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Unconventional Reloading Setups | Creative Reloading Presses

by David S. McComas, Wed, October 05, 2016

We received this article unsolicited from one of our customers. We enjoyed reading it and wanted to share it with you.

I’ve been shooting since before I can remember. I was born in 1948 and started reloading in 1975. Perhaps I was a late bloomer, because I didn’t have the ideal domestic situation to set up the reloading equipment. My first attempt was with a Lee Loader on the kitchen table. My wife objected to the possibility of marring the new table. Had I continued, I’m sure my neighboring apartment dwellers would have objected to the hammer banging at some point.

When I would ask guys if they reloaded, they usually said they didn’t have any place to do it. I could relate. Then, after becoming single I met a neighbor who did reload. His apartment was just above mine. His reloading bench was an old bar stool. The cheap kind. He tore off the original seat and replaced it with a one square foot of one inch plywood. It was located in his living room, up against the wall between the doors of his bedroom and bathroom. There was just enough room for it.

He had two single stage Lyman reloading presses and one Ideal Number 55 powder dispenser on three sides of it. We would pull up two kitchen chairs and go to work. We used it for a foot rest and that helped keep it from moving. We loaded and shot 50,000 rounds of .38 Special that year. All out of two S&W four inch Model 15’s. Yeah, we were both single and without girlfriends. We got to be pretty good shots.

We didn’t have anyone to coach us. The guy at the local gun shop suggested finding an old guy to watch over us. But, we couldn’t find one. So he suggested, “going by the book.” That worked out fairly well, most of the time. We were casting wheel weights for bullets and thought perhaps we could make the alloy a little softer. The book suggested adding toothpaste tubes to the pot. We followed the instructions to the letter. It made very heavy and no doubt toxic smoke that smelled horrible. Further investigation revealed the book was written when toothpaste tubes were made of lead! Ah, no wonder. We started mining old bullets from the range to soften up the alloy.

A Navy Reserve friend invited me over to see his setup. He lived in a very nice apartment. His wife did not allow anything gun related to be exposed to visitors. His entire “gun room,” including firearms, ammo, reloading equipment and all the little stuff that goes with the shooting sports was in the hall coat closet.

I got into police work and visited the home of my Corporal. He set up his reloading press on one of the treads of his basement stairs. The powder dump was set up on one step up from the press. His tumbler was on his chest style freezer. His two young sons were the media/case separator team. For them, it was fun and it was quality time with their father. It was almost like playing in the sand box. When he was done, he would pack it all away. Granted, it was laborious, but it worked.

I’m married again, to a cop I met on duty. I asked for a backup officer one Saturday night and they sent her. We met with our guns out. I’m not sure if that qualifies as romance, but we ended up with gold on our ring fingers. Now retired, we both shoot and she helps me reload, sometimes. My bench is in the basement and is made of 2X6’s. Yup, it’s built like a Sherman tank. One of her favorite forms of entertainment is sitting on the couch and watching TV with me. Often, we like the same shows. Sometimes I sit there and tune them out. During both, I found I could get some of the mind numbing jobs done using a hand press. I can sit there and punch out primers with a Frankford Arsenal depriming device, bell case mouths, or use a Lee hand priming device to put in new primers. So the couch became my case preparation station. Adding powder and bullets still has to happen in the basement.

If you don’t have the ideal place for your reloading equipment, that’s okay. Put your mind to it, get creative, think outside of the box and figure it out.

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