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July 22nd, 2022

Clean Brass Effectively with Ultrasonic Cleaning 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 has evaluated an RCBS Ultrasonic cleaning machine 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, $406.99 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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July 20th, 2022

.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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June 18th, 2022

Saturday at Movies: 12 Progressive Press Comparison Shootout

ultimate reloader gavin gear progressive press shootout comparison test lee dillon hornady rcbs mark7

If you are considering purchasing a progressive reloading press — you’ve struck gold. Today’s Saturday at the Movies article showcases the most comprehensive video ever created about progressive presses. Hosted by Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com, this remarkable 79-minute video covers a dozen presses from six leading manufacturers: Dillon, Frankford Arsenal, Hornady, Lee, Mark 7 (Lyman), and RCBS.

Set aside plenty of time, because there is a wealth of information — the “mother lode” of progressive press coverage. Along with the big comparison video, Gavin has prepared a detailed, 17-page online article which covers all of the presses in the shootout. This 17-page article also includes many product-specific videos. We link to five of these videos below.

12 Progressive Presses are compared in this comprehensive video:

Here it is! Ultimate Reloader’s long-awaited Progressive Press Shootout. This online article and accompanying video represent the most exhaustive and most in-depth look at progressive press reloading equipment. The Ultimate Reloader Progressive Shootout covers a dozen different progressives from Dillon, Frankford Arsenal, Hornady, Mark 7 (Lyman), and RCBS. Reviewer Gavin Gear demonstrates how each press works and provides data on costs, output rates, capabilities, and accessories so that potential buyers can make informed purchasing decisions.

MORE INFO — Progressive Press Shootout Online Article

To accompany the remarkable 79-minute Progressive Press Shootout Video, Gavin Gear has posted a ton of information on his UltimateReloader.com website. A lengthy online article provides detailed information on the particular presses, press mounts, and lighting, as well as general details such as cost of ownership. We provide links to particular topics below. This is a GREAT RESOURCE — it’s like getting an entire chapter of a technical book all for FREE!

ultimate reloader gavin gear progressive press shootout comparison test lee dillon hornady rcbs mark7

» READ Full Progressive Press Comparison Article (17 Pages, Multiple Videos)

Below we provide links to each product-specific online page, along with the corresponding time-link to the related segment of the 79-minute Progressive Shootout video.

Progressive Press Comparison — Online Article Highlights

Time-Mark & Topic (with LINKs)

00:00
04:22
13:43
13:43
22:02
31:49
35:39
39:20
43:47
46:42
54:44
1:01:44
1:05:30
1:10:32
1:14:06
1:14:45
1:15:03

Introduction
Hornady Lock-N-Load AP
RCBS Pro Chucker 5
RCBS Pro Chucker 7
Mark 7 APEX 10
Dillon Square Deal B
Dillon RL-550C
Dillon XL-750
Dillon RL 1100
Frankford Arsenal X-10
LEE Pro 1000
LEE Breech Lock Auto Pro (Pro 4000)
LEE Loadmaster
Total Cost of Ownership Recap
Inline Fabrication Mounts
KMS Squared UFO Press Lighting
Conclusion

Individual Progressive Press Videos

Dillon XL-750

RCBS Pro Chucker 7

Mark 7 APEX 10

Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5-Station

Frankford Arsenal X-10 10-Station

LEE Breech Lock Auto Pro 4000

NOTE: Along with the presses featured in these six videos, the Ultimate Reloader Progressive Press Comparison video covers six other presses (12 total), in a comprehensive 1 hour 19 minute video linked at the top of this article.

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May 19th, 2022

Reloading Tip: Pulling Bullets Using Press-Mounted Collet Tools

Collet Bullet Puller Hornady RCBS Press Mount Reloading

Do you have some ammo that got loaded incorrectly, perhaps with the wrong powder? Then you’ll want to disassemble the ammo for safety’s sake. You can use an impact puller to do this task, but if you have more than a dozen rounds or so, you may prefer to use a collet-style bullet puller. These work very quickly and positively, making quick work of big jobs. The efficiency of the collet-style puller is worth the investment if you frequently disassemble ammo. These devices retail for under $25.00 (collets sold separately). Normally, you’ll need a specific collet for each bullet diameter. But collets are not that costly, so this isn’t a big deal, particularly if you only load a few calibers, such as .223, 6mm, and .308.

Hornady and RCBS use different mechanisms to tighten the collet around the bullet. On the Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller, a lever-arm on the top of the bullet puller serves to tighten the collet around the bullet. Simply rotate the lever from the vertical to the horizontal position to grab the bullet. Lower the ram to remove the case. The bullet will drop out when you return the lever arm to the vertical position. This is demonstrated in the video below:

Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller Demonstrated

Collet bullet-pullers resemble a loading die with a lever or handle on the top. They screw into a standard reloading press. Hornady and RCBS both make collet-style bullet pullers. They use the same basic principle — the device tightens a collet around the bullet, and then the bullet is separated from the case by lowering the press ram. NOTE: Collet pullers may leave small marks on your bullets, unlike impact (kinetic) pullers.*

Hornady collet bullet pullerLike the Hornady tool, the RCBS Bullet Puller employs a collet to grab the bullet. However, the RCBS tool tightens the collet in a different way. The head of the RCBS tool is threaded internally. By rotating the lever arm clockwise in a horizontal circle you squeeze the collet around the bullet. To remove the bullet, after lowering the press ram, simply spin the lever arm back in the opposite direction. The use of the RCBS tool is demonstrated in these two videos:

RCBS Collet Bullet Puller Demonstrated:

WARNING: When removing bullets from loaded cartridges, always make sure there are no obstructions or debris in your shell-holder or under the loaded round. NEVER engage a primer seating accessory on your press when working with loaded rounds. You can cause a round to discharge by contacting the primer! Also, we recommend you keep your head and torso away from the bullet puller tool at all times.

*By contrast, impact pullers rarely mark bullets, particularly if you put a little bit of foam or paper wadding in the closed end of your impact puller. When dismantling loaded rounds, powder kernels can get trapped in the wadding, so you should remove and replace the wadding before changing to cartridges loaded with a different powder type (assuming you intend to save the powder).

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May 4th, 2022

Reloading with Progressive Presses — 10 Tips for Good Results

6.5 Guys Progressive Press video Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader

Progressive reloading presses offer shooters speed and efficiency in producing custom-tailored rifle and pistol ammunition. However, there is a wide choice of Progressive Presses and a bewildering array of options to consider. In this video, the 6.5 Guys and UltimateReloader.com’s Gavin Gear provide an overview of the leading Progressive Presses on the market along with key considerations for precision rifle shooters. If you are considering getting a Progessive for rifle ammo reloading, you should watch this informative, 25-minute video.

10 Tips for Reloading Rifle Ammo on a Progressive Press:

1. Make sure the brass is very clean. Don’t mix old range pick-up brass with newer brass.

2. Apply a thin, spray lube to all cases before the sizing/loading cycle.

3. Consider priming your brass separately (with a hand or bench tool) before the operation. Then inspect the primers before loading powder and bullets.

4. Always wear eye protection when loading with the Progressive, particularly if you are priming cases.

5. With masking tape, mark the powder measure/dropper with the powder type and cartridge charge weight. Check the charge mass multiple times (see below).

6. Cycle a few cases, sizing and adding powder but NOT seating bullets. Weigh the powder charges to ensure the powder measure is dispensing the correct charge. Sometimes this will change a couple tenths as it “settles down” after the first few charges.

7. Check the brass for shoulder bump and bullet seating depth carefully for the first few rounds, then check again periodically.

8. Try to maintain a steady pace and operate the handle the same way every time.

9. Visually inspect the powder charge in each case (before bullet seating), and use a lock-out die if your Progressive Press has enough stations.

10. Never, ever mix pistol and rifle powders! If you have previously loaded pistol ammo with your Progressive, make sure ALL the powder (every flake and kernel) is removed from all parts of the powder-dropping system before you add rifle powder.

Visit these sites for more Reloading and Precision Shooting Videos:

6.5 Guys
https://www.youtube.com/user/65guys
http://www.65Guys.com

Ultimate Reloader
https://www.youtube.com/ultimatereloader
http://www.UltimateReloader.com

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April 9th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Seven Progressive Presses in Review

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 factory 9mm can run $25 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 six videos from UltimateReloader.com that cover seven 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. Machines Covered: Lyman Mark 7, Dillon XL-650, Dillon XL-750, Dillon RL-550c, RCBS Pro Chucker 7, Hornady Lock-N-Load AP, and Lee Load Master.

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 Load-Master Features and Loading 9mm

SAFETY BONUS — Why You Need a Lock-Out Die


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

If 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.

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 die RCBS Lock-out die

It 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 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). This Editor has used the RCBS Lock-out die very successfully on an RCBS 2000 progressive press for many years.

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April 9th, 2022

Reloading Tip — How to Make Effective Spray-On Case Lube

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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March 31st, 2022

Area 419 ZERO 9-Station Turret Press Ultimate Reloader Review

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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March 5th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Ultimate Reloader Product & Tech Videos

YouTube Ultimate Reloader Video Showcase BAT action AMP Press reloading T-7

Gavin Gear, founder of the UltimateReloader.com website, has created a very popular YouTube Channel. Over the past 14 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.

Gavin’s Ultimate Reloader videos are very professional, with high-quality lighting and audio, multiple camera angles, and careful editing. And unlike many of the YouTube video hosts, Gavin is also a talented shooter and skilled gun-builder. His shop is complete with modern lathes, mills and other tools so he can build his own very accurate rifles from start to finish.

BAT Machine Modular Bolt — Design Features and “How To”

With most rifle actions, if you want to run a variety of cartridges with different case head diameters, you will need multiple bolts. However, there IS an alternative to purchasing multiple pricey bolts. BAT Machine has come up with a great solution for the bolt face issue — the Modular Bolt System. In this video Gavin explains how the Modular Bolt System works. He explains the design, then shows, step-by-step, the entire process for swapping bolt head sizes. With a bit of practice, this can be done easily in a couple minutes. Showing a bolt head swap start to finish (00:50 — 2:15 time mark), Gavin shows how to use the BAT Bolt Disassembly Tool and BAT Sleeve Removal Tool to complete the task quickly and easily.

AMP Inline Press — Effect of Brass Prep and Neck Chamfer

In this video Gavin examines various cartridge brass prep processes, and then used the advanced, computer-controlled AMP press to determine how those processes affect bullet seating forces/consistency. Gavin noted: “Each process is examined and a graph is presented of the bullet seating forces. We anticipated some of what we saw, and were surprised by other things.” The computer-controlled AMP press provides a graph of the exact seating forces, allowing to improve your brass prep to achieve the most consistent seating. Gavin notes: “Lately we’ve been seeing the AMP Press used for tight quality control from precision reloaders around the world.”

In this follow-up video, Gavin employs the advanced AMP press to examine how case neck chamfering affects bullet-seating force and consistency. Gavin tells us: “In this video, we single out one variable: Chamfering Case Mouths.”

Creedmoor Sports TRX-925 Scale Review

This is NOT a magnetic force-restoration scale, but it is one of the best strain-gauge scales you can buy. And, priced at $349.95, the Creedmoor Sports TRX-925 Precision Reloading Scale costs less than half what a good force-restoration scale costs. That’s a big deal for folks on a budget. This TRX-925 scale offers very good performance for the price. We include a second, detailed, 25-minute review by F-Class John who says the TRX-925 offers excellent performance for the price. F-Class John, who has his own popular YouTube Channel, produces very comprehensive, thorough product reviews.

This Second TRX-925 Video is from F-Class John:

Finding Cartridge Length to Lands in your Barrel — Three Methods

In this video, which has over 250,000 views on YouTube, Gavin shows three (3) different methods to determine length to lands (L-to-L). This means you are finding the exact length of a case with bullet when the bullet first contacts the rifling in the barrel. It is important to determine this dimension with repeatable precision, so you can tune your load length for best accuracy. In addition, in some disciplines you’ll want to avoid seating into the lands.

Creedmoor Enhanced Press Head for Redding T-7 Press


Creedmoor sports redding t-7 enhanced turret head press

The new Creedmoor Enhanced Press Head for the Redding T-7 Turret Press is a direct upgrade that offers many advantages for precision, ease of use, and reloading. Made from solid 416 Stainless Steel, this Press Head boasts precision cut threads, integral detent/track system, and seven threaded handle position. Creedmoor states: “A machined stainless steel head, rather than one made from cast steel, allows for tighter tolerances, an improved surface finish, and ultimately makes a better product for our customers.” The Redding T-7, already a good turret press, functions better with this press head, which is precision-machined to ensure flatness of both upper and lower surfaces. The Enhanced Press Head, which can be installed in a matter of minutes, is available now from Creedmoor Sports for $179.95.

.223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm — 6.3 Million Views

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 garnered over 6.3 MILLION YouTube views, making it one of the most popular gun-related videos ever made. Gavin adds: “Don’t forget to check out the full write-up on UltimateReloader.com.” CLICK HERE for FULL STORY.

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February 6th, 2022

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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January 2nd, 2022

Sunday GunDay: Rock’N Roll Rifle — Gavin’s Van Halen Tribute

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Today’s feature story showcases an impressive 6.5×47 Lapua benchrest rifle crafted by Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader.com. A gifted writer, video producer, and gear reviewer, Gavin has also acquired some serious gunsmithing skills over the past few years.

For this project, the multi-talented Mr. Gear did ALL the work himself — barrel chambering, muzzle crowning, stock inletting, action bedding, and yes even the stock painting. That brilliant red design with white and black stripes is an “homage” to the famous “Frankenstrat” guitar played by Rock N’ Roll legend Eddie Van Halen (EVH). That red/white/black guitar was the inspiration for this tribute rifle.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Gavin explained: “I decided to build a benchrest rifle as a tribute to Eddie Van Halen as I’ve been inspired by his guitar playing, his energy, and himself as a person. This is my first benchrest rifle build. And when I set out to build this rifle I was looking around at what other people were doing in the benchrest community in terms of stock graphics, and I decided I needed to do something ‘loud and crazy’ and when I thought about that, the first thing that came to mind was Eddie Van Halen’s iconic Frankenstrat guitar.”

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Here it is! My first all-out benchrest build! This rifle will serve as a test bed for the evaluation of different cartridges and components. In this multi-part series, I’ll walk through the … process of building this rifle including the barrel work, stock inletting, stock bedding, and some paint work that will be “a little different”. — Gavin Gear

Rifle Components — BAT Action, Krieger Barrel, Wheeler Stock, Sightron Scope
Bat Model B Action, .308 Win Bolt Face (modular), octagonal profile, integral recoil lug
Bix’n Andy Remington 700 Competition Trigger (from Bullet Central)
Wheeler Engineering LRB Stock with 4″ fore-end and steerable buttstock rudder
Sightron SV 10-50x60mm ED SFP Scope (FCH Target Dot Reticle) in 34mm BAT Rings

Painting the Eddie Van Halen Tribute Rifle

Gavin told us: “I’ve long been inspired and impressed by Eddie Van Halen (EVH). He changed the game for guitar in the late 1970s, and the world took notice! I’ve been a Van Halen fan for a long time, and that’s where the inspiration for my latest rifle build came from. Benchrest rifles are known for their loud and vivid paint jobs, and that made me think: ‘I need to do an EVH Frankenstrat paint job!’. In this video I share my experiences putting together this automotive-style rifle paint job.”

Gavin painted the stock himself with red/black/white graphics inspired by the rock legend’s famous guitar. Gavin actually has some serious painting skills learned decades ago. When Gavin was 16 he was “hell-bent on learning auto body prep and paint work”. He managed to score a job with a local shop, and did his first complete professional paint job (on a Toyota Supra) when he was just 17 years old.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

The EVH tribute stock was painted in multiple stages, with masking to create the stripes after the bright red was applied. For the finishing touch, the entire stock was sprayed with Omni clearcoat: “This [clear-coating] is when things really start to look good because you’re covering up all those masked transitions between the striping and the backgrounds.” Gavin says the key to clear-coating is “seeing the reflection of the light on the surface. This gives you visual feedback”. Watch the video above to see the entire painting process. CLICK HERE for Gavin’s full write-up on the stock painting job with many photos.

Barrel Break-In and Load Testing

The rifle showed great accuracy right from the get-go. In fact, the very first three shots through the barrel formed a 0.298″ group at 100 (see video at 05:35)! Then the gun produced a series of good three-shot groups (high 2s and low 3s), demonstrating the quality of the Krieger barrel and Gavin’s chambering work. CLICK HERE for testing target showing multiple groups.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build
Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Gavin selected top components for his loads: Lapua 6.5×47 brass, Berger 140gr Hybrid 6.5mm bullets, and Hodgdon Varget powder (unobtanium these days). To find promising starting loads, Gavin went straight to the best 6.5×47 Lapua resource on the web — AccurateShooter.com’s 6.5×47 Cartridge Guide. Researched by the 6.5 Guys (Ed and Steve), our Cartridge Guide includes recommended accuracy loads for a wide variety of bullets and powders.

6.5x47 Cartridge Guides 6.5 Guys

Stock Work and Bedding

In this Part 2 video, Gavin reveals the extensive work he did to prepare the stock for the barreled action. This video shows multiple operations: barrel channel and receiver inletting; machining of custom pillars; stock bedding, and trigger guard installation. Yes, Gavin did all the final inletting using his own machines, and he even created his own precision pillars. Watch the above video to see the entire inletting job followed by the action bedding process. Gavin’s skills are impressive.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

This Alex Wheeler LRB stock has some very innovative features, such as the adjustable “rudder” (or keel) on the bottomside of the buttstock. This helps ensure great tracking. Alex has noted: “This stock tracks exceptionally well due to the adjustable rudder system and 4″-wide fore-end. Aluminum rails in the front prevent rocking on the front bag as well as form small trenches to aid tracking. The adjustable rudder in the rear allows you to fine tune the bag riding surfaces until exactly parallel. The 4″-wide fore-end is legal in Benchrest and helps control torqueing in the bag.”

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Chambering the Barrel for 6.5×47 Lapua

Gavin did ALL the gunsmithing for the project, including chambering the Krieger barrel, and headspacing it for the BAT M Action. Gavin also crowned the muzzle. He did this all on his own advanced Precision Matthews PM-1440GT Lathe using Triebel Guntools 6.5x47mm body/neck finisher reamer, 6.5x47mm throater reamer, and Go and No-Go gages.

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloder Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

Clearly, this is not your average DIY project — Gavin performed ALL the most critical and demanding gunsmithing tasks. He trained himself to do these tasks working with ace gunsmith Gordy Gritters. You can see all the chambering and barrel-fitting functions in this revealing video:

Muzzle Work — Cutting Threads and Target Crown

Gavin Gear Ultimate Reloader Eddie Van Halen guitar rifle tribute benchrest 6.5x47 Lapua gun build

This photo shows the finishing of the barrel’s muzzle end. Gavin notes: “For the muzzle end, I again used the True Bore Alignment System. Above you can see the SSG Range Rod I used which features two tight-fitting bushings that ride on the barrel lands. This makes for quick barrel dial-in! I then cut an 11-degree target crown, as recommended by Gordy Gritters.”

The next step with this EVH Tribute rifle will be fitting the barrel for an Erik Cortina (EC) tuner, and proceeding with further load tuning. But that will have to wait for spring, when the snow has melted….

Want to learn more? Here are detailed reports on UltimateReloader.com:

1. EVH Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Barrel Work and Chambering
2. EVH Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Stock Inletting and Bedding
3. EVH Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Testing with Sightron 10-50X Scope
4. Eddie Van Halen Tribute 6.5×47 Rifle Custom Paint Job

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December 11th, 2021

Area 419 ZERO 9-Station Turret Press — Impressive Engineering

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

Area 419’s ZERO reloading press is a brilliantly engineered 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 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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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.

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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 — 6.3 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 garnered over 6.3 MILLION YouTube views, making it one of the most popular gun-related videos ever. 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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