postheadericon RCBS Charge Master 1500 vs. PACT

RCBS Charge Master 1500 VS PACT.

A few years ago I purchased my first precision rifle; this started my quest to get the best from this rifle. My first generation of loads shot around ¾ of an inch. Now many shooters would think that’s good, but with a rifle that cost $3500 and was shooting ½ inch groups with factory ammo, ¾ inch groups just did not cut it. What would improve my loads to get my rifle to really shoot? After many trials weighing each charge became part of the formula that got my loads down to ¼ inch groups expected from this fine rifle.

Time is of the essence!

After many rounds of hand trickling each powder charge it was time to find a better way. Volumetric measurers only get within 0.2 grains, that variation opens groups to ½ inch or more, but hand trickling is painfully slow. We all want to spend more time shooting and less time loading. So the electronic power dispenser was the next thing to try.

The first system on the bench was the PACT Scale & Dispenser system, quite a nice setup, including a scale and a powder dispenser, which communicate via a small IR port. After a quick read of the directions setup was easy. Calibrate the scale. Put the scale in dispenser mode, fill the hopper with powder and hit calibrate. The dispenser starts running, stopping and starting, for about 3 minutes. Once calibration is done key in the powder charge and hit dispense. After about 30 seconds the system stops and you have a pan with the charge of powder.

After a few test runs it was time to load ammo, 50+ rounds later a good feel for the PACT shows the potential of the system, but consistent accuracy is lacking. Just too many over or under charges, ok 0.1 grain off is not a lot, but the whole point is to get every charge just right. Every charge that’s off the target weight has to be adjusted, this takes time. Since the whole point of spending $200 plus on an electronic dispenser system is to reduce the time consumed weighing every charge.

The PACT gave a taste, but begged the question; can this concept be done better? What else is out there? Some research on the internet showed the RCBS Charge Master 1500 had a lot of fans. One was ordered and arrived promptly.

RCBS Charge Master 1500 connects the scale to the dispenser with a plug in the back of the scale and by two metal rails, a very sturdy setup; RCBS also put the scale in front of the dispenser, rather than on the side. This makes the powder tray more accessible. Setup was simple, calibrate the scale with the provided weights, and enter a charge weight and go, no calibration of the dispenser. Right off the bat it was clear the RCBS is faster.

The PACT uses two dispenser tubes, a slow and a fast tube. The RCBS uses one big tube. The motor in the dispenser turns the tubes to advance powder out into the tray. The RCBS motor just turns faster, not surprisingly with greater control, the first 90% of the charge is dumped out quickly and then the tube slows or even stops as the last few 0.1 grains are dispensed. The RCBS has never missed the exact weight indicated.

Below is a chart of the tests, using Hybrid 100V a small grain extruded powder similar to Varget and many other popular rifle powders, and TAC, a ball powder for rifles. The focus is rifle powders because most high accuracy shooting is done with rifles.

RCBS Charge Master 1500                                 PACT

Hybrid 100V

Time s

Wt


Time s

Wt


28

44


32

44.1


28

44


35

44.1


20

44


32

44


21

44


39

44


21

44


35

44


20

44


31

44.1


32

44


32

44.1


32

44


36

44.1


30

44


32

44.1


19

44


26

44.1


251



330


average

25.1



33




TAC

Time s

Wt


Time s

Wt


28

44


24

43.9


26

44


32

43.9


26

44


29

43.9


25

44


29

43.9


22

44


30

43.9


21

44


34

44


18

44


28

44


18

44


30

44


20

44


28

44


22

44


27

43.9


226



291


average

22.6



29.1









29

100


38

100.2


26

100


53

99.9


29

100


47

99.8








48

240


84

240


49

240


98

239.7


47

240


92

239.6

From the chart we see that a 44 grain charge took an average of 25 seconds for the RCBS to 33 seconds for the PACT. 8 seconds is not a lot of time, but seems like a long time when you’re twiddling your thumbs waiting with a case ready to go. More importantly the PACT charge weight is off of the required amount more often than right, this is unacceptable because every time the weight is off you have to fiddle around to get the charge right, and that takes more time. Notice the gap in speed gets larger as the powder charges get larger, with 240 grain charges for 50 BMG the PACT more than doubles the RCBS time, waiting 90 seconds is a long time. The RCBS is faster and more accurate because it fills much quicker, and finishes very carefully getting the weight exactly right.

At the end of your loading you have to put all the powder back in the bottle for storage. The RCBS has a handy powder drain, just slide it to the edge of the bench, put the bottle under the drain and open it, in a few minutes the powder has drained. A handy brush is supplied to get the last few gains that may be left in the machine. In contrast the PACT is clumsy to empty, first you have to pick up the whole dispenser and dump the majority of the powder out of the top. Since the top of the hopper is wider than the mouth of the bottle you need a funnel, but beware, if you tip the dispenser toward the output tube it will dump powder on your bench. When the majority of the powder is back in the bottle you can take the hopper off to get the rest and empty the tubes. Not a huge problem, but the RCBS drain is so easy it adds a nice touch to a well thought out system.

To produce top quality ammunition for match tactical or hunting exact powder charges are a must, to make precision ammo as fast as possible the RCBS Charge Master 1500 is the champ.


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Time for a bigger reloading press- my choice is the Dillon….

postheadericon Rock River Arms AR-15

Rock River makes a nice version of the AR-15. I purchased the mid length 16″ with the aluminum free float tube.  This rifle has had total reliability and amazing accuracy.  I was hoping to get a 1 MOA rifle when I bought this.  When I took it to the range after break in.  It shot sub-MOA groups with FMJ!!! I was blown away.  I am an avid reloader and I soon realized that this rifle wasn’t too picky on the loads that it would shoot accurately.  I loaded up some 40 grain V-max loads on 26.0 grains of TAC and those shot right around .5 MOA. Some of the groups were 3/8 of an inch:) For optics i used a Springfield Armory 3-9×40.  And for my more tactical setup I would remove the scope and use an Eotech red dot sight with an A.R.M.S. #40L Flip up rear sight.  Even with the red dot I found that I could achieve 2-3 MOA groups from the bench.  I love AR-15′s in general, but these Rock River’s are extremely well built.  I’m not the type to buy the budget gun so I looked for a balance of price and quality.  This gun came in under 1,000$ for the gun and the back up iron sight.  The optics were more on top of that but worth every penny.  Anyone else have a good brand of AR-15?  I know there’s a lot of good ones out there.

postheadericon Springfield XD-9

Springfield XD-9

Springfield XD-9

I’ve had my Springfield XD-9 for 3 years now.  This gun has performed flawlessly!  It was everything that I wanted in a handgun.  The only maintenance I’ve had to do is change the recoil spring, but this was after thousands of rounds (at least 5,000).  I’ve only had malfunctions due to my old recoil spring, and a couple that were my fault for making bad reloads… oops.  Other than that the reliability has been 100%.  It goes bang every time.

My favorite thing about this gun is that it fits my hand very nice and feels natural.  I’ve also added a Hogue rubber grip enhancer that i really like.  I also use an Insight SSL-1 weapon mounted flashlight.  I have the light installed to make the gun more versatile for home defense since this is my home defense gun.  The light allows for a two handed grip instead of one hand on the gun and one hand on the light (If I were doing that then I would use the Harries technique).

Me blasting my XD-9 near San Luis Obispo

Me blasting near San Luis Obispo

In conclusion, this gun is very accurate and reliable. It also has a 16+1 capacity which is very nice.  I recommend this gun to anyone as long as it fits your hand properly.  As with any gun, It’s a personal preference thing.


Shooting my Springfield XD-9 at Front Sight

This is me shooting my XD at Front Sight