat for under them, this can make a big difference also.
    I have seen set ups for measuring where the bench and scales stand were separate. so the work on the bench and its vibrations bumping is separated from the scales.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Gunslinger1911's Avatar
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    Granted, I don't shoot long range rifle for varmints or score - other than pushing the limits of my Marlin 45-70 (wanna be Quigley). I'm a handgun guy.
    I use a Dillon Determinator, (electronic).
    I wish scale company's would include a check weight that is closer to what we reloaders weigh.
    That 50 gram calibration weight weighs 771 grains.
    I am lucky to run a lab with an analytical scale (0.0001 gram sensitivity). One gram is 15.43 grains, so we are talking way better than most if not all reloading scales.
    I set up some weights on my lab scale for 5, 10, 20, and 50 grains (cut up some paperclips, actually haha).
    Now I can check what my scale reads at the weights I'm using.
    Just because it's dead on at 771g, doesn't mean it's dead on at 11g 296 for my 22 TCM.
    Probably close enough for my use, maybe not for a benchrest master.
    My scale sits on my bench, I should have a piece of foam under it to dampen the jiggles of the loading press.
    It's sat (set ?) there for at least 3 years (used daily), every time I turn it on, let it "warm up" for 5 min, - it weighs my check weights dead on, every time.
    In other words, I haven't "calibrated" it in over 3 years.
    I'm not saying anyone is too OC, or not OC enough - just food for more discussion.
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  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Is there a particular upgrade you would recommend for a budget conscious reloader?
    A good powder measure and beam scale. I never have had enough faith in digitals to trust them with powder.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check