The reloading scale is one of the most used tools on the bench and one of the most important in producing accuracy. Master reloader Philip Massaro goes over what you need to know about reloading scales in all their iterations.
As reloaders, we usually strive to make the most accurate ammunition we can. Part of that equation is being able to accurately measure powder, bullets and cases. That's where the reloading scale comes in.
A reloading scale is an integral part of our gear, and one that you’ll use almost every time you sit down at the bench. Powder charges, most certainly, must be weighed. Even the best powder dispensers need to have their volumes of powder checked on a scale. Accuracy hounds will weigh their brass cases, and I even weigh my projectiles when I want the tightest groups possible.
Now, there are two types of scales available to the reloader: the traditional balance beam scale, and the digital scale. The balance beam scale use gravity, a wonderful feature of this world that never wears out and requires no electricity to function. Many reloading companies make good scales, and I’d recommend you purchase at least one balance beam scale, of the highest quality you can afford. I like two models in particular: the RCBS 505 and the Redding No.2.
The RCBS 505 is an accurate balance beam, made with an alloy frame and an aluminum pan. The scale can measure up to 511 grains, and the beam can be adjusted to 1/10th of a grain. The wheel adjustment allows the user to accurately set the scale to zero, and the graduations on the beam are clearly marked in a black on white contrasting color scheme. This is good for aging eyes like mine own!
The 505 also features magnetic dampening, to better settle the measurements. Main measurements are in ten grain increments; while two fine adjustments allow the user to adjust for both one grain and 1/10th grain increments. I’ve owned two RCBS 505s that have served me well for decades.
The Redding No. 2 is built like a tank. A steel frame, milled and hardened steel knife edges and bearing surfaces are some of the deluxe features that Redding provides. The No. 2 also has a cool feature on the zero-pointer end of the scale that indicates how much over or under the measurement is, and it is graduated in 1/10th grain increments. This is a very useful feature when weighing bullets or cases for ultimate accuracy. I’m a big fan of this particular scale.
The digital age has wormed its way into the reloading world also. Digital scales have come a long way since their introduction, and my initial experiences with them weren’t good. A digital scale from Cabela’s came as a gift, and I had one heck of a time getting it to calibrate properly and maintain its zero. It would fluctuate wildly, and became a source of frustration.
See, the thing with digital scales is that they use load cells and strain gauges to measure weight. They are especially influenced by moving air currents. But, as I’ve said, they have come an awful long way. I frequently use the RCBS Chargemaster 1500 for my work, although I still check every ten loads with my balance beam scale. The LED displays on the digital scales are easier to read than a balance beam, especially for the novice. Digital scales are also capable of weighing heavier charges than a balance beam scale.
No matter your choice (and I’d be willing to bet you’ll invariably end up owning both!), I’d recommend picking up a quality set of scale weights to accurately calibrate your scale.