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October 21st, 2022

21st Century Arbor Presses: Hydro, Standard, New Generation

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. It is offered for $300.00 or, with a variety of gauge options, for $367.00. You can add an extended base with loading block another $85.00. CLICK HERE for ordering options.

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 $128.00, 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.

New Generation Arbor Press from 21st Century

UPDATE: In addition to the Standard Arbor Press, 21st Century now offers a New Generation Arbor Press for $185. This features direct leverage action plus a light-weight return spring that provides enhanced “resistive feedback” when seating bullets. This Editor has used this New Generation Arbor Press and it does have improved seating “feel”. An extended base with loading block is available at extra cost.

21st Century Shooting Hydro Press Hydraulic Arbor Press bullet seating

21st Century explains: “Our New Generation Arbor Press is the perfect upgrade for shooters looking to get the most out of their hand dies. With many truly unique features… this press features a butter-smooth direct leverage action. The tight tolerances of this design and exclusion of friction-inducing gears ensures that the press exerts consistent pressure through its full range of motion with minimal effort. Leverage is increased through the incorporation of an extra-long press handle, reducing hand and arm fatigue. The return springs are strong enough to reset the press but do not diminish the operator’s ability to feel the resistive feedback generated by neck tension. Press head clearance is adjustable up to 9 inches.”

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.

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October 21st, 2022

NSSF Sponsors Photo Contest for Hunters with MSRs

modern sporting rifle hunting contest NSSF

The NSSF is running a MSR Photo Contest for hunters. Submit a hunting photo with a semi-automatic modern sporting rifle (MSR) and you can win one of two valuable guided hunts — a Mississippi Deer Hunt or Louisiana Hog Hunt. Through its #LetsGoHunting with MSRs Photo Challenge, the NSSF encourages hunters to share memorable hunting experiences when using MSRs. There are many photo styles that can be submitted — selfies, trophy photos, group photos, and firearms in the field.

Enter by posting an Instagram hunt photo using an MSR, such as an AR-15 or AR-10. All valid entries must include a photo showing a MSR in use such as the AR-15, AR-10, carbine, and similar variants. Entries must be submitted no later than January 31, 2023. Winners will be selected by drawing. Photos are only eligible for this sweepstakes if they contain a modern sporting rifle and depict proper firearm safety. Please read the official Photo Challenge Rules for more information. It is easy to enter the contest:

1. Take a photo while hunting using a Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR)
2. Post the photo to Instagram including #LetsGoHunting in the caption.

modern sporting rifle hunting contest NSSF

Hunting with Modern Sporting Rifles
MSRs, today’s popular semi-automatic rifle designs, are used by more and more hunters. Modern Sporting Rifles are used for many different types of hunting, from varmint to big game. MSRs are chambered for a wide variety of calibers and cartridge types, from 20 Practical to .338 WSM. MSR’s ruggedness and versatility serve hunters well. And MSR modularity allows MSRs to be configured for various applications.

modern sporting rifle hunting contest NSSF
Tactical Life Night Shooter — #LetsGoHunting #nightshooter #hoghunter

NSSF thanks The Confluence Group for donating the prize hunts to help encourage hunters to participate in the MSR Hunting Photo Challenge. Learn more here.

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