April 14th, 2019

What is Your #1 Favorite Reloading Equipment Item?

Wilson hand die arbor press Sierra Bullets

Sierra Bullets asked a few hand-loaders to reveal their favorite reloading tool or accessory: “What is your favorite ‘don’t know how you ever lived without it’ piece of reloading equipment?” Some of the answers are listed below. We were interested to see some high-tech, micro-processor items mentioned, such as the AMP Annealer, and the Auto-Trickler powder dispenser. Old standbys, such as the rugged RCBS Rockchucker and Dillon 650, also made the favorites list. You can nominate your own favorite reloading hardware in the comments section of the Sierra Bullets Blog.

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin answered: “A comparator gauge to measure from the base of a case to the ogive of the bullet. This bypasses the tip of the bullet, so I can repeat the same seating depth the next time I visit a specific combination.”

Forster Co-ax press

Bill, Editor of Rifleshooter.com, answered: “I have so many favorite reloading tools, it’s hard to pick one. But if I had to, it would be my Forster Co-Ax press. I like the ease [with which] you can change dies and that it doesn’t require traditional shell holders. It’s a great tool to have!”

Forster Co-Ax Press

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks answered: “I don’t know that you would actually call this equipment, but the item that comes to mind would be my reloading room/shoot house. I had always had to squeeze everything into a corner or even an unheated shed. After we bought our current house, I built a garage and placed it so that I had a window looking down a 250-yard range. I built a dedicated room with heat and A/C. It contains my reloading bench and a shooting bench. The shooting bench lets me slide open the window and shoot down the range. It is very handy to not have to load everything up to go to the range. It also makes load development a lot simpler and efficient. I don’t know how I ever got along without it.

I also wonder what I did before I acquired the Lyman 1200 DPS Powder Dispenser. This has made the process so much simpler and much easier. I also have a Lee Precison Universal Decapping Die that I would gladly spend the money on again. This may be a small thing, but it certainly is handy. The Lee would accommodate some very large cases that some of the others were too small for.”

Jon Addis answered: “Putting an A&D FX-120i scale with Auto-Trickler and Auto-Throw on the bench has changed the way I reload. It’s kernel accurate in about 15 seconds. Saves time and reduces a variable. And of course, the system is made better by the Area 419 Billet Adjustable base for the trickler and Billet Powder Cup.”

This video shows the Auto-Trickler V2 and Auto-Throw Combo:

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Carroll Pilant answered: “Dillon 550 and 650 presses.”

Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Paul Box answered: “The Lee Precison hand priming tool.”

Sierra Bullets Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd answered: “A brass annealing machine and a RCBS Chargemaster complimented with a Sartorious scale.”

RCBS RockchuckerSierra Bullets Ballistician Gary Prisendorf answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker Press, it’s built like a tank, and it will last me a lifetime.”

Sierra Bullets Production Manager Chris Hatfield also answered: “RCBS Rock Chucker single-stage reloading press.”

Jeremy Kisner answered: “My Giraud trimmer has taken [three operations] and combined them into one easy task. I can now size my brass and then sit down and trim, chamfer, and debur to a 0.001″ tolerance in one motion.”

Dan Blake answered: “My Annealing Made Perfect (AMP) annealer. With consistent neck tension being one of the largest contributions to small Extreme Spread on muzzle velocities, I believe this induction annealer is truly the best on the market.”

This manufacturer-produced video shows how the AMP annealing machine operates:

Trevor Aldinger answered: “Area 419 Master Funnel Kit. In the past I’ve used plastic funnels and even other metal ones. This system fits case necks and flows much better than any others I’ve used, and there is no static since it’s metal. We spend a lot of time and money to get precise charges, I don’t want to lose or miss a kernel because of a cheap funnel.”

Area 419 Master Funnel kit

Tyler Riley answered: “My RCBS bench primer (priming tool). It has a lot more leverage than a hand primer and still has a good feel to how tight primer pockets are. Makes it much easier on my hands to prime large runs, especially new brass with tight pockets.”

Craig Arnzen answered: “My Annealeez [annealing machine] is one of the best tools in my reloading room. Neck tension is SO important, and annealing every firing really helps with that. This is an inexpensive tool that can anneal a lot of cases at once, and help me produce more consistent ammo.”

Josh Temmen answered: “Time is critical for me so my RCBS Chargemasters are indispensable (pun intended.) They cut down on time at my reloading bench while maintaining the weight tolerances required for long range shooting.”

Josh Bartlett answered: “I have my Dillon 650 set up with Whidden floating tool heads to do decapping and sizing on my match ammo. The case feeder and progressive function of the press save me a TON of time when doing lots of several hundred rounds.”

Ryan Brandt answered: “… A quality set of calipers. My reloading room is full of very nice equipment but little does more to satisfy my perfectionism than a good check with the calipers.”

Sierra Bullets

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February 4th, 2019

Power to the People — Cortina Reviews Giraud Power Trimmer

Power Trimming Technology Saves Time
Trimming and chamfering brass are tasks hand-loaders grow to hate. Those chores are time-consuming and tiresome. Thankfully there are faster, better alternatives to manual trimming/chamfering. In this article, Forum member Erik Cortina shows how to use the Giraud tool which trims and chamfers in one operation. Erik has his own YouTube Channel dedicated to precision reloading and accurizing. Here we feature Erik’s video about the “mother of all brass trimmers”, the Giraud powered case trimmer. Erik says: “If you do volume reloading… this is the only trimmer to get. It not only trims to length but it also chamfers your case mouth inside and out.” In his video, Erik offers some very clever and useful tips that will help you get the most from your Giraud.

This is a manufacturer’s photo showing an older model.
Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

The Giraud trimmer is very precise. When set up correctly, it can trim brass with amazing consistency. In the video, Erik trims five pieces of brass in 15 seconds (6:32 mark). He then measures all five with precision calipers (7:00-8:08). All lengths are exact within .0005 (half a thousandth). Erik notes that the Giraud trimmer indexes off the case shoulder. As long as you have fire-formed brass with consistent base-to-shoulder dimensions, you should get very consistent trim lengths.

The secret to the system is a 3-way cutting head. This cutter can be swapped in and out in a couple minutes with wrenches provided with the kit. Erik has three different heads; one each for 6.5mm, 7mm, and .30 caliber. The video shows how to adjust the cutting heads to match caliber diameter (and to get the desired amount of inside/outside chamfer).

To trim and chamfer cases, you simply insert them nose-first into the cartridge-specific case-holder. Erik offers a smart tip — He uses a die locking ring to position the cartridge holder (3:15). This can be locked in place. Erik says die locking rings work much better than the hex-nuts provided by Giraud (with the hex-nut, one must re-set cut length each time you change case-holders.)

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

The Giraud can be used in either horizontal or vertical modes. Erik prefers to have the trimmer aligned vertically, allowing him to push cases down on the trimmer head. But the trimming unit has twin sets of rubber feet, allowing horizontal or vertical orientation.

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

Improved Case-Holder Made with Chamber Reamer:
For his .284 Shehane, Erik had to create his own case-holder (Giraud does not make one for that wildcat cartridge). Erik used his chamber reamer. To his surprise, Erik found that the brass was easier to trim in the custom case holder (compared to the Giraud-made spring-loaded holders). With a perfect fit, trimming and case extraction went more smoothly and the process was easier on his hands. (See 9:00-10:00). Based on Erik’s experience, you may want to create your own custom case-holder.

Trim Bullet Meplats Also
With a special bullet-holder fitting and meplat cutter head, the Giraud power trimmer can be used to trim bullet meplats. Trimming meplats can help make the Ballistic Coefficents of a batch of bullets more consistent. Uniforming meplats is also often done as a first step in the process of “tipping” bullets to improve BC.

Erik Cortina Meplat Giraud Case Trimmer YouTube Video Lapua

Giraud Power Trimmer

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February 9th, 2016

Giraud 3-Way Trimmer Works with a Power Drill

Giraud Tri Way Trimmer Case Cutter tool
Close-up of the Tri Way cutter with clear plastic chip guard removed.

When you hear the name Giraud Tool you probably think of big, heavy, bench-top motor-driven trimmers. Well Giraud also offers a handy case trimmer/chamferer that works with a power drill (or other power source). Giraud’s patent-pending Tri Way Case Trimmer is a self-contained unit powered by your drill or motor. Using a sharp carbide blade it will trim your cases to length, deburr, and cut both inside and outside chamfers — all in one pass. That’s pretty impressive for a $98.00 tool that fits in the palm of your hand.

Product Features
1. Fully adjustable for cartridge length (and depth of chamfer).
2. Tool includes carbide blade that cuts a 15° inside case mouth chamfer and 45° outside chamfer.
3. Case holder supported by sealed ball bearing raceway.
4. Tool includes removable, transparent plastic chip guard.
5. Tool can work in any orientation (vertical, horizontal, or any angle).

Giraud Tri Way Trimmer Case Cutter tool

The Giraud Tri Way Trimmer is designed to be powered by a portable hand drill, drill press, or other dedicated rotating power source. The tool indexes off the shoulder of your cases, but the blade adjusts so that cartridge overall length (COAL) can be controlled with precision. Constructed out of 6061-T6 aluminum and 303 stainless steel, the Tri Way tool should last a lifetime. Note: This tool is not universal. The Tri Way is dedicated to a single cartridge and “related” cartridges with similar body dimensions. Thus you need a specific tool for each cartridge family. For example, the .308 Win tool will also trim .243 Win, .260 Rem, and 7mm-08.

Cartridge Sizes Available for Giraud Tri Way Trimmer:
.223 Remington (Also trims .17 Remington, .204 Ruger, .222 Remington, .222 Remington Magnum)
7.62 x 39mm (Russian)
.300 Blackout (Also trims .17 Rem Fireball, .221 Fireball)
.308 Winchester (Also trims .243 Winchester, .260 Remington, 7mm-08)
.30-06 Springfield (Also trims .25-06, .270 Winchester, .280 Remington)
.300 Winchester Mag (Also trims .264 Winchester Magnum, 7mm Remington Magnum)

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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