As everybody knows it’s almost impossible to get ammo these days. What’s a firearms enthusiast to do? The answer is obvious. Roll your own.
Not surprisingly; concomitant with Covid has been a rising interest in reloading. Sales of components and reloading gear has also risen appreciably.
Which brings us to the subject of this piece.
The linchpin of any loading bench is a powder scale.
Obviously, the amount of powder that you’re filling a case with had better be accurate. It also comes in handy if you’ve got bullet heads that are of indeterminate weight. For example, is that a 115 or a 124 projectile I’ve found in a jumbled pile?
They are well known for manufacturing bullets, cases, ammo and other components but also make dies, presses and other reloading gear. One of their newest products is the M2 Digital Bench Scale.
Priced at $165, it occupies a sort of sweet spot on the continuum for a decent scale. (You’ll have to pay at least in the neighborhood of $150 for a good quality scale).
Anything less expensive is probably going to be battery operated and not as robust as what a serious reloader needs. Another reason to get something of better quality is that you don’t want to have to buy something now only to have to replace it in two or three years–or less.
I had a chance to test the M2 in my private laboratory and really liked it. For over a decade I’ve used another product but it’s showing it’s age. A scale is too important not to update at least once in a decade!
The M2 is also ideal for the neophyte.
With a capacity of 1500 grains, as alluded to above, it also has the capacity to weigh cases, cartridges and perhaps the sterling silver spoon from Grandma.
It’s easy to set up but you will have to wait about 15 minutes until it’s completely warmed up before using it.
During my test there was zero drift.
There is also a round level bubble for extra precision, which is an improvement over the earlier version of the scale. Simply adjust the feet on the scale and you’re in business.
The Takeaway on the M2
The primary reason to get this scale is that it instills confidence. It sounds a bit corny but the minute I switched it on, I just felt more secure about whole reloading process.
I knew that I was using a tool that is brand new, hence more accurate and more consistent than my aging scale. Using it inspired me to actually tidy up my bench, wipe it down, lube the press, etc.
I don’t know what got into me but I suspect other folks will feel the same way.
While you’re at it consider a caliper upgrade
After I unpacked the scale and set it up, I got my trusty press ready for action. I added the tool head and tweaked the adjustment on the dies, etc. I opened up the loading manual, checked the specs on the diagram and took out the caliper with the intention of making certain that the case mouth (in this instance 45 caliber) had the correct dimensions.
In doing so I started noticing that my old caliper was not consistent. Was my measurement accurate or was the caliper playing up? I really didn’t know. It seemed to be off 3 or 4 thousandth and I was starting to get squeamish.
Time to replace it.
Sure, there are innumerable models available on Amazon or Brownells for that matter, but I decided to go with Hornady once again and get a new tool. They sell a good quality Digital Caliper for about $38.
It comes with a hard plastic case and a spare battery. The 6″ caliper is constructed from heavy duty stainless steel, it’s easy to zero out, and has a crisp digital display.
They also offer a more “traditional” stainless steel, shock-resistant dial caliper accurate to +/- 0.001″. With the Dial Caliper you don’t have electronics can go haywire. There’s very little that can go wrong with it. It features four-way measurement capability: inside, outside, depth and step. The slide may be locked in any position for precise measurements. The thumb wheel aids in easy opening and closing.
In addition to the calipers Hornady also has a Micro-Meter that measures from 0-1″ in 0.0001″ increments. This is for applications that need extreme accuracy. It’s a go-to tool for machinists and gunsmiths.
Between the new caliper and the scale I’ll be ready for the next ammo shortage or who knows, the Night of the Living Dead. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that!
One last comment. Hornady, like others in the reloading space has excellent tech support. I called for a quick question about reloading one of their bullets and had an answer asap. Even in the Covid-19 era, knowledgeable people were available without waiting for more than a few minutes.
Hornady gets kudos for that.
Robert F. Kay is a columnist for the Honolulu Star Advertiser, a health nut, a sharpshooter, the author of two Lonely Planet guidebooks and creator of Fijiguide.com.