A Cautionary Tale About Anything That Runs on Batteries

About 35 years ago, I bought a trigger pull scale so I could measure trigger pulls. Back then, you could … Continued


About 35 years ago, I bought a trigger pull scale so I could measure trigger pulls. Back then, you could use weights on a rod to do the job, or you could get a spring-style scale with the weights engraved on a brass tube. There was a hook connected to the spring, and you put that on the trigger and pulled carefully until you heard the firing pin fall, and you tried to read where the indicator was at the instant you heard the click.

The scale was by no means perfect. You had to develop a touch with it so you could see what it read at the crucial instant, and every few years you had to polish the thing so you could read it. But it worked.

A couple of weeks ago my old scale vanished, along with a very good set of jeweler’s screwdrivers. Grief stricken, I was going to get a replacement, but then I remembered that it was the 21st century, and that the thing was hopelessly obsolete, so I went to the local Cabela’s and bought an electronic scale that required no touch at all, could remember 10 pulls in a row, and give you their average weight.

Except that when I installed the required 9V battery, the thing refused to light up and function. So I brought it back to Cabela’s and explained the problem and the nice lady at the customer service desk said to get another one and we’d see if that worked.

It didn’t. Same problem. She gave me a refund, and promised that someone would be made to suffer, and I went home and found my old spring scale, which appeared sullen but still worked perfectly.

A while back I tried out a range-compensating scope that could not stand cold weather. I took it hunting in Montana where the temperature dropped to 10 above and I had to lean the rifle against the truck heater to keep the battery alive. When I got back I told the manufacturer about this, and a year later he e-mailed me that they had solved the problem and a new scope was on the way. I put it out on the porch on a 10-degree night and in the morning the battery was kaput.

And there was the rangefinder which functioned perfectly for a year and half and then dropped dead one day for reasons that are still unexplained. The battery was fine.

The moral is, if it runs on electricity it will probably head south on you one day. Which is why I use a compass instead of GPS.