Reloading ammunition is one of the best ways to save money if you shoot a lot of rounds. It is also a good way to make sure that you are putting the best ammunition into your firearm. A good basic reloading kit is a must-have for when you are starting to reload. However, even the best kit has room for improvement, especially when it comes to ease of use and speed. Fortunately, there are many tools that will make reloading ammo faster and easier. Here are some of the best reloading tools to make reloading more efficient and enjoyable.
If you reload a lot of ammunition, a progressive press is one of the best reloading tools that you can own. While single-stage and turret presses work well for smaller batches, progressive presses are capable of loading several hundred rounds of ammunition in an hour. If you need to reload a large batch of ammo, a progressive press is the best tool for the job.
Progressive presses are faster because they operate differently than other types of reloading presses. Single-stage and turret presses only perform one action each time you pull the lever. Which action it performs depends on which die you have installed in the press. A progressive press holds several dies at once and performs several actions each time you pull the lever.
Most reloading companies, including Hornady, RCBS, and Lee produce progressive presses. However, most reloaders consider Dillon progressive presses to be the best of the best. They produce different varieties of presses, the largest of which are basically home-grown ammunition factories.
Digital Powder Measure and Scale
Using a powder measure and a mechanical scale to weigh each powder charge can get really tiring. If done for each cartridge, it can also take an enormous amount of time. A digital powder measure/scale is one of the best reloading tools because it does both of these steps for you quicker and easier than you could do them separately.
A digital powder measure and scale will have buttons that you can use to enter the desired charge weight. It will then transfer gunpowder into a pan, which sits on the unit’s scale. The measure will automatically stop dumping powder when the scale reads the desired powder weight. After this, you can remove the pan and pour the powder into your case.
Case Prep Center
My case prep center is one of my favorite reloading tools because it takes the strain off of my hands while reloading. Case prep is one of the least fun steps in reloading, and this tool makes it a much easier process. Normally, chamfering and deburring a case is done with one tool. Then another tool cleans the primer pocket. If you are using brass with primer crimps, you need another tool to remove them. Each of these processes requires you to use both hands to twist the brass and the tool. After a while, this process can become very tiring.
A case prep center does most of this work for you. All you need to do is hold the case and move it around to the different tools on the case prep center. Mine has a 5 rotating “stations”, each of which holds a different tool. I can chamfer and deburr a case, clean its primer pocket, and remove a primer crimp without ever putting the case down or picking up another tool. This saves time and reduces the strain on my hands. Although it may not seem like it would be a big deal, it is after doing all of these steps 100-200 times in one sitting.
If you want your reloaded ammo to be clean and polished, a case tumbler is one of the best reloading tools that you can own. Having clean cases makes reloading a lot less messy, is easier on your reloading dies, and makes your ammo look more professional after it is reloaded.
Case tumblers use different types of materials or “media” to clean brass cases, and they come in two different types. The first type of case tumbler is a “vibratory” tumbler. This type of tumbler holds the cases and tumbling media in an upper chamber while a motor underneath causes the chamber to rapidly vibrate. This vibration causes the cases and media to move around within the chamber, polishing the cases. These use dry media, such as ground walnut shells or corn cob for polishing.
The second type of case tumbler is a rotary tumbler. A rotary tumbler uses an electric motor to rotate a drum filled with media and cases on a stationary track. These can use dry media, like walnut shells, but some can even use what is called “wet media” as well. This is a mixture of cleaning solution and small stainless steel pins.
A media separator is an important reloading tool to have if you use a case tumbler. They consist of an enclosed sieve inside of a bucket that you rotate to separate your cleaned cases and your tumbling media. A media separator will prevent you from wasting tumbling media, and make the separation process much cleaner and easier.
Much like a case tumbler, an ultrasonic cleaner polishes your cases before you load them. They use special cleaning solutions that you pour inside of a small tank. High-frequency sound waves disturb the cleaning solution allowing it to basically “scrub” anything that is on the surface of the cases. This leaves them clean and ready to reload.
In addition to being one of the best reloading tools, ultrasonic cleaners also work well to clean gun parts. You can place a batch of separated parts or entire assemblies, like a pistol slide, into the tank, and let the machine clean it for you. This isn’t something that you can do with a vibratory or rotary case tumbler.
If you decide to use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean your firearms, make sure it won’t damage your firearm. Certain materials, such as wood, rubber, and soft polymers should not be placed in an ultrasonic cleaner. If you are unsure, contact the ultrasonic cleaner’s manufacturer or the manufacturer of your firearm.
If you already have your basic reloading kit, the reloading tools listed above should help you reload more ammunition with less effort. However, if you are new to reloading and haven’t purchased your basic kit, check out my article, Essential Reloading Equipment. It details the tools and equipment that you need to get started as a new reloader.