RCBS ChargeMaster Combo
By Chuck Hawks
The RCBS ChargeMaster Combo combines the 1500 digital electronic powder scale with the RCBS ChargeMaster powder dispenser. Shipped as a complete unit (#98923 ChargeMaster Combo 110VAC), the Combo is complete with all accessories needed to weigh and dispense smokeless powder charges, including an AC adapter. There is also an International version, which comes with a 220VAC adapter (#98924 ChargeMaster Combo 220VAC-EUR). RCBS emphatically warns not to use these units with black powder!
Alternatively, the 1500 scale and ChargeMaster powder dispenser can be purchased separately and combined into a single unit by the user. This allows the shooter on a budget to start with the top of the line 1500 scale and later add the ChargeMaster powder dispenser.
However it is acquired, the ChargeMaster Combo replaces both your old balance beam scale and Uniflow powder measure. Despite their decades of reliable service, these analog devices are now obsolete. The ChargeMaster Combo is more reliable, accurate, and faster. Here is how RCBS describes their ChargeMaster 1500 Scale and Powder Dispenser:
"The new ChargeMaster 1500 Scale is built from the ground up as a high performance reloading scale. The large LCD display is easy to read in grains or grams and weighs precisely to +/- 0.1 grain. With a 1500 grain capacity you can weigh powder, bullets, cases or loaded cartridges. The scale is fast and easy to calibrate with the two calibration/check weights that are included. AC adapter is also included. The ChargeMaster 1500 Scale can be operated as an independent electronic scale or it can be upgraded to an automated powder dispensing system with the addition of the ChargeMaster Dispenser."
"The ChargeMaster 1500 Scale and ChargeMaster Dispenser together form an unmatched combination of speed and accuracy. There is no longer a need for timely calibration to the type of powder being used. Simply fill the 1 lb+ capacity powder hopper with smokeless powder, enter the desired charge and press the dispense button. Average dispensing time is approximately 30 seconds for a 60 grain extruded powder charge. Dispensing can be done in grains or grams mode. Accurately weighs and dispenses all extruded, ball and flake smokeless powder from 2.0 to 300 grains to +/- 0.1 grain. You can store up to 30 of your favorite loads in memory for fast recall. The front to back layout allows easy access to the scale pan by right or left handed users. The clear cover eliminates fluctuations in weighing caused by air currents without obscuring your view of the charge being dispensed. The powder drain feature allows for convenient and easy emptying of the powder hopper. Power to the Dispenser is provided by the connection to the ChargeMaster 1500 scale so there is only one power cord to manage."
In use, I discovered that the ChargeMaster Combo performed exactly as described with every type of extruded (stick) and ball powder that I tried. I found programming the memory to be a time consuming and unnecessary chore. Instead, after calibrating the scale (easy to do, just follow the supplied directions), I simply put the scale in "Auto" mode, entered the exact weight of the powder charge desired, and hit the "Dispense" button. The Combo then measures and meters the correct amount of powder to 0.1 grain and dumps it into the scale's pan for you. You empty the pan into a resized and primed case. When you replace the pan onto the scale another powder charge is automatically dispensed. Just repeat the sequence until all of your brass is charged with powder. It couldn't be easier.
When you want to change powders or loads, just enter the new charge weight and away you go. Once you understand how to operate the ChargeMaster Combo, it is much faster and more convenient to change powders and/or loads than with the old analog Uniflow powder measure.
The motorized powder trickler that dispenses the powder is kind of interesting. It runs at four different speeds, automatically slowing from fast to medium to slow to trickle (1/8 of a revolution increments) mode as the desired powder charge is approached, and then stops--sounding a beep--when the correct amount of powder has been dispensed. The unit also tells you how many of the current loads have been dispensed. Neat!
A small but worthwhile accessory that I requested from RCBS along with the Combo unit is a scale pan/funnel. This black plastic scale pan has a hood that covers the rear half of the pan. It sort of like the hood that covers the rear area of a baby buggy. Integral with this hooded area of the pan is the outlet of a powder funnel. In effect it is a powder pan with a built in powder funnel, eliminating the need for a separate powder funnel. You pour the contents of the scale pan directly into the waiting case. Double neat!
The only real drawback to the ChargeMaster Combo system is its comparatively high price. Not particularly high compared to other automated scale/dispenser units, but compared to a good balance beam scale, Uniflow powder measure, and powder trickler. Digital convenience comes at a price.
As I write these words in the summer of 2006, Midway USA sells the RCBS Combo online for $299.99. Like so many other automated convenience items, once you use the ChargeMaster Combo, you will not want to go back to the old fashioned manual method of weighing and dispensing smokeless powder. (I know that RCBS isn't getting the sample that they sent to me back!) It very quickly becomes a "necessity."
Copyright 2006 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.