HORNADY CLASSIC LOCK-N-LOAD KIT FOR BEGINNERS
Many shooters will advise that hand loading their own ammunition is the secret to success with any firearm. To the beginner, however, the process can look daunting because there are so many types of equipment to choose from. The Hornady Lock-N-Load Classic kit is an ideal way to start a process that can develop into a hobby of its own: creating accurate ammunition at a lower cost, and allowing any sportsman to become more deeply involved in the all-round shooting process.
Apart from specific reloading dies for your chosen caliber, any of which are compatible with this set-up, the Lock-N-load Classic kit contains everything you will need to begin making your own ammunition, when combined with your chosen reloading components and powder. The first stage is inspection of fired cases, which entails checking for dents, cracks or other damage in used brass. You may choose to go with new brass straight off the shelf, but any burrs on the case mouth, internally or externally, can be removed with a few twists of the chamfering tool, which will also come in useful at a later date if fired and resized cases need trimming to length. One Shot Case Lube sprayed onto the brass cases will allow them to be resized with ease in the sturdy single stage press that cams “over center”. This enables the toggled lever mechanism to exert maximum force on each case whilst still being easy to use for operators of any age or stature. This single up and down stroke of the press ram is where the greatest amount of force is required, so you need a solid anchoring point whilst the case shoulders are bumped back into position, the case neck squeezed tighter and the body of the case is returned to factory dimensions.
As the Press handle is raised, the ram will lower, drawing the case with it and the expander ball over the de-capping pin (which has pushed the spent primer out into the catcher) will stretch the neck back up to the required dimension, usually a few thousandths of an inch smaller than the bullet diameter. This resizing is what allows the case neck to apply tension to the bullet within it for a light interference fit, although some shooters might also desire a mechanical crimp, especially on heavier calibers or bullets with a cannelure.
Cartridge Overall Length (C. O. L.) and neck tension variation are often suggested to be crucial to ultimate rifle accuracy and can have a positive effect towards achieving those tiny groups many shooters boast of. When you first start out, however, it makes a lot of sense to follow the “recipes” and dimensions advised in a quality manual such as the Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading. Over-complication can remove some of the simpler pleasures in just going shooting with your own great ammo, which doesn’t have to shoot bug holes every time. It’s fine to walk before you try to run.
The press is the foundation of all reloading exercises. It has twin slots to bolt it securely to your chosen work surface, whether this is a fixed bench or perhaps a portable unit you can also take to the range. Most die sets threaded 7/8”x14 will include a caliber specific shell holder that clips into the ram of the press to hold each individual brass case securely and absolutely central to the upper die. Most importantly, this will also control the headspacing (precise case length from head to shoulder) at which the die is set. Shell holders also firmly draw the case back out of the die after resizing – a task for which the case lube is mandatory – if you forget it and get a case stuck it will require expert removal!
Hornady’s Lock-N-Load Die Bushings, three of which are included in the kit, means that once set up, any die can be changed quickly in the single stage press with less than a full turn, yet retain its precise set-up for life with no further adjustments needed. After resizing, each case can be further inspected and measured for dimension changes, which must remain within the specifications set by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (“SAAMI”), and cleaned ready for primer seating. An optional Automatic Primer Feed accessory kit is available for the Hornady Positive Priming System, for which a primer flipping tray is supplied to set everything the correct way up. As an alternative, Hornady’s own Handheld Priming Tool allows the process to be delicately controlled at speed, sitting away from your reloading bench if you prefer. This is a stage where patience and delicacy are required while the primers are seated flush with the brass case heads ready of their once in a lifetime strike from the firing pin.
Measuring powder is where most handloaders like to boast of the greatest precision, and with a Lock-N-Load Powder Measure, the metering insert on the rotor allows easy repeat setup from caliber to caliber and load to load. Should your choose even greater consistency, place each charged pan onto the electronic scales to check precise weights: you can “throw” powder charges slightly light and then trickle up to the precise weight with a powder trickler, kernel by kernel. With all your cases standing neatly in batches of 50 in the Universal Reloading Block, each powder charge can be poured in cleanly using the funnel to avoid spillage before changing to your seating die, ready to load the bullets and finish each loaded round. Again, delicacy is rewarded here as you gently hold each bullet above the case mouth as your other hand lowers the press lever to raise the ram. The bullet and case can then slide cleanly through your fingertips into the die to be aligned and forced into place, where the neck tension of the resized brass will hold it securely at your desired C. O. L..
Dimensions such as these are contained, along with a wide range of reloading recipes, in Hornady’s Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, included in the kit. It is a lifelong reference source for the entire reloading process with descriptions of safe practices and how to fine tune for the results you desire. A wide range of cartridges – from the smallest to largest – are featured, so, as well as your own round, you have a reference to other cartridges of the world and how these relate both to yours and each other, with historical details and the precise dimensions to which you must adhere for reliable operation. The importance of this book cannot be overstated since many reloaders think accuracy comes from load recipe but dismiss correct procedure. Following the detailed instructions in the manual will teach reloading from initial concept all the way to completion of your own personal ammunition, with accuracy and safety paramount.
Although the reloading press itself is the foundation of metallic reloading, never dismiss the smaller equipment details, and start out with a good reloading manual. Ammunition isn’t just about “recipes”; it’s about having a good, methodical approach to brass preparation and quality control, with simple techniques that will still make great ammunition, save you money and add a new dimension of pride to your sport.