May 30th, 2017

Chain Detonation — What Happens When A Primer Stack Blows

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

What can happen when the bottom-most primer in a primer feed tube goes off? A big bang, that’s what. Some or all of the primers in the vertical feeding tube can go off in a chain detonation. That’s exactly what happened to Dustin Ellermann, Top Shot Season 3 Champion. Scary experience, but thankfully Dustin was not injured. He writes: “Super thankful that I was wearing my Wiley X eye protection this weekend when I was reloading some .223 rounds. My press detonated nearly 100 small rifle primers. Shown here is the magazine feed tube. Not fun but it could have been much worse. Stay safe!”

When working with progressive reloading presses, you should definitely wear eye protection. Dustin’s chain detonation experience proves that — without a doubt. Remember you only have one set of eyes!

RCBS APS Strips — Alternative to Primer Tubes
RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonationWhen you stack a column of primers in a single metal tube, you’re asking for trouble. As Dustin Ellermann learned, when one primer fires, the entire column can follow suit in a chain detonation. Thankfully, you do have options when it comes to primer feeding on a progressive press. RCBS developed an innovative primer system for its Pro-2000 progressive press. Instead of being stored in a vertical tube, primers are placed in flat, plastic “APS” strips, with a ring of plastic separating each primer. Moving horizontally, primers are never stacked, so the chance of a chain detonation is reduced dramatically. The re-usable APS strips are color-coded for different primer types. You can buy CCI “pre-loaded” primer strips, or you can insert any brand of primers into strips using an RCBS strip-loader tool.

RCBS Pro-2000 with APS Strip Priming System

AccurateShooter.com Editor Uses Strip Primers
This Editor owns an RCBS Pro-2000 progressive press. The RCBS strip-priming system was one key reason I selected the RCBS Pro-2000 over similar-priced progressives from Dillon and Hornady. I believe the strip primer system is safer, more positive, and easier to use. Before I purchased my RCBS progressive, I “road-tested” the competition. I loaded hundreds of rounds on each of four different progressives: Dillon 550B, Dillon 650, Hornady Lock-N-Load, and RCBS 2000. I was concerned about the primer feed tubes on the Dillons, and I found the RCBS rotary powder measure was much more precise (and easier to adjust) than the sliding bar system on the Dillon machines. The RCBS priming system was definitely more fool-proof than the system on the Hornady press (a first-generation L-N-L that had issues with primer feeding). After “test-driving” blue, red, and green brand progressives extensively, I settled on the RCBS Pro-2000. A decade later, I still think I made the right choice. I like the APS strips for big jobs, and I can also use them in the RCBS hand-priming tool (shown below). With the strips, it’s easy to prime 20 or 40 cases at a time, and then switch to another type of primer for comparison testing.

RCBS Primer Progressive strip APS dillon detonation

APS Tool press mounted RCBSThe APS priming system also works with press-mounted priming tool, bench-mounted tool, and APS hand-tool. EdLongRange uses the press-mounted tool: “I also like the APS approach but use the press-mounted unit (saves your hands/wrists — and I haven’t had a need for a progressive press in over 20 years). Loading the primers in the strips is a bit of a PITA but very manageable. As with all tools there is a learning curve.” CLICK HERE for video showing strip-loading tool and press-mounted APS tool. The press-mounted tool is no longer in production, but you can still BUY IT HERE.

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December 20th, 2015

New RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press Unveiled

RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press 2000 ultimatereloader Gear

Lots of slots — that’s what you’ll find on the top of RCBS’s new Pro-Chucker 7 progressive reloading press. This thing has SEVEN (7) stations, which gives you great flexibility when reloading. You have plenty of extra slots for special dies such as crimp dies or powder-check dies. The 7-hole interchangeable die-plate (aka tool-head) is am impressive bit of engineering — it looks like the cylinder for a super-sized revolver.

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com got his hands on one of the first production models of the new Pro Chucker 7 progressive press. Gavin reports: “This 7-station auto-indexing progressive is the ‘big brother’ of the RCBS Pro Chucker 5, and is built on the same frame. While it shares most of the same internals, there are a few differences”. Key differences include a seven-station shellplate and seven-station die-plate (vs. five stations on the Pro Chucker 5). In addition the priming system is slightly different and the Pro Chucker 7 comes with a much larger powder hopper.

Watch Pro Chucker 7 Unboxing Video:

To demonstrate the new features of the Pro Chucker 7, Gavin has produced an unboxing video that shows the components of the system. This is a completely different design than the RCBS 2000 system progressive press (which this editor owns). The Pro Chucker series 5 and 7 presses have a more compact frame and a more conventional, vertical column priming system. They don’t take up much more space on your loading bench than a turret press, yet they offer full progressive capability, creating one loaded round with every pull of the handle.

RCBS Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press 2000 ultimatereloader Gear

If you are considering purchasing a progressive press (whether green, red, or blue), you should watch the video and see the press features. Gavin Gear will demonstrate how the Pro Chucker 7 works with another video to be released in the near future.

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October 10th, 2010

RCBS Powered Bullet Feeders for Progressive Presses

RCBS Bullet Feeder 30 CaliberRCBS has recently started shipping two new Rifle Bullet Feeder Kits for progressive metallic reloading presses. Availble for 30-caliber and 22-caliber, the Rifle Bullet Feeder Kits are designed to fit on most 7/8″-14 threaded progressive presses. An electrically-powered collator unit orients the bullets to drop directly into the feed mechanism where they are placed precisely in the case-mouths of your cartidges.

Feeder Kit Can Increase Load Rate by 50%
The 30-Cal hopper holds approximately 125 (180gr) 30-caliber bullets while the 22-Cal feeder holds about 250 (55gr) 22-caliber bullets. RCBS claims that both units increase load rates by 50%. We’d say that depends on how fast you operate your machine. On this Editor’s RCBS 2000 Progressive press I can usually pick up a bullet and place it in the case mouth in about 2-3 seconds. But now and then I will fumble with a bullet or place it in slightly tilted, requiring me to do it all over again. That’s where the feeder comes in very handy — the bullets always orient correctly in the case. We just wish RCBS offered .45 caliber and 9mm versions for pistol ammo and a 6mm version for rifles. RCBS says these calibers may be offered in the future.

RCBS Bullet Feeder Features:
• Available for either 22-caliber or 30-caliber
• Large hopper for non-stop reloading and max output
• Bullets are oriented to drop directly into feed mechanism/seat die
• Bullet feeding and seating are accomplished in one station.
• Adjustable collator height
• RCBS® two-year warranty

Feeders Increase Reloading Efficiency
The power-operated collator unit ensures each bullet component is properly oriented for feeding directly into the seat die. “This steady stream of properly-aligned bullets increases the consistency of your reloading process,” explains Kent Sakamoto, product line manager. “Red, green or blue, our new Rifle Bullet Feeders fit all progressive presses and increase the seed and consistency of reloading. That’s what these Bullet Feeders bring to the reloading table.” Here is a video we took at SHOW Show 2010 where the RCBS Bullet Feeder was previewed by Sakamoto:

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