Share the Handloading Experience
May 19, 2019
Just a few issues back, I reported on teaching a reloading class sponsored by a local gunshop to a half-dozen shooters. A few months later, a young man, Dustin, from my church got married. He was an enthusiastic hunter and had visited my shop several times but hadn’t shown much interest in reloading. He and his new bride, Sydnee, stopped by our home one afternoon, and he asked if they could check out the shop. During that short visit, I learned she had hunted a few times with her dad and had taken a deer with his .243 Winchester rifle.
I asked, “Sydnee, don’t you think you need your own deer rifle?” Not knowing me from Adam’s house cat, she stammered a weak, “I guess so, sir.” I opened the vault and retrieved a .243 Win. Thompson/Center Venture bolt action topped with a Leupold 4-12X scope and gave it to her.
Then I said, “Now, the rifle comes with a couple of strings attached. First, you have to hand-load the ammo you’re going to hunt with, and I will be your instructor. And you have to return the gun case after you get the rifle safely home.”
Fortunately, I had just received samples of brand-new SIG SAUER .243 Win. brass. I had also recently received the new Hornady flash hole deburr tool.
Within a few days, I’d spent a few minutes prepping the batch of new brass, which involved nothing more than running the expander plug through each case neck and deburring the flash holes. I scheduled a visit with Sydnee and selected a load recipe I had previously fired in the rifle with very good range results.
Before she arrived, I’d already primed 40 cases with CCI 200 primers, thrown 42.0 grains of Power Pro 4000-MR propellant, and seated a Hornady 100-grain BTSP bullet to the prescribed overall length in each one. All I wanted Sydnee to do was repeat the processes while I explained the different tool functions and purpose of each reloading step. Everything went well, and she carefully assembled the last 10 rounds.
The weather and her work and school schedules finally allowed a convenient time to go to the range. I set up a five-bullseye Champion target and fired a couple of groups to ensure the scope was still on target. Then Sydnee fired a few three-shot groups to get used to the gun and scope. The rest of the ammo was saved for hunting whitetails.
I usually include a performance chart with each handloading column; however, when hunting season opened the following Saturday, Sydnee and Dustin were in his favorite shooting house before dawn. As the accompanying photo shows, Sydnee, the rifle, and her handload performed just fine.
Of course, she now has supervised access to my reloading shop whenever she cares to visit.
Hornady’s Flash Hole Deburr Tool
Hornady’s new Flash Hole Deburr Tool is similar to a flash hole deburring tool that I’ve used for nearly 30 years. However, with the old tool I have to first insert the shaft into the case and align the cutter with the flash hole. Then slide the handle along the shaft until the tapered end just enters the case mouth before tightening a setscrew in the handle against the flat side of the shaft in order to secure everything together. Finally, you firmly turn the handle while pushing it down until the cutter shaft bottoms out against the case head web. If the handle is not initially positioned just so, or the batch of cases vary in length, you’ll get non-uniform results because the tapered end of the handle bottoms out on the case mouth instead. Even if I trimmed each case to the same length before deburring, I usually had to readjust the handle position once to ensure I’d prepped the flash holes uniformly.
The new Hornady tool eliminates the need to trim or fumble with adjusting the handle position to allow the cutter to deburr each flash hole uniformly. It includes two floating pilots with multiple diameter steps to match the caliber you’re prepping. You just choose the one that best fits the case mouth, slip it onto the shaft, and screw the handle in place.
Then you insert the shaft into the case and slide the pilot forward until it enters the case mouth. Holding the pilot and the case firmly together with one hand, guide the cutter into the flash hole, and then push down and rotate the handle until you feel the cutter shaft bottom out. Each flash hole will be deburred uniformly.
A second pilot can be stored in tandem on the shaft if the case length is less than 2.1 inches. If you’re prepping longer cases, it must be removed and stored separately.