In my last post, I covered the first half of the precision reloading process using the LEE Deluxe Challenger Kit. In this post, we’ll finish off the process by covering priming, charging, and bullet seating. When these steps are complete, we’ll have ammunition we can take to the range and shoot in the .223 TC Compass!
For these final steps in the reloading process, the following tools are used. These tools are all included in the LEE Deluxe Challenger Kit with the exception of the seating die:
Here we have: (not in order of use)
- LEE dead-length seater die in .223 (Part of the LEE Ultimate Rifle Die Set in .223)
- LEE Auto-Prime shellholder set (works with LEE Auto Bench Prime)
- LEE Deluxe Perfect Powder Measure
- LEE Safety Powder Scale
- LEE Auto Bench Prime
For components, I’m using once-fired Starline .223 brass, Hornady 52 grain .224 match bullets, Federal Small Rifle Primers, and Hodgdon Varget powder.
As mentioned in the video, there are two ways you can prime cases with the LEE Deluxe Challenger Kit: on-press, or with the Auto Bench Prime. I like to prime with the Auto Bench Prime, because you don’t have to handle primers individually, it’s fast, and the Auto Bench Prime offers great priming “Feel”.
This tool does require special shellholders, but a complete set is included with the Deluxe Challenger Kit, which is a nice touch. If you are curious to know more about this tool, I have a complete blog post covering the LEE Auto Bench Prime in detail.
When charging cases, you need to have the following:
- Load data, including powder type and charge weight
- A scale to weigh charges to set and/or validate your powder measure
- A powder measure to throw charges
- Optional: A powder trickling device
This was my first opportunity to use the LEE Deluxe Perfect Powder Measure.
This powder measure is similar to the LEE Auto Drum powder measure (see my full write-up on the Auto Drum HERE) but with some key differences:
- The universal metering chamber (long tube) is unique to the Deluxe Perfect Powder Measure
- The Deluxe Perfect Powder Measure is hand-actuated, where the Auto Drum is case activated
- Materials and construction: the Deluxe Perfect Powder Measure has a brass drum, but can also use the plastic drums designed for the Auto Drum
Both the Deluxe Perfect Powder Measure and the Auto Drum share the same powder hopper which can be turned on and off (powder flow) by turning the red hopper. This powder measure performed very well metering Varget powder smoothly, and with repeatable charges varying only by about +/- .05 grains.
The LEE Safety powder scale has some truly interesting features- including the coarse/fine weight adjustments, and the calibration screw (watch the video above for more details on how it all works).
Once you get this scale setup, it’s very easy to use, and doesn’t rely on batteries, so it’s great to have on hand even if you have electronic scales. That could save a trip into town!
Seating bullets is the last stage in the precision reloading process (assuming you aren’t crimping bullets). I used the reference cartridge method to setup the seater die, and was seating bullets in no time. If I had to pick, seating bullets would be my favorite part of the precision reloading process. It’s definately satisfying to see completed cartridges take shape.
To review die setup for this type of die, you do the following:
- Raise the ram to the top of the stroke
- Insert a die into the press/bushing, crank it down until it contacts the shellholder
- Back out the seating plug
- Lower the ram
- Insert a reference cartridge
- Raise the ram to the top of the stroke
- Turn in the seating plug until it contacts the bullet, then slightly more
- Measure COL
- Adjust seating plug, re-seat bullet, and check COL until COL is correct
Sounds like a lot of steps, but this process can be performed in about 30 seconds if you have everything ready to go. If you don’t have a reference cartridge, you’ll need to work the bullet down from an “excessively long” starting point.
That’s about it for this “budget precision .223″ reloading process- next up will be testing the loads in the TC Compass. That will be fun! I’m planning to work on the loads until I get down into the 3/8” 5-shot group at 100 yards. That would be a great accomplishment for this “budget” shooting and reloading setup. Make sure you’re subscribed!