Posts Tagged ‘5.56 NATO’

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder Part I: Overview

Friday, September 12th, 2014

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!

Hornady-RBF-with-press-1200

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:

  1. 22 caliber system (complete)
  2. 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

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)

  1. Instruction manual
  2. Support brackets
  3. Parts bags
  4. Bullet feed die
  5. Drop tube assembly
  6. Feed bowl assembly (top)
  7. Power supply and cord (bottom)

Included in the 30 caliber conversion kit is:

  1. Bullet feeder base plate (metal, with depth adjustment and drop tube adapter)
  2. 30 caliber feed plate
  3. 30 caliber bullet feed die
  4. 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:

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed Dies - image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feed Dies, 22 caliber (left), and 30 caliber (right) – image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

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.

Hornady-RBF-case-feed-bowl-1200

Hornady Lock-N-Load Rifle Bullet Feed case feed bowl – Image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

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.

Thanks,
Gavin

 

Video: Use Your Machine Shop Equipment for Brass Prep

Monday, September 1st, 2014

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

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:

  1. Dillon DCL spray lube: Lube cases
  2. Progressive press and case feeder: size and de-prime cases
  3. Milling Machine: Trim cases to length (~brass length spec minus 0.020″)
  4. Metal lathe: Ream primer pockets
  5. 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

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

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

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:

  1. The outside chamfer cutter
  2. The inside chamfer cutter
  3. The primer pocket reamer
  4. 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

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!

Thanks,
Gavin

 

Hornady Rifle Bullet Feeder: In the Shop!

Friday, July 18th, 2014

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

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.

Thanks,
Gavin

 

CED M2 Chronograph: Overview, Setup, Rifle/Pistol Shooting

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

If you are serious about reloading ammunition, you need a good chronograph. Without one, you won’t be able to measure the consistency and performance of your loads. Furthermore, with a chronograph you can evaluate loads and load data for each particular firearm in your collection. Want to know if you’ve achieved 4000+ fps with that 22-250 rifle? No problem! Want to keep your loads in the high-but-subsonic range for that suppressed rifle? No problem!

I recently got a CED M2 Chronograph from Competitive Edge Dynamics, and will be using it for a variety of articles here on Ultimate Reloader. We’ll start in this article with an overview of the features of the system, talk through setup, and demonstrate shooting with rifle and pistol. In future articles, we’ll dig into cartridge-specifics, check out accessories for the CED M2, and link the CED M2 to a PC in order to transfer data. It’s going to be fun!

Overview of the CED M2 Kit

For about $200. you can get a complete CED M2 chronograph kit. This kit comes with everything you need to get started chrono’ing your loads *and* to connect the CED M2 to your PC (including the USB cable!). Let’s take a look at box contents:

CED M2 Chronograph: What's in the box - Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

CED M2 Chronograph: What’s in the box – Image copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

In the box you’ll find, starting with the back row in the above picture, left to right:

  1. Sensors
  2. Main unit (brain with display and keypad)
  3. Mounting bar/base
  4. Sun screen support arms (4)

And in the foreground, left to right:

  1. Owner’s manual
  2. Cord retainers
  3. Software CD
  4. USB cable
  5. User’s guide DVD
  6. Sun screens (2)

After unpacking the unit, I watched the entire DVD to get acquainted with the CED M2 chronograph system. This is definitely a good place to start as you’ll learn how to setup the unit, how the unit works, how to attain optimal results, and see the unit in action. This unit is a *BIG STEP UP* from the chronograph that I had previously purchased. The display is massive, and gives you a lot of information while shooting at the range.

CED M2 Main Unit - Image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

CED M2 Main Unit – Image Copyright 2014 Ultimate Reloader

The large keypad supports many functions (many of the keys have two functions based on “shifted state”). You can easily store and delete/edit strings, calculate power factor, view average string velocity, and use the unit as a calculator to name a few functions. The unit is powered by a single 9V battery which is simple to install.

When I first setup the chronograph, I was surprised at how simple and quick the process was. There are no rods to deal wtih (bonus!), and the entire setup was designed with simplicity and portability in mind. It’s no wonder that this is the chronograph of choice for many competitive shooting organizations.

Here’s the steps required to setup the unit:

  1. Unfold the bar/base and attach to tripod or other mount (1/4″ x 20 TPI hole in base fits standard camera tripods)
  2. Slide on each sensor and tighten knob to secure onto bar/base
  3. Assemble sun screens and supports, slide into sensor slots
  4. Plug sensor cables (start and stop) into main unit

The entire process takes about 2 minutes at a casual pace. In the video below I’ll show the process, and shoot some 44 special, 44 Magnum, 45 ACP, and 5.56 NATO rounds:

All in all I’m very impressed with the CED M2 so far. Stick around because we’re just getting started with chronograph content!

Have chronograph experiences/thoughts you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!

Thanks,
Gavin

 

 

 

Starting to Loading Rifle, Part II: Video Walkthrough and Resources

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

In this article I’ll build on my last post which listed all of the items that you’ll need to start reloading rifle ammunition.

Here are some additional resources here on Ultimate Reloader that will help you get off the ground reloading:

Hornady Case Prep Center

AR-MPR Phase II: Precision Loading and Accurizing

AR-308 Precision Loading

Happy shopping and loading!

-Gavin