Serious tasks require serious tools! One such scenario is long-range shooting. The further you go, the more you need to care about muzzle velocity consistency. And to achieve consistent muzzle velocity you need extremely consistent powder charges (down to a single kernel of gunpowder). Welcome to the domain of scientific measurement tools! In this article I’ll cover the best value in precision measurement gear that’s capable of detecting and measuring the weight of a single kernel of gunpowder, the A&D Instruments FX120-i precision laboratory balance. (this device is technically a “balance”, but I’ll refer to it as a “scale” for the purposes of this article). This is the scale that Adam MacDonald designed the popular AutoTrickler system around!
From the CE Products (Cambridge) product page:
A&D FX-120i Reloading Scale – 122g x 0.001g – 1882GN x 0.02GN
A&D FX-120i is the ideal scale for pairing with the AutoTrickler system. Featuring a patented Compact Super Hybrid Sensor at its heart, providing fast, one-second weighing response time. Fx-120i also contains a specially designed internal shock absorber that offers protection from the adverse effects of vertical or transverse overloading. Durable and reliable, the FX-120i is an entry level, full-featured 0.01g to 1mg resolution balance at a very affordable price.
This scale provides 1 milligram precision (approximately 1 kernel of average extruded powders) and is more than accurate enough for all forms of long range shooting. This level of precision will ensure powder weight has a negligible effect on muzzle velocity SD. This magnetic force restoration balance will not drift like load-cell based digital scales and will also allow you to sort brass, primers, and bullets with high precision.
122g x 0.001g
5 year warranty
What’s In the Box
The A&D FX120i scale comes with everything you’ll need to perform precision measurement, but if you want to use an external weight to calibrate this scale, you’ll need to purchase that separately (see below). Here’s what’s included:
Pictured above clockwise from top:
- A&D FX120i scale
- Dust cover and user’s manual
- Enclosure wind screens and vertical supports
- Enclosure lid
- AC Adaptor (12V)
- Pan base and pan
Assembling this lab scale takes only about 5 minutes as shown in the video (and that includes reading the instructions), very straightforward. After putting the pieces together, you’ll want to precisely level the scale (using leveling feet on the front and integrated bubble level), plug in and turn on the scale, and let it warm up for about 1/2 hour.
Calibrating the FX-120oi may or may not be necessary depending on your relative priority between precision (consistency) and accuracy (absolute correctness of measurements). There are two ways you can calibration the FX120i:
- Internal calibration (using the internal balance)
- External calibration (uses both the internal balance for zero, and an external weight for non-zero calibration)
Cambridge Environmental sells calibration weights like the one that I have (link to product HERE) for about $15.00. A note about this calibration weight: like everything else in the precision measurement world (for industry) there are “certified” models and “uncertified models”. For the purposes of ammunition reloading and powder measurement, the uncertified devices and weights are plenty good. Certified (have certificate) 100g calibration weights start at about $75.00, and you can spend much more than that.
As shown in the video, once you select the reference weight you are using, there’s really only two steps: first you perform the zero calibration, and then perform the calibration with reference weight. You’ll be done in less than 1 minute!
Measuring a Single Kernel of Gunpowder
I’ve been hearing about how the FX-120i can measure/detect a single kernel of gunpowder, so I was anxious to try for myself. As seen in the video, the FX-120i was easily able to detect a single kernel of IMR-4350 (a long stick powder). In fact, it is able to detect/measure 1/2 of the weight of one stick of this powder. So, for shorter stick powders (like Hodgdon’s Varget for example) single-kernel measurement is still very much possible. And that’s one of the key selling points of Adam MacDonald’s AutoTrickler system (see my story HERE)- automated single-kernel powder dispensing, thanks to the FX-120i. And that’s amazing!
I’ll be using this scale for a number of features here on Ultimate Reloader. I’ll be using this scale with the AutoTrickler system, and for numerous precision weighing tasks, including statistical analysis of the following:
- Dispensed powder charges
- Bullet weight consistency
- Case weight consistency
- Primer weight consistency
…and more. So you may be wondering: how to gather all of this data? Well the FX-120i has a handy capability built in for that: a serial data port! With this data port, I can connect the FX-120i directly to any of my Windows PCs, and input data directly into Excel by means of pressing the “print” button on the scale. Awesome.
Get Your Own
If you are in the market for an FX-120i, you can find the products I reviewed in this article here:
You can find complete AutoTrickler System on CE Products HERE (including scale): Full Reloading Kits
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