In my last two articles I concentrated on the reloading dies and associated tools needed to complete the 4 reloading tasks outlined in my second article, “What is Reloading?” In the next two articles I want to look at some additional equipment which you may or may not need to undertake your specific reloading activities.
Primer Filling & Automatic Primer Fillers
Primers generally come packaged in lots of 100 and need to be placed one at a time at the base of the case being reloaded, then pushed into the primer pocket with a primer punch. I will look at manual, hand held primer punches in a future article dealing with single stage presses. Without a doubt the most tedious part of reloading (at least in my opinion) is filling primer pickup tubes to feed progressive presses. If you have a press with a single linear primer feed tube, the “normal” manual process starts with tipping the primers into a primer flip tray, which is designed to, through a gentle shaking process, flip all the primers into a single direction, i.e., all the same way up. The next step is to place the cover of the flip tray over the primers, and “flip” the entire lot of primers over so the smooth side of the primers face up. After this, the primers are picked up in a primer pickup tube, one at a time (groan!!!). A typical primer flip tray (approx $20) and primer pickup tubes (approx $5-8 each) are shown in Figure 1. Once in the primer pickup tube, primers are transferred to the primer feed tube in the press. Depending on how fast you are this can take 3-4 minutes per 100 primers, during which time the rest of the reloading process halts. Having a number of these primer pickup tubes available and pre-filled prior to commencing reloading is one solution, but still takes time.
One rather neat device which relieves you of this task is an automatic primer filler. I am only aware of one currently on the market, but there certainly may be others. The Dillon RF-100 Automatic Primer Filler is shown in Figure 2, and costs about $320. Whilst this device is not cheap, it will save you LOTS of time, particularly if you are reloading a couple of thousand rounds at a time. The RF-100 is filled with 100 primers through the hole in the top and an electrical vibrator is turned on via a timer to gently feed the primers, correct side up, into a special feed tube. This tube is then transferred to the top of the primer feed tube on the press and the primers dropped into the primer feed tube in exactly the same way as a manual primer pickup tube is used. The automated primer filling process certainly can be slower than the manual primer pickup method, taking an extra couple of minutes. However, it has the advantage of not stopping you from reloading whilst it is happening. If you have a second automatic primer filler feed tube, you can keep one full whilst one is being filled and you should have a virtually non-stop reloading process.
Bullet (projectile) Pullers
Since none of us ever make mistakes during reloading (yeah right), why would we ever want to pull a projectile out from a reloaded round? Sadly, in practice things do go wrong. The most obvious and potentially dangerous situation is a “squib” load, where a projectile has been inserted into the case, but without any powder. If in doubt, the best answer is to pull the projectile out of the case and check the powder charge. If done correctly, the case, primer, powder (if any) and projectile will remain undamaged and can be reused. Of course you would be reusing a case with a primer already inserted, so DON’T use a primer removal (decapping) die with these cases. If you are using a combined decapping/resizing die, it is usually possible to remove the primer removal pin and just use the resizing function of the die.
Another frequent requirement is to measure the weight of the projectile for competition purposes where ammunition power factor is a competition condition. We’ll talk a bit more about power factor in the next article.
There are two common methods of removing projectiles from a reloaded round. This must be done carefully. Always wear safety glasses when using a bullet puller. Remember, this is a round of live ammunition and needs to be handled with care. The first method is to use a special bullet puller die, which is most commonly fitted to a single stage press. I covered these in the previous article.
The second method is a kinetic bullet puller (Figure 3), costing around $20-30. This is essentially a hammer which has a collet holding the ammunition round, projectile end down, into a hollow tube. Gently hitting the hammer end on a piece of wood allows the projectile to gradually force itself free from the case, along with the powder charge into the hollow tube where both can be recovered. If you want to reuse the powder, make sure the puller tube is cleaned after each round so as to ensure no contamination of the powder, either from dirt or a different type of powder occurs.
Having now covered the basic reloading tools and dies as well as some other stuff, in the next article I want to address the tool utilized to measure the performance of our reloaded ammunition, the chronograph.
Featured image courtesy of DillonPrecision.com