Hornady Lock n load Neck Turning Tool
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- Last updated: 28/11/2019
If you are serious about reloading, there will come a time when turning a case neck for superior concentricity, precise tension or to fit into some god forsaken wildcat, will come in handy. I prefer a hand-operated tool for the job, as it gives more feel. However, a drill to rotate the case can be very handy on tough or long necks.
Hornady have used their universal, cast saddle-type tool holder for fitting their new neck turning unit. It has a large stationary, cutter jig astride the saddle and at the other end is a rotating case support for hand or motorised use. Bench-mounted for stability and the use of a small drill to power the unit speeds up the process without effecting quality. You can use a wide range of calibres, as it has a 2.940” working length and the case is held using Hornady shell holders.
The cutter offers two angles and also four mandrels that fit inside the case neck for support. These are 22, 6mm, 6.5mm and 30 cal, other popular calibres are available to order. Cutter tolerance is provided by an adjustable knob with detents set at 0.0005” increments although this can be turned off for even finer adjustments. There is no handle provided, so the case holder spur has to be used with a drill, but I am sure an aftermarket crank handle would fit.
Certainly, I would fit it to a bench or G clamp it in place to stop any movement, as you want a precise and wobble free cut, otherwise what’s the point? Once mounted, first loosen the left-hand knurled wheel, which allows the large stainless-steel support column to be unscrewed from the back of the cutter tool. This now allows the correct sized mandrel to be fitted.
Because the mandrel is 0.50” long and the screw support section is 0.90” long then you can vary quite a bit the total neck portion to be cut by how far into the cutter tool block the mandrel is positioned. Once you are happy with this setting, you can lock off with the large stainless steel support column once again.
If you are not sure of the best position, you can fit your case to be cut onto the mandrel and slide down until it touches the mandrel’s screw face and then screw it in or out, until the cutter blade just touches the shoulder. I like to cut just into the shoulder a little on some wildcats, some people don’t; it’s up to you, but what’s important is you can adjust for your preference easily.
With this done, you can now move the stainless-steel column and cutter/mandrel unit as one to the far left of the saddle mount and secure it with the large knurled wheel again. Now insert a cartridge case holder (Hornady only) into the right hand rotating case holder unit by unscrewing the head section to allow it to fall into place. Now tighten the centre stem, so that the central probe locks the case rim to the shell holder. Once secure, you can set the left-hand cutter tool at the correct length, so that the case neck is just shy of the mandrel tip, so that prepped cases can be removed easily.
It sounds a bit involved but it’s really straight forward to use, honest; plus, there are a number of instructional videos and tests on the internet. The cutter can now be adjusted. Fit the drill to the spinning spindle/shell holder unit and, as this is sprung, can be pushed in towards the cutter unit as little or far as you like. Total movement is just over an inch, I use a slow speed for best results.
The cutter blade is set so that no brass is removed when the case is moved and rotated forward onto the mandrel. It is essential that the inside of the neck and mandrel are lubricated to avoid sticking; I use Imperial Sizing wax. With the case in position, tightened the adjuster drum on top of the cutter until it just touches the case. This will be your zero point; from here, more adjustment will cut the brass as required. Each click or detent on the cutter equates to 0.0005” removed.
Now you have to work out the precise number of clicks to achieve your target and Hornady provide a handy little formula: Clicks = Current thickness minus end thickness divided by 0.0005. So, if you case has a single side case thickness of 17.5 thou and you what a final figure of 12.5 thou the calculation would be: 0.0175 – 0.0125 ÷ 0.0005 = 10 clicks.
Here are some tips: Keep the neck well lubed, slow drill speed and push onto the mandrel evenly and slowly to cut a smooth surface, otherwise you will end up with a pronounced spiralled effect. The case neck is probably not concentric to start with and so the cutter will cut on one side first; that’s fine, the end result will be the same. It is also important to remove the total thickness in stages, otherwise the cutter will clog up and judder; take your time, it’s a precision operation that will benefit you in the long run.
I tried this unit on several standard 243 and 308 Winchester cases just to tickle them up and make the necks concentric, ready to expand to calibre and then resize. I also used it on the 22 Satan cases and 308 x 1.5 and 7.92x 33mm Kurz cases to really good effect.
I really like the sturdy nature of the Hornady design, and it takes the strain out of holding the cutter unit in the hand, but I would prefer a hand crank handle as standard. As the mandrel and cutter is led onto the case neck on the solid saddle platform, it stops any twisting or bad angles as the case is fed on. This is common when hand turning cases, so a nice smooth surface is achieved as the end result. I bought it as it will certainly help with the next weird wildcat in the pipeline.