October 22nd, 2019

21st Century Hydro Press and Arbor Press Review with Videos

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seating

Hydro Press and Arbor Press from 21st Century Shooting

Gear Review by F-Class John
Inline dies, used with arbor presses, continue to dominate the world of precision reloading. While arbor presses have remained mostly unchanged, 21st Century Shooting offers the Hydro Bullet Seating Press, a radical departure from your average arbor press. If you are looking for improved “feel” and feedback on bullet seating pressure, you should definitely check out the Hydro Press. This design has been around for a while now but has remained unchallenged since its inception. The 21st Century Hydro Press still remains a category leader (and the choice of many top competitors) for good reason.

Arbor presses have traditionally worked by using a gear-driven ram operated with a rotating handle. This allows for a compact design but often lacks the tactile feel and smooth operation that many reloaders want. The 21st Century Hydro Bullet Seater works by using simple mechanical leverage coupled with a hydraulic pressure gauge to seat bullets in a smooth motion all while helping you keep track of seating pressures.

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seating

Editor: Many top shooters believe they can seat bullets with greater precision using the 21st Century Hydro Press. I personally get more consistent seating, which seems to improve accuracy and even help a bit with lowering ES. The Hydro Press gives you excellent feedback when seating bullets. That has helped me detect a case with too much neck tension, or a case that may have doughnut issues. When the gauge does something odd or spikes, you are alerted to a possible issue.

In this video, John Perkins of 21st Century Shooting Shows how the Hydro Seater functions.

You might be asking why or how simple a simple mechanical lever gives you an advantage over gear driven systems and the answer is simple, leverage. The Hydro Seater is equipped with a long arm that comes straight up and out from the front and uses a set of hinges that connect to the ram. This elongated arm provides lots of leverage allowing easy force modulation. This smoothly applies pressure to the seating die in one fluid motion. This transfer of power helps seat bullets smoothly in even the tightest of necks without any jerky or stuttering movements.

Working at the same time is a hydraulic pressure gauge using internal oil. I found this gauge was incredibly sensitive, accurate, and repeatable compared to spring-driven gauges. The Hydro gauge read-out really gives the user the chance to sort ammo by seating pressure should they choose. In my particular case I only use it to cull out noticeably high or low ones as “blow off” rounds and am perfectly happy if the rest fall within a given pressure range. The nice thing is that the press allows you to be as picky as you want.

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seatingCompact 21st Century Standard Arbor Press
Not to be outdone by its big brother, 21st Century offers a Standard Arbor Press as well, in both right-hand and left-hand versions. Affordably priced at $108.99, this small arbor press in made to the same exacting standards as the Hydro Seater and has some nice features of its own compared to other small arbors.

The large, knurled adjustment knob is one of my favorite features. It tightens securely, yet it allows for easy raising or lowering of the head unit without the need for hex wrenches. 21st Century’s basic arbor press also has a slightly canted lever arm which allows the user to apply pressure more easily and consistently compared to some other arbor presses. While this press is small enough to fit many range bags, it can be disassembled quickly with a single Allen wrench.

While I own the 21st Century Hydro Press for use at home, the Standard Arbor Press goes with me to out-of-town events, so I can adjust bullet seating depth at the match. I love using it for this purpose since the little press is so easy to transport, and then set up and use on the road. The seating action is smooth, and there is plenty of leverage.

Seating my bullets long before I travel gives me the ability to set them to adjust for any throat erosion that may occur. This also ensures my bullets are seated correctly, by eliminating any potential bullet weld or problems from the bullets accidentally bouncing in your luggage. I like the confidence of knowing that my bullets are properly seated before a big match, especially when it has been days or weeks since I loaded them.

SUMMARY — 21st Century Makes Great Bullet Seating Presses

Whether you need a premium bullet-seating Press such as the Hydro Bullet Seater or a basic, easy-to-transport Arbor Press, 21st Century Shooting has a excellent option for you. The Hydro Press offers outstanding bullet seating “feel” and consistency, with an ultra-smooth operation. The basic Arbor Press is well-made, compact, and also yields excellent results. Both these presses are built for a lifetime of use, using high-quality materials.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading, Tech Tip No Comments »
October 22nd, 2019

Range Day Checklist — What To Bring, and How to Organize Gear

Springfield Armory Range Day 1911 pistol

Before your head to the range for some late-season practice, run through a checklist so you won’t forget essential items. Springfield Armory, maker of the M1A series of rifles and many popular handguns, has published a thorough Range Day Checklist. While this is oriented more for pistol shooters, many suggestions will help rifle shooters as well.

Packing the essentials, a few extras and having a plan will help you make the most of your day at the range. Here are highlights from Springfield Armory’s Range Day Checklist. Read the full article for more details including a flow-chart showing target options.

READ FULL Article on Springfield Armory BLOG HERE »

Springfield Armory Range Day 1911 pistol

RANGE BAG — What to Pack

You need a range bag that works for you and all of your equipment. We suggest getting one with several compartments to keep your range items organized. Some shooters prefer one large bag, many like the new backpack style, still others want multiple smaller bags – either way, you will need plenty of room.

Before you head to the range, pack your Range Bag(s) with these basic requirements:

Hearing Protection
Make sure you have ear protection. You may want to also throw in a spare set in case you misplace one, or a friend needs to borrow a pair. Basic ear plugs or earmuffs do the job, but high-quality electronic headsets are a worthwhile investment for both safety and convenience. They amplify voices (safe noise levels), compress harmful noise levels – and you don’t have to remove your earmuffs to hear someone speak. Backup batteries are a must with electronic headsets.

Eye Protection (Ballistic Glasses)
Quality eye protection is another must-have, but it doesn’t have to be fancy (or expensive). Your eyewear should however be performance rated by ANSI Z87.1. This standard protects your eyes from high velocity and high mass impact. Grab a pair of safety glasses you’d wear in the shop, or you can opt for something more stylish from Oakley or ESS.

Magazines & Mag Loader
You can’t shoot if you forget your magazines. Many shooting bags have specific compartments that hold mags individually. Also… always number your magazines. This helps to identify and separate any magazines that are not properly functioning or need to be cleaned. It’s also nice to have a magazine loader. They’re inexpensive and easy on the thumbs. Our SME’s favorite manufacturer is MagLULA.

Cleaning & Tool Kit
Toss in a portable cleaning kit designed for your firearm, along with any other maintenance tools you might find handy. You don’t need anything elaborate — just enough to make sure your gun and magazines stays in good working condition.

Cleaning Cloth(s)
Cleaning solution
Screw driver
Bore snake or barrel brush
Gun-specific take down tool
Gun oil

Allen wrenches
Flashlight
Pocket knife
Squib rod
Hand sanitizer or better yet D-Lead wipes
Miscellaneous Items

Springfield Armory Range Day 1911 pistol

AMMO & AMMO CAN
An ammo can is good to have — either the new, polymer-style varieties or military surplus steel cans. You will also need a container for your spent brass. Any sort of receptacle with a lid works, from an empty cardboard box or military steel can, to a 5-gallon bucket. One of my favorites is old freezer storage bags.

BE PREPARED — First Aid Kit
Plan for the best, prepare for the worst. A small first aid and trauma kit should be a part of everyone’s range bag. Hopefully you will never need the plastic gloves and quick clotting agent, but sterile wipes and bandaids are more likely to occasionally come in handy. Also, don’t forget the sun protection: Sunscreen, Hat, lip blam, and of course plenty of water for Hydration.

PRACTICE LOG
Practice makes perfect … so keep a practice log. Keeping a log is beneficial, as you can revisit old drills to continually re-test your skill level and compare results. If you’re old school, a physical paper training book / log works fine. Put it in your range bag. More of a smart phone junkie? Try the RangeLog app.

MAKE YOUR MARK — Put Your Name on Your Gear
It’s also not a bad idea to put your name on your gear. It greatly increases your chance of getting misplaced items back. A lot of equipment looks alike; shooting bags, earmuffs, magazines, etc. I’m betting I’m not the only one who has come home from the range without my earmuffs [more than once].

Springfield Armory Range Day 1911 pistol

» READ Rob Leatham 1911 Pistol Tips (Great Article!)

Here are some tips on shooting a 1911 pistol from handgun ace Rob Leatham: Not sure how best to zero your new 1911? Who better to learn from than Team Springfield’s championship shooter Rob Leatham.

Springfield Armory shooting tips

Permalink - Articles, Competition, Gear Review, Handguns 3 Comments »
October 22nd, 2019

Hot Ticket for NRL22 — CZ 457 or CZ 455 in MDT ACC Chassis

NRL22 MDT chassis CZ 527

We love the NRL22 rimfire tactical series. When you consider the amount of fun you experience per dollar expended, NRL22 .22LR rimfire competition is hard to beat. You enjoy the challenge of PRS-type shooting at reduced distances, and much reduced cost. In the NRL22 series you can be completely competitive with .22 LR ammo costing 15 cents a round. That’s a fraction of what you’d spend making your own centerfire handloads, or buying match-grade, factory-loaded centerfire ammo.

NRL22 MDT chassis CZ 527

There’s a new option for NRL22 competitors competing in the Open Class. Modular Driven Technologies (MDT) now offers its ACC Chassis for the popular CZ 457 series of rimfire rifles. There are nine different CZ 457 variants currently offered. You can get the CZ 457 Training Rifle for around $400 (MSRP is $449.00). Simply install your CZ 457 barreled action in the MDT ACC chassis and you’re got a high-quality rimfire system with ergonomics that duplicate a full-size centerfire ring. NOTE: MDT also offers an ACC chassis that fits the CZ 455 series, predecessor to the CZ 457. The ACC CZ 457/455 chassis systems cost $999.00 — too expensive we think, but then quality ain’t cheap. Purchase from MDTTAC.com.

NRL22 MDT chassis CZ 527

MDT ACC Chassis System (Shown with Centerfire Actions)

MDT Tactical ACC adjustable core chassis PRS rifle system

The MDT ACC (Adjustable Core Competition) Chassis was designed around an integrated, modular weight system that allows shooters to fine tune chassis weight and balance point. A series of weights (up to 9 lbs. of steel) can be added to either the buttstock, interior fore-end or exterior fore-end. With action, barrel, scope and accessories, shooters can configure their rifles upwards of 25-30 lbs. in the ACC. Other features include: full 17” ARCA/RRS fore-end, flared mag well, extended barricade stop, widened thumb shelf, and adjustable cheek riser/length of pull.

Permalink Competition, Gear Review, Tactical No Comments »