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Next Question: Powder scales, how critical and how much to spend on one

1756 Views 15 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Rhodes
First, I'm retired and on a fixed income, so I have to be a bit miserly in equipping my shop for my new hobby. That's one reason for getting into reloading. Well, money and a "I can do it myself" attitude. That attitude is probably why I built our home rather than buying one and why I do much of the maintenance on our cars and so on... Also I have a lot of fun researching and learning about the details of what makes things tick and how to do things. Finally, I find that you meet some really good folks in the process, people who are willing to share experience and to steer newbies away from problems. Over the years I've made some fine friends as I've learned how to do things. That may be the best reward of all.

So, on tp my question, I see prices ranging from ~$30 for a simple balance beam to several hundred $$ for powder measuring and dispensing systems. I'm guessing that speed of operation/dispensing goes up as the price goes up. However as a practical matter for the new reloader, what is useful and what is overkill?

That asked, I have learned that sometimes it is more economical to buy the "better" product and to "grow into" it rather than to buy cheap then buy again later on. I learned that lesson by buying cheap tools, breaking them or quickly wearing them out, then buying what I should have bought in the first place. The price for the good tools became $cheap tools + $good tools, not good use of funds.

Thoughts, suggestions?

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You can never go to cheap on a powder scale. I started with a lee one that came in my first kit. I now have my grand-dads old redding beam scale and there is no way you can beat the accuracy of that thing. I plan to purchase a RCBS electric measuer/despenser deal but my neighbor has one that he loaned me a few moths ago. I ask him almost when ever i see him if he wants it back and his response is no not yet you just keep loading with her untill you can afford your own. (Great old guy!) anyways if you dont have a scale and you need one PM me your addy and i will donate you a almost new lee scale.
the Lee beam scale is all i use. i treid the expensive ones and they arent any better until you get into the auto powder dispense models that cost hundreds. start simple an work your way up.

FWIW,, I have 2 Lee scales. I even sent one back and told them the problem and they sent me a new one. No difference. It still will give me a different readin 2 out of 4 times. I can reload the same powder or even shake the powder around the pan and put it back on and get the different readings. I don't think to much of the Lee scale. Their warranty is great, the product (scale) sucks.
If you're just gettin started reloadingpowder scales aren't really necessary. Lee makes a powder dipper set relatively cheap. It's a set of graduated spoons and comes with a chart that shows the weight of different powders for each spoon. It's not as balls on accurate as a scale but works pretty darn well. I used one reloading .38/.357 for a couple of years. Enjoy!
The spoons are 0k (kinda) but I load ?.7 grains so they don't help me to much.
The lee scale works great. when it comes to value, you cant beat lee. i plan on getting a frankfurt arsenal electronic scale, but i will still double check against the lee beam scale.
I, personally, would not reload anything without using a powder scale to check that my loads were consistent. I use the Lee Scale and also have a Frankford Arsenel electronic scale. The Lee came in the press kit and I paid around $30 for the electronic one from Midway. My experience with both have been good. I only check powder weight when I change something and then after everything has settled down I just weigh a random few charges.
If you are even close to approaching a max load, you need a scale to verify your powder charges. I prefer the Dillon in a beam type scale, it's a bit more than some entry level scales but their warranty can't be beat. Call them up and say "I broke this" and a new one is on the way.


Check E-bay, often used ones or even new at a good discount can be found.

The electronic ones are nice, but unless you are hand weighing each charge down to a fraction of a grain for max consistency the "automatic powder dispensers" are overkill. Just get a good measure and weigh a charge every so often to verify.
The lee scale works great. when it comes to value, you cant beat lee. i plan on getting a frankfurt arsenal electronic scale, but i will still double check against the lee beam scale.
Lee beam scales are generally very accurate, but I do have a few issues with them when it comes to the difficulty of setting the scale initially or when attempting to weigh something that has an unknown weight. Other scales, such as the RCBS 5-0-5, are much easier to adjust and read. After using both, I would spend the few extra dollars for an inexpensive RCBS over the Lee scale in a heartbeat. In fact, I have a free Lee scale available to anyone who is willing to pick it up. PM if interested.

If you are looking at the really inexpensive electronic scale from frankfurt, skip it. I have one and it is constantly turning off and needing to be recalibrated.
I use the Lee scales to periodically check my loads but since I wont use a powder that makes a double charge possible (the worst danger) Ive never caught a problem with it. The Lee dippers are just accurate enough for any real world use. Your worst potential problem is not paying attention.
I agree with mactex because my Lee scales are also very accurate but about as hard to read as a woman's mind.
I do like the cheap frankfor arsenel digital scales. They have been accurate for me.
I use my Lee Perfect Powder measure and check my load charges about every 10 rounds on my digital scale to make sure I am still good to go. I think the most variation I've ever had was .2 grains. For a charge that's no where near max loads, I can live with that.
Max loads should be avoided any way, I use the rule of never loading more than 90% of the max allowing some safety margin but opinions vary. That is still a pretty hot round and outside of curiosity haven't had a need of it.

The tenths on the Lee can be slightly difficult until you get the hang of it but seriously a tenth of a grain either way should not make much difference considering the variances in powder from batch to batch. Wouldn't want to load that close to max at least.
I use the Lee beam scale and the Lyman 505. The Lee is the hardest to use but will weigh to .05 grains. One thing you have to remember with beam scales is that any air movement can cause a bad reading. I noticed this first with the Lee scale, so now I cover them with a plastic box when I use them.
Yeah very important.
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