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 »
June 14th, 2019

Reloading at the Range — Smart Option for Load Development

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

Glen Zediker Reloading at RangeThe February 2013 edition of Shooting Sports USA magazine has an interesting feature by Glen Zediker. In this Transporting Success, Part I article, Zediker explains the advantages of loading at the range when your are developing new loads or tuning existing loads. Glen, the author of the popular Handloading for Competition book, discusses the gear you’ll need to bring and he explains his load development procedure. In discussing reloading at the range, Glen focuses on throwing powder and seating bullets, because he normally brings enough sized-and-primed brass to the range with him, so he doesn’t need to de-prime, re-size, and then re-prime his cases.

Zediker writes: “Testing at the range provides the opportunity to be thorough and flexible. You also have the opportunity to do more testing under more similar conditions and, therefore, get results that are more telling. Once you are there, you can stay there until you get the results you want. No more waiting until next time.”

Zediker starts with three-shot groups: “I usually load and fire three samples [with] a new combination. I’ll then increase propellant charge… based on the results of those three rounds, and try three more. I know that three rounds is hardly a test, but if it looks bad on that few, it’s not going to get any better.”

Glen reminds readers to record their data: “Probably the most important piece of equipment is your notebook! No kidding. Write it down. Write it all down.

RCBS Partner PressThere’s More to the Story…

Editor’s Note: In Zediker’s discussion of loading at the range, he only talks about throwing powder and seating bullets. In fact, Glen opines that: “there is little or no need for sizing.” Well, maybe. Presumably, for each subsequent load series, Zediker uses fresh brass that he has previously sized and primed. Thus he doesn’t need to de-prime or resize anything.

That’s one way to develop loads, but it may be more efficient to de-prime, re-size, and load the same cases. That way you don’t need to bring 50, 80, or even 100 primed-and-sized cases to the range. If you plan to reload your fired cases, you’ll need a system for de-priming (and re-priming) the brass, and either neck-sizing or full-length sizing (as you prefer). An arbor press can handle neck-sizing. But if you plan to do full-length sizing, you’ll need to bring a press that can handle case-sizing chores. Such a press need not be large or heavy. Many benchresters use the small but sturdy RCBS Partner Press, on sale now at Amazon for $77.99. You may even get by with the more basic Lee Precision Compact Reloading Press, shown in Zediker’s article. This little Lee press, Lee product #90045, retails for under $35.00.

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 2 Comments »
March 31st, 2019

Pioneers of Precision Shooting — Legendary L.E. “Sam” Wilson

lewilson15001
Sam (L.E.) Wilson actively competed in benchrest matches until he passed. He’s shown here with an Unlimited benchrest rifle of his own design.

If you’ve used hand dies with an arbor press, chances are you’ve seen the L.E. Wilson company name. You may not know that the founder of L.E. Wilson Inc. was an avid benchrest competitor who pioneered many of the precision reloading methods we used today. Known as “Sam” to his friends, L.E. Wilson was one of the great accuracy pioneers who collected many trophies for match victories during his long shooting career.

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The photo above shows Sam (foreground) with all of his children at a shoot. Behind Sam are Jim, Jack and Mary, shooting in the Unlimited Class. What do they say — “the family that plays together stays together”? Note the long, externally-adjusted scopes being used. Learn more about Sam (L.E.) Wilson and his company on the L.E. Wilson Inc. Facebook Page.

lewilson1504

Unlimited Class was Sam’s favorite discipline, because in the “good old days” top competitors normally would craft both the rifle and the front/rear rests. This rewarded Sam’s ingenuity and machining/fabrication skills. In the “build-it-yourself” era, one couldn’t just order up an unlimited rail gun on the internet. How times have changed…

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 3 Comments »
September 18th, 2018

Cool Tools for the Reloading Room — Look What UPS Brought

21st Century Tools Concentricity Checker lathe neck turner turning scale UPS

Posting on Facebook, Michael W. said: “Maybe it’s just me but I LOVE coming home to packages from the UPS driver sitting on my deck! Now I can get serious about creating some Match Grade ammunition!” Michael showed off some very impressive reloading hardware, including a 21st Century Shooting “Mini-Lathe” Neck-Turning system, 21st Century Concentricity Gauge, Shars Tube Micrometer, and the A&D FZ-120i Precision Balance. Cool Tools indeed!

21st Century Neck-Turning Lathe — A Gem
The 21st Century Neck-Turning Lathe works great — this is what we use to turn necks. It floats at both ends, so it runs very smoothly. You can use it manually or with power. It gives you very precise, clean cuts with a minimum of case lube. The cutting tool is hard and sharp so you can do large quantities of brass without having to adjust the cutter position for wear. We’ve used a half-dozen neck turners and this 21st Century Unit is our favorite.

21st Century Tools Concentricity Checker lathe neck turner turning scale UPS

21st Century Concentricity Gauge — Smart, Efficient Design
The beautifully-crafted 21st Century Concentricity Gauge is fast and easy to use yet very precise. The twin, roller-equipped case supports slide back and forth on rails so you can measure any size case, from a 17 Fireball up to a 50 BMG. The horizontal dial indicator also slides on parallel rails so you can easily measure any spot on a case or loaded round — from bullet tip (or case mouth on empty case) down to the mid-body. We like to measure run-out on our sized, empty brass on the necks and then measure again on the bullet ogive with loaded rounds. The large-diameter wheel allows bump-free, “no wobble” case rotation, delivering better results than spinning cases with your fingers.

Concentricity gauge uses stainless turning rollers for less friction and more consistent read-outs.
21st Century Tools Concentricity Checker lathe neck turner turning scale UPS

A&D Precision Balance — Ultra-Precise with No Drift
The A&D FX and FZ-series scales are magnetic force restoration balances with 0.001 gram sensitivity so they are accurate to the kernel. This balance will not drift like less advanced, load cell-based digital scales. The scale’s high sensitivity and extreme stability allow you to weigh charges and sort brass, primers, and bullets with much higher precision.

What Gadget Would YOU Like To Have Delivered?
Here’s a question for our readers… What are YOUR favorite reloading tools on currently on your bench? And if you could have the UPS driver deliver a new tool tomorrow, what would you like him to bring? A 21st Century Hydro Bullet Seater (awesome Arbor Press)? Maybe a Whidden Micro-Adjustable Sizing Die? How about the amazing Auto Trickler and Auto-Throw system from Canada? That combines a A&D FX/FZ scale with a powder thrower and microprocessor-controlled trickler. With the push of a button you get a charge dispensed and weighed to single-kernel accuracy.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Gear Review, Reloading 2 Comments »
April 11th, 2015

21st Century Shooting’s Arbor Press

Gear Review by Germán A. Salazar, Contributing Editor
Reloading at the range with an arbor press and Wilson dies is my preferred method of load development. I’ve had a chance to test and evaluate the Arbor Press from 21st Century Shooting. I have to say I’m very favorably impressed by it.

21st century arbor pressAn arbor press’ basic function is simple enough: exert sufficient downward pressure on the die to either size the case neck or seat the bullet depending on which die is in use. It isn’t a mechanically challenging function. So why do we use an arbor press and what should be look for in one? Consistent operation, sensitive feel, quality of design and machining are the hallmarks of a good arbor press and this one from 21st Century comes away with good marks in all areas.

For my initial session with the press, I seated 72 bullets in .30-06 cases, another 70 in .308 cases and neck sized a handful of cases (just for evaluation since I prefer to full-length size). The design of the actuating arm, which angles slightly away from the press was very convenient, allowing me to operate it with less jostling of the press because my fingers weren’t bumping into the press head as they sometimes do with my previous press that has the handle parallel to the press head. That’s a nice touch and shows the press was designed by someone who has used these things.

21st century arbor press 21st century arbor press

The press uses a relatively light return spring which materially aids the feel of seating pressure. I prefer this to a heavier return spring which would reduce the feel that I really look for in an arbor press. For someone who uses very heavy neck tension this might not be a big concern, but because I usually use 0.001″ to 0.002″ neck tension, the ability to detect small levels of variance in seating pressure is important to me.

High Quality Machining and Parts Finishing
Every part of the 21st Century press reflects careful thought and skilled machining. The knurled wheel for adjusting the height of the press head is a distinct improvement over the plastic hardware store knobs seen on many presses.

The aluminum press head itself is nicely anodized, the steel base well blued and the shaft nicely polished. Even the decapping base (photo at left) reflects careful design as well as precise machining. Overall, the press gives a look and feel of quality and is a welcome addition to my range reloading setup.

AccurateShooter Field TestedEditors’ Note: The designer of the 21st Century Arbor Press has decades of tool-making experience, and he has designed tools for many “big-name” companies. 21st Century stands behind the product with a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser. The Arbor Press is currently offered in four different versions, with two post heights (8.5″ or 10.5″), and two baseplate sizes (small 3″ x 4″ or large 4″ x 5″). Prices start at $94.99 for the 8.5″ post and small baseplate. CLICK HERE for more info.

21st Century Shooting
www.21stCenturyShooting.com
(260) 273-9909

This review originally appeared in RiflemansJournal.com in 2010. 21st Century Shooting Inc., a site advertiser, supplied an Arbor Press for testing and evaluation.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
August 30th, 2014

Zediker Article Discusses Merits of Reloading at the Range

Glen Zediker Reloading at RangeThe February 2013 edition of Shooting Sports USA magazine has an interesting feature by Glen Zediker. In this Transporting Success, Part I article, Zediker explains the advantages of loading at the range when your are developing new loads or tuning existing loads. Glen, the author of the popular Handloading for Competition book, discusses the gear you’ll need to bring and he explains his load development procedure. In discussing reloading at the range, Glen focuses on throwing powder and seating bullets, because he normally brings enough sized-and-primed brass to the range with him, so he doesn’t need to de-prime, re-size, and then re-prime his cases.

Zediker writes: “Testing at the range provides the opportunity to be thorough and flexible. You also have the opportunity to do more testing under more similar conditions and, therefore, get results that are more telling. Once you are there, you can stay there until you get the results you want. No more waiting until next time.”

Zediker starts with three-shot groups: “I usually load and fire three samples [with] a new combination. I’ll then increase propellant charge… based on the results of those three rounds, and try three more. I know that three rounds is hardly a test, but if it looks bad on that few, it’s not going to get any better.”

Glen reminds readers to record their data: “Probably the most important piece of equipment is your notebook! No kidding. Write it down. Write it all down.

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

RCBS Partner PressThere’s More to the Story…

Editor’s Note: In Zediker’s discussion of loading at the range, he only talks about throwing powder and seating bullets. In fact, Glen opines that: “there is little or no need for sizing.” Well, maybe. Presumably, for each subsequent load series, Zediker uses fresh brass that he has previously sized and primed. Thus he doesn’t need to de-prime or resize anything.

That’s one way to develop loads, but it may be more efficient to de-prime, re-size, and load the same cases. That way you don’t need to bring 50, 80, or even 100 primed-and-sized cases to the range. If you plan to reload your fired cases, you’ll need a system for de-priming (and re-priming) the brass, and either neck-sizing or full-length sizing (as you prefer). An arbor press can handle neck-sizing. But if you plan to do full-length sizing, you’ll need to bring a press that can handle case-sizing chores. Such a press need not be large or heavy. Many benchresters use the small but sturdy RCBS Partner Press, an “O-Design” that costs about $79.00. You may even get by with the more basic Lee Precision Compact Reloading Press, shown in Zediker’s article. This little Lee press, Lee product #90045, retails for under $30.00.

Glen Zediker Reloading at Range

Permalink - Articles, Reloading 5 Comments »
January 17th, 2014

More Snapshots from SHOT Show 2014

Here are some more quick highlights from SHOT Show in Las Vegas. There are some brilliantly designed new products, as well as some items that are interesting simply because they depart from the norm. Enjoy these images of interesting products (and people) we saw this week in Vegas.

Era-Tac Adjustable-Angle Scope Mount (0 to +70 MOA)
This is a unique, variable-angle scope mount (with integral rings) that adjusts from 0 MOA to +70 MOA pre-load, in precise, ten-MOA increments. Once adjusted and tensioned, there is no play in the system so your elevation is repeatable. This Era-Tac Mount, made by Recknagel (Germany) is a very advanced design that really works. CLICK HERE for details.

SHOT Show 2014 Hardware

Mossberg Gets Patriotic
Mossberg was “showing the flag” (literally) at its SHOT Show booth. Here a row of camo-dipped Mossberg shotguns and rifles are decorated with Old Glory.

shotfriday10

New Precise Micrometer-Top Bullet Seaters from Sinclair Int’l
Sinclair showed off its new dial-adjustable seating dies for use with arbor presses. Though produced by L.E. Wilson, these are a step up from the regular Wilson micro-adjusting hand dies. These new Sinclair dies eliminate the guesswork. Each hashmark actually gives you a .001″ (one-thousandth) change in bullet seating depth. There’s a tactile click as you rotate the micrometer top past each hash mark.

shotfriday07

World Champions Gather At Sands Expo
Four members of the World Championship-winning USA F-TR Team were on hand when we paid a visit to the Nightforce booth at SHOT Show. Left to right, here are four of the team that triumphed at Raton: Ray Gross, Dan Pohlabel (with rifle), Phillip Kelley, and Brad Sauve.

shotfriday03

Wow, Is There Anything PT&G Isn’t Making These Days?
Pacific Tool & Gauge had dozens of new products on hand. There were gunsmithing tools, replacement bolts (for many different action types), barrel vises, action truing tools, you name it. Heck, Dave Kiff even showed us a new aluminum rifle chassis PT&G will be manufacturing. This company is now producing a vast selection of precision metal parts and tools.

shotfriday04

300 AAC Blackout, Actually Blacked-Out
Australian Outback, backed by the folks who acquired ADI, is making a big push to sell loaded ammunition in the USA. To jazz up their new 300 Blackout ammo, the bodies of the brass cases have a distinctive black finish. So the Blackout Ammo is black… get it?

shotfriday05

Kimber SOC (Not Your Ordinary Kimber Bolt-Gun)
No, this is not an Accuracy International, or a Surgeon, or even a Colt tactical rifle. Believe it or not, this is the new Kimber “Advanced Tactical” metal-chassis rifle, dubbed the “SOC” for “Special Operations Capable”. The chassis felt stiff and strong. The bolt cycled smoothly, but the trigger pull was pretty heavy (we’re told it can be adjusted.)

shotfriday08

shotfriday09

Permalink New Product, News 1 Comment »
January 22nd, 2013

SHOT Show Report: New RCBS Summit Single-Stage Press

The new RCBS Summit Press attracted a lot of attention when we first revealed it in the Daily Bulletin earlier this month. Readers wanted to know how well this radical new design really worked. To answer that question, we headed to the RCBS booth at SHOT Show 2013. There our buddy Kent Sakamoto gave us complete run-down on the new Summit. With the Summit, unlike other presses, the case does not move. As you can see in the video, the reloading die comes DOWN to the case.

The Summit’s open-front design is definitely a plus, and we really like the fact that all press operations take place ABOVE the benchtop. There are no linkages running below the bench, which lets you use the Summit on a bench with cabinet-style drawers. The Summit press is definitely beefy. With its massive center column, the design operates smoothly with no flexing issues. RCBS says the Summit has no more head flex than the classic “O”-design RockChucker.

The new Summit Press features a rugged cast-iron frame with all-steel linkages. The handle can be switched from right to left side (good for southpaws), and the open-front design provides good access, facilitating quick die changes. The 4.5-inch opening allows you to work with tall cases. Beneath the shell-holder is a spent primer catcher. The press will accept larger bushings for oversize 1-inch dies. Street Price in the new Summit Press is about $220.00 (optional Short Handle is another $19.95).


RCBS Summit Reloading PressRCBS Summit Press Features:

• Bench-top operation
• Massive 2-inch diameter ram
• Ambidextrous handle
• Compound leverage
• 4.50-inch operating window
• Spent primer catcher
• Full frontal access
• Accepts bushings for 1″ die bodies
• Press adapter bushing
• Zerk lubrication fitting
• Made in USA


RCBS Summit Press

Permalink - Videos, Gear Review, New Product 1 Comment »
February 26th, 2012

Gear Review: Compact Combo Press from the Harrell Brothers

If you’re looking for a solid, beautifully fabricated loading press that can do double-duty at home AND at the range, consider the Combo Press from Harrell’s Precision, run by brothers Lynwood and Walter Harrell. Though it is very compact, it has plenty of leverage to full-length-size cases. The Harrell’s Combo Press works BOTH as an arbor press and as a standard press that functions with shell-holder and conventional screw-in dies. The arbor section on the left is tall enough to hold a Wilson micrometer-top seater. The threaded die section on the right has enough clearance for .308-sized cases.

One of the best features of the Combo Press from Harrell’s Precision is its sturdy clamp. This mounts solidly to a wood loading bench or table top. It also has enough vertical clearance between the jaws to work with most range benches. Forum member Boyd Allen has written a detailed review of the Harrell’s press, with additional photos by Paal Erik Jensen of Norway. The Harrell’s Precision Combo press retails for $295.00. That’s pretty pricey, but consider that it can replace BOTH an arbor press and a standard press. CLICK HERE to read full COMBO PRESS REVIEW

Combo Press Has Plenty of Power to Bump Shoulders
This Editor has loaded ammo with this press and I can say it performed well. It actually bumped shoulders on fired 6BR brass more easily than a larger cast-iron press we have in our loading area. I attribute that to the fact that the threads for the die are very precise and the shell-holder seats firmly on the ram, with no slip. Seating with a hand die (on the left side of the press) yields repeatable results, although I have to say I get better “feel” with a good Arbor press, such as those made by 21st Century, K&M, or Sinclair Int’l. I also like the availability of the seating Force Gauge on the K&M Arbor.

Permalink Gear Review No Comments »
January 27th, 2009

K&M Tools Moves to Michigan — Ken Markle Retires

K&M Services, maker of such popular products as the K&M Neck Turner, Arbor Press, case mouth reamers, flash hole uniformers, and primer tools, has been sold. Ken Markle, at the age of 71, has decided to retire. The new owner is Roger Miller Jr. of Michigan. Roger is in the process of launching a New K&M website. Hopefully, that will be up and running soon. As far as we know, Roger Miller will continue to offer all the products Ken Markle was producing prior to his retirement. For more information, contact:

K&M Precision Shooting Products
Roger Miller Jr.
6852 Lakeshore Road
West Olive, MI 49460
Telephone: 616-399-7894
E-Mail: info@KMShooting.com | sales@KMShooting.com

Most K&M products can still be purchased through Precision Reloading, a full-service vendor with print catalog and online store.

K&M Precision Products Tools

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