How many times have you done it? How many times have you spent hours sitting at the reloading bench, working up various types of loads for you favorite shooter, only to get out to the range and find out they don't quite do what you want them to do?
How many times have you thought, "If I had to bug out to the retreat, how long would it take me to gather up all this reloading equipment and move it?
I used to do it. But I knew there HAD to be a way to solve both problems at once. Here's how *I* decided to do it, it may work for you too.
While pondering the above problems, I realized that when my reloading equipment wasn't strapped down to the work bench, that it lived in large ammo cans. "HMMMmmmmm", thinks I, "why not turn the can into a portable, fully self-contained, mini-reloading bench?" So that's what I did and the "mini-bench" was born.
First of all, I know that I reload some type of ammo a lot more than others, so I put ALL of the supplies that I needed for those loads in one can. I have a Lee, auto indexing turret press, various dies (already set up in turrets for my 30-06, 7.62x39 and 308), scales and powder dumps, so I put all that in the same can, powder and all.
I cut a 2 X 12 board to almost the same size as a large ammo can top, Actually, the board fits inside the ammo can with just a hair of clearance all the way around it when the board is being stored. Then I drilled three holes at one end of the board to mount my Lee Turret Press. This is done with three flat headed stove bolts, each with a large round washer on it to keep the bolt from pulling through the wood. At the other end of the board, I drilled a hole to mount the board to the top of the ammo Box Lid with another stove bolt, washer, and wingnut. The hole in the can's lid is slightly off-set from the back end of the box so that the moving parts of the Press' ram would clear the box when I pulled the reloader's handle.
As I said, during storage, the board lays flat inside the top of the can, so that when I pop the can's lid open, the first thing out of the can is the board.
Why only one bolt mounting the mini-bench to the lid? You may need to get into the box from time to time, so all you do is swing the mini-bench to one side, pop the lid locks, and you're in. You only need one bolt holding the mini-bench since it mostly lays on the top of the can. The bolt simply holds the mini-bench in place while you pull the re-loading handle. Actually, the weight of the supplies inside the can makes this a very stable system.
Sometimes I like my powder dump mounted ON the mini-bench in different positions, therefore I pre-drilled several holes for the stand so that I can move the powder dump around to suit me when using scales for "precision loads". I use the mounted powder dump just to get close to the proper weight so I can hit the "perfect" weight faster with the digital scales.
For 7.62x39 or 9mm rounds where "perfect weights" are traded for speed and quantity, I usually mount a powder dump ON the turret press along with the auto indexer, primer and bullet feeder, etc.. In that configuration I can chunk out one round with every pull of the reloader's handle. The finished mini-bench looks like this:
The real beauty of this ugly system so far has been on the range. I can take this down to the range when working up a new load, and everything I need is right there inside the mini-bench. Various Powder types (which are stored safe inside the metal box), various primers, bullet heads, note books, charts, scales, kinetic bullet puller, lubricants, Calculator, pre-tumbled brass, etc etc etc. I can work up 5 rounds or so and then fire them, and then load my next five rounds as I see what, and how, I need to adjust... right there on the range table! The first time I took this to the range, ALL of the long range shooters came over and looked it over, saying "that is SO simple! Why didn't *I* think of that?" Now almost every time I hit the range, I see someone with a mini-bench working up rounds.
As a survivalist, I envision a time when I may have to grab this box and throw it in my BOV, Then when I get to our retreat I can still work up precision rounds if I need to, or feed the other weapons should our stored ammo run low (HEY! It could happen! ;)
I've seen some of the guys at the range take my idea and run with it, they have come up with some truly nice additions to my basic mini-bench idea by adding mounting brackets for free-floating digital scales, shell holders drilled into the bench, and all kinds of cool things. You can now load on the range table, from the back of your pickup truck, or at home on your reclaimed reloading bench ;)
If you think this idea might work for you, I'd love to see your working models and ideas. The more articles we have on this type of subject, the more options we have during bad (and good) times.
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