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Hornady Pro-7 progressive reloading press.

* With the rapid growth in IPSC and silhouette target shooting, and the increased interest in varminting, reloading is growing in leaps and bounds. These three sports eat up enormous amounts of ammunition in a short period of time, and the need for timecutting devices is becoming greater and greater. Many companies have answered the call and introduced progressive reloading tools, and of these new machines perhaps the most impressive is Hornady's all new Pro-7.

When I first saw the prototype Pro-7 progressive tool about 1 1/2 years ago, I mentioned to Steve Hornady, the dynamic president of Hornady Manufacturing Co. (which includes Frontier/Hornady ammunition, Hornady bullets and Pacific reloading equipment), that I wanted to test his new brainchild. It's taken this long to settle on the final configuration ... but it's been worth the wait.

Although I don't load metallic cartridges in the thousands, I do a bit of long-range handgunning for varmints and being able to load 300 or 400 .223s, 6 mm BR Remingtons, 7 mm BR Remingtons and .300 Herretts in a short period of time appeals to me. Reloading this many rounds in a single-station press takes a long time, and anything I can do to shorten the hours at the reloading bench strikes me as a good idea. The enjoyment of "bulk" reloading wore off for me a long time ago.

Upon receiving the press, the first item was to read through the well-illustrated manual (something I don't always do until I have things messed up beyond all reason). A progressive tool is a comparatively complicated device, and the instructions should be thoroughly digested before attempting to load with the machine. I found the manual easy to read and understand, undoubtedly because the book was written by someone who is an experienced reloader. Also, the illustrations are well done.

My particular press came set up with a shell plate for .45 ACP cases. Inasmuch as I wanted to load for a wildcat bottleneck cartridge, the 6 mm BR Remington--which is based on a .308 WCF case--the only change necessary was the large primer cup to the small primer cup on the automatic primer feed. Doing it properly the first time was no problem, but getting the adjustment right did take some time. However, having done it once I feel the next time I can make the changeover in about ten minutes.

Setting the dies, of course, is no different than adjusting them on a single-station press. One item the Pro-7 doesn't come with is a powder measure, so I installed a Pacific Multi-Deluxe unit, a measure I've found to work quite well with all powders I've used it with. After adjusting it to drop the right powder charge through the adapter tube that's included with the press, I was ready for the grand experiment.

Once I had the machine properly set up I found that I could reload about 260 rounds of ammo in one hour. Actually, it seems quite possible that a larger amount could be loaded if all the cases were straight-sided, like the .45 ACP or .38 Special. As it is I have no doubt that reloading over 300 cases per hour is possible.

Although I didn't load for any other round it seemed that changing the machine for a case with a different base, say the .223 Remington, would take no more than five minutes. All that is required is changing the shell plate, and if necessary the primer cup. Once the Pro-7 is set properly it's no more difficult to run than a single-station press, and every time you cycle the handle you receive a loaded cartridge.

One thing that must be watched with the Pro-7, or any other progressive tool for that matter, is that you're not distracted. During each cycle you have to operate the powder measure handle, load a new case, remove a loaded case, and place a bullet in a powder-charged case. The slightest interruption will probably cause you to forget to charge a case with powder--I know it did me. The only reason I found the oversight was that being as how this was the first time I'd reloaded metallic cartridges on a progressive tool, I weighed all the loaded rounds after I was finished. I found one I failed to charge with powder, and I thin I can trace it to when I was interrupted for a moment by my 11-year-old son. Just that slight distraction caused me to miss one, and it certainly wasn't the fault of the Pro-7. This can happen with a single-station press, to say nothing about a progressive tool.

At the top of the press, where normally there are four stations for dies and a powder measure, the Pro-7 has five stations. This is an added advantage for those shooters who wish to use a taper crimp on various semi-auto pistol rounds. After seating the bullet it's not necessary, as it is with some presses, to vacate a position and replace it with a taper-crimp die. Hornady has provided the space needed.

I had mixed emotions about the automatic primer feed. It worked well and didn't jam at all, and the safety tube surrounding the primer reservoir tube looks as if it would direct any explosion out the top should something malfunction. A good safety feature is that the primer feed won't operate properly unless the safety tube is in place. On the minus side, I'd like to see a primer cutoff installed. During my initial setup of the Pro-7, every time I had to make an adjustment it was necessary to remove the primer tube, and about eight or ten primers dropped out each time the tube was removed. Picking them from the feed mechanism was time-consuming. A cutoff would stop this minor irritation.

Other than this one admittedly small problem, the Pro-7 worked flawlessly for me. I found period of time than I'd ever done before. The mechanical advantage of the press made sure I wasn't tired from all the cranking of the handle after a few hundred rounds. In short, the machine did everything it was supposed to, and it did it well. It's not inexpensive, listing for $425, including one shell plate. Five additional shell plates are available for about $20 apiece. With these the reloader can load up just about any round he'd like. In the future more shell plates will be available so the shooter can "bulk" load for his favorite .458 Win. Mag. rifle...if he so desires?!

But the main thing the Pro-7 does is cut down the time spent at the reloading bench, and it does it effortlessly. That alone makes it well worth the money.
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Title Annotation:evaluation
Author:Hetzler, Dave
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:May 1, 1984
Words:1117
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