Thursday, May 26, 2022
HomeNew GearGear Review: RCBS Chargemaster Supreme Electronic Powder Dispenser

Gear Review: RCBS Chargemaster Supreme Electronic Powder Dispenser


RCBS Chargemaster Supreme (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
RCBS Chargemaster Supreme (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

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I started reloading back when we were still hiding under our school desks to protect ourselves from Brezhnev’s A-bombs.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

My RCBS beam-style powder scale isn’t much younger than that. I still load thousands of rounds every year with it and a pair of RCBS single stage presses from the same era. In fact, almost all of the basic reloading gear I have is from RCBS, and all of it is many decades old.

I’m all for trying new guns, new calibers, new bullets and new powders. But when it comes to new reloading equipment, I’m not what one would call an “early adopter.” It ain’t broke and there’s nothing to fix.

TTAG sent me the newest whiz-bang RCBS powder measure to review. There’s no beam.  It’s electronic and connected to an AC power outlet. It’s Bluetooth enabled. It’s unlike anything else on my bench.

And I’m never going back.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Now my scale, my powder thrower, and my powder trickler are all stored under the bench. Why? Because the RCBS Chargemaster Supreme has replaced all of them, saving space. The Chargemaster Supreme is now also my log, my recipe book, and my catalogue too. My hard copies are now just backups.

Within a few hours of use, the RCBS Chargemaster Supreme proved to not only replace all of that equipment and documentation, but it performed the roles of all of that gear faster, more accurately, and with less potential for error than the equipment I’d been using my entire life.

My fellow troglodytes probably have the same primary concern I did — you don’t trust it.  I’m here to tell you that you can.

Prior to each use, you check to make sure it’s level using the adjustable feet and an integrated bubble level. Then, just as you would on a beam-scale, you calibrate and zero it using the two 50-gram supplied weights.

After that, there are tons of options, but if you want, you can simply fill the hopper, enter how many grains you want, (down to a tenth of a grain) and press “GO.”

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Most of the charge weight will then quickly pour from the tube and into the powder pan on the scale, and then slowly trickle out the rest of the powder until the proper weight is achieved. Remove the filled powder pan and pour the charge into your case.

It’s that simple. No pulling a lever to throw your powder. No turning the tiny knob on the powder trickler. No carefully measuring on the scale. The Chargmaster Supreme does all of that for you.

To verify the Chargemaster Supreme’s accuracy, I loaded up 200 pistol rounds (.45ACP, .45AR and .38 Super) and 100 rifle rounds (.45-70 GOVT, 28 Nosler, .308 Win and .260 Rem) and then remeasured each charge with my well-proven RCBS beam-scale. They perfectly matched, every single time.

Note that it was with a wide range of cases, powders, and weights. It didn’t matter if I was using a flake, ball or extruded powders. It didn’t matter if I was loading four grains of Clays or 77 grains of H1000, the Chargemaster Supreme was right every single time.

That alone proved to me why the Chargemaster Supreme was superior to my old method. Not only was it faster and easier to load from the Chargemaster Supreme, it was less error prone.

If I’m using my old beam scale, every once in a while I’ll accidentally bump the right slider, if it’s set to zero. That’s because I’m taking the powder pan off and on right next to it, and it takes only the slightest of bumps to move it. I have to make sure I’m checking every single time I measure so this doesn’t occur.

With the digital scale, this simply can’t happen. There are no sliders to move. Either it zeroes, or, if you bump the Chargemaster Supreme while it’s pouring, it emits a beep alarm to let you know, and the digital readout shows an error message as well. Obviously, no such feature exists on the old school scale.

You also don’t have to be still as a deer when you’re loading. Any big bump, enough to move the device, will throw off the charge and set out an alarm to let you know that’s what’s happened. But little movements don’t seem to have any measurable effect.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Next, the Charmaster Supreme counts off each and every charge. If I’m loading something like the .45 Colt with a traditional analog thrower and measure, it’s not a challenge to double-charge the case. It can be hard to visually determine if you’ve put too much powder into a case.

Most of us have some sort of double-checking process to make sure this doesn’t happen. But with the unit displaying the count with each pour, it’s hard to get it wrong. If the case count doesn’t match the pour count on the readout, it’s clear you’ve got a problem.

Because of the Powder Learn Process of the Chargemaster Supreme, it’s also fast. The Powder Learn Process feature is a simple series of pours you do once per load. It takes less than five minutes. The Chargemaster Supreme loads and weighs a small series of charges for a particular powder and somehow calculates and stores the pour rates.

Once you’ve done that, the Chargemaster Supreme can dispense powder at a rate of up to two grains per second. According to RCBS’s website, that’s an industry leading pour time, and there are 50 different memory slots for Powder Learn Process charges.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

I was able to verify this approximate pour rate with multiple powders. Is it the fastest out there? I have no idea. But it was certainly a heck of a lot faster than the way I’ve been doing it.

You can speed things up even further with the auto pour feature. Once that first charge is set in memory, it will pour that same charge every time you place the empty powder measure on the scale.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Cleaning up is pretty easy, too. There’s a little drain knob on the side. Twist it open, a little or a lot, and an alarm will sound while the powder pours out. If there’s anything left in the powder dispensing tube, push the “Trickle” button and any remaining powder will fall into the powder pan to put back in the original container.

The Chargemaster Supreme even includes a small cleaning brush to get any tiny flecks of powder out of the powder load cell, although I found a little bit of canned air while the funnel is still open to be even easier.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

One of the touted features of the Chargemaster Supreme is its Bluetooth functionality. With the free RCBS app, you can control the functions of the Chargemaster Supreme with your phone. Yes, you can password protect it.

Do you need the app? You do not. There’s no part of the Chargemaster Supreme that’s not easy and simple to control without the app and most of the time, that’s how I ran it.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

I dismissed the app entirely for a while…until I finally downloaded it. Yes, you can use the app to control the Chargemaster Supreme, and that’s neat and all, but that’s not where I found its value.

The app also serves as a load log. In that log, you can include a photo, all of your normal load data, as well as ballistic data and atmospherics. That allows you to take your entire log, including every bit of your load data, with you everywhere you go. Want a hard copy?  Bring up the log, capture the screens, and print them out. The result is a pretty, legible, and standardized log.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

Finally, the app is also a searchable RCBS catalog. You can build a shopping list and order right from the app.

I still like my analog powder thrower, trickler, log, and scale. For very small jobs — loading one or two cases — that’s still probably the way to go, since you’d only need to use the scale and some careful pouring from the powder container. It’s also nice to have the portability of the analog tools.

Oh, but wait…no. The Chargemaster Supreme even has that beat. The whole thing will run off an available external battery pack. So really, just put one device in one box and you’ve got the powder aspect covered.

Image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com.

The only downside to the Chargemaster Supreme over all of my old gear is the price. At a penny shy of $430, it’s not inexpensive. But it’s worth every one of those pennies. I added up all the other items it would replace and you pay about $100 more for the speed, safety, and convenience the Chargemaster Supreme provides over what I’ve been using. Right now, that’s about the cost of a tank of gas for my truck.

Sometimes progress really is progress, and the Chargemaster Supreme proves it. I’ve been trusting RCBS my entire life, and I’m not surprised this is the company to finally usher me into the modern age. The Chargemaster Supreme is an outstanding product.

The next thing you know, I might even buy a microwave. Well, probably not.

Specifications: RCBS Chargemaster Supreme

Bluetooth compatible with free RCBS app
Audible beep
0.1-grain accuracy; 1,500-grain load cell capacity
Proprietary Powder Learn Process
Powder hopper drain alarm (patent pending)
50 memory slots for favorite and Powder Learn charges
Available external battery pack adds portability
16-segment LCD touchscreen display
1,500 grain capacity
CE Approved 4 Country Universal Power Supply
Input 100VAC-240FAC 50Hz/60HzPower Consumption: Max current 80 mA
Two 50 Gram weights included
Wind Cover included
Brush included
Price: $429.99

Ratings (out of five stars):

Overall * * * * *
The RCBS Chargemaster Supreme is reliable, precise, safe, fast and convenient. It not only replaces, but improves upon several of the older tools I’ve used for decades. It’s simple to use, it’s right every time, and the app really does provide valuable functionality. It stands at the top of its class, and is leaps and bounds ahead of my old way of doing things.

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