Reloading: Useful Options
- By Wheelwrite
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- Last updated: 23/03/2020
Last month, we looked at some of the exotic and oddball tools used in the preparation and manufacture of ‘perfect’ ammunition. This month, we conclude with a selection of brand-new offerings from the reloading specialists.
The space saving interchangeability of Lee’s Base Plate kit is worth consideration, so let’s take a closer look. They used to supply a hardwood plank with the kit, but now only offer them as a separate item (#90986). This accessory kit comprises a pair of planks with six, zinc plated ¼ x 20 UNC carriage bolts, nuts and washers, but no-one in the UK stocks them.
So, to maximise the benefit of the Base Plate system, you’ll need a slab of 18mm marine to cut your base mounting planks. Using UK-sourced Imperial size carriage bolts for your home-made planks would be four or five times the cost of the nearest metric size, as I could only find them in stainless steel. I therefore bought plated M6 x 40mm. They’ll work fine with your new planks, but not the original Lee steel plates, as the square peg lock is slightly too small.)
Lee include a full-scale dimensioned template with the instructions for Bench Plate (#t90251). Download the fitting instructions pdf and print a copy. Cut out the fixing pattern, making sure it is still full size! Marking out your plank and cutting the bases is simple carpentry. Given the taper fit of the cut planks, you do not need to work to engineering tolerances; the odd millimetre is fine. Smooth the edges with sandpaper.
If you’re going to mount any piece of Lee kit listed on the template, then place your paper copy on the block, pierce the appropriate holes with a scriber and drill them with a 6mm or ¼” bit. If you’re doing more than one, felt tip the name of the press used on each one. If you’re mounting other brands of tool, then simply G clamp the block to the base and mark the drilling points. But beware, the sum thickness of your ‘bench’ could now be around 30- 32mm, so take care to ensure that the fitting position will allow clear movement of the handle/crank assembly.
If you’re using best marine ply, then it is best to counterbore a larger pilot hole for the head of the bolt, as the wood laminate is very hard to compress. Hammer the carriage bolts through the holes from the underside, making sure that any dome is flush with, or below the block’s surface. Some presses have very large mounting bolt cut-outs that, for secure mounting, will require the use of penny (repair) washers under the fixing nuts.
The largest single station presses, such as the RCBS Big Max and Redding Ultramag have a footprint that extends beyond the jaws of the bench-mounted fixing frame. However, all is not lost. The trick is to place a spacer or spacers between the press base and the plank, still ensuring that the press is free to fully cycle. A gap of around 3mm (⅛”) is sufficient to allow the jaws to clear. Now on to the new toys!
A reloading star of SHOT 2020 was the Hornady Precision Measurement Station. A multi-tool device that enables all the primary accuracy/consistency characteristics of the cartridge, both factory and reloaded. It allows the reloader to sort components according to size and quality, by comparing bullet ogive, cartridge base to ogive and headspace locations, plus overall case length, measure bullet run-out for true case concentricity and identify inconsistencies such as case and bullet dents. The chunky base weighs nearly eight pounds and has levelling feet for stability. The arsenal of tools includes five headspace bushings, seven bullet comparators and accessory mount.
Does what it says on the tin. The tool identifies and eliminates bullet run-out. Simply place your reloaded or factory ammo in, roll it, identify run-out and use the dial indicator thumbscrew to adjust. The design features universal centres that ensure precise alignment of most bottleneck cartridges from 22 up to 45 cal. Precise adjustment knobs allow fine tuning and the frame design allows bench mounting.
Hornady claim that their Auto Charge Pro® provides precise, customisable powder dispensing in an easy-to-use, space-saving unit. Precise to within 0.1 grain, the Auto Charge Pro offers customisable trickle speeds for various powder types, as well as custom time settings. It will store settings for up to four custom loads or use the factory setting. A novel feature is the backlit touch screen. I’m planning to road test one as soon as they arrive in the UK.
The new Lee Precision Automatic Processing Press (APP) is claimed to be the fastest and easiest way to prepare cases and size cast bullets. The novel design also doubles as a single station press. The design allows one to mount the die to the top or bottom of the press. This mounting flexibility allows an unusual degree of automation on a single station system. You can de-prime, primer pocket swage, bulge bust or size cast bullets as fast as you can operate the lever, Lee says! It uses the standard 14 x ⅞ TPI dies and shell holders.
The APP is actually heavy for its compact size. It is manufactured from a variety of materials best suited for the application. The lever or handles are made of steel and are topped with a moulding Lee calls the power grip. This is completely symmetrical, making both right- and left-hand operation a delight; lefties take note. The upper and lower die carriers are aluminium and the low stress items are nylon or acetal copolymer. The design is frameless with nearly all the forces going directly to the dies through the steel linkages, rather than through the frame. As a single stage reloading press, it has almost unlimited visibility and hand clearance. Mounting is easy on any bench or table with no under swing. Dirty spent primers are all captured in a screw top bottle.