Bullet Feeder So, there you are sitting at your reloading bench cranking
out some ammunition and a thought comes into your head. What if I added a
bullet feeder to this press? I could really speed things up, and it would be
fun to get a new press accessory! I mean, who doesn’t like getting a new piece
of reloading equipment! But you may also ask yourself: Will it be worth it?
What’s really involved in adding a bullet feeder? In this post I’ll answer some
of these questions and hopefully make your decision process easier if you are
wondering whether or not to buy a bullet feeder.
Here are some basic considerations to think about:
Pistol -vs- rifle: Feeding pistol bullets is
generally more straightforward than feeding rifle bullets. If you are planning
on loading rifle bullets with a bullet feeder, make sure that the feeder is
compatible with your press and is offered in the caliber/cartridge that you
plan to load.
Bullet type: In general bullet feed systems are
designed only to work with plated and jacketed bullets. If you are loading cast
lead bullets, then chances are that you won’t be able to use them with your
bullet feeder. The reason: cast lead bullets are not as consistent
dimensionally *and* the lube gums up feed parts.
Available stations and press setup: Adding a
bullet feed setup will typically require at least one dedicated station in your
press, and in some cases adding a bullet feed die will have multi-station
dependencies (example: RCBS Rifle Bullet Feeder die has to be actuated by
adjacent powder measure). You may be able to free up stations by employing
combination features like powder charging and expanding in the same station
(Hornady’s PTX expander for example). Just make sure you know the implications
and requirements before you spring for that bullet feed system.
Mounting and Storage: You’ll need a place to
mount the bullet feeder (some bolt to the press, some to your bench) and you’ll
also need space to store the bullet feeder (hanging from the wall works good).
Bullet feeders can be quite tall (bullet collator) so make sure you have
“headroom” in your space as well.
Complexity and Setup: A bullet feeder does
require per-caliber setup, and they can take a while to get “dialed in” – so
make sure your loading quantities will justify the extra setup overhead if you
are contemplating a bullet feeder.
Power: If your bullet feeder has an electric
bullet collator, you’ll need AC power at your bench. One more thing to think
Cost: Make sure you add up all of the components
and parts that you’ll need to buy in order to get a realistic “total cost of
ownership”. It’s also a good idea to make sure that all of the parts are
available (given recent shortages).
Finally, I’ve found that the biggest increase in loading
speed happens when you add either a bullet feeder *or* a case feeder to a
press. Having at least one feeder enables one hand to stay on the handle at all
times which makes your loading go a lot faster. Adding the second feeder
(meaning that you have both bullet feed and case feed attachments) definitely
speeds up loading, but the gain is not quite as dramatic as when you add the