June 28, 2017
This Year's SHOT Show showcased a lot of new items for handloaders. As always there were lots of new gadgets and components that will make handloaders happy. Several caught my attention, and I have been busy evaluating new items at my loading bench and the shooting range. Here are five of the best new reloading tools and components that handloaders will want to check out.
Hornady Case Prep Duo
As always, Hornady has several new reloading items this year, and the one that caught my attention was the new Lock-n-Load Case Prep Duo. It's a rechargeable, multitasking tool that can be configured as a handheld or a bench-top compatible device. With a few accessories you can quickly perform several case-prep operations, including deburring the case mouths inside and out, cleaning primer pockets, and effortlessly brushing the inside of the case necks before resizing. You can even remove the spindle and convert it into a quarter-inch, hex-drive electric screwdriver. It comes with a charger and two chamfer bits. List price is $64.59.
Kinetic Industries Brass
Kinetic Industries is a new supplier of precision rifle cartridge brass. So far, the company is shipping .308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor cases. When my samples arrived, I inspected each piece for obvious defects, and as I expected, all were in perfect condition. I weighed every piece, and they varied less than 2 percent. (The Creedmoor brass averaged approximately 10 percent heavier than Hornady Creedmoor cases.) I measured overall case length of the Kinetic brass and verified no need to trim.
Then I loaded a box of each with a proven accuracy load and was off to the range. I fired four, five-shot groups and achieved velocity standard deviations in the low two digits. Accuracy for the .308 measured less than 1 MOA, and the 6.5 Creedmoor results were even tighter.
The .308 Winchester brass lists for 79 cents each, and the 6.5 Creedmoor costs 99 cents apiece. Kinetic told me .338 Lapua cases are in production and .260 Remington and .458 SOCOM will be available soon.
RCBS Chargemaster Lite
RCBS introduced the Chargemaster Combo electronic powder dispenser several years ago. I have an early production unit with gobs of recallable memory and several programmable operations, which I never bothered to learn how to use. I simply pour propellant into the hopper, enter the desired charge weight, and push the dispense button. I've always found it to be accurate and efficient, but the Combo's street price is nearly $400, so it's not economically feasible for many handloaders.
Fortunately, the company now offers a Chargemaster Lite, which does everything I did with the Combo before, plus I now use the new auto dispense mode. MSRP is $200 less, and the Chargemaster Lite takes up less room on my bench. While charging all of the new Kinetic brass handloads (40 to 42 grains of stick powder), I found it would dispense each one within +/- 0.1 grain at a rate of three to four per minute.
Lyman Loading Trays
Lyman Products introduced innovative new stadium-style loading trays for rifle cartridges last year in three sizes: one for .223 Remington size case head, one for the .30-06 size cases, and one for belted magnums. Instead of the typical flat, checkerboard pattern, Lyman's Bleacher Block trays provide easier access to each individual cartridge case and take up less room on your bench.
This year Lyman has added two pistol-cartridge sized trays. I obtained a five-tray assortment, and the first thing I noticed is it's much easier to pick up only the case you select. How many times have you bumped a case already filled with propellant and spilled some or picked up one and because your thumb and forefinger are pressing against another one, two, or three cases they topple out of place? That's much less likely to happen with the Bleacher Block loading trays that cost only about $8 apiece.
The last item is a 3-D printed primer catcher made specifically for the RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme (a.k.a. RC IV) single-stage press. I've had several Rock Chucker presses over the years, and they all employed a simple, half-moon-shaped tray that attached to the press with a stout rubber band. The purpose was simple: The primers popped out below the shellholder and fell into the tray. Typically, however, a lot of primers ended up on the floor.
When the Rock Chucker Supreme press debuted a few years ago, a redesigned primer catcher was one of several improvements. Instead of solely depending on gravity, the new device featured a slotted housing positioned behind the ram. The spent primers were supposed to eject into the slot and drop through either of two internal chutes into two trays flanking the ram. The new tray works better, but sometimes the chutes clog up and spent primers spill out behind the ram. Since the on-press priming tool requires another slot in the front of the ram, additional primers can pop out directly onto the floor.
These issues are remedied with the new 3-D primer catcher. As you can see in the photo, the unit simply snaps into place closely behind the ram. A plastic filler strip is inserted into the slot in front of the ram and held in place by the shellholder. It comes with either a left- or right-hand catch tube that will probably hold a thousand primers. I've only had it for a couple of weeks and haven't filled the tube up yet. It costs less than $20 and is available online at primercatcher.com.