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The Tools You Need To Reload Brass

Today, we are going to take a step back and look at some of the “must-have” tools for any reloading brass setup. If you’re serious about your reloading hobby becoming more than just something you do for fun, these tools are necessary and will make you life so much easier.

Analog Calipers

This seems silly in the digital age to say, but I have found this is the most reliable and easy to set/reset instrument that is vital to reloading brass. If you’re like me, your workbench looks more like organized chaos, especially when in the middle of processing a batch of reloading brass. The problem with this is, and the reason why having a clean work area is important, is that sometimes tools tend to fall off the bench! With the last 3 digital calipers I had I broke them from them falling off our benches. Also, not having to worry about having extra batteries around just in case they die is a plus for me.

Case Gauge

Also known as a chamber checker or "go/No-Go" gauge. This is a very simple and crucial tool for brass processing or checking loaded ammo. What this tool does is it allows you to check if your reloading brass will properly chamber in a SAAMI spec chamber for the cartridge. Yes, we know you can use a barrel. But, inserting a loaded round or possible getting a piece of badly processed brass stuck in my barrel is a big downside to that method. Some gauges range in price from about $10 to upwards of $100, and can do anywhere from 1 to 100 rounds at a time. Extremely cheap compared to the possible gunsmithing cost to remove stuck cases.

Chamfer Tool (inside/outside)

Doesn't seem like a needed tool, until you need it. Let me explain. Some of our processed rifle brass has some pretty tight neck tension. Combine that with a flat base bullet and you could have some trouble seating bullets. Being able to chamfer the inside of the neck after trimming allows a slight bevel to the case mouth making it easier to seat flat based bullets with no boat tail. This is especially noticeable in rifle cartridges like 223 and 308, where the brass is consistently getting full length resized. I added the outside chamfer because in some cartridges, such as large magnum pistols and tube fed rifles, you will need a crimp to properly secure the bullet from bullet set back. Therefore, you benefit from having a nice clean outside edge to help optimize that.

Single Stage Press

Typically, when we are loading ammo for our own use we are loading a volume for us to blast and plink and just have fun with. We volume load for so many calibers it is hard to justify changing an entire press setup or tool head just to load 10-50 rounds of test ammo when testing a new bullet or powder combo. Or to load up a small batch of expensive hunting or defensive type rounds. With this in mind, a single stage just makes sense in these types of reloading brass scenarios.

Hand Primer

I have been loading on a progressive press for years! My first was the Hornady lock-N-Load AP and after that was the Dillon Super 1050. I realized after not having a hand primer for quite some time that I needed one because I was going to load a batch of 50 Beowulf on a single stage and I needed to prime the brass without undoing all of the dies and shell plates from any other press. Having a hand primer also allows you to prime and quality check brass long before any bullet or powder is involved. Giving you greater consistency between loads.