Condition Orange

Lyman’s Signature Color Signifies Innovation

By John Taffin

Do you remember Roy G. Biv? Long before I knew of Roy Huntington, Roy Campanella, Roy Acuff, even Roy Rogers and Rob Roy, I met Roy G. Biv in my early grade school years. This particular Roy was not an actual person but rather a way of remembering the primary colors established by Aristotle as Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. When it comes to handloading/reloading our primary colors are red, green, blue, and most assuredly orange.

Over the past 60 years anyone peeking in my loading areas, which started as a small corner in my teenage bedroom and has now become two very large workshops, would find reloading presses and other items colored red, light green, dark green, blue and the original orange. Orange is the color of choice for Lyman. Lyman began as of the Lyman Gun Sight Company with the Lyman No. 1 Tang Site way back in 1879, and in 1925, the Lyman family purchased Ideal Reloading Products.

When I started reloading in 1956 Lyman was basically it. My first “reloading press” was the Lyman Nutcracker, the 310 Hand Tool. It was a long process to use this tool and it did everything but full-length resize. After spending all the time and energy to load a box of cartridges, which in those days were .38 Special/.357 Magnum and .45 Colt you can bet I was very careful how I shot them. None were wasted.

To re-size a cartridge case I used a standard sizing die, lubing the cartridge case, and then employing a bench-mounted vise to squeeze the case into the die. After this a wooden dowel of the proper diameter was used to tap the case out of the die. Did I say I was very careful how I shot up my painstakingly crafted cartridges?

With the time and energy spent, along with the somewhat sore hands, using the 310 Tool I soon graduated to a Lyman American reloading press and then in later years used a Lyman Orange Crusher press both with Lyman reloading dies. All of my early cast bullets were dropped from Lyman molds first from a cast iron pot on the top of my mother’s kitchen stove and then a Lyman electric melting pot, after which they were lubed in a Lyman 45 LubriSizer.

Especially for precision rifle shooters, Lyman offers the Case Prep Xpress to do a variety of maintenance chores volume shooters do such as Inside Deburr (VLD) Tool, Outside Deburr Tool, Primer Pocket Uniformer, Reamer and Cleaner large and small, and a variety of case neck brushes.

In those early days I also found the Lyman Handbook of Cast Bullets an exceptionally valuable resource, and over the years I began adding copies of the Lyman Reloading Handbook. The latest, Lyman 50th Edition, is a large book covering nearly every cartridge for both handguns and rifles using both cast and jacketed bullets. It is an extremely valuable resource.

I have been recently testing several of the newer Lyman products. In addition to my main reloading room (converted double garage), I have a 12×16 workshop out back where I cast bullets, store both cast and jacketed bullets as well as brass cartridge cases, and also use this area for cleaning brass. The large-capacity tumblers include a pair of Lyman Turbo Tumblers, a Turbo 600 and a Turbo Flow 1200. These are not high-capacity cleaners such as the vibrator in my workshop, however I have found them most useful for cleaning spent cartridges after a morning’s shooting rather than waiting until I have a large enough quantity to take out to the workshop. I find them very handy for this work using the 600 for .357 or 9mm cases and the 1200 for .44 or .45 brass. If you’ve never mixed .38 and .45 brass in the same tumbler you will do it only once as the smaller cases manage to find their way inside the larger cases and in the best case scenario the smaller case will not be cleaned and in the worst, will be stuck and very difficult to remove. Two dedicated tumblers keep things very simple.

I have now graduated to the latest Lyman brass-cleaning product, the Turbo Sonic 2500 Ultrasonic Cleaner. This is not a tumbler or vibrator but rather a unit working with concentrated cartridge case cleaning solution. The 2500 is rated to hold 250 .308 Winchester or 900 9mm cases, however I do not fill it to this capacity. On a normal morning I will shoot 300 sixgun or semi-auto cartridges and these go in the Turbo Sonic.

The Lyman Turbo Sonic 2500 Ultrasonic Cleaner is highly efficient and easy-to-use. The Turbo Sonic 2500
cleans up John’s 9mm brass in as little as 6 minutes after pre-heating.

Lyman offers high-quality reloading dies and, coming with separate seating and
crimping dies, are more useful than others.

The cleaning solution is a mixture of distilled water and the Lyman Turbo Sonic Cartridge Case Cleaning Solution. I use a mixture of 20:1 water to solution, or 40 ounces of water to 2 ounces of solution. Normal tapwater is usable, however, distilled water works better. For best results the solution is allowed to heat up for about 20 minutes before being used. Spent cartridge cases are loaded into a basket and then immersed in the solution. When the solution is brand-new it takes about 3 minutes to clean the cartridges and as it becomes used I then go to 6 minutes and finally 8 minutes before it becomes murky enough to warrant disposal.

I have found the local Dollar Store a great place to find items I can use for reloading. They have all kinds of containers of different sizes, and for the Turbo Sonic I found both wire mesh and plastic baskets allowing cartridges to drain. When I take the cartridges out of the Turbo Sonic I dump them into the plastic basket, shake them to remove excess liquid, and then dump them on an aluminum cake pan, also found at the Dollar Store, and allow them to dry.

They are then transferred to a wire mesh basket for storage and further drying if needed. My setup is outside under the covered deck off of my office area so I don’t have to worry about spilling liquid on the floor of my reloading room. I have a very comfortable rocking chair under the deck next to the Turbo Sonic and I can sit there and read while I wait for the solution to heat up and also for the few minutes it takes to clean the cartridge cases. After all these decades of cleaning spent cases, this is the easiest I have found.

Two very handy benchtop items from Lyman are the Cartridge Case Gauge cut to SAAMI specs to check loaded cartridge dimensions. This block is cut to accept the 8 most popular cartridges. If a loaded cartridge drops easily into the dedicated spot it is guaranteed to be within spec and should fit the cylinder or chamber of the handgun of choice. The second item is one of those, “Why did it take so long to come up with this?” items. Loading blocks which are cut to accept cartridge cases, usually made to hold 50 empty cases, are extremely handy—no—make that indispensable, especially for dispensing powder one cartridge at a time before starting the bullet and then finishing the operation on a single stage press. Lyman has come up with a Stadium Block making it much handier (especially for my fat fingers) to access each cartridge case. Instead of a flat block, the Stadium Block looks like a miniature set of bleachers with each succeeding row set just a little higher than the preceding row making access of each case much easier.

Lyman offers both a Cartridge Case Gauge to check your final loads before heading to the range, as well as the
Stadium Block to hold the cases in a more convenient manner for single charging.

Eighty years separate the 32nd and 50th Editions of the Lyman Reloading Handbooks. They have proven must-have
references since they combine jacketed and cast bullet data for both handgun and rifle cartridges.

For rifle shooters, especially those who are very fussy about having their brass as perfect as possible, Lyman offers the Case Prep Xpress. This electronic unit has inside and outside deburring tools, primer pocket uniformers, reamers, and cleaners, and case neck brushes. There are five stations electronically operated as well as storage areas on each side of the unit. Simply place the case over the proper tool and the Xpress does the rest.

I didn’t realize how indispensable an electronic reloading scale was until I actually added one to my workbench. I got along for many years with a balance scale but it only took one mistake of misreading to make me realize how handy the electronic digital scale actually was. There is no way to misread the numbers on the electronic scale.

The latest from Lyman is the Micro-Touch 1500 Electronic Reloading Scale. As the number indicates, it has a maximum of 1500 grains, which would rarely ever be needed. It comes with a 100-grain weight for checking the calibration of the scale. It is also useful to spot check thrown charges frequently. A good quality scale is the third leg of a reloading stool, which also consists of a press with dies and a powder measure. All three are absolutely necessary for safe quality reloads and all can be found under the orange Lyman Label.

475 Smith Street, Middleton, CT 06457
(860) 632-2020

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