Reviews & articles for shooting sport enthusiasts.

Reloading equipment & supplies

SHOT Show 2017

Warning: This is a LONG entry, with numerous images.

The week of January 16th once again saw the Sands Convention Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada; host the the 39th annual Sporting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show; also known as the SHOT Show. For those who do not know what SHOT Show is or what it consists of, TPF will give you a quote direct from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) whom organizes the event.

The 39th Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show opened its doors this morning at the Sands Expo Center with industry expectations running high in response to the energized market in America for firearms, ammunition and accessories.

Over the next four days, the show will attract nearly 65,000 industry professionals from the firearms and outdoor industry, including 2,500 members of the outdoor press-the largest gathering of outdoor media in the world-and showcase new, innovative products used for target shooting, hunting, outdoor recreation and law enforcement purposes.

Owned and sponsored by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms, ammunition, hunting and shooting sports industry, the SHOT Show is the largest trade show of its kind in the world. The show is open to trade members only and not to the public; consumers will see the products unveiled at the SHOT Show on retailers’ shelves during the course of the year.

You read that correctly, not open to members of the public. We at TPF can already hear our readers rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “But we are the consumers!” Which is true, except that the consumers that are mentioned the service companies and persons who are directly related to the industry. Not the end user, otherwise known as the public, but those whom supply the products to the end users such as retailers, trainers, ranges, organizations, etc… That being said, there are ways that the public can attend, and do attend as is evident to many who have attended SHOT know. TPF-Online will not go into details or methods for the public to get into SHOT Show. We apologize, and suggest that you utilize your favourite search engine or firearms forum (for Canadians, we recommend Gun Owners of Canada or Canadian Gun Nutz).

So let us delve into the timeline of SHOT Show.
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Is this the cure that prevents countless hours of suffering?

“The cure to what?”, may be the first question popping into the thoughts of TPF’s readers. In this case, it is the cure to the single most complained about, biggest headache for anyone who reloads rifle cartridges. Besides the tedious task of collecting range brass and cleaning it through various means, there are many steps to preparing a spent rifle case before ever assembling a new cartridge for use.

The Steps for reloading rifle cartridges:

  1. Collect spent cases: Go pick up your brass and if you are lucky, everyone elses!
  2. De-prime cases: Can be done after step #3 depending on cleaning methods and press types
  3. Clean cases: Degree of cleanliness is dependant on the reloader themselves. Wipe off, dry or wet tumble, ultrasonic cleaning?
  4. Size cases: Full or neck only sizing is another factor dependant on the reloader’s desires.
  5. Trimming brass: Cutting to length and possibly chamfering inside and outside of the case neck.
  6. Re-prime case: By hand or by press
  7. Powder charge: Check the type of powder, as well as the levels in the hopper/scoop. Also do not under or over charge the case!
  8. Bullet seating: Make sure your OAL allows proper feeding!
  9. Bullet crimping: If necessary and do not over crimp!

So the biggest headache? Step 5. Trimming…

Trimming is the simple procedure in cases preparation that involves the shaving of brass down to specifications for most calibres as set out by Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute, aka SAAMI. IF you perform step number 5, there are a huge number of methods available for an equally broad range of retail pricing. However the product on today’s TPF plate for reviewing is the Trim-It II.

The box!

The trim-It II as packaged

Direct from the website the features of the Trim-It II are listed as:


  • Built-in micrometer adjustment for cut-length control
  • Interchangeable die system, allowing you to trim a wide range of cases with one unit
  • Adjustable cutting tool with 3-sided carbide blade that allows for a 15 degree inside case mouth chamfer and 45 degree outside chamfer
  • Machined from 6061-T6 Aluminum. This baby is built to last.
  • 100% Forever (plus 90 days) Guarantee. 
  • Made entirely in the good ole’ US of A!

The Trim-It II that TPF obtained came is a small, compact cardboard package which contained everything needed to start trimming. OK. Almost everything… Like most reloading apparatuses, the basic unit does not come with the calibre specific components such as sizing dies and the like. This product is no different, and offers calibre specific bearing dies for many of the most common hunting calibres, pistol calibres, and some of the more popular long range benchrest calibres that are used.

The kit needed

What you get in the box, plus a calibre die

The original Trim-It had a micrometer adjustable depth ability and a four bladed flush cutting head that did just that, trimmed cases to the user’s set length. The secret to both the Trim-It and the Trim-It II? The calibre bearing die. For this review, TPF-Online decided to use the ever popular .308 Winchester round for trimming. Having many, many hundreds on hand to be converted from fired brass condition into usable ammunition was just a stroke of luck as we would never just go out and discharge .308 Win by the scores just for reviewing a trimmer… OK, maybe we would… Alright… We did… And it was worth it! So lets start by explaining the components that you receive in the package when a Trim-It II is purchased… Plus the .308 Win Calibre Die.

  • Instructions, 2 pages double sided
  • Allen keys, 4 of varying sizes (0.050″, 1/16″, 3/32″, and 9/64″)
  • The cap/barrel assembly
  • 3-way cutter
  • Calibre die, .308 WIN (sold separately)

Instructions:

These are likely the cheapest component of the entire set. Now these two pages seem to be simple double sided photocopies that are folded into 1/8 the original size to fit into the box. One page contains the product warranty details and a fillable sheet for returning defective/broken products. The other sheet is the one that is most important to everyone that is reading… A parts list and instructions on how to assemble, tune, and utilize the Trim-It II. The instructions for this are only on a single unfolded side and also contain the instructions for refitting the original Trim-It with the new 3-way cutting head. Opposite the instructions is a parts list diagram of both the Trim-It and Trim-It II.

Allen Keys:

The L-shaped hex drivers for adjustments and locking in components with set-screws. You knew this already however, so not going to say any more on these parts…

Cap/Barrel Assembly:

So the cap serves two purposes, both of which are important for the functionality of the Trim-It II. First is the mount for the 3-Way Cutter that is secured along the cap’s centreline with a set screw. This forces the cap to rotate with the cutter when under power. The second purpose is to act as the threaded mount for the barrel part of the assembly. The barrel houses the Calibre Die, and because it is threaded into the cap, allows for fine distance adjustment for cutting brass to the proper overall length. The barrel has numerous openings which allow adjustment to the cutting head as well as a path through which trimmed shavings can be removed. The barrel has an external o-ring groove which holds the clear polycarbonate sleeve in place to prevent shavings from flying everywhere when in use. A set screw locks the barrel depth into place as well as locking the calibre die into its groove.

The 3-Way Cutter!

The miniature boring head with carbide insert

3-Way Cutter:

The three way cutter is a miniature version of a milling machine’s adjustable boring bar. The cutter insert itself is a simple triangular insert whose corners have been cut to a V shape to trim both inner and outer chamfers and thereby also the length of any brass casing. TPF-Online did not remove the insert, but the V shape is on all three corners of the insert meaning that if you even wear down one of the cutting profiles, you can rotate and have a new cutting profile to be used. Twice… Since these are only trimming brass versus the insert’s carbide, it is likely to last for generations of shooters. The mounting head of the cutter is adjustable itself, with the insert able to be shifted towards or away from the centerline of the cap/barrel. This allows for different diameter necks to be trimmed, but unless you have several of the cutters pre-set, re-adjusting the cutter for each new calibre introduced is required.

Calibre Die:

These are sealed bearings that are modified by machining a custom inner ring to accurately position brass for trimming. These are precision tolerance bearings which are aligned by the barrel groove machined to exacting tolerances. with the outer ring of the die secured with a set screw in the barrel, the inner ring is free to rotate independently of the cap/barrel/cutter assembly.

A .223/5.56 and .308 examples of Calibre Dies available

How it works… Aka steps for using the Trim-It II:

  1. Install the 3-way cutter into the cap/barrel assembly so that it is as close as possible to the cap and secure with set screw against the flats in the shaft of the cutter.
  2. Tighten barrel into cap until it stops (“Zero”) back off until you alight the barrel index line with one on the cap. Unscrew barrel for one full revolution and lock in place with a set screw.
  3. Insert desired calibre die into place in barrel and lock it with set screw.
  4. Insert desired brass piece into calibre die.
  5. Loosen cutter set screw and move cutter until it touches neck of brass. Re-tighten setscrew.
  6. Slightly loosen cutting head set screw and adjust the position of the carbide insert so that the neck edge will touch the base of the V shape cutout on the insert. Re-tighten cutting head set screw.
  7. Loosen barrel set screw and adjust for height. Re-tighten. Each mark on the cap equals 0.002″ travel.
  8. Install into a drill, drill press, dedicated rotary tool, etc… Ensure the drill turns clockwise, otherwise cutters will not work properly.
  9. While drill is running, insert brass case into calibre die. If not trimmed to the right length shut down and adjust barrel as per Step 7.
  10. Go trim happy… When you don’t hear the inserted brass being trimmed, time to put in the next piece.

It is a lot of work for setting up the Trim-It II, but once the tool is setup, the unit is spectacularly fast in doing it’s job. For those who only have a hand drill however, the entire setup will be hard on the hands.

Pros:

  • Fast once setup
  • Nearly forty calibres available
  • Easily adjusted for OAL
  • Ease of cleaning due to the polycarbonate sleeve
  • Rock solid
  • High quality
  • Not expensive like a GTC Giraud Power Trimmer

Cons:

  • Adjusting the V-notch could be easier to tune
  • Hard on hands if using a hand drill
  • Handheld brass case tries to spin while cutting
  • Not cheap like a Lee Zip-Trim

Recommendations:

  • Table top drill press, or dedicated drive unit for the Trim-It that allows for two hands to manipulate and hold brass.
  • Design change for the carbide insert adjustment. Use a fine thread screw for adjusting distance from centre line.
In pieces

The components ready for assembly and adjustment. Soon to be followed by copious volume brass trimming…

The Trim-It II as reviewed is available from brick and mortar store locations such as Select Shooting Supplies in Cambridge, Ontario. Their listed prices are, at the time of this review, $189.95 CAD for the Trim-It II, and $29.95 CAD for each calibre die. Is the Trim-It II a worthy addition to one’s repertoire of reloading tools? Does it fall under the category of Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical devices for firearms owners?  That is a simple question that only YOU, the reader can answer.

TPF-Online wishes to thank Mr. Chris V. for his comments and additional input on this review. Between his efforts and those of TPF-Online, nearly 2000 pieces of .308 Win brass was trimmed in very little time.


Wet tumbling. The good, the not so good, and the awesome?

Mmm Range brass…

Getting brass clean enough for reloading is a dirt simple thing in principle. Wipe clean the outside of the case to ensure does not scratch or deform the brass due to dirt and debris while it feeds into a reloading die. That is all fine and dandy for someone who doesn’t really expend any volume of brass or regularly utilizes a Lee Loader for reloading, but what about the inside of the case? The primer residue and build-up in the pocket? What about tarnish and accumulated dirt and grime? 1911 owners who reload would loathe to leave behind scores of free .45 ACP range brass regardless of how dirty is was. The author fully embraces his Dutch heritage stereotype and if there is unclaimed, spent, centre-fire brass lying about at the local shooting range, it’s getting picked up. Firstly because it’s free brass, and secondly because the author likes to leave the range cleaner than when he arrived.

What to do with the hundreds of free pieces of brass of 9mm Luger or .223 Remington that are strewn about the range on a nearly daily basis? Unfortunately you will likely need to clean them from dirt, grass, and exposure to the elements. Sorting is also an issue, but that will be addressed in a future installment. Back on the topic of case cleaning; TPF did a overview of a Hornady Ultrasonic Cleaner a while ago, and while that method does indeed clean out all the impurities, it does not necessarily mean the result will be gleaming, shiny brass cases. Enter today’s entry into Tactical, Practical and Fantastical, Frankford Arsenal’s Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler. This unit comes complete with the tumbling drum and the drive chassis as well as with inserts, stainless media and a sample of concentrated cleaning solution.

Factory versus range brass

But lets get to the details… The author has been collecting range brass for many years and as such has a fairly decent volume of spent cartridge cases sorted, and stored on reloading shelves. For this review, several hand fulls of .308 Winchester range brass was used for testing the effectiveness of this rotary tumbler. Only after the review did we count out 231 pcs of brass, a far cry from the 1000 pieces of .223 Remington that is claimed as working capacity.

The FA Wet Tumbler

The FA Wet Tumbler

What you get in the box…

  • Drum driving base
  • Dual layer drum
  • Drum retaining cap (x2)
  • Clear insert for cap (x2)
  • Strainer insert for cap (x2)
  • Bag of stainless steel media (2.27kg/5.0 lbs)
  • Sample of concentrate cleaning solution
  • Manual

TPF looked over all the components of the unit and some items stood out for being remarked upon. The first item is the 1.85 gallon (7 litre) dual layer drum whose hard plastic outer shell can withstand the rollers and drive wheels and the mass of brass, pins, and liquids. Inside the drum is a softer rubber that is bonded to the inner surfaces of the drum. This is to quiet down the actual noise of an operating unit and also to ensure that the brass and pins tumble instead of just sliding along the inside of the drum. This is important as there are no protrusions internally to help agitate the brass and fluids while rotating. The end caps will normally be used with the clear window inserts which allow observers to become mesmerized by the continuous churning action.

The two layer tumbling drum (FA image file)

The initial setup was used with the handfuls of de-primed brass, the sample pack of cleaning solution, and filling the container with supplied pins and distilled water. Distilled water, for those readers with a questioning expression, is a water that has most impurities removed and is listed to generate the best results. With the clear inserts in place and water tight, the rotary tumbler was started on a two hour adventure. With a dry media vibratory tumbler the unit settles into a manageable background noise that can be ignored easily. With an ultrasonic cleaner the noise is a hum, plus any case to case vibrations, which can be high pitch, but in general is a low noise level. Compared to either of the others, this rotary tumbler is is not even in the same class. It is loud, as in automotive versus airplane in noise difference… Now perhaps that was from not having completely filled the drum to capacity of cases to be cleaned and allowing huge space for brass and cleaning pins to shift around a large amount contributed to the noise level, it will be revisited in a future utilization.

The dirty and corroded, but FREE range brass

 

Prior to distilled water and cleaning solution.

 

The base drive unit of the tumbler is quite heavy and has a single set of driver rollers with the second set being a pair of idlng wheels. The controls are very simple for the power unit. It has a rotating dial which corresponds to the desired remaining time of operation. No on/off switch, just turn the dial from 0 to 3 hours. The rollers and geared drive units are listed as being rated for a maximum of a 13.4 kg (30 lbs) drum on top of the rollers. This published limit is there both to protect the drive gearing as well as the axles and plastic rotating wheels from excessive loads. For our review we set the unit into motion of a duration of two hours or the possible three.

 

Churning, churning, churning!

The machine chugged away on top of the author’s reloading bench for just over 2 hours and the noise of the churning brass and pins, as well as the drive unit itself could be heard through the floor and across the author’s home. TPF recommends that if you utilize the this wet tumbler, that you perform the actual tumbling either outside, or in a garage as the operational sound level is quite high.

Murky water cannot hide the gleam!

Upon finish of the 2 hours, the water in the drum was murky and dark, yet the cases gleamed like beacons in the grunge. This is where we find the biggest and perhaps the only flaw of this tumbling kit. The strainer inserts are one of the things that seemed lackluster and a far cry from practical. The operator needs to install it onto one end of the barrel and then flip it over to remove the second cover in order to “wash out” the drum and cleaned brass of dirty cleaning liquid and stainless steel pin media. The only problem is that the media does not come out as easily as Franklin Arsenal would lead you to believe. This determination was made AFTER using the strainer in an attempt to “Wash out” the stainless steel media from the cases. Some pins did indeed come out and fell into a home made filtering bucket. However getting fed up with having a clean drum, and pins stuck in cases still, the whole load was dumped onto the filter and the drum rinsed clean and put away.

At this point TPF used a rotary media separator that was partially filled with water which partially covered the load of cases in the rotating hopper. By spinning the hopper, the author proceeded to “separate” media from cases. This method worked spectacularly… What was left was a whole bunch of bright clean and very wet cases. Which is the second part that TPF is less than thrilled about, waiting for cases to dry… The author’s wife put her foot down when the oven was suggested as a means to remove the unwanted water. Luckily the time of year had a nice sunny warm forecast, and the cases were laid down to dry on a towel in the sun. And nearly 6 hours later when the author returned, the cases were dry and better than new in appearance.

231 sparking cases, drying in the sun…

The largest deterrents for stainless steel wet tumbling is the media separation, and the drying of the cases. However the end result of the entire process is an awesome level of cleanliness and sparkling bright brass. The resulting output from the Frankford Arsenal Platinum Series Rotary Tumbler (Model# 909544), is extremely clean and makes brass appear new once again. The reviewed unit has an MSRP of $239.00 USD, and can be found at brick and mortar stores across Canada such as Firearms Outlet Canada, located in Ajax, Ontario.

The final result? Shiny!

Is stainless steel, wet tumbling worth the investment and worth the time? That is for you, the reader to decide upon and determine for yourself if it is Practical, Tactical, or Fantastical.

 


How to improve on success? Add powder and pour – Hornady L-N-L AutoCharge

The authors of Tactical, Practical, and Fantastical have to thank Mr. Andrew Craig of Canadian Reload Radio fame for this review of Hornady’s Lock-N-Load Auto Charge. Hornady and The Korth Group were kind enough to provide TPF-Online with this product for reviewing and Mr. Craig gladly provided us with his viewpoint and writing style for this dispenser. We hope the readers of TPF-Online enjoy this review:

When it comes to reloading there is only a single step that is as big and as important as getting the powder charge right.There are many ways to do this, but few that roll it all into one easy step. Hornady recognized there was a need for a more economical solution to weighing and dispensing powder, and introduced their own version of an automated powder dispenser a few years ago. I finally received the opportunity to sit down with one recently, and, the results were both interesting and impressive.

AutoCharge-01

Everything that you see in the image comes with the Hornady Auto-Charge

Out of the box the Auto Charge includes the integrated scale/dispenser, powder silo, universal power adapter, two check weights (10 & 50 grams), flash pan, and a long thin brush for dusting out powder. Included with the manual is a comprehensive quick-start guide that allows for getting the Auto Charge up and running in a matter of minutes. If you do choose to jump right in with the quick-start guide, be sure to read both sides completely, as, the instructions for calibrating the scale are quite specific, and need to be followed in order to get under way quickly.

AutoCharge-Masses

A pair of calibration masses

The Auto Charge has a powder silo large enough to hold 1lb of powder. The guide recommends at a minimum that the silo be filled to the top of the base of the unit, in order to ensure there is enough powder in the hopper to dispense accurately. I had a small amount of Varget that just managed to fill the hopper to the top of the base as indicated, and after following the calibration instructions, quickly began to dispense 42.0 grain powder charges.

Dispensing powder was as easy as entering the charge weight into the keypad, and pressing “enter” in order to set the machine to the desired charge. All that was necessary then was to press “dispense”, and the machine took care of the rest. The Hornady Auto Charge is essentially a digital scale combined with a powder trickler. The powder tube is internally threaded, and angled downwards slightly, so that as it turns, powder is scooped up and moved along the length of the tube, subsequently falling into the flash pan below. As the dispensed powder reaches the desired charge weight, the Auto Charge slows down and enters into “trickle mode”, where it pulses a fraction of a rotation at a time in order to drop the desired charge weight one or two kernels at a time.

AutoCharge-03

A pure touch screen control panel with an LCD display to control the dispensing rates, and user-entered or programmed dispensing masses

There are three different speed settings for dispensing powder, slow, normal, and fast. Depending on the type and quantity of powder being dispensed, there is an ideal setting. I found that the bulkier powders were able to be dispensed on the fastest setting, whereas your finer, ball type powders tended to prefer the normal. Really fine powders, such as those used for shotgun or handgun really didn’t dispense well, or, required the machine to be set on the slowest setting, which meant a significant increase in time between charges. This really has to do with how the machine operates. During dispensing, there are in fact two speeds. An initial, high volume rate of dispensing, which varies based on the selected speed, and then a final trickling speed, which is more of a pulse. Depending on which speed you choose, the trickling mode will kick in sooner or later, so as to allow for as much powder as possible to be dropped into the pan before the final trickle to the desired charge weight.

For testing purposes, I used both Varget, and Ramshot TAC. The Varget was able to be dispensed at the fastest rate, as, it is a bulkier extruded powder. It had a tendency to remain in the trickling tube and only drop one or two kernels at a time during the trickling mode, allowing for a very fast dispensing time, with minimal overcharge errors. The Ramshot TAC on the other hand is a much finer, ball type powder. It was far more likely to cascade out of the tube, resulting in the machine having to be run on the normal speed setting. I found on average that the dispensing time for 43 grains of both Varget and TAC to be 20-30 seconds. As I mentioned, the Auto Charge will result in an overcharge error if it’s run on too fast of a setting. I found that Varget only returned an overcharge error 1 in 10 times on the fastest setting, which meant having to re-dispense the charge. TAC resulted in an overcharge error almost every time on the fast setting, but had no issues when set to the normal speed setting.

Once you’ve settled on a desired charge weight, and dispensing speed, you have the option of running the Auto Charge in either a manual, or automatic mode. Manual simply means that you have to press dispense each time, whereas, on the automatic mode, all you need to do is press dispense, and start dumping powder charges into your waiting cases. Each time you place the empty flash pan onto the scale, the Auto Charge will dispense the next charge as soon as the weight reaches zero. I found that with the machine set to its fastest setting, in combination with Varget, I was able to keep up an almost constant pace of charging cases, with only a short wait between dumping powder into the case and waiting for the next charge to be dispensed.

AutoCharge-04

A very effective powder drain cap system

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Auto Charge worked. It’s a nice clean, simple unit, and was very easy to operate. I found that its ideal use is for load development, where you might have a number of different charge weights that you want to try. It is equally suited to regular reloading duties as well, however, a standard powder measure is still faster, and capable of dispensing most powders within the same accuracy range. What’s nice about the Auto Charge however is that you know every single time just how much your charge weights, and that there’s no potential for a mix-up, or double charge. Additionally, the Auto Charge can dispense close to a pound of powder, and not need topping up in order to maintain its accuracy. Having a scale built right in ensures you get the exact same, consistent charge weight.

Submitted by: Andrew Craig, Host of Canadian Reload Radio

Hornady is a very much renowned reloading manufacturer based out of Grand Island, Nebraska, and Korth Group are a Canadian importer and distributor of many manufacturers and brands such as Hornady. Again, thanks to Andrew Craig for his submission on the Hornady Lock-N-Load Auto Charge powder dispenser. The product as reviewed has an MSRP of $317.21 USD. This and other Hornady products can be found in a variety of brick and mortar shops across Canada as well as online venues such as Grouse River (which has both!). TPF’s standard clause still applies to our readers to determine if this piece of equipment is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical for themselves.


The solution to the second most tedious thing about progressive reloading… YES!

The second most tedious thing?” That was surely the question of most readers when looking at the title of this installment of TPF-Online. Yes, the author did mean to say the second most. The number one most tedious job from the majority of reloaders is trimming brass to length and there are a multitude of methods to do exactly that. However this instalment is about the second most tedious thing for reloaders who utilize progressive presses from Dillon, Hornady, RCBS, etc… So what is the second most tedious thing in progressive reloading? Filling the priming system of the press.

There are currently three common methods used in primer feed devices. Tube, Strip, and Box fed priming systems. Lee progressive presses, like the Loadmaster, utilize the box feed systems for their progressive press designs and it is by far the fastest for reloading primers. RCBS progressives now routinely use a preloaded primer feeding strip system since it’s introduction over a decade ago. But for the rest, a primer fill tube is used for the reloading process to be have one hundred primers ready for reloading. This has, for many, been done via the old fashion method of using a primer flip tray and a primer collecting tube and manually forcing each individual primer into the fill tube. It can take several minutes for an experienced user to pick up a hundred primers, and so many people pre-load several of these fill tubes prior to reloading, which is hard on the hands.

Palvik-Italy!

Don’t let the originating country fool you. Italy has made some tremendous discoveries and engineering masterpieces.

Luckily however, the author occasionally peruses the internet for firearms related products and businesses at random, and it was not too long ago that TPF came across a Canadian IPSC shooter, Mr. Nik Papadhopulli, who decided to open up a small business to supply Canadian shooters with various items to help with reloading and equipment to help competitors with the shooting sports. One of these products offered is an accessory to help speed up primer tube filling. Now TPF knows about Dillon’s RF-100 primer filling station, which is a hands free filler. You put a box of one hundred primers in the top of the unit and press a button and couple minutes later you have a full tube. This option is quite costly with a price tag of nearly $400 including the option to be able to fill both large and small primer tubes. However, at roughly half the price of the RF-100, Red Tip Bullet offers an alternative to Canadians. The Pal-Filler, designed and manufactured in Italy by Palvik, is a hand held, battery operated, primer tube filler.

The kit!

Missing only the box and the simple instruction sheet, all of this comes with the Pal-Filler kit

The Tray

Precision machined flipping grooves and fill-tube area on both sides of the tray allow for small and large primers

Smaller, cheaper, and faster, this product already includes the ability to load both small and large primers. Now the Pal-Filler is not some complex, ergonomic and aesthetically beautiful product. It is in fact relatively plain and basic is shape and operation. Included is a double-usage primer tray, where one side is for small primers and the opposite side is for large primers. This tray is attached to the handle/grip and a primer tube is inserted in the appropriate opening. Operation of the Pal-Filler is a simple affair and assumes that the proper primer tube is already pre-inserted into the Pal Filler tool.

  1. A box of primers is dumped into the flipping tray, and shaken until all primers are anvil side up.
  2. Once primers are all oriented properly, the user inserts the retaining lid.
  3. With the unit tipped slightly towards the tube filling hole, the user flips the switch.
  4. The vibration caused by a rotating offset mass vibrates the Pal-Filler and the primers all fall in sequence into the open tube top.
  5. Did TPF mention it was fast? From the primer box to a tube filled with one hundred (100) primers in roughly thirty (30) seconds.
Size matters not!

The Pal-Filler is literally a pistol grip with a primer tray attached to it. It is small, easy to handle and use and it is FAST!

The concept for the Pal-Filler is very simple. Use proven, existing technology in a compact package. The small electric motor is wired in series with the simple on/off switch and the battery holder. The motor mounts an offset mass that creates the high frequency vibrations in the unit itself. It indeed is simple and one may think that should not equate into a high cost. Normally TPF would agree, except the Pal-Filler is completely manufactured on CNC machines. The aluminum grip halves are both machined from a billet of aluminum, inside and out. The tray is CNC machined from a block of high density plastic. The motor retaining bracket is machined aluminum as well. Even the battery holder is given a CNC machined base to be mounted on. The design features for ruggedness and longevity are apparent when looking at the Pal-Filler.

Impressive materials

Other than the typical battery holder, everything about the Pal-Filler is CNC machined and assembled with screws. No cheap plastic clips and glue here!

Made from quality materials, with quality craftsmanship, this is a fine tool for the reloader who does not want to load primers into tubes manually and is especially suited to volume usage as done by many progressive reloaders. The Pal Filler as reviewed has an MSRP of $189.00 CDN and is available from Red Tip Bullets (http://www.redtipbullet.com). The question posed to our readers is if this piece of equipment is Tactical, Practical, or Fantastical.

Addendum 2017… We have been informed that Red Tip Bullets has since closed its doors. Which is unfortunate.


SHOT Show 2012

Back in January, an event occurred, which the author has been privileged in attending now for the sixth year in a row. The event consists of a single day of practical hands on experiences for media and then four days of talking to an ungodly number of individuals whom are representative of the entire world for Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Of course this equates to the 2012 SHOT Show which is the largest venue of its kind anywhere in the world.

Colts 1877

This is Colt's masterful foray into reproduction firearms, the 1877 Colt Gatling Gun which was the star of Media in TPF's opinion.

The Monday, January 16th, the temperature outdoors was quite decent and the sky was cloud-free which made Media Day, once again a fine day to go and play with some of the newest firearms and related products which are currently or soon to be available for the commercial markets. Optics, ammunition, handguns, rifles, shotguns, stocks, and a host of other items were available to over 1200 media individuals to experience first hand the products available. Some items truly stood out for the author and the number one item memorable experience was cranking the handle of Colt’s reproduction 1877 Gatling Gun. 20 rounds of 45/70 Government, flew by and seemed effortless as you turned the handle of this beautiful reproduction of history. High quality prototype 308 Winchester chambered bull-pup rifles, custom machined .50 BMG projectiles, the Slide Fire stock, are just a couple of the items that were experienced by the huge crowd of media types.

For the next four days the actual trade show ensued once again at the Sands Convention center. Over 1600 companies were there with in excess of 36,000 people coming to interact with them brought the total attendees to more than 61,000 people over four days. Stunning, especially when you consider that representatives from all 50 states were there as well as representation from more than 100 countries.

TPF will not go into the thousands of products that were displayed and showcased as there are multitudes of other websites and writers whom dwell on the little nuances. There were however an extreme multitude of famous and mentionable people in attendance or in some cases, on display at SHOT Show 2012. As usual the legends and successful masters of shooting disciplines were present, as well as TV sensations both past and present. Lou Ferrigno, was seen repeatedly examining various products as a guest of Barrett Firearms; as well, several participants of the TV Show Top Shot Season 4 were discovering the huge industry on display at SHOT Show 2012. Further highlights of celebrity fanfare was the feature appearances by the crew of Red Jacket Firearms from the TV show, Sons of Guns, and many others.

Les Stroud

Famous Canadian survivalist, Les Stroud (Survivorman) was in attendance and yes there was a lineup to met him.

A short, incomplete listing of well known people who attended Shot Show:

  • R. Lee Ermey
  • Les Stroud
  • Bear Grylls
  • Ted Nugent
  • Troy & Jacob Landry
  • Larry Vickers
  • The SeAL team/cast from the movie “Acts of Valor”
  • An nearly every known professional shooter, Outdoor TV series hosts, etc…

TPF isn’t going to go into the huge details about what was present and what new products were available for the US market. Suffice to say that the author would be able to write a short novella of several tens of thousands of words showing the various new non-firearm products, let alone new guns. We will however keep you, the reader, abreast of any products which these manufacturers, distributors, and retailers, graciously provide to TPF-Online for review.

Chiappa Rhino

Firearm designs like the Chiappa Rhino are being featured in future reviews by TPF-Online. So Stay tuned!

Much of the excitement and great moments at the SHOT Show is when the author met so many other Canadians on happenstance, Mrs. Page from Packing Pink, Mr. Krete from The Gun Centre, Mr. Hansen from Freedom Ventures, Mr. Muir from Lever Arms, Mr. Ruston from Tactical Products Canada, and a host of others representing Canadian businesses. Many thanks are to be given to these individuals and companies for attending and creating the contracts and arrangements which continue to supply our Canada market with firearms and related products.

If you are ever able to go, TPF-Online recommends that you do so and experience the multi-billion dollar industry which is partially displayed at SHOT Show. And recall that this is just a PARTIAL display as there are many many other businesses and manufacturers who are not in attendance. A great example is FWB, or Feinwerkbau, one of the oldest and most renowned Olympic class firearms makers, wasn’t present yet again in this year’s SHOT Show.

Frank Mellor

Top Shot, Season 4 competitor, Mr. Frank Miller was experiencing the scope of the firearms industry for the first time. This moment Mr. Mellor was admiring Ten-X's .50BMG progressive press.

The Great One

One of the most respected and well known action shooters, Mr. Rob Leatham, aka The Great One, is one of the best ambassadors that the shooting community has ever had.

This years SHOT Show was executed even better than last year and once again, anyone coming should bring a couple pairs of walking shoes to explore and experience the whole event and all booths. However, be forewarned that should you attend, plan your visits to the booths they would have roughly a minute for visiting each booth, and when you consider the sheer scale of the show, much of that time can be walking from booth to booth. There are many displays and extra events which can eat up several minutes of time, such as watching professional shooters show their skills, lining up to get autographs and pictures with celebrities, as well as hands on experience with the multitudes of firearms accessories and outdoor gear.

Displays @ SHOT Show

Veteran shooter Todd Jarrett shows off his skills in a display at the Blackhawk booth. Such displays are common and very well attended by to those wanting to learn and see the skill levels of the masters.

The 2012 Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show is the largest event of it’s type in the world and TPF can guarantee that should you ever attend this event, every single product displayed at the show will be Practical, Tactical, or Fantasical.

Extra:
A small example of how you can spend your time talking to one of the many representatives of companies in attendance. Presenting Angus Hobdell, who has been shooting CZ products since 1986 and a member of Team CZ-USA since 2003. In 2012, he is still a great competitor and 100% behind promoting CZ-USA.

On behalf of TPF-Online and the CSSA, many thanks Mr. Hobdell for your time and efforts.

As an added bonus, over the next few days and weeks, TPF will be releasing small video clips from many of the top action shooters in regards to the shooting sports and tips for improving your abilities. So stay tuned!


Hornady – Measuring successful reloading one shot at a time!

Now many shooters do not dabble into reloading as it is an additional “expense” or “time consuming event”  for people who are entirely satisfied with factory produced ammunition. To those that shoot very infrequently, such as a box of ammunition lasts a year or two, reloading is probably not for you. However, reloading in itself can be a means to save money in ammunition costs, or as a means for producing ammunition that when well matched with a specific firearm will generate outstanding accuracy. Getting into reloading itself requires an expenditure of capital in order to assemble the required components for actually going through the entire reloading process.

If you reload, you will of course have heard of Hornady. A provider of many excellent bullets and reloading equipment such as those used by the entire gambit of shooting disciplines and their respective firearms. From muzzle-loading single shot rifles, to the most prolific black rifles, revolvers to self-loaders; from the simplest to the most technically innovative firearms imaginable; Hornady is one of the most widely known by shooters across North America. TPF has been fortunate to be able to previously review Hornady products and this installation adds another notch to the belt.

BenchScale-01Now reloaders have used balance beam scales with great results in the past and they will continue to do so for the forseeable future. However, the ever-increasing field of technology, specifically compact electronics, has allowed for the development of accurate digital scales. A digital scale allows for a simpler operation and higher measuring rates when compared to that of the delicate and cumbersome balance beam arrangements. However, TPF is not stating that digital scales are superior to the tried and true balance beam, in fact, those at TPF still occasionally check the digital scale readings with old school methods. Speaking about scales, for this write-up, TPF looks at another helpful addition to anyone into reloading; a digital scale by Hornady as part of their ‘Lock ‘N’ Load” series of products. The Bench Scale is the newest digital scale in Hornady’s line and has many features not seen on previous models.

The box contents

Well packaged, it has everything you need to weigh charges

Hornady’s ‘Lock-N-Load’ line is well established with many quality products which are dedicated to the reloading audience. With highly visible boxes and a very secure packaging of the product, the electronic scale is nearly assured of arriving damage free to the consumer’s door. Upon the opening of the Bench Scale  one can see all the various components which come as standard with the L-N-L Bench Scale. The scale itself has the following characteristics.

  • 1500 grain capacity with an accuracy of 0.1 grains
  • Multiple measuring units. Grains, grams, ounces, and carats
  • Large visible back-lit LCD screen
  • 110V/220V power supply
  • Alloy powder pan/pouring tray
  • 10g & 50g calibration masses
  • Wind/Air current deflector cover
Power Supply

With a simple lock-tab, you can convert 110V to 220V and back

TPF will start the overview with the power supply, which utilizes a universal main body with attachable prong/plug arrangements. The two configurations included start with the 110V two-blade version for North America, and the 220V two-prong/post version common in Europe. The simple method of converting from one to the other is a bonus, but it is unknown how much of an added bonus this feature is to a consumer. How often does a reloader ship their gear back and forth between North America and Europe? It is a feature which makes it easy for marketing to multiple regions without any changes to the product/SKU/ordering.

10 & 50g masses

Mirror finish chrome highlights the calibration masses

Observing the metal powder tray, the finish is smooth and will facilitate very clean pouring of powder and a highly visible contrast to observe the volume/amount of powder contained in it.  As typical of most forms of scales, the tray is generous in capacity and easy to pick up loaded or empty due to its large “ears”.

Also included is the clear acrylic wind guard which is used to prevent errant air currents from influencing the accuracy of the load cell, and it fits securely over a raised ring on the scale which prevents it from being inadvertently dislodged. This is important because the load cell only functions in a single direction, up and down; and any sort of side load will affect the accuracy and the cell is so sensitive that breathing on the measuring base can change the load values. Remember that 0.1 grain accuracy is equivalent to 0.0065 grams (0.0002 oz) and the average stamp masses roughly 0.05 grams (0.001 oz). There is an opening in the top of the guard to allow for powder to be dropped into the tray while the guard is in place. This feature is necessary to most highly sensitive scales; but brings up a possible drawback for some reloaders, in that the overall height of the complete unit would require an elevated powder trickler or other higher mounted powder source to fill the tray for measuring.

Waiting for power

The Bench Scale is a small and clean package

The entire unit is very small in overall space claiming with the mirror finish calibration masses being stored in a pair of integrated pockets on the scale. As the Bench Scale utilizes the same load cell as the Hornady Auto-Charge powder dispenser, and the resulting accuracy is supposedly superb, and as such with all digital scales, the unit should be mounted on a flat, level surface to avoid any side loading on the load cell. Unlike the Auto-Charge however, the scale has a very simple control layout. Only four soft touch buttons are located around the large LCD screen; power ON/OFF, calibration, scale zeroing, and measuring units. The LCD screen has a green backlighting to allow for easy reading of the resultant mass being looked at.

With an MSRP of $122.18 USD, this product is available across Canada at various stores which sell Hornady reloading products. One such store is the Gun Centre, located in Kitchener, Ontario. The Lock-N-Load Bench Scale is Hornady’s most recent foray into a standalone digital measuring scales and it is ultimately up to you, the reader to determine if it is tactical, practical, or fantastical.