Ask A Bulletsmith – “What is your favorite ‘don’t know how you ever lived without it’ piece of reloading equipment?”

We asked a few handy Sierra Bullets bulletsmiths: “What is your favorite ‘don’t know how you ever lived without it’ piece of reloading equipment?”  Check out their answers below.  We would love to hear from you too, please share your response in the comments below.

Ballistic Technician
Carroll Pilant answered
Dillon 550 and 650 presses.”

Ballistic Technician Rich Machholz answered My universal decapping die is as handy as a pocket on a shirt.”

Ballistic Technician Philip Mahin answered “A comparator gauge to measure from the base of a case to the ogive of the bullet. This bypasses the tip of the bullet, so I can repeat the same seating depth the next time I visit a specific combination.”

Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks answered “I don’t know that you would actually call this equipment, but the item that comes to mind would be my reloading room. I had always had to squeeze everything into a corner or even an unheated shed. After we bought our current house, I built a garage and placed it so that I had a window looking down a 250 yard range. I built a dedicated room with heat and  A/C. It contains my reloading bench and a shooting bench. The shooting bench lets me slide open the window and shoot down the range. It is very handy to not have to load everything up to go to the range. It also makes load development a lot simpler and efficient. I don’t know how I ever got along without it.”

Ballistic Technician Paul Box answered “The Lee hand priming tool.”

Former Ballistic Technician Robert Treece answered “My homemade dental pick.  I use it to check incipient case head separations.  We all see the “bright ring” down close to the case head, that’s natural, but after several firings could be starting to split apart.  You could start by just straightening out a paper clip; flattening one end; sharpening and turning it 90 degrees, then bend if about 1/8″ long will even fit all the way down into .204″ cases.  On the other end, bend about 3/4″ to 90 degrees also, in the same direction as the pick.  That will give you a handle and also “points” in the direction of the pick as you scrape along the side wall from down inside at the bottom upward along the side wall.  If the pick hooks into a crevice–DON’T TRY TO SIZE THE CASE.  It will pull apart in your die. (PSST you won’t like that!)”  

Chief Ballistician Tommy Todd answered “A brass annealing machine.”

Production Toolsetter Brad Vansell answered Redding Ultramag single-stage reloading press for my rifle and my Dillon 650 for my pistol loading.”

Process Engineer David Palm answered “Homemade case lube.”

Plant Engineer Darren Leskiw answered “Beyond the normal equipment, I’d say my electronic scale.  Using the beam balance for the past 9 years was ok, but nowhere as easy as using an electronic scale.”

RCBS Rock ChuckerBallistician Gary Prisendorf answered RCBS Rockchucker Press, it’s built like a tank, and it will last me a lifetime.”

Production Manager Chris Hatfield answered RCBS single stage reloading press.”

Maintenance & Machine Shop Lead Craig Westermier answered RCBS Rock Chucker”

Production Resource Manager Dan Mahnken answered RCBS Rock Chucker! Buy one and it lasts a lifetime.”

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35 Responses to Ask A Bulletsmith – “What is your favorite ‘don’t know how you ever lived without it’ piece of reloading equipment?”

  1. redding NK bushing dies for the calibers i shoot as well as an RCBS partner press that i now use almost exclusively.


  2. Harold says:

    My universal decapping die


  3. Danny L. East says:

    OAL tool, formally from Stoney Point.


  4. Steve sexton says:

    Hanned line nexpander for ironing out case mouths in a file/trim die after hacksawing bends them up


  5. Clay says:

    Digital scale. My old 505 has not been out of the box since.


  6. DAVID RUPPEL says:

    My Lock n Load Hornady progressive press. It’s the cats meow when loading for my pistols. I can also load for my rifles but I prefer to use my single stage rcbs for them.


  7. Larry Davis says:

    My Jr.RCBS 1977 yr.


  8. William R says:

    My Magnetospeed chronograph. I can actually believe the readings I get now when I’m working up a load, and it’s so much less of a hassle to deal with.


  9. Tom Johnson says:

    EGW U-Dies.


  10. just starting out(only been loading for 6 months now), but so far my lee auto prime XR hand primer is pretty slick. i really like being able to feel when the primer seats.


  11. Bill Mundy says:

    The Lee hand priming tool and the Rock Chucker my top two in that order


  12. Bob says:

    my case length gauges and Dillon RT1500


  13. David Noble says:

    It was a combination of a Dillon Electric Scale and a Giraud Electric Case a trimmer.


  14. J.D. says:

    My hand primer and powder drop for my .223/.556. When I’m producing large quantities of range ammo and super accurate loads isn’t a concern the powder dropper and hand primer makes it go a lot faster.


  15. Carlo says:

    Anche io ho la pressa RCBS ed e solidissima per favore qualcuno di voi esperto in ricarica e balistica potrebbe dare dose di ricarica per cal.308win.con palle sierra 168 grain in attesa cordiali saluti

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Roger says:

    My RCBS jr. press & dies. I use both for my AR’s, hunting rifles and 9mm carbine reloading.


  17. Warren Rogers says:

    RCBS equipment has worked with excellent results for 49 years. Junior II press, dies, 502 scale, powder thrower, powder trickler, quick change powder funnel set. Quality I have loaded with all my life. Everything from 458 down to 222, Thanks RCBS!😆


  18. Butch Arnold says:

    Without a doubt my Redding Ultramag.


  19. Carl W says:

    Powder trickler. I use it for every load, long gone is the small spoon from the early days


  20. S says:

    Sierra 5400 .50 caliber bullets for my 500 magnum, i love these and they have been out of stock…it seems like forever


  21. Dave says:

    I’ve reloaded for over 50 years and used Sierra bullets as a go to choice all that time. I also rely on L.E. Wilson tools fro specific jobs and to check cases and die adjustment. Both allow me the accuracy and safety to enjoy my shooting sports.


  22. dmr says:

    my redding die sets, dillon 550B and dillon super swager


  23. Gregory Vogel says:

    Nothing has saved more time and energy than my RCBS Trim Pro electric case trimmer. I shall never trim cases by hand again!


  24. ldickison says:

    It’s a toss up for me between the Hornady bullet comparator and OAL gauge kit and my Quickloads software. The software saves me a ton of time developing loads, especially given all the wildcats I shoot, but the Hornady OAL measuring tools are essential for really dialing in loads for my F class stuff if I want to avoid shooting the throat out of a $400 barrel doing load development. They’re also helpful sometimes even eliminating certain components that simply aren’t going to work in a particular rifle, like if a barrel throat has excessive free bore.

    On another note to the Sierra folks; do you guys provide updates as new data comes out for your ring-binder load manuals? I just bought one and it doesn’t even list the 6.5mm 150gr. Match Kings.


  25. Mark Tittsworth says:

    Case/media separater ( rotary manual), QUICKLY&easily)separates cases from medià, after cleaning,


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