trial and error getting to the optimum solution in powder measurement accuracy
In this blog I cover my experiences and learning in scales measuring powder for the reloading of rifle ammunition. I once bought the top end progressive RCBS loader for shotgun shell loading but without ever learning how I gave the equipment to Dennis Goslin who was shooting a lot of trap at the time (and still today). In Europe very few sport shooters load shotgun shells because the cost of new is relatively inexpensive and they claim that you cannot reload a shell of higher quality than factory ammunition. The converse is true with rifle ammunition.
My writing is not intended to convey facts on what the best reloading scale is because needs differ from person to person and hence the choice of scale will be different. The main purpose why I reload rifle ammunition is to have improved accuracy and bullet choice of optimum design for the application. Cost is a factor for those cartridges that just cost a bucket like 500NE, but generally my purpose is not a lower cost. It takes a lot of time to reload so I make this investment in time for high quality reloaded ammunition.
Hunting in Europe is expensive and generally limited when compared to South Africa. For this reason I find myself on the range in Europe more often than when I was in SA. The curses of being a perfectionist combined with range shooting push me to continuous improvement in accuracy not really needed for hunting in Europe (mostly short distances). I standardise on loads using premium components given my main purpose is “the love of the hunt”. I load for too many calibres to afford too many variables per calibre; I even push the limits on standardisation of powder between calibres to avoid a can of powder for each.
Back to scales, the picture shows me with my existing array of scales, and like for numerous other reloading equipment, I have given about the same number away to friends. Until recently my practice for all small and medium calibres was to set the RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 scale at 0.2 of a grain below the selected charge and then to trickle up on the RCBS 10:10 beam scale. I did a lot of reading on electronic scales but kept to the beam scale. In trying to improve the accuracy of my beam scale I read on a forum about Scott Parker in the USA who tuned beam scales to sensitivity of 1 granule of powder. I contacted Scott and he sent me an old Ohaus scale that he had tuned ($200).
It was at about the same time that I received the Ohaus scale from Scott that I bought the small and inexpensive electronic Peregrine scale. This scale is what prompted me to write this blog. The first time I used the scale I nearly gave up on it. This experience reminded me of learning to ski at 42; I nearly gave up on skiing when I first put skis on. Thank goodness I pushed through and discovered the greatness of skiing. The Peregrine scale was the same. It took me ages the first time I used it, but soon I learnt to pour from a trickler to close to the weight charge needed and then to trickle in the traditional way. It takes me almost the same time as the RCBS ChargeMaster would take to throw a load, but accurate to 0.02 of a grain. I now only use my Peregrine scale, except for 500NE.
A small issue that I don’t like about the Peregrine scale is the plastic dispenser. The static build-up created a mess when I first used it; I quickly replaced it with the metal dispenser from my RCBS 10:10. I owe it to the management and ownership of Peregrine to bring this to their attention, but I am comfortable writing about it because this scale has catered perfectly to my perfectionism in reloading. My school fees paid in reloading equipment upgrades is similar to the journey most golfers endure, upgrading drivers to get a few extra yards off the tea or a new putter to reduce strokes on the green.