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.
We’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|
I’m one of those guys who enjoys reloading. Yes, I can save some money on a cost per round basis – if I place an hourly value on my time somewhere below the cost of 1/3 of a Wintergreen Tic Tac. The main reason I reload is that I like to tinker. Why experiment with 42 varieties of .357 Sig? Why shoot lead bullets at 1,000 feet per second out of my 1903 Springfield? Why not?
But lately, I’m having doubts about my patience for tinkering with one specific caliber. That would be .223 Remington, or when I’m feeling tactical, 5.56mm. Quite frankly, it’s a pain in the butt.
If it was a low volume shooting round, that would be one thing. Tinkering for hours to make a few hundred rounds of some caliber is fine if it will last a couple of shooting outings. But, as I have found out, my kids are capable of maintaining a constant cyclic rate of fire of just over 42,358 rounds per minute in semi-automatic mode with my sons DPMS A3 Lite AR-15 rifle. Doing some quick math, I might spend 42.8 hours reloading .223 ammo that lasts 19 milliseconds at the range.
Not only that, the process of reloading .223 ammo is somewhat complicated and has many important steps:
I gripe at my kids to pick up the .223 brass from the range.
Next, I have to cancel texting service on their phones so they can pay attention to the request I made in step 1.
Sort thousands of rounds of dirty brass to filter out the desirable .223 brass. Separate it from the 5.56mm brass that has gotten mixed in. Those Navy Seals have a bad habit of sneaking around mixing their military brass into my stuff. Sneaky bastards.
Call Discovery Channel, again, to request that Mike Rowe does an episode of Dirty Jobs about sorting range brass. Ask why they have stopped taking my calls.
Shoo my dogs away from nosing around dirty, leady brass that suddenly seems more interesting to them than bacon topped with Cheez Whiz.
Dump a pile of filthy .223 brass into my Lyman 1200 Auto-Flo Tumbler. This causes earthquake like sounds to reverberate from my garage for hours. Fortunately the neighbors no longer call 911 or the University of Southern California Earthquake Research Center.
After the brass is reasonably clean, I make sure that all of the walnut / corn cob / gritty tumbler media stuff is out of the cases. As the .223 case has a mouth diameter just smaller than a mosquito’s left nostril, this step is more difficult that it sounds. Shaking the case vigorously doesn’t always do it, so I’m thinking about rinsing them with an insect-sized Neti Pot.
Now for the brass depriming and resizing step. Here is where things get interesting. Invariably, at least 5 out of 4 cases will get stuck in the sizing die, causing me to stop the operation, drill out the case head, and remove it with bolts and a thread tap I bought at Wal-Mart. Yes, the stuck case situation might have happened one night after proper hardware stores were closed. Friends don’t let friends buy tools at Wal-Mart after all – that’s what pawn shops are for. Oh, by the way, Mighty Putty is on sale.
In a fit of impatience trying to get the show back on the road, I break the tap. What, anger issues? Me? Hey it was a cheap tap bought at Wal-Mart after all. It was asking for it.
Figure out how to remove a case that’s stuck in the die, that in turn has a broken tap stuck in it. This is a great time to go watch a re-run of Home Improvement. And ask my neighbor if I can borrow a flame thrower.
After the load of brass is successfully deprimed and resized, I break out the case trimmer. Don’t lose heart, we’re 10% of the way done.
My wife and kids decide to go on vacation. They know I will be trimming brass 18 hours a day for the next few weeks.
I gently move my dogs that have camped out on top of my feet. Apparently they think I have died standing in this position and are holding vigil.
Some ammo companies have the audacity to crimp their .223 primers in place. I have reason to believe that this is a plot by my dogs to keep me from moving for another couple of weeks as they are continuing to soundly sleep on my feet. Apparently my shoes are comfortable and smell nice. In any event, this step involves either reaming or swaging the primer pockets to make sure that new primers will actually fit. Swaging is the way to go here. You don’t cut away metal and the results are consistent. It’s kind of like making an auto part fit by hammering it really hard. Dillon makes an excellent swaging tool that is well worth the money.
Now we’re on the offensive and are beginning steps that are actually adding stuff back to the empty case. So you can think of this as the beginning of the 3rd quarter. Except that the Colts are ahead.
Using one of several highly scientific techniques, I stuff new primers into the newly reamed or swaged primer pockets. Depending on volume and how bad my mood is from dealing with stuck cases in my resizing dies, I will use the hand method or a progressive reloading press. If something really good is on TV, like Band of Brothers reruns, I use my hand operated Lee Auto Prime tool, since I don’t have DirectTV in my man cave. If Fashion Stars is on, and I therefore have no access to the TV due to the ‘Chicks Occupying Den Movement’, I’ll configure the Hornady Lock and Load Auto Progressive press to knock out a few steps at once – priming, powder charging, and bullet seating. But for discussion’s sake, let’s follow the hand priming route. It’s far more dramatic for this particular column.
If you’re feeling like the Anal Retentive Chef, it’s time to chamfer and deburr the case mouths with some sort of hand or electric tool. I’ve been dying to try out Hornady’s Lock and Load Case Prep Center, but for now am using stone tools fashioned from cinder blocks. Either that or I skip this step entirely.
It’s time for charging the case. This is fancy techno-speak for adding powder that makes things go bang. I like to use TAC by Ramshot as it works well, and more importantly, is really easy to measure consistently. And it looks like something people would identify as gunpowder.
It’s bullet time. The grand finale. The climactic moment. Add the bullet and crimp the case – usually in one simple step.
And now, last but not least, it’s final check time. As I put the rounds into plastic ammo boxes, I like to do one last visual check to make sure primers are there, they they are not upside down, that the case looks good with no cracks, and that there are no love handles on the case shoulder. Sometimes, a case will sneak through the system that is a tad to long, and when it gets to the bullet seating and crimping step, a very unsexy bulge is created at the shoulder. Not good. Mainly because it creates another step – pulling the bullet out and fixing the case.
And there it is. Just a few simple steps to prepare for my kids unleashing a hailstorm of .223 downrange – for at least 9 seconds.
Sometimes I think it’s just better to buy some bulk .223 ammo.
Be 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|
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.
|Available Here||Forster Cast Trimmer|
|On the tenth day of Christmas, I hope my true love gives to me…
Ten toys for loading…
|Lyman Master Casting Kit
I had the pleasure of meeting Mike Venturino at last years SHOT Show and he got me hooked on two things: 1. Moving to Montana and 2. Starting to cast my own bullets. Why? Because it sounds like a whole new adventure in reloading.
|Lyman Turbo Sonic Ultrasonic Case Cleaner
Liz from Lyman showed me one of these babies at the 2011 SHOT Show and I still haven’t gotten one. I can think of all sort of gunny things to clean with this. Brass, dies, gun parts, and especially gas shotgun and AR parts. Oh, and my grubby watch bands that get so nasty at the range.
|Hornady Lock and Load AP
Red team fans We’ve got you covered. 5 station progressive press offers station configuration flexibility. Not getting into the Hornady versus Dillon debate – they both work.
|Dillon XL 650
We love the blue team as well. 5 Station progressive press with automatic indexing. Enough stations for a powder check step to help avoid unpleasant situations at the range. Pricey, but it works. Forever. We asked for both red and blue so we can have one always set up for rifle calibers and the other for pistol.
|Giraud Power Trimmer
Wow – process lots of rifle brass using that newfangled electric power thing. Trim, chamfer inside, chamfer outside, and deburr – all in one simple step.
|CED M2 Chronograph
Optimized for a broader range of light conditions, this chronograph lets you work at the range in the earlier and later hours of the day – when it’s more likely to be quiet.
|Dillon Super Swage 600
I can get nearly unlimited .223 brass from the local range, but over half of it is some brand that has crimped primers – hence the need for an easy and consistent way to un-crimp the primer pockets. The Super Swage supports the brass from the inside and simply “rolls away” the crimp.
|Hornady Lock and Load Case Feeder
So I still have this thing about wanting to place bullets by hand while using a progressive reloading press. But it would be cool to have the cases fed automatically…
An invaluable online resource for reloaders. Over 230,000 loads detailed for your use. Data from most of the major reloading manuals – all in one place. And all for $29.95 a year.
|RCBS Stuck Case Removal Kit
Not that this would ever happen to US, but… In the unlikely event that you get a cartridge case stuck in your resizing die, here’s the stuff you need to get it out – all in one convenient package.
|9mm Kimber Solo-ing…|
|Eight Guns for Plinking…|
|Seven lasers aiming…|
|Six scales a weighing…|
|Five magnum things…|
|Four written words…|
|Three tactical pens…|
|Two shooting gloves…|
|And a Smith and Wesson M and P…|
|On the sixth day of Christmas, I hope my true love gives to me…
Six scales a weighing…
Reload yet? If not, why? The world is a mess, zombies are coming any day, and ammo gets more expensive with each passing diflection election. Plus it’s a great stress reliever. Make some shiny cartridges after a tough day and all becomes right in the world. Then you get to shoot them. Icing on the cake.
Every reloader needs a scale or two. Here are the ones we want for Christmas…
|Lyman 1200 DPS 3 Digital Powder System
The beauty of this one is its speed. When you set the pan back down it can automatically dispense the same powder charge again, allowing you to seat the previous bullet while the next charge gets weighed. Hey true love – are you reading this?
|RCBS Chargemaster 1500 Powder Scale & Dispenser Combo
MidwayUSA.com customers love it based on the reviews, so RCBS must have got it right with this one. The scale and pan are in front of the dispenser so its friendly for righties and lefties.
|Hornady Lock and Load Bench Scale
We’ve been wanting a nice compact digital for a while. Balance beam scales are great for checking a pre-determined weight, but kind of lousy for chunking something on there to see how heavy it is. Enter the digital. Great for checking total cartridge weight or the weight of a a random bullet.
|Frankford Arsenal DS-750 Scale
Another digital, but this one is battery powered. Which means you can take it to the range. And weigh stuff.
|RCBS Model 505 Magnetic Powder Scale
Old faithful. Gotta have a magnetic beam scale just so you can say you don’t trust all this newfangled electronic stuff. And as a no-power required alternative for when the zombies come.
|Camdex 2100 Series Pistol Loading Machine
If you’re serious about apocalypse preparation, skip the dedicated powder scale and go full auto. The Camdex system reloads up to 4,400 cartridges per hour and has 10 different automated quality and safety checks built in. Run this baby for a few days around the clock and you’re easily set for a month or so of Steel Challenge.
|Five magnum things…|
|Four written words…|
|Three tactical pens…|
|Two shooting gloves…|
|And a Smith and Wesson M and P…|
Dead relatives filling up your house? Cremation Urns taking up precious counter space? No problem!
Just launch ‘em out of your rifle, pistol, or shotgun!
Holy Smoke LLC will create custom loaded pistol, rifle, or shotgun ammunition packed with a little something extra – ashes of your loved ones. For example, just send them about a pound of ashes and they can custom load a case (250) shotshells so you can take one last trip to the range with your departed friends or family. We’re guessing that your faithful hunting dog would fly as well. Pun intended.
I suppose this goes give new perspective to going out with a bang.