Each station moves half a stage on the upstroke and half a stage on the down stroke, making for ultra-smooth function. This process is much smoother than presses that do all their indexing on the down stroke.
The strongest suit for the Lock-N-Load Ammo Plant is its versatility. It is capable of almost any caliber, using any standard dies, with almost any powder and bullet combination. I tried it with a die set that was several decades old and I used it to reload some wildcat (non conventional) cartridges.
Hornady uses a heavy gauge rod that surrounds the primer tube. This is an important safety feature: when primers are stacked, accidental detonation of a single primer risks detonating all of them. Some manufacturers use a primer feeding system that feeds from a tray, not a vertical tube. This is generally safer, but is not as smooth, and looks like an appliance attached to the press.
Primer detonation is a statistically unlikely event, but without the safety features, it could be catastrophic. The Hornady system is engineered to deflect all of the dangerous stuff away from the user. Still, it is important to remember that every reloading operation requires safety glasses.
The primer tube holds an entire box of primers and it can be filled without removing it from the press. I have to admit; I learned how to operate it the wrong way. That is, I assembled it incorrectly, which caused me to spill primers on the floor. Don’t blame Hornady for this...I didn’t read the directions. Considering the fact that several resellers of this product also have instructional videos, I have no excuse for my folly.
Besides the smooth priming operation, the Lock-N-Load AP Press uses case actuated powder dispensing. Not only is this the safest way to dispense powder, the Lock-N-Load AP Press uses a brilliantly engineered linkage system and a micrometer measuring system.
Many progressive press products use a powder bushing system to measure powder. That is, reloading powder is dispensed into a chamber of a specific volume. The user selects a bushing that is designed to throw a certain volume of powder, selected from a table that lists power brands and their corresponding weights, related to the powder bushing.
The Lock-N-Load AP Press doesn’t use a bushing. Rather, Hornady uses a standard micrometer powder measure with a rotor, attached to a case activated powder drop. This allows the user to set any desired powder weight, dispensing powder into primed brass in the smoothest powder system in the industry. The smoothness is important, especially when using rifle powder. This rotor is first quality, with an easily replaced metering plunger and static resistant operation.
The safety part will not be lost on users: without the brass, the powder measure will not dispense. Some other progressive presses will dispense powder as long as one is pulling the handle. If the user removes brass from the assembly line, it will continue to dump powder all over the place. Neatness counts.
The other advantage to the Lock-N-Load AP Press case activated powder drop is the fact that powder is dispensed through a die set. This means the entire assembly can be removed in the same manner in which one removes a reloading die in its Lock-N-Load bushing. For agencies using the same press for two or three cartridges, rapid interchangeability in a unit that will maintain its settings makes this a worthy investment.
The Lock-N-Load System uses a set of locking collars that fit standard 7/8-inch-14 thread dies, which means it can be used from .25 ACP to just shy of .50 BMG. Once the user sets the dies in the locking collars, they stay adjusted and can be removed quickly for caliber changes. The locking system is similar to the locking lugs on an M-16 bolt and its barrel.
For newbies in the reloading business, the Lock-N-Load AP Press comes with an excellent instructional video.
The Hornady Lock-N-Load AP Press is an appropriate investment to augment training in a medium-sized agency. It is capable of any reloading operation, nearly any caliber and sustained long-term use. It is the key to getting an agency through any ammo crunch.