By: Mary and Dr. Jim Clary
As most reloaders know, primers in military ammunition are crimped in to prevent them from “backing out” under combat conditions. If a primer backs out and falls into the action of a rifle, especially an AR-platform, the action will frequently jam and put the user at great risk on the battlefield.
Over the years, reloaders have come up with a variety of ways to remove the crimp from military cases, from drills to chamfering tools. However, these methods frequently resulted in unusable brass because the primer pockets became oversized in the process: i.e., too deep or widened to the point where a new primer was so loose that it “blew out” with the first reload. Enter a variety of primer pocket swaging tools that allowed the reloader to salvage military brass and render it usable once again.
A friend of ours recently asked why bother with military brass? Just buy or pick up commercial brass and call it good or buy new brass. That is a very valid question and the answer is money. Except for target shooters, most reloaders do so to save a bit of money, as well as having the satisfaction of loading their own ammunition.
To answer the first question, we will pick two common military and commercial cartridges as examples:
New Brass Costs – averages the following, plus or minus a few bucks:
.223 Remington / 5.56 x 45 - $62.50 per 250
.308 Winchester / 7.62 x 51 - $116.50 per 250
Clean Range Brass Costs - mixed commercial and military head stamps averages:
.223 Remington / 5.56 x 45 - $53.50 per 1000 (or $13.38 per 250)
.308 Winchester / 7.62 x 51 - $105.00 per 1000 (or $26.25 per 250)
One can readily see that clean range brass, either picked up at your local gun range or purchased is substantially cheaper than new brass. As such, if your favorite rifle is chambered for military rounds, it is definitely economical to use range brass which means, you need a good primer pocket swaging tool.
The Frankford Arsenal swaging tool is robust, to say the least. No, that does not sufficiently describe it. The frame is a very solid, heavy and precision piece of die-cast aluminum with four 3/8” mounting holes. We seriously doubt that you could ever wear it out. In fact, it reminds us of the early Pacific presses.... they never wore out either.
This tool is accompanied by the usual advertising hyperbole... ergonomic upright design and adjustable handle...quick change swage pin for large and small primers, etc. Truth be known, we expect all of that for a tool of this type.
What impressed us was the adjustable brass positioning knob in the front to ensure that the swaging pin is centered on the primer pocket and the auto-eject case pin holder which works for both small and large cases (large and small case holders are included).
The bottom line: This tool is solid and works very well, It is easy to change the swaging pin from small to large primers (it comes with both sizes). With an MSRP of $99.99, it will pay for itself very quickly if you are a serious reloader. We are keeping this one!