If you’re a hand loader, you already know by now that you can only get the same weigh on cartridges only if you carefully weigh them on a scale. Although a small variation in powder charge weight typically is has no influence on accuracy out to the maximum distance you shoot, it’s a time saver to measure charges instead of weighing them.
Why get a powder scale
Most of the powder measures out there are accurate enough. Of course, the bench rest shooters use precision-machined units and the market gives you high quality products on that. Bench rest shooters do pull the loads they are shooting between relays and the custom measures they use have more accurate repeatability of adjustment than the common measures. These powder measures operate more smoothly and throw charges of large-grained powders more systematically.
It’s also very important how you use the powder scale. You need to throw charges with minimum variation and to operate exactly the same for each charge of powder. We think that you already know by now that you can’t pull back hard the handle against its stops on one charge and operate it softly afterwards. It’s very likely that the two charges vary more in weight this way and not if operated the same both times.
Some consider a charge weight variation of 0.3 grain pretty acceptable in the larger cartridges, but good measure (if operated properly!), filled with a smooth-flowing powder should hold that to no more than 0.1 grain. For the heavy charges, you get more accuracy if some measures when two half-charges are thrown into the case rather than one whole charge. So, you need to operate twice on a 40-grain setting and not once on an 80-grain setting.
It’s important to know that finely granulated powders meter measure more precisely than coarser powders. Bench rest shooters typically use ball powders or fine-grained stick powders, whereas some use varmint cartridges.
Of course, you may always use a digital dispensing system which automatically measures and weighs powder charges. You program the machine for the charge weight you want and simply press the start button. This system is more accurate with large-granule powders than a standard measures and eliminates operator inconsistency in throwing charges.
Take notes for the best results
No matter how much attention you pay to the powder measure technique, it’s useless if you can’t weight it precisely. So following some steps and tips might help you when using a powder scale.
Your scale must be placed on a rock steady table so you need to have maximum stability and minimum vibration. Protect the scale by taking it off the bench before hammering any shims into place also.
Even though this is not essential for the modern electronic powder scales, leveling is important when you want to shim the feet to make the bench stop rocking.
Pay attention to the batteries also as batteries and AC power A weak battery can give errors to an electronic powder scale. Buy good quality battery and stay away from the cheap ones.
Give time to your powder scale to warm-up as this time may affect scale’s accuracy. Some scales need even up to 30 minutes to warm up, especially if the room is very cold.
Use the check weights on the scale as calibration is also very important for the accurate results. Do the scale calibration every time you set up for a reloading session and in case you moved the scale or after you changed the battery.
Some electronic scales come with a cover which isn’t just to keep dust off when not in use. Some covers are highly functional as they block air currents that might influence the precision of the powder scale.
Keep in mind that static electricity and magnetic fields static electricity near the electronic scale might have a say on the precision of the scale just as well. Use a powder pan made from metal or from static dissipative plastic. You may also wash from time to time the powder pan with soapy water and let the soap film dry on the pan. The soap film helps dissipate static electricity. Protect the powder scale and don’t store anything made of plastic material or vinyl near the scale.
Check very often zero use on the scale. It’s better to zero the scale right before every measurement. Also always center the load as an off center load gives binding of the load cell, thus creating errors.
Keep your scale clean because dust and stray powder grains stuck in the load cell may bind the mechanism. Keep the scale closed when it’s not in use and remove the weighing platform from time to time to clean underneath (if that’s possible).
Last, but not least, take good consideration of the powder pan as the metallic ones give more advantages than the plastic pans. A metallic pan doesn’t hold a static charge, don’t need frequent cleaning and powder grains slide off pretty easily. You also see better powder grains on a metallic pan as it’s typically shiny gold or bare aluminum colored.
Of course, these are just few tips when it comes to getting the best results from your powder scale and time and experience might teach you more.
Top 5 Reloading Scale Reviews
Once you have decided you want to spend some time for your shooting hobby and become a hand reloader, then you need to get the best powder scales out there. A good example is the RCBS Combo 110V-AC Chargemaster and here are the pros for it:
- The RCBS Combo combines electronic scale and powder dispenser
- The powder scale is accurate and efficient
- The RCBS features the ChargeMaster 1500 and Charge Master Dispenser
- The two parts come preassembled to create a great combination of speed and precision
- There is 1lb+ capacity powder hopper
- You should only use the RCBS Combo with smokeless powder
- You may operate the Combo manually or auto
- The Combo is easy to clean
- It’s easy to calibrate the scale
- The Combo stores lots of loads
- You may re-programme the Combo to your needs
- The scale is very accurate
- The Combo comes with an electronic powder trickler
- The calibration is easy and quick
- The Combo is easy to setup
- It’s easy to use the Combo
Even though the cons are not deal breakers, we still need to mention them:
- The Combo is temperature sensitive
- The Combo could be a bit faster
- The Combo throws a tenth of a grain
As it’s versatile, precise and combining several functional parts, the RCBS Combo is a great buy for any hand loader.
In case you only use black powder and you really like to reload on your own, the Hornady Black Powder Lock N Load Powder Measure gets you right where you want. Here are the pros:
- The Hornady Lock N Load Powder works with black powder
- You may also use smokeless pistol loads, but the maximum volume is 130 grains of FFG
- The Lock N Load powder measure comes with product manual
- The tool features an aluminum hopper tube and cap
- There are amazingly tight tolerances between drum and rotor
- The Hornady is a brass metering unit
- The tool is easy to setup and use
- It’s very safe to use the Hornady Black Powder Measure thanks to the Lock N Load feature
- The tool is accurate
- There is consistency after loads
- The Hornady makes loading very fast as it gives you speed when you load more than 50 black powder rounds
- The quality is great
- The price is very good for the high quality you get
Some parts need to be improved, so here are the cons:
- The hopper is placed into the threaded area of the measure. There isn’t a tight tolerance fit like this so this part of the design needs to be improved.
Either than this, there aren’t any other things to complain about. If you are into the black powder, this is one tool to help you with the loading.
For those that are looking for a good tool to reload the pistol cartridges, the RCBS Competition Powder Measure-Pistol is the one thing to get. Bringing the quality of RCBS products, the Competition Powder Measure-Pistol has many good things and here are our pros:
- The RCBS Competition Powder Measure Pistol addresses to all types of smokeless powder
- The RCBS Powder-Pistol throw charges between one half and forty grains
- The measure-pistol may be used for ball, flake or cylindrical charges also
- The design is very well thought
- The RCBS Powder Pistol doesn’t damage powder when throwing charges
- The tool is easy to setup
- It’s very easy to use the Powder Pistol
- The RCBS Powder Pistol is solid
- The accuracy of the measure-pistol is very good
- The Powder Measure-Pistol is consistent throw after throw
- The tool runs ball&flake powders very well
- The RCBS Powder Pistol features a precision ground metering drum and honed main casting
As for the parts we like less, here are out cons:
- The linearity of the scale gets a bit off when the charge becomes small
- The “micrometer” adjustment is not very reliable, but it gets the job done
- The RCBS doesn’t work that great with less dense, larger grain powders
All in all, for the money you pay, the RCBS Powder Measure Pistol is a good, reliable tool for the serious handgun reloaders.
If you like electrical stuff and hand load just as much, the Hornady Electronic Scale fits your needs perfectly. Here are the pros on it:
- The scale weighs to the .1 of a grain
- The Hornady Electronic Scale may be used to weigh powder, bullets, cases, cartridges and more
- The Hornady Electronic Scale comes with 10 g weight and 50 g weight
- The scale comes with a 220V adaptor
- The Hornady Electronic Scale comes with a metal powder pan
- There is 1500 grain capacity
- The LCD display and large is efficient
- The scale is easy to calibrate
- The setup is easy
- It’s not difficult to use the Hornady Electronic Scale
- The scale is accurate and fast
- The scale remains on
- It’s easy to zero the scale
- The scale is protected from dust, dirt or grease by the cover that comes with it
- The scale uses as measurement unit grains, carats and grams
When it comes to the cons, there are some to mention:
- The buttons feel a bit cheap
- The cover is made of plastic
- The display is a bit narrow so it’s a bit weird for the reading
- The scale tends to tilt when operating the keypad
These issues are minor and not deal breakers and the Hornady Electronic Scale is still a good choice if you go for this type of powder scale.
If you are the traditional, old school type the RCBS Model 505 Reloading Scale gives you not only versatility, but also precision, for a very long time. Here are the pros:
- The RCBS scale brings the legendary standard in mechanical scales
- The scale has a 511 grains of capacity
- The 5-0-5 features are efficient
- The magnetic dampening system is great and brings more precision for scale
- The large black on white graduations make the reading easier
- The scale comes with three poise bean graduated in 10, 1 and 0.1 grains
- The RCBS Model 505 is very accurate thanks to the three weights
- The tip proof aluminum pan doesn’t let the powder stick or spill
- The hardened knife blades ride on agate bearings give durability and sensitivity to the scale
- It’s easy to zero the scale
- The scale is easy to use
- The powder pan sits on a suspended plate so the scale always measures the same
- The scale gives fast, repeatable measures
- There is plenty of range and sensitivity to the scale
- The scale has a great build
- The RCBS Model 505 is made of metal which means longer life span
- The price is great
Some things are worth mentioned as cons so here are ours:
- You need some time to figure out how the scale works
- The base is very light, too light for some
But, if you want precision, reliability, for a good price and a long time with proper care, in a traditional everlasting way, the RCBS Model 505 is a sure thing.
The Best Digital Powder/Reloading Scale
When you want great accuracy from a digital powder scale, the Frankford Arsenal Reloading Scale is the one to get. There are many good things to say about it so here are our pros:
- The Frankford Arsenal Reloading Scale has a 750 grain capacity
- The scale is accurate to +/- 0.1 grain
- The Frankford Arsenal Reloading Scale measures in grain, gram carats and ounces
- You also get a carrying pouch
- The Arsenal comes with powder pan
- The powder tray is useful
- The Arsenal comes with calibration weight just as well
- You only need two AAA batteries to operate the scale
- The scale comes with AAA batteries
- You may use the Arsenal to accurately measure powder, bullets, cases or loaded rounds
- The included clear plastic cover protects the scale during storage and transport
- The high-contrast backlist display is large and easy to read
- It’s very easy to change the units, tare weights or counting
- The Arsenal is able to measure .03 gram
- The bias tolerance is .02 gram
- The creep tolerance is .01 gram
- The repeatability is .01 gram
- For best results, it’s better not to ever over load the scale
- The Arsenal scale is very accurate
- The powder cup of the scale is made of aluminum
- The Arsenal scale is easy to zero out
- The scale is reliable
- As it’s rather small, the arsenal scale is easy to carry around
- It’s very easy to store the scale due to its size and protective cover
- The scale is consistent for most reloading tasks
- The Arsenal defaults to the last unit you were using
- There is an Auto shut off and quick on cycle
- The Arsenal features back light but you don’t need it in work lighted area
- The price is right for the quality you get
Some things need to be improved on the scale, so here are the cons:
- The scale is too tiny
- Sometimes the scale tends to drift
- You really need to avoid working near or at maximum load
Apart from these minor issues, the Arsenal is a great choice for a digital powder scale. Keep in mind that there are some rules to follow when you want the most accurate results, either way.
Best Powder Measure Stand
The Hornady Lock N Load Fast Powder Measure Stand is very strong and has a rigid, sturdy frame. Along with these features, come other good things so here are our pros:
- The Fast-load Powder Measure Stand features a rigid frame that gives great stability to the stand
- The very long arm lets you fill an entire 50 count Universal Loading Block
- The Lock-N-Load bushing system takes any measure with 7/8” thread
- The Hornady Lock N Load comes with a stand
- The system remains in place when in use
- The design is simple
- The construction is good
- There are no moving parts on the powder measure stand
- The system is easy to mount
- The quality of the system is reliable
- The system is very accurate
- The loading stand is easy to use
- The “Lock-N-Load” feature is very efficient
- The stand has just the right height
- The price is great for the quality you get
Apart the fact the system doesn’t come with bolts, we can think of any other parts that count as cons.
Best Powder Trickler
When you want to win some time, but also get some precise results with your powder measurements, the Hornady Powder Trickler really works its magic. Here are our pros:
- The Hornady Powder Trickler comes with wide stable base
- You may use the Hornady Powder to trickle the las few tenths of a grain of powder into a dropped and weighed charge for “0” variation
- The Hornady uses a small amount of powder to fill
- The price is great
- The trickle is quite efficient
- The accuracy is good
- The Hornady Powder Trickler gets the job done
- The trickle works with all types of powder
- It’s very easy to get the precision you want with this trickler
- It’s rather easy to clean the trickler
- The price is very good
As for the cons, there are some worth mentioning:
- The trickler is made of plastic
- The capacity is rather small
- As the trickler is lightweight, it’s also not very stable
- You need to use both hands in order to get the best results
But, for the money you pay, the Hornady Powder Trickler is an efficient, low-priced trickler.
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