Gear Spotlight:
Reloading

4

If there was ever a time to seize control of your ammo supply destiny, it’s now. With the right gear and some know-how, you can laugh your way through the next ammo hoarding crisis. Here are some of our favorites.

Dillon 550C Progressive Reloading Press

Buy once, cry once is as true an apothegm as you’ll find, and it applies to the 550C. Built with a “belt-and-suspenders” engineering approach throughout, you’ll find the powder dispenses with boring and predictable precision. Everything fits like a bespoke glove. Cases move smoothly through the system without jumps. It’s forgiving thanks to manual indexing. Even the weak point of most progressive presses, the primer system, runs like a Swiss watch. The 550C is a true machine.
You’ll pay more up front for the Dillon, but it’s worth every penny. DillonPrecision.com, $529.99

Lyman Cyclone Rotary Tumbler

Once you tumble wet, you never go back. As a decades-long dry tumbling kind of guy, I saw no need to try the wet method — until I did. Not only does cleaning cases with water, detergent and steel pins get your brass shiny, it also (literally) washes away all the nasty range filth. With dry tumbling, all the dirt has nowhere to go. It’s like mopping with dirty water.

The Cyclone Rotary Tumbler holds about 1,000 pistol or smaller rifle cases inside its rubber-lined (that means quiet) drum and runs with a simple dial timer for up to three hours per cycle. When finished, pour cases, water and included stainless pins into the included dual sifting trays to rinse. Your sparkly brass will be the envy of your range. LymanProducts.com, $259.95

Dillon CM-500 Case/ Media Separator

Whether you clean brass using the “dry” method with a vibratory tumbler or “wet” with water, soap and steel pins, you’ll need a way to get all the cleaning media out of the cases. Sure, you can turn each upside down and shake, or you can do it the easy way.

The CM-500 is much bigger than it looks in pictures (13.5″ x 19.5″), holding about 500 pistol cases or 200+ large rifle cases. The tub does a fine job of catching and containing media, water and pins depending on your cleaning method. I use one to retrieve steel cleaning pins and excess water from cases before they go in the drying machine. Like other Dillon gear, it’s built to last. DillonPrecision.com, $52.99

Sinclair International Digital Calipers

The most frequently used tool on the bench is a good set of digital calipers. A “must-have” for any reloader, the Sinclair International Digital calipers let you measure … most anything. The outer and inner jaws make it a snap to measure exterior and interior dimensions while the protruding rod lets you measure depth. A one-button zero ensures you’re calibrated properly before each session.

You’ll use this to verify overall case length, crimp diameter, verify bullet diameter, measure empty case length and lots more. Heck, I even use mine to measure group diameter on targets. SinclairIntl.com, $39.99

RCBS Chargemaster Combo Powder Dispenser

I confess I did a “go big or go home” approach when investing in a scale. After using a battery-powered model and suffering “low-battery wonkiness” I decided to get a proper AC-powered bench scale. Feeling extravagant, I got one with an automated powder dispenser attached.

The Chargemaster is a two-part affair: a digital scale, and an attached powder dispenser. Enter the charge you want and it automatically dispenses the exact charge by weight, not a volume-based estimate. It’s fascinating to watch and dead-on precise. I use the full dispensing function for rifle loads and precision handgun ammo. Of course, the scale is plenty handy on its own for quick spot checking of charges thrown by your reloading press. RCBS.com, $469.99

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