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September 25th, 2021

.223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm NATO — What You Need to Know

.223 Rem Remington 5.56 SAAMI CIP 5.56x45 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge ammo pressure test luckygunner ultimatereloader Gavin Gear

Probably the most popular centerfire rifle round in the Western Hemisphere is the .223 Remington and its metric match, the 5.56x45mm. Though many folks use “.223 Rem” and “5.56×45″ interchangeably, there are some meaningful differences in specifications for the original .223 Rem and the 5.56x45mm cartridge, as adopted by the U.S. military and NATO armies. The default chamber throats are slightly different and the .223 Rem is rated at 55,000 PSI vs. 62,366 PSI for the 5.56x45mm.*

.223 Rem vs 5.56x45mm — Key Differences
There is a truly outstanding, very thorough article on the subject, published by LuckyGunner.com.** This involved extensive testing, with pressure monitors, of 5.56x45mm ammo in .223 Rem chambers. Those tests revealed the peak pressures. Here is one of the ammo test charts:

.223 Rem Remington 5.56 SAAMI CIP 5.56x45 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge ammo pressure test luckygunner ultimatereloader Gavin Gear

NOTE: “The observed chamber pressure for Federal XM855 5.56mm ammunition in a .223 Rem chamber exceeded .223 maximum pressures, but not by a massive amount. The ninth shot (the red line) was an underpowered cartridge which exhibited significantly lower velocity and pressure than the other rounds, so it was excluded from the average velocity and pressure numbers for this chamber.”

And if you’re curious, LuckyGunner also fired .223 Rem ammo in a 5.56x45mm NATO-chambered AR15 rifle. As you would expect, the peak pressures were significantly lower, but the .223 Rem ammo still cycled the semi-auto AR-platform rifle perfectly well:

.223 Rem Remington 5.56 SAAMI CIP 5.56x45 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge ammo pressure test luckygunner ultimatereloader Gavin Gear

READ FULL LuckyGunner .223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm ARTICLE »

UltimateReloader.com Explains .223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm
To explain the key differences between the .223 Rem and 5.56x45mm cartridges our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has created a very thorough 12-minute video. This covers the cartridge specifications and explains key considerations for hand-loaders. Gavin also addresses the oft-asked question “Can I shoot 5.56x45mm ammo in my .223 Rem chamber?” Gavin’s video is definitely worth watching. In fact, this is one of the most popular videos Gavin has ever created — it has been watched nearly 4.5 million times on YouTube.

What Exactly Is the 5.56x45mm NATO Cartridge?
The 5.56×45mm NATO is a rimless bottle-necked intermediate cartridge family standardized by NATO with development work by FN Herstal. It consists of the SS109, SS110, and SS111 cartridges. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries.

Bullet diameter: 5.70 mm (0.224 in)
Maximum pressure (EPVAT): 430.00 MPa (62,366 psi)
Maximum pressure (SCATP 5.56): 380.00 MPa (55,114 psi)
Case length: 44.70 mm (1.760 in)
Rifling twist: 178 mm or 229 mm (1 in 7 in)
Parent case: .223 Remington (M193)

Ammo-Maker Federal Premium Compares .223 Rem and 5.56x45mm
Here is a video from ammo-maker Federal Premium explaining the difference between .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm NATO. Federal states that you may experience excessive pressures when firing a 5.56x45mm in a standard .223 Remington chamber:

One leading gunwriter has addressed the question of shooting 5.56x45mm ammo in .223 Rem chambers. He advocates caution (for more info, SEE pressure tests by LuckyGunner.com):

“I have received a slew of questions — many from first time AR-type rifle buyers — about the .223 Rem and the 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridges. Can I shoot 5.56×45 mm NATO in my .223 and vice-versa? Are these the same cartridge?

Externally, the two cartridge cases are identical. The main differences are that 5.56×45 mm NATO operates at a higher chamber pressure (about 60,000 PSI versus 55,000 PSI on the .223 Rem.) and the 5.56’s chamber is slightly larger than that of the .223 Rem. Also, the throat or leade is longer in the 5.56×45 mm chamber. What does this mean? You should not shoot 5.56×45 mm NATO out of a rifle that is chambered in .223 Rem [with a standard short throat]. And be aware that some .223 Rem ammunition will not reliably cycle through some AR-style .223 Rem rifles, but it usually does. As a matter of fact, I have not encountered any difficulty with current .223 Rem. loads cycling through a 5.56 mm AR-style rifle.” — Mark Keefe, Editor, American Rifleman


* According to the official NATO proofing guidelines, the 5.56×45mm NATO case can handle up to 430.0 MPa (62,366 psi) piezo service pressure. The U.S. SAAMI lists Maximum Average Pressure (MAP) for the .223 Remington cartridge as 55,000 psi (379.2 MPa) piezo pressure with deviation of up to 58,000 psi (399.9 MPa). The chamber for military 5.56×45mm NATO has a longer throat prior to the bullet contacting the rifling which results in lower pressures when firing 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition. If 5.56×45mm NATO is used in rifles chambered for .223 Remington the bullet will be engraving the rifling when chambered. which can increase pressures past SAAMI Max levels. NOTE: The C.I.P. standards for the C.I.P. civilian .223 Remington chamber are much closer to the military 5.56×45mm NATO chamber.

** The full-length LuckyGunner article is well worth reading. It even provides specifications for a number of .223 Rem reamer types, and compares the original .223 Rem, the 5.56x45mm NATO, and the modern .223 Wylde chamberings.

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August 22nd, 2021

Sunday GunDay: .22 LR Conversion Kit for AR-15 Platform

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

Over the past 18 months, popular ammo types, such as .223 Rem and 9mm, have been hard to find at reasonable prices. The high cost of .223 Rem centerfire ammo has driven more folks to shooting .22 LR rimfire ammo, both for fun and practice. This Sunday we look at a smart solution that allows you to shoot .22 LR ammo from your existing .223/5.56 AR-15 platform rifle. This is great because it allows low-cost training with no change in rifle balance, ergonomics, and/or optics.

The CMMG Bravo .22 LR Conversion Kit provides a replacement bolt/bolt carrier along with three 25-round magazines with special .22 LR-fitted followers and ammo slots. This allows you to shoot rimfire ammo from any AR-15 chambered for the .223 Rem (5.56×45). The CMMG Bravo has an integrated extension that fits into your current chamber. The rimfire bullet passes through this extension and then enters the barrel.

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition
The CMMG Bravo conversion Kit comes with blowback-operated .22 LR bolt carrier, rubber protector for bolt carrier tip, and three 25-round polymer magazines. To use, simply replace the rifle’s .223 Rem bolt and carrier with the Bravo .22 LR conversion unit and load up the included magazine(s) with rimfire ammo.

To use the CMMG Kit, simply remove the centerfire bolt/bolt carrier, and replace it with the CMMG silver colored bolt shown above. CMMG states: “For best performance use a round-style hammer as notched hammers can cause function issues.” Testers have stated that high-velocity .22 LR ammo works best, and CMMG notes that “36gr plated-nose bullets have proven to be the best choice for function.” The copper-plated bullets help reduce fouling.

Ultimate Reloader Tests CMMG .22 LR Conversion Kit

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com recently tested the CMMG .22 LR AR Conversion Kit. He observed that installation was very straight-forward and the CMMG magazines worked well. He and fellow tester Travis Fox shot the unit both slow-fire and rapid-fire successfully.

Gavin and Travis found the CMMG Kit easy to install and fun to use. With an AR that can shoot both .223 Rem and .22 LR, it’s like having “two guns in one”. Travis was impressed with the ease of use: “It is so simple to change over to the CMMG .22 LR AR kit! It took me about 68 seconds the very first time I tried. Each time after that it took me about 40 seconds — it’s that simple. It takes longer to fully load one of the mags than it does to switch over from .223/5.56 to .22 LR and back.”

The AR shot very well with the higher-velocity ammo types. 100% functioning was achieved with both 40gr Federal Game Shok ammo and American Eagle High Velocity 38gr Copper-plated HP ammo. NOTE: CMMG does recommend high-velocity Copper-plated rimfire ammunition.

Maintenance Tip — After converting back to your centerfire .223 Rem (5.56), Travis says “make sure to clean the gas tube and components as .22 LR tends to run dirty”. READ Full Test on UltimateReloader.com.

CMMG Bravo Conversion Kit Gets Thumbs Up from Gavin and Travis
“Does this conversion kit get the Ultimate Reloader stamp of approval? Absolutely! In these times of ammunition/component scarcity this gives options to shooters. Finding bulk .22 LR can sometimes be easier than 223/5.56. This kit gives that option at a great price. Any chance to keep skills up and familiarize new shooters to a platform is a good thing. Basically two rifles for a lot less than another rifle.”

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

How to Install CMMG Bravo .22 LR Conversion Kit

The Brownells video below shows the installation process step-by-step:

In this instructional video, a Brownells gunsmith demonstrates (step by step) how to install, disassemble, clean, lubricate, and reassemble the CMMG AR-15 .22 LR Conversion Kits. Clear the rifle and make safe before you start the conversion. Separate the upper and lower, remove the standard bolt carrier group. You then install the conversion bolt and connect the upper and lower as normal.

Details of CMMG .22 LR Conversion Kit

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

“For years I’ve had a CMMG conversion kit. It’s a drop-in system that’s … very reliable and it’s accurate. The [CMMG conversion] has lower recoil [and is] great for training. Even though ammo prices have gone through the roof, .22 LR is still cheaper to shoot than anything else.” — SootchGear

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

This SootchGear video shows how to install the CMMG Bravo unit. The video also compares the original CMMG .22 LR bolt assembly with the latest integrated CMMG Bravo at 2:00-3:50. The older unit had a brass adapter and separate chamber insert. The host also tests a CMMG-equipped AR with various types of ammo. Watch a rapid-fire sequence starting at 1:48 time-mark.

Field Test with Two ARs — Rapid Fire .22 LR Testing

.22 LR 22LR rimfire AR AR15 AR-15 conversion kit bolt magazine savings ammo ammunition

The video below demonstrates rapid-fire .22 LR performance with two different ARs using CCI Mini-Mag ammo. The CMMG conversion is fast and easy: “In a matter of seconds you go from 5.56 to .22 LR”. Watch rapid-fire at 5:40 with CCI Mini-Mags in red/black rifle. Then the tester shoots a variety of ammo in a .223 Wylde-chambered all-black AR, starting at 9:40. The Mini-Mags worked flawlessly, but there were a couple fail-to-cycle sequences in extreme rapid-fire with cheaper “bulk” ammo. The lesson here is use good quality, high-velocity ammo.


NOTE: This 2018 video shows an earlier CMMG .22 LR conversion bolt that features a brass adapter and separate chamber insert. The current CMMG Kit has unitized bolt without a separate adapter or insert.

Interestingly, the Mini-Mag .22 LR ammo shot fine in the .223 Wylde-chambered AR. However, CMMG cautions: “Since .223 WYLDE is NOT a mil-spec chamber, we cannot guarantee fit or function with our 22LR conversion kits.”

Reviews from CMMG Bravo .22 LR Rimfire Conversion Kit Purchasers:

“Get it. Bought this for my Rock River AR. Bolt system goes in [easily] and fits perfectly. Took it to the range and put over 150 rounds through, only failing to feed/fire two rounds. I most definitely recommend this product to anyone looking to shoot their standard AR-15 .223 rifle on a budget.” — Pew P.

“I got this just yesterday and in two days time I have put a couple thousand rounds through it and no hick-ups. I have no complaints.” — Seth

“Best buy for anyone during this ammo crisis. Ammo is extremely expensive and hard to find. It was a ‘no-brainer’ once I found this kit. Ran 200 rounds to break it in for about $20 and had maybe 3 failures. Accurate up to 50 yards (I haven’t tried further) without optic adjustments.” — Joshua M.

“Purchased one of these in January. Took it to the range shortly after for my daughters to try out. We have three ARs and this thing functioned flawlessly. We practiced swapping out the 5.56 carrier with this back and forth, flawless. Enjoyed it so much now I’m purchasing another one.” — J.B.

“Great product. I bought this due to the high cost of ammo. I wanted to still shoot my AR and this was an alternative. This thing works great… works flawless with different types of .22 LR, from premium CCI to the cheap stuff. I recommend this to anyone thinking about getting one.” — Thom

* You can get also CMMG Conversion Kits from Brownells with one (1) 25rd mag for $219.99, or with three (3) 25rd mags for $249.99. There is also a CMMG kit with three (3) 10-rd mags for $249.99 for areas with capacity restriction.

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August 19th, 2021

Make Your Own Spray-On Case Lube — Save Money

DIY yourself lanolin case lube lubricant One Shot Ultimate Reloader Gavin Gear 6.5 Guys

Tired of spending $15-$25 for a can of spray lube that doesn’t last that long? For about the same price as a single 10 oz. can you can make your own effective spray lube that should last for multiple seasons and lube thousands of cases quickly and easily.

In the YouTube video embedded below, our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com shows how to make your own case lube using simple, inexpensive ingredients. As recommended by the 6.5 Guys, this Liquid Lanolin + Isopropyl Alchohol mix works well and is very cost-effective. You can make a pint of this home-brew Lanolin case lube that will lube thousands of cases — many more than a typical commercial aerosol spray can (that’s mostly compressed air).

Complete Case Lube Instructions on UltimateReloader.com »

Gavin tells us: “Per the 65guys instructions, I ordered the same components and spray bottles, and these worked out great”:

1. Swan Isopropyl Alcohol, 99%, Pint, 16 Ounce (2-pack)
2. Home Health Liquid Lanolin, 4 Ounce
3. Chemical Guys ACC_121.16HD-3PK Chem. Resistant Heavy Duty Bottle/Sprayer (16 oz.)

Gavin describes the exact mixing process on his Ultimate Reloader website. Gavin says this lube mix is a good complement to the Hornady One-Shot (pistol) and Dillon DCL (rifle) lubes he has used for pistol and rifle reloading sessions. CLICK HERE to read more.

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August 3rd, 2021

New RCBS ChargeMaster LINK Powder Scale/Dispenser

RCBS powder scale dispenser electronic bluetooth LINK mobile app batter AC

RCBS has introduced an advanced successor to the ChargeMaster Lite electronic powder scale/dispenser. RCBS calls the new machine the ChargeMaster LINK. This boasts multiple refinements, most notably the ability to control the scale via BlueTooth using an APP on your mobile device. RCBS claims the unit “consistently delivers +/- 0.1-grain accuracy, from 0 to 350 grains[.]” It will be able to run from an external battery, or various voltage AC sources using a CE Approved 4-Country Universal Power Supply.

The ChargeMaster LINK will hold up to 2000 grains of powder, and dispense up to 350 grains per charge. MSRP is $349.95, and we expect “street price” to be around $299.00. RCBS plans to start shipping the end of this month (August 2021).

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has done an early “reveal” of the new ChargeMaster LINK. Watch the video below for Gavin’s explanation of this machine’s capabilities and features.

Watch Video to see new RCBS ChargeMaster LINK Features

Gavin plans to do a full-length product review but so far he has been impressed with the ChargeMaster LINK: “This new powder dispenser builds on the RCBS ChargeMaster Lite, adding Bluetooth connectivity, and it works with a free APP that will be available from RCBS.”

ChargeMaster LINK Features

The new RCBS ChargeMaster LINK employs the load cell and electronics of the ChargeMaster Lite. However the newer Link model “advances the powder measuring process with built-in Bluetooth that pairs with updated RCBS APP for a customized, streamlined powder-dispensing.”

Bluetooth Compatible with FREE APP
+/- 0.1 Grain Dispensing Accuracy
2000 Grain Powder Capacity
Quick Warm-Up Period
Ability to run on external battery pack
CE Approved 4-Country Universal Power Supply
16 Segment LCD Touchscreen Display
Overcharge Warning via Flashing screen
Ability to disable audible beeps
User-serviceable infinite lifeshaft seals
Sealed Platen to keep powder out
Optimal dispense tub angle for speed and accuracy

RCBS powder scale dispenser electronic bluetooth LINK mobile app batter AC
RCBS powder scale dispenser electronic bluetooth LINK mobile app batter AC
RCBS powder scale dispenser electronic bluetooth LINK mobile app batter AC

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July 13th, 2021

Get Brass Ultra-Clean with Ultrasonic Machines

Ultrasonic Cleaning RCBS Ultrasound .308 Winchester 7.62x51 brass casings

Tumblers and walnut/corncob media are old school. These days many shooters prefer processing brass rapidly with an ultrasonic cleaning machine. When used with the proper solution, a good ultrasonic cleaning machine can quickly remove remove dust, carbon, oil, and powder residue from your cartridge brass. The ultrasonic process will clean the inside of the cases, and even the primer pockets. Tumbling works well too, but for really dirty brass, ultrasonic cleaning may be a wise choice.

READ FULL UltimateReloader.com Article on Ultrasonic Case Cleaning »

Our friend Gavin Gear recently put an RCBS Ultrasonic cleaning machine through its paces using RCBS Ultrasonic Case Cleaning Solution (RCBS #87058). To provide a real challenge, Gavin used some very dull and greasy milsurp brass: “I bought a huge lot of military once-fired 7.52x51mm brass (fired in a machine gun) that I’ve been slowly prepping for my DPMS LR-308B AR-10 style rifle. Some of this brass was fully prepped (sized/de-primed, trimmed, case mouths chamfered, primer pockets reamed) but it was gunked up with lube and looking dingy.”

UltimateReloader.com Case Cleaning Video (7.5 minutes):

Gavin describes the cleaning exercise step-by-step on UltimateReloader.com. Read Gavin’s Cartridge Cleaning Article to learn how he mixed the solution, activated the heater, and cycled the machine for 30 minutes. As you can see in the video above, the results were impressive. If you have never cleaned brass with ultrasound before, you should definitely watch Gavin’s 7.5-minute video — it provides many useful tips and shows the cleaning operation in progress from start to finish.

Ultra Dry Necks After Ultrasonic Cleaning — Some Suggestions
The Ultrasonic cleaning process gets cartridge brass so “squeaky clean” that increased force may be required to seat your bullets, or they may “grab” as they go in the necks. To reduce bullet-seating effort, you may benefit from adding a little dry case lube inside the case-neck before loading (use a nylon brush). Another trick is adding a teaspoon of Ballistol lube to the cleaning solution. That provides a trace lubricant inside the necks, but does not interfere with powder ignition in any way.


The latest Gen2 RCBS ultrasonic cleaning machine has a large 6.3-quart capacity. That’s nearly 100% larger than the first generation machine in Gavin’s video. The Gen2 machine, $385.49 on Amazon, features a second ceramic heater and transducer to better clean brass cases and firearm parts. The LED is easily programmable, and the timer can be set for up to 30 minutes of cleaning. The original 3.2 quart-capacity RCBS ultrasonic machine, as shown in Gavin’s video, is still available for $180.72 at Midsouth Shooters.

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June 24th, 2021

UltimateReloader Video Demonstrates Pistol Case Gauges

Pistol Cartridge Gage Gauge ulimatereloader.com

If you load pistol ammo you should have a case gauge (aka “gage”) for each cartridge type you reload. Caliber-specific, precision-machined cylindrical gauges perform many important functions. They will instantly reveal if your rounds are too long or have excessive headspace. They will also show if your case is bulged or otherwise too fat to chamber easily. You can use the gauge with sized brass as well as loaded rounds.

Case gauges are a “must-have” for anyone loading handgun ammunition, particularly if you crank out large quantities of pistol ammo with a progressive press. An oversize round can cause a misfeed, jam, or other problem. That can ruin your day if you are in the middle of a shooting match. If you are relying on your handgun for self-defense, the last thing you want is a malfunction of any kind. This Editor personally runs every pistol round through a gauge before it goes into the ammo box.

UltimateReloader.com Video Shows How to Use Pistol Case Gauges:

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com has prepared an excellent video that explains the benefits of pistol case gauges and shows how to use them. Gavin uses the quality gages produced by L.E. Wilson. These are available for the most popular handgun cartridges, both autoloader cartridges, and rimmed revolver cartridges. Gavin demonstrates gage use with .40 SW and .44 magnum cases.

READ Pistol Case Gage ‘How-To’ Guide on UltimateReloader.com

Gavin states: “Using a case gage is very simple, and I would recommend that you add one of these gages to your reloader’s tool chest for each of the pistol cartridge types you reload. It may just save you a lot of time and hassle. Peace of mind is hard to put a price on!”

Ulimate Reloader.com also covers the use of case gauges for rifle cartridges. Rifle cartridge gauges are especially useful in detecting headspace problems. Case gauges can avert many problems, particularly if you reload milsurp rifle brass. CLICK HERE for Rifle Case Gauge “How To” and Video.

Permalink - Videos, Handguns, Reloading 2 Comments »
June 17th, 2021

Gavin’s Greatest Hits — Ultimate Reloader Video Showcase

YouTube Ultimate Reloader Video Showcase Single Stage Shootout .223 vs. 5.56

ultimate reloader Gavin Gear T-shirtGavin Gear, founder of the UltimateReloader.com website, has created a very popular YouTube Channel. Over the past 13 years, Gavin has produced hundreds of videos covering nearly every aspect of reloading, rifle assembly, and gunsmithing. When important new reloading products are released, you’ll often find that the very first, in-depth reviews come from Gavin. He seems to get the new stuff before ANYone else.

And Gavin’s multi-product reviews are legendary, such as his remarkable 14-Press Shootout. That video, in which Gavin set up and operated 14 different single-stage presses, has received over 583,000 views, making it Gavin’s third most popular video of all time. The Single-Stage Shootout video, along with Gavin’s five other most popular videos, are linked below.

Consider this a “Greatest Hits” showcase, with a half-dozen Ultimate Reloader videos that have, collectively, been watched nearly 8.5 million times. We present these videos in descending order of total YouTube views, leading with Gavin’s epic .223 Rem vs. 5.56 video, which has been watched over 5 million times.

.223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm — 5.03 Million Views

Full Story: https://bit.ly/2neNXAS
This video explains essential facts and corrects common misconceptions related to both .223/5.56 ammunition, as well as .223/5.56 rifles. Gavin provides insight on chamber specs, pressure levels, barrel twist rates, military 5.56 crimped brass, and other important topics. If you are new to the AR world, this video is definitely worth watching. And that’s why it now has topped the 5 million mark in YouTube views. Gavin adds: “Don’t forget to check out the full write-up on UltimateReloader.com.”

Lee Loadmaster loading .45 ACP — 1.08 Million Views

The .45 ACP is a classic cartridge, and one of the best for a starting reloader. The case diameter is large enough that you can see the case fill level easily. Also you can pick a powder that won’t allow a mistaken double charge (the case will overflow). In this video, from Gavin’s early days on YouTube, Gavin shows how to run a Lee Loadmaster progressive. Lee should be paying Gavin royalties, as this video have been watched over 1 million times.

AR Handguard Upgrade Step-by-Step — 870,000 Views

The AR15 is truly “America’s rifle”. Along with buttstock replacement, one of the most common upgrades done by AR owners is changing out the front handguard. In this video, Gavin shows how to replace your stock handguard with a modern free-floating system. There can be accuracy improvements with this upgrade, and this also allows you to optimize the ergonomics and weight balance of your black rifle.

14 Reloading Presses Single-Stage Shootout — 584,000 Views

Full Story: https://bit.ly/2WS9jE0
This truly may be the “ultimate” reloading press video. Running a full 41 minutes in length, this video shows the features/operation of no less than fourteen (14) modern single-stage presses. No other reloading gear review even come closes to this video in terms of the variety of products covered and the sophistication of the tests. In his full story, Gavin offers comparison charts with sizing force and seating precision comparisons. He also measures ram to press frame fit.

Anyone considering purchasing a single-stage press should watch this video from start to finish. A typical gun magazine review might look at two or three presses, load a few rounds, and then offer some subjective comments. Gavin studied 14 presses, did very thorough testing, and delivered tons of objective data. Listed below are 13 of the presses tested. Click each press name for specific details and test results:

Forster Co-Ax
Frankford Arsenal M-Press
Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic
Hornady Lock-N-Load Iron
LEE Challenger Breech Lock
LEE Classic Cast 50 BMG and LEE Classic Cast Iron
Lyman Brass Smith Ideal

Lyman Brass Smith Victory
MEC Marksman
RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme
RCBS Summit
Redding Big Boss II
Turban CNC Präzipress

Lee Loadmaster Loading .223 Rem/5.56 NATO — 526,000 Views

Here’s another early video from the Ultimate Reloader YouTube Channel. Gavin shows how to produce .223 Rem/5.56x45mm ammo with an affordable Lee Loadmaster progressive. Gavin explains how to set up the Loadmaster and how to best control priming, case sizing, and powder-dropping operations. For anyone thinking about getting a progressive press, this video is worth watching. Gavin has created many other videos reviewing progressive presses from Dillon, Hornady, and RCBS. And just last year he showcased the amazing Mark 7 Apex 10, a ten-station progressive press marketed by Lyman. Gavin’s Mark 7 Apex 10 was equipped with both case-feeder and bullet feeder, allowing very impressive production rates.

How It’s Made: BAT Custom Rifle Actions — 489,000 Views


YouTube Ultimate Reloader Video BAT Machine

Full Story: https://bit.ly/3hD2d11
BAT Machine Co. makes some of the finest custom actions you can buy. Numerous national and world records have been set with BAT actions. To create this 31-minute video, Gavin traveled to Idaho to visit the BAT Machine production center in Post Falls, ID. Gavin talked with BAT’s founder Bruce Thom. The video features extensive footage of advanced CNC machines used to produce the superb BAT actions.

Click Image Below to Visit the Ultimate Reloader YouTube Channel:
YouTube Ultimate Reloader Video Showcase Gavintoobe

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June 13th, 2021

How to Use a Collet-Type Bullet Puller

Hornady cam-lock bullet puller ammunition UlimateReloader

When you make a reloading mistake, you may need to “pull down” assembled ammo. The embedded UltimateReloader.com video demonstrates how to use the Hornady Cam-Lock bullet pulling system.

When Reloading Goes Bad — The Danger of Over-Charging
Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com was recently reloading some 9mm pistol ammo with his Hornady progressive press. As part of his reloading procedure, he visually checks the cases — and he noticed that the charges seemed high. Sure enough, his most recently-produced rounds were about two grains over spec. He diagnosed the issue: “I was using a powder measure without a baffle. What happened was, over the course of the loading session, things settled in, and the charge level increased.”

Not knowing just when his powder measure started delivering too much powder, Gavin decided, for safety’s sake, to pull down all the ammo he had just reloaded. Yes that’s time-consuming, but it’s better than the alternative — having a dangerous Kaboom while shooting. With fast-burning pistol powders, a two-grain over-charge could cause a blown case, damaged firearm, and/or serious injury.

Watch Cam-Lock Bullet Puller Used to Remove Bullets from Loaded Ammo:

Use of Bullet Puller starts 4:00 minutes into video.

Gavin says it is vitally important to perform safety checks during the reloading process: “You’ve got to do it — check every single round to make sure there IS powder, and that there’s not too MUCH powder. Double, Triple, Quadruple check your components… and your powder charges. You can’t be too careful.”

To pull down a loaded round, first place the cartridge in the shellholder on your press ram. Then raise the round up into the bullet puller device installed where a die would go. The Hornady Cam-lock bullet puller works by clamping the bullet in a collet when you flip down the red-coated lever. Then, with the case held by the rim in the shell-holder, the bullet exits the cartridge as the press ram is lowered. It takes time, but it’s pretty fool-proof once you get the hang of it. This entire process is illustrated in Gavin’s video, starting near the four-minute mark.

Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet puller Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloder.com

The Hornady Cam Lock Bullet Puller has four (4) key components: 1. Cam-Lock die body; 2. Cam-Lock lever; 3. Stem; and 4. Collet (Caliber-specific).

NOTE: In order to use this tool, you’ll need the appropriate collet for each diameter range of bullets you intend to pull. For example use collet #3 for 6mm, collect #6 for 7mm, and collet #7 for .308 Caliber.

Hornady cam-lock bullet puller ammunition UlimateReloader

RCBS Lockout Lock Out die Dillon HornadyRCBS Lock-Out Die
A good safety option for users with progressive presses is the RCBS Lock-Out Die. This has a charge detection rod that dips into each case after powder has dropped. You adjust the die to the proper charge height for your desired load. If the actual dispensed charge is too high or too low, the Lock-Out Die senses the problem and stops the press from advancing to the next case (it does this by preventing the ram/shellplate from fully elevating). We’ve used the Lock-out die with success for both pistol and rifle cartridges. It’s sensitive to about one-half grain with pistol powders.

This Lock-Out Die works with Hornady and Dillon progressives as well as with RCBS progressives. It does take up one die station on the press.

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May 18th, 2021

MEC Marksman Press Product Review with Videos

MEC Marksman reloading press single stage Rock Chucker RCBS cast-iron

MEC Marksman reloading press single stage Rock Chucker RCBS cast-ironIf you need a heavy-duty, single-stage reloading press, definitely look at the MEC Marksman, a beefy black single-stage unit with many impressive features. MEC, noted for its shotshell reloading machines, now offers the cast-iron MEC Marksman press, offering many features we really like. First, the rugged, cast-iron frame is strong enough for the toughest reloading jobs. Second, the Marksman features an OPEN front — that smart design makes it easier to insert and remove cartridge cases. It also makes it much easier to place your bullets during the seating stage.

This open-front design makes good sense — note that Hornady’s LNL single-stage press also has an open-front layout. Importantly, the MEC Marksman has an innovative, self-centering shell-holder. This patented design should help hand-loaders reload more efficiently.

MEC Marksman Press USER MANUAL »

We were impressed when we first saw the MEC Marksman press. The Marksman combines a sturdy cast-iron frame with a smart, user-friendly open-front design. With a $255.00 MSRP it is more expensive than an RCBS Rock Chucker ($214.16 MSRP), but the MEC Marksman offers some distinct advantages — such as the open front plus the patented floating shell-holder system.

MEC Marksman Press Review by Ultimate Reloader

Our friend Gavin Gear got his hands on a MEC Marksman press and put it through its paces. He came away impressed with the product, saying it delivers excellent performance, and has many impressive features. Gavin tells us: “Cast iron tools and machines are a lifetime investment. The made-in-USA MEC Marksman features ductile cast-iron construction, an open-front frame design for easy cartridge access, a new floating shell-holder design with a unique retention system, and ambidextrous handle setup.”

CLICK HERE for REVIEW of MEC Marksman Single-Stage Press on UltimateReloader.com.

Gavin liked the Marksman’s system for holding spent primers. A tray sits behind the ram to catch spent primers exiting from a hole near the bottom of the ram. This is more foolproof than the plastic primer cups on some other single-stage presses. Expect less spent primer “spillage”.

MEC Marksman Relodading press

The Marksman is sold as a stand-alone unit. However MEC also offers a very nice steel mount/riser for the Marksman. Gavin tested the Marksman with this riser, and he says it was sturdy and well-built. Gavin liked the riser. He said that elevating the Markman press up above the benchtop made it easier to handle cases and to operate the handle. You also get extra left- and right-side die-holders.

MEC Reloading Press Marksman Gavin Gear UltimateReloader

Manufacturer’s Product description: The MEC Marksman® is made from ductile cast iron for superior quality and durability. Our patented shell holder self-centers each cartridge. The MEC Marksman® is compatible with all 7/8-14 thread dies to change calibers quickly. Reloading .22 Hornet to .416 Rigby can all be done with one convenient machine.

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May 1st, 2021

Präzipress 120mm Heavy Reloading Press — German Precision

Prazipress cnc reloading single stage press Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader YouTube

When is a single-stage reloading press worth close to a thousand bucks? When it’s made in Germany with CNC technology and crafted to aero-space precision standards. UltimateReloader.com’s Gavin Gear recently got his hands on a Turban 120mm Heavy Präzipress. This unit retails for about 715 Euros (714,27 €), which is $858.88 U.S. Dollars at current exchange rates*. Gavin put the Präzipress through its paces, and came away VERY impressed. READ FULL REVIEW HERE.

Prazipress cnc reloading single stage press Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader YouTubeImpressive Test Results
Sizing once-fired 6.5mm Creedmoor cases with the Präzipress, Gavin achieved great results for shoulder “bump” consistency. The sizing results were nothing short of spectacular. After zeroing the first of ten cases, the remaining nine were essentially identical, showing as “0.000”, meaning less than half a thousandth of variation.

The Präzipress also delivered ultra-low run-out when seating bullets using a Forster die. On all ten test cases, the run-out was +/- 0.001″ (one-thousandth) or less.

Is this kind of press worth the money? Gavin says “yes” if you demand the highest level of precision in sizing and seating: “When you use this press, it’s immediately clear that there are no details neglected, and I can’t imagine one of these presses ever wearing out. Based on the precision tests I did with ammunition loading, it’s clear that this level of precision DOES make a difference for ammunition dimensions and consistency.”

READ FULL Präzipress REVIEW on UltimateReloader.com HERE »

According to Gavin, the “Heavy” 120mm version of the Präzipress is massive and boasts many notable design features:

— Three guide rods with linear roller guides (I have not seen these on any other press)
— Ambidextrous operation (handle can be mounted on left or right side)
— Positive snap shellholder retainer (secure, but easy to insert/remove shellholder)
— 120mm opening accepts cartridges up to .408 CheyTac Size length
— Enclosed spent primer catch system which contains debris
— Optimized leverage (VERY powerful mechanical advantage for sizing)
— Oversized handle (bar diameter) that minimizes flex

Prazipress cnc reloading single stage press Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader YouTube

There are now three (3) triple-column Präzipress sizes. Along with the 120 model press featured above, there are even larger 140 and 150 models:

Präzipress 120 — through .408 CT
Präzipress 140 — through .50 BMG
Präzipress 150 — through 14.4×114 Russian


* Stated price does NOT include shipping to USA and other fees. The Turban-shop.de website states: “In the case of delivering to a non-EU country, there can be charged extra tolls, taxes, and fees. Packaging costs will be charged separately.”

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February 11th, 2021

Progressive Presses — Six High Output Progressives Reviewed

ultimate reloading progressive press review dillon Mark 7 rcbs lee hornady

With the high cost and reduced availability of factory ammo, more shooters are loading their own ammo. When good 9mm pistol ammo was $10/box, it might be hard to justify handloading. Now that 50 rounds of 9mm can run $40 or more it certainly makes sense to reload. The same is true with rifle ammo if you shoot large quantities, or if you simply can’t find your preferred ammo for sale these days.

To increase productivity when reloading large quantities of ammunition, many shooters are thinking of getting a progressive press. Because multiple operations take place with a single pull of a lever, a progressive press can produce way more ammo in a given period of time than any single stage press. With a progressive, on the ram up-stroke, the multiple stations can simultaneously remove spent primer, full-length size case, drop powder, seat bullet, and crimp (if desired). Most progressives are also set up to prime cases with the ram in the lower position — though some guys prefer to prime manually.

Progressive presses aren’t just for high-output pistol ammo or bulk rifle ammunition. Good progressives can be adapted to do certain reloading tasks for top-on-the line match ammo. You might use a progressive for decapping, priming, and sizing, then throw powder and/or seat bullets separately. Some Champion shooters do use progressives to load their match ammo! For example 5-Time National Long Range Champion John Whidden and 2020 Berger SWN F-Open Champion Jay Christopherson both use progessive presses for some (but not all) operations.

To help you get started with progressive presses, here are five videos from UltimateReloader.com that cover six popular machines, from the elite Mark 7 Evolution to the affordable Lee Loadmaster. With many of these machines you can add separate vertical bullet feeder systems that further increase loading efficiency.

Mark 7 Evolution Press — Distributed by Lyman

Dillon XL-650 vs. Dillon XL-750

RCBS Pro Chucker 7 with Bullet Feeder

Dillon 550C with 6mm Creedmoor and 9x19mm

Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Progressive

Lee Loadmaster Features and Loading 9mm

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February 11th, 2021

RCBS Lock-Out Die for Progressive Presses — Be Smart, Be Safe


The RCBS Lock-Out Die can also be used with some Dillon and Hornady progressive presses.

RCBS Lock-out dieIf you load pistol or rifle ammo with a progressive press, we strongly recommend you get a Lock-Out Die from RCBS. This unique reloading die will prevent your progressive press from advancing if the dispensed powder charge is more or less than about 0.3 grains too high or too low. The Lock-Out Die really works. Your Editor uses it on his RCBS 2000 progressive press. I can affirm that a Lock-Out Die has “saved my bacon” a half-dozen times over the years when there was an over-charge (which could cause a Kaboom) or a low charge (which could cause a squib load).

The Lock-Out Die works by using a central die detection rod that sets its vertical position based on the height of the powder column in the case. Through an ingenious design, if the powder column height is too low or too high, the rod locks in place as you start to pull the press handle. This halts the press before the ram can lift and the cartridge plate can advance. Unlike a beeping alarm system (which can be ignored or defeated), the Lock-Out Die physically stops the movement of the press ram and prevents a bullet being seated in the “problem” case.

RCBS Lock-out dieIt takes a bit of tweaking to get the Lock-Out Die detection rod setting just right, but once it is correctly positioned, the Lock-Out Die works smoothly in the background. The Lock-Out Die won’t interfere with the loading process unless it detects a high or low charge — and then it positively stops the progressive loading cycle.

While crafted for use in RCBS progressive presses, the RCBS Lock-Out Die can also be used on a Dillon XL Progressive (see video below) or Hornady Lock-N-Load progressive — though it does take up one station which could otherwise be used for a final crimp die (after the seating die). The RCBS 2000 has one more station than a Dillon 550/650, so it’s an ideal platform for using the Lock-Out Die.

Learn More at UltimateReloader.com
On the UltimateReloader.com website, run by our friend Gavin, you’ll find an excellent two-part series on the function and set-up of the RCBS Lock-Out Die. Part One explains how the Lock-Out Die functions, using cut-away illustrations. Part Two shows how to install and adjust the Lock-Out Die on various progressive presses. The Ultimate Reloader video at the top of this article shows setup of the RCBS Lock-Out Die on the Dillon XL-650 progressive press, while the Reloading Bench video below shows the Lock-Out Die on a Hornady LnL progressive.

Images © 2011 UltimateReloader.com, used by permission.
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October 28th, 2020

Advanced New Area 419 ZERO 9-Station Turret Press

Area 419 Zero reloading turret 10 station reloading press ultimatereloader review gavin gear

Area 419 has just introduced the all-new ZERO reloading press, a 9-station turret press with some very unique features. This press was designed to be the most precise turret ever created. As tested by Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com, the new ZERO turret press delivered very impressive shoulder-bump consistency and ultra-low seated bullet run-out (about +/- 0.0005″). The numbers were as good as you can get from a quality single-stage press, so Area 419 did some impressive engineering. We would expect that, as this is an expensive product — MSRP is $1200.00. SEE FULL REVIEW on UltimateReloader.com.

The ZERO turret press lets you install up to nine (9) different reloading dies in the large top turret, which revolves around a central axis. But unlike most turret presses, the ZERO doesn’t have flex or wobble when you’re loading. This is because Area 419 includes a clever system for locking the turret in position after you’ve selected the die from your array. Area 419 also uses a unique system for securing shell-holders (see video at 12:00). This, likewise, adds to the precision of the press.

In the video above, you can see how the turret is secured with a “wedge clamp”. By loosening the wedge clamp you can index the press easily to any station. Then, when you have selected your die, you tighten the wedge clamp again. You can see this important procedure at 13:20 – 13:35 timemark in the video.

Area 419 Zero reloading turret 10 station reloading press ultimatereloader review gavin gear

ZERO Turret Press Has Very Smooth Operation
Gavin observed that this ZERO turret is both smooth and very precise, thanks to smart engineering and the use of multiple bearings. Area 419 describes the design features:

— Turret (zero-slop) eliminates variability induced when removing and resetting dies
— The turret head holds nine 7/8×14-threaded dies (1-1/4 thread in future)
— Available ram-stroke here is 4.4″, allowing use of very tall cartridge types.
— Adjustable/interchangeable handle setup for maximizing leverage/feel based on operation
— Internally contained primer-catch system, slide-out drawer

Important Features of ZERO Turret Press

Area 419 Zero reloading turret 10 station reloading press ultimatereloader review gavin gear

1. Press frame: 6061 Aluminum, clear anodized
2. Wedge clamp (locks turret into indexed position)
3. Turret (7075 aluminum and steel construction)
4. Adjustable handle with roller knob (set either left- or right-handed operation)
5. Bearings: Ball bearing plus roller thrust bearings for side plates
6. Ram riding in self-lubricated linear bearing
7. Spent primer catcher drawer

Milled from American billet aluminum and stainless steel, this press employs 14 bearings, including a self-lubricating linear sleeve bearing for the precision-ground 1.25″ ram. The linkage system also glides on bearings providing smooth operation with near-ZERO slop. The oversized ram features a 0.75″-diameter steel arm and ZERO-friction knob. The turret system is located with an oversized ball-detent system and secured using an over-sized, custom-made ZERO-point pull-stud. Locking the turret after indexing require only a half-turn of the supplied T-handle (see photo above). When indexing the turret, repeatability variance of the system should be less than .0005″.

The opening in the press will allow for sizing and seating of cases up to.338 Lapua Magnum, and will accept standard 7/8″ dies and standard shellholders. NOTE: Area 419 will be making and selling shellholders specifically fit to the system later in 2020.

SUMMARY — Impressive Press Delivers Precise Results
Gavin Gear was very impressed with Area 419’s new Zero Press, which he said offers the precision of a quality single-stage with the versatility of a turret: “There will always be people that prefer a traditional single-stage. Where the ZERO will be compelling is to those who want the precision of a single-stage without the need to screw dies in and out. Leaving your dies set can have benefits for precision as well — everything comes back to the ‘same place’ when dies are indexed into position. Screwing dies in and out can impose variation, and variation is the enemy of the ‘white lab coat shooter’. I plan on testing the ZERO press with ultra-high-end dies, and custom dies that I ream to my own specifications. I’m thinking that will show the true potential of this press!”

Area 419 ZERO Press Video with Operation Instructions

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October 17th, 2020

Spotlight — Creedmoor Sports Polecat V2 Spotting Scope Stand

Polecat spotting scope stand Creedmoor sports

Every serious competitor needs a good spotting scope support. Spotting scopes are not just for iron sights shooters. Even if you have a powerful riflescope, the spotting scope, typically set at 15-25X magnification, lets you observe wind flags, mirage, and other shooters’ targets. If you are looking for a high-quality, made-in-USA support for your spotter, consider the Polecat V2 system from Creedmoor Sports. Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com recently posted this video review:

Creedmoor Sports has offered excellent products for competitive shooters for decades. The Made-in-USA Polecat V2 system is updated version of Creedmoor’s best-selling spotting scope stand. After collecting feedback from shooters across many disciplines for several years, the designers brought some major advances to this scope stand. First, no pretension are adjustments needed. Horizontal and vertical resistance is controlled by the knurled tightening knob. Second, the Polecat boasts a pre-aligned Delrin clamp so you don’t have to spin the clamp to align with the rods during stand assembly. You can order a Polecat V2 with 3/4″-diameter rod for $296.95 or get the 1″-diameter rod version for $364.95.

Polecat spotting scope stand Creedmoor sports

Either version can be used for both left-handed and right-handed shooters, with about 5″ standoff from the center of the stand to the scope’s centerline. Polecat V2 packages include head, stop collar, one extension rod, and base. Additional aluminum rods are available to extend height.

Polecat V2 Key Features
— Adjustable head (spotting scope mounts to head)
— Bump stop (protects spotting scope from accidental knock if dropped)
— Base with three fold-out legs
— Leveling adjustment for uneven ground (one leg can be adjusted downward, faced in downhill direction)
— Zero play (slop), giving you the ability to quickly and easily make adjustments
— One-handed operation/adjustment
— 1/4″-20 standard spotting scope thread
— The scope may be positioned above or below the scope head

Shop Polecat V2 here (5% Off with Code UR5) | Read Full Story HERE

Polecat spotting scope stand Creedmoor sports

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October 7th, 2020

Powerful Progressive — Dillon RL-1100 with 8 Stations

Dillon R1100 RL 1100 progressive reloading press MR. bulletfeeder Double alpha 9mm ammo

Factory-loaded ammunition has become very hard to find, particularly pistol ammo. Concerns over social unrest, personal security, and the upcoming election have spiked demand for loaded ammo. Everyone is asking “where has all the ammo gone?”

Dillon R1100 RL 1100 progressive reloading press MR. bulletfeeder Double alpha 9mm ammoPistol Ammo Hard to Find
In particular, 9mm pistol ammo flies off the shelves as soon as it arrives, and even major online vendors such as Midsouth Shooters, MidwayUSA, and Natchez have very limited supplies.

Need Ammo? Load Your Own…
One answer to the ammo shortage is to load your own. And if you want to produce a large quantity of ammo in a short amount of time, the progressive press is the answer. There are many progressive press systems, from modest Lee progressives to high-end, automated systems from Mark 7 (Lyman). In this article we feature the “latest and greatest” progressive press from Dillon — the new eight-station RL 1100 Press with Case-Feeder.

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com got his hands on Dillon’s impressive new RL 1100. In two videos, Gavin shows how to set up the RL 1100 and then he demonstrates how to produce 9mm pistol ammo with this impressive 8-station press.


Gavin says: “My Dillon RL-1100 is cranking out the 9mm, and in this video we bring it up to ‘full tilt’ speed” [with the MR. Bullet Feeder and the Dillon Case-Feeder]. If you watch the video, you’ll see Gavin produce 9mm ammo at a rate of nearly 50 rounds per MINUTE!

Gavin equipped his new RL 1100 with two cool products from Double Alpha Academy (DAA) — the Mr.Bulletfeeder® as well as an advanced, Magnetic Powder Check. When loading ammo you can never be too safe, so we definitely recommend the use of powder-check dies (we use a conventional RCBS powder-check die on our progressives). The DAA bullet feeding system is an important add-on that significantly increases output rates when used in concert with the Dillon Case-Feeder (blue funnel).

RL 1100 Reloading Stations with Powder Check and Bullet Feeder

Dillon R1100 RL 1100 progressive reloading press MR. bulletfeeder Double alpha 9mm ammo

RL 1100 Stations shown above:
1. Case inserter
2. Sizer/De-Primer
3. Swager (with hold-down)
4. Priming (no die)
5. Powder charge and expansion (expansion for pistol cartridges only)
6. Double Alpha Magnetic Powder Check
7. Mr. Bullet Feeder bullet feed die
8. Bullet seating and Crimping

Note: In order to accommodate the magnetic powder check die AND the bullet feed die, bullet seating and crimping were combined at the last station.

The RL 1100 has some very impressive features that allow faster and easier ammo production. An Eccentric Roller Bearing Drive System reduces friction. The RL 1100’s heavier frame provides greater rigidity for more efficient cranking. The RL 1100 also boasts an improved shellplate indexing system. Priming is enhanced through a spring-loaded Priming Station Locator and Upgraded Primer Pocket Swager.

Dillon RL-1100 Set-Up Video:

Loading with the “Turbocharged” Dillon RL-1100
Gavin was very impressed with his RL-1100: “This reloading setup is [great]. Every crank of the lever yields a completed cartridge, and the attainable speeds are AMAZING. The case feeder and bullet feeder had no trouble keeping up with my quick pace using this setup. And it is great to know that every powder charge is being checked.

This press is very reliable and smooth, bridging the gap between lower cost home set-ups and six-figure commercial loading equipment packages. What’s next? I’ll be performing a caliber changeover to .308 Winchester.”

The DAA Magnetic Powder Check can be used on a variety of Progressive Presses.

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September 2nd, 2020

BAT Machine Actions — Video Reveals How They Are Made

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

If you have ANY interest in custom rifle actions, you MUST watch this video from UltimateReloader.com. Folks, definitely watch the video — it is VERY informative! To produce this video, Ultimate Reloader’s Gavin Gear visited the BAT Machine facility in Post Falls, Idaho, and interviewed BAT owner Bruce Thom.

In the video Bruce Thom demonstrates how BAT Machine actions are created from start to finish. Bruce shows every stage of the process, employing multiple high-tech machines. It’s impressive — Forum members say that this is a “must-watch” video. Gunsmith Jackie Schmidt noted: “Great Video. Even though I have been in the machine shop business for 50 years, I still marvel at the new innovations in precision machining. Bruce has a very down-to-earth, common sense approach to explaining what to many seems like machining wizardry.” And Mark T. posted: “Watched it last night. Excellent video and excellent machining practices — precision from beginning to end.”

Click Arrow to Watch Video

For further explanation of the action production processes, with step-by-step listing of how receivers and bolt assemblies are created, read Gavin Gear’s full BAT Machine Article on UltimateReloader.com.

READ FULL BAT Machine Story HERE (More Photos) »

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

BAT Machine Company Was Started 29 Years Ago
Back in 1991, Bruce Thom started BAT Machine Company, which was incorporated later in 1996. Bruce’s shop stared with manual machines, quickly moving to CNC machines later in the 1990s. BAT Machine quickly achieved a following among benchrest shooters for crafting superb actions that exhibited flawless function and superb machining. Those qualities, benchrest competitors realized, helped produce tiny groups, win matches, and set benchrest records. BAT Machine now makes rifle actions for a wide variety of disciplines: F-Class, PRS, ELR, hunting, and of course short- and long-range benchrest.

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

BAT Action Body Machining Stages
As shown in the video, here are the major stages for the fabrication of a BAT Machine receiver body:

1. Start: raw 17-4 stainless round bar (higher toughness than typical barrel/receiver steel)
2. Heat treat
3. Bore central hole (for EDM wire), face ends
4. EDM machining (cut bore and raceways)
5. True OD, cut receiver threads and lug seats
6. Cut tang and related features
7. Finish machining including body OD, integral lug (if equipped)

Gavin Gear ultimate reloader BAT machine Bruce Thom Idaho Machining CNC Machines

Final Production Stages — Polishing and Deburring
After the receiver body and bolt are machined, they go through a deburring and polishing process.

In the image above you can see the stages. At left is a receiver body straight from machining. Some hand work is typically performed to break interior edges that are sharp from machining. In the center, the receiver shows can see the initial polish stage. During this stage, machining marks are removed by coarse polishing. Additionally for receivers that will be nitrided, that will be done next. But for actions that are NOT nitrided, a final polish brings the parts up to a high luster, as show on the right.

After polish (and nitriding if that applies) the bolts and receivers get a finish assembly, and testing for proper smooth functioning. The receivers are then registered with the ATF and shipped to the customer.

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July 26th, 2020

Cool Tools — RCBS Rebel Press, Case Prep Trio, Lee Lock Rings

Lee precison die lock ring spline clamp O-ring

Our friend Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com often gets to test the latest and greatest reloading tools before they hit the market. He does a good job showing the features of new products with informative videos. Today we present three interesting products that Gavin has reviewed. First off is the impressive new RCBS Rebel reloading press. Next is the versatile three-head Case Prep Trio machine from Hornady. Third, Gavin reviews new Die Lock Rings and Breech Lock Die Bushings from Lee Precision.

RCBS Rebel Single-Stage Reloading Press

RCBS Rebel Press primer ejection reloading

Most hand-loaders have used an RCBS Rock Chucker press at one time or another. Recently RCBS unveiled its new Rebel single-stage press. Like the Rock Chucker, the Rebel has a Cast Iron frame, but with a bigger base and taller arch (for a larger opening). The most important change is that this new Rebel press ejects primers out the bottom of the ram. This a big deal — just put a bin under the press to collect spent primers. However — take note — the Rebel has no on-press priming. You need to prime your cases separately. That’s not really a major issue, as we know the majority of our readers prime separately using hand or bench priming tools.

In this video Gavin loads ammo on the new the Rebel single-stage press and explains its notable features, including the primer ejection through the ram.

Note, RCBS is currently running a Buy Green Get Green Rebate Program. The Rebel Press qualifies for a $50.00 Rebate. And right now, MidwayUSA has the Rebel Press on sale for $186.99. So your net cost, after RCBS Rebate, is just $136.99. That’s a great deal on an excellent press.

Hornady Lock-N-Load Case Prep Trio

RCBS Rebel Press primer ejection reloading

Hornady’s compact Case Prep Trio machine (item 050160) packs a lot of functionality in a small package. This triple-threat tool has a small footprint, yet it can perform three tasks as well as much more expensive, tower-style case prep units.

Gavin Gear does a nice job explaining the features of the Case Prep trio. Watch this video to see how it can help you perform chamfering, deburring, and pimer pocket uniforming tasks more efficiently.

With three active stations, you can chamfer, deburr and clean primer pockets without having to change tools. The Case Prep Trio ships with inside chamfer, outside chamfer, and deburr tools. You can also use the machine with other optional 8/32 threaded accessories such as primer pocket reamers and case neck brushes. We’ve used this machine and it works well. The only negative is that you will get metal shavings on your bench (unlike some of the larger case prep centers). We’ve seen some guys put a small pan under the power head — then you can just dump the shavings out of the pan.

New Lee Die Lock Rings and Spline Drive Breech Lock Bushings

Lee precison die lock ring spline clamp O-ring
New basic lock ring in left hand. Older non-splined ring in right hand.

Lee precison die lock ring spline clamp O-ringIn this recent video Gavin Gear reviews three types of die accessories from LEE. These work for virtually all standard dies, not just LEE-brand reloading dies. The new LEE basic silver-finish die lock rings now feature splines for enhanced grip and compatibility with LEE’s new die lock ring wrench (photo right). They still boast a rubber 0-Ring that helps “float” the die for improved cartridge concentricity.

LEE’s new Ultimate Die Lock Rings have two major improvements — a colorful anodized finish, and a split-ring design with a tensioning screw, that allows these rings to be clamped securely to your dies. Available as a set, this package includes three ultimate die lock rings, and a plastic die lock ring wrench.

Gavin also reviews Lee’s new Spline Drive Breech Lock Bushings for use with presses fitted with LEE’s Breech Lock system. These new Breech Lock bushings allow rapid change-out of dies without modifying the setting. The colorful new bushings feature splines on top that work with the new Lee Lock ring wrench shown above. In addition, the Breech Lock Bushings have a clamp to preserve die depth setting.

Lee precison die lock ring spline clamp O-ring

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July 13th, 2020

Make Your Own Modified Case to Measure Length-to-Lands

Hornady Stony Point Tool OAL O.A.L. gauge bullet seating length ogive checker

Our friend Gavin Gear has just released an excellent video showing how to make a threaded Modified Case for use with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge. You can watch Gavin make a Modified Case start to finish in the video below:

Video Shows How to Drill and Tap Modified Case

Gavin has some clever tricks. First he uses a sizing die to hold the cartridge case during the threading process. Second he uses two drill bits in sequence — a smaller bit to ream out the primer pocket, and then a larger “M” bit to increase the hole diameter before threading the brass. Finally he leaves the threading tap IN the brass, locks the tailstock, and then “gently pulls on the quill” to remove the brass from the die held in his lathe (See 5:46 timemark).

Modified Case Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader

Get the Correct 5/16″-36 RH Tap
Unfortunately, Hornady has selected an uncommon thread type for OAL Gauges. You probably won’t be able to buy the correct 5/16″ – 36 RH HSS Tap at your local hardware store. However you CAN order this special tap from Amazon for $9.99.

Modified Case Q & A — TECH TIPS

Why do I need a Modified Case?
Every serious reloader should have a Modified Case for each cartridge type they shoot. The reason is that this allows you to get very precise measurements of the length-to-lands in your chamber. When used with the Hornady OAL Gauge, with some practice, you should be able to get repeatable length-to-lands measurements within about 0.015″. We generally do 4-5 measurements with the OAL Gauge and usually 3 or 4 will be “on the money”. NOTE: We recommend a gentle, easy pressure on the plastic pusher rod. Don’t push too hard or you will jam the bullet hard into the lands, which produces inconsistent results.

Can’t I Just Buy a Modified Case?
Hornady makes a variety of Modified Cases sold on Amazon and through retailers such as Midsouth. While Hornady makes modified cases for many standard cartridges, if you shoot a wildcat such as the 6mm Dasher or .284 Shehane, you’ll need to create a custom modified case. And even if you shoot a standard cartridge such as the .308 Win, you can get more consistent measurements with a custom Modified Case.

If you do decide to make your own modified case, you’ll want to start with a case that’s been fired in your rifle. That way you get the best fit to YOUR chamber. Also, you won’t need to expand the neck to provide bullet clearance. Then you need to drill out the primer pocket and tap the base of the case to match the threads on the Hornady OAL Gauge tool. Make at least two modified cases, as you’ll probably misplace one at some point.

Erik Cortina Makes a Modified Case

If you want to learn more about making Modified Cases, top F-Class shooter Erik Cortina has also created a helpful video showing the process he uses to make modified cases. In Erik’s video, he shows how he taps a case to work with the Hornady Lock-N-Load Overall Length Gauge (formerly the Stoney Point Tool). Erik also explains how to get the best results when using the Modified Case to measure length to lands.

MORE INFORMATION: Want to learn more? We published a much longer story in which Erik explains in greater detail how to made the Modified Case. That article illustrates the 5/16″ – 36 RH HSS Tap required and shows how to set up the lathe to drill and tap your case. If you are serious about making your own Modified Cases, you should Read the Full Article.

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May 31st, 2020

Sunday GunDay: Gavin Gear’s .22 LR Bergara B14-R

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

The Bergara B14-R is a high-quality, accurate .22 LR rimfire bolt-action rifle. The rifle’s accuracy and functionality make it a good choice for NRL22 competition. And with stock geometry and ergonomics that duplicate a full-size centerfire rifle, the Bergara B14-R is also an excellent choice for cross-training. By training with a rimfire rifle, you can get essential “trigger time” while saving money. Good centerfire ammo can cost $1.50 per round or more. Decent rimfire ammo can be found for $6.00 per 50rd box. That’s just 12 cents per round.

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire
Click above photo to load full-screen high-rez image.

To find out how well the Bergara B14-R can perform, Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com recently tested a B14-R (carbon-covered barrel version) at his private range. Using a variety of Lapua and SK Ammo, this rig delivered impressive results. Watch this video to see the B14-R in action.

“The B14-R is a great shooter, and for me it felt very familiar. Just like shooting one of my centerfire match guns, but without all of the recoil!” — Gavin Gear

Gavin reports: “At the 2020 SHOT Show, Bergara announced the B14-R trainer. The concept? Take the B14 HMR series centerfire rifle formula, and adapt it for rimfire. The result is a .22 LR rifle you can shoot all day long without wearing out your arm or your wallet! It looks/feels like a centerfire long-range precision rifle. And that’s what makes this rifle a GREAT training platform for serious long-range shooters.”

The B14-R comes with a 18″-long 1:16″-twist threaded barrel. The single-stack .22 LR magazine is the same size as a short action AICS mag. The Bergara B14-R shares Rem 700 specs, so it is compatible with Rem 700 stocks and aftermarket triggers. Weight with standard barrel is 9.2 pounds without optics, or 8.1 pounds for the carbon version seen here. MSRP for basic version is $1150.00 and street price is $950.00.

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

Gavin told us: “I couldn’t wait to get the B14-R out to my new 50-yard ridgeline range to see how it would perform with premium .22 LR ammunition. Once I shot this rifle suppressed, I didn’t want to take off the can. The 18″ barrel really works well with the SilcencerCo suppressor to help keep the overall length reasonable, and balance is spot-on.” NOTE: This rifle has the optional carbon-covered barrel.

As tested, the rifle was equipped with these components:

Athlon Midas TAC 6-14x50mm FFP Scope with MK Machine lever, Lone Star bubble level
SilencerCo Omega 300 Suppressor with 1/2×28 direct thread mount
Harris S-BRM 6″-9″ Bipod with aftermarket swivel tension lever

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

Outstanding Accuracy with Lapua and SK .22 LR Ammo

Remarkable accuracy for a factory rifle earned this Bergara its Sunday GunDay selection. Shooting with bipod and rear sandbag, Gavin was able to achieve multiple, sub-half-inch groups at 50 yards. The best group shot with SK Match ammo was a remarkable 0.22″ as measured by Ballistic-X software (see below). That’s an impressive 0.42 MOA at 50 yards. If you watch the video above, starting at 14:40 time-mark, you can watch Gavin shoot that 0.22″ group.

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

Here are two more groups, both under 0.5″ at 50 yards. Lapua Center-X on left, SK Match on right. Gavin says that “with good conditions, 0.35″ 5-shot groups at 50 yards are easily attainable.”

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

B14-R Trigger Tested with TriggerScan TS-11

Gavin tested the Bergara’s trigger with the TriggerScan TS-11 from DVORAK Instruments, a very sophisticated, high-tech device. Gavin states: “This trigger works well, and mine was adjustable down to just over 2-lb peak force for pull weight. I ran a 3-scan pass on the B14-R trigger with the pull weight set to minimum [barely over 2 pounds].”

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

Gavin notes: “You can see how consistent this trigger is by how well the scan graph plots overlap! This trigger is great for an out-of-the-box rifle like this, and it’s great to know that I can always swap out triggers and use the same exact Remington 700-compatible trigger that I’m running in my match guns.”

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

Bergara Test Gavin Gear ultimate reloader B14-R rimfire

Gavin Gear’s Closing Thoughts — More to Come
The Bergara B14-R rimfire trainer has been a great rifle to shoot and has exceeded my expectations. The B14-R feels like a full-size PRS rifle, has the same basic features, but is chambered in .22 LR. I have been amazed by the accuracy I’ve achieved with this rifle with Lapua and SK match ammunition — it’s very confidence inspiring.

This rifle feels right and shoots great. I can’t wait to get more steel targets setup, and to go deeper into calculating dope for the ammunition I will shoot with this rifle. Perhaps I’ll think about competing in an NRL22 match at some point. If you are looking for a rimfire trainer, look at the Bergara B14-R for sure. It checks all of my boxes for this type of rifle!

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May 7th, 2020

Progressive Presses — Video Showcase of Six Machines

ultimate reloading progressive press review dillon Mark 7 rcbs lee hornady

COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have created abundant free time at home for millions of Americans. To fill otherwise empty hours, we know many readers have been reloading ammo — LOTS of ammo. And quite a few of you folks are thinking of getting a progressive press to increase output. Because multiple operations take place with a single pull of a lever, a progressive press can produce way more ammo in a given period of time than any single stage press. With a progressive, on the ram up-stroke, the multiple stations can simultaneously remove spent primer, full-length size case, drop powder, seat bullet, and crimp (if desired). Most progressives are also set up to prime cases with the ram in the lower position — though some guys prefer to prime manually.

Progressive presses aren’t just for high-output pistol ammo or bulk rifle ammunition. Good progressives can be adapted to do certain reloading tasks for top-on-the line match ammo. You might use a progressive for decapping, priming, and sizing, then throw powder and/or seat bullets separately. Some Champion shooters do use progressives to load their match ammo! For example 5-Time National Long Range Champion John Whidden and 2020 Berger SWN F-Open Champion Jay Christopherson both use progessive presses for some (but not all) operations.

To help you get started with progressive presses, here are five videos from UltimateReloader.com that cover six popular machines, from the elite Mark 7 Evolution to the inexpensive Lee Pro 1000. With many of these machines you can add separate vertical bullet feeder systems that further increase loading efficiency.

Mark 7 Evolution Press — Distributed by Lyman

Dillon XL-650 vs. Dillon XL-750

RCBS Pro Chucker 7 with Bullet Feeder

Dillon 550C with 6mm Creedmoor and 9x19mm

Lee Pro 1000 Features and Operation

Better Safe Than Sorry — the RCBS Lock-Out Die
RCBS Makes a “Lock-Out Die” that senses the powder charge. This will halt the Progressive press if you have a double charge, or an undercharge. Your Editor has the Lock-Out Die on his RCBS Pro 2000. It has “saved his bacon” a half-dozen times over the years. It can be used on Dillon and Hornady progressives as well as RCBS machines.

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