Guns and Gear

Reloading Bench: RCBS ChargeMaster Supreme

Reloading Bench: RCBS ChargeMaster Supreme
Compared to the MatchMaster (left) or the ChargeMaster 1500 (right), the ChargeMaster Supreme (middle) is an excellent value. Photo: Massaro Media Group.

Looking for a practical addition to your reloading bench? Here we discuss the RCBS ChargeMaster Supreme electronic powder dispenser.

When I got serious about reloading my ammunition, my tool set was minimal to say the least, yet it worked just fine. The various steps might’ve taken a bit longer, but it taught me to respect the little details to ensure things didn’t go wrong and no one got hurt—including me. That said, I quickly desired to obtain the tools that’d make the processes faster, while maintaining the quality control that the bare-bones rig offered.

My main interest was the powder charging process, as my early technique involved using a Lee plastic powder dipper and some loose powder in a small cardboard box or, sometimes, in a fancy glass jar top procured from a Yankee Candle jar. All my powder charges were weighed on a balance beam scale—at first a RCBS 505, and then a Redding Model No. 2—with me scooping powder into the pan until the beam began to move, then using a powder trickler to fine-tune the load. It was an accurate means of dispensing a powder charge but wasn’t exactly efficient.

I first tried to use a powder thrower, but for whatever reason couldn’t get it to work out, so it was back to scooping. When the first digital scales came onto the market, I looked at them skeptically, as all the reports indicated the environmental effects could be drastic, and I found those reports to be true. The slightest breeze, fluorescent lighting—you name it—and I had issues.

Finding ‘The One’

It was some years later that I began to try again, with the Lyman 1500 digital scale, but it was the RCBS ChargeMaster 1500 powder dispenser/digital scale combo that changed the game for me. For a decade, I’ve had a pair of the units on the bench, and that pair of digital powder dispensers have been invaluable. Despite my efforts to check and re-check the units against a balance beam scale, there has never been a deviation in powder weight that exceeded the advertised accuracy.

The ChargeMaster Lite came next, paring down the control system but not the functionality, followed by the much more precise, and costly, MatchMaster dispenser, giving accuracy down to 0.04 grain at speeds previously unattainable. Were I in the position where I was regularly competing or even just casually shooting long range where I’d want every single advantage, no matter how small, I’d want this unit.

However, it’s the new RCBS ChargeMaster Supreme that makes the most sense to me.

rcbs-chargemaster-supreme
The bold LCD touch screen is simple and easy to use, making for a very flexible package.

Unlike the ChargeMaster 1500, the Supreme is an integral unit, with the dispenser and scale contained in the same housing. The load cell can measure up to 1,500 grains—perfect for weighing loaded cartridges to avoid a gross overload or empty case—and the unit is capable of dispensing 200 to 300 grains of powder.

The Supreme has four leveling wheels for feet and a level bubble to help keep your unit as level as possible, which definitely aids in the most accurately thrown powder charges. Set your unit on a stable platform, and level it as best you can.

Calibrating the unit is a simple procedure, and one I recommend. Let the unit warm up for 15 to 20 minutes (a good idea for all electronic scales), and then use the pair of 50-gram calibration weights to zero the unit properly.

The bright LCD display/touch screen allows the user to make powder weight selections, switch between modes and much more. Soft-touch powder and “go” buttons are located on the sides of the LCD display. The powder hopper is plenty large enough, holding enough powder for almost any loading session, and the new quick-drain on the right side of the unit drains the powder hopper much faster than older models. There’s even an alarm to warn you that you’ve left the drain open.

Make It Your Own

The ChargeMaster Supreme can be as simple or complex as you feel comfortable with. You can run it in manual mode, requiring you to press the go button to dispense each load, or in auto mode, where the unit will automatically dispense the same load as the last as soon as it is stable and zeroed. Or, you can run the unit from your smartphone via a Bluetooth connection through the free RCBS Reloading app.

This was quite a leap for a guy who scooped powder. With the app, all the parameters available from the LCD screen are there, including setting charge weight, dispensing mode, calibration and more. I must admit it felt a bit weird running a powder dispenser from my phone, but it seems like using a phone as a phone is getting lower and lower on the list these days. But don’t feel intimidated if you’re not tech-savvy; you don’t need a smartphone to run this unit.

The ChargeMaster Supreme comes equipped with LEARN mode, where the unit senses the amount of powder being repetitively thrown, and then optimizes the delivery time. This can be especially handy when throwing light powder charges for pistol cartridges, or really heavy charges for the .338 Lapua, .416 Rigby or .470 NE. The ChargeMaster Supreme can store 50 different loads in its memory, so if you often reach for the same load, storing it in the Supreme’s memory isn’t difficult at all.

I tried the ChargeMaster Supreme with three different powders: Hodgdon’s H414 ball powder, Alliant’s Reloder 16—a stick powder with shorter grains—and good old IMR 4064, which is notorious for being a problem child with powder throwers and dispensers. I wasn’t shocked that H414 and RL 16 metered just fine, but it also handled IMR 4064 well, and I can’t say that for most dispensers. Those long 4064 grains can hang up, then dump a clump, especially while trickling.

I’m not going to say that, as a reloader, you can’t live without an electronic powder dispenser, but once get used to having one, it sure won’t be easy to go back. The latest designs have a lot to offer, in both accuracy and time efficiency. Sitting smack in the middle of the RCBS electronic dispenser line, I find the ChargeMaster Supreme to be a very good value. At less than half the price of the MatchMaster, you still get all the features needed to make very accurate ammunition at an impressive rate.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2022 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.


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