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Lead Head Bullets
Rifle Magazine
October - November 2003
Volume 38, Number 5
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 225
On the cover...
Ruger's Model 77 MKII Target rifle sports a Leupold scope and is chambered for the .220 Weatherby Rocket. Rifle photo by Stan Trzoniec. Inset photo by Gerald Hudson.
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Product Tests

Chances are you’ve seen the advertisement. “Anywhere Press,” it says and shows a picture of a portable reloading press that, the verbiage suggests, will work most anywhere. “Meacham T & H, Inc.” appears in the ad along with a telephone number and some Internet information.

Chances are also that unless your shooting interests include Schuetzen or Black Powder Cartridge Rifle competition, the ad didn’t strike a cord. It turns out “Meacham T & H, Inc.” is Meacham Tool and Hardware, whose owner Steve Meacham has been making restoration parts and loading tools for over 20 years. Meacham also makes a first-rate reproduction of Winchester’s famed High Wall, the Model 1885 Single Shot. It is an accurate copy of the original “down to the mistakes,” as Steve Garbe and Mike Venturino put it in a review that appeared in the spring 1996 issue of the Black Powder Cartridge News. The only departure is the addition of a Niedner-style bushed firing pin. It is available in several guises including Schuetzen, Silhouette and Sporting with numerous options.

It is from this background and clientele that one should view the Anywhere Press. Literature on the Anywhere Press begins with a brochure that informs its readers what the press is and, happily, what it is not. Included with the press is a four-page set of instructions that further explains the press’s unique characteristics.

To begin, the Anywhere Press is a straight-line press using simple linkage that operates just the opposite of most presses, that is, to raise the ram the operator must raise, rather than lower, the handle. It is machined from aircraft-grade aluminum and anodized. It accepts standard shellholders and is threaded for standard 7/8x14 reloading dies. The press body is about 11 1/4 inches in length and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. It has an opening, or window, all the way through of about 7/8 by 3 inches allowing cases to be accessed from both front and rear. The ram is steel, about .875 inch in diameter and 4 1/4 inches long. Ram stroke is 3 inches.

The Anywhere Press is available separately or in kit form, and accessories can be purchased individually. My press arrived in kit form, which included the press, two “docking” plates, one for the top and one for the bottom of the bench or surface onto which the press is to be mounted, and a powder measure plate that attaches to the press and accepts a typical powder measure. The docking plates are 3/4x4x4 5/8 inches and have four, 3/8x16 socket setscrews. Additional docking plates are available in 1/2 and one inch thicknesses. The powder measure plate is roughly 3/8x4x3 inches with a 7/8x14 threaded hole. It mounts to the press in a range of positions.

As I set about to use the Anywhere Press, I began by reading the instructions. They cover the advantages and limitations of the press quite well although there are a couple of points that can stand emphasizing. The docking plates do allow for mounting the press under a wide variety of conditions, but you are not going to mount it to your dining or coffee table, whether you-know-who is home or not! You could insert something between the docking plates and the mounting surface, but I suggest it be mainly to correct an uneven surface rather than protect the surface. Specifically, the socket setscrews must be tightened, and their ends will mar anything they come in contact with. A plastic kitchen cutting board cut to size may be the best such “padding.” Alternately, you can remove the docking plates entirely and simply operate the press while holding it in your hands.

Operation is just the same as with other presses, except for handle movement. The straight-line nature of the press assures that there will be no “springing.” A shellholder is inserted into the top of the ram as with other presses except it is not secured. This concerned me at first, but it is not a problem. Cases are inserted into or removed from the shellholder at the bottom of the stroke, and here the shellholder is held in place by the press body. This may be changed, Meacham tells me, to accommodate a future tool under development. The act of case manipulation is somewhat slower than with most other presses, but not that much. Being able to touch the case from the front and rear makes handling quite safe.

Perhaps the easiest way to understand the Anywhere Press is in the context in which it is most likely to be used. One scenario is at a Schuetzen or benchrest competition where the competitors work from a bench. Enough cases are prepared for a string, and reloading is done between relays. The press and powder measure are mounted on the bench or shooting box; depriming and repriming are done by hand. Neck sizing, if done at all, and bullet seating are done on the press. When finished, the press and powder measure are stored away in the shooting box. For this environment, which is Meacham’s customer base, the Anywhere Press is ideal.

Another scenario, perhaps more readily identified by the rest of us, is load testing at the range. One situation might be working with a single powder and seating depth. Full-length size and prime all the cases you need at home on your bench-mounted press. Charge with powder and seat bullets at the range. Shoot a group with the starting load, then increase the powder charge by a predetermined increment and repeat. Keep this up until you’re satisfied or the maximum charge has been reached. Here a powder measure with a micrometer-adjustable screw is very helpful. Determine the various settings at home using your scale. When the best load has been determined, there will be no loaded rounds left to tear down or another trip to the range required.

A second situation might be after the powder charge has been determined and you wish to experiment with seating depth. Here a seating die with a micrometer-adjustable seating stem is desirable. Prepare the cases at home, throw the powder charges and seat the bullets at the range. The benefits are the same as before: You make your decisions based on your targets, not on what you loaded at home. For both of these situations, the Anywhere Press is well suited.

You will note I did not mention full-length sizing on the Anywhere Press. Meacham said it best in the brochure: “The Anywhere Press will stand the stress, but your arm may not.” I full-length sized .30-30, .30-06 and .45-70 rifle cases and several handgun calibers. I’d rather not do it again. Between the relatively short handle and the simple linkage, it is not an easy task. In its defense, however, decapped primers fell into the hollow ram to be disposed of later. The operation was flawless, with no primers escaping their destiny. The ram is easily removed for primer disposal and cleaning.

For me, the Anywhere Press is best suited for neck sizing and bullet seating. In fact, given its straight-line design, it, along with a straight-line bullet seating die, will produce ammunition as concentric as you are likely to see. And that, coupled with its “go anywhere” nature, seems to me, ought to be enough.

Meacham sent along another tool with which I am extremely impressed. It is a Pope Style Re- and De-Capper. Tools, notably guns and knives, sometimes reach a level that exceeds the sum of their parts due to exceptional design or execution. This is one of those tools. It is made of steel and color casehardened to perfection. Having had some experiences with color casehardening, both good and bad, in the last couple years, I can honestly say I’ve never seen better work. The tool utilizes a shellholder for securing the case during priming. A size-specific decapping rod is used for depriming. The decapping rod can be interchanged. The shellholder can, too, but with less ease. The shellholder is held in place by a bushing and can only be removed by disassembling the tool. It is not difficult, but I suspect most of us will be happiest if we think of the tool as suitable for a family of cartridges that share a common shellholder. At the end of one arm is a sharpened primer pocket cleaner of the appropriate size. I requested mine in .45-70, and its performance has been flawless. Sizes, with respect to the decapping rod, run the gamut from .22 to .50 caliber.

Not all of us need a portable reloading press, nor yet a hand-held de- and re-capper, no matter how well made, but those of us who do won’t be disappointed in Steve Meacham’s products.

For more information you can reach him at: S.D. Meacham Tool & Hardware Co., Inc., 37052 Eberhardt Road, Peck ID 83545; or online at: www.meachamrifles.com.  - R.H. VanDenburg, Jr.

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