If you are just starting out with reloading, or have spent some time doing it, you already know how important it is to have the best reloading scale at your disposal. One of the main advantages of reloading your own ammunition is the complete control you have over what goes into it.
With a reloading scale, you will be able to control how much gun powder you are pouring into the cartridge. With the precise amount of powder, you can dictate the velocity and trajectory of your shots. This is a must-have for any sharpshooter as it can be the decider between them missing or hitting their mark.
However, most beginner reloaders do not have a clear idea about this machine. Furthermore, with the thousands of units floating around the market place, it can be difficult to make a solid investment for this tool even if you know what it is.
To help you navigate this mess, in this article, we will give you a complete rundown on everything you need to know about the best reloading scale and also give you our recommendation for the top products that you can find.
What is a Reloading Scale and Why Do You Need One?
Before we head any further, let us start with what exactly is a reloading scale. Well, it is nothing more complicated than a simple scale except that it is used to measure the amount of gun powder that goes into a bullet. This tool is extremely precise to help you calculate the exact amount of powder you use in the cartridges.
Over the years, there have been significant improvements to reloading scales. Nowadays, the precision of this tool can be as high as .01 grains, which is truly exceptional. If you like reloading your own ammo, having a high-quality scale is essential.
It offers many benefits to the user. The main advantages of using a reloading scale are:
- Precise weight measurement
The most obvious advantage of using a reloading scale is the accuracy it provides. Most sharpshooters are extremely critical of the amount of gunpowder they use with their bullets. Just a few grains here and there can completely throw off their aim.
With a reloading scale, you will be able to use the exact amount of gun powder you need, thus keeping the velocity and trajectory of the bullet under your control. You cannot simply eyeball the amount of powder you need. Without a scale, getting a precise measurement is impossible.
- It is extremely versatile
A reloading scale is an extremely versatile piece of equipment. Although the primary purpose is to measure the weight of powder, you can use it for plenty of other weighing tasks. You can weigh jewelry, food, medicine, etc. with this tool without any additional hassle.
- Portable and lightweight
Usually, a reloading scale is quite portable. These tools are also extremely lightweight and can be transported from one place to another easily. Some models even run on batteries and require no wall sockets to run. So if you are out on the shooting range and want to make bullets on the go, a reloading scale will not hold you back.
- Durable and cheap
Apart from all these great features, a reloading scale is also quite durable as long as you stick with a reputed brand. Thankfully, the affordable nature of this unit means you can go with excellent brands without fearing any absurd price. Most scales are priced reasonably well.
And since you do not need to worry about durability, your one reloading scale can last you for a few years at the least. This means you do not need to worry about any upkeep costs further. As long as you have all the other elements checked, you can keep reloading ammunition indefinitely.
Top 5 Best Reloading Scale Reviews
Now that you have a basic idea about the tool, we can head into the list of products. We have done extensive research on the units to ensure that you will face no issues when you are using them. You will not have to fly in blind and take guesses as to which products will give you a good performance.
So without further ado, here are the five best reloading scales that you can find on the market to get a precise measurement.
1. RCBS 98923 Chargemaster Combo Scale/Dispenser
Let us kick things off with a mechanical scale by the brand RCBS. The Chargemaster, despite being a manual unit, comes with enough features to match even the best digital reloading scale in the market. It might be a bit on the pricier side, but its accurate performance more than makes up for it.
This is actually a two-piece unit that features the Chargemaster 1500 Scale and Chargemaster dispenser for an unbeatable combo. Thanks to the matching hardware, you do not need to worry about any calibration and can expect high levels of speed and precision.
In fact, the precision level of this unit is .01 give or take, which is what you would expect from any high-quality digital scale. The machine comes with an alphanumeric keypad with memory buttons so that you can instantly recall your recipes. You also get a trickle button to drain every last bit of powder into the pan.
It comes with a strong and sturdy frame made of alloy and features a built-in pan to hold powders without spillage. It has around 511 grain capacity, which might not be the best out there but is sufficient for most beginners. Thanks to the 1 pound powder hopper, you can expect fast and accurate scaling anytime you want to reload.
2. Hornady 050108 Electronic Scale
Next up, we will be looking at one of the best digital powder scales by none other than Hornady. If you want to buy a budget-friendly unit without compromising on the quality and accuracy, you cannot go wrong with the brand. The 050108 Electronic Scale boasts fast scaling and precise performance.
The unit features two calibration weights that ensure an accurate performance each time you fire it up. Since it runs on AC power, you do not need to worry about any issues if you are using it regularly. It also comes with a large LCD display that allows you to monitor data easily.
With a grain capacity of 1500, you can get through large batches smoothly. Since it has an accuracy of 0.1 of a grain, none of your powder is wasted. You also have a trickle option when you are working with small batches to ensure full utilization of the powder.
The construction quality of the unit is also excellent, featuring a durable and sturdy construction. Despite the size and build, it is quite lightweight with a weight of around 2 pounds. It is portable, easy to use, and precise, making it one of the finest investments for people of all skill levels.
3. WAOAW W-01-50 Digital Milligram Scale
Next up on our list, we will be looking at a brand called WAOAW. This company specializes in all kinds of digital scale. This unit comes in a compact and lightweight design and includes a 50 grams calibration weight, a small pan, and a tweezer for you to get started right away.
It is a pretty straight-forward tool. The machine comes with a couple of buttons on the top. You have a power button to turn it on or off. But the most important option is probably the mode switch. It lets you switch between different weight units like grams or grains to give you an accurate measurement of the amount of powder you have in the pot.
Calibration is also quite simple with it. All you have to do is hold down the mode button for a couple of seconds, and the display switches to CAL. Then you place the included weight on the machine, and it automatically adjusts the scale. It also has a Tare feature that immediately calculates the weight of grains by subtracting the weight of the pan.
The unit can measure up to 50 grams of grains with an accuracy range of .001. Overall, it is an excellent investment that will give you proper measurements to ensure you can reloading proper amounts of powder. As an added bonus, the price of the unit is extremely reasonable.
4. Hornady LOCK-N-LOAD® AUTO CHARGE® POWDER MANAGER
It looks like we have another product by Hornady for you to check. The Lock-n-Load is arguably one of the most popular units available in the market both in terms of its price and its functionality. It is an extremely precise reloading scale that has gathered somewhat of a cult following over the years.
One of the best features in this unit is the auto charging that speeds up the dispensing and scaling process drastically. If you prefer, you can still use the manual mode; however, it will not be as fast. In auto charging mode, the entire process takes around five minutes only.
The unit features three-speed settings for manual mode, slow, normal, or fast. With an accuracy level of 0.1 grain and a capacity of 1000 grains, this unit is perfect for beginners and professionals alike. It gives you complete control over the process and ensures you will get an accurate measurement every time.
Calibration with this unit is also quite easy and straightforward. You get 10 grams and a 50 grams weight for calibrating included with your purchase. It also features a large LCD display and a digital keypad to monitor and input your commands. The unit also has built-in overcharge protection for added safety.
5. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Precision Scale with LCD Display
To wrap up our list, we will be looking at a unit by a well-known, reputed brand in the reloading business. The Precision Scale by Frankford Arsenal is a highly rated product that delivers extreme precision and accuracy. If you are serious about your work, then this is the one to go with.
This unit comes with two calibration weights of 50 grams and features an error range of .01 grains, which is extremely precise. For those of you who want their powder amount to be just perfect, this unit is a perfect choice. It features a 3-point calibration system and has a stability indicator.
The total capacity in the unit is 1500 grams, which is perfect if you want to go through large batches quickly. It can run on both 110V or 220V of power. If you want to go the portable way, you can use 4 AAA batteries too. Thanks to the automatic shut-off feature after 3 minutes, you will not be wasting any battery life.
The unit features a molded plastic construction that ensures durable and lasting performance. With a large high contrast display, you can monitor the measurements easily. All in all, it is an extremely efficient little unit that you should not overlook under any circumstances.
Things to Consider when Buying the Best Powder Scale
When choosing your reloading scale, you need to think about a few factors. Since this one tool can entirely make or break the performance of your bullets, you cannot afford to make a mistake while choosing it. To make the most out of your investment, you need to understand the many aspects of this tool.
With that said, here are afew things that you should consider when buying the best reloading scale.
- Mechanical or Digital
You might have noticed that there are two types of scales in the market, mechanical and digital. Mechanical scales rely on a mass slide and a graduated scale for its measurements. Its accuracy depends on the number of beams present in the graduation scale.
Digital scales, on the other hand, use digital technology and does not require any analog parts. You need to calibrate a digital scale before using it. For that purpose, you often get weights of different sizes that you have to measure with the machine. Most people prefer digital scales as they are faster.
Each variant has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. For instance, a mechanical scale does not care about outside forces affecting the measurement. On the other hand, a digital scale is extremely easy to use. Whether you go with a mechanical or digital scale, you need to ensure that you buy a quality product by a reputed brand.
- Accuracy of Measurement
A reloading scale is not worth anything if it does not give you an accurate measurement. The performance of your ammo depends entirely on how precisely you can calculate the amount of powder. For this reason, you need to ensure that your reloading scale gives you precise measurements.
Typically, no scale can give you the exact value. You should look for units that can reach an accuracy level of up to 1/10th or 0.1 of a grain. This amount of leniency is fine and will not affect the performance of the ammunition. However, anything more, and you will only be asking for trouble.
- Grain Capacity
The grain capacity in the reloading scale dictates how big of a batch you can work with at a go when using it. If you are a beginner, you will not be going through big batches. But a professional ammo reloader might benefit from a high capacity unit as it provides better efficiency.
Regardless of your skill level, it is always a good idea to go with better capacity. Even if you are not using it now, later on, when you know better, you would definitely switch to a high capacity unit. Something with a capacity of at least 500 grains will give you a decent performance.
- Measurement Intervals
This spec is not usually listed on the product, and to understand this; you need to try out the product yourself. Basically, you are looking for how frequently the LCD display updates with new measurements. With lower intervals, you will get more accuracy in your measurements.
If the measurement interval is too long, then you will get the wrong readings frequently. A reloading scale is a highly sensitive tool. Even the slightest change in the environment can affect the reading. With fast intervals, you will be able to detect these changes instantly and counteract it.
- Display Quality
With digital scales, you always get an LCD display to monitor the measurements. If you want a good experience with the unit, you want to ensure the display is well-designed. Unless you can read the display easily, there is no point investing in it even if the measurement is decent.
Backlit LCD displays typically give you an easier time reading it. You do not need to squint or put in any effort to read it. Display size is also a factor in its readability. The larger the display, the easier time you will get trying to make out what is shown in it.
- Speed of Measurement
The measurement speed is something you want to check if you want the reloading task to be efficient. This factor is even more important if you are a professional. Even if you are not, there is no reason not to go for a fast unit as it makes your experience better.
Reloading scales are typically fast machines. However, some models can make you wait up to 20 seconds to give you an accurate measurement. It might not seem like much, but if you are chugging through big batches, those precious seconds add up very quickly.
- Ease of Use
Obviously, you want your reloading scale to be easy to use. If you want a hassle-free experience with your unit, make sure it does not make things too complicated. Digital scales are usually the winners in this field as they are easier to use and does not require any additional hassles.
If you do go with a digital powder scale, make sure it comes with large keys for easier access and a good display. The calibration process should also be hassle-free and fast if you want it to be easy. For mechanical units, you might need to search a bit more, but try to avoid complicated machines, especially if you are a beginner.
- Measurement Options
This is more of an additional feature rather than a primary one. If you want more value out of your reloading scale, you should look for some additional measurement options. All powder scales will have the option to measure in grains; however, with some units, you can also measure in grams, ounces, karats, etc.
With this feature, you can use your reloading scale to weigh other items such as jewelry, medicine, or even food. Thankfully, even budget scales often come with this feature. So it makes no sense to get a unit that does not give you this option. You never know when it comes in handy.
- Power Options
If you already settled on mechanical scales, then you do not need to worry about power. This type of unit features a fully analog design and does not rely on electricity. Digital scales, on the other hand, require some form of power, whether it is from the wall socket or batteries.
If you are going with battery-powered digital scales, consider the total uptime of the unit. You do not want it running out on you every few days. For units that require power from the wall, you need to check whether it requires 110V or 220V and match it with the available power in your specific region.
Things that Can Affect a Digital Powder Scale
Even if you buy the best digital powder scale, you might not get the performance that you should get. Apart from the quality of the scale itself, there are many other factors that matter when you are measuring the grains. Without understanding these issues, you will never get the performance that you want.
We have highlighted these factors below so that you can ensure they do not affect your measurement when you are using your reloading scale.
One of the main reasons for inaccurate measurement on a digital scale is uneven support. The base where you are using the machine must be rigid and solid as a rock. Any slight wobble will knock off the measurement enough to affect the overall performance of the bullet.
Most amateurs do not understand this issue. As a result, it is a very common problem with them. If you take a look at any reloading shop, you will see professionals working on solid bases to ensure the precise measurements from their digital scales.
The good idea is to place a solid block of wood under the scale. Make sure the table itself is well-balanced, and there is no wobble. If there is any wobble, it is a better idea to switch the table instead of trying to balance it with a piece of paper. With proper support, the measurements will be precise.
The environmental conditions also play a role in the measurement from your digital scale. This is a highly sensitive instrument that can be affected by temperature, drafts, and humidity.
Sometimes you might notice the reading jumping all over the places when trying to take measurements of the powder. More often than not, it indicates the presence of a breeze. That is why it is generally a good idea to keep the scale covered with a box of some sort when using it. Some models come with a plastic covering to prevent drafts affecting your measurements.
Temperature is also a detrimental factor that can affect your readings. So when you want to measure the powder, it is wise to let the unit run and warm up for a bit. For AC powered units, turn it up and leave it on for a couple of minutes. Soon it will reach the temperature equilibrium, and you will have no trouble getting accurate measurements.
Power and Interference
Speaking of AC power, are you sure you are getting clean and filtered electricity from your wall plug? Unregulated source of powers can cause severe interference and throw off your readings without you even realizing it. SO you need to ensure clean energy if you want an accurate measurement.
One way to do that is to isolate the signals. Machines like a refrigerator or fluorescent bulbs are a common culprit that is responsible for dirty power. You can try to turn them off when using your reloading scale. You can even try using a power conditioner in the signal chain to isolate your device.
Furthermore, check if there are any magnets lying around your machine when it is running. Anything that can create static electricity is also a viable candidate to cause issues with your setup. Make sure you identify these elements and get rid of them if you are having problems getting accurate readings.
Finally, one of the most common and often overlooked issues that can throw off the readings is simply poor calibration. If the calibration is off, you will have no chance of getting an accurate measurement. This is the first thing that you should check if you think you are getting wrong measurements.
All digital scale have their own way of calibrating it, so make sure you read the instructors' manual. Typically, you need to use a reference weight and use it with your digital scale to set it up. Most digital scales even come with a reference weight to help you set things off.
It is generally a good idea to use a single weight for calibration instead of working with multiple ones. That way, you will be working inside a closed-loop, meaning that everything you do will be based on that single reference weight.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a mechanical reloading scale be wrong?
A mechanical reloading scale, or a beam scale is rarely wrong. Since it is a completely isolated design that does not care for environmental factors, there is a little chance for it to give you a false reading.
How do I maintain my reloading scale?
Thankfully, most reloading scales are quite durable and require little maintenance. As long as you store your unit in a same place away from other people, you should be good. Make sure you do not drop it, and always wipe it clean after every use.
Can digital scales be inaccurate?
Yes, if you do not calibrate your tool properly or have a lot of interference from outside factors, a digital scale can be inaccurate. However, if you take all the steps that we mentioned in our previous section, you should have no problems.
If you are serious about reloading your own ammunition, there is no alternative to buying a reloading scale. The utility it provides for the price is too good to pass up. With just a tiny investment, you will never have to worry about overweighting your ammunition.