The RCBS Bullet Feeder set up on the RCBS progressive loading press. It feeds the bullets, base down, directly into the feeding tube, ready to be dropped into the case mouth.
Reloaders need reliable reloading data. Thankfully, such data for factory, obsolete, and even wildcat cartridges is all over the place.
The hardbound volumes of data, such as those by Barnes, Hornady, Lee, Nosler, Speer, and others, or the large, softbound volumes of Lyman, Accurate Arms, etc., are enormously valuable. Their only downside is the lapse time between new editions. A recent trend is toward a smaller paperbound manual or magazine-size volume of data issued yearly, often by powder manufacturers or distributors. One of the most informative, the Hodgdon Annual, is issued by the Hodgdon Powder Company and published by Shooting Times.
The latest Hodgdon Annual features one less than a dozen excellent articles on reloading by well-known writers, plus the latest loading data for 135 rifle cartridges, from the .17 Ackley Hornet to the .50 BMG, and 72 handgun cartridges from the .22 Remington Jet to the .500 S&W Magnum. In addition there are a few other valuable features, including a table of Relative Burn Rates for powders, rated from the fastest (Norma R1) to the slowest (Vihtavouri 20N29); a table of Powder Usage for various pistol, rifle and shotgun powders; a description of many of the powders currently on the market; and a legend of the abbreviations used in the manual. (Data is provided for ten different 6.5mm cartridges, including two of the newest, the 6.5 Grendel and the 6.5 Creedmoor, but not for the older 6.5mm Remington Magnum.)
No loading data for shotshells is provided in this manual, but for each of the rifle or handgun cartridges, load data is provided as follows, for specified bullets (the bullet being listed by weight, brand name, bullet type, diameter and overall loaded cartridge length): powder, grains, velocity (instrumental) and pressure (CUP) for both starting loads and maximum loads. Other data provided for the loads for a specific cartridge include the case used (Federal, Hornady, Remington, Sierra, Winchester, etc.), trim length, primer brand (type and size), barrel length and rate of twist. It doesn’t get much better or more complete than this.
Lyman Products will have a new Cast Bullet Handbook available by the time you read this. This is the fourth edition and the first new one in thirty years. The entire Lyman line of pistol and rifle bullet moulds will be chronicled, along with data for some moulds by other manufacturers whose bullet designs will be of interest to reloaders of cast bullets. A number of new cartridges since the third edition will be featured, such as the .327 Federal, along with some new black powder loads for a number of the popular older cartridges, especially those regaining status among Cowboy Action. A number of authoritative “how to” articles are also featured.
The Hornady Auto Charge is a sophisticated digital powder measure. Note the drain plug on the right side.
In addition to having some new cartridge loads available, plus a couple of new cartridges for U. S. shooter, Hornady Manufacturing has several new components and a couple of great equipment items for handloaders. The Lock-n-Load Power Case Prep Center was introduced last year. Combining a power trimmer with primer pocket uniformer, cleaner, reamer, flash hole deburring tool, case mouth chamfer and deburring tools, etc. , the Case Prep Center takes up little space on the reloading bench.The two new Hornady tools include the Lock-n-Load Auto Charge and the Sonic Cleaner.
The Auto Charge has a scale capacity of 1,000 grains and will weigh accurately to within 0.1 grains. Finished in Hornady red with a clear plastic hopper, the machine features an easy-to-use keypad with backlit display, manual and automatic dispensing options, plus trickle function, overcharge protection, and several other unique features. A side-mounted clean-out spout or drain makes emptying the hopper a real breeze. An electric Hornady powder scale with a 1,000-grain capacity should be available about the time you read this.
Sonic parts cleaners have been available and in use by the automotive industry and others for a good many years. Now Hornady has a Lock-n-Load Sonic Case Cleaner. The new Cleaning unit can hold up to one hundred .308-size cases, or two hundred cases of .223 size. Coupled with a unique cleaning solution called One-Shot Sonic Cleaner, available in one-quart containers, this device, which features a digital timer, uses ultrasonic action to literally blast away carbon and dirt building up from the outside, inside, and even the primer pocket areas of the cases. (The cleaner can also be used on small parts.) No tumbling, no vibrating, just put in the One-Shot, place the dirty cartridge into the solution, set the digital timer, and the Sonic Cleaner will take care of the rest.
In addition to the the new Auto Charge and Sonic Cleaner for handloaders, Hornady will have unprimed brass available in 6.5 Grendel, .338 Marlin Express and 9.2 x62mm, with the same available as Lock-n-Load Modified “Series A ” cases for the O.A.L. Gauges. Custom Grade, Series I two-die sets are available for the 6.5 Grendel, and a number of new FTX seating stems are available for use in seating dies. These FTX stems are available in five calibers, from .30 to .50, and for bullet weights up to 300 grains.
One handy item to have on the loading bench is the Die Maintenance Kit. This Kit includes spare decap pins, zip spindles, retaining rings, Sure-Loc ring, a decap retainer, and an Allen wrench. Another handy new items is the Universal Shellholder Extenstion. It isn’t needed often, but it’s worth its weight in gold when it is.
For the really dedicated handloader who wants to form a large number of standard cases into an improved design, without having to fireform, Hornady has the answer: a Hydraulic Form Die Kit. It’s available in two basic sizes: for cases under 2.60 inches or less in length and for cases 2.601 to 2.999 inches in length. Prices are under $200. Custom dies are also available (form, size, seat, trim, etc.) as a single die, or up to a four-die set, depending on the cartridge.
It’s not new reloading equipment, but new to the Hornady line is the 5.45x39mm loaded with a 60-gr. V-MAX in the Varmint Express line. No loading dies, yet. Another item, not related to handloading per se, is the Hornady Cartridge Introduction Board. Featured in a shadow box display are 21 the of the SAMMI cartridges which the Hornady firm has introduced since 1988, from the rimfire to the big bores.
This article is an excerpt from Gun Digest 2011. Click here to get your copy.
Other new Lyman products for handloaders include a Big Dipper Casting Furnace, Big Dipper Casting Kit, Cast Iron Lead Pot, Magnum Inertia Bullet Puller, and a Universal Case Prep Accessory Kit. The Big Dipper Furnace has a 10-lb. capacity, features heavy-duty aluminum construction with a stable non-tipping design, and operates on 115 volts.
Heat-up time is rapid, with control to +/- 10 degrees. (The Casting Kit contains the BD furnace, a casting dipper, ingot mould, Super Moly Bullet Lube and the Lyman Reloading and Cast Bullet Guide – everything needed to get started in casting bullets, except for a bullet mould of the required size.) The Cast Iron Lead Pot has a 10-lb. lead capacity and is flat-bottomed to reduce tipping. A heat source, such as an electric hotplate, is needed to melt the lead and keep it hot. (With the older iron pot I used to use a tripod, similar to what plumbers used at one time, over a single gas flame; it worked.)
To salvage the components when you make a reloading flub, the new Magnum Inertia Bullet Puller will be handy. With a full size handle for comfort, the Puller features a head design capable of handling case sizes from the FN 5.7x28mm to the largest magnum. Insert cartridge, secure cap, strike puller on a solid sur face. (A 6×6-inch square, inch-thick plate of cold-rolled steel works very well as a surface on which to strike the Puller.)
Then unscrew the cap and remove the bullet, powder and case. Depending on the cartridge, bullet seating depth, and crimp tightness, two or more strikes may be necessary, but it will eventully remove the bullet.
The Universal Case Prep Accessory Kit features eight small tools to fine-tune trimmed cartridge cases prior to reloading. Packaged in a folding zippered storage pouch are a pair each of primer pocket reamers (small and large), primer pocket cleaners, primer pocket uniformers, and inside and outside deburring tools to eliminate the sharp edges on a trimmed case mouth. A new Carbide Cutter Head for the Lyman Case Trimmer and a new Universal Carbide Case Trimmer are available. (The Carbide head holds its sharp edge much longer than the regular steel trimmer head.)