FORSTER Co-Ax Press: Unboxing and Setup

Ever have something that’s been on your list for years, and you finally get to it? I’ve been asked numerous times to show the FORSTER Co-Ax press on Ultimate Reloader, and finally it’s time to get hands-on with this press! Ed and Steve from the 6.5 Guys have talked about the Co-Ax, and I know they like the press- now we can compare notes! In this post I’ll cover everything from unboxing, to press setup, and also show my first operation with the press: sizing some 6.5 Creedmoor brass. Let’s get to it!

What’s In the Box

The Forster Co-Ax press kit comes with everything shown here: (Forster Co-Ax Press with S Jaws setup)

Here’s what you see above:

  1. Press assembly
  2. Press handle
  3. Primer catch tube and cup
  4. Primer punch locator (for priming system setup)
  5. Small primer punch (large primer punch installed on press from factory)
  6. Allen keys
  7. FORSTER locking die rings (2)
  8. Instruction booklet (not pictured)

This press setup covers all of the basic equipment requirements to load ammunition with small or large primers with the exception of dies and other related tools (see THIS ARTICLE here on Ultimate Reloader for a list of what you need to load rifle ammunition).

FORSTER Co-Ax Features

With the FORSTER Co-Ax, you don’t have to buy individual shellholders because of the innovative and unique universal shellholder system that comes with this press kit:

This universal shellholder clamping system opens and shuts as the press approaches the bottom of the stroke. You can adjust the jaws, and flip them (rotate each jaw 180 degrees) to grip cases of various diameters. When properly setup, these jaws also center the case as the ram is raised (when the jaws close). This prevents the phenomenon you may have experienced with traditional shellholders where cases can “back out” if your hand sticks to the lube or you catch the case with your finger when moving your hand away. That can lead to a crushed case since the die won’t be aligned as the case moves towards the die (don’t ask me how I know this). Since these shellholder jaws are open at the bottom of the stroke, that means you can’t prime at the bottom of the stroke like on some other presses. The FORSTER engineers thought of that- there’s a priming station on the top of the press (see below) that features adjustable jaws, so you guessed it- no shellholders are needed for priming. I’ll show the FORSTER Co-Ax priming system in-depth when we get into precision reloading with this press.

Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the FORSTER Co-Ax is the die mounting arrangement- you don’t have to screw dies into your press *or* use quick change bushings- the die and die ring slip right into a slot on the press:

Changing primer sizes is only a matter of swapping out the punch, and adjusting the jaws for the case rim per the cartridge you want to load.

The Co-Ax also features a unique linkage system that has TREMENDOUS mechanical advantage- this means much less force is required for heavy-lifting tasks like sizing bottleneck rifle cartridges. Here you can see how the linkage is oriented on the FORSTER Co-Ax:

This linkage system and the “dual rod” system the Co-Ax has in place of the “traditional single ram” make this press stand alone in terms of design features. I think I found my solution for sizing stubborn .308 military machine gun brass in small base dies- you need as much help (mechanical advantage) with that kind of operation as you can get!

Mounting the FORSTER Co-Ax

For my presses, I use the Inline Fabrication Ultramount system with quick change. For the Co-Ax, all I needed was a #8 quick change top plate to use the Co-Ax with my Ultramounts. These top plates come with all of the mounting hardware you’ll need, and as shown in the video, it was quick to install. If you are mounting the FORSTER Co-Ax directly to a bench, you’ll need to utilize four 1/4″ bolts or lag screws (a template is included in the owner’s manual). This Inline Fabrication Micro Ultramount setup worked great with the Ultimate Reloader Bench System (details coming soon) including my own design for quick clamps. Here you can see the back of the press, and the particulars of the mounting system:

Summary

The FORSTER Co-Ax is a very unique press, and has quite a few amazing features. I can’t wait to get more in-depth with this press here on Ultimate Reloader (make sure you’re subscribed!). So far I really like how this press operates: it made quick and effortless work of sizing 6.5 Creedmoor brass! In this content series we’ll be loading ammunition (small and large primer varieties) – and that’s where I’ll cover all of the other details we didn’t cover here.

I just looked, and as usual there’s great deals on the FORSTER Co-Ax Press at Midsouth Shooters Supply if you are interested in picking one up! Do you have a FORSTER Co-Ax? I’d love to hear about your experiences with this press, please leave a comment!

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10 thoughts on “FORSTER Co-Ax Press: Unboxing and Setup”

  1. I have had this press since 1978. At that time it was manufactured and sold under the name “Bonanza”. I use it for all my precision reloading. Great press but as do all presses it isn’t good for seating primers. To much torque and not enough feel for that task. I have had 5 other presses and I always come back to the co-ax press for its ease of use and accuracy in reloading.

    1. G’day Richard,
      I bought my Bonanza (model B-1 in 1972 and it cost $78.75… The Foster company bought up Bonanza when they fell on hard times and to this day still produce virtually all the products that are in my old Owner’s Manual. The products are significantly more expensive today however…
      I agree that the priming is a problem with all presses and this one is no exception and gives too much leverage as well as placing your hand over the top of the cartridge at the moment of pushing the primer into the case. I use and recommend Century 21’s Precision SS Priming tool that is micro adjustable as to seating depth of the primer, it is also quicker than any press.
      http://www.xxicsi.com/super-precision-click-head-br-priming-tool.html
      It does have the best spent primer collector going however and as far as durability, my press is going onto about 500 thousand rounds and still tight and accurate. The self aligning case jaws means never damaging a case by having it slip out of alignment due to movement of the case as in a regular press & shell holder situation.

    1. Simply the best spent primer recovery system of any press.

      Fastest die swaps of any press.

      Recently Forster upgraded the Shell Holder Jaw Housing so the springs are held captive. No more flying spring if and when you need to flip the jaws for larger/smaller calibers.

      Inline Fabrications Roller Handle is a great ergonomic improvement..

    2. G’day Eric,
      Just took your advice about the links and also added the roller handle and lighting system that Inline Fabrication make for the Co-Ax. It all looks to be good stuff and received free shipping too.
      I have on the occasion knocked over a cartridge while seating a bullet, trying to hold the projectile in place and use the handle to move the jaws enough to grip the case is awkward as you have to reach in from the front rather than the side. Perhaps raising up the press with one of Inline’s Ultra mounts will be the next thing to try as currently I have it on Top Plate type system of my own design and just C clamp it to my loading desk to make it removable. Making the press a bit higher might be just the thing.

  2. Gavin,

    I have been following your site for a few years now and your videos have helped me along the way of equipment decisions over the years. The tips and tricks are also extremely helpful. I would really enjoy seeing a video series comparing the different single stage presses and the quality of ammo they produce. Just from watching over the years I know you have a Hornaday, a Redding Big Boss 2, the Hornaday Iron, the MEC and now the Foster. All very good presses in their own right. I know I would enjoy a good old apples to apples comparison on single stage presses. I am sure many other would as well. Thanks for the great videos and reviews and happy reloading.

      1. An email notice would be great when you are ready. That’s a great idea of the sliding mount. Now you’ve got me re-thinking my mounting setup.

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