October 3rd, 2015

Ten Commandments for Use of Electronic Scales

Denver Instrument, maker of the MXX and Timberline Series of precision balances, has created a helpful guide explaining how to get the best performance from a digital scale. Denver Instrument knows that, to achieve and maintain a very high level of accuracy with digital scales, they must be calibrated regularly, leveled properly, and kept away from sources of interference. Unfortunately, some reloaders treat their electronic scales as if the machines were toasters — something to place on a tabletop, plug into an outlet, then “set and forget.” There’s a better way to set up your scale and keep it functioning optimally. Here are ten guidelines provided by Denver Instrument. Follow these “Ten Commandments” and you’ll benefit:

Denver Instrument MXX-123

Denver Instrument MXX-123ONE: Thou shalt choose the best resting spot. The performance of your balance depends greatly on the surrounding environment. Choose a location away from the main traffic flow of the room, especially doors. Also be aware of heating and cooling vents as these produce air movement. You can adjust the environmental settings on your balance to provide the best performance in the chosen location. Balances must be placed away from magnets as they affect the weigh cell performance.

TWO: Thou shalt avoid vibrations. Vibrations can come from large machinery in production environments and from fume hoods in laboratories. An alternative to fume hoods are Power Safety Workstations which are designed specifically for use with a balance.

THREE: Thou shalt watch temperature changes. On an analytical balance a one degree temperature change can cause a 1 digit (0.0001g) drift. Although Denver balances have temperature correction built-in, it is still important to calibrate your balance when the temperature changes significantly. Choosing to place your balance in a temperature controlled room, away from sunlight, and calibrating often helps minimize the effects of temperature.

FOUR: Thou shalt calibrate often. Upon installation and each time the balance is moved you should calibrate your balance. For example moving an analytical balance to a location that is only 13 feet higher changes the weight reading from 200.0000 g to 199.9997 g; which means the result is 0.0003 g lighter than the actual mass.

FIVE: Remember to check the level. The instrument should be leveled upon installation with all feet (two front feet for round pan units, four feet for square pan units) touching the countertop. If the level changes, the balance should be re-leveled and recalibrated. As an example, a 200g sample would weigh 0.0025 g less when tilted at an angle of 0.3°.

SIX: Honor thy weights. Keep in mind that weights are only as reliable as their quality and certification. Remember, a 1 g does not weigh precisely 1.00000 grams. Weights should be recertified annually. Denver Instrument offers recertification services on all weights 1 mg to 5 kg. Check to make sure you have selected the proper weight class for your balance. The weight tolerance should be better than balance readability. Always use tweezers or gloves when handling weights as smudges and indentations change the value of the weight. Keep weights in cases so they don’t get scratched or dusty.

Denver Instrument TimberlineSEVEN: Thou shalt always use a small container and weigh in the center of the pan. Especially when using an analytical balance, the effects of air buoyancy increase as the sample container size increases. Using a small sample container will minimize the effects. Items placed on the pan provide a downward force. Placing them directly in the center of the pan keeps corner loading errors at a minimum.

EIGHT: Thou shalt not unplug. To perform within published speci-fications, balances must have power applied for 30 minutes to 48 hours depending on the resolution of the balance. Denver balances have a standby mode which turn the display to standby but keep power cycling through the electronics.

NINE: Thou shalt not ignore static. Static is one of the most common weighing “noises”. It can cause reading to appear too high, too low or just be unstable. Denver balances include grounding methods to reduce the effects of static. However sometimes extra supplies are needed. Consider anti-static weigh dishes, anti-static brushes or low tech ways to increase the humidity of the chamber like placing damp cotton balls or glass wool in a small vial in the corner of the analytical draft shield.

TEN: Thou shalt clean often. Dirty weigh pans and powder in weighing chamber can contribute to static issues and lead to a wide variety of problems. Denver weigh pans are made from stainless steel and can be cleaned using a variety of household and laboratory chemicals. A small paint brush can be used to get power away from the edges of the draft shield for easy clean up.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
December 5th, 2014

Bench Hacks 101: Modified Straw Trick for ChargeMasters

RCBS Dispenser strawHere’s a clever, easy modification for your RCBS ChargeMaster electronic powder dispenser. Many folks use a McDonald’s straw to smooth kernel flow out of the dispensing tube. Forum member Mike S. (aka in2deep) found that, even with a straw in place, he sometimes got clumps, which dropped 5-6 kernels at once, throwing off his dispensed weight.

Mike looked at the situation and ingeniously decided to trim the straw into little v-shaped arms or prongs. This helps to break up the clumps, so the kernels flow out the end of the tube more consistently during the dispense cycle. Mike writes:

Soda Straw Modification
This is a further tweak of the popular soda straw modification as the original mod would still allow Varget powder to collect in the straw and dump sometimes as many as 6 or 8 or even more extra kernels in the pan. It would sometimes signal an overcharge, but even when it didn’t there could be as many as 6+ kernels too high or too low (total spread of 12+).

The little arms (prongs) on the straw tend to separate the kernels into groups of 1 or 2 or 3 and prevents piling and many times the throw is now within 1 or 2 kernels of the desired weight.

RCBS Dispenser straw

Straw Cutting Tips — Mike found the shape/angle of the “arms” is very important. If the cuts are too fine or too course it allows the kernels to collect almost like before but the illustrated angle seems to allow an average of only 2 or 3 kernels per trickle input from the machine. This means that more charges are much closer to the actual desired weight and max kernel variances will be cut in less than half and there will be almost no overthrows.

Credit Boyd Allen for sourcing this tip.
Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
November 16th, 2014

Advanced Reloading: Controlling Cartridge Powder Column Height

Most of us assume that if we weigh our powder carefully (down to the tenth of a grain or less) we can achieve a uniform powder fill from case to case in our handloads. Weighing does ensure that the weight of the propellant in each case is the same, but is the column of powder the same by volume each time? “Not necessarily” is the answer. An interesting experiment by our friend Boyd Allen demonstrates that the manner in which you place kernels in the case can make a significant difference in the height of the powder column within the brass case.

Using a Gempro 250 scale, Boyd measured exactly 30.6 grains of Vihtavuori N-133 powder. He then inserted this powder in the same cartridge case multiple times. (The case has a fired primer in place.) But here is the key — Boyd used various filling techniques. He did a slow fill, and a fast fill, and he also experimented with tapping and drop tubes. What Boyd discovered was that you can start with the exact same weight of powder (in fact the very same set of kernels), yet end up with vary different fill heights, depending on how you drop the kernels into the case. Look at the photos. Despite variations in lighting, the photos show the same 30.6 grains of powder, placed in the same cartridge, with four different methods.

Boyd Explains the Procedure Used for his Experiment.

EDITOR’s NOTE: So there is no misunderstanding, Boyd started with a weighed 30.6 grain charge. This identical charge was used for ALL four fills. After a fill the powder was dumped from the case into a pan which was then used for the next fill technique to be tried. So, the powder weight was constant. Indeed the exact same kernels (of constant weight and number) were used for each fill.

Boyd writes: “I used the same powder for all fills, 30.6 gr. on a GemPro 250 checked more than once. All fills employed the same RCBS green transparent plastic funnel. The fast drop with the funnel only overflowed when it was removed from the case neck, and 15 granules of powder fell on the white paper that the case was sitting on. The fast-funnel-only drop with tapping, was done with the funnel in place and the case and funnel in one hand, while tapping the case body with the index finger hard, many times (about 20 fast double taps). My idea here was to “max out” the potential of this tapping technique.

The slow drop with the funnel and 10″-long .22 cal. Harrell’s Precision drop tube, was done by holding the scale pan over the funnel and tapping the spout of the pan repeatedly on the inside of the funnel about 1/3 down from the top, with the scale pan tilted just enough so that the powder will just flow. Many taps were involved, again, to max out the technique.

Again, to be clear, after each case filling, the powder was poured from the case back into the scale pan carefully. You may notice the similarity between the fast drop with the drop tube, and the funnel only with tapping. Although I did not photograph it, fast tube drop and tapping (combined) improved on tapping alone, but only to about half as far down the neck as the slow with drop tube. Due to the endless possible permutations, I picked four and left it at that.

I believe that I can make the rough judgment that the scale pan funnel and drop tube technique, which involved a longer drop period, and probably less velocity at the top of the tube, left more room in the top of the case neck than the slow drop from the measure with the same drop tube. You have both pictures, so you can make the comparison.” — Boyd

Does Powder Column Height Variance Make a Difference?
Boyd’s experiment proves pretty conclusively that the method of dropping a given weight of powder can affect the height of the powder column in the case and the degree of powder compression (when a bullet is seated). He showed this to be true even when the exact same set of kernels (of constant weight) was used in repetitive loadings. This raises some interesting questions:

1. Will subsequent cartridge transport and handling cause the powder to settle so the variances in powder column height are diminished?

2. If significant inconsistencies in powder column height remain at time of firing, will the difference in fill level hurt accuracy, or result in a higher extreme spread in velocity?

3. Is there any advantage (beyond increased effective case capacity) for a tight (low level) fill vs. a loose (high level) fill?

We don’t know the answer to these follow up questions. This Editor guesses that, if we tested low-fill-height rounds vs. high-fill-height rounds (all with same true fill quantity by weight), we might see meaningful differences in average velocity. I would also guess that if you fired 10 rounds that exhibited quite a difference in powder column heights, you might see a higher ES/SD than if you shot 10 rounds loaded with a very consistent powder column height (either high or low). But further testing is needed to determine if these predictions are true.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
July 1st, 2014

Sinclair International Tech Staffers Offer Precision Reloading Tips

cartridge reloadingA while back, Sinclair International’s Reloading Press Blog featured a “round-table” discussion of reloading techniques. Sinclair’s team of tech staffers were asked: “What do you feel is the one-most crucial step in precision reloading?”

Here are their responses (along with comments from our Editors):

Phil Hoham: “I feel that when working up a load do not go too high or too low in your powder charge. Stay away from “suggested loads” you hear at the range, or on the internet. Always be sure to use a published reloading manual that presents not only minimums and maximums, but also pressure, velocity, and a proper range of powders used. Do not get distracted in the reloading process, and remain focused at all times during each step involved.”

AccurateShooter.com: Some loads presented on the Internet are OK as a starting point, but it is absolutely critical to understand that pressure maximums will vary considerably from one rifle to another (of the same chambering). For example, one 6mmBR rifle shooting 105gr bullets can max out with 30.0 grains of Varget powder, while another rifle, with the same chamber dimensions, but a different barrel, could tolerate (and perform better) with half a grain more powder. You need to adjust recommended loads to your particular rifle and barrel.

Froggy Reloading Bench

Pete Petros: “This could be a very broad topic, but if I were to pick one, it would be making sure to pay close attention, and weigh each and every powder charge to ensure that each load is exact and consistent. This is important not only for accuracy, but also for safety reasons.”

AccurateShooter.com: If you’re shooting beyond 200 yards, it is critical to weigh your loads with an accurate scale. Loads that are uniform (within a few kernels) will exhibit lower Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation. And remember, even if you stick with the same powder, when you get a new powder lot, you may have to adjust your load quite a bit. For example, .308 Palma shooters have learned they may need to adjust Varget loads by up to a full grain from one lot of Varget to the next.

Ron Dague: “I feel that the most important step(s) in reloading for accuracy are in the initial case prep. Uniforming the primer pocket to the same depth to ensure consistency in primer seating is a crucial step. Additionally de-burring the flash holes, each in the same way to clean up and chamfer the inside is important. It ensures that the ignition from the primer is uniform and flows out in the same consistent pattern. Doing so will create uniform powder ignition and tighten up your velocity Extreme Spread.”

AccurateShooter.com: With some brands of brass, primer pocket uniforming and flash-hole deburring is useful. However, with the best Lapua, Norma, and RWS brass it may be unnecessary, or worse, counter-productive. So long as your Lapua brass flash-holes are not obstructed or smaller than spec, it may be best to leave them alone. This is particularly true with the small flash holes in 220 Russian, 6BR, and 6.5×47 cases. MOST of the flash-hole reaming tools on the market have cutting bits that vary in size because of manufacturing tolerances. We’ve found tools with an advertised diameter of .0625″ (1/16″) that actually cut an 0.068″ hole. In addition, we are wary of flash-hole deburring tools that cut an aggressive inside chamfer on the flash-holes. The reason is that it is very difficult to control the amount of chamfer precisely, even with tools that have a depth stop.

Rod Green: “I feel that bullet seating is the most important step. If you had focused on making sure all prior steps (case prep, powder charge, etc.) of the process have been carefully taken to ensure uniformity, bullet seating is the last step, and can mean all the difference in the world in terms of consistency. Making sure that the bullet is seated to the same depth each time, and time is taken to ensure that true aligned seating can make the load.”

Bob Blaine: “I agree with Rod. I strongly feel that consistent bullet seating depth is the most important step in creating the most accurate hand loads. I have seen the results in both my bench and long range rifles. Taking the time to ensure exactness in the seating process is by far, the number one most important step in my book.”

AccurateShooter.com: Agreed. When loading match ammo, after bullet seating, we check every loaded round for base of case to ogive length. If it varies by more than 3 thousandths, that round is segregated or we attempt to re-seat the bullet. We measure base of case to bullet ogive with a comparator mounted on one jaw of our calipers. You may have to pre-sort your bullets to hold the case-base to ogive measurement (of loaded rounds) within .003″.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
April 19th, 2014

Forum Member Rigs Video Display for Balance Beam Scale

Balance Beam Scale Video DisplayAccurateShooter Forum member Allan, aka “1066”, has improved the performance of his RCBS balance-beam scale with some simple hardware modifications. In addition, Allan has cleverly fitted an inexpensive video camera to one end of his scale. This camera outputs a signal to Allan’s laptop computer, giving Allan a magnified, “big-screen” view of the pointer tip of his scale. That lets Allan observe ultra-small movements of the beam. With the hardware upgrades and video display, Allan has crafted a system with usable sensitivity to a single grain of Varget powder.

Hardware “Mods” Enhance Scale Reliability and Sensitivity
To upgrade his scale, Allan first fabricated a new U-shaped pan suspension hanger on the end of the scale. This allowed the pan to center more reliably and consistently. Next Allan extended the pointer arm at the opposite end, and attached a very fine graduated vertical scale to provide a more precise visual read-out. This scale has marks corresponding to 0.1 grains (one-tenth of a grain).

To improve the function of the beam itself, Allan “cleaned-up” the knife edges on which the beam moves, and Allan also fabricated a simple “approach to weight” fixture (with foam cushion) that gives the beam a smoother transition as it nears max travel.

Inexpensive Video Camera Displays on Laptop Screen
Allan’s real genius was in fitting an inexpensive video camera to display a magnified image of the pointer at the end of the beam. Seeing the “big picture” really helps get the best precision from the scale. Allan acquired a cheap web-cam and attached it via a simple bracket to the RCBS scale. A USB cable delivers the video output to Allan’s laptop. Allan says the web-cam cost less than $20.00 on eBay and required no special software. It was a “plug and go” installation. With the video camera running, the onscreen image is “super-sized” so Allan can track the smallest movements of the pointer tip. You can see how the whole system works in the video below. To dispense powder, Allan uses a slick automated trickler, explained next.

YouTube Preview Image

TargetMaster Automatic trickler Uses “Electric-Eye” for Automatic Shut-off
The final element in Allan’s high-tech balance beam scale system is a Targetmaster automatic trickler. This unique UK-made trickler is very advanced. It has two components — a dispenser, and a remote sensor that “watches” the movement of the balance beam. Allan pushes a button to start the powder flowing. As the load in the pan approaches the correct weight, an electric eye senses the position of the balance beam. Once the beam “hits the mark” for a correct load, the remote sensor shuts off the trickler. It sounds complicated but it works perfectly.

TargetMaster Trickler Components and Operation
The TargetMaster automated Trickler is a pretty impressive piece of kit that can be adapted to a wide variety of balance beam scales. The components and functions of the TargetMaster automated trickler are shown in the video below, provided by the manufacturer in the UK. To learn more about this reloading accessory, visit TargetMasterUK.com.

YouTube Preview Image
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 6 Comments »
April 15th, 2014

TECH TIP: Use Mirror and Magnifier with Beam Scales

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.

RCBS 10-10 Scale

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 6 Comments »
October 10th, 2013

Wind Box Shelters Scales When Reloading at Outdoor Ranges

Shooters who reload at the range, during the course of benchrest matches, or during load development sessions, can benefit from having a portable scale to weigh charges. Even if you throw charges, using click values, a scale allows you to double-check the accuracy of your throws. In addition, having a scale handy lets you weigh and sort components during load development.

Many reloaders prefer “old-fashioned” balance beam scales for range use. They are relatively inexpensive and simple to use. With a beam scale, unlike electronic scales, you don’t have to worry about weak batteries or finding AC power. The problem when using any scale at an outdoor range is wind. Wind can cause powder to blow out of the pan and even a light breeze can actually cause a beam scale to perform erratically.

Beat the Breezes with a Wind Box for your Scale
Forum member Boyd Allen has come up with a smart solution for reloaders who use scales outdoors — a windproof scale enclosure, aka “Wind Box”. This is something that can easily be built at home with common tools. Boyd explains: “Many guys have good set-ups for loading at the range, with clamping mounts for powder measure and press. But they lack a good enclosure for a scale. This is vitally important with beam scales because they have a lot of surface area to catch the wind. With much wind at all, the beam can oscillate to the point that is not really very usable. While a low-profile electronic scale may be less wind-sensitive, breezes DO affect weight read-outs on digital scales. And of course you always have the issue of blowing powder particles.”

Wind box range reloading

Boyd Allen has used his Wind Box successfully for many seasons. He explains: “Some time ago, I got this idea, and was fortunate enough to have a friend, Ed Hellam, who liked the idea well enough to build us both one. He did a fine job, but since this was the prototype there was at least one lesson to learn. The original viewing pane was Plexiglass, and I discovered that it would hold enough static charge to throw the scale off 0.1 grains, so another friend, Bob Smith, modified my Wind Box, replacing the Plexiglass with a tempered glass faceplate. Thank you Ed and Bob….

The essence of the idea is to have a scale set up in a box with a clear cover that can be opened and closed. On one side the trickler handle/control emerges through a ‘just big enough’ hole. You raise the cover, add a sub-target-weight thrown charge to the pan, and then close the cover. With the cover secure, the set-up is protected from the wind, and you can now trickle up to your desired charge. It works very well. The scale in the photo is an old Ohaus that I picked up. It is actually more sensitive than my RCBS 10-10 and works fine. You can adapt this Wind Box design to any beam scale, or portable electronic scale. Simply adjust the dimensions to fit your particular scale and trickler.”

Wind box range reloading

Permalink Gear Review, New Product No Comments »
February 19th, 2013

More RCBS ChargeMaster Optimization Tips

If you own an RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 electronic powder scale/dispenser, or are thinking about purchasing one, here are a few tips that can cut your loading times and eliminate some petty annoyances.

Mute That Annoying Beep
Some ChargeMaster users complain about the loud beep at the end of each cycle. There’s a simple way to silence the beep — and you don’t have to cut any wires or permanently disable the speaker. To mute the beep, simply hold down the Zero button until “beep off” displays. Repeat this procedure to restore the beep function.

Activating the Auto-Dispense Mode
You can set the ChargeMaster to automatically dispense your pre-programmed charge as soon as you put the pan back on the scale. Simply press and hold the “Enter” button. The code “Auto” should then appear on the display. At this point, push “Disp” to dispense the first charge. When you replace the pan, the unit will automatically dispense the same charge. For some people this is an added convenience. You can always go back to the default manual dispense method by changing the dispense mode using the “Enter” button again.

Use a McDonald’s Straw to Reduce Over-Throws
Jaco Brink provided another useful tip to avoid “over-throws” (excess charge weight): “The RCBS employee advised me to take a McDonnell’s straw (because it is thicker than a normal straw), cut off about a half inch piece and put it into the tube where the powder exits. This caused the last part of an extruded powder to cluster less, and reduced the amount of overthrows dramatically.”

Instructional Video
The video below shows how to set up and calibrate a Chargemaster 1500. Be sure to level the unit carefully, both left to right and front to back. Starting at the 1:44 mark in the video you can see the unit dispense a 50-grain charge in 30 seconds. The slow, final trickle stage takes about half of the total time.

How to Shorten Dispensing Times
The last tip is for advanced users only. You can alter the programming settings to speed up powder dispensing dramatically. One user reported that, by re-programming his machine, his cut his dispensing time for a 30-grain load from 22 to 13 seconds “with no overthrows”. WARNING: once you change the parameters, there is no “restore” command to set everything back to the defaults. So proceed carefully. The speed enhancement procedure is described on the pages linked below:

Basic ChargeMaster Speed Enhancement | Advanced ChargeMaster Programming Tips

Permalink - Videos, Reloading, Tech Tip 2 Comments »
December 26th, 2012

Hornady LnL AutoCharge Powder Dispenser on Sale for $195.00

Hornady Lock N Load Autocharge Electronic Powder Dispenser ScaleThe Hornady Lock N Load AutoCharge Electronic Scale/Dispenser is now on sale for under $200.00. Grafs.com has the Hornady AutoCharge for $194.99 (with $5.95 flat sh/h) and Amazon.com offers the AutoCharge for $195.00 with FREE ‘Super-Saver’ shipping. If you are looking for an affordable combination digital scale and powder dispenser, this is very attractive pricing. By comparison, the RCBS ChargeMaster is currently on sale for $299.99 at Sinclair International. So you can save at least $105.00 by buying RED instead of GREEN.

While we have a lot of positive experience with the RCBS Chargemaster, we haven’t done any long-term testing of the Hornady AutoCharge. However, user reviews have generally been positive. We suggest you do your own research and then make your own decision. Both the Hornady LnL AutoCharge and RCBS ChargeMaster offer load precision to ±0.1 grains. Both the Hornady Autocharge and the RCBS ChargeMaster are sold with a one-year manufacturers warranty.

Features and Specifications:
  • Scale capacity of 1000 grains
  • Easy-to-operate keypad
  • Large backlit display
  • Automatic and manual dispense options
  • Trickle function
  • Three speed settings
  • Easy Outflow Powder Drain
  • Overcharge protection
  • One-year manufactuer’s warranty

This Youtube video shows the Hornady Lock-N-Load AutoCharge in action.

If you want to learn more about the Hornady AutoCharge, there is a detailed review in Shooting.com.au, a popular Aussie gun forum. This product review features actual test results along with lots of sharp, jumbo-sized photos. Here is the summary of the reviewer’s test results: “Weighing [20 charges of a stick powder] on a Redding beam scale (the only other scale I have) showed that 12 were spot on and the remainder we fairly equally split between 0.1 grain under and 0.1 grain over according to this scale. I consider this to be more than adequate for me.”

CLICK HERE for Hornady Lock-N-Load AutoChage Dispenser REVIEW (Big PHOTOS)

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading No Comments »
December 19th, 2012

GemPro 250 Digital Scale on Sale for Just $145.00

Gempro 250If you are looking for an affordable precision scale, the GemPro 250 scale is now on sale for just $145.00 at Amazon.com. This scale offers 0.02 grain resolution, good enough to trickle kernel by kernel. The GemPro 250 comes with a 30-year warranty for American buyers. As this scale weighs more precisely than popular digital powder scale/dispensers, you can use the digital dispenser to throw a “close” charge and then fine-tune your load with the GemPro, kernel by kernel.

by Bill Schnauffer (aka Cover Dog)

The Importance of Precise Loads for Long-Range Shooting
The reloading scale is the life blood of anyone’s loading bench. It’s used for everything from weighing powders to cases or bullets and yes even primers. I would have never considered weighing primers but that is one of the many things I learned the weekend of May 20-22, 2011 at The Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Bench Rest Club’s Bench Rest Instructional School. All aspects of reloading for 1000-yard BR have to be identical. Your brass, bullets, powder and primers all have to weigh the same, for all your sighters and your 10 record shots, if you want any chance of being competitive. This can only become a reality if your scale is up to the task. Everything you do when shooting at 1000 yards is magnified 10x and your scale needs to be above all else, accurate and repeatable.

Gempro 250

I thought that a scale accurate to 1/10th of a grain was good enough. Not so in the long range BR game. Scales need to be accurate to at least 5/100ths of a grain or better if you can afford it. This prompted my search for such a scale.

GemPro Is Half the Price of Denver Instrument MXX-123
I have read reviews for several of the better scales used for reloading including the Accu-Lab VIC 123 (now replaced by the Sartorius Acculab AY123110V). The [AY123 seriess] scales are accurate to 2/100ths of a grain, but is also a scale that many felt was affected by RF interference and the slightest air movement made it drift. This was due in part because of the strain gauge technology that is used in the manufacture of this scale. And with parts not readily available, the lead time for one is you want it is over 20 weeks. The Denver Instrument MXX-123 also had a good review but the current version, [Sartorius Acculab AY123110V], is into the $320 price range. And this is out of reach for many reloaders.

This now brings me to the My Weigh GemPro 250. It uses True-Division German HBM sensors and professional components in the manufacture of this scale. It has a 50 gram weight capacity (771.72 grains) and accuracy down to 2/100ths of a grain. It features seven (7) weighing modes as listed below. And with a retail price in the $145.00 range, this is a scale that most reloaders could afford for their reloading bench. And you won’t be pressed for room on that bench. The scale is very compact, measuring 5.25″ X 3.75″ X 2.5″.

GemPro 250 Scale Balance Review

Product Sale Tip by Boyd Allen. We welcome Reader Submissions.
Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
November 23rd, 2012

How to Get an RCBS ChargeMaster for $250.00 (After Rebate)

The RCBS ChargeMaster Combo Electronic Scale/Dispenser is very popular with reloaders. The units we use have dispensed loads faithfully (and accurately) for many seasons. We rarely, if ever, mess around with manual powder measures anymore. If you haven’t bought a ChargeMaster yet because the price (typically about $349.00) has been out of reach, now you’re in luck. Midsouth Shooters Supply has discounted the ChargeMaster to exactly $300.00. That qualifies for a $50 off rebate from RCBS. When you figure in the $50 Manufacturer’s Rebate, your final price (not including shipping) is just $250.00. That’s a good deal. But just to be clear — you still have to pay shipping!

How to Claim Your $50.00 Mail-In Rebate
You can get $50.00 cash back from RCBS. You need to have purchased at least $300.00 in 2012 RCBS “Product” to qualify for the RCBS $50.00 mail-in rebate. With the rebate you get $50.00 back directly from RCBS. This lowers the effective price of a new ChargeMaster to $250.00 (before shipping and after rebate). Purchases must be made between 1/1/2012 and 12/31/2012 and the rebate form and supporting materials must be received no later than 1/31/2013.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
October 30th, 2012

Awesome Deal on Digital Calipers — $12.99 with case

A few times each year, MidwayUSA puts its Frankford Arsenal Digital Calipers (product #604242) on sale, and we try to let our readers know. Marked down from $22.49, these are just $12.99 through November 30, 2012. We have a set of these calipers and they have performed basic measuring functions in the loading room reliably for many years. But there have been complaints about the long-term reliability of recently-made versions. Still, at this price, you can afford to buy a spare set for your range kit. Measuring resolution is ± .001″ and values can be switched from English to Metric. The calipers come in a handy, protective plastic case, with battery.

Midway USA Digital Calipers

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 4 Comments »
September 9th, 2012

Digital Scale Comparison: GemPro 500, AY123, Sartorius GD503

This article first appeared in 2011.
JayChris, AccurateShooter.com’s IT “guru”, has tested three different digital scales. The first is the relatively inexpensive ($150.00) GemPro 500, the second was the $333.00 Sartorius AY123, which is very similar to the Denver Instrument MXX123 and Acculab-123. Lastly, JayChris tested his $1225.00 Sartorius GD503 lab scale. The 3-way comparison test produced interesting findings. We learned that the AY123 had some serious shortcomings when used to weigh powder. The GemPro 500 performed well for the price, but was quite a bit slower than the big GD503. In speed of response, accuracy of measurement, resistance to drift, and overall reliability, the GD503 was the clear winner in our comparison. Sometimes you do get what you pay for. CLICK HERE for GD503 Review with Videos.

digital scales GD503, AY124, GemPro 500 250

BATTLE of the BALANCES

Three-Way Comparison Test: GemPro 500, Sartorius AY123, Sartorius GD503
Testing Report by JayChris
Precision Weighing Balances, www.balances.com, an authorized Sartorius Distributor, shipped me an AY123 (same as Denver MXX123, Acculab 123, etc.) along with a high-end GD503 force restoration scale. I had purchased the GD503, while the AY123 was a loaner for this comparison test. I included in this test a GemPro 500 scale that I already had. My key objective in this comparison test was to test each scale for measurement drift over time. We wanted to see if the displayed weight of a given object (here a certified test weight), would change over time, or with repeated measurements.

The first test was a “quick” test, where I measured the same weight ten (10) times, in the same order, about every 30 seconds or so. I did this at about the same speed as weighing out powder, maybe a bit slower. This took about 5 or 6 minutes. The second test was more-or-less an overnight test, where I measured the same weight in lengthening intervals, starting every 10 minutes, then every 30, then every 60, and so on. You can see the time series on the included graphs.

digital scales GD503, AY124, GemPro 500 250

TEST SETUP:
– I used the same 100 GRAM Sartorius certified check weight for every test (see photo). Note: 100 GRAMS = 1543.233 GRAINS
– I calibrated each scale within 30 seconds of each other before starting the test.
– I tare’d each scale within a few seconds of each other
– All three scales are connected to the same line conditioning PDU and are located in the same environment (right next to each other)

Measurement Resolution and Display Increments
– The Sartorius AY123 measures to the nearest hundredth of a grain (.00). Increments are in 0.02 grain divisions, i.e. the nearest two hundredth of a grain.
– The Sartorius GD503 measures to the nearest thousandth of a grain (.000). Increments are in 0.005 grain divisions, i.e. the nearest five thousandth of a grain.
– The GemPro 500 measures to the nearest half-tenth of a grain (.05).

NOTE: When weighing powder, I weigh to the nearest .05 grain so any of these provide adequate (or more-than) resolution.

FIRST SERIES Quick Test:

digital scales GD503, AY124, GemPro 500 250

* X-axis is weighing series iteration

SECOND SERIES Time-based:

digital scales GD503, AY124, GemPro 500 250

* X-axis is a time series in minutes-from-0.

THIRD SERIES AY123 “Stable” vs. “Unstable”:

digital scales GD503, AY124, GemPro 500 250

* X-axis is a weighing series iteration

This is a test of the AY123 in “Stable” vs. “Unstable” environment mode. The GD503 was used for comparison. I ran this test to compare the AY123 in “Stable” conditions mode (default) vs. “Unstable” conditions mode, based on anecdotal reports that the “Unstable” mode produces more consistent results. I did not find that to be so. In addition, I found that the weighing time for the “Unstable” mode was extremely slow — taking nearly 5 – 7 seconds per instance to complete a measurement. It then takes a few seconds to return to zero. In the AY123’s default “Stable” mode, it takes a second or so. Based on my testing then, there is no advantage to running the AY123 (or similar clones) in the “unstable mood”. It will simply slow you down.

Observations and Conclusions
Overall, the GD503 was the most consistent, never varying more than .005 (five-thousandths) of a grain, which is about ten times less drift than the next closest scale. The GemPro was “close” behind, never varying more than .05 of a grain. The AY123 was consistently variable and lost significant resolution over time. It was difficult to plot the AY123 results because it rarely settled at a weight for longer than a few seconds — it would routinely come up with a different weight every few seconds, varying by as much as .04 of a grain. I selected the first reading it “settled” on as the “official” reading.

The one thing this test does NOT demonstrate is trickling — our previous Review of the GD503 has a video that shows that nicely. The GD503 gives you near instantaneous read-outs when trickling. By contrast, both the AY123 and GemPro 500 require a “trickle-and-wait-for-update” plan. The GD503 is really dramatically better in its ability to return a “final” weight very quickly. This allows efficient trickling. CLICK HERE for GD503 Review with Videos.

[UPDATE: One of our readers observed that there is a setting which can make the AY123 more responsive (and accurate) when trickling charges: “Note that the video shows the 123 jumping as powder is added. The reason is the scale is in the default setting, which is for single weightings. When changed to ‘Filling’ mode, the scale reacts very quickly, and in my case accurately. Trickling is easy in the ‘Filling’ mode. My experience is that the AY123 is an excellent scale, but is sensitive to environmental factors. The GD503 is way better and is also way more expensive.” — Matt P.]

GemPro 500 Performed Well — Drift Was Usually Minimal and Charges Settle Fairly Quickly
I’ve used the GemPro 500 for quite a while now and have found it to be fairly reliable. However, over one previous loading session I have seen it drift as much as .150 of a grain. I had to go back and re-weigh charges because of this. Therefore, I tend to tare it every five (5) weighings or so which is probably overkill based on one case. I’ve not had that problem since so I am guessing something happened environmentally (maybe I bumped it or something). Overall, the GemPro is not overly sensitive to environment and settles fairly quickly and reliably.

Charges Weighed by SD503 Have More Consistent Velocities, with lower SDs
I’ve loaded a few hundred rounds with the GD503 now. I have not found it to drift more than .010 of a grain in that time. So, now, I only tend to tare it once at the beginning of a load session. I have gotten extremely consistent velocities from charges loaded with this scale, with single-digit standard deviations. By contrast, previously, my best efforts usually resulted in standard deviations (SDs) in the low teens.

Based on my experience testing the AY123, I would not choose this scale to load powder with. The readings are just too variable. The slightest environment factors (breathing, hand movement, etc.) cause large changes in results. I tried to load some rounds using this scale (backed by my GD503 to verify) and I couldn’t do better than a few tenths of a grain, and that was with considerable effort. The Sartorius AY123 is really the wrong tool for the job when it comes to measuring powder.

Thanks to Precision Weighing Balances for providing the AY123 for comparison. The other two scales, the GemPro 500 and GD503, I purchased on my own nickel. [Editor’s Note: When purchased in 2011, Jay’s GD503 cost approximately $900.00. The current 2012 price at Balances.com is $1225.00.] All three of these digital scales can be purchased through the Precision Weighing Balances webstore:

GemPro 250 | GemPro 500 |AY-123 |GD503

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 8 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 »
March 10th, 2012

Shot Order and Calibration When Using Electronic Scales

Here’s a tip that can help you score higher at matches and get more predictable results when weighing loads with an electronic scale. Kelly Bachand, a top prone shooter and electrical engineering major at the Univ. of Washington, tells us that all digital scales can drift. Therefore Kelly recommends re-calibrating electronic scales often. In addition — and this is key — Kelly recommends that you shoot the ammo in the exact order in which it was loaded. Arrange your loaded ammo in a box in the order of loading and shoot it first-loaded to last-loaded. (Or, if you prefer, shoot it last-loaded to first-loaded.) The important thing is to maintain the order and not mix everything up. That way, if your scale drifts, the effect of drift on charge weight will be incremental from one loaded round to the next, so point of impact change should be negligible. Conversely, if you shoot your last-loaded round right after your first-loaded round, the effect of scale drift is at its maximum, so powder charge varience is maximized. And that can produce a different point of impact (POI) on the target.

Tips on Loading with Electronic Scales
by Kelly Bachand
If you use a digital scale to measure powder charges, recalibrate the scale often. I like to do this about every 25 rounds or so. Additionally, most electronic scales rely on eddy currents for their precision. Eddy currents are easily disrupted by static electricity so keep a cloth or ground strap nearby to remove any static currents should the scale start acting up; I usually just use a fabric softener sheet that has gone through the dryer once.

Shoot Ammo in Order of Loading
I shoot my rounds in the same order or reverse order as I load them. If the charge weight varies due to scale drift during use, the difference will be gradual if I shoot in the same order as production (or reverse order). I should be able to adjust for the slight varience in charge weight without having any wildly high or low shots (see the charts below for a graphical demonstration). I usually load my ammunition just 100 rounds at a time. Give yourself plenty of time and remember that you will make your best ammunition when you are fully awake and alert.

Electronic powder scale chart

This graph demonstrates the effect a .01% (that’s 1/100th of 1 percent) difference in scale measurement would have over the course of 100 rounds assuming the desired load is somewhere between 46 and 47 grains. The final round made would have almost 1% less (or more) powder than the first, that’s almost an 0.5 grain difference from the first. If shot back to back, these rounds will invariably have different points of impact on the target.

Electronic powder scale chart

This graph demonstrates the same .01% difference in scale measurement but this time with a recalibration every 25 rounds. By recalibrating the scale every 25 rounds the furthest a weighed charge ever gets from the original is less than 0.25%. Again if the charge being weighed is between 46 and 47 grains then the 26th round made would vary from the 1st by .12 grains. Even that small difference would likely show on target.

Either way it is important to note that if the bullets are shot in the same (or reverse) order as they are made, the biggest difference from bullet to bullet in this example is less than .01 grains.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 18 Comments »
March 4th, 2012

Hornady LnL AutoCharge Powder Dispenser on Sale for $186.01

Hey folks, here’s a very good deal if you want a combo electronic powder dispenser/scale. The Hornady Lock-N-Load AutoCharge typically retails for around $240 (currently it’s $229.99 at Cabelas and $249.99 at MidwayUSA). Right now, ManVentureOutpost.com has the AutoCharge for just $186.01 (plus shipping). That’s over $50 off typical retail. NOTE: You MUST use Coupon Code SPR2012 during checkout to get that $186.01 price. Act quickly — supplies are limited at that price.

3/5/2012 UPDATE — ManVentureOutpost.com Sold Out of this item, which is now back-ordered. ManVenture is still (apparently) honoring the $186.01 price (with SPR2012 Coupon Code).

CLICK HERE to get Hornady Lock-N-Load AutoCharge Dispenser for $186.01. Code SPR2012.

Hornady Lock-N-Load Powder Scale Autocharge dispenser Hornady Lock-N-Load Powder Scale Autocharge dispenser

Hornady AutoCharge Is Much Less Expensive than RCBS ChargeMaster
That price for the Hornady unit is about $155.00 less than typical pricing for the RCBS Chargemaster (Sinclair sells the Chargemaster for $340.99 plus shipping). For most tasks the Hornady performs quite well. However, RCBS ChargeMaster fans will be quick to note that there has been more accumulated knowledge on tweaking the RCBS machine. But if you want a bargain, consider the “red option” — the Hornady AutoCharge.

This Youtube video shows the Hornady Lock-N-Load AutoCharge in action.

If you want to learn more about the Hornady AutoCharge, there is a detailed review in Shooting.com.au, a popular Aussie gun forum. This product review features actual test results along with lots of sharp, jumbo-sized photos. Here is the summary of the reviewer’s test results: “Weighing [20 charges of a stick powder] on a Redding beam scale (the only other scale I have) showed that 12 were spot on and the remainder we fairly equally split between 0.1 grain under and 0.1 grain over according to this scale. I consider this to be more than adequate for me.”

CLICK HERE for Hornady Lock-N-Load AutoChage Dispenser REVIEW (Big PHOTOS)

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
August 5th, 2011

Review of the GemPro 250 Scale (from My Weigh)

Gempro 250SUMMARY: This review gives high marks to GemPro 250 scale from My Weigh. It offers 0.02 grain resolution, good enough to trickle kernel by kernel. At just $165.49, the scale is quite affordable. The GemPro 250 comes with a lifetime warranty for American buyers. As this scale weighs more precisely than popular digital powder scale/dispensers, you can use the digital dispenser to throw a “close” charge and then fine-tune your load with the GemPro, kernel by kernel.

by Bill Schnauffer (aka Cover Dog)
The Importance of Precise Loads for Long-Range Shooting
The reloading scale is the life blood of anyone’s loading bench. It’s used for everything from weighing powders to cases or bullets and yes even primers. I would have never considered weighing primers but that is one of the many things I learned the weekend of May 20-22, 2011 at The Original Pennsylvania 1000-Yard Bench Rest Club’s Bench Rest Instructional School. All aspects of reloading for 1000-yard BR have to be identical. Your brass, bullets, powder and primers all have to weigh the same, for all your sighters and your 10 record shots, if you want any chance of being competitive. This can only become a reality if your scale is up to the task. Everything you do when shooting at 1000 yards is magnified 10x and your scale needs to be above all else, accurate and repeatable.

Gempro 250

I thought that a scale accurate to 1/10th of a grain was good enough. Not so in the long range BR game. Scales need to be accurate to at least 5/100ths of a grain or better if you can afford it. This prompted my search for such a scale.

GemPro Is Half the Price of Denver Instrument MXX-123
I have read reviews for several of the better scales used for reloading including the Accu-Lab VIC 123 (Accu-Lab ceased operation Dec. 31, 2010) and its predecessor the Sartorius AY-123. The scales are identical just repackaged and with a new name and color. The scale is accurate to 2/100ths of a grain, but is also a scale that many felt was affected by RF interference and the slightest air movement made it drift. This was due in part because of the strain gauge technology that is used in the manufacture of this scale. And with parts not readily available, the lead time for one is you want it is over 20 weeks. The Denver Instrument MXX-123 also had a good review but like the others above, it’s into the $320 price range. And this is out of reach for many reloaders.

This now brings me to the My Weigh GemPro 250. It uses True-Division German HBM sensors and professional components in the manufacture of this scale. It has a 50 gram weight capacity (771.72 grains) and accuracy down to 2/100ths of a grain. It features seven (7) weighing modes as listed below. And with a retail price in the $165.00 range, this is a scale that most reloaders could afford for their reloading bench. And you won’t be pressed for room on that bench. The scale is very compact, measuring 5.25″ X 3.75″ X 2.5″.

Gempro 250

NOTE: There is also a GemPro 500 which has a weight capacity of 100g (1543 grains) but only has accuracy down to 5/100ths of a grain.

Testing and Evaluation
I decided to give the GemPro 250 a try. Several days after I placed my order, Big Brown arrived. As I started to unpack the scale my heart started to sink and the first words out of my mouth were “boy is this thing small, hope it wasn’t a mistake”, only time will tell.

Gempro 250

Included with the scale was a plastic travel case that housed the accessories. They consisted of an AC power supply, ASTM class F2 calibration weight, weighing pan, plastic tweezers and a vibra-kill pad. The scale also has a built in circular bubble level, four leveling feet, hinged protective windscreen and a stainless steel weighing platform. If you load at the range, you’ll be glad to know that it also runs on four AAA batteries. Information sheets that came with the scale stated it takes the load cell one hour to come up one degree in temperature when plugged in and turned on. Instructions recommend giving the unit a 24-hour warm-up before use.

Gempro 250Scale Calibrates Rapidly
After leaving the scale on for 24 hours (my scales are always up and running), I placed the ASTM class F2 20g calibration weight on the scale after setting it to calibrate. After about 3 seconds it stopped its calibration and read 20.000g exactly what the calibration weight was supposed to weigh. When converting grams to grains you need to multiply by 15.4324 or with this scale you can just scroll through the seven weighing modes until you come to grains. Its actual weight is 308.65 grains but since this scale only reads to 2/100ths of a grain the 100ths digit must always be an even number, so it reads 308.64 grains.

For the next several minutes I started weighing everything I had in front of me. Bullets, brass, loaded rounds all were gathered up and weighed so I could get the feel for the GemPro 250.

I set the calibration weight on the scale between every one of the 30 loads I weighed. Only once did it vary from the 308.64 grain reading when it moved up to 308.66 grains.

I wish I had at my disposal a scale more sensitive than the GemPro 250 to double check its accuracy. Scales that read to 1/100th of a grain are out of my price range, and cost from $2000 for the Citizen CX265 to $4065 for the A&D Phoenix GH252. I purchased a PACT Digital Scale in late 1994 and to this day it has been my “go to” scale. In 2002 I sent it back to PACT to have the infrared port installed so I could purchase PACT’s infrared powder dispenser. I have used the PACT Scale/Dispenser as a team for the last 10+ years for all my reloading needs. So now with the GemPro 250 on my bench it was time to see how “accurate” my reloading with the PACT combo has been.

Gempro 250 scale

Editor’s Note: In this review, the GemPro 250 is used to confirm the weight of powder throws from a PACT digital dispenser. However, the reviewer did not have a laboratory-grade scale to test the displayed weights from the GemPro 250. We have another GemPro 250 on order from Amazon.com. When it arrives we will do a comparison weighing test, using a Denver Instruments lab scale as the control unit.


Gempro 250 scaleREAL WORLD TESTING
Double-Checking PACT Dispenser with GemPro 250
For the first test I used Reloder 15 (RL15), a course, long-kernel powder. After calibrating both the PACT scale and the GemPro 250 I set the Pact Dispenser to throw a charge of 27.7 grains. During the throws, if the PACT scale read 1/10th over/under, I didn’t make any correction. I just waited until it stopped dispensing and the transferred the charge in the pan to the pan in the GemPro 250.

Below are the results of those 10 thrown charges:
27.76 | 27.94 | 27.80 | 27.84 | 27.92 | 27.88 | 27.76 | 27.88 | 27.78 | 27.78

Note: As measured by the GemPro 250, none of the PACT throws hit the 27.7 grain mark exactly — all throws were slightly high. The total spread from lowest (27.76) to highest (27.94) throw was 0.18 grains and the spread from the 27.7 target weight to the highest dispensed charge was 2.4 tenths of a grain HIGH. I’m sure this could cause a little vertical at 1000 yards.

For the next round of tests, I used IMR 8208 XBR. Compared to RL15, the kernels of 8208 are shorter in length and smaller in girth. Using the same parameters as with the RL15, here are the results of 10 thrown charges with IMR 8208 XBR:
.
27.78 | 27.80 | 27.78 | 27.82 | 27.78 | 27.84 | 27.80 | 27.74 | 27.78 | 27.74

Once again, not one of the 10 dispensed charges were right on the mark according to the GemPro. Again, all thrown charges were slightly hight.The range from target weight to the highest was 1.4 tenths of a grain, and the total variance from 27.70 grain target weight was 0.14 grains.

The final powder tested was HS6. This is a spherical powder which, by most accounts, meters very well. With the same procedures in place here are the results for HS6 weighed on the GemPro 250:

27.76 | 27.74 | 27.74 | 27.78 | 27.68 | 27.74 | 27.70 | 27.74 | 27.68 | 27.70

As expected HS6 did very well in getting close to the 27.70 target and hit it on several throws. The total variance from the 27.70 target Averaging 26/100ths over for the 10 charges thrown

PACT Performance Re-Evaluated
Only able to read to 1/10th of a grain, the PACT dispenser looked to be nearly perfect with the HS6 powder. But when checked with a precision scale capable of reading to 2/100th’s of a grain, I found that the PACT still threw loads that were higher than what was programmed. I will still use my PACT to dispense my loads one grain short and then trickle in the last few kernels with the scale pan sitting on the GemPro 250.

CONCLUSION
The GemPro 250 is small, compact, portable and able to deliver repeatable accuracy to 2/100ths of a grain, time after time. That is all that one can ask of any scale. There is one last important thing to mention. The GemPro 250’s express warranty is LIFETIME (for domestic buyers) or 30 years for International Customers. A lifetime warranty is unheard of in the electronics business. I guess the people at My Weigh know what they have and are willing to stand behind it. If it should ever need servicing the My Weigh service center located in Phoenix, AZ will repair your scale and have it back to you in two business days.

Permalink Gear Review, Reloading 4 Comments »
August 13th, 2010

Pocket-Sized Scales for Reloaders

Ultra-portable mini-reloading scales have become popular with shooters who reload at the range. These can be small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. While not as precise as a bench-top unit, they can deliver read-outs to within 0.2 grains. These ultra-compact scales should prove very useful for any shooter that needs to load at the range. Additionally, they are affordable enough to be used as a back-up to a larger electronic or balance beam scale. Two models, one from MTM and the other from Acculab (Sartorius) have caught our attention.

NOTE: We haven’t yet been able to comparison-test these two scales with a laboratory scale to confirm the claimed levels of weighing precision and see if there are any serious calibration or “drift” issues. But we’ve heard no negative reports.

MTM Mini Reloading Scale — $30
The new DS-1200 weighs up to 1200 grains. MTM claims accuracy (resolution) to plus or minus 0.1 (one-tenth) grain. You can switch measurements among grains, grams, ounces and carats .The unit features a high-impact, plastic sensor cover that doubles as a large powder pan. The DS-1200 comes with a calibration weight, two (2) CR2032 Batteries, and a foam lined storage/travel case. Up to 1200 grain capacity with To save battery power, the large, backlit display shuts off automatically after 3 minutes. Here are sources for this bargain-priced new scale:

PrecisionReloading.com Item MTDS1200 | $29.99


Acculab Pocket Pro PP-62 Mini Scale — $110
Sartorius, makers of the popular Acculab-123 scale and its Denver Instrument clone, the MXX-123, has introduced a new, portable reloading scale that is truly pocket-sized. The compact model PP-62 will work as a portable scale or a back-up for a benchscale. It measures 3.5″ long, 3″ wide, and just 7/8″ thick.

The Pocket Pro can handle a maximum weight of 1000 grains. Acculab claims resolution down to 0.1 (one-tenth) GRAM, which provides readability to 0.20 GRAINS. We like the fact that the unit runs on a single, easy-to-purchase AA battery. Battery life is up to 20 hours, if you turn off the back lighting on the LCD display. A sliding cover also protects the weighing mechanism during transport. The PP-62 offers easy one-button calibration with the supplied check weight.

Sinclair Int’l sells the new Acculab PP-62, for $119.95 (Item 10-6200). This includes battery, weighing pan, and 50 gram calibration weight. ScalesGalore.com offers the PP-62 (with battery, pan, and check weight), for $109.95.

CONSUMER ALERT: On the web you’ll find other versions of the Acculab Pocket-Pro® Scales, priced at $45-$60.00. These are the PP-201 (photo below) and PP-401. Though these scales appear identical to the PP-62 (Sinclair item 10-6200), they are NOT the SAME. The cheaper PP-201 and PP-401 are only rated to one-TENTH of a GRAM. The PP-62 is RATED to one-HUNDRETH of a GRAM — roughly 0.2 GRAIN precision.


Permalink Gear Review 2 Comments »
May 26th, 2010

Price Watch: Natchez Offers RCBS ChargeMaster for $279.95

RCBS Chargemaster saleElectronic powder dispensers are more popular than ever, and the RCBS ChargeMaster is still the top seller (though the new Hornady dispenser is worth checking out). We know you guys are always looking for the best deal on your reloading equipment. Well, right now, Natchez Shooters Supply has the RCBS Chargemaster Combo Scale/Dispenser on sale for just $279.95 (Natchez item #RC98923). That’s $40-$50 bucks lower than the price at most other vendors.

CCI Small Rifle Primers Available at Natchez
Some folks are still looking for CCI primers. Well Natchez has plenty of CCI small rifle primers in stock. Here’s what’s currently available, with prices. NOTE: If you need the BR4s, Powder Valley has them at $37.00/1000, which beats Natchez’s price by a wide margin. Federal Primers are still very hard to find. Powder Valley and Natchez are both out of stock.

  • CCI 400, Small Rifle Primers, 1000 primers, $32.50
  • CCI 450, Small Rifle Magnum Primers, 1000 primers, $36.16
  • CCI BR4, Small Rifle BR Primers, 1000 primers, $50.43

CLICK HERE for Natchez May/June 2010 Product Flyer.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading No Comments »
May 15th, 2010

Ensure You “Make Weight” with Handy, Portable 75-lb Scale

Competitive shooters need to keep track of the weight of their rifle and gear. In many disciplines rifle weight is restricted, and when traveling by air overseas, every ounce counts. Hunters and varminters headed to far-off locations also need to know how much their equipment weighs. Airlines now impose costly penalties for overweight baggage.

Here’s a compact, handy scale that can help ensure your checked baggage doesn’t exceed limits. (You can use the scale to get a rough idea of your rifle weight, but to be 100% sure you “make weight” per match rules, use a quality calibrated scale, such as a postal scale rated to 40 pounds.) A scale like this is also handy when selecting spotting scopes, rests, hard cases etc., to take on a trip. This pocket scale is small enough that you can keep it in your range kit or bring it along on your travels.

luggage scale

Right now Amazon.com has the Travelon Luggage Scale on sale for $9.06 with FREE Shipping. This compact unit weighs items up to 75 pounds. Just place the hook around the item to be weighed, and lift with the metal handle at the top. The red dial marker stops in place at max weight, so you don’t have to watch the scale as you lift. Most purchasers have given this scale good reviews.

Permalink Hot Deals, New Product 2 Comments »