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March 5th, 2023

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
On the website, run by our friend Gavin Gear, 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, used by permission.
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February 17th, 2023

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 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 »

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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January 8th, 2023

Get Reliable Loads at Hodgdon Reloading Data Center

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powder

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powderLooking for a good load for a new rifle? Or perhaps you want to try a new powder and bullet combo for an existing rig. One of the best places to start for load data is Hodgdon’s online Reloading Data Center for pistol, rifle, and shotgun reloaders. Check out the Reloading Data Center at

In the Data Center, you’ll find thousands of load recipes for pistol, rifle, and shotgun. Rifle shooters will find dozens of loads for their favorite Hodgdon, IMR, and Winchester powders such as H4198, H4895, Varget, H4350, and IMR 8208 XBR. And Hodgdon’s Reloading Center is “mobile-friendly” so it works well with smartphones and tables. Navigation is easy, and you can set the search criteria easily choosing your favorite powder or bullets. After choosing a cartridge, you can pre-select specific bullet weights and powder types. That quickly delivers just the information you want and need. You won’t have to scroll through scores of entries for bullets or powders you don’t use.

Hodgdon Reloading data Center hand loading powder
NOTE: This shows results for two bullet weights and two powder choices. With more powders and bullets selected you will get more results. The “BUY NOW” buttons link to the Hodgdon webstore.

Reloading Center is Smartphone-Friendly
Mobile users will notice that the current Hodgdon Reloading Center is “user-friendly” for smart-phone and tablet users. Controls have been optimized for touch-screens, and buttons are large and easy to use.

How to Get Started with Handloading

Getting started in Reloading? Ultimate Reloader offers a helpful introductory video that covers the basics. In addition, a recent Ultimate Reloader article reviews the types of reloading presses, plus the other gear you’ll need, from dies to powder dispensers.

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January 1st, 2023

Sunday Gunday 2023: Gavin’s 6GT Shines in Snowy Northwest

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

For the very first day of 2023 we present a precision rifle built with a relatively new cartridge — the 6GT. Developed by George Gardner of G.A. Precision and Tom Jacobs of Vapor Trail Bullets, the 6GT was designed to have the efficiency of a 6mm Dasher without the need for case forming. It was also designed with a longer case body so it feeds better from magazines. Even with the added capacity, the 6GT is still very efficient, and can achieve good velocities with less powder than a 6mm Creedmoor.

Today’s Sunday Gunday feature rifle was smithed and tested by Gavin Gear of Gavin did all the gunsmithing — chambering the barrel, fitting the muzzle brake, and even laser engraving the barrel. In building this 6GT rifle, Gavin used top-tier components: BAT TR action, Krieger 28″ 1:7.5″-twist 4-groove 6mm barrel, TriggerTech Diamond Rem 700-compatible trigger, and Area 419 Hellfire Muzzle Brake. The barreled action was then fitted in a handsome and rugged MDT ACC Chassis. On top is a Zero Tech 4.5-27×50mm FFP Trace Advanced scope in 30mm Hawkins Precision high rings.

We recommend you watch the video above — it covers the rifle build, load development, and then features some remarkable shooting sequences across snowy hills in the Pacific Northwest. Gavin’s team actually used a drone to capture overhead footage of the location.

After developing a promising load with Berger 109gr LRHT bullets, Varget powder, and Alpha brass, Gavin literally headed for the hills to test his new rifle at longer ranges, shooting from bipod. His load had shot well under half-MOA at 100 yards in testing so he was hoping he could hit multiple steel targets positioned at 340 yards, 760 yards, and 1000 yards. Indeed he did, proving the rifle’s great accuracy and Gavin’s fine trigger-pulling skills. You can see the hits at these time points in the above video:

340 Yards — 18:15 time | 760 Yards — 19:00 time | 1000 Yards — 19:54 Time

Gavin’s 6GT Hit Highlights on Steel out to 1000 Yards

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

Building Gavin’s 6GT Precision Rifle

Gavin Gear did all the gunsmithing on this project, using his own Precision Matthews TL-1660 lathe for the chambering with an Alpha carbide 6GT reamer. The barrel work took about four hours total. Shown below is the reamer cutting the chamber, which was finished with a 0.170″ freebore and 0.270″ neck diameter. For other brands of brass you might want the chamber to have a larger 0.272″ neck diameter.

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
Chambering the Krieger barrel with Alpha carbide 6GT reamer, 0.170” freebore, .270″ neck diameter.

This project when smoothly, with Gavin able to install the barreled action in the MDT Chassis and fit the buttstock in an hour or so. So total build time was about five hours. One nice “finishing touch” on the project was laser engraving the 28″ Krieger barrel — a process you can see in the video below.

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
Laser engraving of Krieger 28″ barrel.

About the 6GT — Sort of a 6 Dasher on Steroids

6GT 6mm GT comparison 6mm Dasher 6.4x47 Lapua

alpha munitions 6mm GT 6GT

6GT Cartridge Design Features

The 6GT was designed to have an optimal length and capacity for mag-fed PRS/NRL tactical rifles. The 6GT is longer than a 6mmBR and 6 Dasher, but shorter than a 6mm Creedmoor and 6.5×47 Lapua. That gives the 6GT ample case body length to feed reliably from a magazine, while the case capacity is sufficient to run popular powders at reasonable pressures. It has a 35-degree shoulder angle.

On paper the 6GT seemed like the perfect cartridge for PRS- and NRL-style centerfire competition. It has the low recoil of a 6 Dasher, with good feeding and mag compatibility. With the 6GT, a competitor can push 6mm 105gr bullets at 3000+ FPS or run heavier bullets at ~2950 FPS. With this 28″ Krieger barrel, Gavin actually achieved 3004 FPS running 109gr Bergers.

On the G.A. Precision website, the qualities of the 6GT are listed as follows:

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

Loading for the 6GT

Gavin started with quality Alpha Munitions brass. The cases were then annealed with an AMP Annealer and trimmed to length with a Henderson powered trimmer (see video below). After sizing with a Forster Co-Ax press, Federal SR Primers were seated using a Primal Rights competition seater. Next the powder was measured with an A&D FX120i force restoration scale. Finally, the Berger 109gr LR Hybrid Target bullets were seated with a Forster Micrometer die, again using the smooth Forster Co-Ax press.

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

Initial Load Testing with Berger and Hornady Projectiles

Before it got cold and snowy, Gavin did load development, shooting from a bench with a Sinclair front rest. The Krieger cut-rifled barrel was accurate right from the start and Hodgdon Varget powder proved to be a very good choice for the 6GT.

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis
Gavin’s 6GT boasts a MDT ACC short action chassis with SRS-X Elite buttstock, vertical grip, and MDT CKYE-POD Bipod.

Gavin did initial load testing with both Hornady 110gr A-Tip Match and Berger 109gr Long Range Hybrid Target bullets. The Berger 109gr LRHT bullets were the most promising. A variety of charge weights were tested, with Gavin settling on 34.6 grains of Varget. This delivered fine accuracy with a 3004 FPS muzzle velocity. Group size measurements with this load are shown in the chart. At 100 yards, four three-shot groups averaged 0.361 MOA, and the rifle produced a nice 0.387 MOA (0.405″) five-shot group.

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

———————————————— Winter Wonderland for Shooters ———————————————–

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

Coming Soon — Ultimate Reloader Rifles Business

Gavin Gear is in the process of opening his own gunsmithing business. He will be offering a variety of custom-built rifles for multiple disciplines — hunting, PRS/NRL, ELR, and other competitive disciplines. Gavin explains: “Ultimate Reloader is gearing up to do custom rifle work for the general public starting (hopefully) in Spring 2022. We will most likely start with complete custom rifle builds using parts from our inventory. We will focus on high-end, bolt-action rifle builds and gunsmithing, primarily Remington 700 and clones. We will entertain limited gunsmithing work outside of complete builds (i.e. chambering, muzzle threading).

gavin gear 6GT alpha brass krieger barrel NRL PRS MDT Chassis

If you are interested, go to, then fill out the Waiting List Form to receive more information.

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December 31st, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Six Notable Ultimate Reloader Videos

Ultimate reloader gavin gear longshot camera AMP press anschutz rifle 7mm PRC 6.5 PRC 300 muzzle brake videos offers some of the most thorough firearms and reloading tool tests on the internet. And UltimateReloader’s YouTube Channel has hundreds of great videos that showcase reloading tools, accurate firearms, precision optics, gunsmithing methods, and top-tier reloading components. For today’s Saturday at the Movies feature, we showcase six great videos recently created by Gavin Gear and his UltimateReloader team. These videos highlight a superb Long-Range Target Camera, the remarkable AMP Press, the new Hornady PRC cartridges, and other interesting topics. On this final day of 2022, enjoy our Saturday Video Showcase.

With the high price of centerfire powders, bullets, and brass, everyone should have an accurate .22 LR rimfire rifle for marksmanship training and competition at 25 to 200 yards. In this video, Ultimate Reloader’s Gavin Gear tests the impressive Anschutz 54.18 BR50-U7 match rifle using a quality Sinclair Int’l front rest. Anschutz offers several versions of the 54.18 and BR-50. There are two barreled actions available: 20″ threaded and 25.9″ non-threaded. Gavin tested the 20″ threaded model with the U7 stock. In this video, Gavin tested the trigger with a sophisticated TriggerScan TS-11. The trigger was superbly repeatable at a measured 3.8 ounces. Gavin also did a bore examination. He then tested the Anschutz with a variety of premium ammo. In this rifle, Lapua Midas+ producing the smallest groups. FULL STORY HERE.

This video features the impressive, high-tech AMP Bullet Seating Press. The AMP Press combines a motor driven ram, a distance sensor, and a load cell to deliver extremely accurate and precise force/distance bullet seating measurements. The AMP Press offers unrivaled consistency in the bullet seating process. And as the AMP Press is linked to a computer, seating data can be stored and you can chart variations in seating resistance. A wealth of precise data is collected during the bullet seating process. This helps you optimize your brass prep and annealing for the best, most consistent results. FULL STORY HERE.

Past 400 yards or so, it can be difficult to see bullet holes on paper, even with spotting scopes. That’s why we recommend a high-quality wireless target camera. The best long-range target cameras on the market are produced by Longshot Camera Systems. The Longshot Target Cam provides a live WiFi camera feed. This comes back to your shooting station and you can view the image with a laptop or mobile device. You don’t need internet coverage and no separate tall antennas are required. Simply place the camera unit next to your target and the receiver unit close to your rifle or bench. The Longshot system is completely self-contained. Longshot produces a variety of cameras starting at $449.00 for the LongShot Marksman. We recommend the $899.00 LR-3 unit which works out to two miles! In this video Gavin Gear of UltimateReloader tests the LR-3 at long range. PRODUCT INFO HERE.

This video examines how muzzle brakes reduce recoil. Just how important is bore clearance for a muzzle brake? Should you have an exit diameter that’s just slightly larger than bullet diameter, or will a larger diameter work well also? Along with no brake at all (bare muzzle), Ultimate Reloader tested multiple different brake bore clearances on a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle: 0.010″ over bullet diameter, 0.020″, 0.030″, 0.050″, 0.100″, and 0.200″. The testers expected to get the best recoil reduction with the tightest fit. Surprisingly, this wasn’t quite the case.

Ultimate reloader gavin gear muzzle brake bore clearance video

Using all brake configurations (all bore clearances) Ultimate Reloader saw a significant reduction in recoil, almost half, as compared to a bare muzzle: “What we didn’t expect was how close together the rest of the clearances would cluster. All of the clearances that we tested had good recoil reduction.” FULL STORY HERE.

Dillon Precision continues to be the leader among progressive press makers. Dillon offers the largest variety of progressives, the most accessories, and legendary customer service. In this video, Gavin Gear of Ultimate Reloader looks at a variety of Dillon machines to help buyers decide which progressive best suits their needs. Featured Dillon progressives include: Square Deal B, Xl750, and RL1100. Along with basic press feature, Gavin shows the operation of Dillon’s automated bullet feeder and case feeder accessories. The video also provides pricing summaries with various configurations. FULL STORY HERE.

Hornady’s PRC (Precision Rifle Cartridge) family of cartridges are becoming quite popular. The 6.5 PRC fits in a short action, while the 7mm PRC and 300 PRC both require a long action. The 7mm PRC is a long-action centerfire hunting cartridge designed to shoot 180gr bullets at 2950+ FPS. The 6.5 PRC is a good hunting cartridge that can fit a standard-length action. And, a number of top F-Open shooters are necking up the 6.5 PRC for 7mm bullets. This 7-6.5 PRC wildcat has shown excellent F-Class accuracy with a higher velocity node than the .284 Winchester. Along with these two cartridges, Hornady has a 300 PRC that can shoot the big .308-caliber bullets. In this video, Ultimate Reloader analyzes and compares each of the three PRC cartridge types. FULL STORY HERE.

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December 10th, 2022

Saturday Movies: Finding Length to Lands — Multiple Methods

saturday movies showcase reloading length lands bullet seating depth measurement

Setting optimal bullet seating depth is very important for maximum accuracy. While some cartridges and barrels may deliver good accuracy with a wide range of bullet seating depths, other barrels may be more fussy, and may strongly prefer a specific seating depth, such as .006″ in the lands or .020″ off. To get this kind of precision, you need to know the exact position of the lands in your barrel. In addition, because barrel throats tend to move as the round count goes up, you should check the position of the lands regularly on a competition rifle.

Today’s Saturday Videos demonstrate a number of methods for finding Length to Lands in your rifle barrel. We start with the most common method — using the Hornady O.A.L. Gauge with a threaded modified case. With some practice, and a refined touch, this is actually very accurate. After this, we offer videos that have alternative methods, each with its pros and cons. You should find a method that works for you, that can achieve results within a couple thousandths for multiple measurements.

Finding Cartridge Length to Lands with O.A.L. Gauge

Probably the most common method to find length to lands is using a Hornady O.A.L. Gauge Tool with a comparator on a set of calipers. We regularly use this method with a custom modified case for our 6mmBR rifle. Using the technique described below, we can get results within .0015″ or so three out of four times. We do recommend taking multiple measurements. As explained below, be consistent and do NOT push the gray plastic rod too fast or with too much force.

Hornady OAL o.a.l. gauge length measurement

During this measurement process, the modified case, with a bullet in its neck, is inserted in the chamber. Go slow, take your time. Here are FIVE TIPS that will help you get repeatable and reliable length-to-lands measurements with the Hornady O.A.L. Gauge:

1. Start with a clean chamber and clean barrel throat.
2. Make sure the modified case is fully screwed down and seated on the O.A.L. Gauge. It can sometimes unscrew a bit during repeated measurements.
3. Insert the modified case slowly and gently, but ensure the shoulder of the modified case is fully seated on the end of the chamber.
4. Push the gray plastic rod GENTLY. It is common for the bullet to be tilted a bit. You want to allow the bullet to self-center in the throat BEFORE you apply much pressure. Then tap a couple times and push until you feel resistance. Do NOT push too hard — that will jam the bullet in the lands.
5. Repeat the measurement at least 3 more times. If you follow our instructions, you should, typically, get a repeatable measurement, within 0.0015″ or so, 3 out of 4 times.

NOTE: We’ve seen some folks struggle to get repeatable measurements with this tool. In most cases, they were going too fast and pushing too hard on the gray rod, creating a hard jam.

Brownells — Using Hornady O.A.L. Gauge with Modified Case

This Brownells video shows how to use the modified (threaded) case for the cartridge your rifle shoots. Attach it to the O.A.L. Gauge, then insert a bullet into the case neck and slide the tool into the chamber. It takes a little practice to get consistent results. After getting the measurement in the barrel, you ascertain the length to lands using a Hornady Bullet Comparator attached to your calipers.

hornady OAL gauge length to lands modified case

Making Your Own Modified Case — Threading the Case End

This helpful video from our friend Gavin Gear of shows how to create a custom modified case to use with a Hornady O.A.L. Gauge. You need to drill out the primer pocket area, then tap and thread the bottom of the case.

Ultimate Reloader Shows 3 Ways to Find the Lands

This video shows three different ways to measure distance to lands. First Gavin Gear shows how to use a Hornady O.A.L. Gauge with Modified Case. The second methods shows how to use a bit of Loctite INSIDE the neck to secure a bullet. Be sure there is NO Loctite on the outside of the neck — you don’t want that in your chamber! You place the case with bullet into the chamber, then close bolt to seat the bullet. After waiting 5-10 minutes for the Loctite to set, you remove the cartridge gently. The third method (time-mark 16:50) is a Jam method using a bolt with the firing pin assembly and ejector removed (so there is no extra pressure on the case). Gavin notes: “The bullet ogive can be colored with a permanent marker if you want to indicate lands contact.”

About this third Jam method, ace F-Class shooter Erik Cortina posted: “My method is actually the last one that Travis showed. The one where you let the lands push bullet in. But it is neck tension dependent. I also put die wax in bullet ogive to prevent it from sticking in the lands. The method of seating bullet deeper and deeper until bolt closes is the Alex Wheeler method. As you said, there are a tons of ways to measure this.”

Finding Length to Lands the Speedy Way

Here is another method to find length to lands that can work with an unmounted barrel. This method is explained by Thomas “Speedy” Gonzales, a top gunsmith and ace benchrest shooter. Speedy drops a case with bullet seated into the chamber and then adjusts the seating depth with an inline seating die until there is no sticking or resistance felt. He can then adjust the true length to lands easily with his micrometer seating die. If you don’t have a modified case and do not want to partially disassemble your bolt to take measurement, you might want to use Speedy’s method.

Finding Length to Lands Using Bolt Movement — Primal Rights

This video shows how to remove the firing pin assembly in your bolt. This way the bolt can be used to advance a case with bullet smoothly into the chamber. Then the bullet seated in the case neck will move back to “first touch” contact position. Then extract the case slowly and measure.

The video host states: “Overall length gauges and modified cases tend to be close, but never as precise as we would like them to be. Here we describe how to measure the length to your lands in your rifle as precisely as possible, using a caliper and bullet comparator.” NOTE: The host says a store-bought Modified Case may not deliver that exact same length from case base to lands as your own fired case. That is true, but as long as the commercial Modified Case gives you repeatable results, you have a functional reference point which you can then use to test seating depths relative to that measurement.

Finding Length to Lands Using Bullet in Case With Split-Cut Neck

Here is a common method that requires no special tools. Simply take a fired (no primer), neck-sized case and split the necks down vertically with a Dremel. Done right, this will hold the bullet in place when you chamber the unloaded round. As the bullet touches the rifling it will move back. As the cartridge chambers, the bullet slides back into the case to give you length to lands. This is not super-accurate but it is probably good enough for finding the length to lands for a hunting rifle. The video maker explains: “No need to purchase gauges for this if you are willing to sacrifice one case. With a little time and patience you can get good results with this method.” Further Explanation.

OAL gauge length to lands case neck dremel

How to Adjust Tension — Length and Number of Neck Cuts
Forum member Andris Silins, who uses this method, explains: “I made the neck cuts using a Dremel with a cut-off wheel. You can adjust tension two ways. First, you can make the cuts longer or shorter. Longer cuts = less tension. If you used only three cuts instead of four you would get more tension. The trick is to be gentle when you open and close the bolt. If you ram the bolt closed you may wedge the bullet into the lands. When you open the bolt it helps to keep a finger or two near by to guide the case out straight because the ejector wants to push it sideways.” READ MORE.

Finding the Lands with HK Rifleworks

This is another video that demonstrates how to disassemble the bolt so that the firing pin assembly and spring does not apply pressure on the empty case which would affect the bullet as it touches the lands. The video maker shows how to use a Brownells bolt disassembly tool to quickly take the bolt apart (3:20 time-mark). Once you have a repeatable measurement, you know exactly where is “first touch”. Then you can adjust your seating depth to be into the lands, or jumping the bullets. Many benchrest shooters like to load “into the lands”. PRS/NRL shooters and hunters will generally prefer to jump their bullets .0020″ or more.

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December 3rd, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Primer Seating Tools Reviewed

video primer priming seater tool video review primal rcbs lee hand bench

Seating primers is a key part of the reloading process. You need to seat primers consistently to achieve best accuracy. There are many different tools offered for seating primers, both hand-held and bench-mounted. Deluxe premium hand-held seaters may hold just a single primer, while a variety of handheld units employ trays to hold more primers. With bench-mounted primer seaters there are a variety of feeding systems — vertical tubes, angled trays, and even a strip feeder — the APS system pioneered by RCBS.

Today’s Saturday at the Movies feature covers a variety of primer seater options, from low-cost hand tools to the $600.00 Primal Rights unit. We also cover the innovative Lee Automated Case Primer (ACP) system which even feeds your brass, increasing your processing rate.

Forster Co-Ax Bench-Mounted Priming Tool

The Forster Co-Ax® Primer Seater is a trusted bench-mounted priming tool that works very well. Set the jaws for a particular rim size, load the tube, and you’re ready to seat primers. The tool has good “feel” plus plenty of leverage. Forster says that the tool’s “unique design allows the operator to eliminate all slop when working with a specific cartridge, translating into perfect seating, reliable ignition, and reduced misfires.” This Forster tool requires no separate shell holders. The spring-loaded jaws close to securely grip most modern rifle and pistol cases with a rim thickness of .045″ to .072″. And Forster provides a primer flipper tray that makes it easy to load the provided small and large tubes. If you shoot a large variety of cartridge types with various rim sizes, this Forster Co-Ax primer seater is a good choice.

Primal Rights Competition Priming Seater (CPS) Review

If there is a Ferrari of priming tools, it has to be the Primal Rights Competition Primer Seater (CPS). This impressive bench-mounted tool allows very precise control over primer seating depth. A vertical tube holds primers ready for insertion. The action is smooth and precise. Seating depth control is as good as you can get. That precise, repeatable control, and the tool’s smooth operation, are the tool’s major selling points. Video reviewer F-Class John believes that Primal Rights machine is definitely the best priming tool on the market, though it may not be for everyone given its premium $600.00 price.

Frankford Arsenal Perfect Priming Tool

Our friend Jim See of Elite Accuracy LLC has tested the depth-adjustable hand priming tool from Frankford Arsenal. This product, called the Platinum Series Perfect Seat Hand Primer, has some unique features. Primer seating depth can be adjusted with a handy wheel in the tool’s center handgrip. Each “click” of the wheel moves the primer post .001″ (one one-thousandth of an inch). Additionally, the design of the case-holder allows quick and easy removal of a primed case. The unit ships with a full set of shell-holders to match all types of cases. Like many other hand priming units, the primers are loaded into a flip tray that attaches to the head of the tool.

Frankford Arsenal Perfect Priming Tool jim see review

Accuracy Variances and Priming Tool Types

The above video compares the performance of the Frankford Arsensal adjustable priming tool with a Sinclair Int’l hand priming tool — a unit used for many years by top benchrest shooters.

LEE Automatic Case Priming (ACP) System

The LEE Automatic Case Primer (ACP) is the world’s first automatic-feeding priming tool that does not need shell-holders. Cases are guided into position by a sliding “finger guide”. The “dead length” priming device ensures that primers are seated uniformly without “feel” or adjustments required. This is very efficient and relatively easy, once the primers are loaded into the triangular tray. This ACP tool is on sale at Midsouth for $84.99, 16% off the regular price. We’ve tested the product and it works well, but sometimes needs a little fiddling with the primer feed guide.

To increase output, there are LEE ACP upgrades: Lee Universal Case Feed Magazine ($25.99), Lee Case Feed Collator ($10.99), and Lee Roller Handle (part #91629). In addition, the ACP can DE-PRIME cases efficiently with the $8.99 ACP depriming kit. SEE LEE ACP Product Info Sheet with all accessories.

LEE Auto Bench Priming Tool

Gavin Gear of has reviewed Lee Precision’s new lever-operated, bench-mounted priming tool. The Lee Auto Bench Prime features a hopper-style primer feeder set at an angle. Gavin likes the tool, reporting that primers feed well and seat fully with very little effort. And switching from large to small primer size (or vice-versa) is quick and easy. Overall, Gavin says the Lee Auto Bench Prime has earned a place in his reloading room: “The Lee Auto Bench Prime is easier to use than a hand priming tool, and more efficient.”

How the Lee Auto Bench Prime Performs
Gavin had three important “take-aways” from his initial loading sessions with the Lee Auto Bench Prime:

1. I was surprised by the low effort needed to prime cases — it’s pretty amazing.
2. You can quickly and easily install shellholders and change primer sizes.
3. The folding primer tray works very well. It’s a great setup from my testing so far.

Are there any negatives with the tool? Gavin noted that, in the course of loading 100+ rounds, once or twice he had to tap the triangular tray to get the primer to feed: “That’s not a big deal, and may smooth out with time”.

RCBS APS Strip Priming System — Bench Tool and Strip Loader

rcbs aps strip priming system hand toolRCBS pioneered an innovative priming system that held primers in handy horizontal strips. This video shows primers being placed in strips, and then cases being primed using an RCBS bench-mounted APS strip-priming system. Many years ago, this Editor acquired an RCBS Pro 2000 progressive press, which employed the APS strip priming system. Primers were held in strips which could be easily connected for continuous feeding — no tubes to load! I liked the system so much I then acquired an APS hand priming tool (photo right), an APS bench-mounted tool, and an APS strip priming tool that fits on a single stage press. I loaded many thousands of rounds successfully with the APS system with not one inverted primer ever. I still use the APS hand primer tool to prime most of my rifle rounds.

video primer priming seater tool video review primal rcbs lee hand bench

Unfortunately, RCBS has discontinued sales of most APS priming tools, but you can still get primers pre-packaged in APS strips, and you can still buy the Strip Loader tool for placing primers into strips.

BONUS Video — K&M Primer Pocket Correction Tool

K&M offers a handy tool for optimizing primer pocket depth. K&M’s Primer Pocket Correction Tool uses a carbide cutter with a preset depth, allowing consistent depth squaring of the primer pocket bottom. Designed with a drive shank to be used with your cordless screwdriver and/or a K&M handle, these tools are available in four types: Small Rifle/Pistol; Large Pistol; Large Rifle; and .50 BMG.

Priming Tool Tip — Check Your Primer Seater for Wear

Priming Tool APS CCI magnum Primers Lee RCBS Priming

From time to time, we all encounter a primer that doesn’t go off. It’s normal to attribute the problem to a bad primer. But sometimes there are other explanations. George S., one of our Forum members, experienced a couple failures to fire, but he learned that the issue was his priming TOOL, not his primers. Here’s what George told us. There’s a lesson to be learned:

“I had issues with CCI 450s when I had my first 6BR barreled. I had probably three or four out of 20 rounds that failed to fire. the primers were dented but didn’t fire. I called CCI since I had bought a case of them. The tech was decent enough but had the audacity to tell me I was not seating the primers all the way in the pocket. I proceeded to let him know I had been reloading longer than he had been alive and I knew how to seat a primer.

Turns out that I did and I didn’t! I was using the RCBS primer tool I had used for years and the primers felt just fine to me. I finally decided to check the tool and since I had a new one I took the seating pins out and measured them. The seating pin on the tool I had been using for years was shorter by a few thousandths! I then used the pin from the new primer tool and darned if the primers that didn’t seat down to the bottom of the cup.

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November 25th, 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, 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 $1275.00, but is now $1175.00 during Area 419’s Black Friday sale. SEE FULL REVIEW on

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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November 18th, 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’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

Ultimate Reloader

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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** 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 » Explains .223 Rem vs. 5.56x45mm
To explain the key differences between the .223 Rem and 5.56x45mm cartridges our friend Gavin Gear of 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

“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 28th, 2022

Henderson Gen 3 Trimmer — Ultimate Reloader and F-Class John

ultimate reloader henderson G3 trimmer gavin gear

Gavin Gear of recently tested the impressive Henderson Gen 3 (V3) Trimmer. There is a full write-up on Gavin’s website, and you can watch Gavin’s 18.7-minute video review below.

Gavin states: “I met Todd Henderson at SHOT Show and it’s clear that quality control and customer experience are extremely important to him. The Henderson Gen 3 case trimmer is built on an adjustable tri-trim 3-way cutter with different pilots to accommodate different case necks. Three way cutters trim to length and chamfer the inside and outside all at once. This trimmer has a 1700 RPM spindle and a custom DC motor made in the USA. It is made of billet aluminum and has a taper-lock cutting head and is consistent to 0.002″” at least with the same brand of brass. The collets are Brown & Sharpe style collets and are interchangeable with Forster case trimmer collets. Henderson currently offers four collets, and one is supplied with each machine.”

Gavin explains the trimming process: “I had some 6mm Dasher brass I’ve fired a few times and wanted to take down 5-10 thousandths. The Henderson trimmer works much like a milling machine. You do not need much torque because of the way the taper works.”

The Henderson Gen 3 trimmer delivered outstanding cartridge length consistency after trimming: “I was careful to ensure my trimming process was as consistent as possible. I measured the first ten cases I ever trimmed on the unit and found a standard deviation of 0.00047. The extreme spread is actually less than advertised. This trimmer is fast and easy to use and most importantly, returns consistent results.”

ultimate reloader henderson G3 trimmer gavin gear

F-Class John Review of Henderson Gen 3 Trimmer

Our Editor F-Class John has also reviewed the Henderson Trimmer. He liked the product so much he purchased one, and he uses it regularly now to trim his .284 Win cases for F-Open competition.

John liked the precision of the Henderson trimmer and the overall design of the machine, which offers good ergonomics and very precise alignment of the cases. Cycling is smooth and positive, as you can see from the videos. Fit over the pilot was fine for John’s .284 Win brass, but he notes that other users may need to expand their case necks appropriately to fit their pilot.

Watch the video to see the Henderson trimmer in action. The dual, parallel horizontal support shafts provide precise alignment of the case as it moves inward toward the cutter blade. The Taper-Lock cutter provides a 14-degree inside chamfer and 30-degree outside chamfer. The trimming process is very consistent case after case, and the Henderson’s design captures brass shavings effectively.

Henderson case timer powered Gen 3 brass trimming machine

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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, 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 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)


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

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 14th, 2022

Saturday at the Movies: Gun Safes — Features and Installation

Gunsafe gun safe saturday movies video showcase vault security modular

Today’s Saturday Showcase covers gun safes. Every firearms owner should have a secure, quality gun safe with ample capacity. There are numerous choices in gun safes — but we have one key bit of advice — buy BIGGER than you think you need, because your gun collection will likely grow over time. Also you should consider the fire rating of your safe. There are other key factors to consider, such as wall thickness, lock type, shelf and storage layout, and humidity control. We recommend that all Bulletin readers read our detailed, Gun Safe Buyers Guide. This in-depth 9400-word article covers ALL these topics:

Budget Safes
Bolt Layout
Door Seals
Fire Proofing
Handgun Storage
Humidity Control
Installation Tips
Interior Layout
Interior Lighting
Locks–Dial vs. Digital
Modular Safes
Rotary Racks
Size and Weight
Temperature Control
Wall Thickness
Water Proofing

Technical Features of Gun Safes — What You Need to Know

This is a very sensible, informative video that examines the technical features of gun safes. You’ll learn about the steel “gauge” or thickness, the different types of hinges, lock controls, and fire-proofing options. We think anyone contemplating purchase of a large home safe should watch this video, prepared by a respected safe retailer in Las Vegas.

Assembly of SnapSafe Titan XXL Double Door Modular Safe

In this video Gavin Gear of shows the unpacking and assembly of a large, twin-door SnapSafe modular safe. This video shows how individual panels are assembled one by one, and how the twin doors are attached. Gavin also shows the process of installing the interior insulation panels which provide basic fire protection. Remarkably, this entire XXL modular safe can be put together with simple tools in less than an hour. SEE Full Article HERE.

Gunsafe gun safe saturday movies video showcase vault security modular

Features of a Quality Safe under $1000

Even if you already have a safe, this video is well worth watching. The host shows a variety of accessories and upgrades that all gun safe owners should consider. The host explains why you should have a dehumidifier or Golden Rod. He also shows how to install handy interior lights that activate automatically when the door is opened.

The Gun Vault — The Next Step Beyond a Jumbo Gun Safe

If you have a very large gun collection and are building a new custom home, you may want to consider a Gun Vault. This is essentially a large, secure room, with a very heavy door and thick walls. In this interesting video, Atlas builds a large walk-in gun vault using the Gallow Tech Shelving System and a Fort Knox Gun Vault door.

After the Fire — What Actually Happens in a Burned Safe

In this video, the hosts open a “fireproof” gun safe that went through an actual house fire. See what happens when a gun safe that is supposed to be fireproof actually is exposed to a major fire. The results are surprising to say the least. This video shows that you need to do your homework before buying a “fireproof” safe. Understand how the fire rating systems work, and learn how the interior materials and construction make a big different in real world fire protection.

Mechanical Locks vs. Electronic Locks — What You Need to Know

One important decision when buying a gun safe is the choice of locking mechanism. Should you go with a mechanical lock or an electronic lock? There are pros and cons to both dial locks and e-locks, and as long as you get a quality lock, neither is a bad choice. To help you make your decision, This video explains the differences between the two, and reasons why you might choose one over the other.

How to Assemble a Modular Safe with Simple Tools

For gun owners who move frequently, or who may live in an upstairs apartment or condo, a modular safe makes sense. Steelhead Outdoors, based in Minnesota, offers three different safes: Nomad 26, 32, and Nomad 38. The video below shows how to assemble a Steelhead Outdoors Nomad series safe. If you have basic skills, these safes can be assembled easily in 60-90 minutes. Steelhead recommends having two people to do the job. The entire safe ships in four (4) boxes. Wrenches are included with the safe.

This time-lapse video shows the entire process of assembling the safe, start to finish.

Guide to Quick Access Handgun Safes

A quick access safe can keep your pistol secure, but also readily accessible. But not all of these devices are created equal. This video explains the features you need in a small pistol safe. The video also examines the pros and cons of seven different handgun safes. We recommend that you do NOT keep your handgun safe in plain view, such as on a bedside table. There are other locations where you still have quick access, without tempting home intruders.

Wireless Hygrometer Reports Temperature and Humidity Inside Safes

The Hornady Security® Wireless Hygrometer monitors temperature and humidity in real-time, all without opening the gun safe. The wireless hygrometer employs a remote sensor inside your safe, which measures temperature and humidity data. This data is then sent to an external base display. Wireless technology eliminates the need to open the safe and check the storage environment, preventing temperature and humidity spikes from the outside air.

The display features a large touchscreen that shows current high/low data from both the base and remote units in Fahrenheit or Celsius. The hygrometer pairs with Hornady Security’s in-safe dehumidifiers to combat oxidation-causing moisture.

Gun Safe Installation Recommendations

Every safe, when possible, should be anchored in place with heavy-duty fasteners. Ideally, use multiple bolts in the bottom of the safe, anchored to concrete or solid foundation. Choose the appropriate lag bolts or anchors for the material below your safe. If you can’t mount to the floor, bolt the safe to wall studs. You can locate the position of the studs with an inexpensive electronic “Stud Sensor” available at home supply stores.

Check the thickness of your safe floor. If the steel on the bottom of your safe is fairly thin, place a steel backing strip between the bolt heads and the safe bottom. (Large washers will work, but a backing strip is better.) Without such reinforcement, the bolt heads may pull right through thin-gauge steel if the safe is rocked, or levered from the bottom with a pry-bar.

Locate your safe in the corner of a room or in a recess that blocks access to one or more sides of the safe. On many gun safes, the steel on the top, sides, and rear is thinner than on the door. Blocking access to the sides makes it much more difficult to use power tools on the sides, where the safe is most vulnerable. It’s also wise to place the safe in a relatively tight space with limited room to maneuver. Anything that makes the safe harder to move helps deter would-be thieves.

Many people place their safe in a garage or basement. That’s not necessarily a bad idea, but people also tend to store their tools in the same locations. Don’t store your power tools next to the safe. One safe-maker told us how a customer’s safe was defeated using the owners’ own cutting torch which was stored right next to the safe!

Inspect the area around the safe. Avoid locations where there are a lot of wood beams, paint cans, or other combustible material nearby. In the event of a serious house-fire, these items will fuel the flames, increasing the likelihood that items inside your safe will be heat-damaged. Chris Luchini, co-author of Rec.Gun’s Guide to Gun Safes, offers some practical advice: “Get an alarm system. If the burglars hear an alarm go off, they are less likely to stick round to finish the job. Alarms on both the house and the safe area are a good idea.”

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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 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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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 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” CLICK HERE for FULL STORY.

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