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 »
April 30th, 2018

Amazing Accuracy — Sauter Shoots 0.282″ Group at 600 Yards

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun
World Record group shot by Bart Sauter in IBS 600-yard Match on April 21, 2018 in Memphis, TN.

0.282 inches, 0.04 MOA… at 600 Yards. Simply amazing…

What can we say… this 0.282″ 5-shot group 600 yards represents one of the most impressive feats of rifle accuracy in history. Shot in competition, this five-shot group at 600 yards easily fits inside a dime with plenty of room to spare!

Bullet-maker Bart Sauter recently shot this 0.282″ five-shot group at a 600-yard IBS match. Yep, you read that right — 0.282″ at 600. Most shooters would be happy with that group at 100 yards. At 200 it would be remarkable. But at 600 — it is truly amazing. Readers, 0.282″ at 600 works out to 0.04 Minutes of Angle (MOA). Not point four MOA, but point ZERO four MOA, and it was all in the TEN RING for a 50 score. Even measured outside edge to outside edge, that group is just 0.525″, so Bart’s group will easily fit inside a dime (0.705″ diameter).

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Sauter’s amazing 0.282″ 50 group smashes the existing IBS Heavy Gun 600-yard record, a 0.404″ shot by John Lewis way back in 2008. It also happens to beat the existing IBS Light Gun group record — the stunning 0.336″ by Rodney Wagner in 2013. (A group many said could never be bettered). Bart’s group will be a new score record too — many 50s have been shot before, but the group size is the tie-breaker, and no one has ever shot smaller at 600 than Bart.

Sauter Smashes IBS World Records with Stunning 600-Yard Group

Report by Boyd Allen, IBS Vice President
On the 21st of April, at the beautiful Memphis Sport Shooting Assn. 600-yard benchrest range, bullet-maker Bart Sauter made history. About 11:00 O’clock with 12-15 MPH switchy winds, Bart Sauter waited for his chosen condition and then ran five shots into an incredible 0.282″ record-breaking group, with a score of 50. Shot in Heavy Gun Class (with his Light Gun), this combination of group and score bettered the previous HG group and score records with sufficient margins that their records in both categories are virtually guaranteed. The previous group record, a 0.404″, belonged to John Lewis and stood for ten years. The previous score record was 50/.513 (group size being the tie breaker) shot by B.J. Francis last year. Bart’s target was 50/.282.

CLICK HERE for More Photos | CLICK for Related Forum Thread

To put it in perspective Bart’s record has the equivalent angular dispersion (MOA) of a .04″ group shot at 100 yards. (Bart’s exact MOA is 0.0448) But consider that crosswinds have roughly 36 times more effect at 600 yards than at 100 yards (by the “Rule of the Square”).

Record-Setting Cartridge and Load with Bart’s Own 105gr Bullets
Bart shot a 6mmBR Ackley Improved (6BRA) wildcat cartridge with an 0.272″ neck. This is basically the 6mmBR Norma with a 40° shoulder. The neck is long like the parent cartridge, not short like a 6mm Dasher. Bart was shooting his own 105 grain, 13 Ogive VLD bullets. He calls this new bullet design “The Hammer” (for good reason). Bart’s Hammer 105s were loaded in Lapua brass with Hodgdon H4895 powder and Wolf primers. Bullet tips were trimmed on a Giraud bullet point trimmer, but not pointed. Bart feels that there is too much potential for damaging bullets during pointing, so he does not point his match bullets. Bart had his LabRadar chrono on the bench during the match. Velocities were 2970-2975 fps with single-digit ES.

Record-Setting Rifle — IBS Light Gun Shot in Heavy Gun Class
Bart’s rifle features a melonited BAT B action, with a 26″, 1:8″-twist, HV contour James Lederer barrel, fitted with a Mike Ezell tuner. The Jewell trigger was set to 1.5 ounces. On top was a March 40X in BAT rings. The initial build was by Mike Moses, with chambering by Dean Stroud, and final (glue and screw) bedding by Billy Stevens. The handsome wood JB 1000 stock (3″-wide fore-end) boasts an aluminum keel added by Alex Wheeler after the initial build. Bart said that it only took him 15 minutes to adjust the keel so that the cross hairs did not wiggle on the target when the gun was pulled back a full 2 ½ inches. Bart is definitely a fan of the adjustable keel.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Bench Equipment and How Rifle Was Shot
Bart used a Farley Coaxial front rest with soft leather Edgewood front back sprinkled with baby powder. In the back was a Protektor Model DR rear bag with Cordura ears and no added lube (not needed with aluminum keel) borrowed from Mike Moses. Bart shot the rifle lightly pinned between his shoulder and the fore-end stop. Interestingly, Bart kept his Labradar chronograph on his bench throughout the day, and recorded velocities during the record group: 2970-2975 fps with single-digit ES.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gunReloading Equipment and Methods
After firing, cases are annealed with a Benchsource flame annealer. The inside of the case-necks are brushed with a nylon brush (no lubricant is used). Cases are sized with a custom Whidden Full-length sizing die (with bushings), and a cut-down Wilson micrometer seater that was originally made for the Dasher.

Bullets are seated with a 21st Century Shooting Hydro Bullet Seater, used with the Wilson cut-down Wilson seating die. This state-of-the-art arbor press boasts a hydraulic seating pressure cylinder and gauge. During seating, the force gauge reads about 27.

The powder charge is first thrown from a manual measure and usually trickled onto an A&D 120 FXi magnetic force restoration scale using an Adams automatic trickler, but this time Bart had to settle for his old RCBS trickler because the drive band of the Adams auto-trickler wore out.

Brass Prep — The chamber is a 0.272″ no turn. Bart lightly skims the necks AFTER the first firing just enough to achieve batch to batch uniformity in neck thickness. He uses a .266 bushing which gives him .003 neck tension.

Pre-Loading vs. Loading at the Range
I asked Bart if he pre-loads, or loads at the range. Unexpectedly his answer was “Both…depending”. Bart will identify his “in tune” velocity at his home range and then pre-load that load before the match. However, Bart takes all of his reloading equipment to the match, and if the conditions are such that his pre-loaded ammunition does not give the velocity he wants (as revealed by the LabRadar), he will load at the match.

Another test that he feels is important is to be able to pass a bullet all the way through the neck of his fired cases. Bart thinks that even if the shank of a seated bullet does not directly contact a doughnut, that doughnut can have a negative effect on accuracy.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Bart has brought short range benchrest know-how to 600-yard competition. He uses a full set of short range flags, shown above. At last year’s Nationals, at the same Memphis range, Bart was one of the only shooters with a set of flags. Now other 600-yard competitors are following suit.

Final Throughts — The 6BR Ackley vs. 6mm Dasher
Given its prominence, it is inevitable that comparisons be made between the 6mmBR Ackley Improved and the Dasher. On this subject Bart told me that, based on his experience, he is a “Dasher basher”. He believes the Dasher can be finicky, and has a tendency to flip shots out of the group. For Bart, the 6BR Ackley has been a lot easier to work with and more predictable.

Below is a test target Bart shot at 100 yards. The load yielding the smallest 3-shot group, measuring 0.092″, was the load Bart took to the match. As you can see, the positions of the various load adjustments did not change on the targets. Bart said that that is the kind of positive compensation that he likes to see.

While Bart does most of load testing at short range, he can shoot out to 500 yards near his home. He says his record-setting gun has produced multiple 500-yard, 3-shot groups in the “three-quarter inch range” when testing in calm conditions. That’s 0.14 MOA for three shots. At 500…

Bart Sauter IBS 600 yard record bullets benchrest 0.282 600-yard best ever

Congratulations to Bart on His Great Shooting
Finally, I would like to add my congratulations to Bart Sauter for this spectacular group. I also want to thank Bart for generously taking the time to share the details of his load, reloading methods, and rifle components. Bart has shown that applying some short-range benchrest techniques to the mid-range game can produce remarkable results.

Bart Sauter IBS .282 World Record Group benchrest H4895 600 yards heavy gun

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition, Reloading 12 Comments »