We are now down to less than a month until Christmas and
the retailers are pulling out all the stops to get your dollar. Lots and lots
of gimmicks this Christmas season along with lots of fine products that will
be a great addition to your shooting gear.
I have at least 3 or 4 people come into our gun shop every week, usually more
than that, with questions about how they can get into reloading. The price of
ammunition is at an all time high and I don't look for it to go back down for
a while if at all. Now is the time to get into reloading, if you don't
already. The prices of the reloading gear isn't going to get any cheaper any
I have made up a list of the products I recommend to the people who ask me how
to get started. These products are not necessarily the best nor are they the
fastest, but in my humble opinion, they are the easiest to learn on and are
under a lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer. Plus parts are readily
available from most gun shops.
For a press I recommend the RCBS Rockchucker. It is a big heavy press that
will do everything you need it to do, from 22 hornet to 44 magnum to 375
H&H. It has all the leverage you need to resize a bulged magnum case back
down to factory specs. It also has the length of stroke for loading the taller
cartridges, like the STWs, the 8mm magnum, 375 H&H and a lot more, but
does the short cartridges like the 22 hornet or 5.7x28 just as well. Plus it
will last you a lifetime. I still have one I bought in 1972 that is in my shop
that I use several times a week to resize a case or to fully load a cartridge
for test firing.
My second choice of a press would be for the person that loads several
calibers. That press is the Redding Turret press. The main reason it isn't in
front of the RCBS press is that they are not easy to find. They don't normally
retail thru gun shops and mail order is about the only way to get them in most
cases. And if you need parts, it may take a while to get them. But it is an
excellent press. And holds 7 dies in a rotating head. So you can leave 2 or 3
full sets of dies in the press.
For the accessories I recommend I would start with the RCBS Uniflow powder
measure, again because it is a simple powder measure to use and very accurate.
And pick up the RCBS powder measure stand to go with it. That helps sit it
higher up and easier to use.
The next accessory that is necessary would be a good scale. I have a couple of
these. One is an electronic scale which is the most foolproof scale to use.
But I also like to have a standard beam scale, just in case. There are several
good electronic scales on the market. Make sure and go with one that weighs at
least 750 grains. There are several good beam scales out there but go with one
of the better ones, like RCBS or Lyman as they tend to hold their true a bit
better than some of the cheaper scales.
Dies are, of course, a major part of your reloading gear and there are several
good brands. RCBS, Lyman, Lee and Redding are all good ones and all with work
in the RCBS Rockchucker press. If you plan to load straight wall handgun
cartridges, try to pick up carbide dies. These are a bit more expensive but
take a lot of mess out of reloading as they don't require the cases to be
lubed. These carbide dies are for handgun cartridges only. They do make them
for bottleneck cartridges but they are extremely expensive and not, in my
opinion, worth the extra cash outlay.
One recommendation here. If you are getting into reloading, save some money
while you are doing so. Instead of buying many of these items one at a time,
pick up a combo kit. There is an RCBS Rockchucker Master Reloading kit that
has most of these items included in it plus a lot of other accessories. You
save some money and that package fits under the Christmas tree a bit better.
There are a lot of other accessories that you will want to add to your
reloading gear but you can pick them up a bit at a time as you get into it a
Now, you have probably noticed that I did not mention any of the progressive
presses. That is because they are overly complicated. It would be easy to load
500 rounds in an evening and find they have no powder, or no primers or the
wrong amount of powder. It takes a bit of experience to use a progressive
press. This doesn't mean I don't like them. I have 6 Dillon's on my loading
bench so I do use them, a lot. They work best with straight wall cartridges
and do take a bit of extra effort to load bottleneck cartridges real well. So
start out with a single stage press like the Rockchucker. You will enjoy it a
lot more and it will be a lot less stressful.
OK, let's see, what's new? Hornady has some new cartridges coming out in a
couple of months called SUPERFORMANCE AMMUNITION. It comes in several calibers
and is said to be up to 200% faster that it's competition, guaranteed
accurate, consistent in any weather at any temperature, and safe in all
To keep up with the faltering economy several companies (including ours) have
announced price cuts. Springfield Armory has what they call the XD Essentials
Package witch is the gun, extra mag, cable lock, bore brush, hard case and
manual and at a lower price.
Glock will have a couple of new guns out any day now. It is their generation 4
pistols. These have removable backstrap and a rough texture to the finish.
Smith & Wesson is making the barrels of their J frame guns 2 ½"
barrel rather than 2". This enables the ejector rod to push the empties
out, which is better for a self defense pistol. They also have a new J frame
revolver in 327 Federal on the way.
Everybody is on the 1911 bandwagon and Magnum Research is not to be left
behind. They have a new mid priced 1911 coming soon. They also have an
American made Baby Eagle on the way.
Alliant is adding several new powders to their Power Pro line up, including
300-MP, Varmint, 2000 MR, 3000 LR, and 4000 MR. These are supposed to be for
magnum pistols, varmint shooting and magnum rifles. IMR has a new powder out
for those wannabe snipers called 8208 XBR.
Ruger has a new 10-22 Tactical rifle out. It is called the 10-22VLEH
Target/Tactical. Ruger also has that 22 LR rifle out that I mentioned last
time that looks like their 556 tactical rifle. S&W also has their 22 LR
AR-15 look alike as does Bushmaster and several others.
Smith & Wesson is bringing back the old Model17 (K-22 Masterpiece) that
looks exactly like it did in the 60s. Nice revolver but almost $1100 retail.
Smith & Wesson, Taurus and Springfield Armory all have new handguns coming
out and will premier them at the SHOT SHOW . I will try to get a sneak peek at
them and pass it along to you.
I was sitting here reading an American Rifleman magazine tonight and noticed a
lot of unusual things. The shooters all wore coats and ties and a Indiana
Jones type hat, even while lying prone shooting. There were ads for the heavy
weighted shooting jackets for all members of the family and several pictures
showing the entire family all lying prone shooting their 22 bolt action
The guys shown reloading also had the coat and tie on and in some cases they
also had the snazzy Indiana Jones hat on doing this too. On every page of the
magazine there were ads showing stocks and triggers and safeties and side
mounts for scopes and all for your military surplus rifle. The stocks ran from
$7 to $11.50.
All the scopes shown for sale had no adjustment turrets. They were a smooth
tube all the way and very few had any large lens in front and one of the main
features of these scopes was that they had "rust proof reticles".
The main two scopes mentioned in just about every ad were Weaver and Unertl.
There was one small ad for a new company called Leupold & Stevens.
Probably 90% of the scopes shown were 2 ½ to 6X, very few more than that
except for the Unertl Varmint scopes at 18X. I did see one ad about a Lyman
Alaskan scope. It was the most expensive and was shown in 2 ½ or 4X.
Here is another article about gunsmiths and (it must be a fad) the gunsmiths
are also wearing those coats and ties and in some cases hats too. Wait, here
is a picture of a family eating a venison dinner. The guy is wearing that coat
and tie again and this time at the dinner table ...hmmm. No hat though. And
amazingly enough, none of the men are wearing those hats sideways or
backwards. Maybe they just aren't up with the times.
The NRA Convention was advertised coming up in October and the hotel rooms (no
motels listed) were ranging from $3.50 to $6. There were a couple of suites
available for $11.50 a night for the big spenders.
The main sport was target shooting with 22 rifles, like the Winchester model
52. There didn't seem to be any 22 LR plinkers listed, and for sure no semi
auto rifles in 22 LR. There were several articles about target shooting all
over the country. Men, women and kids all shooting in these competitions.
There was a couple of articles on hunting. There must be something wrong there
though as there was no camo worn by anyone. The men, holy rat turds Batman,
the men were wearing coats and ties and those hats again and had dress shoes
and white socks on. No camo at all anywhere, and they all had taken game.
There must be something wrong here. Nobody can take game if they aren't in
full camo gear. They even had some old binoculars in plain black and game
calls in brown. No camo at all. And I can see white socks plainly on the one
guy and his shoes don't have camo soles. And where are all the pictures of Mr.
B with his miraculous 800 yard running shot on a caribou with a 204 Ruger?
Wait, I think I see a picture of John Taffin here though. But no beard and it
says he is 9 years old. Must be a misprint.
Another weird thing was that they all had their deer strapped to the fender of
the car, tied down with ropes and were driving thru the towns like that. They
must have bought them at a used deer store in town. Everybody knows you can't
take game unless you are properly attired in full camo and have all the
necessary accessories to go with it and drive a 300 horsepower ATV thru the
woods to get to your tree stand that is only a half mile away. There must be
some really bad mix up here.
The reloading articles talked of all the powders that Hercules had in their
stable, wait a minute, there are only 4 of them. They were Bullseye, Hi Vel,
2400 and Unique. The presses were add looking too, made by Pacific, if you
wanted to change calibers, not only did you have to change dies, but you had
to change the ram to change the shell holder. The shell holder was built into
the ram, all one piece.
The magazine has very few actual pictures (all black & white and grainy)
in it. Mostly drawings. Oh yes, here in the middle of the magazine is a large
full page ad saying the Smith & Wesson K-38 is coming soon, put your
orders in now. It says another great Smith & Wesson revolver to go along
with your military & police 38 special. Another thing I found strange is
that you can order any firearm right out of this magazine and it will be
shipped to your house. A lot of military rifles available too at $17.50 in
very good condition and plenty of ads showing the stocks and such to
Handgun articles were limited and those that were there were people shooting
22 LR pistols only. Where are all the magnums and super magnums and elephant
slayers? A couple of ads for the cheapie revolvers at $6.50 plus shipping and
a lot of Italian Galesi 25 auto pistols at $7 plus shipping. But no hunting
handguns. How strange.
Oh, here is an article about hunting in Africa. The hunter is riding a horse,
maybe a donkey, as is the professional hunter (they call him a Great White
Hunter in the article, I guess to tell him from the Great Black Porters) and
there must be 75 to 100 black guys in front and behind them carrying all the
gear. They should know they can't take game like that. And I only see 3 rifles
in the pictures, and no scopes on them. Iron sights only. How gross can you
get? Everybody knows you can't hunt with iron sights. What were they thinking?
A big ad in the center of the magazine showed the 3 most popular books of the
day. They were
1. Hatcher's Notebook
2. The Rifle in America..Phil
3. The Modern Gunsmith...James Howe
Hmmm, I must have missed those.
Let me check this magazine again. Well, no wonder, it is a couple of years
old. August 1948. I will have to read more about how they did it in ancient
times. Maybe they threw rocks and spears too. I wonder if they wore those
coats and ties and hats to do that too? I'll let you know next time.
Hunting season is here, take a youngster hunting!!