Sunday, July 19, 2009


There are a lot of good reloading presses out there, each with their own advantages. Lee's equipment has a lot cost of entry. Dillon's warranty is legendary. Personally, I'm a fan of Hornady's LNL-AP. It's a bit less expensive than a Dillon 550, and has 5 stations as opposed to 4. In addition, it auto-indexes the shell plate. Some feel this isn't a requirement, and that's fine - but I personally feel it's not only more convenient, but safer. It's much more difficult (though not impossible) to double-charge a case when the shellplate is automatically advancing.

One disadvantage the LNL-AP has had in the past is flaring cases. Granted, most die sets come with a die which will expand the case for bullet insertion, but this ties up a station. This can limit your options, should you want to use something like an automatic bullet feeder, or a powder-check die; if you're already using 4 dies for the brass + the powderdrop, you're out of stations.

Hornady offers a "PTX", which is a small tube that replaces the powder insert. The tube is tapered, and the purpose is the flare the case mouth while simultaneously charging with powder. It's a good idea (and one offered by other companies), but unfortunately their execution was rather poor.

Hornady's PTX is caliber-specific. If you're reloading multiple calibers, you'll quickly need a $20 PTXs for each caliber. Secondly, their part does not flare cases wide enough to use lead bullets. Generally, lead bullets are slightly wider than FMJ or plated versions, and need a wider opening to properly seat - otherwise, the brass will "shave" the edges of the lead off as it is seated. This isn't exactly desired.

A few month's ago, an LNL-AP user with a talent for engineering decided he could solve this problem. He asked other users for some input, drew up some plans, and made a prototype for his own version. The end result was the Universal PTX.

On the left is the standard non-flaring powder insert that comes with an LNL-AP. In the middle, a 9mm Hornady PTX. And on the right, the Universal PTX.

It's made of steel and has a quality finish. You can easily notice the wider cone on the Universal PTX. Not only does it flare much more than the Hornady PTX - it can also flare multiple calibers... for 30 all the way to 50.

It also has a very gradual slope, allowing more minute adjustments to how much flare you're applying. In addition, this will stress the brass less. Depending on your favorite loads, you may get a few more shots out of them before they hit the recycling bucket.

Installation is simple; it replaces the standard powder insert under the drop tube of the powder dispenser. Adjusting the amount of flare is merely a matter of lowering the height of the dispenser (by screwing in/out of the die collar) until you get what you're looking for - just like a standard flare die.

I haven't done much reloading since it arrived last week, but I did get to test it reloading some .44 Magnum. From start to finish, the installation took less than 2 minutes. Another minute or so to find a good flare amount, and I was making some rounds. I'm completely confident that I'll have the same experience with 9mm.

You can read more about it at If you're using an LNL-AP, this is absolutely something you should consider purchasing. Oh - the price: $25, including shipping.

And if anyone's in the market for 9mm and .44 flaring dies - let me know, as I have a couple I won't need anymore. ;)


Anonymous said...

I was a tester for Dan, comparing the flares for the LnL PTX and Dan's invention. Everything Thorn said is true - no exaggeration.
The LnL press is a great 5 station machine but the Hornady PTX was a weak point for flaring the case mouth. Dan's powderfunnel is the real deal and worth buying at 3x the price.


FatWhiteMan said...

Nice. I might have to try one out.