If you frequently handle firearms, you’ve probably realized that there are several advantages when reloading your own cartridges. Reloading your own shells can create ammunition that’s often times more accurate and reliable than what you’ll get out of the store.
Besides accuracy, reloading your cartridges by yourself can also save you a lot of money. This is especially true if you buy the materials in bulk. However, these savings can quickly evaporate if you’re not accurately measuring out things such as gunpowder.
If you pack too much gunpowder into your shells, you’ll waste money on excess gunpowder. However, pack too few and the bullet might not fire as it should.
This is why it’s very important to get the best powder scales for your reloading purposes. It will ensure that you’ll always use the correct amount of gunpowder, eliminating waste.
In this article you’ll learn more about the importance scales, how to use them properly, and what to look for in a powder scale. To top it off, we’ll also be reviewing the 5 best digital powder scales on the market today! If you prefer to use mechanical beam scales compared to digital scales, you can read our review about them right here.
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Importance of Accurately Measuring your Gunpowder
Before delving deeper into the world of digital powder scales, you have to understand why you need to accurately measure and weigh your gunpowder. For people that reload their own ammunition, having a gunpowder weighing tool is critical to ensure accuracy and cost-savings.
For starters, accurately measuring the amount of gunpowder you insert into the shell is critical to ensure you have a good firing characteristic. Packing too much or too little can cause your bullet to have poor accuracy, become a dud, or even misfire.
In critical situations, having a bullet that’s well built, accurate, and ready to fire can be a huge lifesaver. Imagine getting charged by a buffalo and your bullet suddenly misfires. Surely that won’t end well right?
The second reason is to save money by eliminating gunpowder waste. If you put more gunpowder than the recommended amount, you’ve just wasted that extra gunpowder. Wasting gunpowder means that you’re erasing all the savings you get from reloading your own ammo.
If saving money is the prime reason you reload your ammo yourself, then by all means buy a high quality digital powder scale.
Besides that, some shooters prefer to control their bullet’s quality themselves. If they reload it manually, it means that they can tailor the shooting characteristics and build quality to their liking. They won’t have to settle for store bought ammo that might have manufacturing defects.
How to Choose the Best Digital Powder Scale for Reloading
It’s very important to understand what to look out for when buying a good quality powder scale. After all, you already know why it’s important to accurately measure gunpowder right?
In general, there are 5 things that people tend to analyze and pay attention to when buying a reloading scale. These things include
Type of Scale
There are two types of reloading powder scale that you can purchase: a digital one and a mechanical balance beam scale.
The digital powder scale or known as an electronic powder scale measures your powder electronically and outputs the weight in numbers digitally. Meanwhile, a mechanical beam scale allows you to do this manually using a counter-balance weight.
Some find the manual beams more accurate while others prefer the digital scales ease-of-use and quick to read numbers. It’s really just a question of what you like best and what you’re comfortable with using.
When deciding what type of scale to use, make sure to account for your usage needs and other factors such as weight and versatility.
No matter which type of scale you choose, you want to look for one that provides you with a high sensitivity. An ideal number to shoot for would be 1/10 grain accuracy. This will ensure that you’ll be able to measure with great precision and keep wasted powder to a minimum.
Besides sensitivity, make sure that the labels and weight indicators are easy to read an interpret. A highly sensitive scale will be pretty useless if you can’t read how much your gunpowder weights correctly.
Whether you are planning on reloading a small number of shells or a big batch, flexibility with the amount you can weigh is an important consideration. Make sure you get a scale that has sufficient capacity for your weighing and reloading needs.
Durability is very important for just about any product, but it becomes even more important for items that you use regularly. If you’re a shooter who likes to reload your own cartridge, having a durable and long lasting powder scale is very important.
Having a durable powder scale helps you save money because you won’t have to replace it often. Besides, you’ll also need a durable scale if you frequently bring your scale with you on the move.
Price is a top concern for almost any buyer. I understand that you want the highest quality scale, but you also want to get one that’s fits your budget right? Because of that, when deciding which powder scale to buy, you have to weigh in the benefits of extra features and durability with the extra cost.
Sometimes, buying the cheaper brand is better if you don’t need the extra features that much. This way, you can allocate your budget on more important items that you may need.
The Best Digital Powder Scale – Top 5 Picks
OUR #1 CHOICE
[su_service title=”Hornady 050108 Electronic Scale” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#2D3092″ size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
The Hornady 050108 electronic scale is a well made electronic powder scale from renowned guns, ammo, and accessories manufacturer Hornady. This high quality reloading scale has a large capacity of up to 1500 grains to accommodate all your weighing needs.
As it’s name implies, it’s designed as a lightweight reloading scale that’ll fit on your reloading bench. Because of it’s small size, it won’t take up much space.
This digital reloading scale comes with a large LCD display that’s well lit and easy to read. Even when you’re out reloading shells in areas with poor illumination, you’ll still be able to see the numbers well. Because of that, this is a great tool to use anywhere, even when it’s designed to be used on your reloading bench.
The scale is also quite sensitive, it gives you a precision of up to 1/10th of a grain. With this digital reloading scale, you can easily and accurately weigh gunpowder, rifle rounds, cartridges, cases, and much more. You won’t accidentally waste any more gunpowder due to overfilling or cause a misfire by underfilling.
When you buy the scale, Hornady also gives you two calibration weights, a metal powder pan to store what you’re weighing, and an AC adaptor. There’s also a 220V adaptor included in case you live in areas where the electricity is 220V. Due to added adaptor, you can take this digital powder scale anywhere in the world and operate it normally.
Overall, the Hornady 050108 is a well built and high quality digital reloading scale that’ll weigh just about anything accurately.
If you’re looking for a high quality electronic scale for your reloading needs, you can’t go wrong with this one. This is one of the best digital powder scales on the market today!
[su_service title=”RCBS Scales Chargemaster Lite 120/240” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#2D3092″ size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
RCBS Scales Chargemaster Lite is a high quality powder weighing and dispenser tool with a capacity of 300 grain. This tool has an accuracy of up to 0.1 grains which means that it’s on par with the Hornady 050108 and the RCBS Combo.
Because this is both a powder weighing tool and a powder dispenser, you can set the amount of powder you want and it’ll dispense just the right amount. Dispensed from the hopper, powder comes onto the tray as you determine, giving you the exact measurement you want each and every time
It’s well designed so that anyone can use it well, be it people that are right handed or left handed. It’s also very easy to set how much powder you want, weigh it, and get an accurate reading out of it. This is supported by the clear LCD display that’s both well lit and easy to read on most conditions.
This device is very easy to use and has a very short learning curve. Almost anyone can use it immediately without prior training. You’ll love the interface, it’s well designed, easy to read, and also very responsive.
True to it’s name, the Chargemaster Lite is very compact and lightweight, allowing you to store and transport it anywhere you’d want. It can even be battery operated in the event that there is an outage or when you’re not near any sockets.
Even though it’s compact and lightweight, the device is pretty durable and long lasting. As long as you take care of it and use it according to it’s manual.
Overall, if you’re in the market for a lightweight and compact powder dispensing and weighing tool and don’t need a high capacity one, you can’t go wrong with the Chargemaster Lite.
[su_service title=”Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Precision Scale” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#2D3092″ size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
The Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Precision Scale is a compact, lightweight, and high quality digital scale that’s perfect for your reloading needs. This is one of the easiest to use and most versatile scale on the the market today. It has a clear and easy to read LED display to increase measuring accuracy and reduces your eye strain.
Power wise, this scale can run on 110 V, 220 V, or even 4 packs of AAA batteries. This increases it’s flexibility and enables it to be operated overseas. To conserve power, it’ll automatically shut off after 180 seconds of being idle.
Besides being lightweight and can use multiple power sources, this scale also comes with a case. The high quality case helps you securely store the scale and any accessories along with it. Because of that, this is a perfect choice if you’re going to carry it everywhere you go, be it to the shooting range, to the jungle, or on overseas expeditions.
The scale comes equipped with 2 calibration weights and and a 3 point calibration system to ensure accuracy. It’s also able to measure weight in grains, grams, ounces, and carats, increasing it’s flexibility. Besides being flexible, the scale is also very accurate. With a tolerance of 0,1 grain, this scale can compete with the best on the market.
Frankford’s precision scale is also able to measure and accurately weigh a lot of things. Besides weighing gunpowder and shells, it also has special indentation that helps it hold and measure arrowheads too. So, if you’re a bowman, this can be a great asset for you too.
Overall, if you’re looking for a digital powder scale that’s compact, versatile, and very reliable, you can’t go wrong with the Frankford. You can take this scale anywhere you go and it’ll never let you down, it’s one of the best digital powder scales on the market!
[su_service title=”Hornady Auto Charge” icon=”icon: star” icon_color=”#2D3092″ size=”32″ class=””][/su_service]
The Auto Charge is another great option from renowned guns and accessories maker Hornady. The Hornady auto charge is a powder measuring and weighing tool that puts emphasis on speed and efficiency above all else.
This tool is quite popular because it has the added “dispensing” feature along with a weighing scale. A handy dispenser sits atop the machine, which automatically dispenses powder directly onto the scale. The dispenser is especially useful because you have precise control over the speed of the dispensing and the amount of powder you want to dispense into the tray.
It has multiple operating speeds, you can set the dispenser to operate as slowly as a trickle or as rapidly as you like to ensure quick loading and accurate measuring. The scale also has automatic and manual dispensing settings. You can automatically dispense the amount you need, or you can do it yourself manually.
Once you dispense the powder onto the scale, the scale itself is very accurate and precise. It’s accurate up to 0.1 grains, with a scale capacity of about 1000 grains.
It has a well lit LCD screen that serves up information and numbers in an easy to read format. There is also a keypad besides the screen that’ll help you set up your scale and powder dispensing operations quickly and accurately.
The Auto Charge also has a plastic covering in place to protect your loose powder from flying away during scaling. This makes a huge difference in your productivity level and workspace cleanliness.
However, there are reports that the Auto Charge suffers from minor manufacturing defects and quality control issues. This means that a small percentage of the tools might have some errors in them or even be dysfunctional. We urge readers that want to buy the Auto Charge to check for any error after buying. If it’s damaged or not functioning as it should, you can claim the one year guarantee with ease.
If you’re looking for a gun powder scale and dispenser with ultimate convenience and accuracy, this is the one you’re looking for. The Auto Charge is simply one of the best combo powder scale-dispenser on the market today!
Frequently Asked Questions when Buying a Powder Scale
Here are several frequently asked questions (FAQs) by buyers when they’re looking for a powder scale. See if your question has already been answered!
Q: Why reload your own ammunition?
Answer: The most common reason why people would want to reload their own shells is due to cost savings and quality control. However, once they start, many find the process of reloading their own shells quite enjoyable. This is probably due to having a more intimate connection with their bullets.
There is just something satisfying about firing a round that you created yourself from scratch. Starting from weighing the gunpowder to plucking in the primer and finally taking the shot.
For some, the process of reloading their own ammo is sort of a relaxation and stress relieving mechanism. You basically sit down, play a slow background music, and spend your time crafting your own ammo. This can even be a valid hobby for some to spend their free time.
Of course, when reloading your own ammo, you don’t just need these scales, you’ll also need other tools. Tools such as a hand priming tool, reloading dies, and reloading presses.
Q: Why you need a reloading scale?
Answer: If you’re going to be reloading your own shells, having a high quality reloading scale is absolutely. Without it, you won’t be able to accurately measure the amount of powder you’re using in each cartridge.
Besides, not being able to accurately measure the amount of gunpowder can cause you to waste them. This will erasing the savings you get from reloading them yourself. Because of this, it’s essential to have a reliable and accurate reloading scale when reloading your own ammo.
Q: What is “zero out” on a scale?
Answer: Zeroing out is a term that’s frequently thrown around when it comes to scales and weighing things. Basically, zeroing out means resetting the scale to zero by accounting for weights that shouldn’t be measured.
One example of this is when you’re using a metal tray to hold the gunpowder your trying to weigh. You only want to measure the powder, you don’t want to include the weight of the metal tray because it might skew the weighing.
To remove the metal tray from the equation, you zero out the scale by accounting for the metal tray’s weight. Digital scales such as the ones we discuss in this article will usually have a button to zero out the scale. Ones that do not usually have an intricate method that’s outlined in the manual.
Q: Why does everyone measure powder in grains?
Answer: The answer to this is actually quite simple, it’s because grains are a smaller measuring standard compared to grams. People can more accurately determine how much gunpowder should go into a round using grains compared to grams.
To create rounds that has minimal performance variations, you need to make sure that all of them have the same amount of charge. To do so, you need to use the smallest measuring standard, which in this case is grains compared to grams.
For your information, 1 gram is equal to 15 grains. Because of that, it’s easier to say 10 grain of gunpowder compared to 2/3 gram. To hasten the reloading process, people prefer to use grains even though it’s not an International Standard measurement and simply an imperial and US specific unit.
Q: What else can I measure with the reloading scale other than powder charge?
Answer: Well, a reloading scale is basically just like any other scale on the market. The only difference is the capacity and the accuracy of it to be able to measure in grains accurately. Because of that, your reloading scale can be used to measure just about anything.
Some scales that we’ve reviewed in this article is able to multiple shell cartridges and even arrows. This is done via special notches in the measuring tray to hold the arrow in place.
However, if you’re a shooting aficionado that’s going to use this scale frequently it’s important to not use it for other purposes. Even the smallest amount of residue from other substances may corrupt your gunpowder and make it unusable. Because of that, it’s a good idea to make this a single use scale, for your gunpowder and cartridges only!
Q: Digital vs mechanical reloading scale – Which to choose?
Answer: It all depends on what you need and what you’re comfortable with using. A lot of people choose a digital scale simply because it’s the easiest to use. Once you zero out the scale, you won’t have to do anything except put your powder and see how heavy it is.
Some combination digital scale also automatically dispenses powder into the scale. You simply choose the amount of powder you wish to have and it will provide that for you.
However, digital scales are very sensitive to the environment around you. Sometimes, it’ll fail to zero out or have slight variations in measuring accuracy due to humidity and electrical current errors. If you want a bulletproof scale that you can store anywhere without worrying, choose a mechanical scale.
These are much easier to zero, and provide less issues for you. Plus, you don’t have to worry about any kind of power source. Sadly, the overall accuracy of a mechanical beam scale is not as high as a digital scale. If you want super accurate measurements, pick a digital scale with a built in powder dispenser.
Q: How accurate are digital reloading scales?
Answer: Digital reloading scales have incredible accuracy. You’ll be able to measure your gunpowder with an accuracy of 0.1 grains, that translates to 0.01 grams. That’s very exceptional and it’s something that mechanical scales struggle to recreate. As said above, if you want a super accurate reloading powder scale, pick a digital scale with built in powder dispenser.
Q: How to take care of a reloading scale?
Answer: As with any tools, it’s very important to take care of your tools so that they’ll last for a long time. This is no different than your reloading scale, especially if you’re buying a digital scale that needs extra maintenance.
For starters, you should always store your scale in a place that’s secure. Preferably in a place with low risk that it’ll be knocked over or bumped against. The more wear and tear you subject your scale to, the less likely that it’ll be accurate when measuring your gunpowder.
When storing the scale, you should also pick a place where it’s dry and cool to reduce errors to the electric system and prevent rusting. Never store your scale in a damp and humid place because it might cause electrical errors and problems when zeroing out.
You should always clean your scale after using it. This can be done by simply wiping down the scale after every use to eliminate residue. You can even use alcohol rubs and soap to clean the tray if you’re not sure if the residue has been eliminated.
Simply treat your reloading scale with the utmost respect and it’ll continue serving you accurate measurements for years to come.
Q: What is the best powder scale for reloading?
Answer: The answer to this question is, it depends. It highly depends on what you like, what’s your budget, and what you need. All of the tools listed on this review are high quality digital scales that you can’t go wrong with. However, they have different functions and price points.
It’s up to you to decide which one is best depending on your needs and wants. Having said that, we stand by our recommendation of RCBS Chargemaster combo due to it’s versatility, accuracy, and dual function (weighing and dispensing). It’s also priced very reasonably for a powder dispenser and weighing scale so you won’t have to go broke when buying it.