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New equipment makes for great convenience and conversions.

New Equipment Makes For Great Convenience And Conversions

Any dealer worth his salt is continually looking for something new to sell, something that blends into his market and will appeal to the handloaders and shooters in his area. And an important consideration in this continual search for new sales involves the fact that handloaders progress through stages which begin with, generally, an inexpensive single-stage press that serves until the beginner has acquired some experience and confidence. Then his mind begins to come up with new ideas, such as turning out ammo faster and/or better. All of this plays into the dealer's hands, of course, since the newer ideas and fantasies of beginners tend to lead him toward progressive presses and other advanced equipment.

But the one problem that so often arises is that a handloader rising to the second notch frequently can't come up with the coin to float another press, namely, a progressive one. Milady might be looking over his shoulder at the price tag, or the IRS might have its twitchy palm outstretched. We've all known the feeling. So what to do? There's undoubtedly a demand out there for progressives, but a lot of guys are sitting on their wallets because the cost of a second machine is too much for them once they've figured the mortgage and the baby's shoes plus the car payment.

The people at RCBS have come up with a working answer. They call it the "Piggyback," and with good reason. What it amounts to is a progressive press for metallic cartridges which sits atop the RCBS Rock Chucker or Reloader Special-3 single-stage frames (or any other single-stage unit with a 1-1/4 - 12-inch bushing, I'm told.) The Piggyback jibes with the former single-stage press' ram and operates from the same of handle action, only this time there's automatic indexing, immediate powder charging from the Uniflow Powder Measure (not applied), and auto ejection of the loaded round. The shell plate has five stations and accepts 7/8 x 14 dies, of course. The manual acts are extremely few, involving nothing more than setting the empty in space at station #1 and putting a bullet in place at the appropriate station. Otherwise the reloader is turning out a load a crank just as on the more expensive progressives.

The Piggyback outfit can take all handgun cartridges, and it can handle rifle stuff through .223 Remington length. There is no magic about getting it to fit the single-stage Rock Chucker or RS-3: it mounts into the 1-1/4-inch bushing in the top of the frame, and adaptor snaps crisply into place joining the Piggyback's ram to the lower press' ram, and--Viola! Away the shooter goes with a progressive at minimal cost but quality steel and die-cast aluminum construction.

By this time dealers should have the suggested retail price of $117.00. Five-station plates are $26.50. That's not bad when compared to the price of many progressives around today. My own hunch is that dealers who don't set one up in their own shops are missing a good bet. For many typical handloaders don't know that the Piggyback rig is available; handloaders are notoriously poor readers. I've dealt with them for over twenty-five years as a gun scribbler of sorts, and if you think they're astute--bright-eyed guys always on the alert--you're wrong. Two years from now somebody will come into your shop, look at a Piggyback outfit that somebody else is buying, and say, "Gee, I didn't know they made something like that!" Thus, don't expect the rest of the world to know about this one just because you've seen it in the catalog. Once they do indeed see the Piggyback and do learn how inexpensive it can be to convert their beginning press to progressive, there'll be a lot of minds revving up in your local market! I believe this is a very important innovation in the reloading market and can prompt plenty of sales once the word gets out.

I had some good reason to smile this past week. I shot my first round of skeet with Winchester's new Ball Powder, "Super Target," which I believe is slated to replace Winchester's former 452AA, also a ball. This new Super Target propellant comes in larger "lumps" than did 452AA. It is a bright silvery color, and, if I may generalize, it has charge weights very close to those recommended for 452AA (but don't take that literally, of course, and always check the new data sheets for precise "recipes"). In general, the burning rate is similar to 452's and the range of uses overlaps the normal 12-gauge target range, going from 1-ounce to 3 drams equivalent (1,200 f.p.s.) "heavy" target loads with 1-1/8 ounces of lead shot. (Super Target isn't for steel!)

I assembled some 3 dram equivalent reloads with 20.5/Super Target in the AA hull, which with the Remington FIG-8 wad, Winchester 209 primer, and the 1-1/8-ounce shot charge was not only a snappy affair but broke a neat 25-straight for me. The targets were hit hard, indicating good pattern distribution. And my Remington M1100 functioned flawlessly, including all doubles. Upon finishing the round of skeet I removed the barrel and glanced through to see a rather clean bore with just mere fly specks.

Quite frankly, I liked Super Target better than Super-Lite Ball Powder which was brought out some months ago. Despite the claims for low recoil, my friends and I did feel Super-Lite get going, sometimes giving more recoil than other target-type reloads gave in the same velocity/pressure level. I want to give Super-Lite every chance to succeed, but it has left me somewhat spooky due to its recoil sensations. When it comes to Super Target, however, initial firing indicate that it is a reliable "comer" that should find a pleased following. As spring weather happens along, I'm going to try some 2-3/4 dram equivalent reloads more seriously than I have, as they did print excellent trap patterns in my first go-'round with hard 7-1/2s. My own prediction is that Super Target will find more favor than Super 'Lite as the years progress. Once the weather cleans up around here, I'll do some chronographing to check its performances from various barrel lengths. Right now, Super Target seems to be doing just fine.

On the accessory side, RCBS has come up with a trio of things that are of interest. The first is a Lube Die, the purpose of which is to eliminate the messy task of hand lubing metallic cases. The Lube Die is screwed into the first station of a progressive or used first in a single-stage outfit. It has a lube retainer inside, and the lube is applied by a felt bushing as the case enters the die mouth. The Lube Die also deprimes. This means that, on progressives, the handloader need not get his hands soppy; the lube goes on during the indexing process and can be wiped off thereafter. The handloader is free to work with clean, dry hands until the very end when the lube is removed. Convenient, no?

The second RCBS gizmo is one of those little things that somebody should have brought into reloading and gun maintenance before. It's a pocket-type folding tool complete with eight differently sized hex keys (Allen). The sizes include .050", 1/16", 5/64", 3/32", 7/64", 1/8", 9/64", and 5/32". They're hardened by heat treating and finished in black oxide and fold into a chrome-plated steel case. It's a nice gadget for somebody who has everything else as well as being useful and organized. And the suggested retail price is only $5.00, so it should appeal to a lot of guns tinkerers and mechanically oriented guys.

Finally, RCBS is making a pretty good steel -- stainless steel, that is -- dial vernier caliper. Nothing beats this kind of instrument for measuring cartridge cases for both loaded and unloaded lengths. It's made for 0.001" graduations, which is plenty fine for all handloading chores, and can also measure depths and I.D.s as well. At 6 inches, it comes with a foam-lined case and lifetime warranty. The suggested retail price is $58.00, which isn't at all a bad price for a dial-equipped caliper these days.

Speaking of cartridge case lengths, I might insert here that many (most?) handgun reloaders and shooters are more than just a tad sloppy here. They seldom check case condition before reloading, thus letting cases stretch and develop irregular mouths. Perhaps letting a .38 Special stretch somewhat isn't too bad, but if it develops an irregular, hill-and-dale mouth configuration it can upset accuracy. For bullet release is a part of accuracy; the more uniformly bullets release, the more potential there is for consistency in bullet travel. But if the cases grip differently--indeed, if the hill-and-dale case mouth configuration applies different grip strength at various points on the bullet's circumference -- the releases will be various and uniformity becomes a joke.

Thus, when you're working with customers who are interested in improved handgun accuracy, you'd be doing them a favor if you suggested trimming those stumpy handgun hulls just the way centerfire rifle cases are trimmed. Get those .38s, .357s, .41s, and .44s and .45s back to normal sizes and square off the mouths for more even crimp pressure and uniform release. If one side of the case clings to the bullet while the other side has already let go, the bullet will obviously cock a bit and no longer be coaxial with the bore. You might just sell them a trimmer--which they should honestly have, anyway, if they want to turn out first-rate reloads.

It's an old story, I know, but there are still millions of hunters out there who are totally confused by steel shot--or are totally ignorant of its characteristics, ballistics, etc. If you're interested in showing some videos with a lot of good stuff in them, contact: Number One Video Productions, Inc. (2521 So. Sixth St., Dept. SI, Klamath Falls, OR 97601, or call them at 503/884-2999).

They've got a pair or videos you'll find thoroughly educational and enjoyable. Put together by Walt Badorek, a champion skeet shooter and ardent waterfowler, they're entitled "Hunting Waterfowl with Steel Shot" and "A World Champion's Guide to Shooting with Steel Shot."

Walt knows how to swing a shotgun (most typical duck hunters don't), and he gets into the important aspects of wingshooting technique with some ballistics stuff involved. The other video is a different one, covering the fundamental aspects of steel shot and explaining those basics to Joe Average. I don't have the current prices, so give the chaps a call. Quite frankly, there are no better tapes on the market for this subject.

PHOTO : RCBS is offering this new fold-up hex key (Allen) set.
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Title Annotation:handloading of ammunition equipment, gun shops
Author:Zutz, Don
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Jun 1, 1989
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