Many people in the shooting sports community view reloading presses as a “mature technology”. For the most part this is true: things haven’t changed a whole lot in the last 50 years. But recently, there have been some innovations in reloading press technology that have proven “there is room for innovation”, even in 2020! Mark 7 Reloading for instance has disrupted the high-volume prosumer reloading market segment with their progressive presses, autodrives, sensors, and related technology. And now we have a new precision turret press from Area 419 called the “ZERO”. Will this new press bring meaningful innovations to the reloading community? Read on [and watch] to find out!
*Notes/updates for the video:
- The Turret is made from steel and 7075 aluminum (not 6061 aluminum as described in video)
- Don’t disassemble your bearing packs! They are lubricated for life, and need no servicing!
From the Area 419 Product Page
Above: Pre-Production Rendering of Area 419 Zero Press
Milled from all-American billet aluminum and stainless steel, this press moves with the help of 14 bearings, including a self-lubricating linear sleeve bearing, guiding the precision-ground 1.25″ ram with less than .0006″ of diametric clearance. Each press is hand measured and fitted, mating the ram and the bearing, ensuring the most precise ram stroke on the market – ZERO doubt about that. The linkage system will also glide on bearings and custom hardware which will allow us to assemble the system with near-ZERO slop. The operation of the oversized ram, with the .75″ steel arm and ZERO-friction knob will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.
The turret system will be secured using a, over-sized, custom-made ZERO-point pull-stud, and the turret will be located using an oversized ball-detent system. Changing the position of the turret from one die to another will require only a turn of a (supplied) t-handle. When indexing the turret, repeatability variance of the system will be less than .0005″.
The opening in the press will allow for sizing and seating of cases up to 338LM, and will accept standard 7/8″ dies and standard shellholders (we prefer the Redding). Using factory shellholders there will be a small amount of float available to account for uncontrollable 3rd party tolerances. We will also be making and selling shellholders specifically fit to the system later in 2020.
We have designed a decapping/primer-catch system into the body of the press, eliminating goofy surgical hoses and baby food-like jars. A simple slide-out tray (with detent) will make this mundane process smooth, simple, and unobtrusive.
View all of the product information at the Area 419 Zero Product Page.
What’s In the Box
The Area 419 ZERO press comes with the following:
- Press assembly
- Handle with roller knob
- Mounting plate and hardware (for direct bench mount)
- Torque key , 10 N-M (88.5 in-lb)
- Spent primer catcher
Area 419 offers a dust cover for the ZERO press which is available separately.
You’ll need to add standard shellholders and dies for the calibers you’ll be loading.
What’s worth noting here is the packaging. I haven’t seen a reloading press shipped in such an elegant box, including a cut foam interior as seen here:
What’s great about this: you are VERY unlikely to have shipping damage!
Inline Fabrication Ultramount for Zero
Inline fabrication has worked directly with Area 419 to offer Ultramounts for the ZERO press- and I opted for the tall one. I typically use the quick change Ultramount system, but this time wanted to go with the fixed Ultramount for maximum rigidity. This mount in combination with the Ultimate Reloader Bench System has worked very well. When using any Inline Fabrication Ultramount for the ZERO press, you won’t need the bench mounting plate from Area 419 (comes with the press).
Features and Details
In the image above, you can see some of the exterior features for the ZERO press:
- Press frame: 6061 Aluminum, clear anodized
- Wedge clamp (locks turret into indexed position)
- Turret (7075 aluminum and steel construction)
- Adjustable handle with roller knob (can be setup for left or right handed operation)
- Bearings: ball bearing (with roller thrust bearings for side plates)
- Ram: nitrided riding in self-lubricated linear bearing
- Spent primer catcher “drawer”
When you remove the turret, you can see some of the internals:
The ball bearing shown indexes the turret into each die position, and in the center of the turret you can see the pull stud which the wedge clamp pulls down on.
Here’s a closeup of the underside of the wedge clamp:
As the wedge is pulled in, the pull stud (and turret) are pulled down. It only takes about 1/2 turn to free and lock the turret for indexing.
And here you can see the spent primer drawer: It will take a LOT of spent primers to fill this drawer up!
Loading 6 Dasher with the Zero Press
To put the ZERO press through its “initial paces” I decided to load some precision 6 Dasher ammunition. I’ll walk through this process at a high level here!
After cleaning, I used the Annealing Made Perfect AMP Mark II induction annealer to condition the brass:
This is important when you’re evaluating things like shoulder bump consistency: the AMP Annealer helps minimize “spring-back” which can degrade the precision for measurements like shoulder bump consistency.
Next, I sized the Alpha Munitions 6 Dasher Brass on the ZERO press using a custom-honed Forster Full-Length Sizer die:
I adjusted the sizing die to push the shoulder back 0.001″. That’s a good number when you’re sizing brass for a specific rifle that was fired in that same rifle.
Next, I used the Primal Rights Competition Primer Seater to seat primers into the freshly-sized cases:
With this system, I can quickly attain 0.02 grain accuracy for my powder charges. That leaves nothing on the table for velocity variation!
Note: Area 419 offers enhancements and accessories for the Autotrickler system that you can find HERE.
Next came seating on the ZERO press using a Forster Ultra-Micrometer Seater die:
For seating, the ZERO press really shines. You can really feel the seating process, and there’s a very pronounced stop when the ram hits the bump stop (The Zero is hard-stop, as opposed to some presses which use a cam-over design).
Ammunition Precision Tests
My first test for the completed cartridges was for bullet runout using the Sinclair Concentricity Gauge:
For these tests, bullet runout averaged +/- 0.0005″ which is VERY GOOD, especially for a traditional 7/8×14 bullet seating die.
Next I checked shoulder bump consistency using the Hornady Headspace Comparator tool, and some digital calipers:
Here, the average variation was about 0.00025″ which is very good as well. Clearly the ZERO press is in the upper echelon of precision reloading presses.
One thing you’ll quickly learn about the most demanding precision shooters (Ex: benchrest competitors) is that they are very picky, and hold the highest standards. These people will stop at nothing in their quest for the utmost in precision. This press is for those people. Sure, there will always be people that prefer a traditional single-stage. Where the ZERO will be compelling is to those who want the precision of a single stage without the need to screw dies in and out. Leaving your dies set can have benefits for precision as well- everything comes back to the “same place” when dies are indexed into position. Screwing dies in and out can impose variation, and variation is the enemy of the “white lab coat shooter”.
I plan on testing the ZERO press with ultra-high-end dies, and custom dies that I ream to my own specifications. I’m thinking that will show the true potential of this press!
The Area 419 ZERO Press is available directly from Area 419 HERE (check page for current pricing!)
If you are looking for Inline Fabrication Ultramounts, there are a few options:
- Dedicated 4″ micro Ultramount for ZERO
- Dedicated 7.5″ JR Ultramount for ZERO
- Dedicated full height 9 3/4″ Ultramount for ZERO
- Quick change top plate for ZERO
Lots more coming: don’t miss out on Ultimate Reloader updates, make sure you’re subscribed!