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Big Game Rifle
Rifle Magazine
December - January 2003
Volume 38, Number 6
ISSN: 0017-7393
Number 226
On the cover...
The Smith & Wesson Model 627-4 .38 Super comes from the Performance Center with a compensator, 5.5-inch barrel and Miculek stocks. Mule deer photo by Ron Spomer.
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Product Tests

Redding's T-7 Turret Press

Astute handloaders will have noticed that we seem to be going through a cycle of introducing new reloading presses. Several companies have done so in the last couple years, and there seem to be more on the way. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that, between the introduction of some new cartridges that have longer-than-normal overall lengths, such as the .30-378 Weatherby, and an increased interest in some British sporting rifle cartridges and our own black-powder rounds that are longer than our more modern offerings, a larger press opening between shellholder and die would be welcomed. Another is the desire to add new features such as more die stations or improved auto priming systems. And finally, of course, it's often easier to market a new product than an old one.

The Redding Reloading Company of Cortland, New York, has recently entered into the competition with the introduction of two new presses. One, the T-7 Turret Reloading Press, was sent to me for evaluation.

The T-7 is both impressive and massive. Made of cast iron, its weight is about 25 pounds. A flat bottom ensures a careful mating with bench top, and four mounting holes make for a solid connection between the two. Collectors will recognize the T-7 as an upright, C-type turret press with seven die stations and compound linkage. The turret is about 5 3/4 inches in diameter, and the distance between machined top and bottom surfaces is about 1 1/8 inches. The surface on which the center of the turret rests is about 1 7/8 by 2 1/8 inches, and the rear of the turret is supported by another 5/8 by 1 1/4 inches of cast iron, making for a very sturdy platform. A hollow one-inch steel ram carries the cartridge case to the die. From the top of the shellholder at its lowest position to the bottom of a die adjusted to touch the shellholder at the top of its travel is 4 inches. The operating arm is 13 5/8 inches including a 1 5/8-inch ball head. As turret presses go, this one is impressive.

Not everyone needs a turret press, of course, but they can provide advantages over a single-stage press. Generally speaking, a turret pressâ??s advantage lies in the ability to install a complete die set and, if desired, leave it there without having to remove each die after its function has been performed. The result is improved productivity. With seven die stations, the combination of two-, three- and four-die sets that can be mounted simultaneously is increased over previous presses. Perhaps most common would be to mount that set of handgun dies that seems to be in constant use and leave the rest of the holes vacant for less-used die sets.

Turret presses of the T-7 type are designed to be used as single-stage presses, that is, to complete each operation on all cases to be loaded before going to the next operation. To complete all operations on a single case before going to the next case, with a turret press, would call for one with an auto-indexing feature. Such presses are limited to a single-die set but often have easily removable turrets. Those Iâ??m familiar with would not be considered as strong as the T-7.

As I set up to use the T-7, I went through a number of variations using two-, three- and four-die sets, powder-through expander dies, powder measures mounted on � �  and off the press and so on. Priming was done separately, with� � � �  the included Redding â??smartâ? primer system and with the optional Slide Bar Automatic Primer Feed System. I found no difficulty in mounting dies in adjacent holes regardless of lock nut types, but there can be a catch when mounting a powder measure, although it is not unique to Redding presses.

The size of typical powder measures is such that they cannot be screwed in or out once dies have been installed in adjacent holes. This means the powder measure must be installed first, then the adjacent dies, and the adjacent dies must be removed before the powder measure. A bit of a nuisance if the powder measure was set to throw a very small charge, and emptying it through the bottom would take forever. But, if the powder measure was case-activated and/or used in conjunction with a powder-through expander die, the measure was raised enough above the adjacent dies to eliminate the problem. Also, with typical drum measures, both the measuring screw and operating handle had to be facing outward for manual operation due to a lack of operating room. The result is that when the operating handle is down, at rest, the powder cavity is up, allowing powder in the reservoir to compact in the cavity. I much prefer to have the cavity down when the handle is at rest, as it gives me a more consistent powder throw. This problem can be minimized somewhat by having a baffle in the reservoir.

Depriming and repriming came in for their share of testing. In the depriming phase, primers are punched out of the case and dropped straight through the hollow ram into a clear plastic tube of about 19 inches in length that is�  attached to the bottom of the ram. A cap at the bottom of the tube is easily removed for primer disposal. In loading hundreds of rounds, I found the system to work as designed 96 percent of the� �  time. The few instances in which� �  a primer missed the hole and popped out on the floor was probably due more to a lack of rhythm on my part than anything else. Still, thatâ??s better performance than Iâ??ve gotten out of any other primer catching system.

The T-7 comes with a â??smartâ? primer arm that mounts to the center front of the frame and travels in a slot in the ram. It automatically rides out of the way on the up-stroke for depriming and repositions itself on the down-stroke for repriming on the press. Primers must be individually handled and placed in the arm one at a time. The arm can be removed or simply folded out of the way if you prefer to prime off press. Only one arm is included with the press, but changing primer sizes is simple and both large and small primer parts are packaged with the press.

Redding has also introduced a Slide Bar Automatic Primer Feed System. This is, in effect, a bench-mounted tool that mounts on the press. It replaces the â??smartâ? primer arm and fits both the T-7 and the new Big Boss single-stage press. It utilizes the familiar primer tube for holding up to 100 primers and is equipped with a steel protective shield that would direct the force from a fired primer upward. A spring-loaded transfer bar carries a primer from the tube to the slot in the ram for priming. As with the â??smartâ? system, there is only one transfer bar, but changing from one size primer to another is quite simple. I must admit I prefer priming off press, but this system worked very well, and I greatly appreciated the protective shield.

In general use, everything worked very well. The operating handle with its ball head and compound linkage made full-length sizing a breeze. I liked the fact the handle could be placed in either the up or down position, and it would stay there. Any standard shellholder seemed to work. They readily snap in and out and are held in place by a spring. The true test of any press, however, is the quality of the ammunition it produces. To test die/shellholder alignment, I loaded ammunition using dies I had previously used on other presses and compared such things as neck and bullet runout. Results ran a very short gamut from at least as well to a batch of .30-06 rounds loaded using a Redding straight line Competition Bullet Seating Die on the T-7 that averaged less than .0005 inch of bullet runout. Thatâ??s impressive with any press.

Reloaders who obtained a T-7 early in its production run found there was no handle on the turret to assist in its rotation. This was deliberate as a fixed handle would have interfered with the new Slide Bar Automatic Primer Feed System. After some feedback, however, Redding modified the press to include three blind (unthreaded) holes around the circumference of the turret and is including a small handle that can be inserted into any hole to aid in rotation. My T-7 doesnâ??t have this feature, and I must admit I donâ??t miss it. Grasping the turret and dies in my hands and turning is faster and easy enough. For those who have the earlier production press, your turret can be returned to the factory where it will be drilled, repackaged with a handle and returned, for a modest fee. Call first to determine the fee and procedure.

A few years ago Redding introduced its Competition Shellholder Set that included a series of five shellholders that were, respectively, .002, .004, .006, .008 and .010 inch taller than standard shellholders. They allowed, by choosing the correct one, for the full-length sizing die to be positioned to contact the shellholder while controlling the amount, if any, of shoulder setback. I considered it the most useful new handloading tool Iâ??d seen in years. Now Redding has again directed its attention to the shellholder, chamfering the leading edges to facilitate case entry. Itâ??s called the E-Z Feed Shellholder Set and includes sizes 1, 6, 10, 12, 18 and 19. To make things even better, the picture of the Competition set in the 2003 catalog shows its edges chamfered as well. Iâ??ve used the new shellholders in most of the sizes and find them to be a worthwhile improvement. Perhaps soon they will all be made this way.

If your reloading needs have you considering a turret press, you may want to give the new T-7 a good look. For more information contact Redding Reloading Equipment, 1089 Starr Road, Cortland NY 13045; or visit online at: www.redding-reloading.com; or request information by e-mailing: techline@redding-reloading.com�  â?? R.H. VanDenburg, Jr.

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