June 6th, 2019

Neck-Turning Brass on Milling Machine with Erik Cortina

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Here’s the super-speedy way to turn case-necks. Our friend Erik Cortina figured out how to turn his match cartridge case-necks using his milling machine. Erik told us: “While in Raton, Mid Tompkins told me that he turns his brass on milling machine. He said he could do about 500 in two hours, so I decided to try it.”

Erik fitted a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turner to the mill, and he used a modified 21st Century case holder to secure the brass. As you can see from this video, Erik was very successful with the process. The tool spins at 1500 rpm, turning Lapua 6.5-284 cases that have been necked up to 7mm.

Video Shows Eric Cortina Neck-Turning Cases with Milling Machine:

Cartridge Brass: Lapua 6.5-284 necked up to 7mm
Lubricant: Lithium grease inside and outside of neck
Neck-Turner: Nielson Pumpkin running at 1500 RPM

It’s hard to argue with Erik’s results. Here are his turned Lapua cases, which have neck-wall thickness consistent to two ten-thousandths of an inch. Think you could do better turning manually?

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Some of Erik’s Facebook friends had questions about this process:

Q: Who makes the shell-holder?

Erik Cortina: I did! The shell-holder you can get from 21st Century. I Tig-welded a punch as a handle.

Q: I love the idea of working smarter not harder! Any galling issues? What are your mitigation techniques?

Erik Cortina: No issues. I use lithium grease in spray can. Makes a foam that I dip necks into.

Q: Shouldn’t either the case or the cutter be floating to allow most precise neck turning?

Erik Cortina: Up until [I tried this] I believed the same thing. I was going to build a floating case holder but decided to try rigid setup on a few cases before I built it. Results were great. Neck thickness doesn’t vary more than .0002″, which is same as when I was doing it with floating case holder on the lathe.

Q: Any problems with the Pumpkin changing the cut as it heats up?

Erik Cortina: No — there were no issues with that.

NOTE: Erik Cortina is a very skilled machinist who custom-crafted fittings used for this process. This kind of neck-turning with a milling machine may not be for the everyday hand-loader!

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina

Nielson “Pumpkin” Neck-Turner

Don Nielson Pumpkin neck turning toolThe circular orange cutting fixture on Erik’s Milling Machine is a Don Nielson “Pumpkin” neck-turning tool. Don designed this tool to be used by hand or with power. The Pumpkin boasts an eccentric mandrel that allows the cut to be adjusted easily in precise .0001″ increments. Benchresters like this as it allows for very precise control of cut depth and neck-wall thickness.

Jason C., commenting on Erik’s YouTube video stated: “I have a couple of those too. Nothing cuts like a Pumpkin. [Don Nielson] made the best cutter tool ever.” These are still available if you ask around. The photo shows Don with a case-holder mounted to a power assembly. A talented machinist and tool-maker, Don has also been a successful short- and long-range benchrest shooter, who has won NBRSA 600-Yard Championships. CLICK HERE to read about Don’s success with the 6.5×47 Lapua.

cartridge brass neck turn neck-turning milling machine Erik Cortina
Nielson Neck Turner with carbide mandrel. Photo Courtesy Butch’s Reloading.

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December 14th, 2018

Neck-Turning TIP — Use Optimal Cutter Angle for Best Results

neck turning lathe cutter tip sinclair pma 21st Century

When neck-turning cases, it’s a good idea to extend the cut slightly below the neck-shoulder junction. This helps keep neck tension more uniform after repeated firings, by preventing a build-up of brass where the neck meets the shoulder. One of our Forum members, Craig from Ireland, a self-declared “neck-turning novice”, was having some problems turning brass for his 20 Tactical cases. He was correctly attempting to continue the cut slightly past the neck-shoulder junction, but he was concerned that brass was being removed too far down the shoulder.

Craig writes: “Everywhere I have read about neck turning, [it says] you need to cut slightly into the neck/shoulder junction to stop doughnutting. I completely understand this but I cant seem to get my neck-turning tool set-up to just touch the neck/shoulder junction. It either just doesn’t touch [the shoulder] or cuts nearly the whole shoulder and that just looks very messy. No matter how I adjust the mandrel to set how far down the neck it cuts, it either doesn’t touch it or it cuts far too much. I think it may relate to the bevel on the cutter in my neck-turning tool…”

Looking at Craig’s pictures, we’d agree that he didn’t need to cut so far down into the shoulder. There is a simple solution for this situation. Craig is using a neck-turning tool with a rather shallow cutter bevel angle. This 20-degree angle is set up as “universal geometry” that will work with any shoulder angle. Unfortunately, as you work the cutter down the neck, a shallow angled-cutter tip such as this will remove brass fairly far down. You only want to extend the cut about 1/32 of an inch past the neck-shoulder junction. This is enough to eliminate brass build-up at the base of the neck that can cause doughnuts to form.

K&M neck-turning tool

The answer here is simply to use a cutter tip with a wider angle — 30 to 40 degrees. The cutter for the K&M neck-turning tool (above) has a shorter bevel that better matches a 30° shoulder. There is also a 40° tip available. PMA Tool and 21st Century Shooting also offer carbide cutters with a variety of bevel angles to exactly match your case shoulder angle*. WalkerTexasRanger reports: “I went to a 40-degree cutter head just to address this same issue, and I have been much happier with the results. The 40-degree heads are available from Sinclair Int’l for $15 or so.” Forum Member CBonner concurs: “I had the same problem with my 7WSM… The 40-degree cutter was the answer.” Below is Sinclair’s 40° Cutter for its NT-series neck-turning tools. Item NT3140, this 40° Cutter sells for $14.99. For the same price, Sinclair also sells the conventional 30° Cutter, item NT3100.

Al Nyhus has another clever solution: “The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is to get an extra shell holder and face it off .020-.025 and then run the cases into the sizing die. This will push the shoulder back .020-.025. Then you neck turn down to the ‘new’ neck/shoulder junction and simply stop there. Fireforming the cases by seating the bullets hard into the lands will blow the shoulder forward and the extra neck length you turned by having the shoulder set back will now be blended perfectly into the shoulder. The results are a case that perfectly fits the chamber and zero donuts.”

* 21st Century sells carbide cutters in: 15, 17, 20, 21.5, 23, 25, 28, 30, 35, 40, and 46 degrees. PMA Tool sells carbide cutters in: 20, 23, 30, and 40 degrees, plus other angles by special order.

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August 4th, 2018

Power to the People — 21st Century Powered Neck-Turning Lathe

21st Century Shooting neck turn neck-turning power lathe powered cutting tool arbor case neck brass cartridge

Do you neck-turn hundreds of cases annually? Then you deserve this outstanding tool. This innovative neck-turning system is truly a game-changer. The 21st Century Shooting Powered Neck-Turning Lathe is quite simply the best system ever created for quickly and precisely uniforming (and reducing) the neckwall thickness of cartridge brass. We have the original manual 21st Century neck-turning lathe, and can attest that it works great. But with the new powered system you can turn necks faster and more efficiently, with less effort. This is like going from a stick shift to an automatic transmission. The cases feed very smoothly and the results are beautiful. Once you’ve tried the Powered Neck-Turning Lathe you won’t want to use anything else. Watch this video to see how it works:

Power is activated by the red button on the end of the blue, horizontal feed handle:

Click the Speaker Button on video frame to play with sound (audio).

The Powered Neck-Turning lathe is a modular system. Swing the bar from right to left to feed the case. The power head (with case holder) glides on stainless steel rails for smooth movement. This allows very precise feed rate. Power is supplied via a button that is built into the end of the feed handle. Push the red button to make the case spin. It’s as simple as that.

21st Century Shooting neck turn neck-turning power lathe powered cutting tool arbor case neck brass cartridge

The folks at 21st Century Shooting explain why the system works so well: “The floating design of our Neck Turner and Case Driver allows the case mouth (bore) to run on the arbor absolutely concentric. This, therefore, allows the outside diameter to be turned concentric with the inside diameter.”

Here is another video that shows how the lathe system operates:

Click the Speaker Button on video frame to play with sound (audio).

Complete Powered Neck-Turning Lathe System
The powered neck-turning system comes with everything you need, starting at $679.00. This includes: Motor Assembly, Lathe Base, “L” bracket, Neck-Turning Tool, Cutter, Case Holder, Driver, Turning Arbor, Expander Die Body, and Expander Mandrel. 21st Century currently offers a choice of nine popular calibers: .17, .20, .22, .243 (6mm), .264 (6.5mm), .270, .284 (7mm), .30, and .33. The case holders are appropriately sized for the common rim sizes in that caliber. Choose either stainless arbor and mandrel or Titanium Nitride-coated arbor and mandrel (for $20 more). Some of the larger calibers cost a bit more.

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January 4th, 2016

Why Carbide Mandrels Work Better for Neck-Turning

If you have ever turned a large quantity of case-necks using power assist, you know that a carbide mandrel can make the job go easier, with better end results. In our experience, when using carbide mandrels (as opposed to ordinary steel), the cases move more smoothly with less heat build-up. Pat Reagin of PMA Tool explains why carbide neck-turning mandrels work better:

Carbide offers several advantages over conventional steel and stainless steel when making any tooling, specifically neck-turning mandrels:

Dimensional Stability — Carbide maintains its dimensions indefinitely during heating and cooling. This eliminates the need to allow the mandrel time to cool every few cases.

Coefficient of Friction and Wear-Resistance — Carbide exhibits a low coefficient of friction value as compared to all steels and wears up to 100 times longer. This reduces (but does not eliminate) the amount of lubricant required.

Galling Resistance — Carbide has exceptional resistance to galling and welding at the surface. This basically eliminates the chance of getting a case stuck on a mandrel due to insufficient lubrication.

Given the benefits of carbide neck-turner mandrels, you may be asking “where can I get one?” Sinclair Int’l offers carbide mandrels for Sinclair neck-turners for $49.99, in a full range of calibers: 17, 20, 22, 6mm, 25, 6.5mm, 270, 30, and 338.

PMA Tools Carbide neck turning mandrel neck turner$49.95 Carbide Mandrels from PMA Tool
PMA Tools now also offers carbide mandrels in a full variety of sizes. At $49.95 each, PMA’s carbide mandrels are priced competitively with Sinclair’s mandrels. PMA offers carbide mandrels in .17, .20, .22, 6mm, 6.5mm, 7mm and .30-caliber. These will work with Sinclair Int’l and 21st Century neck-turners, as well as PMA neck-turners. PMA tells us: “We now have carbide neck-turning mandrels in stock. These mandrels are made with high-tech CNC grinding-machinery, and should give you excellent results. We hope to be add other larger-caliber carbide mandrels to our lineup in the future.”

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 7 Comments »
September 9th, 2015

How to Turn Case Necks — Step by Step

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

On our main AccurateShooter.com site, you’ll find a good article by G. Salazar on the Basics of Neck Turning. If you’re new to the neck-turning game, or are just looking for good tips on improving your neck-turning procedures, you should read German’s article. Below we offer some highlights and photos from the article, but you’ll need to read the whole story to view all the illustrations and follow all the procedures step by step.

Why Should You Consider Neck Turning?
Let’s assume that your rifle doesn’t have a tight neck chamber that requires neck turning; if you have a tight neck chamber, of course, the answer to the question is “because you have to”. For the rest of us, and that includes the vast majority of Highpower shooters, neck turning isn’t a requirement, but it can be a useful way to bring your ammunition a small but meaningful step closer to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: perfection. I’m not talking about a theoretical improvement, but a real one, an improvement that lies in equalizing and optimizing the neck tension of your loaded rounds. Inconsistent neck tension is a real contributor to increased muzzle velocity variance which itself is a significant factor in increased elevation dispersion at long range. So there’s our basic reason for neck turning: to equalize and optimize neck tension in order to reduce elevation dispersion.

The Tools of the Trade
Here you see everything I use and a bit more. The press, a cordless screwdriver (always plugged in, turning is tough on the old battery), a couple of K&M neck turners (one set up for 6mm, the other for .30 caliber) an expander for each size, some Imperial lube, an old toothbrush or two to keep the cutter clean, a handle with a caseholder (for those emergencies when the screwdriver dies and there’s just one more case to go!), steel wool and a tubing micrometer finish the list of tools. Hey, I left the dial calipers out of the picture! They’re always handy, keep them around, but they are useless for measuring neck thickness, so don’t try. I usually use an Optivisor magnifier while I turn necks, very handy for a clear view of what’s happening on the neck.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

Expanding the Neck
Put some lube on the inside of the case neck and run it into the expander. Really, this isn’t hard. I prefer to expand each case immediately before turning it as opposed to expanding all the cases and then turning them. Brass is somewhat springy and will tend to go back toward its original size; therefore, by expanding and turning immediately, you are more likely to have all cases fit the mandrel with the same degree of tightness and to get a more consistent depth of cut.

Cutter Adjustment for Cut Depth and Length
All the tools I’ve seen have pretty good adjustment instructions. The only thing they don’t tell you is that you should have five to ten spare cases to get it right initially. Anything of the right diameter will do while you learn, for instance, just use that cheap surplus .308 brass to do initial setup and save the precious .30-06 for when you know what you’re doing. Be patient and make your adjustments slowly; you’ll need to set the cutter for thickness as well as length of cut (just into the shoulder). The depth of cut (brass thickness) takes a bit of fiddling, the length of the cut is generally easy to set.

The Finished Product — A Perfectly Uniform Neck
If you read the whole article, and follow the procedures using quality tools, you should get very good results — with a little practice. To demonstrate, here’s an example of my finished, neck-turned brass. You’ll see there is a perfect, 0.0125″ thick neck. It’s very uniform around the circumference, usually I only see 1 or 2 ten-thousandths variance. Now, with the necks uniformed like this, we can select the bushing size that will give us our preferred neck tension and experiment with various levels of tension, secure in the knowledge that all of the cases will actually have the desired neck tension.

neck-turning basics reloading salazar

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October 15th, 2014

New Stuff! Hornady Unveils New Ammo, New Tools for 2015

Hornady has just announced its new-for-2015 products — new ammo, new reloading equipment, new brass, and new shooting accessories. This is a big roll-out, with a slew of new products, including some very interesting reloading tools. CLICK HERE to See ALL NEW 2015 Hornady Products.

VIDEO PREVIEW: Hornady 2015 New Products Overview

New Hornady Rifle Ammunition
New rifle ammo to be introduced in 2015 includes: 17 Win Super Mag Rimfire (with 20gr VMax), Full Boar series with GMX bullets, .243 Win Superformance with 75gr V-Max, and .338 Lapua Magnum with 285gr A-Max. It appears that Hornady may also be expanding its Custom Int’l line of hunting ammo.

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

New Hornady Reloading Products
For 2015, Hornady is releasing a host of new reloading tools and accessories. Among the new reloading items this year are: Multi-Purpose Lock-N-Load® Quick Change Hand Tool (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Neck Turn Tool with power adapter (photo below), Lock-N-Load® Sonic Cleaner 7L, and Lock-N-Load® AP™ Primer Pocket Swage Tool (for Hornady L-N-L progressive press):

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

New Hornady Cartridge Brass — 15 New Varieties
This should make hand-loaders happy. Hornady will release 15 new types of Hornady-brand cartridge brass. Varminters should be happy with the new 22 Hornet, 220 Swift, and 6mm Rem offerings.

Rifle Brass
22 Hornet SKU 8602
220 Swift SKU 8615
6mm Rem SKU 8622
7mm-08 Rem SKU 8646
7x65R SKU 8641
300 Rem Ultra Mag SKU 87624
30-378 Weatherby SKU 8658
8×57 JRS SKU 8644
500-416 Nitro Express SKU 86877

Pistol Brass
380 Auto SKU 8710
9X18 Makarov SKU 8725
9MM Luger SKU 8720
38 Special SKU 8730
357 Mag SKU 8740
40 S&W SKU 8742

Hornady new brass ammo ammunition reloading tools cases

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December 9th, 2013

On December 13th Save 20% on 21st Century Shooting Products

Need some great reloading tools? Well warm up your credit cards. 21st Century Shooting will be running a ONE-DAY-ONLY Holiday promotion this upcoming Friday, December 13, 2013. You can save 20% on all 21st Century Brand items in stock. This applies to ONLINE ORDERS ONLY (no discount on phone orders). On Friday the 13th, visit 21stCenturyShooting.com and use Coupon Code XMAS-20-13 to save big on some outstanding products, including the 21st Century Neck-turning lathe (we love that thing), Primer Tools, Concentricity Gauges, Primer Pocket Uniformers, Reloading Trays, Expander Dies, Case Holders, Powder Funnels and much more. NOTE: this applies to in-stock items only — no discounts for back-ordered products.

21st Century Shooting Christmas Xmas Sale 20% Off Discount Code

Here are some of our favorite products from 21st Century Shooting:

Neck-Turning Lathe SS Priming Tool Concentricity Gauge
21st Century neck turner turning lathe 21st Century click adjustable priming tool 21st Century Concentricity Gauge
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December 2nd, 2013

Tool Tip: Optimize Your Cutter Angle for Improved Neck-Turning

When neck-turning cases, it’s a good idea to extend the cut slightly below the neck-shoulder junction. This helps keep neck tension more uniform after repeated firings, by preventing a build-up of brass where the neck meets the shoulder. One of our Forum members, Craig from Ireland, a self-declared “neck-turning novice”, was having some problems turning brass for his 20 Tactical cases. He was correctly attempting to continue the cut slightly past the neck-shoulder junction, but he was concerned that brass was being removed too far down the shoulder.

Craig writes: “Everywhere I have read about neck turning, [it says] you need to cut slightly into the neck/shoulder junction to stop doughnutting. I completely understand this but I cant seem to get my neck-turning tool set-up to just touch the neck/shoulder junction. It either just doesn’t touch [the shoulder] or cuts nearly the whole shoulder and that just looks very messy. No matter how I adjust the mandrel to set how far down the neck it cuts, it either doesn’t touch it or it cuts far too much. I think it may relate to the bevel on the cutter in my neck-turning tool…”

Looking at Craig’s pictures, we’d agree that he didn’t need to cut so far down into the shoulder. There is a simple solution for this situation. Craig is using a neck-turning tool with a rather shallow cutter bevel angle. This 20-degree angle is set up as “universal geometry” that will work with any shoulder angle. Unfortunately, as you work the cutter down the neck, a shallow angled-cutter tip such as this will remove brass fairly far down. You only want to extend the cut about 1/32 of an inch past the neck-shoulder junction. This is enough to eliminate brass build-up at the base of the neck that can cause doughnuts to form.

K&M neck-turning tool

The answer here is simply to use a cutter tip with a wider angle — 30 to 40 degrees. The cutter for the K&M neck-turning tool (above) has a shorter bevel that better matches a 30° shoulder. There is also a 40° tip available. PMA Tool and 21st Century Shooting also offer carbide cutters with a variety of bevel angles to match your case shoulder angle*. WalkerTexasRanger reports: “I went to a 40-degree cutter head just to address this same issue, and I have been much happier with the results. The 40-degree heads are available from Sinclair Int’l for $13 or so.” Forum Member CBonner concurs: “I had the same problem with my 7WSM… The 40-degree cutter was the answer.” Below is Sinclair’s 40° cutter for its NT-1000, NT-1500, and NT-4000 neck-turning tools. Item NT-3140, it sells for $12.95. There is also a 40° cutter for the NT-3000 tool, item NT-3340 ($13.95).

Al Nyhus has another clever solution: “The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is to get an extra shell holder and face it off .020-.025 and then run the cases into the sizing die. This will push the shoulder back .020-.025. Then you neck turn down to the ‘new’ neck/shoulder junction and simply stop there. Fireforming the cases by seating the bullets hard into the lands will blow the shoulder forward and the extra neck length you turned by having the shoulder set back will now be blended perfectly into the shoulder. The results are a case that perfectly fits the chamber and zero donuts.”

* 21st Century sells carbide cutters in: 15, 20, 21.5, 23, 25, 28, 30, 35, 40, and 46 degrees. PMA Tool sells carbide cutters in: 17.5, 20, 23, 25, 28, 30, 35, and 40 degrees.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Reloading 6 Comments »
August 26th, 2013

K&M Ported Expander Mandrel Riser and Neck-Turner Grip

K&M PrecisionK&M Precision Shooting Products has two very handy products you may not know about yet. The first, a brilliantly simple device that lets you see your case necks as you expand them, can be used by anyone who necks-up brass (with a compatible expander die body). The second new product is a specialized “fat grip” holder that will make neck-turning easier for those of you out there who use K&M neck-turners.

K&M Expand Mandrel Window Riser
This is a simple threaded extension placed between your expander die body (K&M Expand Iron) and the top of your press. It carries the expander mandrel higher, above the press, and has a cut-out view port so you can see the mandrel as it passes through the neck. Smart, eh? This provides visual feedback during the process of expanding your brass. The patent-pending view riser costs $20.00. Will it expand necks faster, or reduce run-out? We doubt it, but we still would like to have one, if only to eyeball the mandrel to control the neck-entry rate more consistently from case to case.

K&M Expander Riser

Installation: Thread the Expand Mandrel Window Riser into the top of your loading press, then thread the K&M Expand-Iron (Expander Die Body) fully into the top of the window riser and adjust each so you can stroke out the press completely without driving the case mouth into the press adapter. This allows you to view the expanding operation which is typically blind under the press. The riser also eliminates the need for the stop screw in the expander mandrel. LINK: Expand Window Riser Instructions (PDF).


Ergo Holder K&MErgo Holder for K&M Neck-Turning Tool
K&M’s rounded, oversized Ergo Holder lets you hold the K&M neck-turning body more securely (and with less hand cramping). Priced at $35.00, it is an expensive accessory, but we suspect many guys with K&M neck-turners will spring for an Ergo holder just because it gives you a more secure and comfortable grip on the small, square-edged K&M neck-turner.

Customer Feedback Inspired K&M’s Ergo Holder
The folks at K&M told us that their new Ergo Holder was produced in response to customer requests: “[Customers reported that] the neck turner can be hard to hold due to its compact size, especially in high-volume use. The Ergo Holder is machined from aluminum, providing a fatigue-proof grasp of the neck turner. Its mass works like a heat sink to help dissipate heat from the pilot during the turning process. The neck-turner body easily assembles into the Ergo Holder and is held in place with one set screw. The Ergo holder is also designed with the dial indicator in mind and actually makes its use more convenient”.
LINK: Ergo Holder Installation/Use Instructions (PDF).

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February 6th, 2012

Neck-Turning Lathe from 21st Century Shooting

if you turn your case-necks, here’s a tool from 21st Century Shooting that can can save time, and help you produce better, more consistent turned necks. 21st Century’s Neck-Turning Lathe system, introduced last spring, may revolutionize the way reloaders turn their case necks. Watch the video and you’ll see why. If you’re never turned cases before, you may become a convert after seeing how quickly and easily the new 21st Century Neck-Turning Lathe does the job.

The mini-lathe has unique fittings on the left and right sides that allow both the case-holder and the neck-turning tool to float. As a result this tool maintains near-perfect concentricity during the cut. 21st Century’s John Perkins explains: “The floating design of the neck turner and the case driver allows the case mouth (bore) to run on the arbor absolutely concentric, therefore allowing O.D. to be turned concentric with I.D. The tailstock creates a horizontal inline support for the base of the case. This also allows the operator to keep both hands on the power screw driver or drill, making it very easy to control the feed rate and to produce a very fine, turned finish.” Having the system float at both ends was key, according to John: “By allowing both the turner and the case to float, everything self-aligns. This maintains concentricity and allows the unit to work with very low torque.”

21st Century neck-turner lathe

Neck-Turning Lathe is Fast Yet Precise
Using power from a drill or electric screwdriver, this tool will turn necks fast — in a matter of a few seconds. And it produces beautiful, smooth necks that are extremely uniform. Tests show that the lathe, used with the 21st Century Neck-Turning Tool, will hold 0.0002 (two ten-thousandths) neck wall tolerances. And it will do that time after time.

21st Century neck-turner latheTurn Necks in a Single Pass
Using traditional hand-methods, turning case necks can be time-consuming and fatiguing. Many folks will experience hand pain or cramping after just a dozen cases. Watch the video, you’ll see how fast and easy neck-turning can be with the new mini-lathe. You get an exceptionally good cut in seconds. Very importantly, with this system, you may be able to switch from a double-pass cut, to a single-pass cut. Yes, even if you’re making a deep cut, we think there is a good chance you can turn all your necks in a single pass. That can cut your labor time in half!

21st Centure neck-turner lathe

21st Centure neck-turner latheWhy does the 21st Century Neck-Turning Tool cut so well? First, the Neck-Turning Tool employs ultra-sharp carbide cutters that are custom-ground to fit the shoulder angle of your cartridge. This allows you to make a perfect cut extending down the shoulder 1/32 of an inch. Second, the system aligns the case neck on the arbor (mandrel) so well, and the cutter is so sharp, that very little torque is required. This allows the cutting process to go very smoothly. The case-holder is also unique — it features a O-ring so it holds the case firmly in place without marring or bending the case head. The tailstock case-holder adjusts to accommodate cases from 17 Fireball to a .416 Rigby.

More Case Prep Tools for Lathe in Future
In the near future 21st Century will offer additional case prep attachments for the new mini-lathe. 21st Century plans to provide bullet-pointing system and other options. These will all work with the same lathe “chassis”, and will run with power. John states: “This is a modular system, all parts interchange. So if you have an existing 21st Century Shooting Neck Turning Tool or Bracket, everything will fit.”

The 21st Century Neck-Turning Lathe costs $245.00, complete with Neck-Turning Tool ($85.00 value) and one case-holder driver. The Neck-Turning Tool comes with a carbide cutter with user choice of shoulder angle (Arbors and Mandrels are sold separately). Perkins recommends using the Neck-Turning Lathe with power, but it will also work with an optional hand crank. NOTE: Currently the Neck-Turning Lathe works ONLY with the 21st Century Neck-Turner. It will not work with K&M, Sinclair, or Forster tools. But that’s not a real drawback because the 21st Century tool is certainly one of the best on the market today. You can purchase the Neck-Turning Lathe (complete with Neck-Turner and Case-Holder) through the 21st Century website, or call (260) 273-9909.

Disclosure: 21st Century Shooting advertises with AccurateShooter.com.
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December 6th, 2011

See-Through Expander Riser and Ergo Holder from K&M

K&M PrecisionK&M Precision Shooting Products has two very handy products you may not know about yet. The first, a brilliantly simple device that lets you see your case necks as you expand them, can be used by anyone who necks-up brass (with a compatible expander die body). The second new product is a specialized “fat grip” holder that will make neck-turning easier for those of you out there who use K&M neck-turners.

K&M Expand Mandrel Window Riser
This is a simple threaded extension placed between your expander die body (K&M Expand Iron) and the top of your press. It carries the expander mandrel higher, above the press, and has a cut-out view port so you can see the mandrel as it passes through the neck. Smart, eh? This provides visual feedback during the process of expanding your brass. The patent-pending view riser costs $20.00. Will it expand necks faster, or reduce run-out? We doubt it, but we still would like to have one, if only to eyeball the mandrel to control the neck-entry rate more consistently from case to case.

K&M Expander Riser

Installation: Thread the Expand Mandrel Window Riser into the top of your loading press, then thread the K&M Expand-Iron (Expander Die Body) fully into the top of the window riser and adjust each so you can stroke out the press completely without driving the case mouth into the press adapter. This allows you to view the expanding operation which is typically blind under the press. The riser also eliminates the need for the stop screw in the expander mandrel. LINK: Expand Window Riser Instructions (PDF).


Ergo Holder K&MErgo Holder for K&M Neck-Turning Tool
K&M’s rounded, oversized Ergo Holder lets you hold the K&M neck-turning body more securely (and with less hand cramping). Priced at $35.00, it is an expensive accessory, but we suspect many guys with K&M neck-turners will spring for an Ergo holder just because it gives you a more secure and comfortable grip on the small, square-edged K&M neck-turner.

Customer Feedback Inspired K&M’s Ergo Holder
The folks at K&M told us that their new Ergo Holder was produced in response to customer requests: “[Customers reported that] the neck turner can be hard to hold due to its compact size, especially in high-volume use. The Ergo Holder is machined from aluminum, providing a fatigue-proof grasp of the neck turner. Its mass works like a heat sink to help dissipate heat from the pilot during the turning process. The neck-turner body easily assembles into the Ergo Holder and is held in place with one set screw. The Ergo holder is also designed with the dial indicator in mind and actually makes its use more convenient”.
LINK: Ergo Holder Installation/Use Instructions (PDF).

Credit Forum Member EdLongRange for spotting these new K&M products.
Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, New Product, Reloading 2 Comments »
May 2nd, 2011

Gear Review: PMA Neck Turning Tool

The PMA Neck Turning Tool, review by Danny Reever
PMA Tool was founded by Matt Harris and Pat Reagin, two former employees of Fred Sinclair. They both worked their way through college working for and designing tools for Sinclair Int’l. They now have branched out on their own and are offering some unique tools for the reloader.

PMA Neckturner Neck Turning Tool

I, like many other shooters out there, would sooner take a beating than change the settings of my neck turner. Many shooters even go out and buy a separate neck turner for every caliber — just so they don’t have to adjust the settings. Most of you know what it’s like, you ruin half dozen cases (or more) getting your neck turner just right, and if you change it the chances of getting it back to where it was are practically nil. Let me be the first to tell you those days are over! Like many of you, I first saw the PMA Neck Turning Tool in an advertisement on this website’s home page. It’s hard to miss, blue anodized finish with the large PMA logo on the body.

PMA Tool Moves the Mandrel, Not the Cutter Tip
From PMA’s website I learned that this turner does NOT use a coarse or fine drive screw to move the cutter towards or away from the mandrel. Nor does the PMA tool move the mandrel on an eccentric (another method of cutting depth control). The PMA tool does something very different. PMA’s Model A Neck Turning Tool simply adjusts by moving the mandrel toward or away from the stationary cutter with an 80 TPI drive screw with 60 indicating marks. Each mark moves the mandrel .0002″ (two ten-thousandths). I found, if you stop between the marks, .0001″ isn’t out of the question. It’s such a smart arrangement, I wondered “why didn’t anyone think of that before?”

Use PMA, 21st Century, or Sinclair Int’l Mandrels
My interest now piqued, I contacted Pat Reagin for one of the PMA tools. Pat suggested that I also use PMA’s stainless expander and turning mandrels since they have put a lot of effort to get them exactly right. I might mention that the 3/8 shank stainless or carbide mandrels from 21st Century or Sinclair Int’l will work also. PMA does have carbide turning mandrels in the works — a nice upgrade for those of you who turn lots of cases at one sitting. I personally didn’t encounter any unnecessary heat build-up with the stainless mandrels only turning 10-20 cases at a time. Considering that carbide mandrels run about $40.00 compared to $7.95 for stainless, it’s nice to save a couple of bucks when you can.

Cut-Depth Settings Can Be Dialed “Dead-On” (Even after Caliber Changes)
Upon receiving the PMA tool I immediately went to my reloading room to set it up for turning some culled .308 Lapua brass — to clean it up 75% for a no-turn chamber. I followed the directions included with the turner and it was a snap to set up. After turning a few of the .308s I made note of my setting and changed both mandrels to 6MM to turn some Lapua 6BR brass for my .269″-neck chamber. Again the change went smooth as silk and I was turning the 6BRs in no time for my preferred loaded neck diameter of .26730″. I then decided to take the leap of faith and change back to turning the .308s after making note of the 6BR setting. That worked, so I then again switched back again to the 6BR setting — again with success. I have gone back and forth (between calibers) numerous times in the last couple of weeks. Each time I easily returned to my caliber-specific settings and I did not ruin a single case in the process. Without sounding like I’m gushing here I must say this is the nicest neck turner that I have ever used. The adjustments are so easy and repeatable “Even a cave man can do it”!

If, like me, you absolutely hate setting up neck turners, for fear of losing your settings, you owe it to yourself to give the PMA Model A neck turner a try. I think you’ll be impressed. The PMA Neck Turning Tool costs $95.95, complete with one carbide cutter with your choice of 30° or 40° shoulder angle.

Disclosure: Danny Reever is a Forum Member. He received no “freebies” or compensation. PMA Tools advertises on AccurateShooter.com.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »
February 26th, 2011

New Neck-Turning Tool Holder from 21st Century Shooting

The wizard tool designer who runs 21st Century Shooting has invented a clever yet inexpensive new bench accessory that makes it much easier to turn case-necks. 21st Century’s new Neck Turning Tool Swivel Bracket gives you a “third hand” when using the 21st Century Neck Turning Tool, simplifying the process of neck turning, particularly when using power.

neck turning tool bracket

CNC-machined from aluminum billet, 21st Century’s Swivel Bracket mounts right on your bench. You can either attach it semi-permanently with screws or simply clamp it in place. Adjust your neck-turning tool (red unit in photo), at any angle from 0-90°, for best viewing of the cutter operation. With your neck-turning tool attached to the bracket, you have easy access to the arbor adjustment screw, arbor screw clamp, and the bracket rotation clamp screw. Once you’ve adjusted the angle, and locked the neck turner in place with the supplied Allen wrench, you can concentrate on turning the case, either by hand, or with power assist. The neck-turning tool is held securely; however, rubber bushings on the bracket allow the neck-turning tool to “float” just enough to work properly when using power.

This new Neck Turning Tool Swivel Bracket is simple, but very effective. It really does help you turn necks with greater ease and a greater sense of security. Importantly, the bracket lessens hand fatigue. No more “cramped hand syndrome” from struggling to hold the neck-turner steady. We really like this little device, and it only costs $19.95. However, for the time being, the Swivel Bracket ONLY works with the 21st Century Neck Turning Tool — it does NOT work with a Hornady, K&M, Neilson, or Sinclair Neck Turning Tools. For more info, call 260-273-9909 or visit 21stCenturyShooting.com.

Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 5 Comments »
February 9th, 2011

NEW Neck-Turning Tool From 21st Century Shooting

Gear Review: 21st Century Neck Turner
by Germán A. Salazar
A new neck-turning tool with easy adjustments, super-high quality of manufacturing and an ergonomic design sounds like a good thing to me. If you also like good tools and like to keep up with developments in the field, read on (most of the pictures can be enlarged by clicking on them).

I recently received the new Neck-Turning Tool made by John at 21st Century Shooting. I always enjoy seeing John’s work because he really has a good grasp on how a tool should be designed to work effectively and this tool certainly fits that mold. The basic requirements of a good neck turner are: (a) accurate adjustments, (b) good blade design, (c) ergonomic design and (d) a well thought-out system of ancillary items. Let’s look at each of those areas and give the tool a test drive.

21st Century Neck TurnerHandy Cut-Depth Adjustment Dial
The 21st Century neck turner has a unique dial adjustment for the depth of the cut which makes small adjustments simple and fast. Each full number represents 0.001″ of cutter movement, and the fine lines in between let you zero in on the exact neck wall thickness that you need. The dial is simply turned in until the desired neck thickness is reached. If you go too far, it’s best to turn it out a full turn, then back in once again; this reduces the effect of any backlash that might exist in the threads. I found the dial easy to use and had no trouble getting to my usual thickness setting of 0.0125″.

Excellent Carbide Cutter Blade Design
At its core, a neck turner is a cutting tool and good blade design is what sets any good cutting tool apart from the competition. Here, John really shows his ability as a designer and manufacturer. The blade supplied on my tool is carbide and cuts brass effortlessly, however, that’s not the real point of interest. Many neck turners have blades with less than ideal nose radius and create a “threading” effect on the neck unless the tool is fed over the brass at a very slow rate. The 21st Century blade has a good radius at the transition to the shoulder angle which allows for a smooth cut with a reasonable feed rate.

The shoulder angle is another well thought-out feature as it is a very close match to the actual shoulder angle of the case. This allows you to bring the cutter a bit further into the shoulder without weakening it and definitely avoid the subsequent occurrence of the donut of thick brass at the base of the neck. (When ordering, 21st Century lets you specify one of four (4) different cutter shoulder angles to match your particular cartridge: 20°, 30°, 35°, and 40°.) The photo of the case in the cutter shows the cutter making solid contact with the shoulder after a substantial cut on the neck, yet the shoulder was really just lightly touched. I backed the cutter off a bit from this setting for the final adjustment. If you tend to use heavy bullets which extend below the base of the neck, this feature alone makes John’s tool worthwhile.

21st Century neck turner

Turning necks is tedious, especially if you’re turning a large number of cases as High Power shooters generally do. Accordingly, a design that takes ergonomics into consideration is highly appreciated. Note the slight hourglass shape of the tool, that really lets your hand take a grip that counters the natural tendency of the tool to turn with the rotation of the case, especially when turning with a power case driver. The size of the tool itself also helps; if you’ve used one of the smaller tools on the market, you know just how tired your hand can get from trying to hold on to it after a while! I turned 70 case necks in two sessions with the 21st Century tool and my hand and fingers remained comfortable throughout.

However good the turner may be, it doesn’t work alone. Any neck turner needs a matching expander. The 21st Century expander is a nicely designed unit that allows you to change expander sizes with no tools by simply unscrewing the cap of the die body and dropping in the appropriate expander.

K&M Arbor Adapters Available
I’ve been using a K&M turner for some years now and have accumulated turning arbors (mandrels) in various sizes. John knows that’s the case for many of us, so he makes affordable adapter bushings for his tool that allow the use of K&M turner arbors. That’s a nice feature that will allow me to save the price of a few arbors and expanders. The adapter for K&M arbors costs $12.00.

Although I use a cordless screwdriver to turn the case, I still like to have a manual option for case turning. Sometimes the cordless driver dies with just a few cases left to go in a session and I know that, one day, when I most need it, it’ll just quit altogether. John’s case handle for manual case turning is another well-designed, ergonomic piece that shows his careful, thoughtful approach to tool design. He even makes a version of it for the .50 BMG if your tastes in cartridges run on the large side!

21st Century Neck-turner

Neck-Turning Tool and Accessory Order Information
Order the Neck Turner and accessories through www.21stCenturyShooting.com, or call (260) 273-9909. The 21st Century neck-turning tool, by itself, costs $78.00, including a carbide cutter (standard size). You can chose among four different cutter shoulder angles, to match your particular cartridge: 20°, 30°, 35°, and 40°. Additional carbide cutters cost $26.00-$28.00. Caliber-specific turning arbors and expander mandrels are priced at $7.95 each. The standard size Universal Case-Holding Handle (photo above), costs $16.95.

You can also purchase a complete Neck-Turning Tool Kit from 21st Century. This $112.99 package includes everything you need:

Neck Turning Tool w/cutter
Turning Arbor
Expander Mandrel
Expander Die Body
Loading Die Locking Ring
Neck Turning Universal Handle

Disclosure: 21st Century Shooting, an advertiser on this website, provided a neck turner tool and accessories to German Salazar for testing and evaluation.
Permalink Gear Review, New Product, Reloading 3 Comments »