Digitale scale accuracy

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by Trek Jeff, Nov 27, 2008.

  1. Trek Jeff

    Trek Jeff New Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    Ive read some reviews on the powder scale that will be in the Lee kit I plan on purchasing and have given consideration to a digital scale. What is the acceptable +- factor. Some I've seen only have a +- factor of this acceptable in reloading powder like 2400? There are a few others around .1grain that are in my price range.
  2. muddober

    muddober Active Member

    Sep 19, 2008
    Carson City Nevada
    In my opinion plus or minus 1 grain is not acceptable at all 2400 or no 2400 since the scale does not know what powder is on it. Plus or minus 1/10 of a grain is the only variance I would accept and I use a set of scale weights to test my scale all the time. However, I have found that some digital scales while not accurate are consistent which in my view is OK but the only way to check is with scale weights. As an example I load for about 30 different calibers including a 50 BMG and I use 242 grains of powder for that particular loading, but my scale only reads 240 grains but it does it consistently and I am fine with that because I have weights to check it. I know that while the scale is only reading 240 grains it is really 242 grains of powder on the scale plus or minus a tenth. When using a 3 grain load of Bullseye my scale shows and checks out exactly 3 grains, but once I get into the 50 to 60 grain range powder charges for lets say 25-06 my scale starts to read short and that is when I have to set up my scale so to speak. I hope I haven't confused you but the point I am trying to make that it is consistency that is more important to me than the accuracy of the scale reading itself.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008

  3. parris001

    parris001 New Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    I just can't trust digital scales, sorry. I have an old set of triple beams and I know they can never lie to me.
  4. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    PLus or minus 1 grain isn't good enough accuracy for measuring powder charges. Stick with those that can do .1 grain.

    I have been using a PACT digital scale for about 10 years and haven't even thought of digging out the old beam scale since I started using it. It hasn't failed me yet when loading rifle or pistol charges. I typically use a measure for my pistol cartridges and only scale every 20th or so charge but I scale every rifle charge. I calibrate it at the beginning of each reloading session using the check weights.

    Treat it like the precision instrument that it is...and same goes for a beam scale too...and a digital scale will last a long time.

    This is the one that I have:
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2008
  5. thomas44

    thomas44 New Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    I had a PACT that I liked, but it got damaged. When I went to replace it, I found an RCBS Rangemaster 750 for around a hundo. I love it ! Best scale I've ever owned. Midway still sells 'em for under $100. Calibration is really easy to do, and seems to be very accurate.
  6. artabr

    artabr New Member

    I have a Pact and I cross check it with a triple beam. It's dead on.
    +/- 1 grain is way to much.

  7. I believe there was a decimal point left out on the original post . Lee shows as do most of the others a +/- .01 gr of accuracy not a 1.0 gr accuracy. I personally have a digital RCBS 1500 scale as well as a 5-0-5 beam scale to verify all of my work on the 1500 scale . The 1500 has been a very accurate scale after hundreds of loaded rounds using various powders. Bear in mind digital scales need to be free of any form of breeze and set on a stable surface that is preferably not on the table where you are resting your elbows etc. to keep from vibrating it and wait until the stabilized weight indicator comes on. As for beam scales and their accuracy load to load try this, run a load of any weight then remove the pan and return it with the powder shifted slightly toward the left side of the pan and reread the weight then again shifting the powder load to the right side of the pan, read it again and see if you get a variation in weight , you may be surprised just a bit. Remember you are woking with an elaborate teeter totter here . When using my 5-0-5 I tend to shake the powder flat as possible accross the bottom of the pan and am even careful as to centering the pan as best possible in the beams cradle and insure it is turned with the grab tab and the pour spout turned to the same position each and every time as well . This may seem a bit extreme to some but the topic of this post was about scale accuracy . Food for thought and welome to the never ending learning curve of reloading ( for me too , thats why I'm here ). I love what a few good old boys are capable of when they start brainstorming . 10 SPOT
  8. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Athens, Georgia
    I bought a RCBS Rangemaster 750 a couple of years ago, a few months later, the weight would start drifting up (you weigh 5.6 grains of powder and just watch it go 5.7, 5.8. and on and on). I called RCBS about the problem, they said send it back and they replaced it within a couple of weeks. I bought a Hornady magnetic beam scale in the meantime and check the new 750 every once in a while, it has been dead on ever since.

    Stay away from the Franklin Arsenal electronic scale, it is a piece of crap in my opinion. Bought one of those from Midway for $29.95 before I got the RCBS and it was so inconsistent that I couldn't trust it (you weigh the same load five times and you would get five different weights). It is proof to me that you get what you pay for!!
  9. Trek Jeff

    Trek Jeff New Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    No, there wasn't a typo. I wasn't refering to the Lee scale with that +-, I wasa refering to some of the electronic scales I was seeing. I was refering the the material quality of the Lee scale.

    Thanks for all the feedback. I may just go old school and pick up a mechanical scale. The local highschool had a surpluss they were selling off. I'll follow up with that.
  10. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

    Dec 20, 2003
    Hesperia, CA
    Any scale is affected by the environment when weighing stuff. The beam scales will just swing back and forth with environmental interferrences while the digital will show variations of a tenth or so. By environmental I mean wind currents in the room, from open doors, foot traffic, and AC/Heating vents. The digital scales work best if the cover is put back on the scale when measuring. Digitals also need at least a 5 minute warm-up too, in my experience.

    Any scale should be accurate to + or - 1/10 of a grain but digitals usually are accurate only to a percentage or the reading. So heavier loads will be off by more than light load, but no better than + or - 1/10 grain. Beam scales are more accurate but a pain to use. I have a very expensive RCBS scale that I have not used once since I got a digital scale. I periodically verify its accuracy with a precision set of scale weights (Lyman) but never find it off by much at the load levels for my cartridges (22Hornet to 7mm Rem Mag).

    Accurate weighing is much over rated. The current thinking is that other inconsistencies effect accuracy a lot more than a couple of tenths of a grain in powder levels. The latest Handloader Magazine video on Advanced Handloading points this out with real examples and shows techniques that make a difference.

  11. Trek Jeff

    Trek Jeff New Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    LD, so a decent electronic scale with a +-1/10 and a set of measured weights will suffice.. Thank you sir!
  12. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    Yup, LD's advice usual :) on.

    Doesn't matter if you run a digital or a beam scale, you need a good steady bench to set it on & no drafts in the room. The other suggestion of being consistent with how you set the pan on the scale platform is also another key.

    Either the RCBS Rangemaster 750 or it's twin the PACT BBK2 (they're identical besides the color of the case) are good scales. gdmoody's problem with a drifting 750 is the first I've heard of with that model but like anything I suppose the occasional lemon slips past quality control.

    I originally chose the higher priced PACT Precision instead of the BBK because I plan to add their powered dispenser someday but if all you're looking for is a basic scale the 750 or BBK2 will do ya just fine.
  13. Trek Jeff

    Trek Jeff New Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    I just got back from a couple stores with some pretty wise employees who seemd to know thier stuff, and they reiterated what you guys say about unless there is a conspiracy to BS me, you're all pretty damn
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