Which powder-measuring device should you use? Let’s take a general look at each type and examine their pros and cons. One thing to remember is that if you are making ammunition with a progressive press, you’ll be using a volume-type powder dispenser. This requires you to have a reliable balance-beam or electronic scale to verify the charges before you load and, periodically, while you load.
Beam Me Up
Balance-beam scales are indeed accurate—or at least to the extent of the operator. On more than one occasion, I have set the weights on the wrong number and ended up with a powder charge lighter or heavier than desired. The trick is to first balance the scales—that is, set them to zero. Balance-beam scales take time and care to operate, making loading a slow process. Many people, of course, enjoy working gradually and methodically; if you don’t, you may be better off opting for a manual powder dispenser or electronic scale.
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For pure reloading speed, a manual powder dispenser is hard to beat. To use a manual powder dispenser properly, you need a reliable scale. Manual powder dispensers divvy out powder by using a volume measurement, which must be adjusted to achieve the proper weight specific to the type of powder used. A manual powder dispenser will also show the most variance. With fine-grained ball powder, the variance will likely be very low. With larger- grained, extruded, stick-type powders, you might see as much as 0.02 grains of variation be-tween charge. When you get your powder measure set up, check at least 10 charges and weigh them to get an average, making sure you don’t push your load above maximum.
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I used to distrust electronic scales, back when they were first unveiled. In the years since, the technology has improved greatly. Today, I consider a quality electronic handloading scale my primary measuring device. In fact, for 90 percent of all the handloading I do, I use an electronic scale, though I prefer AC scales to those that run off batteries. The key is to zero the scale before each use. Also, when I’m loading for extreme precision, I confirm with a balance-beam scale one out of every 10 charges measured by an electronic scale. A stand-alone electronic scale is really no faster than a balance-beam scale, but a combination electronic scale and powder dispenser is reasonably fast.
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