Shopping List for a Hornady Lock-n-Load AP
I wanted a progressive reloading press. There are many out there, but it seems the big 3 contenders are Dillon Precision, Lee, and Hornady. After much research, including hands-on use of a Dillon 650 and a Hornady Lock-n-Load, I decided to get a Lock-n-Load. The Dillon was certainly a solid machine and there’s a big aftermarket for it too. As well, the different Dillon presses have different applicability (see Brian’s Enos’ FAQ on the topic). But for my needs as a general reloader that wants to reload metallic cartridges, both rifle and pistol (mostly pistol) in volume, across various calibers, the Hornady Lock-n-Load AP seemed to fit my needs best. It also felt like a “Dillon 650 version 2.0″ sort of thing, where they saw what was good and kept it and what was bad and improved upon it. There were just little things with the Dillon that bugged me (e.g. those little pins that retain the cases in the shell plate), and the LnL seemed to address those (retainer spring).
Trouble is, Hornady’s literature wasn’t too good at telling me what came in the box and what I needed to buy. foo.c was helpful in making my shopping list, but it seems Hornady changed what comes in the box! I obtained a “new” LnL, with the EZject™ system (foo.c’s is the prior generation). I don’t know everything that changed, but one thing for sure that changed was before the press only came with a powder drop rotor/assembly for rifle; now it has both a rifle and a pistol drop. That’s nice.
It also came with 1 large primer pickup tube and 1 small primer pickup tube. I didn’t know if it came with those or not so I picked up a few via MidwayUSA. So you don’t need to buy any more pickup tubes, but there’s no harm. Karl had lots of pre-loaded tubes at his bench, and there was something handy about that. I believe he said he’ll load tubes while watching TV. That can help your workflow when you’re loading… run out of primers, drop another tube in instead of having to pick up another 100 primers.
The die bushings. The press comes with 5, which is enough to get you started and certainly you can get by with that. However, the purpose of the bushing system is so you can permanently mount a die within the bushing and then caliber conversions are quick. So when you calculate how many bushings to buy, just note that 5 already come in the box. How many you actually end up needing all depends what you’re going to put into the bushings (and the powder drop will need its own bushing).
Of course, dies are separate but I already had those. My RCBS dies work just fine. I did pick up a powder cop die.
As well, you must buy the right shell plates for the cartridges you wish to load.
To get maximum use out of the 5 stations, instead of having one station for the powder drop and one station for the mouth expander, foo.c told me about Powder Funnels PTX, which is a powder through expander bushing for the LnL press’s case-activated powder drop. Things I’ve read are that the Hornady powder-through-expanders are OK but a bit of a pain. Supposedly this guy created his own, with the added benefit that it’s universal. I haven’t tried the Hornady versions (supposedly it’s the setup that’s the pain), but setting up the PTX was pretty simple and that it’s universal is quite nice. Seems to do the job just fine.
foo.c told me to get a 1/8″ dowel to use with the primer feed. It provides a little downward pressure to help feeding, plus you can put a mark or flag on it to let you know when you’re out of primers. I didn’t need the dowel as the LnL came with a little plastic rod just for this purpose. I will say, Karl’s Dillon 650 had a little buzzer gizmo that would sound when you ran out of primers; I like that because it’s one less thing you have to keep your eyes on so instead you can keep your eyes on more important things like powder level.
You’ll also need some little things, like mounting hardware. To mount the press on your bench you’ll of course need a bench, a way to drill 2 5/16″ holes, then hardware to mount it. My bench table is about 1.5″ thick and I found 3″ bolts worked just fine. So, 2 bolts, 2 nuts, 6 flat washers, 2 lock washers, all was good. Hornady doesn’t provide these as they can’t predict what your mounting needs will be, but it’s a simple trip to the hardware store. You might actually want to swap 2 of the flat washers for 2 fender washers and use the fenders on the underside of the bench to give a little more surface area.
And if you want, you can buy extras. For instance, the powder measures are the standard measures, but you can sink the money for the micrometer inserts. Since part of the joy of the die bushing setup is quick changes, you could look at buying multiple micrometer inserts and even other parts of the powder drop (or a whole new powder drop) to facilitate the powder portion of a caliber changeover. I’m sure there are other gizmos and doohickies out there you can buy to trick out your press.
Anyway, that’s about the basics: the press itself, shell plates, dies (including any special ones like a powder level/cop). Likely you’ll want more die bushings. Maybe a powder-through-expander, if that suits what you’re loading. Mounting hardware. Most of what you need will be in the press package.