Forster reloading equipment...any good?

Discussion in 'Equipment Discussions' started by shortpants, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    First of all I'd like to say hello to all my good friends here on the forum. I've been absent for awhile due to being quite busy but I have missed the forum!

    I am getting ready to finally purchase everything I need to reload precision ammo for long range hunting. Kevin at MCR should have my custom 300win done by early next year so I need to get everything by then. Due to the amazing generousity of one of our own members I have a 50% off voucher for Forster Reloading Products. I intend on purchasing their Co-Ax press and any other item they sell that i might need. My question is NOT ABOUT THE PRESS but I'm wondering about their dies, case prep tools, etc. I figure for 50% off I can buy it all and sell off what I don't like. Are there any bad experiences you guys have had with Forster? Any recommendations for a new reloader as far as equipment goes?

    Thanks, Jason
     
  2. acloco

    acloco Well-Known Member

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    I have the CoAx (everybody should have one!!!), and 12 of their case trimmers. 12? yes....I ran on to a deal of a long time reloader selling off everything and I bought nine from him. So, I leave them set up caliber specific.

    I do use the outside neck turner on the case trimmer as well. Also use their handheld case neck turner.

    Dies - all very good.

    Buy extra die lock rings - you will need them.
     

  3. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    I have a friend that uses their case & cartridge inspector but he says its too short for VLD's in the 300win. Any others have a solution for this? It's a nice 3 in 1 tool.
     
  4. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    As a newbie can I ask why would you need extra locking rings?
     
  5. acloco

    acloco Well-Known Member

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    Great question.

    Once you have the dies set, tighten the screw in the split die ring, and the die remains set. To swap out the dies on the Forster, because the dies have been locked in place, it is as fast as you remove the die in the press, set down, and insert the next die you need.
     
  6. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    Doesn't each die come with a locking ring? If so I'm still not catching on why if I'm locking them down why I would need extras??? Sorry I'm a little slow.
     
  7. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I use a lot of Forster dies, and a few other brands as well. Have never owned their bushing sizer, so can't make a comment about them. All my bushing dies are from Wilson with a couple of exceptions.

    * I don't use the Forster lock rings. I use the Lyman steel lock rings for two good reasons. The Lyman rings are about .005" thinner, and seem to allow the die to float into alignment better. Plus the Lyman rings come with a Allen type of screw instead of a screw driver slot screw. Just makes life easier for me.

    * I actually see little difference between the Forster seater and a Wilson. Maybe .0005". If you plan on using very high B/C bullets and VLD's, be sure to order a VLD seater stem. Do you need the micrometer head? Depends on how often your swapping bullets, and how many different chambers you load for (same caliber). Accuracy wise, there is no difference.

    * The press comes with an excellent priming device, and I would use it till I desired something a little better like the Sinclair or K&M.

    * I also have several of the Forster case trimmers (old style), but use them for all sorts of odd jobs, rather than trim cases with them. I prefer the Wilson over all that I've used.


    *** your going to need a scale and a powder measuring device. Something like the RCBS 10-10 is a good start that will last you a long time. I use nothing but Pact electronic scales (own three, and have had four). I use two measurers. A Lyman #55 with all the Sinclair add on's. It's a great cheap measuring device, and surprisingly accurate. The other is a Harrell Culver style measurer, and I won't recommend this one for a novice. But trust me it's as good as it gets. The Redding 3BR is also an excellent place to start (I think Sinclair sells a bottle adapter, and this is a must have!) I wouldn't buy one of the automated measures for a starter system. You can do everything just as accurately, but take a little longer.

    *** you need something like the Hornaday Lock & Load measuring device to set you dies up. This will help set up seating depths and even headspace. And while on the measuring subject, you need a good 1" micrometer, and a good digital caliper. Later you may want a case gauge to check your work. I use a Neco, and a couple home brew ones. Neco is probably the best you can buy off the shelf.

    Gary
     
  8. shortpants

    shortpants Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Gary! Always enjoy your attention to details. It really helps a guy like me that's trying to make sense of all this stuff.
     
  9. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I tend to call a spade when I see a spade, and some folks can't stand that. That's who I am. I'd like to have back some of the hard earned dollars I've wasted of state of the art equipment over the years, but we learn from our mistakes as well. Fred Sinclair and Ferris Pindell helped me a lot thru the years, and you could toss in Joe Barnes and a little info here and there from Jim Borden ( Joe put me in contact with Jim almost twenty years ago). Then another guy that folks love to hate on this board took me into another direction.

    That little Lyman measurer is the perfect unit to get your hands wet with. Look for a good U.S. made one (painted orange), and add the Sinclair bottle adapter. None throw course powder well anyway, so why spend all the extra money! Plus it's usually about 33% cheaper! I simply not found a better trimmer than a Wilson, and trust be I've been thru too many. The die lock ring advice came from a little bit of experimenting and fooling around. The case gauge is not perfect, but as good as you can readily buy off the shelf. My home brew one is slightly more accurate using the same indicators. (I didn't tell you about most indicators not being good enough to work at less than .001" did I?).

    Many years ago the local gun shop set a press up to demonstrate the new line of Redding dies. The spill was that they were more accurate. They had an RCBS or a Redding press setup with a few hundred cases in 30-06. Guys were raving about them, and I was buy primers, so I wasn't interested. After about ten minutes of ragging I went home and brought back a new Hornaday set and a Forster set. The Hornaday set were just about as good as the Reddings at full length sizing (better than I was seeing at the house!). But the finished product was clearly in the Redding's favor (at twice the price of course). Guys laughed at me about bring them, so I went back out to the truck and brought in a set of Forster Co-Ax dies. They full length sized a few tenths more accurately, and ended up being better at seating bullets at 2/3rds the price. So I then went back out to the Blazer and brought in my range box, and got out my home brew case gauge using two Interrapid dial indicators. We checked the cases all over again, and then looked over the loaded ammo. Big difference, and the sales guy got tee'd off big time. I then sized several .222 Remington cases with my arbor press and a Pindell built bushing die. Cases showed about .0005" TIR, and the loaded rounds were in the .0008" range (.241" necks with 52 grain Sierra bullets over BLC2 powder). The regular press with Forster dies did rounds in the .0015" range. I was persona non grata after that. A couple days later the shop owner called me to thank me as he was sick of listening to all the crap. Told him I should have brought my press with me to end all the arguments!
    gary
     
  10. acloco

    acloco Well-Known Member

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    Trickymisfit - the Forster die lock rings actually have four different styles of fasteners - flat, phillips, plated allen, and black allen. Not sure why, might just be what fasteners they purchase that week/month.
     
  11. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I told Forster about fifteen years ago that they needed to ditch the flat bladed screws, and make the lock rings a few thousandths thinner to aid squaring up the die.

    gary
     
  12. acloco

    acloco Well-Known Member

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    You are correct - wish they would do that.

    I have a piece of granite and a selection of 400/600/800/1000/1600 grit paper at my disposal. Makes quick work of just such a need. Forgot to share that, but your post reminded me.
     
  13. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

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    I love Forster reloading equipment. I am especially enamored with; 1) Forster using Hardinge collet lathes, 2) Purdie's seater die patent, 3) Purdie's co-ax press patent
    Loading press
    CARTRIDGE CASE RESIZING AND BULLET SEATING APPARATUS

    Trickymisfit,
    Great post.
    I like to see someone rise above the rank of passive consumer.

    a) I got some imitation Forster lock rings from Sinclair that would not fit in the Forster nor Bonanza co-ax. I made a sketch and sent to to Sinclair [Brownells]. The parts were in tolerance, then the knurling upset the OD to be too big. I used a 7/8-14 piece of threaded rod as a mandrel and sanded off the sharp edges. Sinclair sent me new rings.

    b) I called Forster and said that the bench rest seater die stem chamfer has a burr that is capturing or at least marking the bullet ogive. I was spinning them and sanding them off.
    10 years went by and the next set of Forster dies had the same problem.
    I read on line about guys glass bedding the seater mouth to fit their favorite bullet.

    c) I made my own jaws for the co-ax press, but they are not better than Forster's.
    d) I made my own handle for the co-ax press, but it is no better than Forster's.
    e) I made my own wear plate for the co-ax press, but they are not better than Forster's. But if two co-ax presses take different die adjustments, one can balance them with wear plate thickness.
    f) I made my own shell holder jaw housings and button head screws, and they have some advantages:
    ...1) The screws are pointed on the end to find the holes
    ...2) The screw heads are knurled so they can be tightened without an Allen wrench.
    ...3) The housing is thicker so that pulled out stuck cases does not bend it. It is machined 1018 steel, not cast.
    ...4) The springs are captive in holes, not trenches, so the springs do not shoot across the room when swapping jaw ends.
    ...5) The clearance hole in housing is large enough for the jaw opening screw long can pass through without jamming and bending the housing

    I made a dozen housings and screw sets and sold them on line to guys I could see had co-ax presses.
    More guys want them, but I am old and don't need money.
    Now some young guy has got the drawing from me and made some with CNC. He is not selling the screws.

    Here is a pic left to right of the Forster parts, then my parts, then the young CNC guy's housing.
    He is not making the screws, as he is worried the taller screws will bump the frame casting and require a change in die adjustment. I am getting tempted to make a bunch modified screws, send them to him, and tell him to swap jaws 10 times as fast as he can.
     

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  14. Trickymissfit

    Trickymissfit Well-Known Member

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    I did make my own jaw housing out of 4150 pretreat steel once (actually made about six of them). Gave them to several buddies and kept two for myself. I have no idea what happened to them, and have not seen them in fifteen years! At the same time I designed a set of jaws that were made of A2. About .03" thicker, and used a coiled spring system that was completely captured (similar to a Viler screw)
    They were fairly complicated to machine, and had to have a lot of grind work. I still like the old Bananza priming concept, and still use it a lot. But getting real Bananza shell holders is hard. There's some on the internet, but they are nothing to write home about. I rework RCBS shell holders, but have used Lee's as well. Lee's are a lot harder than the RCBS. I have a grand scheme in the back of my head to make an adjustable seater to get the correct primer depth.

    I actually built a similar press to the Co-Ax, but also much different. Mine didn't have the priming device, but used three guide rods. The rods rode in six roller bushings. The stroke ended up being about 3.5", but was extremely smooth. The handle and all link points rode on cam follower bearings as well as roller bearings The links were made of 4150, and were almost twice as wide). The actual body was made from some scrap metal I found in the trash. The material was a magnesium / titanium alloy, and was very rigid. But a pain to machine. Getting the rods aligned was a lot harder than I thought it would have been, and ended up floating the rod in the rear till it was under extreme pressure, but with the ram locked solid on a one, two, three block. I then injected Moglice into the top bore to make everything strait. I could full length size a 30-06 case effortlessly. The case sat on a removable wear plate that was made of nitride 4150, and ground to be a couple thousandths under the bolster plate. The jaws were factory Forster bolted to the wear plate. Never was happy with the slot design for the lock rings, and was redesigning that to use a hardened and ground steel block that was dowl pinned and bolted to the ram. My boss loved it, and wanted me to build him one just like it. I was lazy and gave it to Chuck rather than build a second one! The press weighed a fraction of what the Co-Ax weighed and was straiter. I made my handle much differently than Forster or the one in your drawings. It was made of 8620 steel that was carburized and hardend. Could have been better, but it got the job done.
    gary