Welcome to episode two of my reloading series. As I mentioned in the first installment that highlights the two-hour beginner’s class I attended a few weeks back, I’m not an expert on this subject. Nor do I claim to be one. But what I wanted to prove to myself and to those readers who may be tentative to take the plunge into reloading is that if I can do it, you can do it.
We kick off this episode with the purchase of the Hornady Iron Press. Why that brand? Why that press? Well, I did look around at the options and consulted the forums. There are a lot of opinions and not a lot of data to back them up. From an outsider’s perspective, reloading presses seem to have the same blind, unsubstantiated loyalty as trucks and guns. “My Dodge pickup is the best because it’s mine and anything else is commie nonsense… My Rock Chucker is the best because it’s mine and anything else is commie nonsense.” You get the idea.
With all that said, I picked the Iron Press because, why not? The truth is that Hornady has been a main player in the reloading game for a long time. They’re tried-and-true. They are also the ancestral home of the 6.5 Creedmoor, which is my new favorite caliber. And pretty much everything I needed came in the box. Super convenient! Add a set of dies, components, and some powder — I was off to the races!
Consulting just the Hornady directions, I was able to go from unboxing the press to making shootable bullets in about three hours. Granted I cheated a little bit on this one, using new brass from Hornady, which obviously cut out most of the case prep. Nevertheless, I am pretty stoked about that installation time because it tells me the Hornady system is simple and intuitive. I have had more TBIs than I can count and the task was still pretty straightforward. Proving that, as I mentioned before, if this monkey can do it, so can you!
I should also note that I was stunned by the Hornady directions (If you’ve seen my other vids, you know how I feel about directions). They were very clear and easy to follow. On more than one occasion, I caught myself thinking, Is it suppose to be this easy? A nice touch, the Hornady die set includes directions on how to use them as well.
The Iron Press is billed as the heaviest and most rigid in its class. I don’t have a lot of experience with other presses, but I don’t doubt it. I mounted this cast iron beast to a 1.5-inch thick table top, which seemed prudent given its weight: 26 pounds!
The Hornady Iron Press is an extremely smooth operator. Priming was so easy I was certain it wasn’t working, only to find primed brass on the other side. The long handle provides one with ample workspace. Even with gorilla-sized hands, I didn’t have a problem swapping shell plates or sticking bullets on the case for seating. From my limited experience using a progressive loader, I think I actually have more space to work with on the single-stage Iron Press.
Hornady’s patented Lock-n-Load bushing system is included, which is also helpful to beginners. It allows dies to be swapped in and out with a simple twist. For my first few rounds, I wanted to make sure I could go through the complete process before I started batching. So I swapped tools a lot. Size and prime one round, inspect, powder, inspect, bullet seating, OAL measurement. Then start over.
As far as ammo production went, I am a happy camper. Out of my first batch of 30, I only screwed up 2 rounds, one of which was my fault. I intentionally over seated one bullet in an unprimed case, just to see how the adjustments went on the Hornady dies. I left it unprimed and with no charge so that I wouldn’t accidentally shoot it. The second suffered from a way too deeply-seated primer. It might’ve still gone bang, but I am new enough at this that I wasn’t willing to try.
Another feature that I was impressed by was the auto priming system. Over the manual setup I learned on, the auto primer is a huge time saver. It only took me one shell before I got that hang of it.
The proof is in the pudding, and I am happy to report that it didn’t cost me Ruger a rifle. I chose 6.5 Creedmoor as a starting point not only because I like it, but other reloading ninjas told me it is monkey proof. That is to say, a noob could reload it and still expect a reasonable degree of accuracy because it is rather forgiving of shenanigans. I would have been happy with a 2 MOA group since I was just following a recipe from the book and have about 5 hours of total experience. So I was blown away by a ½ MOA group out of the Ruger American.
I wish now I had taken a chronograph to check muzzle velocity and standard deviation. Between us girls, I was actually pretty happy they just went bang. But given how easy it was to get started, and the cost savings on rifle ammo, I am all in. There is still a long way to the top of the mountain but the first steps have been fun. Besides the economics of it all, I learned something else today. It is deeply satisfying to put your own ammo together and see it perform on paper. I think I just found another lifelong hobby.
Stay tuned for future episodes where I’ll dive more into the weeds of reloading. You know, once I really know what I’m doing. LOL.
For more information on the Hornady Iron Press visit Hornady.com.