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June 8th, 2008

Workshop Project: Build a Wood Rack for Your Dies

We recently had a chance to visit John Adams, and to shoot his wickedly accurate 22 Dasher (3300 fps with 80gr Amax) at the monthly Pala Range Varmint Silhouette Match in Southern California. John, a founder of IHMSA and a former owner of SAECO Tool Company, has a vast collection of dies and reloading tools. While visiting John’s workshop, we were impressed with the wooden die rack he has constructed above his main reloading bench. This would be a great do-it-yourself project for your reloading room.

John’s Loading Die Rack is a simple flat plank of wood, about 3/4″ thick. It is mounted with wood side brackets to stand at eye-level above a tool chest. The Rack is set at about a 45° angle from vertical. This holds the dies securely, but they are still easy to move in and out of the rack. At the top rear is a flat section with a single row of dies mounted upright.

You can see that all the dies for a particular chambering are arranged in a column, one above the other. The die sets’ respective calibers are marked with highly visible labels made with a label-printing machine. John also has labels on many of the dies themselves.

Vintage RCBS Die Rack
Below is an older, metal die rack. These were once manufactured by RCBS, but they are no longer sold. John Adams managed to snag a couple from RCBS years ago. The design is handy, but you can achieve the same results with a home-made wood block (perhaps that’s why RCBS discontinued its metal rack).

Quick Access vs. the Rust Factor
WARNING: While it is handy to keep your dies in a rack, this leaves them exposed to the elements. If you reload in a basement or garage where it gets cold and damp, your dies will rust much more quickly out in the air than if they are kept enclosed in their original boxes, with a small desiccant pack. Always keep a thin layer of oil or corrosion blocker on your dies. We recommend Eezox or Corrosion-X for that task.

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June 8th, 2008

Norma Brass for Short Magnums

Many readers have been interested in building a Short Magnum to shoot the high-BC 7mm bullets in F-Class and 1000-yard competition. The Berger 180gr VLD boasts a .684 BC, making it very appealing for the 1K game. To propel the 180s to 2900+ fps velocities, you need a pretty big case. Some guys have achieved 2900 fps with the standard .284 Win case, but a bigger cartridge can do that more reliably. The 7mm WSM and 7mm-300 WSM were favored initially, but there has been increased interest in the 7mm Remington SAUM.

7mm Rem Short Action Ultra Magnum

7mm SAUM Has 9% Less Capacity than the WSM
Compared to the WSM cases, the 7mm SAUM has a longer neck, and slightly less case capacity: 73.6 grains of H20 for the 7mm SAUM vs. 81.0 grains for the 7mm WSM. This actually makes the SAUM a better match for the 180 VLDs. There’s enough case capacity to drive the 180s close to 3000 fps, and the longer neck gives you more flexibility with seating depths. For the 7mm bullets, the WSM probably has excess capacity. The SAUM case design looks like a 6BR on steroids and it offers good efficiency. The knock on the 7mm SAUM was that, until recently, only Remington brand brass was available. That’s changed….

Norma’s SAUM Brass
Readers may not know that Norma now produces 300 Rem SAUM brass. This brass can be easily necked down to 7mm. The Norma brass is good, and can shoot the Berger 180s at 2950 fps or more. Forum member Steven Ikeda has been working with the 7mm SAUM and it looks very promising, with velocities equaling the 7mm WSM. The Norma brass (300 SAUM necked to 7mm) is what makes the 7mm SAUM deliver outstanding accuracy.

Norma 300 Rem SAUM brass is available from, Russ Haydon, and other vendors. Graf’s currently charges $102.55 for Norma 300 SAUM brass (item N27654), including shipping. The Norma 300 SAUM cases are in stock, ready to ship. A full selection of Norma brass is offered by In addition to the most popular calibers such as .223 Rem and .243 Win, here are some of the other Norma brass types sold by Graf’s:

204 RUGER: Item N25510, 100 for $90.20
22-250: Item N25731, 100 for $99.70
7.5×55 SWISS: Item N27511, 100 for $113.95
270 WSM: Item N26907, 100 for $112.05
300 WSM: Item N27676, 100 for $112.05
375 H&H MAG: Item N29501, 100 for $170.95

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