At a Glance: Top Powder Measures
- OUR TOP PICK: RCBS – Chargemaster Lite 120/240vac
- RUNNER UP: RCBS – Chargemaster Powder Dispenser / Scale Combo
- BEST BUDGET OPTION: Lee Precision – Auto-Drum Powder Measure
Comparison of the Best Powder Measures in 2021
Our Top Pick
|RCBS – Chargemaster Lite 120/240vac||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|RCBS – Chargemaster Powder Dispenser / Scale Combo||View Latest Price|
|Lee Precision – Auto-Drum Powder Measure||View Latest Price|
A good powder measure is a vital piece of reloading equipment. You need one that is accurate and reliable and allows you to reload quickly and efficiently. Getting your powder load right is also a major safety concern. Fortunately, we’ve done the research and testing so you don’t have to. Keep reading through to the end, we’ve got all the info you need on how powder measures work and how to choose the best one.
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We’ve done the heavy lifting so you don’t have to. Here’s our list of the top powder measures on the market today.
RCBS – Chargemaster Lite 120/240vac
The RCBS ChargeMaster Lite is an all-in-one powder dispenser, trickler, and scale in one convenient package. This powder measure is a smaller and cheaper alternative to the ChargeMaster 1500.
Due to their smaller footprint, this unit comes in handy especially if your workbench is tight on space. The smart scale and metering capabilities ensure consistency in every charge, and this is something every long-range precision shooter would be looking for.
With a dispensing range of 2 to 300 grains, this powder measure gives you more than enough accuracy. The easy-to-read LCD touchscreen makes everything simple even for newbies starting with reloading.
This powder measure, however, is not without drawbacks, and one that comes out pretty obviously is the 15-20 minutes you’ll need to wait before it’s ready for use. That’s a pretty long warm-up time compared to the alternatives. However, if you can trade speed for accuracy, you’ll get along pretty well with this powder measure.
- Comes with a built-in bubble level
- Allows for two-handed scale pan operation
- Comes with a wind cover for enhanced accuracy
- Features an easy-to-clean hopper
- Designed to run on a wide range of power supplies; 100 VAC TO 240 VAC
- The RCBS Lite lacks memory to store your loads
RCBS – Chargemaster Powder Dispenser / Scale Combo
This is an automated powder measure system that is a combination of RCBS’s Chargemaster 1500 Scale and the Chargemaster Automatic Powder Dispenser. With a fitted electronic control, you enjoy the convenience of accurate and consistent charges for your rounds. You also get to store up to 30 of your favorite loads so you won’t have to reset the scale every time.
If you’re coming from a bar scale and trickler and you’re looking for something faster and less tedious, this measuring system would be a remarkable upgrade. It also works well with a wide range of powder, from the little flakes to the large extruded ones, which is an added convenience.
The manufacturer promises an average of 20 seconds-dispensing time for 60 grains of the extruded powder charge. This doesn’t make the process any faster, but it does ensure that the loads are accurate.
- It stores a lot of loads.
- It’s easy to use; you can reset and calibrate it in less than 30 seconds.
- It’s programmable, you can customize it to suit your charging specifications.
- The scale is accurate and consistent, it requires little to no recalibration between charges.
- It’s easy to clean.
- Like most digital powder measures, keeping this unit in extremely cold conditions, such as your basement or non-insulated garage, could make it lose its accuracy.
Lee Precision – Auto-Drum Powder Measure
This is an automatic case actuated drum powder measure. It accurately and automatically dispenses powder into the cartridge, making it an essential piece of the reloading process. The Lee Precision Auto comes with two adjustable drums, which allows for accurate and reliable drop charges from 1 to 80 grains of powder.
I’ve never owned the LEE Precision Auto, but I’ve owned the manual version of this, and it was precise and accurate every single time. This was my go-to powder measure when I got started with handloading. I didn’t have many options by then, but I do now, and yet I would still give this model serious consideration.
This is not to say the LEE Precision Auto-Drum is the perfect product out there, but it gets the job done. It also comes with its disadvantages. It requires a bit of practice to use effectively.
- It’s easy to use, setting up the drum takes less than 20 seconds.
- It is case actuated
- Guarantees quick change of the hopper with an on and off valve
- Offers both a handgun/pistol and rifle drums
- Offers high accuracy and repeatability for a wide range of powders
- You’ll need some skills to ensure the auto drum works correctly
Lyman – Gen6 Compact Touch Screen Powder System
The Lyman Gen-6 powder system features an unrestricted pan and touch screen access for fast and user-friendly operation. It’s designed to meet the standard accuracy of one-tenth grain, which guarantees consistency for a wide range of powders.
This powder measure is a good fit if you’re looking to upgrade to a digital unit that offers added convenience and state-of-the-art features. Considering the 3-minute warm-up, the auto-repeat function, and a dispensing speed of two grains per second, this product is an improvement on the majority of digital measures.
This powder measure may be too much for someone who’s not looking for premium features and sophisticated technology. If you’re a novice or an occasional reloader, you may want to opt for something basic, before you can fully appreciate what this electronic measure system has to offer.
- Compatible with all types of smokeless powders
- Guarantees fast and accurate operation.
- Offers “shielding” from electronic interference
- Features anti-drift and anti-static technology
- It’s available in a smaller footprint, uses less bench space.
- This powder measure system isn’t for use with black powder
- It’s a bit costly compared to the other digital powder measures
RCBS – Uniflow Powder Measure
The RCBS Uniflow Powder Measure is an accessible unit that offers basic functionality with added convenience. This powder measure is pretty standard, with most bench rest shooters looking for accuracy in their rifles without having to overspend on premium features.
Due to the simple mechanical operation of the RCBS Uniflow, this measure is the right unit to learn basic handloading techniques on. It has been designed for accuracy and repeatability, and you’re sure to get consistent charges.
The uniform throws that this measure guarantees eliminates the hazards of overloads, which can occur when electronic units get clogged. As a complete package, the RCBS Uniflow comes with a numbered measuring screw for adjusting the charge rate. A stand-plate is also available for mounting the unit on the workbench, but the stand is sold separately.
- Comes with a standard mount, 7/8″ to 14 threads
- Comes with two drop tubes for 22 calibers and up
- Accuracy and consistency are guaranteed.
- It’s accurate for a wide range of powder.
- Doesn’t support black powder
- It doesn’t come with a stand
- Not fast enough compared to digital units
Lee Precision – Perfect Powder Measure
The Lee Precision measure powder is an excellent pick if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to weigh powder.
This was the first reloading piece of equipment I laid my hands on. It’s simple, precise, and reliable. I believe that this is one of the cheapest powder measures you’ll find on the market that nevertheless guarantees remarkable precision and accuracy. It’s not as fast as a top-tier electronic measuring unit, but considering it’s nearly an eighth of the price, this unit is pretty great value.
The throws are consistent for the finer grains but become a bit sticky when using extruded powders. Proper adjustments and recalibration can fix this problem, especially if you’re charging several rounds. When using larger grains, check each measurement for accuracy.
- It’s easy to use, fast assembly
- It throws charges from 2 to over 100 grains
- It is micrometer adjustable
- Features a significant lift-off hopper with a flexible shut off valve
- Includes a sturdy steel stand for bench mounting
- Relatively cheap compared to powder measures that offer the same features
- Can get sticky with extruded powders
- Not as fast and accurate as digital measure units
What Is a Powder Measure
A powder measure is an essential reloading tool that makes the handloading process fast and accurate. Powder measures are available in different makes, but they all serve the same purpose. They ensure that:
- You get a sufficient amount of powder between the primer and the bullet.
- You drop a constant volume of each charging time.
Weighing your powder is as critical as sticking with the recommendations of your propellant manufacturer, but weighing out each charge with a trickler is tedious. So, instead of weighing each powder charge, you use a powder measure.
This will save you a huge amount of frustration in terms of the charging rate. The secret to consistency and accuracy lies in choosing the right powder measure and how you use the dispenser lever.
This brings us to our next question. How do you choose the right powder measure?
How to Choose the Best Powder Measure
Every reloader has a preference as to which powder measure works best for them. Getting the best product on the market often means knowing what you want in terms of versatility, essential features, and the scope of your budget.
Some of the most vital aspects you would want to consider lie within the operation of the powder measure. Before comparing the options in the market, take some time to understand the working principles of a standard powder measure.
The best powder measure should be adjustable, accurate, and consistent across a wide range of charges. While most powder measures will support both rifle and pistol powders, some aren’t compatible with black powder. So you’ll want to check this before buying one.
The other factors you may want to consider are;
- Extra features such as universal stands or additional hoppers.
- Charge capacity
- Ease of use, i.e., some are entry-level, best for beginners.
- Build material: some are made of high-grade polyethylene while others feature metallic components.
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Types of Powder Measures
A powder measure is categorized either as manual or mechanical. A manual powder measure comes with a lever for dispensing the powder, and it needs recalibration after every charge. Some of the advantages of the manual type are:
- They are inexpensive
- Great for novice/occasional reloaders
- They are easy to use
The one disadvantage is that they are very slow to use, especially when reloading a lot of rounds. A mechanical powder measure has the same working principle, but they are faster compared to their manual counterparts. Depending on the type, some are calibrated before each session, while others need recalibration between charges. If you’re working with hundreds of rounds, a mechanical model guarantees a faster operation.
Volumetric Powder Dippers
There’s always been a debate on whether measuring by weight or volume is more accurate. This is a sensitive topic that’s entirely subjective. It depends on how competent you are in using either a dipper or a powder measure.
Volumetric dippers are a lot cheaper than powder measures, but their consistency is often questionable. Unless you’re going to use the same method each time for getting the dipper load, you’ll need to weigh every throw.
There are two types of volumetric powder dippers;
- Fixed dippers
- Adjustable dippers
Some manufacturers offer a set of fixed powder dippers of varying volumes. You’ll typically find up to 16 scoops in a measuring kit, ranging from 3.3CC to 4.3 CC. Others are adjustable, meaning you’ll need some calibrating tool to get your desired dipper load.
That said, it’s hard but not impossible, to get accurate and consistent “dips” with flake type powder such as Red Dot using an ordinary dipper.
Automatic Powder Dispensing Scales
Digital powder dispensers come with some major technological advancements as far as handloading is concerned. While these units promise a fast, smart, and accurate operation, that isn’t the case for each and every automatic powder dispensing scale. If you’re going to go digital, it’s necessary to choose a unit that strikes the right balance between convenience and quality.
Choosing the best unit in this category means considering the following:
- Dispensing speed
- Charge weight, accuracy and repeatability
- Initial and ongoing calibration
- Pricing and warranty policy
The general rule of thumb is to compare the above features for each model of digital powder scale. Sometimes, paying a higher price doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get the best product for your needs.
Case Activated Powder Measures
If you’re looking for a powder measure that mounts on a progressive press and integrates into its operation, this is the type for you. Most powder measures come either as a case activated powder drop or as the entire case activated linkage kit. If you’re looking for a powder measure that mounts on a progressive press and integrates into its operation, this is the type for you. Most powder measures come either as a case activated powder drop or as the entire case activated linkage kit.
If you already have a regular powder measure, you can add a case activated powder measure kit on it, and you’re good to go. Some of the recent improvements with case activated powder measures guarantee smoother operation than with previous models. These improvements include:
- User-friendly assembly
- Compatibility with the popular Lock-N-Load AP
- Standard fit with other progressive presses using 7/8″ -14 threads
How to Use a Powder Measure
If you’re using a powder measure for the first time, follow the setup instructions in your owner’s manual to help with the assembly process. When you’re done, follow this procedure for the best results.
- Set your powder measure to a maximum charge and fill the reservoir with your smokeless powder.
- Run several charges until you empty the reservoir. This helps lubricate the parts of the powder measure for efficient operation. Smokeless powder has graphite, which is a lubricant.
- Be consistent with your manner of operation to ensure repeatability and accuracy. This includes consistent speed when pulling the lever.
- Weigh your charges to check the degree of accuracy with different powders
- Adjust your measurements and methods accordingly
Some more important guidelines:
- Do not use any oil with the powder measure. This causes the powder to stick.
- Check the accuracy of your charge with a scale pan at regular intervals, e.g., at the 5th or 10th charge.
- Don’t leave powder inside the measure as it might clog the device.
- Follow the owner’s manual when you want to clean it or make any adjustments.
- Don’t use the black powder unless it’s compatible with that particular measure.
Depending on your place of residence, you may want to check what your local rules and regulations say about handloading ammunition. A manufacturer’s license, for example, is required if you’re selling or distributing re-loads for livelihood or profit.
Now that you’ve read through to the end, choosing a powder measure shouldn’t be a problem. Always stick with the features that will make reloading safe, convenient and reliable for you. Have fun, stay safe, and enjoy shooting. You got this!