While 25 pounds of force is recommended, the key is to use the same force every time. The Normcore and other tamping force management tampers like it use a spring to regulate force. So that takes care of one variable. This being said, many baristas get practiced at applying the same force all the time, with a standard tamper.
The other aspect is to apply a level tamp, so that your puck ends up the same thickness across the puck. Again practice makes perfect.
Some folks (yours truly included) use a self leveling tamper, which typically has a wider horizontal disc or flange above the tamper base, which contacts the top rim of the basket, and ensures that the tamper base decends levelly. I use an EazyTamp; there is also The Force. For these types of tampers, the base must have a thickness that allows the tamper to tamp various thicknesses of pucks using various sizes of baskets; EazyTamp gave me guidance on that.
The other key is to ensure that the tamper base is wide enough to reach the very edge of the basket without leaving gaps. My base is 58.5mm.
After that you get into the world of flat vs convex vs converse bases. And flat vs rippled vs dimpled. I have a flat. I posted a poll thread on that, wherein you can see who has what and read people’s thoughts.
For me, the EazyTamp keeps my tamp the same every time. I just don’t think about it anymore. One less variable.
Now I have a Decent espresso machine, which adds an infinite number of pressure, flow, temperature, time and other shot profile variables to help me consistently mess up my shots. 🤪. But my tamp is consistently good every time. 👍