October 4th, 2018

Quick Tip: Mirror & Magnifier for Beam Scales

Beam Scale hack Magnify Magnifier Mirror RCBS 10-10 Scale

Here’s a simple modification that makes your classic beam balance more user-friendly. For a few dollars you can enhance your balance scale system to improve work-flow and reduce eye strain. This clever modification makes it easier to see the balance’s zero-mark center-line when weighing charges.

When he chooses to measure his loads or sort bullets by weight, Forum Member Boyd Allen likes his trusty RCBS 10-10 scale. He finds that it works predictably, time after time, and it doesn’t suffer from the drift and calibration issues that plague some of the less-expensive electronic scales on the market.

To make it easier to see the balance point, Boyd has adapted a magnifying glass with a mirror. This makes the end of his balance beam easier to view from his normal position on the bench. Boyd explains: “This set-up uses a cheap magnifier with positioning arms that was probably designed to hold and magnify small objects while soldering them. I think that it came from Harbor Freight many years ago. The mirror lets you look at the scale as if is was at eye level, and of course the magnifier makes the image easier to see.”

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
July 26th, 2016

Handy Magnifiers Help Old Eyes with Reloading Tasks

Magnifying lens LED light relaoding

pocket fold-out magnifierWhat is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.

Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 9X/18X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading No Comments »
December 2nd, 2014

Cheap Tricks — Ten Low-Cost Items for Reloaders

Useful reloading gear does not have to be costly. Here are ten handy (and very inexpensive) items that belong on your loading bench or in your range kit.

magnifying glassMagnifying Glass – We use a flat, 2″x2″ pocket 4x-8x magnifier. This folds up on itself. Very handy, we use it to inspect bullets and brass. Use this to check your flash holes for burrs, and check the meplats of your bullets before loading.

Clear 35mm Film Cannister – Use this to transfer the thrown powder charge to the little measuring cup that sits on your scale. That way you don’t get any kernel splash. Also if the charge weight is obviously off, it’s easy to dump back in the measure. A film canister works pretty well as a trickler too.

Compressed Air in a Can -- Get these at office supply stores. Use the can (with tube attached) to blow crud out of cases after cleaning the neck with a brush, and blast loose debris out of primer pockets.

Pin Vise – A simple $7.00 pin vise with a #53 bit is perfect for deburring Lapua PPC and BR flash holes without reaming the flash-holes any larger. The Lapua PPC/BR flash-hole diameter is 1.5 mm, or 0.059″. eHobbyTools.com sells a 1.5mm pin vise bit. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores.

Bounce Dryer Sheets – The common dryer sheets will eliminates “static cling” on your plastic reloading parts such as powder measure cylinders, powder funnels, and reloading press plastic bins. Thanks to Doc76251 for this tip.

BallistolBallistol Aerosol – Try using this versatile lubricant/solvent for full-length sizing. Spray some on a patch and you can wipe the carbon of your case necks. Then, continue to apply a very small amount of Ballistol on the case bodies — just thin sheen is all you need. Ballistol is super slippery, and easy to remove. For general full-length sizing (on small cases) it works great and doesn’t leave a gooey, waxy, or chalky residue. For heavier case-forming jobs, we recommend Imperial Die Wax.

Shotgun Mop – Stick this in the chamber when using Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner. This will seal off the chamber so the foam doesn’t flow into your action. For long chambers screw on one section of cleaning rod to aid extraction.

Colored Sharpie Marking Pens – Mark your bullets ahead of the bearing surface, and the color transfers to the target. This way you can shoot multiple loads at the same point of aim and discern which load shoots the tightest. (Recommended for 300 yards and beyond). With colored bullet tips you can test multiple loads “round robin” to equalize wind effects. When testing seating depths for example, you can mark the longer-seated set of bullets red and the shorter-seated set green and shoot them during the same sequence. Just look at the colored marks on the target to see which grouped better.

Sharpies Pens

Thin Latex Gloves – You should keep a box of inexpensive, disposable latex gloves (the kind doctors use) in your loading room. These will prevent contamination of primers or powder kernels that you handle directly. Also, use the gloves when handling fine blued tools or firearms to prevent transfering body oils and salts that promote rust.

Plastic Washers for Neck Mic – If you use a Sinclair Neck-wall Micrometer Gauge with integral stand, you can use thin plastic washers to adjust the height of the case on the mandrel. This makes it much easier to measure the same point on the case neck every time. Thanks to MikeCR for this tip (and photo).

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
September 23rd, 2013

Handy Small Magnifiers Aid Many Reloading Tasks

pocket fold-out magnifierWhat is the most-used piece of equipment on this editor’s reloading bench? No it’s not my Rock-Chucker press, or even my calipers. The one item in near-constant use is a small, folding magnifying glass. Mine folds into a square case and offers 4X viewing with an 8X bifocal insert. With this handy tool I can inspect case mouths for burrs, check primer pockets, inspect meplats, and look for flaws on bullet jackets. I also use the magnifier to see rifling marks on bullets seated into the rifling, or check my bolt for galling. The number of uses is nearly endless. I keep one magnifier at my reloading bench and another in my range kit.

Folding magnifiers are so handy yet inexpensive that you should own a couple spares (including one in the range box). I bought my magnifier in a book-store, but you can also find them on the web at FoldingMagnifier.com and WidgetSupply.com starting at just $1.95. To see the finest details, Widget Supply offers a powerful 17X/50X slide-out magnifier with a built-in, battery-powered LED light. With that gadget, you can easily see any minute flaws in your barrel crowns. That’s important because crown damage can cause hard-to-diagnose accuracy issues. We’ve known guys who spend weeks tinkering with loads, when the real problem was a worn-out or damaged crown.

pocket fold-out magnifier

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 3 Comments »
July 17th, 2012

Monitor Balance Beam with Magnified Image on SmartPhone

If you use a balance-beam scale to weigh powder and reloading components, here’s a clever way to magnify the view of the beam tip. Of course you can use an old-fashioned magnifying glass, clamped in place, to upsize the view. But now there’s a parallax-free, electronic solution that works for anyone with an iPhone or Android OS smartphone.

Forum member Allan E. (aka “1066”) discovered that he could use the camera on his smartphone to display and magnify the image of a balance-beam tip. This works via a Magnifying Glass App you can download for free. Just turn on the smartphone, activate the Magnifying Glass App and zoom-in to suit your preference. Alan explains: “This saves those tired eyes. It’s much more accurate because there’s no parallax — the lens is directly in line with the pointer so we can see [the pointer] off the screen from any angle. It’s a much clearer view, and it costs nothing.”

You’ll need to fabricate some kind of stand or clamp for the phone. Allan created a smartphone mount with a bit of wire, rubber bands, and a bullet box. You can see the system working in the video below. (The video starts by showing a webcam + laptop balance-beam monitor system. The Smartphone system demo begins at the 1:30″ time-mark.)

Magnifying Glass Apps AndroidMagnifying Glass Apps for iPhones and Android Phones
There are numerous ‘magnifying glass’ programs for Apple and Android smartphones that use the built-in camera. Most include a zoom function and auto-focus. You might try a couple different Apps and see which works best for you. Some perform better in low light, while others resolve better. All of the following have 4-star or better user ratings:

Magnifying Glass App, (iBeam), Apple iPhone/iPod, $0.99.

Magnifying Glass App, (David Perry), Android OS, Free.

Magnifying Glass App, (Perun Labs), Android OS, Free.

Magnify App, (Appd Lab), Android OS, Free.

Ultra-Magnifier +, (zapDroid), Android OS, include Flashlight Function, Free.

Story find by Boyd Allen. We welcome readers submissions.
Permalink - Videos, New Product, Optics 1 Comment »