MTM Case-Gard Mini-Digital Scale Review

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SoupOrMan
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MTM Case-Gard Mini-Digital Scale Review

Post by SoupOrMan » Wed Sep 23, 2009 3:57 pm

MTM Case-Gard Mini-Digital Scale

Capsule Review: This thing is jumpier than a tweaker with a guilty conscience. Avoid with a quickness.

Price: $39.95 at kempfgunshop.com, $36.49 at midwayusa.com

What You Get: 1 Electronic Scale, 1 foam-lined carry case, 2 3v 3032 batteries, 1 50g check weight, 1 plastic pan.

Back in February is when I started gathering my reloading equipment, waiting for the day when I'd have enough space to put it all together and start reloading. That didn't happen until earlier this month when I finally had the space to set up a small stand. I was looking for a starter loading kit that would be easy to use, and picked up a starter kit through http://www.kempfgunshop.com. In order to make sure I had something to weigh my charges, I ordered this digital scale with it. Once I finally got everything set up, I opened up the packaging for the scale. This is when the "fun" began.

Putting the batteries into an electronic device should not be a battle, but this was. The retaining spring for the last battery would contract at the slightest touch, causing the battery to pop out and lose contact. It turned into a game of "put the access panel back on before the battery escapes" and annoyed me. A workaround was found and the day was saved. So, I set it on a nice level surface and turned it on. The backlit LCD display is very easy to read. It has four modes: grains, grams, carats and ounces.

I grab the 50g check weight and set the scale to measure grams. 49.98 grams? Well, it wouldn't be the first time I got an inaccurate weight to check for accuracy. So, I remove the weight, wait about 30 seconds and re-weigh it. 49.98 grams. Good enough for the moment. So, I set it to grains and make the attempt to measure out some smokeless powder.

I'm trying out some Universal Clays powder from Hodgdon for the first loading and I'm going with a light load. So, to check the weight, I grab the .5cc dipper out of my die set and scoop up some powder and level it off. Checking with the volume-to-weight chart in Modern Reloading, .5cc of Universal should equal 4.6 grains. Figuring a variation of .1 grain for atmospheric conditions like heat and humidity, I drop the powder into the pan that comes with the scale. 4.3 grains. Hmm. Five seconds later, 4.6 grains. Five seconds later 4.2 grains. Five seconds later we're at 4.5 grains. It stays at 4.5 grains for about twenty seconds and I go to prep something else. I look down after about 40 seconds. 0.2 grains of Universal has obviously grown legs and escaped as we're back down to 4.3 grains. I seem to have recieved a scale made by an indecisive assembler. I empty the pan, refill it with another leveled-off scoop of Universal. 4.6 grains... no wait it's 4.4! Uh, make that 4.1! OMGwe'reallgonnadiegobackto 4.6 grains!

So, I get sneaky. Since the pan's weight constantly fluctuates according to the scale (44.1 to 44.4 grains) I think "Why bother with the pan?" and weigh my primed case as a way to determine the weight. For the first case I try, I get 72.1 grains and lo and behold, it stays there for a full minute. I drop another dipper full of powder in the case and re-weigh it. If all goes well, I'll have 76.7 grains plus or minus .1. I get 76.7... then 76.6... then 76.7... then 76.6 and if finally settles on 76.7. Success! I weigh another case, add the powder and lo and behold it's 4.6 grains heavier than before. Success again! I keep doing this and soon I have a bunch of primed cases with 4.6 grains of Universal in them. Now... can I get 5.0 grains? We'll find out.

As seen in another thread, I'm learning the reloading ropes using Lee equipment. Since the charge I want is .55cc and the auto-disk set up has .53 and .57cc apertures, I use the adjustable charge bar and set it to .55. Tapping on the powder drop to ensure I've gotten everything, I charge a primed and weighed case with what I think should be 5.0 grains.

5.0 exactly, according to the scale and my math for about ten seconds, then a few granules teleport out and now I'm showing 4.8 grains difference. Then the difference changes to 4.9, then 5.0, then 4.7, then 5.1. Quality, thy name ain't "Made in China."

I turn the scale off as I'm done for the night. The next day as I sit at the bench, I hit the power button. The scale doesn't power up. I try it again. No power. The third time I press it, it lights up like normal. I clearly have a lazy scale who shames its balance-beam ancestors.

The charges weigh accurately at first, sticking with 5.0 grains. It starts going out of balance after the third "charged weight minus empty weight" test and drifts wildly with a plus or minus .5 grain spread. I then find out it has an auto shutoff after three minutes, so I try turning it on again.

No light, no power, no nothing. I wait overnight. It lights up, and I work to keep it active so it won't shut off again after three minutes. I miss the three-minute mark and it shuts off and is stubborn about coming back on.

The next day I find a deal on a Ohaus-built balance-beam scale from Dillon and snap it up. 5.0 grains is 5.0 grains is 5.0 grains there. The MTM scale says 5.0 is 4.9 is 5.1 is 4.8 is 5.3.

Usually when I purchase first-year models of cars, I have great success with them. This ability does not transfer over to scales. It wasn't until this month that I started seeing other reviews for this scale on Midway's site. It wasn't until a month ago that I even saw this scale on the website, too, but there are reviews going back to last year for some reason. The bad reviews are there for a reason. Avoid this scale unless everything else is out of stock and you don't have any friends who will let you borrow their scale. I had a feeling that the scale wouldn't last more than a year once I started using it. I was way too generous. I'm now scavenging the plastic carrying case and foam for other projects and will find some other use for the scale that will not require such a high level of precision and accuracy. Most likely it'll wind up as a one-use reactive target unless I find other stuff that needs to be weighed in grams or ounces.
Remember, folks, you can't spell "douche" without "Che."

“PET PARENTS?” You’re not a “pet parent.” You’re a pet owner. Unless you’ve committed an unnatural act that succeeded in spite of biology. - Glenn Reynolds

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Combat Controller
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Re: MTM Case-Gard Mini-Digital Scale Review

Post by Combat Controller » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:12 am

Thanks for the heads up. I have been using the RCBS digital scale and it is very accurate.
Winner of the prestigious Автомат Калашникова образца 1947 года award for excellence in rural travel.

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Denis
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Re: MTM Case-Gard Mini-Digital Scale Review

Post by Denis » Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:39 am

Thanks, Soup!

I just ordered a Jennings XV-50 digital scale for US$35 + delivery from Cyberscale.net. I wanted the Jennings VG-20, but they were out of stock.

BTW, I first attempted to order the Jennings scales from saveonscales dot com (who are not getting a link from me...). They unilaterally cancelled my order without so much as a by-your-leave or an e-mail of explanation or apology, because they were out of stock. When I ordered, the website showed "in stock". Buyer beware.

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SoupOrMan
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Re: MTM Case-Gard Mini-Digital Scale Review

Post by SoupOrMan » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:14 pm

Make sure they're actually good to .1 or less grains or you'll have a headache trying to get it to measure as precisely as you want. Many of the digital scales being sold are good to .01 grams. .01 grams is equal to .154 grains so you may wish to check your powder throws on a beam scale as well.
Remember, folks, you can't spell "douche" without "Che."

“PET PARENTS?” You’re not a “pet parent.” You’re a pet owner. Unless you’ve committed an unnatural act that succeeded in spite of biology. - Glenn Reynolds

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Denis
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Re: MTM Case-Gard Mini-Digital Scale Review

Post by Denis » Thu Sep 24, 2009 2:32 pm

SoupOrMan wrote:Make sure they're actually good to .1 or less grains or you'll have a headache trying to get it to measure as precisely as you want. Many of the digital scales being sold are good to .01 grams. .01 grams is equal to .154 grains so you may wish to check your powder throws on a beam scale as well.
Thanks. Here's what Jennings claim for the scale:
JS-XV 50
Capacity Accuracy / Readability
50.00g 0.01g
1.7630oz 0.0005oz
32.15dwt 0.01dwt
250.00ct 0.05ct
771.6gn 0.1gn
1.6070ozt 0.0005ozt
50,000mg 10mg
0.1101lb 0.0001lb
Count (individual items)
Since they offer a 20-year guarantee, they'll be getting it back if it doesn't perform! I wanted the VG-20, which they say is good to measure .05 grains...

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