Beams vs Scales digital

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by kc, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. kc

    kc Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Are Beam scales as accurate as the Digital scales?
  2. winmag

    winmag Well-Known Member

    Dec 23, 2009
    Is this a serious question?
    Ill take a beam scale over a digital any day. Dollar for dollar beam scales are more accurate IMO.
    Now that is all subject to change the more $$$ you throw at it, but my beam scale works the same in my garage in the middle of winter as it does in the summer. I dont have to keep it in the house 24/7 at a constant temp. in order for it to read consistantly.

  3. Mikecr

    Mikecr Well-Known Member

    Aug 10, 2003
    This dispensor test gives you info that might help:
    Digital Powder Dispensers -- RCBS ChargeMaster, Lyman 1200 DPS, PACT test review with accuracy, speed, warranty, reliability tests

    I believe there are digital scales as accurate as beam under the exact same conditions.
    The most accurate reloading scale for powder measurement(only) is the Prometheus beam scale system. But if you put a high dollar digital in such a box, it would eaily match and probably could be even more accurate.

    However, a reloading scale for multi-uses will not be so expensive, specialized, -or finicky. And that's where an Ohaus beam fits in for many. I currently hold an old Ohaus triple beam, a Dillion D-Terminator, and a Chargemaster dispensor combo. I recently sold off an Acculab VIC-123, after validating my other scales with it. Way more accurate, but not a good reloading scale IMO.
    I rarely use the beam(too slow), but use the Dillon for bullet & H20 capacity checks, and the chargemaster for powder.

    The Chargemaster represents a big advancement on my bench, and I would dispense ammo in someones behind before they'd get it from me.
  4. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

    Jun 4, 2006
    In my opinion and in my experience, NO

    I can remember several anomalies with the beam scale when I first started reloading. Perhaps I did not have a good one.

    Now I have the RCBS 1500 and it is very accurate and dependable. Contrary to some others experience, it does not need to be warmed up, is not bothered by flourescent lighting. I calibrate it each time I turn it on and the pan always weighs exactly 155.0 grains everytime. Each time I lift the pan to charge the case the display always says -155.0 grains everytime. Each time I have to pull a bullet the powder weighs exactly what my spreadsheet says I charged it with before everytime.

    However you have to realize that to be accurate down to the individual granule, you have to set the dispense to throw slightly less than you want and then dislodge a few granules off the end of the tube. For example in this case I want to charge 60 grains so I set the dispense to 59.7 gr

    It might throw 59.9 grs

    dislodge a few granules off the end of the tube with a small pick

    and you get exactly the weight you want. It usually takes about 3 kernels of powder to make .1 grains.

    So IMO the scale is 100% accurate and reliable but the dispenser is a highly accurate powder thrower.
  5. boomtube

    boomtube Well-Known Member

    Oct 8, 2007
    "Are Beam scales as accurate as the Digital scales? "

    Loading scales need two qualities; 1) Accuracy, it need not be totally accurate to the last .0000001 grain but it does need to be within a few tenths. 2) Consistancy, it needs to be able to repeat any charge within .1 gr over the period of it's useful life. Most powder scales of either type will do that.

    My experience differs from Woods. I've found beams aren't nearly so querky to use. Beams will last a hundred years if they aren't abused and, if positioned and used correctly, will be as "fast" as a digital.

    Digital dumpsters are wholly different things from a scale.
  6. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

    Jun 11, 2010
    OK, I'm biased! I don't even own a beam scale anymore. I had an Ohaus 304 for a good while, and it was just fine. But I bought an RCBS, and never looked back. It was stolen from me, and I replaced it with a PACT (they also make the RCBS scale I had). Two weeks later I gave the Ohaus away. Later I bought a PACT BBK to use at the range. Never a problem with either one.. I took both of them into work and compaired them with a $10K scale we use to calibrate balancers with, and the difference was in five zeros! My boss was so impressed with the PACT that he bought a half dozen of them for the guys machining bob weights to use with balancers. But if a beam scale works for you, then so be it.
  7. johnnyk

    johnnyk Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2001
    I agree with the digital guys. I am a scale technician by trade. I see electronic (digital and analog) and beam scales everyday. I repair, sell, calibrate and certify these scales.
    When electronic scales first came into vogue, I would say yeah, the beams were whipping their butts, but today the industry is going toward digital. The electronic signal has been interfaced with computers and has become digitized and there is no way a balance beam can, or will, read out to the millionth of a gram. That's .000001g! "Krikey", we have scales with Quartz loadcells! This is all "readability" or divisioin size though. The farther you break down that signal and require more intricacy of it is where the digital NTEP approved scales start to shine. Most NTEP scales/loadcells (legal for trade) are rated for 10,000 counts internally. The counts are determined by capacity / division = counts (10,000lbs / 1lb = 10,000cts, 5,000lb / 1lb = 5,000cts, 100lb / .01lb = 10,000cts). This has nothing to do with balance beams and is a determining factor when certifying/calibrating scales with electronic loadcells. If most electronic scales, whether NTEP approved or not, are pushed past 10,000cts the displayed weight tends to "drift". This has been somewhat overcome with digital loadcell technology. The digital equipment can now read out past 10,000cts consistently and accurately.
    The source of any scale's accuracy is in the standards you use (i.e. certified calibration weights). If you use a 10lb certified weight versus a 10lb barbell weight, your scale is going to be more accurate. It is held to tighter tolerances than the barbell weight and your digital scale "see" the difference electrically.
    Beam vs Digital, hum.....3 four-drawer Filing cabinet(s) vs 1 Laptop. Come on. JohnnyK.
  8. BillR

    BillR Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2002
    Only thing I will give the beam scale over the digital models is they don't quit. I was using my RCBS chargemaster a couple days ago and only the second time I have used it and it quit. I had set it up to dump loads for my .308 win and had finished doing 100 rounds and cleared it to change over to the 7MM Rem Mag and after 20 rounds it quit. Now I'm going to have to call RCBS and see what they can do for me but I still have my old Pacific beam scale to fall back on. While it worked though I really like the RCBS but I probably just got a lemon and will have to have it replaced.