Hornady Lock-N-Load Power Case Prep Center
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- Last updated: 14/12/2016
As you gain knowledge in the craft of reloading you soon realise it’s not just about producing ammo as fast as you can. Attention to detail, consistency of work etc., all combine to produce something you need for a specific job that will shoot right shot on shot, which is the ultimate goal.
To this end we need to start looking at not just the process of turning a fired case into a live round again, but the individual components too. Last month I tested Hornady’s Consistency Gauge that measures the run-out (deviation between bullet and case and allows you to adjust it. This time it’s about the case, as I have their new Lock-N-Load Power Case Prep Center.
Who Cares? I Do.
Though bullet, primer and powder choice is important, many reloaders forget the humble cartridge case, which holds it all together. Let’s face it your brass needs some TLC if it’s to perform well and last. Apart from tumbling mine to get all the dirt off it, I also check the case length, as brass as a material is ductile and can stretch; certainly bottle necked designs. If it’s too long it can cause chambering problems and I will trim it back to suit! I also clean out the primer pocket and chamfer the interior and exterior of the case mouth and neck, which aids both bullet seating and even feeding. All by hand, which is a bit long winded, though in my opinion worth the effort.
So Hornady’s Case Prep Center came as somewhat of a pleasant surprise. In their familiar red livery the machine sits tall on the bench and needs an electrical adaptor as it’s built for the US market, which uses different current to the UK. This will also be available from the importers Edgar Brothers Ltd.
Power At Your Finger Tips
The machine consists of a motor that runs a series of cutters and power take off points. On top is the case trimmer, which is a vertical ram operated by a pull-down lever with a length adjuster. Below this is the actual cutter head, which will accept any of Hornady’s neck pilots that they use on their manual, Cam Lock case trimmer. Seven are supplied along with an Allen key - .22, 6mm, 270, 7mm, 30, 38 and 45, others are available on request.
All you do is place the correct shell holder in the adaptor in the nose of the ram, slide in the case and tighten the cam lock arm to secure it. Then fit the correct pilot in the cutter. Length adjustment is generous and precise. On the side of the ram casing is the position screw that offers two height setting to account for calibre types – lower short/medium cases (223/308 etc) upper long cases (300 Win Mag. 375 etc). So pretty much all normal stuff is covered.
The main adjuster handle on top gives coarse adjustment but there’s also a lockable collar (micro adjuster handle) that allows .001” increments, so you can get very precise with the trimming and consistent with your overall length. Believe me this is far better than having to do it all by hand. I wish I’d had the Case Prep Centre when I was making 45-60 brass out of 45-70 Government for a Uberti, Winchester 1876 gun test. As that left my hand seriously cramped with all that handle turning…
The cutter is quite aggressive and if you apply too much pressure you raise a thick burr around the neck, which has to be removed. Which brings me nicely on to the rest of the functions.
On the front face of the Centre are six rotating shafts with central threads. These will accept the following tools; large and small primer pocket cleaners, case neck exterior (de-burring) and interior (chamfering) tools, plus a series of copper brushes to clean the inside of the case neck as per calibre. Optional is a flash hole de-burrer that removes any burrs from the inside of the flash hole where it enters the pocket and case interior. This will make for an unimpeded transfer of the primer flame to the powder charge and give more consistent ignition and burning of the propellant.
Operation is simple, switch the centre on and push the case up against the tools for approximately five seconds to de-burr, clean or chamfer the primer pocket or case neck areas. The only thing you have to watch is where you put the individual tools as there are no guards and you hands are near to them when they rotate. OK they don’t go fast - but be aware.
Top To Bottom
It’s probably best to put the chamfer and de-burring tools at the top, with the primer pocket cleaners in the middle and the brushes at the bottom. Hornady also provide plastic trays to collect the swarf and metal fillings.
The unit needs bolting to a bench as you need to apply pressure to the front of the machine and it has holes pre-drilled, Hornady recommends ½” bolts. There’s little doubt the Case Prep Center works well as it makes short work out of case trimming; which is possibly the hardest job in the process. Likewise the power functions make neck de-burring and primer pocket cleaning fast and simple too.
Overall a practical design, but one perhaps not for the casual reloader, but for those who take the job seriously and wants to once again reduce the variables as much as possible.
For: Does the job 100% with no real effort from the user
Against: Not for everyone
Verdict: Good kit, but you really need to make full use of it
PRICE: £489 (inc power adaptor)