Getting into reloading? Well, before we start talking about reloading presses, I’d like to briefly examine the concept of reloading rates as applied to assessing the performance of reloading presses.
Reloading Rate – Definitions
Throughout this series of articles I have emphasized the different reloading requirements we all have, as well as the different approaches and equipment available to fulfill these requirements. There is certainly no “one size fits all” solution. In making your approach/equipment decisions, some of the primary considerations will be the number of rounds that you will be reloading, how long that may take and how valuable your time is.
Manufacturers of reloading presses often boast that their equipment can reload X rounds/hour. But what does this mean? Are the claims believable, and to what extent are reloading rates relevant to your equipment purchase? There are two reloading rates which need to be considered:
- Cyclic (peak) reloading rate
- Average reloading rate
Cyclic Reloading Rate
The cyclic reloading rate is the rate at which it is possible to produce reloaded rounds, assuming no other tasks need to be carried out, i.e., how fast can you pull the handle and make a reloaded round. This is mainly relevant to progressive reloading presses and represents the peak or maximum possible reloading rate. This is often the value quoted by manufacturers, or at least their marketing departments.
Average Reloading Rate
In reality, even the slickest progressive press needs to have additional support tasks carried out, namely:
- Filling primer feed tubes.
- Filling case feed tubes or automatic case feeders.
- Filling powder throwers.
Each of these tasks has the potential to completely stop the reloading task and reduce the reloading rate well below the Cyclic Reloading Rate. For the moment, let’s assume the powder filler is topped up prior to commencing reloading and does not need to be refilled during the reloading session.
Example – A progressive press claims to produce 900 rounds per hour (15 rounds/min). However, every 100 rounds, the primer feed tube needs to be refilled (i.e., 9 times), taking 5 minutes each time. That’s an additional 45 minutes. Assuming the case feeder can hold 500 cases, this will need to be refilled twice per hour, taking another 1 minute each time. So for every 900 rounds reloaded, you really need 60 + 45 + 2 = 107 minutes (1.8 hours). This gives an average reloading rate of 900 / 1.8 or approximately 505 rounds per hour.
As the process of filling primer tubes is the largest source of delay, using an automatic primer filler can drastically cut these delays and increase the average reloading rates. Also, automatic case feeders are a big factor in increasing average reloading rates.
Reloading Rates – Relevance
So how relevant are these reloading rates to your equipment purchasing decisions?
In the first instance, assessing how many rounds you will be reloading and how long that will take requires a knowledge of the average reloading rate for the specific equipment configuration you are considering. As each reloading approach/equipment solution will have different allowances for the three tasks listed above, you should make sure you know these allowances for your specific configuration, e.g., for progressive presses, consider the role of automatic primer and case feeders (or lack of them) in your calculations.
Assessing the performance of single stage presses is somewhat problematic due to the time required to change dies and the multitude of possible equipment configurations. My only thought on this question: if you are that concerned about reloading rates, then you should probably be looking at a turret or progressive press and bypassing single stage presses altogether.
Cyclic (peak) reloading rates will only be relevant as a comparison measure if you have a number of different presses under consideration, and assumes that the various additional support tasks are either not relevant, or have been considered in your calculations, i.e., you should compare apples with apples.
In the following articles on reloading presses, when I quote reloading rates, I will emphasize whether I am referring to cyclic or average reloading rates.
Having now looked at what is meant by reloading rates, it is time to look closely at the actual reloading presses. As this is a complex area, with lots of possible approaches and equipment variations, it will extend over several articles.
Featured image courtesy of www.LeePrecision.com