Hornady Lock and Load AP Progressive Reloading Press

If you have started the fun and adventurous hobby of reloading your own ammunition, otherwise known as cooking with explosives (OK technically, they’re high burn rate propellants), you might want to check out the Hornady Lock and Load.

Hornady Lock and Load Progressive Reloading PressWe’ve been using a Hornady Lock and Load AP progressive reloading press for about 2 years now and it has changed our life. Or at least the reloading part.

Here are the high points:

  • A progressive reloader has multiple stations so each pull of the press handle completes multiple steps such as depriming, case resizing, priming, case mouth belling, powder dispensing, bullet seating, and crimping.
  • The Hornady Lock and Load AP features automatic indexing, which means the handle pull motion also advances brass through the steps automatically.
  • Like the marketing material says, you can load 400-600 rounds per hour with this press. If you want to be extra cautious and visually verify each step, you can still easily load 200-300 rounds per hour.
  • It’s called a Lock and Load because the design features quick mount and dismount bushings that can hold your dies in just the right position. If you buy a bunch of bushings, you can have all of your dies pre-adjusted on the bushings so much of the hassle of changing calibers on the press is eliminated.
  • The powder drop mechanism only works if a case is present, so you won’t make a big powder mess.
  • You can add accessories like motorized case and bullet feeders to speed up the process even more.
  • It handles gajillions of rifle and pistol calibers. All you need is the correct Hornady Lock and Load Case Plate and normal, caliber-specific dies.

This has been a great investment for us. Hornady service is outstanding if you have questions or problems.

For the price, you can’t beat it.

 

Available Here Hornady Lock and Load AP Progressive Reloading Press

Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph

shooting-chrony-beta-masterBe sure to get the name right on this one. The correct model identification is a Shooting Chrony ‘Beta Master’ and not the other way around.

If you’re into reloading, you absolutely, positively have to get a chronograph. Chronograph is a big word that means fancy electronic thing that figures out how fast your bullets go.

Why you ask? All myths and wives tales aside about being able to determine whether you’re in safe pressure territory or not by looking at brass while doing a rainbow moon dance, you need some verification that the loads you’re mixing are working out per the recipe – and more importantly in the published safe range.

The real reason that you need a chronograph is that you look exceptionally cool at the range. When you start setting up fancy electronic equipment, you tend to draw a crowd of people who are convinced that you are either Rob Leatham or Julie Golob, depending on your gender.

Here’s why we prefer the Beta Master over other models: The brains (translation: expensive part) of the unit sits safely on the shooting bench and not out there where the bullets fly. The brains, consisting of the circuitry, display, and controls, are connected to the sensor unit by a long cord. If you manage to hit the brains on this unit, please consider some additional shooting lessons before trying again! If you chronograph ammunition long enough, you will eventually shoot the dang thing one way or another. With the Shooting Chrony Beta Master, you’re only going to hit the (relatively) inexpensive parts – which are available as replacements from the manufacturer. We managed to shoot the wire support on ours, but that was an easy fix.

While the Beta Master unit records and memorizes shot strings so you can view them at home, it also allows you to connect an optional printer for an immediate record while at the range.

We’ve had great success with this one.

Available Here Shooting Chrony – Beta Master

Forster Case Trimmer

forster-case-trimmerSometimes the traditional, classic method is the best. We picked up a Forster Case Trimmer about a year ago for light to moderate volume case trimming chores.

And we couldn’t be happier with it.

Here are some of the primary features in the Paupers English:

  • Holes in the base allow easy mounting to a table or block.
  • A series of collets allow for an astronomical number of case caliber options.
  • Case length trim adjustment has both a coarse and fine adjustment – both of which are lockable with a set screw. This provides for excellent consistency of trim length – case to case.
  • Accessory options allow for addition of a power drive, primer pocket reamer, hollow pointer, case neck reamer, and deburring tools.

Affordable, simple, and consistent.

Highly recommended.

Available Here Forster Cast Trimmer

Review: Lee Steel 3 Die Set .357 Sig

The Good
  • Low price. Generally works.
The Bad
  • Decapping pin has a tendency to slip upwards.
The Ugly
  • Very susceptible to case scoring.
Our Rating
3 Nuns One Nun
Lee Steel 3 Die Set - .357 Sig

Lee Steel 3 Die Set - .357 Sig

Lee Steel 3 Die Set .357 Sig

Approximate Price: $35.98 suggested retail, less online.

www.leeprecision.com

I’ve got  number of sets of Lee reloading dies in various calibers and generally have pretty good success with them. Not so much with the .357 Sig 3 die set though. While the Lee .357 Sig die set is reasonably priced, usually about $25 online, the real value is somewhat questionable. While they work, there are a few issues to be aware of.

Like other Lee die sets, I appreciate the inclusion of the ‘extras’ not usually included in other, more expensive, die sets. The .357 Sig set includes a resizing and decapping die, a powder-through expander die, and a bullet seating / crimp die. The set also includes a shellholder, a plastic powder measure scoop, and a reasonably detailed load data table. While I have yet to use the powder measure, I do frequently use the supplied load data. Very handy to have on hand!

The Lee dies don’t include a locking mechanism on the locking rings, but once adjusted, I have not had trouble with die

movement in single reloading sessions. They tend to stay put longer than I can during a reloading session.

Lee Resizing Die Decapping Pin

Lee advertises their expander die as a minimal flare dimension, which is supposed to negate the need for a separate taper crimp step and I have found this to be true. Proper setting of the expander die, combined with the included bullet seating and crimp die yields a rock solid bullet-to-case fit, which is necessary for the relatively high-recoil .357 round. I have to confess that I did order a separate Lee Factory Crimp Die along with this set but I’ve found that it’s simply not necessary.

Being that .357 Sig has a bottlenecked case, the resizing die is steel only, which is no big deal. An extra step of case lube and all is good to go. To eliminate the need for cleaning lube from cases, I just fill a large Ziploc with cases and spray some Hornady One Shot in there and give a shake.

There are two noteworthy problems I’ve had with this set.

Lee Die Case Scratching

First, the decapping pin is held in position by tension alone using a locking nut against the smooth rod surface. Even when tightening the locking nut with all of my impressive strength, it will come loose after a hundred resizes or so. If you’re using a single stage press, this is not a big deal as its relatively easy to spot. However, I use a Hornady Lock N Load progressive press, and often times I don’t catch on to slippage of the decapping pin until I’ve made a dozen or so shiny new cartridges complete with old and used primers still in place. This causes turmoil in the house as I have to resort to pulling bullets and this makes me cranky.

Second, the resizing die seems to be unusually prone to scratching cases. I’m aware of the causes and remedy’s for case scratching during sizing, but for some reason, certain dies are far more prone to the problem. I sent one resizing die back for replacement and almost immediately experienced the problem again. Yes, I can polish out the galling and take steps to minimize risk of more scratching, but it’s just not worth the trouble, especially since I don’t have the problem with other brands of .357 Sig dies. While this does not impact the function of the die or resulting rounds, it does cause me to manufacture ugly cartridges. And this makes me cranky.

All things considered, I have to give the Lee Steel 3 Die Set in .357 Sig One Nun. Even considering the low price, there are better options out there for a little more money. I’ve had great success with Lee dies in 9mm, .380 ACP, and numerous rifle cartridges – just not the .357 Sig variety.

He said She said
Problems aside, I’ve loaded somewhere north of 2.500 rounds with this set. Excepting the noted troubles with the sizing die, the set works. It’s kept me in my man cave for hours and hours of reloading fun. This probably annoys ‘her’ so ‘her’ take on time spent in the man cave may be a little different than mine. I love it when he spends time in the man cave as it keeps my house clean.P.S. Somehow or another, this stuff makes bullets that shoot out of my gun.

How to reload without having parts left over…

If you’re like me, there have been one or two times in your life when you embarked upon a “do it yourself” project and when all was said and done, and the dust settled, there were a few mystery parts left over.

When it comes to reloading ammunition, this is definitely NOT a good thing!

Fortunately, the good folks at Sinclair International have created an outstanding series of videos for the new reloader. Check out their blog – The Reloading Press.

Here’s an example:

Sinclair Reloading Video

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