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Getting Ready to Reload: Choose the Right Tools

Reloading ammunition offers shooters a cost-effective and customizable way to enhance their shooting experience. However, before you can reload your brass, you need some equipment. We are going to take a look at some of the tools and equipment that I recommend to people who are starting the journey of reloading and outline why they are important to make high quality ammunition.

Reloading Presses:

I have used a massive array of presses of every type from the Lee Classic Press and the Hornady Lock ‘N Load Single Stage to Dillon 750’s and beyond to commercial loading machines. I will simply say, purchase a press that fits your budget and the amount of ammo you want to reload. If you want to reload some 30-06 for hunting a few times a year, a single stage press is the way to go. If you are planning to reload for an array of calibers and you go shooting frequently, you may want to invest in a semi-progressive press like the Dillon 550. Maybe you shoot competitively and want to start reloading to save money, I would recommend a Dillon 1100 progressive reloader. The point is, no one can tell you what to get, it depends on your goals and budget.

Powder Measures:

This is another one of those, one size does not fit all. My highest recommended powder measures are from RCBS. The RCBS beam scale is an economical choice for those reloading as a hobby rather than for volume. Weighing each charge by hand, one at a time, can be very relaxing, though time consuming. For a faster, more automatic approach to weighing charges, The RCBS Chargemaster Lite can be game changer. Designed for reloaders making larges batches, the Chargemaster Lite automatically dispenses a set charge weight. Simply calibrate, set the desired charge weight, and let it run.

De-priming:

De-priming marks the initial stage in the brass preparation process, involving the removal of spent primers from the casings. While traditional die sets often include a resizing die that incorporates de-priming functionality, these specialized de-capping solutions allow reloaders to de-prime their brass before tumbling to help get the primer pockets clean.

Frankford Arsenal Hand Decapper:

The Frankford Arsenal Hand Decapper presents a manual, hand-operated solution for de-priming brass casings. Ideal for those who like to start brass prep in front of the TV (my favorite place) or needing portability, this tool allows reloaders to efficiently remove primers without the need for a press. Its simplicity and ease of use make it a popular choice for hobbyists and enthusiasts alike. It can be found on Amazon for around $39.

Lyman Pro Universal Decapping Die:

For reloaders seeking versatility across multiple calibers, the Lyman Pro Universal Decapping Die offers a comprehensive solution. It features a spring-loaded decapping rod that helps flick the spent primer off the pin. This is especially helpful on turret, or progressive presses. This die is designed to fit into standard reloading presses and features a universal pin that accommodates various primer sizes. With its ability to handle a wide range of calibers, from pistol to rifle, the Lyman Pro Universal Decapping Die streamlines the de-priming process for reloaders working with diverse ammunition types. These dies are an amazing, cost-effective alternative to the F.W. Arms Primer Popper. They run on Amazon for approximately $50.

FW Arms Auto-Center Primer Popper:

The FW Arms Auto-Center Primer Popper stands out as an innovative and automated de-priming solution, ideal for high-volume reloading operations. This tool utilizes an spring loaded system to center and remove primers efficiently, minimizing manual effort and maximizing productivity. With its advanced features and time-saving benefits, the FW Arms Auto-Center Primer Popper is a valuable asset for reloaders handling large batches of brass.

It is also worth noting that, despite the very high cost for these dies and replacement pins, the FW Arms Primer Popper is probably the most durable decapping die one the market. They are worth every penny in my opinion.

Comparison:

Each de-priming tool offers distinct advantages suited to different reloading preferences and requirements. The Frankford Arsenal Hand Decapper excels in its simplicity and portability, making it an excellent choice for occasional use or reloading on the go. In contrast, the Lyman Pro Universal Decapping Die caters to reloaders working with a variety of calibers, providing versatility and convenience. Meanwhile, the FW Arms Auto-Center Primer Popper targets efficiency and productivity, particularly appealing to commercial reloaders dealing with enormous brass quantities.

Primer Pocket Swaging:

Military brass often has a primer crimp, a small indentation around the primer pocket designed to secure the primer in place. While effective for military applications, this crimp presents a challenge for reloaders, as it must be removed to ensure proper primer seating in reloaded ammunition. If the crimp is not removed, reloaders may catch the new primer on the edge of the primer pocket, resulting in a crushed, unusable primer. The primer pocket swage tools that I have experience with, each offer unique features and benefits:

Lee Ram Swage:

The Lee Ram Swage is a popular choice among reloaders for its simplicity and effectiveness in removing primer crimps. This tool operates within a reloading press, utilizing a ram to apply controlled pressure to the primer pocket, effectively ironing out the crimp. Its straightforward design and the ability to mount directly to standard reloading presses make it a practical solution for hobbyists and enthusiasts looking to prepare military brass for reloading. You can find it on Amazon for $45.

RCBS Primer Pocket Swager Tool:

The RCBS Primer Pocket Swager Tool is renowned for its precision and durability, making it a preferred option for reloaders seeking reliability and consistency. This tool effectively removes primer crimps with minimal effort, ensuring uniform primer pockets for reliable primer seating. Its compatibility with various calibers and ease of use make it a valuable asset for reloaders working with military brass. Coming in at around $130 on Amazon, it is an absolute game changer for those prepping medium volumes of brass.

Comparison:

Both the Lee Ram Swage and RCBS Primer Pocket Swager Tool offer reliable solutions for removing primer crimps, catering to different reloading preferences and requirements. The Lee Ram Swage stands out for its simplicity and affordability, providing an accessible option for occasional use or hobbyist reloaders. In contrast, the RCBS Primer Pocket Swager Tool excels in its precision and durability, making it a preferred choice for reloaders handling larger volumes of military brass or seeking long-term reliability.

Reloading Die Sets:

There are copious amounts of die sets across the market. It really can feel overwhelming to try and pick out a set of dies the first time. In my experience, price does not equal quality and not all reloading dies are created equal. This is especially true with sizing dies, but we will go down that rabbit hole in another blog post.

Every die set comes with a sizing die, and a seating die. Pistol die sets will also come with an expander die. In a nutshell, the sizing die re-sizes the brass down to easily fit back into the chamber of your firearm. The expanding die in pistol sets, add a small amount of flare to the mouth of the case to allow the bullet to be easily pressed down into the case. And the seating die guides and pushes the bullet into the case.

Basic Die Sets

When a new reloader asks me “What dies should I buy?”, I almost always recommend Lee and Hornady die sets. They are on the more budget end of the vast spectrum of reloading dies on the market, however I rarely hear of people complaining about the quality.

Precision Die Sets

As the name suggests, precision reloading dies offer a more precise function than basic dies. These dies often are made to tighter tolerances than standard dies, resulting in more consistent ammunition. In my opinion, most new reloaders don’t need the extra precision these dies offer, as there are far larger impacts from other variables when making your own ammunition. In my experience from testing “Precision” dies versus standard dies, the impact is barely measurable, and most shooters will never see a practical difference.

Trimmers:

As brass casings undergo firing and resizing, they naturally experience stretching, resulting in variations in case length. To ensure uniformity and proper chamber fit, trimming becomes necessary as part of the brass preparation process. Trimming removes excess brass, returning casings to their optimal length and minimizing variations that can affect accuracy and reliability.

Lyman Universal Trimmer:

This versatile, hand operated trimmer accommodates a wide range of calibers and features a universal chuck system for quick and easy case insertion. At a price of ~$130, it is not the most cost effective solution, however the consistency is incredible. While it is extremely precise, the Lyman Universal Trimmer is designed more for shooters reloading small batches of precision ammunition.

Lyman Brass Smith Case Trim Xpress:

Designed for high-volume trimming, this case trimmer boasts rapid case insertion and removal, minimizing downtime and maximizing productivity. The Xpress Case Trimmer uses bushings specific to a group of cartridges, and indexes off the shoulder of the brass for consistent overall case lengths. This is one of my favorite trimmers and is often on sale at Amazon for less than $150. This trimmer is an ideal choice for budget minded competitors or medium to high volume reloaders seeking efficiency and accuracy.

Chamfering and Deburring:

Chamfering and deburring the case mouth removes sharp edges, facilitating smooth bullet seating and reducing the risk of shaving lead during reloading. Tools like the Lyman Case Prep Xpress and RCBS Trim Mate Case Prep Center offer comprehensive case preparation, including chamfering and deburring capabilities. By promoting consistent bullet alignment and reducing friction, these tools enhance overall reloading efficiency and accuracy.

Roll-sizing

When it comes to achieving unparalleled consistency and reliability in reloaded ammunition, roll-sizing stands out as a game-changing technique. Unlike traditional resizing methods that rely on dies to exert pressure uniformly on brass casings, roll-sizing utilizes specialized machinery to roll brass between precision-machined rollers. This process ensures uniform dimensions, resulting in brass that meets the most exacting standards of performance and reliability.

Benefits of Roll-sizing:

Uniform Case Dimensions: Roll-sizing reduces variations in the base geometry of the case. This uniformity translates into consistent, chamber fit, and pressure levels, resulting in improved accuracy and reliability.

Enhanced Chambering and Extraction: Brass casings resized through roll-sizing exhibit optimal dimensions for chambering and extraction, especially in firearms with tight tolerances or semi-automatic actions. The precise dimensions ensure smooth and reliable cycling, minimizing the risk of malfunctions such as failure to feed, extract, or eject.

Consistent Performance: By reducing variations in case dimensions, roll-sized brass delivers consistent performance shot after shot, load after load. Whether you’re shooting for precision accuracy or competitive success, roll-sized brass provides the reliability and consistency necessary to achieve your goals.

Invest in Professionally Roll-sized Brass:

While roll-sizing offers undeniable benefits, it requires expensive, specialized equipment and expertise to execute properly. For reloaders seeking the ultimate in precision and consistency, professionally roll-sized brass presents an enticing solution. Our professionally re-manufactured brass is roll-sized using state-of-the-art machinery, ensuring that each casing meets the highest standards of quality and performance.

Visit our sales page to explore our selection of professionally roll-sized and fully prepared brass, meticulously crafted to deliver unmatched consistency and reliability. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, precision enthusiast, or discerning reloader, our roll-sized brass sets the standard for excellence in reloaded ammunition. Elevate your reloading experience with professionally roll-sized brass and experience the difference precision makes.


Disclaimer:

It is important to remember that reloading ammunition can be dangerous if not done correctly. Always adhere to the safety guidelines outlined in reputable reloading manuals and seek proper training before engaging in reloading activities. Safety should always be the top priority when handling firearms and ammunition.

Please note that this blog contains affiliate links, which means that I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through these links. Additionally, some parts of this blog were written with some assistance of AI technology.

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