Posts Tagged ‘5.56 NATO’

Revisiting Case Lube Alternatives

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Over the years, I’ve talked quite a bit about different case lube products and techniques for both rifle and pistol reloading. Depending on your goals, the cartridge being reloaded, and what you have on-hand, your options will typically be honed down to a few “best options”. But the more you talk with seasoned reloaders, the more options you’ll discover.

About 4 years ago, I asked you all what you use for rifle case lube, and here’s the results so far: (you can take the poll HERE)

Rifle Case Lube Poll Snapshot

Rifle Case Lube Poll Snapshot

A couple years ago I blogged about some case lube products that I’ve used. Yes, I’ve sprayed, rolled, and wiped various types of case lube onto cases, and like to mix things up.

Mainstream case lube products I’ve used – Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

These products all work well for very specific reloading cartridges and scenarios, but sometimes you can do just as well with “less popular” or repurposed products, like Lemon Pledge (if you don’t mind a fresh lemon scent while reloading :) ).

Another great way to lube cases for rifle loading is the RCBS Lube Die. This product has the advantage of lubing as a part of the progressive reloading or progressive case prep process.

The RCBS Lube Die lubes while you reload – Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

You can read more about the RCBS lube die HERE.

Since publishing these blog posts and polls, I’ve started using another product for rifle case lube: synthetic motor oil. In particular, I’ve been using this oil to “prime” rifle sizing dies when starting a loading session. This priming combined with fresh spray lube (Dillon DCL recently) has been a good combination for .223/5.56 and .308/7.62x51mm loading sessions. I just pour a bit of synthetic motor oil into the quart jug cap, dip my finger into the cap, and apply about one drop to the outside of the case with my fingers. I then dip the end of a Q-Tip into the oil cap (just a drop applied), and roll the end of the Q-Tip between my fingers. The Q-Tip is then “rolled” inside the case mouth to provide lube for the expander ball. I’m wondering how many 1000’s of applications I could get out of one quart of motor oil!

Do you have some “creative” products that you’ve used for case lube? Please leave a comment!

Thanks,
Gavin

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder Part 4: Loading 30 Caliber Conversion Kit

Sunday, January 4th, 2015

In this post, I’ll give you an overview of the Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feed 30 caliber conversion kit (Hornady product # 095345). With this kit, you can convert your .22 caliber Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder to load 30 caliber bullets for cartridges like 308 Winchester, 30-06, and many others.

Contents of the 30 Caliber Conversion Kit - Image copyright 2015 Ultimate Reloader

Contents of the 30 Caliber Conversion Kit – Image copyright 2015 Ultimate Reloader

In the above picture you can see the contents of this 30 caliber conversion kit, clockwise from top left:

  1. 30 caliber bullet feed die assembly
  2. Tall pivot block
  3. Bullet guide plate (silver – top) and bullet feed wheel (black, underneath)
  4. Bullet drop tube assembly

Check out this video showing how these components are installed:

It’s quite easy to install the 30 caliber converstion kit, and in my next post in this series, I’ll show you how to fine tune this setup, and later we’ll load 308 Winchester in full progressive mode. Stay tuned because it’s going to be fun!

Thanks,
Gavin

Video: Rifle Brass Prep Made Easy with the RCBS Trim Pro 3-Way Cutter

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

In a previous post, I demonstrated using machine shop equipment (a metal lathe and milling machine) for rifle brass prep. In this post, I’m following up on a suggestion to show the RCBS Trim Pro 3-Way cutter to collapse thee steps into one.

Here’s the steps that I showed in the original post:

  1. Lube, size, de-prime
  2. Trim to length
  3. Chamfer inside of case mouth
  4. Chamfer outside of case mouth
  5. Ream primer pocket

Using the RCBS 3-way cutter this gets shortened to:

  1. Lube, size, de-prime
  2. Trim-to-length, chamfer inside and outside of case mouth
  3. Ream primer pocket

This means you only need to handle the brass 3 times instead of 5. That’s a huge time saver! So what is the RCBS 3-way cutter? Read on…

RCBS 3-way cutter in .22 Caliber (left) and 30 Caliber (right) - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

RCBS 3-way cutter in .22 Caliber (left) and 30 Caliber (right) – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

This cutting tool features a 4-blade trimmer which trims the case to length, a pilot which centers the case mouth and chamfers the inside of the case mouth, and an adjustable outside trimmer to chamfer the outside of the case mouth. With this tool adjusted properly, you will attain a very high quality finish on your case mouth, and loaded cartridges will feed reliably in semi-automatic rifles due to the contour of the outside of the case mouth. In the close-up picture below you can see the parts that make up this tool:

RCBS 3-way cutter closeup - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

RCBS 3-way cutter closeup – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

On the bottom of the side lug you can see an allen screw. This allen screw is used to lock in the outside chamfer adjustment which is fine-tuned using the thumb wheel seen on the outside of the side lug. RCBS sells this 3-way cutter as a drop-in replacement for the cutter used in various RCBS case prep tools, but I checked and it will also work with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Case Prep Center. In my previous post, I was able to use a standard drill chuck in my milling machine to secure the standard 4-blade case trimming cutter. Due to the side lug on the RCBS 3-way cutter, I had to think differently for the setup used in this post. The challenge is securing the tool by its shank without damaging the threads that extend across most of the shank surface. This is where collets come in handy! I used one of my Morse Taper 3 collets (3/8″ ID is called for here) to secure the cutter, and it worked great.

A 3/8" collet was used to hold the collet - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

A 3/8″ collet was used to hold the collet – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

After installing the RCBS 3-way cutter in the milling machine, I dialed it in as follows:

  1. Back out outside chamfer adjustment
  2. Insert previously trimmed case
  3. Lower ram against stop (lowers cutting tool to lower position)
  4. Raise table until case mouth “kisses” cutting tool
  5. Trim case, measure length, adjust table height as necessary
  6. Adjust outside chamfer setting (a good chamfer, but not to the point of “sharpening” the case mouth

Below you can see the setup I used in the video:

RCBS 3-Way cutter installed in milling machine - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

RCBS 3-Way cutter installed in milling machine – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

Sure, reading about this tool is great, but wouldn’t you like to see it in action? Check out the following video:

Now that I have a bunch of prepped 308 brass, I’m going to load a bunch of ammo for my “AR-10″ style DPMS LR-308B. See you all soon!

Thanks,
Gavin

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder Part 3: Loading .223 on the Lock-N-Load AP

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

In recent posts, I’ve given an overview of the new Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder, and shown high-level setup details for this new piece of machinery. In this post we’ll get down-to-business and load some .223/5.56 rounds on the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5-station progressive reloading press. Be sure to check out the video below showing full progressive operation!

The Hornady Lock-N-Load AP setup with the Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feeder - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

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:

  1. Size/de-prime
  2. Powder charge
  3. empty (great place for powder check)
  4. Bullet feed/seat/crimp
  5. Empty

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

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.

Checking bullet concentricity - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

Checking bullet concentricity – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

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!

Thanks,
Gavin

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder Part 2: Setup and Configuration

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

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

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:

  1. Unboxing
  2. 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
  3. Hopper installation (feed bowl)
  4. Hopper adjustment (feed plate height, bullet wipers)
  5. Feed tube and switch connection
  6. 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

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:

  1. Bullet seat depth
  2. Crimp level (crimp is optional and does not take place if screw is backed out sufficiently)
  3. 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

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!

-Gavin