In our last article I covered what you have to have in order to reload and with that you will be able to get started and make quality ammunition but today I am going to cover things that are nice to have and will make the process easier, faster, and more fun to reload. It is worth stating again that this article is geared towards someone that’s new to reloading and just getting started but even the experienced reloader might see something today that they had not thought of. I am not going to go in any particular order today since only you can decide on what you think will suit you the best for your needs.
First let’s talk about ways to pull a bullet apart. At some point durning reloading you will need to pull a bullet and this can be for multiple reasons. It can be anything from you forgot to put a primer in or the primer ended up upside down or sideways, maybe the bullet got seated to deep, or perhaps part of your quality control is to pull a random bullet and triple check the powder charge. Whatever the reason is it will come up that you have a bullet that needs to be pulled so rather than having a container full of useless rounds you can pull them and reuse the components. Bullet pullers come in two common varieties an impact bullet puller or a press mounted bullet puller I personally like the impact pullers because you don’t need to put it in your press, the downside of the impact puller is if you are using a bullet with a plastic ballistic tip 9 times out of 10 it will break the tip and makes it useless. The disadvantage of the press mounted puller is you need a caliber specific par while the impact is universal but it also won’t break a ballistic tip so you have to make that choice.
Next you have case loading blocks these are basically a tray with holes in it that holds brass cases and are great especially for a single stage press. There are dozens of options for loading blocks in every possible price point my favorite is the RCBS universal loading block for $7.59 on amazon but other companies also have caliber specific loading blocks. There are even places to get fancy stained wood blocks or CNC machined aluminum ones and the price goes up to over $100 for the later. I would never spend that much on one but that’s just me.
Another useful thing to have near your bench is Canned air or an air compressor. I have found this to be the best way to keep your bench and press cleaned off because you will inevitably have spilled powder or tumbling media on your bench and it’s hard to get it all off any other way but with a compressor or canned air duster you can blow it off and then sweep or vacuum your floor and have a nice and tidy work area. It doesn’t really matter what size compressor you get even the smallest compressor with a tank will work just fine and most people have one laying around their garage or work shop already.
The next thing that’s useful to have is a spare decapping pin it’s something that you never think of until it breaks and they only cost about 5 dollars but most shops don’t carry them and if it breaks you can’t load anything until you get one shipped to you and waiting on something like that sucks. Its also nice to order it when you order your dies or other supplies so you don’t get stuck with paying shipping on just one decapping pin.
Another thing a lot of people don’t think about having at the bench is a notebook, pens, paper, post it notes, markers and highlighters. There are so many things that they can be used for from the obvious of taking notes to the less obvious of marking dies when you get them set to let you know if they move. Or highlighting your favorite load in your manual you can put the post it notes in with a load of ammo with all the data or use it to mark what is in what bin. It’s really endless what you can use it for and a great thing to have on your bench
A bench mounted or hand priming system is a great tool to have on the bench while all presses have a priming system they can be time consuming and tedious to use while the bench and hand mounted models can let you prime all of your brass in a matter of minutes and they are not very expensive most being under $50 dollars the handhelds are nice so you can watch tv or do other things while you are priming the brass.
A radio or bluetooth speaker for background noise is always a nice addition to your work area as well but if you are using a digital powder dispenser you want to make sure you don’t have anything that has a lot of bass on the same surface as the dispenser or it can affect your results so be mindful of that and enjoy some background music to pass the time while reloading.
A powder drop is another nice thing to have on the bench and if you just use a scale it makes life a lot easier you set it to throw a certain amount of powder some are very accurate but for precision loads I would still use a scale for every powder charge but it can significantly reduce the amount to time to get your powder charges dispensed. Lee also makes a set of powder scoops that can be used the same way and if you use one will come with your die set that will be close to your needed powder charge but the full set costs around 10 dollars and will help with accurate adjustments.
Extra parts and screws for your press. You never know when a screw will come loose or a small part might break it might be an easy fix but without the part it could be a week or more wait and it’s a horrible feeling to be stuck not being able to load because of a 2 dollar part you are waiting to have shipped to you
So now that you know what you NEED from our last article and have an idea of what is nice to have. In our next article we will cover the basic steps in reloading and get you ready to load your first rounds!!!