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Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

 
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Old 08-05-2011, 07:20 AM
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Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

I've been more or less forced to look into replacing my RCBS Chargemaster electronic scale for a reason you would never guess. It seems that the 'beep' tone that the scale issues is on the exact same frequency as the warning tone for our dog's underground electric fence, and no matter how far away I try to do my reloading the poor animal is freaking out (along with my wife) until I am finished. At least it gives me a pass to look into upgrading.

This is where it gets tough. As is typical, I've been reading everything I can find online before choosing a replacement, and also as is typical, am reminded once again that when it comes to precision instruments, you get what you pay for.

I had an interesting conversation with the very knowlegeable owner operator of Precision Weighing Balances (www.balances.com) when I called to ask for his advice. It seems he gets a lot of phone calls from 'gun guys' and quickly becomes frustrated with our refusal to acknowledge that if we want to weigh powder charges accurate to .1 grain or less, we are going to have to spend at least $700 on a lab balance.

The gentlemen rapidly dismissed ALL 'strain gauge' based balances as 'junk' and insisted that for this level of precision, only an 'electromagnetic force restoration' balance will suffice. These units START at roughly $700 and rapidly escalate in price to well over $8K. Not the biggest fan of us 'gun guys' he doesn't quite understand how we are willing to drop multi thousands of dollars on 'monster weapons' but won't pony up for the right balance to optimize its function. He pleaded with me to watch his YouTube videos on these subjects (search 'balancesdotcom' on YouTube) and 'spread the word' to the gun guys so he will get fewer inquiries that lead to no sale due to sticker shock.

I think that we can all agree that when it comes to weighing charges, uniformity between samples is probably more important than the true absolute weight of any given charge when creating a batch of loaded rounds. This notwithstanding, there will also be those of us who desire (or require) a very precise measurement of the charge weight as well.

So there it is...how precise does this element of our pursuit of accurate long range shooting have to be? Must we all pitch our RCBS/Hornady/Sinclair etc. 'junk' in favor of a piece of true laboratory equipment?

With my luck, a brand new fancy high dollar lab balance will produce the same damn beep frequency as my current one, only LOUDER. My wife will make me move out.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:46 AM
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Re: Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

I feel sorry for the dog!

No, seriously; a good powder meter (thrower) will get you really really close with most powders. I take it one step further and then trickle in to within 1/10 grain on my "normal" reloading scale.

I truely believe that weighing charges to absolute true precision isn't necessary, and may not even be beneficial. The idea of finding a load in the sweet spot is that a couple tenths variance will not affect poi. Heck, I know alot of people that don't bother even trickling to the scale, they just throw the charge with a good quality meter and then seat bullets. There's supposedly alot of world class record groups shot with charges that were only metered, never weighed.
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Old 08-05-2011, 08:53 AM
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Re: Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

The (other) old guy is mostly correct. Fact is, we really don't benefit from high precision in charges. Few shooters will ever see any difference between charges weighted to +/- .0000001 grain and those within +/- .2 or .3 three grains of powder. He77, the normal varations between individual cases and primers and the ambient temperature changes on the range make that much difference!
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:01 AM
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Re: Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

JD,

I'm not positive on this but I think theres a way to go into the settings of the RCBS chargemaster and turn off the "beep". I remember reading a thread some time back where people were going into the setings and changing all kinds of default settings and setting them to their liking and I want to think that the beep delete was one of the things that was an option. I am sure that a call to RCBS tech help and they would be able to tell you. They are a great bunch out there. I called the other day to order the cap that goes on my old bullet puller and they sent me one the same day for nothing. Have had other issues also that was handled free of charge... 'course like you said, you do have an excuse for an upgrade now, so you may not want the old scale. BK
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Old 08-05-2011, 09:24 AM
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Re: Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

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Old 08-05-2011, 11:15 AM
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Re: Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

I think the forced balanced approach is a good one. Now if 'balances.com' can produce a better RELOADING SCALE with it, that also charges cases to desired value, and automatically aggravates the wife, but not a dog when finished, we could consider the cost for more of what it's actually worth to us.

I've used high dollar scales at work and at home. They are not good reloading scales.
That forced balance approach would likely come with costs, as everything does.
I can picture it as sensitive to sound. As in every time your wife whines about anything your scale would struggle to null..
My Chargemaster just ignores her. It is my hero.
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Old 08-05-2011, 12:27 PM
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Re: Weighing Powder - How precise is good enough?

Quote:
Originally Posted by boomtube View Post
The (other) old guy is mostly correct. Fact is, we really don't benefit from high precision in charges. Few shooters will ever see any difference between charges weighted to +/- .0000001 grain and those within +/- .2 or .3 three grains of powder. He77, the normal varations between individual cases and primers and the ambient temperature changes on the range make that much difference!
wasn't it Bruce Hogdon that once said that +/- .15 grain is all that matters? That's a .3 of a grain window. I do think some powders benifit more from being precisely measured than others do. (faster burn seems to warrant a little more precision in my book). Also a few years back the guy that won the Super Shoot at Kelby's said he just threw the powder out of an old Homer Culver built Lyman #55, and I think he said he was shooting in a .25 grain window with his loads.
gary

Last edited by Trickymissfit; 08-05-2011 at 04:24 PM.
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