Frankford Arsenal Universal Reloading Tray and Case Neck Lubricator
When I first came upon this Frankford Arsenal Universal Tray I found myself asking, "why they didnít have it fifty years ago when I started reloading ammunition?" Because, over the years, I have accumulated more than a dozen different trays to handle all of the calibers that I reload. Not only do they take up space, which I am always short of, but I have to search through the lot to find the correct size for the caliber that I happen to be reloading at the moment. Of course, it would be a bit easier if I followed my brideís advice to label each tray on the side. However, being a man, I donít like to admit that I need labels on trays to tell them apart.
All that is now in the past; we have added several Universal Reloading Trays to our bench and the old trays will find their way to a yard sale in the spring. This tray is not made of the typical cheap plastic materials that you find in most others. You can drop it, but you canít break or chip it. Jim believes that it is made out of the same tough material as the Ammo Vault and our readers know how tough the Vault is from our previous article. As such, we decided that it wasnít necessary to run over it with his truck, as he did with the Vault. The tires on his old Dakota will only stand so much torture.
According to the instructions on the tray, the top side accepts cartridges from .17 to .458 calibers. Since we rarely take things at face value, we gathered up all of our own cartridges, as well as some African pieces that we keep around to remind us that we donít want to endure their recoil. They all fit, including the newest WSM cartridges. For good measure, the top also handles several handgun calibers, from 38 Special to the .500 S&W (if you are a glutton for pain). The bottom side is designed to accept both 9mm and .45 ACP brass. Franklin Arsenal accomplishes this by using a stepped cavity to accept different cartridges in the same hole and still hold them securely to prevent spillage.
All things considered, there canít be many (if any) cartridge cases that wonít fit into the Universal Tray. The MSRP of $7.99, makes this tray a real bargain. With it, you can dispose of all the other trays that you have accumulated over the years.
Another cool accessory from Frankford Arsenal is the Case Neck Lubricator. This handy item will pay for itself in less than a year. All reloaders know that it is essential to lubricate the outside of the case prior to resizing. Most quickly learn that you also have to lightly lubricate the inside of the neck to prevent the neck expander from sticking as you pull it out of the case. Unfortunately, a lot of reloaders seem to skip this step to save time. The price paid for saving time can be crimping/creasing the case at the shoulder, resulting in a useless case.
Some cases are more susceptible to this than others. For example, we have never had the problem with .223 Remington or .243 Winchester cases, but the .270 Winchester is particularly susceptible to this problem and it happens frequently enough with the .308 Winchester and .300 Win. Mag. to convince us to always lubricate the inside of all case necks prior to resizing. Given the price of new brass these days, with .308 Federal brand going for over $40/hundred and Lapuaís checking in at $72/hundred, every case saved is money in your pocket.
We are not metallurgists, but we reckon that even if an un-lubricated neck does not crease, the stress from sticking during the resizing process will weaken the shoulder and shorten case life. All cases have a finite lifespan, but needlessly shortening that by failing to lubricate the interior of the neck could be expensive. Enter the Case Neck Lubricator. If we had this when we were reloading for the U.S. National F-Class a few years ago, it wouldnít have taken us all night to prepare our loads, nor would we have lost many cases.Illustration courtesy of Frankford Arsenal, Inc.
The Lubricator comes with six brushes (22, 24, 27, 30, 35, 45) to fit the most common calibers. You select the correct size brush and screw it into the bushing. It also comes with two screws to mount the tool onto your work surface. Since Jim didn't want a permanent mount, we cut a 4" x 3" piece of one inch red oak and screwed the tool to it. This provided stability during use, yet allowed us to put the entire setup on a shelf when not in use.
To use this tool, lubricate the outside of the case, dip the neck into the mica powder in the well, run the neck over the brush and resize. The brush ensures a uniform distribution of the mica powder over the inside of the neck. The end result is no more sticking and no more creased shoulders or split necks. You can also use this tool with liquid case lubricant, if desired. Simply fill the well with liquid and proceed as above. With an MSRP of $12.99, this tool will probably pay for itself in less than a year. If you donít already have this handy bench tool, you definitely need to get one. Donít forget an extra four ounce jar of Mica powder. It only costs $9.99 and will last for years.
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