June 22, 2020
Hornady 120-Gr. FTX for the 7-30 Waters
When Hornady introduced the .30-30 FTX bullet with its semi-rigid polymer tip several years ago, handloaders no longer were limited to loading only roundnose bullets for safe use in a lever-action rifle’s tubular magazine. Plus, FTX bullets have improved BCs, so trajectory is flatter. Five years ago, I suggested that Hornady should develop an FTX bullet for the 7-30 Waters. My effort intensified when the company introduced one for the .25-35 WCF. It shot great, and I argued that if there was a market for reloading that nearly obsolete round, surely there were enough 7-30 Waters lever actions in circulation to warrant an FTX bullet for it.
Success! Samples of Hornady’s new 7-30 Waters ammunition and 120-grain FTX bullets arrived recently, and I promptly loaded three test loads. To ensure a consistent crimp, you must trim each case to uniform length before seating the bullet to the specified COL. Next, carefully readjust the seating die to apply just the right amount of pressure to roll the case mouth into the bullet’s cannelure. Without further adjustment, you should be able to seat and crimp in the same step.
I made a quick trip to the range and shot a few three-shot groups with the factory ammo and my handloads in a 24-inch-barreled Winchester Model 94. Hornady’s LEVERevolution ammo promised 2,700 fps, and the Oehler M35P chronograph recorded 2,705 fps. My hand-
loads closely matched the factory velocity, and group sizes ranged from 1.06 to 1.68 inches.
I think Hornady has another winner!
Winchester StaBALL 6.5 Propellant
Winchester’s new StaBALL 6.5 propellant’s burn rate is consistent over extreme temperatures to provide minimum velocity variations and optimal internal ballistics. It’s a spherical propellant, and that means it will meter smoothly and precisely through a powder measure for consistent charge weights. My experience suggests charges will vary no more than +/- 0.1 grain. And the powder has proven to be well suited to handloading the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge, one of the most popular rifle cartridges these days.
According to Winchester, StaBALL 6.5’s bulk density is essentially the same as water (about 1.0 gram per cubic centimeter). The propellant grains are actually flattened round globules that are formulated and coated to provide a predictably consistent burn rate. The bulk density and shape both ensure achieving maximum load density to further ensure optimal ballistic performance. In addition, its chemical formulation reduces copper fouling.
I’ve only had time to test a few rounds in my Browning 6.5 Creedmoor X-Bolt Target rifle. Using Alpha brass and a modest recipe from the new Hodgdon 2020 Annual Manual, velocity averaged 2,667 fps with an extreme spread of 20 fps and a standard deviation of 6 fps. Accuracy for four, five-shot groups at 100 yards was 0.73 inch.
Lyman Products Mark 7 Progressive Loaders
Lyman has been in the reloading business for nearly a century and a half, and the company has made single-stage presses and myriad die sets and reloading accessories all that time. With all that heritage and knowhow, the closest it has come to offering a progressive loader is an excellent manually operated eight-station turret press.
Last year, Lyman purchased a company whose whole lineup consists of what may be the most sophisticated progressive loading tools for the serious hobby reloader, competitive shooter, budget-conscious law enforcement agency, or small-scale ammo manufacturer, and now Lyman is marketing the progressive loaders. Each of the four models of the Mark 7 progressive loaders offers the same precision, 10-station toolhead design.
The manual Evolution press (MSRP: $2,995) offers smooth ambidextrous operation and the standard priming system, powder measure, and case feeder. It will handle cartridges ranging in size from the .380 ACP to the .30-06. Of course, production rate depends on how fast you can replenish components and manipulate the handle.
The Evolution can be upgraded as needed to include a bullet feeder, case trimmer (for rifle cartridges only), automated drive, and optional sensors for each critical press function to stop the machine and alert the user in the event of a problem. These include a remote stop button, primer pocket swage, decap and orientation sensors, and bullet and powder check indicators. The upgraded Mark 7 models feature additional increasingly capable attachments and accessories.
Starting at $8,995, the Revolution is fully automated with digital microprocessor controls and can load up to 3,500 rounds per hour.
The newly released Titan Double Feed features two case feeders, two bullet feeders, and two powder measures. It can pump out up to 7,000 rounds per hour.
The top-of-the-line Titan XL has the same double feed capabilities but can handle larger calibers, all the way up to .338 Lapua.
At prices ranging from $2,995 to $15,000, buying one of the Mark 7 loaders is not a casual undertaking. As Lyman’s rep at the SHOT Show said, “We’re looking for the ‘prosumer’ of precision reloading equipment.”