There’s an all-new reloading press just about to hit the market, and it’s call the “M-Press” from Frankford Arsenal. In this post, I’m going to give you a complete preview of this press: from unboxing, to setup, to sizing and bullet seating for multiple rifle calibers, specification, and more. Frankford Arsenal is launching a ton of new products during the SHOT show season for 2019, and I’ll have all of the highlights right here on Ultimate Reloader! Make sure you’re subscribed!
On to the “main event”!
Specs, Facts and Figures
Here’s the relevant information related to the new Frankford Arsenal M-Press:
- Frame: C-Frame
- Ram diameter: 1 1/8″ (x2, dual ram- called “guide rods”)
- Die retention: quick-change die blocks, floating (act as thick die rings with irregular shape)
- Die threading: 7/8″ x 14 TPI (standard)
- On-press priming: none
- Integrated LED light with wall power supply and on/off switch
- Press opening: 5″ (from top of shellplate to bottom of die block)
- Press width: 8 5/16″
- Press depth: 3 1/2″ (handle and linkage projects slightly rear of base footprint)
- Press overall height with handle installed: 19 1/4″
- Shellholders: not required (has universal shellholder which accommodates most standard cartridges up to and including 338 Lapua)
- Weight: 21.35lb (press assembly without die block or power supply/cord)
- Press MSRP: $299.99 (street price will be approx $250.00)
- Die blocks MSRP: $19.99 (3 die blocks with case, street price will be approx $16.00)
What’s In the Box
The Frankford Arsenal M-Press comes complete with the following:
- Press assembly
- Handle (shown installed)
- Power adapter and micro-USB cord for integrated LED light
- Three die blocks and die case
- Instruction book (my early production sample did not have one, I instead got an electronic copy from Frankford Arsenal)
Assembly and Setup
Assembly and setup couldn’t be easier (really). Here’s all you have to do:
- Slide the handle into the press frame, tighten set screw
- Plug power adapter into wall, plug cord into power adapter and press (on the back)
- Mount the press to your bench or stand/mount
I chose to adapt a generic Inline Fabrication Ultramount Quick Change Plate #45 for use with my Micro Ultramount since these plates aren’t yet available from Inline Fabrication. Drilling and countersinking the plate was quick work with my Precision Matthews PM-949 because I have a DRO! In a short period of time, I completed the quick change plate fabrication and installation, and was ready to roll! Here’s a view showing the M-Press on the Micro Ultramount:
And here’s a diagram showing the hole pattern and press footprint: (from the pre-release manual, subject to changes)
There are several features on the Frankford Arsenal M-Press that are worth noting! I’ll show you some of these features here. The first would be the integrated press light- I haven’t seen this on another press! There’s even a nice switch on the press that stays “down” when the light is on, and pops “up” when the light is off:
Another unique feature is the universal shellholder plate system. There are two circular discs under a metal plate which spin and “index” in 90 degree intervals. There are cutouts on these discs for small, large, 223, and 308 case rims. You can accommodate pretty much any reloadable cartridge up to and including 338 Lapua with this system! From the pre-release owner’s manual:
The way this works is: you slide the disk away from the center of the press (see middle arrows in diagram) and then rotate to a new position while sliding the plate back to the center of the press. The plate will “snap” into position for each of the four “quadrants”. Here’s what the shellholder plates look like set for a 308 case rim:
I found this system to work quite well. When loading, you set a case onto the base plate, and when you lift the handle, the shellholder plates move towards the case and clamp it in a centered position, ready for the case/cartridge to enter into the die above.
Another unique feature of the M-Press is the die block system. Hornady has Lock-N-Load, LEE has Breechlock, FORSTER has special die rings, and now Frankford Arsenal introduces the “die block” system:
These die blocks are essentially thick rings with a set screw, and a flat front. If you buy a set of die blocks (3 die blocks per set) a handy case is included which fits the dies and die blocks together. This can be an issue with other die sets (LEE Breechlock and Hornady Lock-N-Load as examples) – these dies don’t fit into some die boxes with bushings installed.
You can also toggle this press from “cam over” to “positive stop” operation (as shown in the video) by flipping the side links. This is nice because you have the option to operate the press either way.
Initial Test Results
For testing, I decided to size brass and seat bullets for both 223/5.56 and 308 Winchester (actually, 7.62x51mm military brass). I wanted to evaluate the leverage and relative forces involved to size brass, test the robustness of the universal shellholder, and see what kind of concentricity would be possible when seating bullets.
The press worked really well- its operation is very smooth, and the leverage it produces is great. 5.56 cases sized very easily with lanolin lube, where military 308 cases were a bit tougher (I used a small base die to put this press to the test) using the same lanolin lube. Setting up dies is very smooth, and I like the way that the die block set screw is ALWAYS facing you- so you can easily tighten/loosen it without “hunting” for it around the circumference of the die area. Seating bullets was super-easy as expected, and the concentricity was good.
Here are the results for the concentricity testing:
- 5.56 brass with 70 grain Nosler RDF bullets, Redding Competition Seater die: +/- ~0.001″ (0.002″ TIR)
- 7.62x51mm brass with 155 grain Hornady A-Max bullet, RCBS standard 308 seater die: +/- ~0.002″ (0.004″ TIR)
Some were nearly dead-on (zero runout). The 5.56 results are great, and I think the military 308 results could definitely improve with match quality brass and a competition seater die. I thought it would be good to test multiple die sets!
Frankford Arsenal M-Press and Forster Co-Ax Side By Side
The first thing people asked for when I announced content related to the Frankford Arsenal M-Press was a comparison to the Forster Co-Ax, so here it is!
These presses may have a similar action when you run them, but there are quite a few differences!
First the similarities:
- Cast iron construction
- High-leverage design
And the differences:
- Frame: Co-Ax has central frame, where M-Press us supported by guide rods
- Capacity: M-Press has about 5″ where the Co-Ax has about 4 1/4″ (both will have less usable capacity due to die protrusion which will vary)
- Light: M-Press has one, where the Co-Ax does not
- On-Press priming: Co-Ax has it, where M-Press does not
- M-Press does not hang down below bench, where Co-Ax does (both will have the handle swing below the bench if mounted flush to benchtop)
- Camover toggle: M-Press has it, where Co-Ax does not
In the end, you’ll need to look closely at each press and decide which one would be better for you. I’m hoping that the information I provide here on Ultimate Reloader will help you make these kinds of decisions!
The Frankford Arsenal M-Press is new for 2019, and should be available sometime in February or early March 2019. I’ll keep you all posted! You can read up on Frankford Arsenal products here (this product is so new, there’s not yet a product page yet, I’ll add it here when there is!)
What do you think of this new press? Please leave a comment! I’ll have a lot more related content coming up soon, so again, sure you’re subscribed!