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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am putting together equipment for re-loading. Due to cost concerns I am doing this a bit at a time. One piece here another piece there.

Now I am looking at scales and would like to get some opinions from those who have more experience than me. And that is not hard to do I have never reloaded.

From reading other threads I get the idea that while digital is nice a re-loader needs a mechanical scale to keep check on the digital. The comment that convinced me was, "Do you really want to trust your safety to a $19.00 scale that might have weak batteries?"

I am looking at several used RCBS Model 5-10 scales. Or course I will need check weights but I am not ready to re-load right now, those are on the shopping list along with so much other stuff.

I found these on e-bay and after looking at them for a while I decided on the 5-10 for several reasons. First they weigh to 0.1 gr, and I like the way the 510 deals with 0.1 measurements. There is a small micrometer type scale that sets the 0.1gr measurement. This seems a better way than to use another thin bit of metal that slides along the arm. But, I don't know what the hell I am talking about, so I could be wrong.

On the up side:
RCBS - Good name trusted for quality.
Inexpensive - I think I can get one for about $50.00
01.gr adjustment - the 510 uses the same system as the more expensive 10 - 10.
Seems like a good starting point.

On the down side:
Its used - I hate buying used equipment, but cost is a factor.

Now if some generous soul would be willing to give me an RCBS Load Master or a Lymann DPS1200, then I would be willing to pass on the 510. I think there are only two chances of that happening and Slim got on the train to Texas.

So what do you folks think.
 

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I have a beam scale and it sits on the shelf.

I use the Honady electronic scale, and I have bought an extra one as a back up.

for me, if they have anything better they have kept it to themselves.

It is just all I need

 

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Best deal on a balance beam scale is Dillon's Eliminator scale. It's the same scale as the RCBS 505. The Dillon is made by Ohaus. Too bad you didn't buy last December, price for a couple years was $59.95. It's now $69.95 and still a good bargain. I don't think you'll find a NEW scale for $50. Except for the LEE and it's a POS!!!!
 

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I see you've already got the full gamut of answers/opinions on scale preference. That's what you'll get with the question. Everyone has their own preference and nobody is wrong with their choice...it's just a personal preference.

Your choice of the RCBS 510 is a good one. The micrometer-style fine poise is a good smooth adjustment method.
But there is nothing wrong with the 505 either, it has three notched-weight poises that will give you the same resolution as the 510 though too.
Either one will give you good accuracy and they're both solid built units.
And truth be told, the 502 is just as good as the 505...it only has two poises on the beam but you can still get 0.1gr accuracy with it.
Out of those three, the 510/1010 family is probably the most stable since it's got the heaviest base and is least prone to bobbling around on the workbench if you bump it. But...regardless of which one you choose if you bump it, it's still time to stop and check the zero before continuing.

Like Waldog posted, All of the RCBS beam scales (along with the Lyman and Dillon beam scales) are made by Ohaus. Ohaus is a very good lab-quality scale company. They make good products regardless of what color paint is on the scale.
I also have to agree with Waldog's assessment of the Lee scale. I know there are a lot of guys using them with success, but I just feel they're built a little bit on the flimsy side for my taste. Just like the cheap digitals, there are better choices for not much more money invested.

The comment that convinced me was, "Do you really want to trust your safety to a $19.00 scale that might have weak batteries?"
The best way to avoid that problem is to not buy those $20 "Harbor Freight Special" scales for use on the bench. They're fine for carrying in your pocket at gun shows for quick checks when you're buying bulk, surplus, or other mystery components, but I won't set one up for use on my reloading bench.

I have a $100+ PACT Precision digital (was $150 when I bought it nearly 20 years ago) for use on the bench. I also have a couple of beam scales, but that PACT is the one that does the majority of the work. After the PACT, an old oil-damped Redding #2 is my favorite and my third one is a Lyman 500 (same as the RCBS 502). All of em are good units.

A good scale and a good set of check weights are the two pieces of reloading equipment that you do not skimp on...regardless if you go digital or beam.
 

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Here is something to consider when looking at beam type scales. On my newer Redding, and my vintage Redding scale the zeroing screw is on the right side on the left tower and it is a little difficult to adjust without hitting the beam. The RCBS has the plastic turn piece to adjust the zero screw. Then , the best IMO is the Hornady beam type scale. The zeroing screw is on the outside of the left tower. Access is easy and adjustment is smooth. I will be getting that scale soon and it's tolerances are the same as every other company.

For starting out I would get the beam type and then graduate to a digital. Reason being, the beam type are more reliable. There is nothing wrong with the digital scale but the beam type just seems more reliable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks. I appreciate all the feedback.

I had pretty much dismissed the idea of the Lee beam scale. I can't say why but to me it just looks like the sort of scale you get in a kids chemistry set.

I can afford to spend in the neighborhood of $50. So any quality scale I buy at this point will have to be used. I don't like buying used but the budget is the budget. The idea of buying a used beam scale appeals to me more than the idea of buying a used digital. I don't know why but the idea of a used digital just seems like a bad idea to me.

The one thing I won't buy used are the check weights. I could never trust them if they were used. In fact even buying new I will want to check them on a few scales before I actually use them to calibrate my scale. These could be the difference between a good re-load and a chamber explosion along with a trip to the E.R. (If I am lucky) No skimping there.

While marking the RCBS 510s and 10-10s that I will watch. I will also keep an eye out for Hornady or Dillon Eliminator if they are in my price range.

Thanks again.





In one beginning re-loader thread I read this bit of advice on starting to re-load in general. I am paraphrasing this but the idea is still the same.

Go slow. Learn the process and learn why it's that way.
 

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The most important thing you can do with either a beam or digital scale is calibrate them with a check weight in the range you will be weighing. Don't try to calibrate the scale with a 50 grain weight if you will be weighing 3 - 7 grains. The reverse is also true. If you will be weighing 50 - 100 grains charges don't try to calibrate with a 10 grain weight. All scales, digital and mechanical, will have different weighing errors for specific weighing ranges. The manufacturers error data will only show the full scale data, but it is unlikely you will be using the full scale. The normal use is in some range less than full scale so you need to know what errors to expect in the range you use. Most all scales will be more accurate and repeatable in a certain range say 1/2 or 2/3 of full scale. The errors will increase as the weight decreases. If the balance has a weighing range of .1 - 500 grains it will much less accurate in the range of .1 - 5 grains than it will in the range of 100 - 500 grains and you need to know what those errors are.

If a digital scale is off it will normally let you know because it will not zero or will drift, or the reading will bounce around and you will know something is wrong. A beam scale can be off and not give any indication at all if you don't check it regularly. The beam depends on a sharp knife edge or a rounded surface to balance the weight. If the balance edge gets rust, corrosion, or a build up dirt or debris the weight can be way off and you will not have any indication of a problem unless you check the calibration frequently.

If you are constantly having to readjust the zero on a beam scale it means something is wrong with the balance edge (assuming there is no wind or vibration). Once the zero is set it should return to zero every time the weight is removed.

The best way to check the scale is to put a weight on the scale - say an empty piece of brass, record the weight, then add the check weight and record the weight again. Then remove the check weight and the scale should read the first weight. Then remove the empty brass and the scale should return to exactly zero. Repeat the same process at least five times, ten is better, and record the weights each time. This will tell you how much weighing error the scale has. The next step is to weigh the same object ten times and record the weights and zero reading each time. This will give you the repeatability error. It is also good practice to check repeatability with different weights. You don't need a check weight because you are not measuring absolute weight.

This data should be kept in a permanent file so you can compare results over time. That is the only way you can tell when something is going wrong with the scale. If the errors increase over time it means something is wrong and the balance needs to be repaired or replaced.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The most important thing you can do with either a beam or digital scale is calibrate them with a check weight in the range you will be weighing. Don't try to calibrate the scale with a 50 grain weight if you will be weighing 3 - 7 grains. The reverse is also true. If you will be weighing 50 - 100 grains charges don't try to calibrate with a 10 grain weight. All scales, digital and mechanical, will have different weighing errors for specific weighing ranges. The manufacturers error data will only show the full scale data, but it is unlikely you will be using the full scale. The normal use is in some range less than full scale so you need to know what errors to expect in the range you use. Most all scales will be more accurate and repeatable in a certain range say 1/2 or 2/3 of full scale. The errors will increase as the weight decreases. If the balance has a weighing range of .1 - 500 grains it will much less accurate in the range of .1 - 5 grains than it will in the range of 100 - 500 grains and you need to know what those errors are.

If a digital scale is off it will normally let you know because it will not zero or will drift, or the reading will bounce around and you will know something is wrong. A beam scale can be off and not give any indication at all if you don't check it regularly. The beam depends on a sharp knife edge or a rounded surface to balance the weight. If the balance edge gets rust, corrosion, or a build up dirt or debris the weight can be way off and you will not have any indication of a problem unless you check the calibration frequently.

If you are constantly having to readjust the zero on a beam scale it means something is wrong with the balance edge (assuming there is no wind or vibration). Once the zero is set it should return to zero every time the weight is removed.

The best way to check the scale is to put a weight on the scale - say an empty piece of brass, record the weight, then add the check weight and record the weight again. Then remove the check weight and the scale should read the first weight. Then remove the empty brass and the scale should return to exactly zero. Repeat the same process at least five times, ten is better, and record the weights each time. This will tell you how much weighing error the scale has. The next step is to weigh the same object ten times and record the weights and zero reading each time. This will give you the repeatability error. It is also good practice to check repeatability with different weights. You don't need a check weight because you are not measuring absolute weight.

This data should be kept in a permanent file so you can compare results over time. That is the only way you can tell when something is going wrong with the scale. If the errors increase over time it means something is wrong and the balance needs to be repaired or replaced.
I just copied and pasted this entire post into my word processor. Very good information here. Thank you big big.

For all that took the time to respond I thank you. I did read and I did listen and I did consider each bit of advice. Because of that I just broke my budget and went and bought a brand new RCBS 10-10 scale. I got it for $132 + S&H. I know I said I could only spend 50 bucks but there were two posts in this thread that changed my mind about that.

76Highboy said:
"For starting out I would get the beam type and then graduate to a digital. Reason being, the beam type are more reliable. There is nothing wrong with the digital scale but the beam type just seems more reliable."

aadnabooks who said:
"I burnt out the Hornady digital and went to buy a RCBS 10-10. I will now never need another scale. "

Not needing to buy another scale as my set up evolves appeals to me. Also beam scales appeal to me. Call me old school. I am a graybeard.

The other one was Bindernut who said:
"A good scale and a good set of check weights are the two pieces of reloading equipment that you do not skimp on...regardless if you go digital or beam."

This seemed like wisdom to me. So I didn't skimp.
 

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i think you did good on the beam scale.

I missed the thread.. but I'd say the same. even if you have a digital as the mainstay. DO have a beam SOMEWHERE on the bench...
 

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Personally, I like your decision. The best advice I ever got (for most things) is to buy once. Buy the best you can afford, even if it means saving just a little more. Replacing tools that werent up to par to begin with is wasteful and senseless. Upgrading, or adding to, is another story. In the long run, you will not regret skipping over cheap imitations, or "settling" for less.
 

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You will find that RCBS makes some very nice equipment. RCBS also has some great customer service, those guys will really step out of thier way to help you out. I have a 505 I bought when I first started reloading, still have it but it's not used much. I bought a RCBS 1500 Chargemaster and it serves me well. Most of my equipment is RCBS, excluding the new Hornady LNL.

Most modern reloading equipment manufacturers do the same.
 

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I used the LEE beam scale for years without any issues. Besides being cheap, has anyone here had a problem with theirs not working correctly, or know of someone? I'm just curious.:dontknow:
Not to dredge up the whole anti-Lee thing. I like and use a lot of Lee equipment.

These are my issues with their scale though...
The Lee scale DOES indeed work fine. It just doesn't fit my particular needs and preferences.

My main issue with it is that it is very lightweight and rather flimsily built. It is very easy for them to jiggle around on the bench and then it's time to stop and check zero. I prefer a heavier unit...preferably with a cast-iron base and a steel beam as opposed to the lightweight alloy base and the bakelite beam.

I need a larger capacity than 100gr on my reloading bench.

And lastly, I just don't quite trust it when it's graduated to 0.1gr but advertised as "readable to 0.2gr" (As per Lee. Their quote.). Those two figures contradict each other. If it's only accurate or readable to 0.2gr then why mark it to 0.1gr?
 

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I gotcha. I just don't like it when people bash products, when there are no real basis to their claims (Some people do, that's why I asked). If people have had a safety issue with their product, then by all means, share it.

When we have new people coming here looking for reloading suggestions, and they say they have a budget, LEE is practically a no brainer.

Anyhow, I ditched the balance beam scale a while ago for an RCBS digital a while ago. It sure is nicer too. It's just so much quicker.
 
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