One of the best ways to save when making your own ammo is to reload the cartridges yourself, which often results in more accurate product and more money in your pocket for other equipment. Keep in mind that any economical benefit is quickly lost if you’re not measuring gunpowder with maximum accuracy. Thus, you’ll want the best powder scale (also known as a reloading or beam scale) possible. In this guide we’ll break down the 8 of the best reloading scales on the US market today.
How to choose a powder scale?
Reloading scales are meant to measure the gunpowder for you, however, no scale is the same and there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind.
- Type – The two main options are digital reloading scales or balance beam (aka manual) reloading scales. The digital option will measure the powder electronically while beam scales require manual effort. Some claim the best beam scales are more accurate, while others prefer the simplicity of the digital option.
- Sensitivity – This is the accuracy measure of the scale, you’ll want to ensure its at least 1/10 grain inaccuracy so you don’t waste powder.
- Capacity – This will depend on how you prefer to reload, so make sure you buy a reloading scale with a capacity that makes sense for you.
- Durability – No matter how often (or not) you use your scale, you’ll want something long-lasting so you’re not ordering a new one every few months.
Digital vs. Beam – Choosing The Best Reloading Scales
As mentioned above, there are two main types of powder scales, digital and beam (manual), one isn’t necessarily better than the other, but you’ll want to have an idea of the differences before making a purchase.
Digital, or electronic reloading scales are the easier of the two options to use, with many only requiring you to choose the amount of powder desired and it handles the rest. However, keep in mind these can be a bit tricky to zero.
On the other hand, balance beam, while requiring more effort on your part, are easier to zero and some swear by the accuracy. Another benefit is due to the manual nature, you don’t need to worry about a power source, making them much more portable and practical to take with you on the range.
So while neither is “better” than the other, there is likely one that works more for you, whether it’s the price, ease of use, or preference of power source.
How to Zero the Scale
This just means you’re making sure the scale reads 0 before measuring any powder, as you don’t want any leftover grains throwing off your new measurement.
Measuring the gun powder
Gun powder is almost always measured in grains to keep things simple. The most accurate powder will have little to no variation as you want the charge on the powder to be as close to the same each time. You want to shoot for an accuracy of at least 1/10 of a grain each time. This means it’s very important to you’re accurately measuring the the grains of powder, which is why it’s so important to have the best powder scale possible.
1. RCBS 98916 M1000 Beam Scale
This is one of the best reloading scales on the market, a nice design that will blend in with any workshop or garage.
The large printed values on this reloading scale are easy to read no matter how poor or decent your eyesight is and the grooves has a decent depth, ensuring it won’t skip too quickly to the next value in error. With a capacity to hold up to 1, 000 grains at a time, you’re sure to have an efficient reloading process.
At just 2.4 pounds, this scale is also quite light and portable, should that be necessary, with a very stable base, ensuring maximum stability. It even comes with a plastic cover to protect it when not in use!
It’s easy to use for both right and left handed people, making it one of the more versatile models. This mechanical model is one of the best beam scales for reloading your money can buy!
- 1, 000 grain capacity
- Easy to read values
- Made abroad (potential quality issues)
- Easy to move (potentially flimsy)
2. Redding Reloading Scale
This is a great option for those looking for a smaller option that maintains quality, not to mention it’s of great value!
It’s lesser size means a smaller capacity, up to 505 grains at a time, but this ensures maximum accuracy and efficiency. The design is very simple (making it great for novices), with a two counterpoise system that gives good readings.
This reloading scale weighs just under a pound, making it one of the most portable and best beam reloading scales out there!
- Simple design
- Small capacity
- Not protective cover
3. RCBS M500 Mechanical Scale
This is another great small, portable and mechanical option for those who prefer to take their scales on the go.
This is a very durable scale that is made up of the highest quality materials, so it will last for years to come, ensuring you won’t have to constantly waste money on a new scale. The marks on the scale are in 1/10 intervals, which means you’ll have one of the most accurate reads out there.
It technically has a capacity of up to 500 grains, however, it is not recommended to go much over 300 if you want maximum accuracy. The extreme sensitivity ensures you’ll have accurate measures with each use.
It’s one of the best reloading scales for the money on the market today!
- Very accurate
- Extremely sensitive
- Low capacity
4. Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Digital Scale
This is a great digital scale for those who want an electronic option for less involvement. It’s very accurate and runs off of 110V, 220V or 4 AAA batteries and automatically turns off after 180 seconds, making it perfect for those that want the scale to do all the work for them!
It has an amazing 1,500 grain capacity and a 1/10 accuracy, ensuring you’re getting one of the best digital reloading scales on the market today. This scale even comes with a molded plastic storage case, so you don’t have to worry about finding a safe and secure place to store the scale.
This is one of, if not the best electronic reloading scales money can buy, don’t miss out!
- Auto turn-off
- 1,500 grain capacity
- Requires a lot of power
5. Frankford Arsenal Digital Reloading Scale
This may be the most portable option out there for an electronic reloading scale, weighing in at just 1/2 a pound and just over 1X2.5X1 inch dimensions, you can’t beat it if you’re looking for a scale to take on the go.
Despite the small size, this digital reloading scale is a great option, with a capacity of 750 grains and 1/10 accuracy, it’s right up there with the larger scales. It’s also very easy to use, requiring just 2 AAA batteries and shutting off after 60 seconds, you won’t have to think twice about using this scale!
It’s also very durable, comes with a protective cover, soft case and has the versatility to measure in not just grains, but also ounces, grams and carats.
- Extremely portable
- Versatile measuring capacity
- Smaller capacity
- Turns off after just 1 minute
6. RCBS 98923 Chargemaster Combo Digital Scale
If you want one of the best electronic powder scales out there, you can’t go wrong with this one from RCBS. The design makes it very simple to use, with an easy load chamber for the powder and digital screen to choose the amount you want.
It’s also great for those of you using smokeless powder, but can handle all kinds. The capacity is a bit small, 300 grains, but extremely accurate nevertheless, with 1/10 precision.
The best part however, is how fast this digital scale for reloading is, not to mention durable. It also can be used with batteries on the go, you won’t want to miss out on this scale!
- Simple use
- Low capacity
- A bit large
7. American Weigh Scales Digital Scale
This is the best electronic reloading scale if you want a portable option, weighing in at just over a quarter pound. It runs off of just 2 AAA batteries and can weigh a variety of substances, up to 20 grams worth.
It is very easy to get a precise read off of this scale, as it has the ability to measure in 0.001 g increments and can measure in a variety of measurements; grams, ounces, grains and a few more. The display screen is very easy to read and simple (and separate) on/off buttons make this a dream choice.
This digital reloading scale comes with a carrying case, tweezers, tray and a calibration weight, making it a great value!
- Very portable
- Measurement variety
- Substance variety
- Very small
- Only 20 grams worth
8. Hornady 050109 Balance Beam Scale
This Hornady beam scale for reloading is a classic choice and is of great value for best beam scales out there.
The magnetic damper ensures maximum accuracy of 1/10 grain, as expected for all high quality mechanical scales. The 500 grain capacity is sufficient for most users while the laser etched measurement bar is easy to read and durable.
The hardened pivot pins maximum stability and long-lasting durability so you won’t be running out to buy a new scale anytime soon.
- Easy to read
- Okay capacity
Do I even really need to buy a reloading scale?
Yes, if you’re going to be creating your own rounds, you definitely need a reloading scale. If you don’t have a scale, it will be very difficult to accurately measure the amount of powder for the cartridge as using a reloading scale is the only way to do this with complete accuracy.
How to care for a reloading scale
As with any piece of machinery or equipment, you’ll want to keep your scale somewhere it will stay clean and dry. This is particularly true for digital/electronic reloading scales, as you don’t want anything to tamper with the digital reader. However, it is also very important for beam/mechanical scales to keep them in optimal condition.
In addition to being dry and secure, you’ll want to make sure your scale is stored in a stable area, where it won’t be knocked over or damaged by movement. The more unnecessary wear and fatigue your reloading scale receives outside of use, is less time it’ll remain useful and accurate for you.
Post-use you’ll want to wipe down and properly clean the scale as powder and other residue can easily build up. This can be done with a dry paper towel, soap and water or rubbing alcohol, depending on how dirty the scale became and what you have on hand.
Can I measure other things with a powder scale?
Yes, absolutely, although exactly what else you could measure depends on what kind of scale you’re using. Some have the ability to measure both dry and wet substances, others only dry. Often digital reloading scales won’t have the capability to measure water for cartridges, but make sure you double check the individual scale.
However, if you plan on measuring other substances besides powder, you’ll want to purchase two scales. This is because it is strongly advised against measuring anything but powder with your reloading scale, as any residue leftover can seriously distort the reading next time you’re reloading, so keep that in mind!
Looking for more gear? Why not check out our reviews of the best gun safes here.