If you reload for rifle calibres such as .223 Remington and .308 Winchester, some of the most tedious jobs for such case preparation have to do with physically removing brass from the case to create a uniform case for consistent reloads. Trimming the case to length and chamfering the inside and outside of case necks, as well as any sort of cleaning/lubing done to the inside of the necks for a smother reloading process. This case prep is the laborious process which can make or break the spirits of many reloaders, as it really comes down to the old adage of “how valuable is your time?”
Whether you spent next to nothing on a Bonanza Cricket chamfering tool, or purchased a more substantial Lyman chamfering tool, the big issue for shooters who have larger volumes of brass to prepare for reloading usually end up with sore fingers and hands from the twisting and repetitive action of manually chamfering each case. If you only have a dozen or so piece to do, it may not be so bad, but many reloaders have literally hundreds of cases awaiting these sometimes necessary steps for good reloading results. In this regard, once again Hornady has come through with yet another offering in their newest tools in the Lock-N-Load® lineup. Welcome to the Case Prep Assistant (CPA), a powered unit which drives a threaded shaft at a manageable speed and allows for batch jobs of brass preparation that will not leave a reloader’s fingers sore and their patience at an end. Constructed from an extruded aluminum channel which houses the switch, motor, gearbox and tool shaft the CPA should last for many years. Anodized in typical Hornady red colours, the CPA has 4 rubber base pads to give it a firm slip-resistant footing and shows off 4 nuts which are trapped along the outer tracks of the aluminum extrusion. These nuts are threaded for #8-32 which allows for a multitude of cleaning brushes and attachments to be stored directly on the unit itself.
Hornady’s sales pitch is as follows: “Make case preparation faster and easier than ever with the new Lock-N-Load® Power Case Prep Assistant. Its durable brushed aluminum housing and high torque, low speed motor will provide years of dependable use. Included are chamfer and debur tools, with plenty of on board storage for optional case prep accessories like our primer pocket cleaners, case neck brushes and any other 8-32 thread tools. Unit is compatible with 110V or 220V power.”
While TPF is unable to test for the higher voltage, Hornady’s CPA comes with a standard two prong adapter that is used in many parts of Europe/Russia. When plugged into a 110V outlet and switched on, the motor and gearbox establish a final output shaft speed of roughly two (2) revolutions per minute. Included is a small flat wrench whose jaw size corresponds with flats machined into the output shaft. Use of this tool is recommended for any tightening operation as one should try and protect the gearing mechanism in the CPA. TPF has had much experience in accidentally stripping gear teeth that such recommendations are taken seriously and followed to ensure longevity and secure attachments.
The CPA comes with 4 sliding nuts which are used to mount/store all #8-32 threaded tools that are desired to be used with the tool. The current numbers and such mean that only five (5) tools can be attached to the CPA at any single time. The tool being currently utilized and four (4) additional ones that are secured via the nuts. Now it looks as though additional nuts can be installed by removing a plastic end plate which is secured with three retaining screws. TPF has not endeavoured to test this theory at this specific time, but it may be looked at after the testing for this overview.
With shaft output speed of approximately two revolutions per minute, Hornady’s Case Prep Assistant, is not a high volume production machine. It does however accomplish exactly what it sets out to be; an assistant to make certain case preparation tasks simpler, less tedious, and less time consuming. In this task it succeeds very well and requires a minimum of setup time to operate. The simple linear design means the entire package is small and easily stored when not in use. As stated, the only possible negative aspects of this tool are the lack of additional #8-32 storage provisions and the turning speed which may seem too slow to some users. Remember that the inside chamfer tool which is included has 6 cutting flutes and makes short work of inside neck chamfering, and the three prong outside chamfer tool only is used for deburring the case neck. For the other uses such as case neck lubing/cleaning just how fast does the brush need to be turning to properly be used?
It could be a fair tool for individuals looking to reduce the physical efforts and time used on case preparation, and ultimately requires multiple steps to be done in batches due to the required tool change-out
Hornady’s Case Prep Assistant is available from all retailers which stock Hornady products, such as The Gun Centre in Ontario, Frontier Firearms in Saskatchewan, amongst many others. This tool as reviewed has a listed MSRP of $120.88 USD. As always however, it is up to you, the reader, to make your determination if this tool falls into one of the categories of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical…