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Beams or Digital?

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Old 10-27-2009, 11:07 PM
kc kc is offline
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Beams or Digital?

I load for accuracy but as we all know we learn something new every day,
I have a choice to continue using my beams(over 35 years old) or buy a digital scale.
What do you know, and are they worth buying?
Keith Sage.
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Old 10-28-2009, 05:09 AM
WRG WRG is offline
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Re: Beams or Digital?

Keith, though I had used beam scales for all of my reloading in the early years, I have come to rely on digital scales over the last decade. I now use a RCBS chargemaster 1500, which by the way is an excellant product however, I do double check the first couple of charges it drops with a pocket digital scale for my own piece of mind. Two cannot be wrong! The CM 1500 has never missed a charge as long as I have owned it so I am happy for that. When I first recieved it I check it against my beam scale and it was right on the money. So for me anyways I would say they are worth buying and feel you will get a more accurate measurement, especially if you want to increase your work up load in 10ths of a grain to fine tune a load. As with any scale, digital or beam, you must always calibrate them before you use them. It's just good common sense. Digital scales only take but a few minutes and could save your life.

I will go out on a limb and say you may get replies from some "Old dogs" who will have a much different opinion.


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US Army 79 - 85, 368th Combat Battalion, Sarget Spec-5, Combat Engineer

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
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Old 10-28-2009, 06:10 AM
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Re: Beams or Digital?

WRG gave good advise.
I would only add that you save enough money and buy a high quality laboratory grade digital scale.
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Old 10-28-2009, 06:16 AM
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Re: Beams or Digital?

From one of those "Old Dogs", I use a digital for sorting brass and bullets, but all of my powder charges are throne short and then trickled up on a beam scale (10-10). When you are loading for 1,000 yd competition even a .2 grain variance can cost you. And I feel every animal I shoot at deserves at least as much attention to detail as I give to a paper target!
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Old 10-28-2009, 06:34 AM
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Re: Beams or Digital?

I bought a ChargMaster 1500. I bought it because powder should be measured by weight, not volume. I've been dissapointed by it's accuracy and repeatability. I weighed every charge that came off it on my 10-10 and found it to be no better than +/- 0.2g and some times worse. Looking at my shiny new $300.00 instrument I wondered what had happened to my 10-10? I always set the 10-10 using check weights at the nearest half grain. Perplexed, I had a friend bring over a very expensive lab scale (+/- 0.01g) to see what was going on.

We checked the check weights and found they were right on. The 10-10 repeats within 0.05g. The bottom line is that the Ohaus 10-10 that I've had for 30 years, used in conjunction with the check weights, is a whole lot more accurate and repeatable than the 1500 I bought. This may not always be the case, but it is the case with mine.

Now I set the ChargeMaster 0.3g low and trickel to weight on my 10-10. The output of the Charge Master varies from 0.3g low to reading zero on the 10-10, and now and then will be .2g over which is a 0.5g variation.

I am glad I have the ChargeMaster, it is really fast for pre-measuring charges (which get weighted on the 10-10) to run ladder tests, and much faster to set up as a pre-measure than either of my volumetric throws (Lyman 55, Redding BR3). But I do not pour powder into the case directlly from it, ever. I weigh it on the 10-10 first.

What is so frustrating is that if I put the check weights on the charge master, it gives me the right answer. That is because the weight falls in the middle of a sampel range for the electronics. But when it is trickling to weight the digital thresholds get into the act and it will sometimes switch just as it crosses the threshold (which will be low). Or because of dynamics and some clumping of the powder it will switch after it is past the window. I don't think the industry has gotten it "right" yet with the automatic power dispensors. They are close, but not close enough for someone who needs a low ES for repeatability at long ranges.


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Old 10-28-2009, 09:09 AM
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Re: Beams or Digital?

"..continue using my beams(over 35 years old) or buy a digital scale.
What do you know, and are they worth buying?"

Opinon: Digitals are the current fad and when someone gets a hankering for a new gimmic I would never say, "Don't."

Fact: As a retired electronic insturment tech in the space/defence industries, I won't.

I continue to wonder, what is a digital scale supposed to accomplish that I can't do with my 45 year old 1010, which is still as dead-on as the day I bought it and expect it will be so another 45 years from today. (Anyone want to say their digital anything will equal that dependabilty?) Obviously, those who get "good" ones love them - now - but, still, they are vastly over priced and what do they do that a beam doesn't, and with much more security and ease of use? IF I had surplus cash spilling outta my wallet, and I don't, I MIGHT buy one for weighting bullets and cases. But, since I quit doing that long ago, it would mostly be an expensive trinket to decorate the loading bench.

Reloading grade electronic scales ain't high grade scales. High grade scales for drug and grocery stores, labs, etc., are EXPENSIVE! AND they still have a trained technician come in one to three times a year to test and adjust them, but NO reloader ever gets his digital scale tested/adjusted after purchase.

Digital dumpsters, aka, RCBS Chargemasters, etc, are not, per se, "scales". And they too are vastly over priced! If I had one, I too would use it to dump charges just under weight and trickle up, on a beam, to what I wanted. I'd NEVER trust one of those things to set my hot charges, all it would have to be off is ONCE! I KNOW what I will do and I do not trust any electromechanical gadget to do it for me.

No matter the room temperature, I can walk up to my mechanically leveled 1010, set a weight on it and know it's going to read properly, right then, every time. It works on gravity and, unlke power line voltage, that never changes and it isn't sensitive to external electical fields. All it needs to maintain accuracy forever is proper handling to prevent damage and an occasional cleaning to remove dust from the pivot knife and vee bearings.

With a "fast" digital scale, I would have to turn it on and allow it maybe 15-20 minutes of warm-up time. Then tare it, zero it and test the calibration. Then I could check my weight and, who knows, it may tell me what it really weighs. But, if I continue to use it for an extended loading session I would have to rezero it and recheck calibration from time to time. And that thing is supposed to SAVE TIME! ???

Nope, uh-uh, others may love them but they ain't for me. But...the folks who sell them digitals need to make a (good) living too, so...YOU get one!

Last edited by boomtube; 10-28-2009 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:03 PM
WRG WRG is offline
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Re: Beams or Digital?

I think we're splitting hairs here!

The way I see it is if my CM 1500 can repeat ably throw a charge of the same weight "it reads" that I have tested for accuracy for any one of my rifles then it's just as accurate as any 10/10 scale regardless if the beam scale will show what the charge actually weighs.

If anyone were going to continually run "HOT" loads then I would advise buying a highly expensive lab scale and pay to have it calibrated every month by a professional company. I on the other hand do not play on the high end of any charge and never had a need or a reason to. If you don't have it calibrated by a professional than your beam scale is no more accurate than a digital scale. You could never know for sure unless your that trained professional yourself.

I can guarantee you that I am never satisfied with any load that the extreme spread was in excess of 10 FPS. My loads for any of my rifles never exceed an ES of 5 fps so that must say something for the accuracy of the CM 1500.

If you think you can't load for accuracy using a digital scale well then your sadly mistaken! I don't shoot at 1000 yards but I do at 600 yrds at my club. My Remington M700P chambered in .308 caliber can produce a 3" group at that distance if I do my part! I also have a T/C Prohunter ML 50 cal thats shoots 1.5 groups all day at 200 yards. All those charges are weighed at 72.3 gr. for consistancy on the CH 1500. That is 110 grains by volumn of BH 209. I do believe that would qualify as ethical accuracy for any game animal.

For those of you who do own a charge master 1500 here is a link that will help you fine tune it. http://www.sahuntingrifle.co.za/inde...id=336

There are other things you can do to improve how they perform, RCBS is a fine company with great customer service if you call them with the right attitude.


NRA life Member

US Army 79 - 85, 368th Combat Battalion, Sarget Spec-5, Combat Engineer

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

Last edited by WRG; 10-28-2009 at 01:16 PM.
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