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April 15th, 2021

10 Budget Items That Will Make Reloading and Shooting Better

Budget reloading items

Useful reloading gear does not have to be costly. Here are ten handy (and very inexpensive) items that belong on your loading bench or in your range kit.

magnifying glassMagnifying Glass – We use a flat, 2″x2″ pocket 4x-8x magnifier. This folds up on itself. Very handy, we use it to inspect bullets and brass. Use this to check your flash holes for burrs, and check the meplats of your bullets before loading.

Clear 35mm Film Cannister – Use this to transfer the thrown powder charge to the little measuring cup that sits on your scale. That way you don’t get any kernel splash. Also if the charge weight is obviously off, it’s easy to dump back in the measure. A film canister works pretty well as a trickler too.

Compressed Air in a Can -- Get these at office supply stores. Use the can (with tube attached) to blow crud out of cases after cleaning the neck with a brush, and blast loose debris out of primer pockets.

Pin Vise – A simple pin vise with a #53 bit is perfect for deburring Lapua PPC and BR flash holes without reaming the flash-holes any larger. The Lapua PPC/BR flash-hole diameter is 1.5 mm, or 0.059″. Amazon.com sells a handy $8.99 pin vise kit with 10 bits, including the ideal 1.5mm bit. Other vendors offer a #53 pin vise bit that measures .0595″ or .060″ (depending or source). You can find pin vises and bits at hobby stores — here’s an example below with ten bits including 1.5mm. Pin vise sets can be found from $7 to $15.

pin vise 1.5mm Lapua Flash hole

Bounce Dryer Sheets – The common dryer sheets eliminate “static cling” on your plastic reloading parts such as powder measure cylinders, powder funnels, and reloading press plastic bins. Thanks to Doc76251 for this tip.

BallistolBallistol Aerosol – Try using this versatile lubricant/solvent for full-length sizing. Spray some on a patch and you can wipe the carbon off your case necks. Then, continue to apply a very small amount of Ballistol on the case bodies — just thin sheen is all you need. Ballistol is super slippery, and easy to remove. For general full-length sizing (on small cases) it works great and doesn’t leave a gooey, waxy, or chalky residue. For heavier case-forming jobs, we recommend Imperial Die Wax.

Shotgun Mop – Stick this in the chamber when using Wipe-Out foaming bore cleaner. This will seal off the chamber so the foam doesn’t flow into your action. For long chambers screw on one section of cleaning rod to aid extraction.

Colored Sharpie Marking Pens – Mark your bullets ahead of the bearing surface, and the color transfers to the target. This way you can shoot multiple loads at the same point of aim and discern which load shoots the tightest. (Recommended for 300 yards and beyond). With colored bullet tips you can test multiple loads “round robin” to equalize wind effects. When testing seating depths for example, you can mark the longer-seated set of bullets red and the shorter-seated set green and shoot them during the same sequence. Just look at the colored marks on the target to see which grouped better.

Sharpies Pens

Thin Latex Gloves – You should keep a box of inexpensive, disposable latex gloves (the kind doctors use) in your loading room. These will prevent contamination of primers or powder kernels that you handle directly. Also, use the gloves when handling fine blued tools or firearms to prevent transfering body oils and salts that promote rust.

Plastic Washers for Neck Mic – If you use a Sinclair Neck-wall Micrometer Gauge with integral stand, you can use thin plastic washers to adjust the height of the case on the mandrel. This makes it much easier to measure the same point on the case neck every time. Thanks to MikeCR for this tip (and photo).

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading No Comments »
March 7th, 2018

Try Ballistol Lube for Case Sizing, STP for Neck Turning

If you’re using a body die or a full-length sizing die, try using Ballistol (in the aerosol can) as a lube. It works GREAT without the tacky or gooey residue left by most case lubes. It will also clean off carbon residues on the neck as you lube the case. Just spray a little on a cotton patch (or your fingertips) and wipe each case before you run it up into the die. If you are using a steel neck bushing, be sure to wipe the neck as well. You can usually do a half-dozen BR-sized cases before you need to re-apply Ballistol on the patch. Ballistol is non-toxic, bio-degradeable, and will not harm your skin. It is very slippery, but can easily be removed with a rag or paper towel. Try it–you may retire your One-Shot. Ballistol can also be used to protect wood stocks.

Note, for heavy case-forming or necking up case necks, we still recommend a thicker lubricant, such as Imperial Die Wax. But for normal case sizing, after your neck has been expanded, Ballistol will do the job, and you won’t need to tumble the brass afterwards. All you need is a very thin layer of Ballistol, and this easily wipes off with a paper towel.

For Neck-Turning, Try STP Blend or Assembly Lube
For lubing the neck-turning tool mandrel while turning case necks, many folks use a blend of STP® Oil Treatment and Mobil 1 lube. Chuckw2 reports: “Try STP and Mobile 1 Synthetic oil in a 50/50 mixture. Very slick, you will need to tumble your cases after turning.” STP is a very thick lubricant, that flows and clings almost like honey. Jason reports the STP blend comes off easily in an ultra-sound bath, using a bit of detergent. STP is also now available in a convenient 7-ounce tube, so you don’t have to buy a large bottle.

Assembly LubeAnother even cheaper option is assembly lubricant. For turning his case necks, RStreich uses assembly lube from an auto parts store. He notes: “The brand I have is reddish in color and kind of sticky like honey. It’s far better than the Imperial die wax I was using before.” There are a variety of types, both with and without moly additive, and you can select the viscosity you prefer if you sample a few brands. Be sure to clean out any lube residue from the inside of your necks when you have completed your neck-turning.

Permalink Reloading, Tech Tip 6 Comments »
December 21st, 2016

Stocking Stuffers — Budget Gift Items for Gun Guys

stocking stuffers christmas gift guide

Christmas is just four days away, so today we’re featuring a hand-picked collection of “stocking stuffers” for precision shooters. So as not to bust your holiday budget, all of our selections are priced under $10.00. These items are handy tools that you’ll use over and over again at the range and/or at your loading bench (so you’re allowed to buy them for yourself, even after Christmas). Our AccurateShooter staffers use most of these items, including the Surveyors Tape, 10X Loupe, Ballistol, Mirage Shades, Crocogators, and Barrel Bags.

Gifts $1 to $5 

Shooting Glasses S&W Safety
Safety Eyewear
$1.50

Surveyors Tape
$1.99
Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade
Barrel Mirage Shade
$4.95
Carson 10X Magnifier Loupe Loup
Carson 10X Loupe
$4.99

Safety Eyewear ANSI Z87.1. Yes you can get ANSI-approved Safety Eyewear for under two bucks. At that price you should pick up a half-dozen sets, just so you have extras. We recommend that shooters wear eye protection at all times when handling firearms. This eyewear special is offered by CDNN Sports. Call 800-588-9500 to order.

Surveyors’ Tape. Always watch the wind when you shoot. Inexpensive, Day-Glo Surveyors’ Tape (aka “Flagging Tape”), attached to a stake or target frame, makes a good wind indicator. It will flutter even in mild breezes, alerting you to both angle and velocity shifts. This should be part of every range kit. Don’t leave home without it.

Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade. For high-volume varminters, and competitors who shoot fast in warm weather, a mirage shield is absolutely essential. This prevents hot air rising off the barrel from distorting the image in your scope. The aluminum Sinclair shield can be trimmed to fit, and comes with stick-on Velcro attachments. Two lengths are available: 18″ for short BR barrels, and 24″ for longer barrels.

Carson 10X Loupe. You’ll find dozens of uses for this handy 10X magnifier. Use this Carson 10X Loupe to check for burrs on case mouths, inspect bullet tips, find rifling marks on bullet jackets when setting seating depth, and look for potential separation lines on cases. There are dozens of other uses. In our reloading room, this inexpensive magnifier is one of our most valuable tools.

Gifts $6 to $10 


Dewey Crocogator
$6.50
Ballistol multi-purpose gun lube
Ballistol Aerosol Lube
$8.99
Sinclair Barrel Storage Bag
Benchrite Barrel Bag
$9.50
stalwart wood sinclair loading block
Stalwart Load Block
$9.99

Dewey Crocogator. The Crocogator tool, with knurled “teeth” at both ends, is simple, inexpensive, and compact. Yet nothing zips though primer-pocket gunk faster or better. Unlike some cutter-tipped primer pocket tools, the Crocogator removes the carbon quick and easy without shaving brass. One end is sized for large primer pockets, the other for small.

Ballistol Aerosol Lube. Ballistol is a versatile, non-toxic product with many uses in the reloading room. We have found it is ideal for lubricating cases for normal full-length sizing. It is clear, not gooey or chalky like other lubes. It is very, very slippery, yet is easy to apply and just as easy to wipe off. As you lube your cases, the Ballistol will also clean powder fouling off the case necks. For heavy-duty case forming and neck expansion, we’ll still use Imperial die wax, but for every-day case sizing, Ballistol is our first choice. It also helps prevent your dies from rusting and it even conditions leather. Ballistol is a favored bore cleaner for Black Powder shooters because it neutralizes acidic powder residues.

Santa Christmas Stocking giftsBenchrite Barrel Bag. If you run a switch-barrel rig, or take spare barrels to a big match, this simple but effective barrel bag will protect your valuable steel. The bag is moisture-resistant vinyl on the outside with a soft, quilted interior to protect the barrel’s finish and delicate crown. There are two sizes: one for barrels up to 26 inches, the other for barrels up to 31 inches. Both sizes are priced at $9.95 per bag. That’s cheap insurance for those priceless barrels.

Stalwart Wooden Loading Block. These handsome wooden loading blocks, sold by Sinclair Int’l, feature chamfered holes properly sized for the particular case you reload. Stalwart blocks are stable on the bench, and the hardwood material feels nice to the touch. These “Stalwart” loading blocks have the same machined fit as Sinclair’s popular white “Poly” blocks. Each Stalwart block is machined from select hardwood and has 50 holes (except for model #LB-9 with 32 holes). Finger grooves are machined into the sides for a sure grip.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
January 7th, 2016

Case Lube Readers Poll — Spray Lubes Are Number One

Mobil 1 reloading case lube

What kind of case lubricant do you use. If you’re like most hand-loaders, you prefer some kind of thin, spray-on lube. Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com surveyed his readers, with the results displayed in the chart below. Thin spray-type lubes took the top spot, followed by waxy-type lubes.* CLICK HERE to Vote in the Case Lube Poll.

case lube survey poll ultimatereloader.com Gavin Gear Hornady one-shot

Gavin explains: “Over the years, I’ve talked quite a bit about different case lube products and techniques for both rifle and pistol reloading. Depending on your goals, the cartridge being reloaded, and what you have on-hand, your options will typically be honed down to a few ‘best options’. But the more you talk with seasoned reloaders, the more options you’ll discover.”

Mobil 1 reloading case lubeSynthetic Motor Oil for Special Tasks
One new lubrication option Gavin has tried is synthetic motor oil “I’ve started using another product for rifle case lube: synthetic motor oil. In particular, I’ve been using this oil to ‘prime’ rifle sizing dies when starting a loading session. This priming combined with fresh spray lube (Dillon DCL recently) has been a good combination for .223/5.56 and .308/7.62x51mm loading sessions.

I just pour a bit of synthetic motor oil into the quart jug cap, dip my finger into the cap, and apply about one drop to the outside of the case with my fingers. I then dip the end of a Q-Tip into the oil cap (just a drop applied), and roll the end of the Q-Tip between my fingers. The Q-Tip is then ‘rolled’ inside the case mouth to provide lube for the expander ball. I’m wondering how many thousands of applications I could get out of one quart of motor oil!

READ more case lubrication tips at UltimateReloader.com


*This Editor’s own perference follow this ranking. For regular case-sizing with benchrest cases (and close-fitting dies), I use Ballistol aerosol (active ingredient is mineral oil). Not chalky or gummy, Ballistol is very, very slippery. A thin sheen lubricates extremely well yet wipes off easily. For heavy case-forming duties I use Imperial Die Wax.

Clean and Lube
One advantage of Ballistol is that, wiped on a patch, it will remove carbon residue from case necks. That way you can clean and lube your case in one step before running your case into the Full-length sizing dies. Just spray a little on a cotton patch. After cleaning the case-neck flip the patch over and lube the case body.

Permalink Reloading 5 Comments »
December 23rd, 2015

Shooters’ Stocking Stuffers — Eight Budget Gifts

Christmas is almost here, so today we’re featuring a hand-picked collection of “stocking stuffers” for precision shooters. So as not to bust your holiday budget, all of our selections are priced under $10.00. These items are handy tools that you’ll use over and over again at the range and/or at your loading bench (so you’re allowed to buy them for yourself, even after Christmas). Our AccurateShooter staffers use most of these items, including the Loading Blocks, Ballistol, Mirage Shades, Crocogators, and Barrel Bags.

Gifts $1 to $5 


Surveyors Tape
$1.99
Shooting Glasses S&W Safety
Safety Eyewear
$1.99
Hood quick estimator group size gauge
Hood Kwik Estimator
$2.50
Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade
Barrel Mirage Shade
$4.95

Surveyors’ Tape. Always watch the wind when you shoot. Inexpensive, Day-Glo Surveyors’ Tape (aka “Flagging Tape”), attached to a stake or target frame, makes a good wind indicator. It will flutter even in mild breezes, alerting you to both angle and velocity shifts. This should be part of every range kit. Don’t leave home without it.

Safety Eyewear ANSI Z87.1. Yes you can get ANSI-approved Safety Eyewear for under two bucks. At that price you should pick up a half-dozen sets, just so you have extras. We recommend that shooters wear eye protection at all times when handling firearms. This eyewear special is offered by CDNN Sports. Call 800-588-9500 to order.

Hood Kwik Estimator. Here’s a very handy tool to measure your 6mm groups. Bracket the group within the diverging lines of the Kwik Estimator and you’ll instantly get a good approximation of the actual group size. No more trips to the tool box for calipers. The inexpensive Kwik Estimator fits in a shirt pocket. (Thanks to Boyd Allen for this suggestion.)

Sinclair Barrel Mirage Shade. For high-volume varminters, and competitors who shoot fast in warm weather, a mirage shield is absolutely essential. This prevents hot air rising off the barrel from distorting the image in your scope. The aluminum Sinclair shield can be trimmed to fit, and comes with stick-on Velcro attachments. Two lengths are available: 18″ for short BR barrels, and 24″ for longer barrels.

Gifts $6 to $10 


Dewey Crocogator
$6.50
Ballistol multi-purpose gun lube
Ballistol Aerosol Lube
$8.99
Sinclair Barrel Storage Bag
Sinclair Barrel Bag
$9.95

Sinclair Load Block
$9.99

Dewey Crocogator. The Crocogator tool, with knurled “teeth” at both ends, is simple, inexpensive, and compact. Yet nothing zips though primer-pocket gunk faster or better. Unlike some cutter-tipped primer pocket tools, the Crocogator removes the carbon quick and easy without shaving brass. One end is sized for large primer pockets, the other for small.

Ballistol Aerosol Lube. Ballistol is a versatile, non-toxic product with many uses in the reloading room. We have found it is ideal for lubricating cases for normal full-length sizing. It is clear, not gooey or chalky like other lubes. It is very, very slippery, yet is easy to apply and just as easy to wipe off. As you lube your cases, the Ballistol will also clean powder fouling off the case necks. For heavy-duty case forming and neck expansion, we’ll still use Imperial die wax, but for every-day case sizing, Ballistol is our first choice. It also helps prevent your dies from rusting and it even conditions leather. Ballistol is a favored bore cleaner for Black Powder shooters because it neutralizes acidic powder residues.

Santa Christmas Stocking giftsSinclair Barrel Bag. If you run a switch-barrel rig, or take spare barrels to a big match, this simple but effective barrel bag will protect your valuable steel. The bag is moisture-resistant vinyl on the outside with a soft, quilted interior to protect the barrel’s finish and delicate crown. There are two sizes: one for barrels up to 26 inches, the other for barrels up to 31 inches. Both sizes are priced at $9.95 per bag. That’s cheap insurance for those priceless barrels.

Sinclair ‘Poly’ Loading Block. We’ve tried wood and injection-molded loading trays, and we prefer Sinclair’s white polyethylene loading blocks. They featured chamfered holes properly sized for the particular case you reload. The blocks are heavy enough to be stable on the bench, and the “dishwasher-friendly” material is easy to clean. The standard Poly Loading Block holds 50 cases, while the Competition Loading Block holds 25 cases with a tray for empties. For a bit more money, there’s also a Heavy-Duty 50-case model with an extra-thick 1″ base.

Permalink Hot Deals, Reloading 1 Comment »
September 12th, 2009

Non-Toxic Ballistol Lube Works Great for Case Sizing

We recommend Ballistol as a near-ideal case lube for basic full-length sizing. It’s extremely slick, and goes on very thin when applied with the aerosol version. Ballistol is this Editor’s favorite case lube for regular resizing, and I’ve tried all the popular brands including RCBS, Hornady One-shot, and Lee lube. Unlike many other case lubes, with Ballistol you won’t need to use a solvent or tumble the brass afterwards to remove the lube. All you need is a very thin layer of Ballistol, and this easily wipes off with a paper towel. The Ballistol will also remove the carbon on the outside of fired case-necks, so you can clean and lube your cases at the same time. (For case-forming and neck expansion, we recommend a thicker lube such as Imperial Die Wax or Mobil 1.)

Unfortunately, many folks have told us that they can’t find Ballistol at local shops, or they want to combine it with a reloading supply order to cut down on shipping costs. Here are sources for Ballistol, including Brownell’s and MidwayUSA. For convenience, we recommend the aerosol version, but the liquid version can be diluted and used also.

Brownell’s
6.0 oz. Aerosol $7.58 982-000-002

MidwayUSA
6.0 oz. Aerosol $7.49 831231
16 oz. Liquid $7.49 164428

BULK ORDER SOURCES:

Ballistol USA
PACKAGE 1: BALLISTOL-LUBE
Four – 6 oz. Aerosol Cans
$ 24.00 + 10.00 s&h = $ 34.00

FireHawktech.com
Combo Pack
Two – 6 oz. Aerosol Cans
One – 16 oz. Liquid Can
Total $24.95

Aerosol Full Case (12 cans)
Twelve – 6 oz. Aerosol Cans
Total $81.00 (just $6.75/can)

Ballistol Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the “Ballistol Lube” with the white label the same as the Ballistol “Sportsman’s Oil” with the green label.

A: Yes. Same product, just different labels. But remember there are both aerosol and liquid versions. The aerosol comes out very thin — like water. The liquid is thick — like motor oil.

Q: The liquid version is more economical by weight, but can I dilute it down?

A: Yes, Ballistol liquid can be diluted with water, up to a 10:1 ratio and it will remain slick. We recommend about a 6:1 ratio for use as a general case cleaner and lubricant — but you should experiment yourself.

Q: If Ballistol oil can be diluted with water, does that mean it will promote corrosion?

A: No. Ballistol emulsifies in water. The resulting product will displace H20 like WD40, and then leaves a thin, protective oil. Ballistol is also mildly alkaline (pH between 8.5 and 9.5), so it neutralizes mild acidic residues such as hand sweat or residues from black powder (which are acidic).

Q: What’s Ballistol made from — it smells funny?

A: Ballistol is made from medical grade mineral oil, alkaline salts of oleic acid, several alcohols, Benzyl Acetate and oil from vegetable seeds. The smell comes from medicinal Anethole oil, which is derived from the Anise plant. Ballistol is biodegradable and non-toxic. CLICK HERE for the Material Data Safety Sheet

For more information on Ballistol, contact Ballistol USA, (800) 253 2460, (252) 261 0408 (fax).

Permalink Reloading 2 Comments »
May 21st, 2008

Sources for Ballistol Lube (and Mysteries Revealed)

Regular readers of the Daily Bulletin know we’ve recommended Ballistol as a near-ideal case lube for basic full-length sizing. It’s extremely slick, and goes on very thin when applied with the aerosol version. Unlike many other case lubes, you won’t need to use a solvent or tumble the brass afterwards to remove. All you need is a very thin layer of Ballistol, and this easily wipes off with a paper towel. (For case-forming and neck expansion, we recommend a thicker lube such as Imperial Die Wax or Mobil 1.)

Unfortunately, many folks have told us that they can’t find Ballistol at local shops, or they want to combine it with a reloading supply order to cut down on shipping costs. Here are sources for Ballistol, including Brownell’s and MidwayUSA. For convenience, we recommend the aerosol version, but the liquid version can be diluted and used also.

Brownell’s
1.5 oz. Aerosol $4.43 982-000-001
6.0 oz. Aerosol $6.82 982-000-002

MidwayUSA
1.5 oz. Aerosol $3.99 727130
6.0 oz. Aerosol $6.49 831231

BULK ORDER SOURCES:

Ballistol USA
PACKAGE 1: BALLISTOL-LUBE
Two – 1.5oz. aerosols
Three – 6 oz. aerosols
$ 24.00 + 9.00 s&h = $ 33.00

FireHawktech.com
Basic Aerosol Pack
Two – 1.5 oz. Aerosol Can
One – 6 oz. Aerosol Can
Total $20.95 incl. shipping

Aerosol 5-pak
One – 1.5 oz. Aerosol Can
Four – 6 oz. Aerosol Can
Total $39.95 incl. Shipping

Ballistol Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is the “Ballistol Lube” with the white label the same as the Ballistol “Sportsman’s Oil” with the green label.

A: Yes. Same product, just different labels. But remember there are both aerosol and liquid versions. The aerosol comes out very thin — like water. The liquid is thick — like motor oil.

Q: The liquid version is more economical by weight, but can I dilute it down?

A: Yes, Ballistol liquid can be diluted with water, up to a 10:1 ratio and it will remain slick. We recommend about a 6:1 ratio for use as a general case cleaner and lubricant — but you should experiment yourself.

Q: Will Ballistol get gummy over time, like other lubricants?

A: Nope. Here’s an interesting story. In 1952, a bottle with Ballistol, with the cap only loosely attached, was found in the attic of a deceased German hunter. The purchase receipt was found proving that the Ballistol had sitting for over 30 years. Yet, it still had the consistency of freshly produced Ballistol.

Q: If Ballistol oil can be diluted with water, does that mean it will promote corrosion?

A: No. Ballistol emulsifies in water. The resulting product will displace H20 like WD40, and then leaves a thin, protective oil. Ballistol is also mildly alkaline (pH between 8.5 and 9.5), so it neutralizes mild acidic residues such as hand sweat or residues from black powder (which are acidic).

Q: What’s Ballistol made from — it smells funny?

A: Ballistol is made from medical grade mineral oil, alkaline salts of oleic acid, several alcohols, Benzyl Acetate and oil from vegetable seeds. The smell comes from medicinal Anethole oil, which is derived from the Anise plant. Ballistol is biodegradable and non-toxic. CLICK HERE for the Material Data Safety Sheet

For more information on Ballistol, contact Ballistol USA, (800) 253 2460, (252) 261 0408 (fax).

Permalink Reloading 1 Comment »