What’s On Your Bench?

By Mark Hampton

The lazy, hazy days of summer are often slow times for handgun hunters. Unless you’re in the middle of a prairie dog town, maybe a bear hunt, or traveling to the Southern Hemisphere, chances are you’re pacing the floor waiting for hunting season. This can be a prime opportunity to experiment with new gear, develop loads, test new or different bullets, and crank out some handloads. I spend considerable time in the man cave reloading ammo, cleaning guns, mounting new optics, along with sundry other tasks, when it’s too hot/humid outside to enjoy a range session.

Yesterday my wife ventured in the man cave and asked, “What’s all of this stuff on these benches?” I tried to explain this “stuff” is actually tools and necessities — items extremely important to any self-respecting handgun hunter. I’m not totally convinced she bought any of it, though.

Situated in the cave are four Harbor Freight work benches set-up for specific jobs. One is exclusively used for gun cleaning. Everything from Tipton cleaning rods and bore guides to their new 26-piece Ultra Jag set is ready for action. And they have an Ultra Cleaning Kit perfectly suited for shooters who want high quality cleaning accessories in one handy kit. Cleaners and solvents are stacked underneath one of the work benches with Ballistol, Shooter’s Choice, Hoppe’s, Tetra, Wipe Out and a pile of others occupying space.

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Having individual benches set up for reloading, cleaning and gun-work
keeps things organized and easy to manage.

Loading Gear

One bench is slated for a Dillon RL 550B which I have set-up to roll .38 Special and 9mm. Dillon has so much good stuff for shooters it’s not even funny.Another bench has a Redding T 7 Turret system in place. Normally I’m loading .44 Mag., 10mm Auto, 32 H&R Mag. or 327 Federal Magnum on it. Redding’s Match-Grade powder measure is mounted on the opposite end of the bench. I’m still using an old Ohaus beam scale from back in the day — and it serves its purpose like a champ. For bottle-neck cartridges, Redding’s Model 2400 Match Precision case trimming lathe sees plenty of action.

The fourth bench has an RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme press mounted. Bottle-neck cartridges for single-shot pistols such as .223, 260 Remington, 308 Winchester, 338 Federal and 375 JDJ get rolled on this single-stage press. Redding’s Competition LR-1000 long-range powder measure is responsible for dispensing powder, and Redding’s Master Hunter Die sets are stacked on the backside of the bench. I’d love to know just how many rounds have been loaded on Rock Chucker Presses — likely zillions.

I almost forgot the Hornady Lock-N-Load press mounted on another bench in a spare room. Many folks think of Hornady as a bullet and ammo manufacturer but they also provide a ton of high quality reloading equipment.

The bottom shelves of these benches are filled with Hodgdon and Alliant powder, CCI and Winchester primers, Sierra, Nosler, and Hornady bullets, not to mention Starline, Nosler and Lapua brass galore. A Lyman Tumbler takes a seat on the floor and it sure makes the brass shine.

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Mark’s benches are full of “stuff” but each tool, accessory or component
is important to his passion as a handgun hunter.

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A cross-section of cleaning supplies isn’t over-kill at all. It allows you to pick
exactly the right product for the job at hand.

Tools And Such

Certain gunsmithing tools and reloading accessories get used more than others, but all play an important role. Take calipers for instance — you must have one on the bench at all times. Whenever I’m loading for single-shot pistols in some bottle-neck cartridge, Hornady’s Lock-N-Load Comparator Set with 14 bullet inserts helps determine specific cartridge over-all length (C.O.A.L.) just like Frankford Arsenal’s cartridge overall length gauge.

Speaking of Frankford Arsenal, their reloading trays for designated cartridges are all over the benches — likewise with ammo boxes, tools and scales. And their new Platinum Series Case Trim and Prep System is another item I’m about to add.

Battenfield Technologies is another brand I find on the bench. My gunsmithing skills are limited but I couldn’t live without the Wheeler Fat Wrench with 10 bit set. This miniature torque wrench keeps me from stripping screws when mounting a scope. Everything from gunsmithing supplies, screwdriver sets, scope mounting and bore sighting to cleaning tools — Wheeler Engineering delivers.

My wife may be correct, the benches are full of stuff — but it’s good stuff! While summer can be mighty slow for handgun hunters, it does allow us time for gear maintenance and load development. This can be both fun and productive — so you’d better get to work!

Hunting season will be here before you know it.

For info: www.americanhandgunner.com/index

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