Picture Review: Hornady's Bullet Feeder


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GW Staar
December 11, 2010, 01:37 AM
My wife ordered me a Hornady Bullet Feeder from Grafs two weeks ago. They didn't show any in stock to she backordered it and expected it to arrive a few days at best before Christmas. Well 4 days later it came! The feeder and dies for .45ACP and .40S&W. I've been busy figuring it out, testing it, and even modding it (if you can call sanding, drilling some iddy bitty holes and two wires shaped like "c"s modding it. ;) Been taking lots of pictures to help me explain this new simple tool.

I posted the whole review here in two following posts. Hope somebody will benefit. It took two tries:banghead: I was almost done and I hit the "X" accidentally on the THR tab in my FireFox....and history/deleted tabs wouldn't bring it back....arrgh!

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RUDY850
December 11, 2010, 02:47 AM
Nice pics and fixes

webbee
December 11, 2010, 03:13 AM
In my opinion your review is worth more than a connecting link.
Really an excellent job GW Staar. Your pictures and easy explanations of what's involved with fine tuning an already good piece of equipment are great.
I think you should post it over here.
Thanks for taking the time to help us all!

GW Staar
December 12, 2010, 04:51 PM
Nice pics and fixes

In my opinion your review is worth more than a connecting link.
Really an excellent job GW Staar. Your pictures and easy explanations of what's involved with fine tuning an already good piece of equipment are great.
I think you should post it over here.
Thanks for taking the time to help us all!

Thanks for the kind words Rudy850 and webbee. It remains that very few people on this forum are interested in the subject...only 108 have peeked at it and you two are the only posts.

But Okay, posting the whole review now:

http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0766.jpg
Basic Hopper mounted temporarily on its stand. Not my reloading bench, but a perfect spot to sort it out and work out the kinks.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0765.jpg
Hopper with the Turning Plate and the Pistol Bullet Feed Wheel removed. Notice the center spindle...mine arrived loose...it took me a while to realize is wasn't supposed to rotate. You tighten it by screwing it in...duh. Make sure yours is tight or nothing works right.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0767.jpg
This is all the stuff that comes with the tool...including the two dies I bought. The .45 cal. die is the one taken apart. This is a very simple tool...few parts compared to RCBS's version. Good and bad. Good because simple means not much to go wrong. Bad because you have no clear tube to see bullets coming...or not. Nor is there a micro-switch to detect a full tube and automatically turn the tool off. There is a switch behind the hopper. And you automatically reach out and turn it off:rolleyes:....I guess when you quit hearing bullets clanking around in the hopper. Notice there is 3 spring tubes: .45, .40, and .38/9mm. On mine the .40 spring wouldn't even begin to go in my .40 die. I think somebody switched uppers on me (.38 upper screwed on to the .40 collets and lower die. Hornady has been emailed on that one. [Hornady replied saying it was an assembly problem, .40 cal upper on the way]
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0770.jpg
One of the best features of this tool is the quick caliber change. I'm holding the "Tube Bullet Drop Funnel." It goes into the Tube Spring Clamp at the top of the Turning Plate. You change Funnels, Tube Springs, and Dies to change calibers...no tools...just loosen the clamp and pull the Tube Spring and it's Drop Funnel and replace them. I like that but on my sample, I could see right away that speedy changes were not in the cards, unless I fixed a slight problem. The Tube Spring Clamp was too small a diameter. Yes I could push the funnels in, but getting it back off was an operation...sure didn't need the thumb screw to tighten it.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0771.jpg
The problem was rough machining...the fix was 1000 grit sandpaper wrapped around a big sign painting bush. 5 minutes of sanding made it work nice and smooth....happy again.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0772.jpg
This pictures shows the top end of the spring tube and funnel in place.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0773.jpg
This is the bullet feed wheel I modified. Those little unsightly holes is how I made this tool feed better...not impressed? Hang on. The 1/4"-20 hex bolt screwed in to the wheel, is not part of the tool either, but you need two of them to screw into the two holes Hornady provided, to give you a way to lift the bullet feed wheel out of the hopper....and no Hornady does not clue you in to that in the owner's manual. Screw the two bolts in a quarter inch and then just lift...and out the feed wheel comes. It has a single gear under it that meshes with the two gears you see in the second picture. Again simplicity.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0774.jpg
Don't laugh...this is the high tech mod that makes this baby feed to the last bullet with no wrong way feeds. Notice the molded block in front of the mod. That's Hornady's...it don't work worth a darn. the reason for all the holes is the stupid .40 caliber bullets. The first two holes worked fine for .45. I could drop 10 RN bullets in the hopper, turn it on, and in 60 seconds they were gone...and all dropped the right direction. .40 cal bullets were too light. They'd turn and fall out of the groove...so I added another hole further down...nope...but the third hole was the charm. At the widest span 10 of the .40 cal. bullets would feed in 60 seconds...to the last stupid bullet! With the wider span the .45's now feed 10 in 45 sec. Don't tell anyone my trade secrets :rolleyes:...the wire is 12 gauge electrical copper, and the holes were drilled with a 5/64th's bit. Starting from the outside edge of the wheel, make a mark 3/16" in and the other 3/4" in. Both measurements from the outside of the wheel. Height of the mod off the wheel flat is about a 1/4." IMPORTANT...don't drill the holes right on the edge of the groove, stay back the thickness of the wire. That is...from the edge of the groove to the center of the holes is about a 1/16th. If you ignore that advice the wire will knock more bullets off than it will feed. You need two of these "bullet stops"...on the leading edge of both of little boxes Hornady made. Study the pictures. BTW no need to glue them in. Friction fit is great...and you can take them out anytime you want.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0777.jpg
A close-up
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0785.jpg
Three things to see here...the two threaded holes Hornady provided for the bolt "handles" to remove the wheel. The two brass mods. and especially notice the slot in the center hub. That slot is for the turning plate tightening screw to go in. Make sure when you replace the plate the screw is in the slot. To adjust the plate up and down you loosen that same screw, Loosen the height adjustment screw's lock nut, then screw in the adjustment screw to raise the plate enough to catch the bottom of your bullets, but not so much to catch the bullet nose. Instructions are adequate on that.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0788.jpg
Not necessary, but I prefer to screw on the spring tube to the funnel first, before I push it into the clamp and tighten. Funnel has to me pushed in just shy of touching the wheel...no more and no less for problem free feeding into the tube. Touch the wheel and you'll know it...its like a badly distributed load in a washing machine.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0789.jpg
The first sweeper is screwed on....directions are pretty good here...it works if you follow them, however with the mods ("bullet stops") in place the first sweeper works best as tight to the out side wall as you can get it and still hit the doubled bullet. (bullet on top of another bullet)
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0790.jpg
Notice all the bullets all lined up pretty...nose down? You see that more often than anything else. That's what gave me the idea to add those wire stops. The bullets stop against it, and as the wheel turns and the bullets rise, they turn base down. Works!
One thing I did to improve things is to carefully smooth the wheel's flats and grooves with 4-0 steel wool and 1000 grit sandpaper. Steel wool in the grooves, careful not to round the edges, and blocked sandpaper on the flats. Purpose? There's too much friction holding the bullets up just to get swept off too often by the sweepers even though the bullets pointed correctly. Once I smoothed it, and then applied a light coat of paraffin, and buffed it, it really helps...especially with the light .40's.

Walkalong
December 12, 2010, 05:04 PM
Nice write up.

GW Staar
December 13, 2010, 01:06 AM
Nice write up.
Thanks Walkalong...two people have asked me to post the review directly on THR, so I attempted to post the whole review as an edit to the post before yours, but THR seems to have a limit of 15 images (including smilies) per post. That means this is a continuation of my last post:

http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0791.jpg
A fraction of a second past the last picture...notice several turned correctly to be fed. Sometimes they all feed sometimes only one.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0792.jpg
A fraction of a second past the last picture....this time only one made it. It's like pool balls. One hits another and they both are deflected. Yet by two more rotations, 4 more fed....another rotation...empty.

My biggest question and concern right now is the double collet system, allowing only one bullet in the lower collet....that means the weight of only one bullet is pressing the newly fed bullet into the belled case...unlike either the "Mr Bullet Feeder" or RCBS design. I'm wondering how that will work with light bullets making it to the seating station on non-Hornady presses.....this may turn out to be a Hornady AP only design, despite Hornady's advertising to the contrary...since Hornady's AP has a half stroke index, vs. the more jerky full stroke index. Hope this doesn't bite me in the shorts...that will cure me of being an early adopter.

Well here's the scoop on the double collet system. It works pretty good with the Hornady powder measure using Hornady's new improved PTX powder thru expander system. What's improved is the expander drop tubes that actually expand and bell.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0799.jpg
Notice the newly sized .45 slips on the expander to the point shown. The remainder of the way the case will expand a bit to about .449 to .45. That means only .001 or .002 under the bullet size of .451. You can't see it well, but the last little bit is a fillet that bells the case proudly. (that's a nice way to say...open wide and stretch the h––l out of the rim.)
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0797.jpg
Not having a Hornady powder measure on me, I put the case in a shellholder, and with a small caliber sizer mounted in the Rock Chucker, I used the leverage of the press to carefully push the case onto the PTX expander nearly to the hilt, as you see in the picture. Notice the bottom of the case: now you can see the healthy bell in the case there.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0796.jpg
The case, wiggled, comes right off. BTW Hornady recommends the following for flared cases:
380/9mm––––.385"flare
38/357––––––-.387"flare
40S&W/10mm––-.430"flare
44SPL/44Mag––-.460
.451/.452––––––––––.481 Gentlemen, that's .030" bigger than the bullets! Do they mean O.S. or I.S. measurements?
Now lets examine the curious double collet Feeder die.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0784.jpg
The first thing I had to do is smooth out the interior and expand the fingers just a tad, on the upper collet. The upper collet HAS to pass bullets freely until its fingers are closed by the collet under it. If it doesn't, nothing is going to feed. This was a problem only on the .45. The upper collet on the .40 die was fine. Notice the wedged upper end of this collet (slotted end) Now imagine it resting inside the lower collet on a matching inside wedge. In that state if the lower collet is pushed upward into the upper collet, the slots (fingers) are going to tighten around the bullet sitting there.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0778.jpg
Besides illustrating what I just explained, this picture show the distance the case has to go in before the bullet releases in the lower collet....the bullet has about 1 inch to fall...is it enough to hold the bullet until the press indexes it to the seater die??? Notice it's not possible to use the weight of the other bullets in the stack, as the fingers of collet one stops them all while the case is pushed up into the feed die.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0780.jpg
So as I tip it up, the bullet falls...if it was on the press, the ram would then move down and pull the bullet/case out, releasing the upper fingers and releasing the bullets into the lower collet to await the next case.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0779.jpg
The question is how hard does the 1 inch bullet fall into the belled case? To find out I figured I could simulate the fall.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0781.jpg
So using the (now free to fall in) upper collet...holding a bullet about an inch from the bottom...the idea is to carefully place it over the case slightly and drop the bullet.
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0782.jpg
http://i935.photobucket.com/albums/ad195/gstrad/Hornady%20Bullet%20Feeder/IMG_0783.jpg
I guess it works on the heavy 230 grain .45...I even shook it a bit. The jury is still out on untested lighter bullets like the 9mm and .40 S&W. I'm betting the expanding part of the PTX helps a lot in this department. Also hoping that I can make my Lee expander die work similarly...if not...I need a few parts from Hornady to convert my Uniflow to use Hornady's PTX system...that means I'd be moving the powder measure out of its permanent roost and mounting it on the tool head Dillon style. The feeder would then be at the permanent station...Hornady style. Not real happy, but I'm committed to make bullet feeding a reality in my reloading room....again....well see. At least I can buy powder thru dies and mounts rather buying more powder measures (Dillon Style)

At this point I'm thinking I'll keep this toy...so the next step is to mount the bullet feeder permanently to my reloading bench behind the press and trimmer. Hornady provides three bench templets, one for the Hornady AP of course, and one each for the Dillon 650 and RCBS Pro 2000. Since the Pro 2000 sits lower than either of the other presses, they compensated by providing a template that mounts the feeder 7" back and 4" to the side of the press! Gotta put those long spring tubes somewhere. I don't have room for that...so I'm choosing to make up the difference by going UP! More Later....

Over on AR15.com there's been way more interest in this Hornady product and bullet feeders in general than here, so I posted the review there first. Hornady Bullet Feeder Review (http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=6&f=42&t=330605) That link is stickied to "interesting threads" thread stuck at the top of the first page. So it should be accessible for a long long time.

ardo
December 25, 2010, 02:22 PM
Excellent writeup, thanks! I got the feeder dies in .40 & .45 (the 9mm was out of stock), and am now debating if I want to try building the collator instead of just buying one. Thanks for wonderful pictures, I think I'll have to pass on the DIY...

I wish there were instructions on adjusting the feeder die. How deep do you screw the outer tube into the press? What does the inner tube adjustment do? I have it going - sort of - but the indexing motion unseats the .40S&W FMJ bullets I am using. I probably have to adjust the PTX to bell more...

GW Staar
December 25, 2010, 05:16 PM
Excellent writeup, thanks! I got the feeder dies in .40 & .45 (the 9mm was out of stock), and am now debating if I want to try building the collator instead of just buying one. Thanks for wonderful pictures, I think I'll have to pass on the DIY...

I wish there were instructions on adjusting the feeder die. How deep do you screw the outer tube into the press? What does the inner tube adjustment do? I have it going - sort of - but the indexing motion unseats the .40S&W FMJ bullets I am using. I probably have to adjust the PTX to bell more...

If you buy Hornady's collator, you'll get instructions for the feeder dies included...until then...

1. Screw the die body in the press a few turns
2. Place a case that has been flared .030" (O.D.) over bullet diameter.
3. With the ram raised to the top of the stroke, screw the die body down just to touch the top of the case.
4. Lower the ram out of the way and screw the die body down another 1/2 furn and lock the lock ring.
5. Drop 5 or 6 bullets into the top of the feeder die.
6. Put the flared case into the preceding station on the press and completely stroke the press (so that it rotates and inserts the flared case into the feeder die and... slowly...back out).
7. Bullet should have dropped on the case. (you hear a really light clunk in the collets, when the bullet drops...if the reloading area is quiet)
8. If no bullet drops, lower the die 1/16" turn, and repeat the previous 2 steps. Repeat until you get a bullet to fall every time.

The PTX expander really has only one adjustment that is correct...that adjustment is shoving the case completely to the stop. Anything less will not flare .030" over and any flare less than that is going to give trouble. See the second video on Part 2 of this review. Hornady Bullet Feeder Review Part 2! (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=562452)

Good luck with it.

Offfhand
December 25, 2010, 06:16 PM
Mr. Starar, those are truly excellent photos. Hope you don't mind my asking, but what camera were you using? Was flash from camera or external light? I'd like to get one like it.
Thank You
Offfhand

54lariat
December 25, 2010, 06:50 PM
How much faster can you load with that, or were you just going for easier?

I press out about 4-500 hour without trying, so I was just wondering what the main reason for one of these is.

Thanks


Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk

ardo
December 25, 2010, 06:56 PM
If you buy Hornady's collator, you'll get instructions for the feeder dies included...until then...

1. Screw the die body in the press a few turns
2. Place a case that has been flared .030" (O.D.) over bullet diameter.
3. With the ram raised to the top of the stroke, screw the die body down just to touch the top of the case.
4. Lower the ram out of the way and screw the die body down another 1/2 furn and lock the lock ring.
5. Drop 5 or 6 bullets into the top of the feeder die.
6. Put the flared case into the preceding station on the press and completely stroke the press (so that it rotates and inserts the flared case into the feeder die and... slowly...back out).
7. Bullet should have dropped on the case. (you hear a really light clunk in the collets, when the bullet drops...if the reloading area is quiet)
8. If no bullet drops, lower the die 1/16" turn, and repeat the previous 2 steps. Repeat until you get a bullet to fall every time.

Thanks a lot! Just measured the expansion on my cases, its a whopping .044", i.e. 50% over the recommended value. As for the feeder die, I figured the die body part would be adjusted similarly to crimp die, since you need some cartridge pressure to expand the collet. So I did almost exactly as the instructions say, and bullets drop every time - but don't always stay on.

Now that I have the instructions I'll try again tomorrow. Still, is there any mention of what the top adjustment is for? I suspect its for dropping the next bullet while making sure that only one will drop...

Thanks again!

GW Staar
December 25, 2010, 11:59 PM
Mr. Starar, those are truly excellent photos. Hope you don't mind my asking, but what camera were you using? Was flash from camera or external light? I'd like to get one like it.
Thank You
Offfhand

Thanks! The shots are from a tripod-mounted Nikon Powershot SX10IS 10 megapixal camera. Even the videos in the "Part 2" thread are done with it.

Most of the time the light is external room light, nothing special. Flash is needed rarely...even when it says to raise the flash....I ignore it and get better pictures more often than if I raised the flash. A decent tripod is necessary for clear in-focus shots in the camera's "Close-Up" Mode, which I use a lot.

This is NOT expensive professional equipment. Amazing what you can buy these days at Office Depot. Bought it in 2000 for $370.

How much faster can you load with that, or were you just going for easier?

I press out about 4-500 hour without trying, so I was just wondering what the main reason for one of these is.

Thanks


Easier/Faster is the same thing in my book. If you look at the videos in the Part 2 thread you'll see that I'm not hurrying. In fact I can't with it not pressing bullets in hard enough to take a fast auto-advance, without a leaning bullet. As much as I expect to increase the speed quite a bit over this first careful try, I can see a 50 percent speed already, since I don't have to mount both cases and bullets. I'm hoping and expecting that using Hornady's PTX (Powder Thru Expander) on my powder measure, will allow the bullets to stick better...as the one shown in the picture above, where I'm holding it upside-down. That would mean faster cranking...as long as I can look at my powder mirror.;)

I fully expect a Hornady or Dillon owner, who already use a case collator, will realize 50% more still....if they want to practice and work up to it. I know my limitations. I would never try that, since I would most likely lose my ability to focus on producing good ammo.

Thanks a lot! Just measured the expansion on my cases, its a whopping .044", i.e. 50% over the recommended value. As for the feeder die, I figured the die body part would be adjusted similarly to crimp die, since you need some cartridge pressure to expand the collet. So I did almost exactly as the instructions say, and bullets drop every time - but don't always stay on.

Now that I have the instructions I'll try again tomorrow. Still, is there any mention of what the top adjustment is for? I suspect its for dropping the next bullet while making sure that only one will drop...

Thanks again!

Pretty much true. the top adjustment screw just has one setting...to make sure there is just the right amount of play between collets. Too much play and the top collet won't close when a case is shoved up the bottom collet. The action of the bottom collet pushing against the top one closes it and prevents the next bullet from falling. On the other hand too little play means its always closed.

The Adjustment screw is screwed down to just touch the top collet. (this is off the press mind you) Then you back the screw off 1/2 turn and lock it down. The test is: as shaking of the die lets you hear the two collets move up and down just a little. Only if you hear that is the die set up right. No trial and error to that adjustment. Simple does it.

ardo
January 10, 2011, 09:52 PM
Just wondering: is there any info on motor power requirements? Since the 110V model is OOStock - and probably will be for some time - I'm thinking of buying a 220V model & having it connected through a 110/220 transformer.

GW Staar
January 11, 2011, 12:56 AM
It was also out of stock when I ordered mine at Grafs. Yet it shipped within 3 days and I received it in 5.;) Obviously I can't guarantee you will be similarly fortunate. I am pretty sure that the incoming supply at Grafs and other outlets are rationed by Hornady until production catches up with, and passes demand. I don't know about Midway, but Grafs ships backorders before they show any "in stock" on their web site. If you want this product at the soonest possible time, I would just order what you want from Grafs now. You can always cancel it if another supplier shows it in stock sooner.

As for the motor specs...don't know as I haven't got the motor apart yet. My plans to continue the review was slowed by other responsibilities, but I will be getting to the motor soon, as I have my stop switch designed and built. I'm ready to modify the motor leads so that I can switch it. Hopefully this week. I'll P.M. you as soon as I find anything out about the motor that you can use.

In the meantime, email Hornady and inquire whether the motors are designed to just allow using alternate leads off the windings to convert it to 120V. Such a design is possible and and often used where just a switch converts a motor to one voltage to the other. It would seem to make sense, but whether they did that is another thing.

ardo
January 11, 2011, 06:56 PM
As for the motor specs...don't know as I haven't got the motor apart yet. My plans to continue the review was slowed by other responsibilities, but I will be getting to the motor soon, as I have my stop switch designed and built. I'm ready to modify the motor leads so that I can switch it. Hopefully this week. I'll P.M. you as soon as I find anything out about the motor that you can use.
Thanks for a quick reply, but please, don't take the motor apart on MY account. ;)
I can't imagine the motor drawing more than 1,000 watts, and that's what the cheapest 110/220 converters are rated for.

I've gotten distracted, too: started playing with optical switches that I collected from old printers/copiers/etc. It started when I ran out of primers and decided to make an alarm for it. Then I thought of making a more complex circuit, to let me know if powder measure malfunctioned. I know, totally unnecessary, but lots of fun.

I'm thinking an optical switch + a relay can be used to shut off the bullet feeder motor. A simple contact switch would do, but what fun is that? :)

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