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Thread: Your thoughts on auto chargers - RCBS Chargemaster, Lyman, Hornady, etc.

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    Your thoughts on auto chargers - RCBS Chargemaster, Lyman, Hornady, etc.

    I'm getting ready to move in a month so and will be setting up a new reloading room - new bench, storage, etc.

    I ran across some videos on auto chargers such as the RCBS Chargemaster, Lyman's version, Hornady's version, etc.

    I do a lot of batch loading at times for both pistol and rifle as well as such things as load workups, etc. So yes, the "old tried and true" method works with my RCBS 505, trickle, powder scoop measures, etc. but these auto chargers look like they are pretty nifty - not inexpensive but I'm seriously thinking about one.

    So . . . I'm sure quite a few have them. I'm loading both pistol and rifle - on my turret press I use a Lee Perfect Powder Measure and do random checks on the drops with the 505 quite often. But, in batch loading, I often use the single stage and even some of my Lyman 310 tong tools.

    The auto chargers seem to claim an accuracy to the tenth of a grain. I'm often batch loading or working up loads for pistol and rifle - for pistol, I have some loads as small as 1.5 grains up to 6 or 7 grains and of course rifle is larger grain weights.

    Most of the videos I've watched are showing the loading of rifle cartridges. However, I'm assuming that these types of charges would trickle out 1.5 grain weight just as well as large rifle grain weights?

    In reading posts on here - the thing I see often is getting used to the "trust issue" and in that process, double checking the throws with the beam scale.

    For those that use auto charges such as this . . . do you feel you get your use out of them and in the time saved by throwing charges as compared with using a beam scale, trickle . . . are you happy you went with one?

    It seems like just in the time saved in throwing charges would be worth it in the long run but before I build my new bench or benches, I'd be interested in hearing some thoughts on them. If I go with one, I'll design my bench so that there is a dedicated spot for one.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    I have a RCBS Chargemaster and I really like it. Like you said, I weighed several charges on another scale before I grew to trust it. Its accurate to within +or- .1 and thats what most scales do. I can seat a bullet and put the loaded round in a box while the next chance is being weighed. It holds zero well and does not drift like the Dillon scale that I had did. It will tell you if it over or under throws. Mine goes over a tenth maybe once every 50 charges, but only with some powders.

    I use mine for extruded rifle powder. I've never used it on pistol. My measure is faster and about as accurate. I expect it would work ok though.

    Its a time savor and I'm glad I bought it. Its earned its spot on the bench.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I'm just starting to look at these as well. RCBS Chargemaster seems to get great reviews, and there are a few suggested tweaks to make it both better and, for large charges, faster.

    Whatever you do, do not google Prometheus powder measure.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master


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    For working up loads, I use a Chargemaster. I use progressives for bulk loading and use powder measures.
    Don Verna

    NRA Endowment Member

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    The Chargemaster was one of the best purchases I ever made. I never had any trust issues because I'm younger. It seems old guys don't trust electronic scales. I do use check weights before use every time. After that it's set the charge and let it do its thing.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    My chargemaster is the single best reloading tool that I have ever bought bar none......Terry

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    I have used the Hornady Auto Charge for a long time now.
    I am an old guy and I trust it completely.
    I have cross checked charges and it has always been dead on.
    I have tried to meter 700X through several powder measures and finally decided the only way to get dead-on charges was to use the Auto Charge. I have went as low as 3.6 gr. with no issues.
    Mine never throws an under charge and rarely throws an over charge. If it does it will warn you when it goes over 1/10th gr.
    It has 3 feed speeds and is adjustable for when it starts trickling and trickle speed to prevent over runs.
    Warm them up and calibrate them each time you use them.
    I have a friend with an older RCBS and he says the Hornady is faster.
    I am very happy with mine....dale

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub

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    Been using the lyman gen6 for about a year.
    Really accurate and doesn't take up a lot of space on the bench.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master jmorris's Avatar
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    They are convenient and packaged nicely but are not the most accurate/repeatable devices, although I doubt their lack of precision could be noticed on target by most shooters. Kind of like volume measures with powders that meter well.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

    Bent Ramrod's Avatar
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    I have a Chargemaster. The first half dozen times I used it, I reweighed every charge on my Dillon D-Terminator as a check. The weights were very nearly exact (within 0.1 gr.)

    I've only used relatively coarse rifle powders in mine. Sometimes a bunch of sticks will come down the little tube such that when the tube twists for that last little bit, the whole works will fall in and I get a 0.2 gr overage, but generally it only overshoots to 0.1 gr, and that not often. The program counts the number of charges dispensed, and if I dump the bad charges back into the hopper, I haven't been able to cancel out that charge. So if I really want to know how many rounds I've loaded, I still have to count them. And I have not studied the manual enough to program in the charge weights and types and all the other stuff the device is capable of. I can calibrate it, set a charge, and push the button, and that's pretty much the sum total of my abilities.

    If you want weighed charges, and a lot of them, the Chargemaster is the ticket. It saves the labor of trickling the charge by hand onto the scale, and the load cell on the Chargemaster scale responds very well to trickling up, unlike my D-Terminator, the display of which will lag as I trickle and then jump 0.3 gr or more. (I use it for weighing thrown charges or boolits; the full mass put on the scale at once gives very accurate weights, as checked by my RCBS beam scale.)

    However, when I reload it is often time I want to save, and the Chargemaster does not save one second's worth. You have to sit there and wait for the trickling to finish, and, although it takes time, it doesn't take enough to do another task while the pan is filling. I basically sit there watching it and waiting for the "beep." When I want to load fast, a powder measure is the way to go.

    Make sure the little trap door on the side of the hopper is closed before you fill it up, and if you can figure out a way to empty it that doesn't involve taking all the loose stuff off the unit and turning it on its side, I'd appreciate hearing about it. But it works as advertised, and has been dead reliable every time I've used it.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
    dragon813gt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmorris View Post
    They are convenient and packaged nicely but are not the most accurate/repeatable devices, although I doubt their lack of precision could be noticed on target by most shooters. Kind of like volume measures with powders that meter well.
    Define repeatable. Is every charge out of one hundred being the same repeatable? Every one out out of five hundred? If I'm using a ball powder it throws the same charge every time. Doesn't matter if it's a small or large charge. When using a flake powder like 800-X it may occasionally throw 0.1 grain over. But that powder meters like gravel. And an over charge usually happens when it decides to increase speed. If anything it's more repeatable than a volume measure. And if the powders measures well in one of them it will be spot on coming out of the Chargemaster.

    I agree that there will be no discernible difference on target. This is why volume measures work so well at their job. When loading near max I trust the Chargemaster unlike a volume measure. If it over throws a charge I can always throw it back in the hopper.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master Pee Wee's Avatar
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    I have the original Chargemaster. This is the newer Chargemaster Lite. A smaller less expensive version.
    I do a lot of load development for pistol and rifle for my competitive shooting. I use my Chargemaster all the time. I can only remember one time that it threw a overcharge. Like most I checked it all the time with calibrated weights. It has always been dead on I trust it with the utmost confidence. I have not had any issues with either rifle or pistol charges from to 2.9 grains or as high as 45 grains. It has worked with all the powders that I use. For me it is a must have tool for the type of reloading I do for my precision shooting. The newer Lite version looks to me to be a nice choice for the more budget minded. I only use RCBS digital scales. They get Checked once a week with calibrated weights and are always spot-on. The Chargemaster is a great tool and you won't regreat purchasing it.
    Just my 2cents
    Pee Wee
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  13. #13
    Boolit Bub
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    I have been reloading for a long time. I either trickled by hand or dipped for accuracy rounds. Then one day on a whim I bought a Chargemaster.........

    Its everything and more than what you hear about it and I honestly don't know if I can load without one again! Where had it been all my life! I give the thing a kiss everyday I love it so much! Laugh, go ahead, you will feel the same way when you get one too......

    But the disclaimer; Let it warm up, look up the straw trick, it does help, and there is a way to mess with the trickle speed but I have left mine as is, I'm in no hurry.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    You've already had all the info on these auto-dispensers presented...all valid points if you are going to get along with one of these birds.
    They are a welcome tool in the stable but...you must let them warm up, keep them calibrated, keep them out of a breeze and they will do their jobs without exception.

    This old girl is slow, I had to conform to her speed...not a problem with the new dispensers now though.
    This old gramma is one of the first RCBS versions and has two speeds and two different trickle tubes, hi and low speed but it is, in the end the type of powder, flake or ball that makes all the difference when it comes to the overcharge. It's just part of the mechanical/digital limitations of machinery.

    With the flake, Unique for one...I set the charge target .1'th low and I trickle up to the weight I want. This scale is easy to work with so long as your trickling doesn't vibrate the scale and make it 'hunt'.
    With this Bullseye, set the dispenser to the target weight and go, I don't even bother to load the trickler here and rarely have a problem...if I do, I use a pair of tweezers to pick powder out of the pan to adjust the overweight condition...no biggie at all.

    I found this old radio knob and snapped it onto the trickle knob and this way I can trickle without grabbing onto the trickler and shaking the scale...I use my index finger to twirl the shaft and the scale doesn't feel my imput and the tenths come up fast.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    In your new bench design try to make some kind of mount that is independent of the bench...something that will not transmit the bench vibrations to the scale shelf.
    My bench is different than most and is round, I made a seperate stand that goes through a hole in the center of the bench and terminates on it's own stand on the floor. Nothing I do on the bench will affect the throw now. Whichever press I'm at, this shelf will turn to face the press and it is adjustable in height...convenient.

    Go for it...you will be glad you did...charlie


  15. #15
    Boolit Master Drew P's Avatar
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmxBSOOL7Ks

    this video was all I needed to never trust one of these ever. Instead, I'm building an optical switch beam scale as has been discussed recently. I would trust that. These chargemasters seem to be an accident waiting to happen.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master OS OK's Avatar
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    You should have read some of the comments below your video...it was sorta explained there. IIRC'ly my old dispenser instructions mentions something about minimum charge weights also.




    Liberty4Ever
    3 months ago

    I have noticed this auto zero function on my RCBS 1500 ChargeMaster. What you show in this video is only a problem if you are throwing charges of .2 grains or less. What you are calling drift is actually a feature to prevent drift by automatically zeroing the scale between charges. Most digital scales (postal scales, kitchen scales, etc.) have this software feature. Actual charges of powder will always be well above .2 grains, and those weight measurements are not subject to auto zero correction. That's why this isn't drift.


  17. #17
    Boolit Master

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    I have one of the early versions with seprate measure and scales. They talk thru an infared port. WOrks very good but with mid to large charges is a little slow so I throw these charges 5-6 grns light, this allows it to start with the high speed tube when you hit the button. Speeds it up a lot. With these units you arnt throwing charges but the unit is measuring and trickling for you. They are actually weighed charges. Mine set now since its not rated for Black powder

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Mike Kerr's Avatar
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    The newer models sure do look neat and professional. I am glad you started this thread because this new generation of equipment needs a good review almost every couple of years. I still like my 3 poise balance beams but who knows what the future holds.
    regards,


  19. #19
    Boolit Master Reverend Al's Avatar
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    I have an RCBS Chargemaster and love it. It is quick and accurate for loading larger batches of rifle ammunition with the stick type powders (4831, 4350, 4198, etc.). I still use my Uniflow Measure for loads when using ball pistol powders (.300 BO mostly). All of my pistol ammo is loaded on a pair of Dillon 550's ...
    I may have passed my "Best Before" date, but I haven't reached my "Expiry" date!

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Thank you everyone for your comments. Looks like one of these will "have" to be a part of my new reloading set up when I get moved.

    The suggestion on trying to keep the platform it sits on separate from the bench top due to bench vibration, etc. is a good one and I've already been thinking about that. I have built many benches over the years - not only form my home but others and for my custom woodworking/millwork shop when I had that business. Currently, the top of my bench is covered with stick on 12" X 12" floor tile which makes a nice top as far as reloading on, clean up, etc. The bench I'm looking at making when we get moved will be a heavy base platform with 2 X 4 legs doubled to allow for bolted inset rails for the top. The top will be made out of dimension (2 X 10) with a plywood top on the top of the solid 2 X 10 top. On top of the plywood, I am planning on using some "maple" laminated flooring for the work surface and the entire top edge banded with a 3/4 strip the width of the bench top thickness. At the back, I will build a shelf and small drawer storage for turret plate storage, die storage, etc. This will set against the poured basement wall so I think I can easily leave a space in the storage back to attach a heavy bracket to the wall with a shelf that can overhang the bench top with a space between it and the bench top and use it as a "scale platform" - that way any bench vibration will not affect it. I'll make it so the bracket/shelf is removable when not in use and a storage shelf for the scales in the back storage area as well.

    As far as "accuracy" - yea, I'm old so I imagine I'll still check with the beam scale but will build up confidence as time goes on. In any of my reloading, I don't push the limit near max on any of my loadings so the claimed accuracy of 1/10 of a grain will certainly be sufficient. I use different powder types like most do and I'm sure it is a matter of getting used to the auto charger, etc.

    I did watch the video that the link that was posted went to. I'm sorry, but I can't say that I was too impressed with it nor did it scare me away from these auto chargers as being an "accident waiting to happen". Reloading is like anything in life, when accidents occur, it is usually "human error". One has to pay attention to what they are doing - if something seems amiss during an operation, you stop and make sure all is right. If you think a powder load may be off - then check it with another scale. Above all . . . "common sense" is the best preventive medicine a person can have.

    But then, I'm old. Cars crash, cows kick, guns blow up and as a former shop teacher and a cabinet maker most of my life, people get cut on sharp objects . . . usually through "not paying attention" to what they are doing. But then, I grew up drinking water out of a garden hose, drinking from the same tin cup that was chained to the pump that everyone else used and I even used to walk through "cow pies" barefooted . . . . what can I say? Life is a "risk"!

    Thanks again for all your thoughts and suggestions - greatly appreciated!

    Jim

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
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GC Gas Check