Ammunition reloading tools
Three different cartridges with associated form and trim dies

Extra tools for reloading

We can produce reliable ammunition with a minimum of tools but it’s the extra bits that make life more bearable as our output increases. 

You will probably have a straight caliper. Its main use is to monitor cartridge case length that will grow during use. Cases MUST be trimmed to the correct length to chamber properly. It’s also useful for measuring the outside diameter of case necks.

Ammunition reloading tools
Specific mandrel size with holder

A straightforward micrometer has its uses from time to time and, if you turn necks, its cousin, the ball micrometer, is an absolute must to measure case neck thickness. 

There are various tools available to turn necks, whether you have to or are just interested in experimenting. I have used K&M neck turning tools for some years with excellent, accurate results. 

Most reloader probably have a mechanical scale to weigh powder. I added an electronic scale, mainly to do the other bench jobs that require weighing of some sort, cartridge cases being a typical example. It speeds the process up considerably. 

Similarly, I have recently added a small battery-operated scale for smaller work. It is capable of measuring in half a dozen different weights including the most used for the reloader, grains.

Ammunition reloading tools
A hand-held tool is preferable when seating primers

Although you can prime your cases using the normal reloading presses I prefer to use a hand priming tool, for several reasons. The hand tool is very sensitive to use. You can control the depth of seating very accurately. This can be an important part of the overall accuracy issue. 

Most come with two spindles to cope with large and small primers. Of course, the shell holders are available for all popular calibres.     

A set of straight-line reloading dies for all cartridges involved in long-range work is, I suggest, a valuable addition to the reloading bench. For long-range shooting, accuracy is everything. 

If you are going to chase long-range accuracy, you might as well obtain the set of tools to measure any residual runout.

Ammunition reloading tools
Electronic scales have many uses on the reloader’s bench

A set of dedicated gunsmith-type tools is invaluable when messing around with rifles. A good set is not cheap but, when you need that exact-sized bit to fit a particular screw, suddenly it’s all worthwhile. Useful for fitting telescopic sights also. 

Correct size screwdriver bits make the job easier and do not damage the screw heads.  

Perhaps the most common tool to keep cases trimmed to length is a rotary-type, hand-operated cutter. Its only disadvantage is that it has to be reset for each different cartridge length. 

I prefer to use form and trim dies to achieve the same result. After running the used cases through the normal sizing and de-capping die, and while the case is still lubricated, just run it into the form and trim die. Any part of the case neck that protrudes above is filed flat. Re-chamfer inside and out, job finished.

When it comes to accuracy, I am not 100% sure that we know exactly what part the neck tension plays in the result. For a couple of years, I have used specific-sized mandrels in .224 and 6mm calibres to expand the internal neck diameters. 

They are very precise, cut to four decimal places in diameter. The two most used so far are 0.2235” and 0.2425”. The .22/250 loads are grouping just over 0.5” and the .243 loads are just under one inch. The experiment continues.  




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Ron James