The Hornady Lock-N-Load AP setup with the Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
Here we can see the Lock-N-Load AP setup with the following station utilization:
empty (great place for powder check)
And here’s a closeup shellplate view of the action while loading:
Loading .223 with the Lock-N-Load Rife Bullet Feeder – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
Let’s see the process of progressive reloading with this setup:
If you care about accuracy, you need to care about bullet concentricity. When evaluating a rifle reloading setup, I always use my concentricity gage to check bullet concentricity for the press/dies that are being utilized.
For the cartridges loaded in this session, I saw an average of less than +/- 0.001″ which is really good for a combination bullet feed and seat/crimp die setup. If more precise concentricity was needed, I still have an extra station (#5) which could be used with a traditional sliding collar seating die (Hornady rifle bullet seat die or Redding Competition Seating Die).
Overall, this bullet feed system worked great, and makes the rifle reloading process faster and more convenient. Stay tuned here because I’ve got a lot more planned with this system including showing the conversion kit for 30 caliber, and showing more reloading setups on more presses. Have something you want to see? Please leave a comment!
In this post I’ll cover the high-level details outlining the setup process for the Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder (.22 caliber in this case). Be sure to check out the video at the end of this post and the overview post if you haven’t already.
The Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder setup on a Hornady Lock-N-Load AP progressive press – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
Fortunately, Hornady supplies an excellent owner’s manual with this rifle bullet feeder which guides you through the fine points of the setup procedure. To summarize, the following steps are involved:
Installing the support tube (brackets) – I have a single bolt which attaches the unit to my custom aluminum baseplate (two bolts are supplied). A positive side-benefit of the single bolt install is that you can “swing” the entire assembly which fine-tunes the drop tube spring “sag” – essential to get proper drop feeding
Installing and configuring the bullet feed die: (pivot block selection, bullet drop, bullet seat and bullet crimp)
Internals of the bullet feed die – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
In the above picture you can see all of the major components of the bullet feed die. There are three primary adjustments for the die:
Bullet seat depth
Crimp level (crimp is optional and does not take place if screw is backed out sufficiently)
Die height: bullet drop
Another key part of the setup procedure will depend on the specific bullets being used (length, profile, etc). This step involves adjustments in the case feed bowl.
Case feed bowl – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
In the above picture you can see the primary adjustments that are made for each bullet type used: the feed wipers (top, springs and wingnuts), and the feed plate height (central knob and nut). It’s worth taking your time to ensure that these adjustments are made properly so that you don’t feed bullets upside-down.
Here’s a video that I put together that illustrates the setup process at a high-level:
Next, we’ll load some 5.56/.223 Remington, so stay tuned!
With this post, I’m excited to kick-off a new blog series covering Hornady’s Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder. With a totally new and unique bullet feed die system and many other innovative features, this bullet feeder provides unique capabilities that I’m looking forward to showing you. We’ll cover an overview of this new system (this post), loading both 22 caliber and 30 caliber rifle ammunition, and setups on multiple progressive reloading presses. It’s going to be a lot of fun!
The new Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder setup with the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5-station progressive reloading press – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
The Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feed system is available in two packages:
22 caliber system (complete)
30 caliber conversion kit
Below you see both the 22 caliber complete kit as well as the 30 caliber conversion kit (30 caliber drop tube and switch assembly not shown):
Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed System with 30 Caliber Conversion Kit – Image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
Included in the 22 caliber complete kit is: (from left in above photo)
Bullet feed die
Drop tube assembly
Feed bowl assembly (top)
Power supply and cord (bottom)
Included in the 30 caliber conversion kit is:
Bullet feeder base plate (metal, with depth adjustment and drop tube adapter)
30 caliber feed plate
30 caliber bullet feed die
30 caliber drop tube assembly with shutoff microswitch (not shown)
At the heart of this new rifle bullet feed system is the all-new case-activated rifle bullet feed die with integrated pivot block shown here:
The feed bowl assembly is very similar to the Hornady pistol bullet feed system (see video here showing that system loading 45 ACP). You can adjust feed wipers and the depth of the metal base plate to ensure optimal collation of bullets into the drop tube.
In the following video, I’ll walk you through the various parts that make up this system:
Now that we’ve covered the high-level overview of this new rifle bullet feed system, we’re ready to get setup for 22 caliber progressive reloading! Stay tuned for the next video and post in this series.
One of the most important aspects of reloading rifle ammunition is correct brass prep. This is especially true when you are reloading military brass like 5.56 NATO (similar to .223 Remington) and 7.62x51mm (similar to .308 Winchester). These military cases are a great deal, and in some cases you can buy once-fired machine gun brass by the pound (read: cheap). But along with the bargain price comes some extra work, like swaging or reaming the primer pockets because military rifle ammunition typically features crimped in primers.
After reaming, a military primer pocket will prime reliably and smoothly – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
In preparation for my upcoming series covering the new Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder, I thought it would be a good idea to prep a bunch of brass. My bulk rifle brass prep procedure has undergone several permutations, but with the equipment I currently have, my preferred method is to use my machine shop equipment.
Here’s an overview of the processes I’ll demonstrate in this article and video:
Dillon DCL spray lube: Lube cases
Progressive press and case feeder: size and de-prime cases
Milling Machine: Trim cases to length (~brass length spec minus 0.020″)
Metal lathe: Ream primer pockets
Metal lathe: inside and outside chamfer
After lubing the cases generously with Dillon DCL (first case through die gets synthetic motor oil to get die primed), the cases are run through the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5 station progressive press using the motorized case feeder and a Redding .308 Winchester sizing/depriming die.
Sizing and de-priming using the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP with case feed system – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
It’s critical to size the cases prior to trimming them because the brass will elongate (lengthen) slightly when it is sized. After performing a quick measurement using a caliper to measure case length you’ll know whether you’ll need to trim the cases or not. When breaking in military cases (prepping previously fired military brass) I like to trim to the case length spec minus 0.020″. For this process, I like to setup my small knee mill with a case trim cutter chucked up in a drill chuck or collet. I then clamp a shell holder in the milling vice and use the X,Y table to center the shell holder under the case trim cutter pilot.
Milling machine used to trim cases – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
The case trimming process is simple: insert a case into the shell holder, hold onto it with one hand while lowering the ram/cutter with your other hand. When the cutter contacts the case mouth, you slow down your downfeed rate and let the cutter do its work. When the cutter bottoms out against the depth stop and stops trimming brass shavings, you raise the ram/cutter and withdraw the case.
The next procedures will be demonstrated on a metal lathe. Any metal lathe will do, but if you are in the market for a lathe I would *strongly* recommend one with a collet setup (mine uses 5C collets).
The 5C collets used for brass prep in this article – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
In the above picture from left to right you’ll see:
The outside chamfer cutter
The inside chamfer cutter
The primer pocket reamer
A 7.62x51mm case for size comparison
After installing the correct collet with the cutter, select a spindle speed that’s in the medium speed range (you’ll have to experiment to find what works best for you). It’s then a simple matter of running each case through the current stage of brass prep, and then cycling through the cutters used for each process. Using this technique, you can process thousands of cases in a reasonable length of time.
Chamfering the outside of the case neck – image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
In the following video I’ll demonstrate the entire brass prep process from start to finish:
Please note that there are many different ways to perform brass prep. You’ll need to experiment to figure out which processes and tools work best for you based on what you have in your shop and what your budget looks like.
Have an “out of the box” method for brass prep that you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!
If you are like me, you’ve been waiting for the highly-anticipated Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed system to arrive on the market. A big fan of the Hornady pistol bullet feed system (especially the all-metal collet die system), I can’t wait to get going with the rifle version of this system. And I won’t have to wait long, because the equipment (setup for .22 cal and 30 cal) has arrived!
Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed Dies in .22 and 30 caliber – click to enlarge – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader
I’m planning to show both .223/556 and .308 Winchester reloading with this system, starting on the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5-station progressive reloading press. If you have other configurations you’d like to see, please leave a comment! Stay tuned for more updates shortly.
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