Scale Quest

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Scale Quest

Postby techmike » Sun Feb 24, 2013 4:27 pm

I am not fond of beam type scales or balances, because of their inherent problems - friction, dull knife blade, parallax, sensitivity to air currents and their general low thruput. I have been on a quest for a decent digital scale to use in reloading, that I don't need a second mortgage for. Here are the results.
Requirements: Digital display, easy to use and calibrate, repeatable, will correctly display while trickling powder, prefer A/C power with battery back-up.
Conditions: All testing was performed in a heated shop, scales leveled on a flat granite block. A/C power is filtered with a professional grade Belkin power station.
Methodology: Approximately 23 grains of Varget placed on the scale in a tared pan, RCBS powder trickler used to reach target weight of 24.0 grains.
Accuracy: Measured weights of powder and test weights verified on a Lee Safety Powder Scale.

My first digital scale was a gift, and has provided many years of good service despite a resolution of only 0.2 grains. I got used to all of my load weights ending in even numbers. It is also battery powered, and auto shuts off just as I get ready to use it. But it is accurate, repeatable, and responds very well to trickled powder. It is a DigiWeigh DW-100AS.

Decided I needed a scale with higher resolution for rifle loads, so I picked up a Cabelas branded scale, the XT-1500. It is marketed as a reloading scale. Nice little scale, easy to use, A/C power adapter, real nice hard shell padded storage case. It works great for checking pistol loads thrown by a powder dispenser, but is useless, I would say dangerous for measuring trickled powder. The first time I tried trickling with it I ended up with five cartridges with five very different charges, off from the target weight by up to 1.2 grains. I returned it to Cabelas, and they promptly exchanged it for a new one, but it has the same issue. I contacted the manufacturer, Salter-Brecknell, and after speaking to an engineer there learned the following: This is considered to be a cheap scale, and it has filters in the firmware that reduces the sensitivity to small weight changes, (read trickling), so as to provide a stable display. It was suggested that I trickle "faster".

At this point, the quest has begun.

My next prospect was the Hornady Lock-n-Load powder dispenser/scale combo. I had high hopes for this one, because how cool is this, type your target load into the panel, tare the pan and it dispenses your charge into the pan, and beeps when it is complete. If it goes 0.1grain over target, it beeps several times and reads OVER, and requires a reset. Anyway, after you pour your charge into a cartridge, return the empty pan to the scale, it tares the pan and dispenses the next charge. Also has manual controls if you want to manually trickle. Only problem was that what it thought was 24.0 grains, wasn't. It did not correlate to any of my other scales or balances. By this time, I had made a 24.0 grain test weight, and this scale only measured it correctly about 50% of the time. I contacted Hornady with my issues, and they responded "Sorry about your problem, return it". So it went back to Brownells - BTW - great company to do business with, they not only refunded the purchase price, but also the shipping BOTH ways. Great customer service.

Took a break here to do some more research and reading. Found out that most, if not all, of the current "reloading" scales are made in China. And most of them have really cheap load cells, also made in China. You can take two identical scales, one will work great, one won't. The best load cells apparently are made in Germany, and are metal, not plastic. HERE is a good primer on scales & balances for your reading pleasure.

At this point the quest shifted from reloading scales, to scales that can be used for reloading. I ran across Brian Enos' store, and purchased my next scale from him. This one. It says right there "reads accurately with trickled powder". Well, it didn't. I contacted Brian, and here is another company with GREAT customer service, he promptly sent another scale at no cost to me, and this one does work as advertised. It does have a large footprint, 6.75"x 9", so keep that in mind if you are space challenged on your reloading bench. It is also taller than most, and I had to whomp up a mount for my trickler to get it up above the pan on this scale. This scale is very nice, all of the features can be turned on/off from the front panel, the display has an auto backlight feature that I like. It is repeatable, and I have confidence that powder charges measured on this scale are accurate.

Then, I found the GemPro 250. A/C power, hard shell case, small size, it's perfect. See it here. THIS. IS. THE. ONE. It has all of the features I was looking for, has the best response to trickled powder, and has a resolution of 0.02 grains!!! I literally can add or remove single kernals of Varget powder and this scale accurately reacts. Wow!!! Did I mention that this is the one?? You can find these scales at several places on the web, but I purchased mine from Old Will Knott Scales. Another very fine company with great customer service. Check them out.

Well, quest complete. Now I just have to thin the herd..... Anyone need a scale? ;D

TM
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Re: Scale Quest

Postby mreising » Sun Feb 24, 2013 6:43 pm

Very nice report! Thanks for posting.
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Re: Scale Quest

Postby Sevens » Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:19 am

This is a pretty interesting...and pretty funny report! Personally, I absolutely dig my beam scale and while everything you said about beam scales may be true, I can't find a thing about mine that simply doesn't work for me. I'm totally happy with it.

I look at every digital scale as a device that is NOT going to work at some point, for some reason. If it's working now...awesome. But I expect that at some point, it will not. :x

One thing that you've probably already heard is that most cartridges simply aren't going to notice the tiny differences you might experience if you are simply metering your charges through a measure and they vary just a tiny bit. Of course, we could have a long discussion about exactly how much is "just a tiny bit" but if we are talking rifle cartridges, we are typically talking like a 1% to 2% variance in powder charge, and that's for a smallish rifle case like .223. Get to the bigger stuff and it's an even lower percentage.

Many bench rest competition shooters don't even hand-weigh powder charges. It's not because they don't care about details -- it's because they've found that the repeatability of a quality volumetric measure gives them the results they demand.

However, in any case and most certainly in your case, there's nothing that can replace pure confidence in your procedures and your loads. When you can pick up a box of your ammo and say to yourself that you did your level best to make it, using your methods and tools, there's an edge right there that will show up at your target. And it sounds like you've got the scale part of that equation finally worked out. :D

I just hope that it keeps working! :oops: :shock: 8)
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Re: Scale Quest

Postby weakhand luke » Wed Feb 27, 2013 7:57 am

Great article! Thanks for taking the time to publish all that. I presently use an RCBS scale that I bought in 1992. I think PACT made them for RCBS back then, nice scale and serves my purpose very well. It hadn't occurred to me that it would fail one day but when that day comes I'll look long and hard at the Gempro 250 as a replacement.

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Re: Scale Quest

Postby Perez Turner » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:58 pm

You explained really nice features of Scale Quest. In fact, Scale Quest is new for me and after viewing to your information I got much knowledge.
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Re: Scale Quest

Postby jabeatty » Fri Jul 12, 2013 7:33 pm

Hmm.
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Re: Scale Quest

Postby JustaShooter » Fri Jul 12, 2013 8:00 pm

My thoughts exactly.
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Re: Scale Quest

Postby evan price » Fri Jul 12, 2013 9:23 pm

Perez Turner wrote:You explained really nice features of Scale Quest. In fact, Scale Quest is new for me and after viewing to your information I got much knowledge.

Uh, pakistan ip and bad engrish...thx for the reports, I go now to clean the residue from the banhammer!
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Re: Scale Quest

Postby techmike » Sat Jul 13, 2013 10:51 am

How odd. :!:
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