June 30th, 2013

RCBS Summit Press Works Great in the Shop and in the Field

Gear Review by Mark LaFevers
RCBS Summit Press accurateshooter.comWith its innovative “moving die/static cartridge” design, the new RCBS Summit Press definitely demonstrates “out of the box” thinking. Unlike other presses, the case does not move. Rather, the reloading die comes down to the case. We are happy to report that this unique “upside-down” reloading press works great.

We have tested the new RCBS Summit Press in the workshop and in the field. We’ve now loaded hundreds of rounds with the press. It is smooth, solid, and easy to use. The spent primer ejection/capture system works great (our testers preferred the Summit’s simple, foolproof primer capture to the Rockchucker’s capture system). Most importantly, the Summit produces very straight ammo that gave excellent results on the target in actual matches.

We compared ammo loaded with the Summit with ammo loaded on an RCBS Rockchucker press. The Summit gave up nothing to the bigger press. Cartridge base-to-ogive measurements of Summit-loaded ammo were just as tight as with ammo loaded on the Rockchucker. Run-out, measured with a concentricity gauge, was the same or better (about .002 or less on bullet nose). Most importantly, the Summit loads accurate ammo. In fact, at one match, scores shot with Summit-loaded .284 Win ammo were actually better than scores shot (in the same gun) with ammo loaded on a Rockchucker:

Rockchucker .284 Win Loads (Day 1): 188-2X
Summit .284 Win Loads (Day 2): 192-5X

Despite its small footprint, the Summit is very stable — it doesn’t tip, wobble, or rock. The two front mounting bolts hold it firmly in place — the Summit doesn’t need a rear anchor. This, combined with the fact that the Summit has no overhang, makes the new press ideal for a mobile application. For field use (at the range), our tester Mark LaFevers mounted the Summit press on a small platform secured to his trailer hitch (on top of a steel post). This set-up worked great, as you can see in the video below:

Watch Reloading (Sizing/Decapping, Expanding, Bullet Seating) with Summit Press

Photo shows Redding Micrometer Seating Die and .284 Win Cartridge
RCBS Summit Press trailer hitch Mark Lafevers accurateshooter.com

Mark tells us: “I think the Summit press worked out sweet mounted on the hitch pedestal. The receiver hitch pedestal I made will switch tools between a heavy barrel vise I made and the Summit press. Instead of securing the pedestal with a standard 5/8″ hitch pin, I drilled and tapped for 1/2″-13 bolt to draw the insert up tight against the receiver, eliminating wobble. For charging rounds, I bought 150 plastic test tubes with caps and racks so I can avoid weighing powder charges in the field, unless I want to make changes on the fly.”

RCBS Summit Press accurateshooter.comThe new Summit Press features a rugged cast-iron frame with all-steel linkages. The press is very strong with minimal flex and slop. This allows you to “bump” your case shoulders and seat bullets with great precision and repeatability. 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 (not shown in photos). The new Summit press has a beefy 2-inch diameter ram, with compound linkages for plenty of leverage. A zerk fitting is included for easy lubrication. The press will accept larger bushings for oversize 1-inch dies.

Summit Press Retails for $207.94
The new Summit Press (RCBS item #09290) lists for $269.95. However, Midsouth Shooters Supply offers the Summit Press for $207.94. An optional short handle from RCBS costs $15.27 at Midsouth ($19.95 MSRP).

RCBS Summit Press trailer hitch Mark Lafevers accurateshooter.com

*To permit his dies to be swapped from Rockchucker to Summit (and back again), with no locking ring adjustments, Mark LaFevers fabricated a new shell-holder base which positions the shell-holder .088″ higher relative to the Summit’s die port. This keeps Summit-mounted dies in the same position relative to the shell-holder as dies mounted in a Rockchucker. So, Mark can swap dies from his Rockchucker to his Summit and maintain exact COAL (when seating) and correct shoulder bump (when sizing). While Mark’s custom shell-holder base lets him swap dies quickly from one press to another, this is NOT a necessary modification. Most folks will simply re-set the locking rings.
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October 26th, 2012

War Wagon Part 2 — Details of Skratch’s Mobile Shooting Bench

After we ran a story on the New Mexico War Wagon, readers wanted more details about this well-designed mobile shooting bench belonging to Forum member John H. (aka “Skratch”).

John told us: “My brother-in-law and I built this mobile bench a few years ago. The axle, wheels and tire are a tag axle from a small Chevy car, obtained from a salvage yard for about $35-$40 a decade ago. The tubular frame is drill stem, while the bench-top and seats are 3/4′” plywood. Under the plywood we fitted rails so we can slide our target stand under the benchtop for secure travel. The total cost for everything (including storage box) was about $250-$300.”

We set the bench and seat heights so that, with adults, the rifle sets straight level to the shoulder. For the smaller ‘younguns’ we just use a sofa pillow to raise them up. (Yes, adjustable seat heights would be great.) The ammo box holds our rifle rest, sand bags, spotting scope, and miscellaneous gear. Options are a couple of lawn chairs, and a cooler of brew (for after the shooting is done).

Click on image frames to see full-size photos

Some readers wanted to know how John’s War Wagon is positioned in the field and if it is ever detached from John’s ATV. John answers: “We do unhook the 4-wheeler for target-checking unless we have an extra along which is usually the case. That way we can level the table front to rear. We have an umbrella from a patio table to provide shade on extra warm days.”

Potential Modifications and Upgrades to the War Wagon
When our buddy Mark LaFevers (AccurateShooter.com’s chief fabricator), saw the war wagon, he was impressed. Mark, a professional welder by trade, is now thinking about building a similar rig — with some enhancements. Mark told us: “The thing I like best about the design is the simplicity. It has enough features to get the job done without any frills, bells and whistles. There is always the danger as one adds items that seem like they would be desirable, that the unit becomes too complex and loses its fun aspect. Still, I would try adding a few things.

I like how the builder has added stabilizers at the seat locations. For areas with steep or uneven terrain , I would consider adding a trailer tongue jack to be able to level front to rear, or disconnect from the ATV to go check targets. I would also consider not hard-fastening the bench-top to the frame, but rather mounting it with screw-jacks to be able to level it independently from the frame, both crosswise and lengthwise. Being able to level the benchtop may not be necessary in flat prairie country, but it would be helpful on hilly or uneven terrain.

I would also make the seat height-adjustable. That would accommodate different shooter body sizes and shapes. Height could be adjusted with a threaded seat column, which you can buy cheaply online. You could even mount a slider to allow front-to-rear seat movement. This would allow you to move back for longer rifles and forward for smaller rifles or Encore-style pistols.

Of course, there are other possible “creature comfort” options. If you really wanted to “pimp your ride”, you could include an umbrella stand, gimbaled beer holder, the mandatory water-misters, and a mobile sound system….

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