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Old 05-13-2011, 08:35 PM
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Default buyin a automatic powder dispenser

im thinking of buying a automatic powder dispenser i reload pistol and rifle both whats the best value for my money and is the electric scale theway to go over my rcbs5-0-5 scale
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Old 05-14-2011, 12:03 AM
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I can not say about the automatic powder dispenser (if you are talking about the kind the dispenses and weighs) I see no use for them unless you are only loading a few rifle rounds.

I would not pick any electronic scale over a beam balance.

The RCBS is a good one as is the Dillon or any of the major brands.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:54 AM
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I "love" my RCBS ChargeMaster. You can program it to optimize (shorten) dispense time for a given charge weight.
Gave up on beam balances in the late '70s. Still have my original Ainsworth and it still works.
For a beam, to "know" where you are, you really need a set of at least ASTM class F2 (I think) check weights. You zero the balance, place a known weight on and record the known weight vs the indicated weight. Do this all the way in weight and you can have a calibration chart.
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Old 05-14-2011, 08:42 AM
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My opinion is that the best buy is probably a Lee, as part of a progressive or semi-progressive press set up.

You still should visually check the cases for the presence of powder before seating a bullet, for safety's sake. While I appreciate the Lee for its cleverness and relative economy, it is a mechanical device and can eventually be expected to wear. I know because after about 35,000 loads through my press, the powder measure began to skip at random and not drop powder into some cases. Bad juju.

Still a good rig, though.
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Old 05-14-2011, 09:25 AM
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Electronic automatic powder dispensers are designed primarily for rifle shooters where relative low volume numbers of rounds and high precision is needed. Personally beam scales provide enough accuracy and repeatability for my handgun reloading. If I were shooting rifle at long ranges where a 1/10th of a grain was significant I would invest in higher precision equipment.
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:35 AM
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I like my RCBS Chargemaster 1500 quite a bit - if you search here, you'll probably find a detailed review from me when I bought it three or four years ago. I use it mostly for handgun rounds, when I'm loading at or really close to max (which is much of the time).

I've found that some powders work better than others in it - some seem to clump together through some sort of surface attraction which may cause a big lump to fall out when the machine is trying to coax out only an individual piece or two. The machine will tell you that the charge is over, but that means you have to throw it back into the hopper and wait for the new charge to trickle. Most of my powders run around 10% overthrows, some are less than that and a very few are more. It's enough to be a little irritating.

Honestly, it's a pretty good piece of equipment, and I'm glad that I have it. It's not perfect, though, just because of this overthrow issue with some powders.

And I can't imagine that any other maker's product is better - but this is the only one I've tried.
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Old 05-14-2011, 12:26 PM
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I have a 5-0-5, 5-10, 10-10 and a chargemaster. None of my balance beams see use anymore unless I decide to double check the auto. The way I'm set up I have a charge ready by the time I'm done seating a round.

Erich, if you want to lessen the clumping of large extruded powder cut a small piece of straw, between 1/3-1/2 length of the tube, and insert it into the end of the tube. It lets one kernel fall out at a time when it trickles. I may get one out of every 20 charges that goes .01grain over. Before I found the straw trick (somewhere) I too was having problems.
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Old 05-14-2011, 01:27 PM
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For handguns, what works for me is a Lee Pro Auto Disk Measure mounted on a Lee Powder Thru Expander die. One stroke and you have charged the case and flared the case mouth. The Pro Auto comes with four charge disks with different cavities and you can also get a continuously adjustable charge bar. Speed, accuracy and repeatability are very good. Have I mentioned that it doesn't cost that much? The charge disk of the Pro Auto relies on a spring to return it to the position where it picks up powder, so if the disk binds and does not return, your next case will not get charged, and that is bad, bad, bad. This happens infrequently, and my practice is to visually check each case for powder after the charge stroke. Sometimes I charge fifty cases and visually check them in the loading block before seating bullets. This practice does not come up to the speed of a progressive loader, but is much faster than using a powder dispenser-scale device.

To choose the correct disk cavity and monitor the powder charges you need a good digital scale. I use the inexpensive model sold by Frankford Arsenal, and I have reported on this in an earlier post ("Economical Digital Scales" March 12). Scales of this type come with a 50-gram weight which is used for calibration. That's OK, but being about 770 grains it is worthless for determining whether your scale is working well in the range of pistol charges. For that you need lighter standards. If a 100-milligram (0.1 gram) weight on your scale reads 1.5 grains and a 200-milligram weight returns 3.1 grains, then your scale is working fine for light pistol charges. If a 2-gram weight gives 30.9 grains, then you are doing well in the light rifle range. The Frankford Arsenal model does this quickly and repeatably. RCBS sells check weight sets but I do not know what weights are included. There are of course, a number of other low-priced digitals on the market. Get one that works and don't look back. Chemists and pharmacists haven't used beam balances in more than a generation. I am at an age where I probably shouldn't buy green bananas, so I am surely not going to spend my time watching a balance beam go up and down, even if it is magnetically damped.
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Old 05-14-2011, 02:56 PM
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Lyman DPS III.
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Old 05-14-2011, 05:11 PM
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i reload 223 mostly so is the RCBS that much better than the lyman are the hornaday
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Old 05-14-2011, 05:47 PM
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RCBS ChargeMaster - You can even reprogram the factory settings to your liking.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:12 PM
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+1 on the Chargmaster 1500. I've only used it for loading pistol rounds, but it is a fantastic piece of equipment. It is especially useful for doing load development, when you are making lots of small batches with different charges.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:19 PM
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No the RCBS isn't going to be any better than the others you listed, however the Lyman will cost about $200 less.
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Old 05-14-2011, 08:42 PM
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Electronic powder dispensers are very accurate and easily programmed for a given weight. However, it takes up to 30 seconds to deliver each load. That's appropriate for maximum loads, sniper teams and bench rest competition, but not for pistol shooting in general.

A powder hopper can be very consistent, say +/- 0.1 grain, depending on the powder and technique*. It is surprisingly easy to establish a load, especially if you have an electronic balance. I have mine on a stand, mounted on a 12"x15" board. I can drop 200+ loads an hour, and it can be mounted on a progressive press.

* Proper technique includes keeping the hopper half full or more, rapping the handle twice top and bottom to settle the load, and tapping lightly on the side of the hopper every 20 drops or so. Only adjust the cylinder when it's facing the hopper and check the weight every 10 drops. Take care dropping into a powder pan - you can bounce 0.1 grains right out of it if you're not careful. I bring the pan up to touch the drop tube.
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Old 05-14-2011, 10:28 PM
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"Electronic powder dispensers are very accurate and easily programmed for a given weight. However, it takes up to 30 seconds to deliver each load. That's appropriate for maximum loads, sniper teams and bench rest competition, but not for pistol shooting in general."

I agree, I cant see much reason to use an electronic dispenser for handgun ammo, too slow a process, but to each his own.
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Old 05-15-2011, 02:01 AM
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Default Erich:

I got it for speed of dispensing while making sets to test ammunition. It can dispense almost as fast as I can cycle my 1050 press and is a LOT faster than adjusting a powder measure after every 10-20 rounds.
When the measure goes over (and 0.1gn is the most I have seen, but it happens a lot with certain powders like Power Pistol), you can take the pan off, press your finger in the powder to pick up a few grains and knock them off into the hopper. When you put the pan down, you will almost always have the right weight (this also confirms exactly how little 0.1gn is and how little it could possibly affect anything).
If you picked up too much powder, simply hit the "dispense" button to bring the weight back up. No reason to throw the whole pan full into the hopper.
PS: no rifle shooter needs more precision than 0.1gn of powder. They are weighing at least 40 grains of powder, so at most they have a 0.25% "error." I don't think ANYONE can say that they would notice that error.
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Old 05-15-2011, 12:53 PM
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That, my friend, is a good tip on the use of the dispense button to kick it up to proper weight. You'd think that I would have figured it out for myself in these years of using the thing, but I hadn't. Thanks muchly!

I've got a feeling I'm going to do up a quick box of ammo with Unique or some other sticky powder, just to get the "muscle memory" of this technique into my brainpan. Also will try the straw trick mentioned up-thread by ohiococonut. Thanks, gents!
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:24 PM
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i bought the rcbs chargemaster on the way to work i love it got it for 300.00 at sheels in omaha loaded 100 300win mag and 400 38 spl cant what to load 223 very happy wished i would have bought it sooner
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:46 PM
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By the way, I've loaded two boxes of cartridges this weekend using the tips provided by you gents, and my life with my Chargemaster 1500 is way better than it was - thanks a ton!
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Old 03-01-2014, 11:57 AM
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I just had to retire my PACT.Has been used my me for 16 yrs.WHILE ON vacation I left powder in my powder measure.Damp& hot weather in my home in Florida.I must replace my unit.I have hand loading for over 40 yrs.I will replace with another.It was fault less.
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Old 03-01-2014, 02:17 PM
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RCBS 1500 Chargemaster.
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Old 03-01-2014, 04:00 PM
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Another vote for the RCBS ChargeMaster. I had a Lyman for a while but disliked the recommended 30-minute warm-up period. When it started becoming erratic and I had to double-check it with a balance beam scale, it was replaced with the RCBS. Others may cost less but the pleasure of good quality lasts a lot longer than the thrill of a lower price.

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Old 03-01-2014, 10:13 PM
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+1 for RCBS 1500.
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