I'm divorcing my RCBS collet bullet puller: there's a new girl in town

Six-GunSix-Gun Senior MemberPosts: 7,342 Senior Member
I had many good years with my RCBS collet-style bullet puller. While it's fast, my biggest gripe is that it had problems dealing with the ogive on certain bullets, particularly the 55 grain, .22 cal Hornady V-Max, which just so happens to be the largest volume bullet I load for my .22-250 Rem 700 VSF. Since I have several hundred loads made up for this gun that don't shoot well in my new barrel, I started looking elsewhere for a tool that could effectively pull them. In the process, I found the Hornady Cam-Lock bullet puller. Where has this thing been all of my life? :love:

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Next chance I get, I'm ordering collets for every caliber I load for this puller. Here are the reasons it's made my RCBS collet puller into eBay fodder:

1) It's even faster and much more repeatable than the RCBS puller. Once it's set, you just drop the handle down all the way and slap the press handle - bullet pulled. No need to get a "feel" for how much to tighten a screw-in handle; it's got the same amount of grip every time you operate it.

2) It's all but impossible to jam bullets into the Cam-Lock collets. Because the collet it uses is completely hollow except for the bite point on the jaws (unlike the RCBS collet which has a ton of bearing surface and can end up with bullets stuck inside of it requiring disassembly and bullet destruction to clear), and the lock pressure is so repeatable, there's no way you can jam bullets. The jaws on the collet completely release the bullet when you release the handle.

3) The RCBS puller has trouble getting a sufficient bite on the V-Max to pull the bullet consistently without having to inflict noticeable, sometimes significant, damage to bullet body and/or jacket. Once set, the Hornady puller gets the perfect amount of bite with almost no jacket marring. I had to look extremely hard to figure out where the thing was even making contact.

4) The Hornady Cam-Lock will pull moly coated bullets! I've had a batch of ancient, moly coated .22-250 loads that I've been waiting to decommission/salvage brass and primers from for years. There was no way I was gonna sit there for days with an inertial puller trying to pull 55 grain bullets, but the RCBS tool could barely handle bare bullets, let alone moly coated bullets. The Hornady tool pulled every moly bullet I fed it with gusto. Not a single one slipped, nor did their residue negatively impact things when I went back to bare bullets.

RCBS collet puller owners really need to do some soul searching here. This thing is too cheap to not consider and it works like a dream.
Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.

Replies

  • LinefinderLinefinder Moderator Posts: 4,536 Senior Member
    I'm sold. I change my mind often enough (read screw-up) that I'll have to get hold of one of those.

    Thanks for the report, Luis!

    Mike
    Decisions have consequences, not everything in life gets an automatic mulligan.
    KSU Firefighter
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,342 Senior Member
    Linefinder wrote: »
    I'm sold. I change my mind often enough (read screw-up) that I'll have to get hold of one of those.

    Thanks for the report, Luis!

    Mike

    No problem, Mike. I know you love that RCBS puller like I did, but trust me - the Hornady tool works faster and with no noticeable bullet damage, maybe the faintest scuff line on the jacket left where it makes contact, but certainly no indentation. I was floored at how well it pulled moly bullets. Even on those you can barely tell where it's touched them. I didn't think it was even possible short of using a painfully slow inertial puller.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • beartrackerbeartracker Senior Member Posts: 3,116 Senior Member
    Hey, thanks for that report, I am sold also, will be getting this and trying it, thanks.
  • rberglofrberglof Senior Member Posts: 2,386 Senior Member
    guess I will have to get one of these in the near future also thanks Luis.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,342 Senior Member
    I'm glad you guys are willing to try it and I can't see how you will be disappointed. People on Midwayusa.com are claiming that you can pull crimped bullets out of their cases with ease with this thing. If that's the case, you're getting even more than I realized.

    The only complaints I saw on Midway's reviews were from people who somehow managed to break the handle. If you set this thing up properly, I can't see any reason you would need to exert anywhere near that level of force. Maybe in the bigger calibers you'll need a bit more tension and handle force, but I can't see it being that much unless you have it set up wrong.

    Also, it goes without saying, but be sure you also order the caliber-specific collet(s) you need or you'll have nothing more than a cleverly built paperweight delivered to your doorstep.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member
    I have the Hornady Cam-lock with inserts for two calibers. The few times I have used it, it worked really well and did not damage the bullets at all. Good device and good report.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,342 Senior Member
    Thanks, Peg. I figure this one of those tools that gets easily overlooked without someone pointing it out. At the same time, a tool like this can really cut down on one of the most tedious tasks in the reloading world. I hope that others find it as useful as we do.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • PegasusPegasus Senior Member Posts: 2,588 Senior Member
    The reason I bought mine was that about 3 years ago, I discovered I made an error loading 100 rounds of match ammo. I actually forget what the problem was, but I had to pull 100 bullets. At the time all I had was a quinetic puller. I had done one of those maybe 6 years prior to that and it had taken just a minute short of foerever. So, I bought the Hornady device and pulled all the bullets very quickly, and quietly.

    I think I used it once since then, but that's it.
  • FisheadgibFisheadgib Senior Member Posts: 5,679 Senior Member
    Thanks for the heads up. I had loaded several hundred rounds for my m-14 to take up to the SE shoot and I didn't have the time to chrono them or test them. I had tried to load them a little light to avoid tearing up everyones steel targets. Well it turned out that I loaded them too light and they won't cycle the action. The gas system is not adjustable and these are just plinking loads that I don't care to run through a bolt gun. Now I have a few hundred .308win rounds to pull and I was about to buy a collet puller to do it with. I'd never used one before and I've been trying to determine which one to buy. Now I know, thanks.
    snake284 wrote: »
    For my point of view, cpj is a lot like me
    .
  • Medicine HatMedicine Hat Member Posts: 106 Member
    Thanks Six-Gun. Good write up, and it reminded me to order one. No more plastic hammers!
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,851 Senior Member
    Thanks Luis, you hit me just in time. I was needed a bullet puller. I had an old Inertia puller but haven't seen it so I guess my ex sold it in a garage sale when she moved back up north. I had good luck with it but that was mainly one of those ignorance is bliss deals. This is what I have wanted and was thinking about the RCBS, so thanks for the heads up Bro.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • justin10mmjustin10mm Senior Member Posts: 688 Senior Member
    I haven't used mine yet but it is always good to hear a positive review. Now I need to get the rest of the caliber specific collets for it.
  • mkk41mkk41 Banned Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    Never really liked collet pullers. Lead and copper are dead soft , no spring back. I always figured once ya squeeze them , they stay there. Been using the same inertia puller for 25yrs. I put a foam ear plug down in the bottom to cushion bullets. Works for me.
    "There are no victims , only volunteers!"
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,851 Senior Member
    Good comment mkk41, good food for thought about it distorting bullets. However for what I usually need one for, this Hornaday would work good for me. I have never had a need to pull a whole lot of bullets because loading for my bolt guns I usually load no more than 40 at a time. And most of the time while working up a load it's more like 10. My big case for a bullet puller is when I load up 5 or 10 rounds while working up a load and take them to the range and if it shows some pressure signs within the first few shots, I will pull the bullets and redo them with less powder. And if this distorts a bullet or two I don't cry too much. Now if i loaded some 50 or 100 up and had to pull them all that would be a serious case not to distort bullets.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,342 Senior Member
    mkk41 wrote: »
    Never really liked collet pullers. Lead and copper are dead soft , no spring back. I always figured once ya squeeze them , they stay there. Been using the same inertia puller for 25yrs. I put a foam ear plug down in the bottom to cushion bullets. Works for me.
    I thought the same thing, but I shot some recycled .308 diameter bullets (pulled carefully with the RCBS unit) in my 30-06 with no ill effects. The group sizes were functionally identical to those shot with fresh bullets. This particular Hornady puller seems to use a lot more geometric traction and far less squeezing than the RCBS setup (which could be overtightened to the point of crushing a ring into the bullet if you weren't careful). I literally can't tell where it's was grabbing without a serious stare.

    I still use the inertial for small batch pulls where the time setting up a press-mounted rig isn't worth the time, but when it's more than 10 or so, the Hornady rig will get the nod.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • mkk41mkk41 Banned Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    Glad to say I haven't had to pull a lot of my handloads. But I have pulled probably thousands of 'suspect' ammo , duds and rounds just for curiosity sake. Oddly enough , I did break the cap on one of the hammer pullers , and got an entire replacement free.
    "There are no victims , only volunteers!"
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,342 Senior Member
    Of the hammer-style pullers I've used, the RCBS puller does a great job. It comes with a little felt wad in the bottom so you don't need to do the earplug trick. So far, the cap has held up and stays tight, but I can see where this could easily break if you dropped the tool on that side. I hope they would replace like yours if that were to happen. What make it your, btw?

    As far as pulling a buttload of bullets, this new barrel is the first that I've really had a need to yank a serious quantity (well over 300). It's times like this that you realize you need a way to recycle those puppies. With the cost of components these days, the tool has already paid for itself in this one task. The only ones I chucked in the trash after pulling them were the 55 grain moly coated V-Maxes. While I'm glad the puller removed them so well, I just can't justify the effort it would take to strip them clean for reuse.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 15,047 Senior Member
    I bought an RCBS Collet puller some years back when I had a couple hundred 180 grain NBTs to pull...I bought the thing with the intent of salvaging the bullets...unfortuantely, that was not the case...ruined about half of them...haven't used it since. I'll give the Hornady a try next time. In the meantime, the old inertia puller will handle the rare chores...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,342 Senior Member
    I think you well be pleasantly surprised, Jayhawker. I had similar experiences with my RCBS: it either worked gret or did exactly as you described. The difference in the impact on the bullet surface is like night and day between the RCBS/Hornady systems.

    By the way, if/when you guys pick one of these up, by all means bump this thread and tell us if you're equally impressed or think I'm way off base here.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • gmerktgmerkt New Member Posts: 6 New Member
    Reviving this older thread to mention a caveat that was explained to my by the manufacturer. I had a .45 (Hornady says it fits .451 to .458) that broke. Two of the four pulling facets sheared away. I was attempting to pull cast lead bullets from .45 Colt cartridges. I emailed Hornady to see if the breakage was covered by their warranty. The message I got was to call a named representative at the company for clarification. When I called this person, she asked, "What kind of bullets were you trying to pull?" I told her, "Cast lead .45 Colt." She didn't exactly say, "Ah ha, gotcha" but the implication was there. She informed me that the Hornady bullet pullers (and collets) are intended to be used for rifle bullets only. Further, she said, "I'm going to replace your collet this time," with a rising inflection on the final two words as an elementary teacher might allow you conditionally to go to the lavatory in the middle of class. I told her that I honestly was unaware of this restriction.

    After this conversation, I decided to study up on it a bit. About the Cam-Lock puller, the Hornady web site does in fact now say, "Intended for Rifle Cartridges Only." I bought mine a number of years ago from Midway, so I looked at their site to see if they mention restrictions. Midway doesn't limit the use to rifle bullets, but they say, "Not for use with cast bullets." Hmmm.

    Okay, so what do the paper instructions I got with the puller say? This is a direct quote:

    "There are thirteen different collets that will pull most any bullet, from 17 caliber to 458 caliber, except a flush seated wad cutter." My highlighting the "most any bullet" phrase; they don't say anything about rifle bullets only or no cast bullets. The part about flush seated wadcutters makes sense because they wouldn't present any surface for the collet to grip on. Apparently, the restrictions as to rifle bullets has only come about since my puller was made; my printed instructions are dated 3/2003.

    I'm very happy with my Hornady Cam-Lock bullet puller; I've used it many times to disassemble rifle ammunition and it works very well in that function. Evidently Hornady has changed their minds about it being used for pistol cartridges and their advice is to use the kinetic puller tool for those.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,851 Senior Member
    I may get me one of those Hornady's. Since I don't currently load for my handguns it would work for me. I'm still using the same RCBS Inertia puller I had when this thread first came out. But I have been pulling more bullets lately and I'm tired of knockin my brains out. The RCBS is stouter than the other popular brands but I know it's only a matter of time til I knock the head off the thing.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • jaywaptijaywapti Senior Member Posts: 4,517 Senior Member
    Thanks for the heads up, I have been using a Forester for years, never liked it damaged too many bullets.

    JAY
    THE DEFINITION OF GUN CONTROL IS HITTING THE TARGET WITH YOUR FIRST SHOT
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Senior Member Posts: 7,342 Senior Member
    Since I originally posted this years back, I have been overwhelmingly pleased with the Cam-Lock puller. When adjusted properly, there is no discernible damage or impairment to the bullets. I routinely pull bullets from failed test loads and have no loading or accuracy issues at all when reusing them with the successful load recipe.

    However, gmerkt made a good note about the collet puller and its issues with cast handgun bullets. There are a few other exceptions for using this tool, and the general theme of things is that there must be enough friction available to make it work. Moly/other lube coated bullets that are deep-seated are another example of a bullet type with which the Hornady Cam-Lock pullet has trouble. Without some exposed shank, there just isn't enough bite there with these bullets for the tool to work, and you'll most likely deform them before you get enough grab to make it happen. That's why these types of press-mounted pullers may never completely replace the hammer-style/inertial versions. Sometimes, there's just no substitute to get things done.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • gmerktgmerkt New Member Posts: 6 New Member
    I'm still using mine where bullet design permits.  Sometimes when I work up a hand load, I get to the upper regions and don't want to progress to the hotter rounds.  Those just have to be disassembled, there's no screwing up involved.  Although I've done enough of that, too.  Also, when we used to be able to get cheap salvage ammo at the gun show, etc., this tool is good for that.  

    As previously stated, if there is enough straight wall exposed on the bullet shank, you can successfully pull pistol bullets.  In spite of what the manufacturer says.  Including cast lead if they aren't crimped too heavily.  
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,851 Senior Member
    edited November 2018 #26
    gmerkt said:
    I'm still using mine where bullet design permits.  Sometimes when I work up a  rounds.  Those just have to be disassembled, there's no screwing up involved.  Although I've done enough of that, too.  Also, when we used to be able to get cheap salvage ammo at the gun show, etc., this tool is good for that.  

    As previously stated, if there is enough straight wall exposed on the bullet shank, you can successfully pull pistol bullets.  In spite of what the manufacturer says.  Including cast lead if they aren't crimped too heavily.  
    And after all these years I'm still procrastinating about getting one. I had just met my now new wife when this thread came out 7 1/2 years ago. This thread is already mummified. It's at least a fossil by now. However, it's still a very pertinent subject for sure. But for me bullet pullers are something that I very seldom have need for. However, when I do have a need for one I need it "NOW!" Years back I had loaded some rounds for my 6MM Remington and I had erroneously dropped a few tenths grains too many powder and although it shot ok I got cold feet about that load and went and bought an inertia puller. I had seen it on the shelf of my favorite LGS for years and knew just where it was so I ran down and bought it. Though it was a pain in the ass, it worked ok and got done what I needed. I later lost it in a divorce and didn't replace it until......You guessed it, I needed one "RIGHT NOW!" I still have that one but I have had problems with it. Some bullets just don't want to come loose. If this Hornady works half as good as it sounds on this thread I want one because I feel like the inertia puller is about to throw the head off with each blow. I would want to have both, the inertia for emergencies and the Hornady for more routine situations. Maybe one day.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • gmerktgmerkt New Member Posts: 6 New Member
    Snake 284, you lost a bullet puller in a divorce??  That must've been some contentious procedure.  My wife of 45 years wouldn't even know what a bullet puller is.   I've heard of ruptured couples fighting over children, motor homes, vacation properties, Lord knows even time shares.  But a bullet puller, that's a new one for me.  

    Whether you use a bullet puller or not, they are nice to have on hand.  Just like any other tool, for hand loading or otherwise.  I have two roll-away tool chests, doubt if I use more than 10 of what's in them now in the course of an average year.  Some of that is my age and I'm not doing much automotive work anymore.  But that one stinking single tool when needed is needed badly.   

    The trick with using the inertial bullet puller is in how it's held. Hold it tight enough to hang onto it, but let your wrist move.  Imagine that the puller is swinging on the end of your hand, your arm is moving less than the puller.  Let the handle of the puller pivot in your hand.  Don't hold the puller in a rigid death grip.  
  • zorbazorba Senior Member Posts: 19,553 Senior Member
    In other words, "its all in the wrist". I can see how that'd work.
    -Zorba, "The Veiled Male"

    "If you get it and didn't work for it, someone else worked for it and didn't get it..."
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,851 Senior Member
    edited March 8 #29
    gmerkt said:
    Snake 284, you lost a bullet puller in a divorce??  That must've been some contentious procedure.  My wife of 45 years wouldn't even know what a bullet puller is.   I've heard of ruptured couples fighting over children, motor homes, vacation properties, Lord knows even time shares.  But a bullet puller, that's a new one for me.  

    Whether you use a bullet puller or not, they are nice to have on hand.  Just like any other tool, for hand loading or otherwise.  I have two roll-away tool chests, doubt if I use more than 10 of what's in them now in the course of an average year.  Some of that is my age and I'm not doing much automotive work anymore.  But that one stinking single tool when needed is needed badly.   

    The trick with using the inertial bullet puller is in how it's held. Hold it tight enough to hang onto it, but let your wrist move.  Imagine that the puller is swinging on the end of your hand, your arm is moving less than the puller.  Let the handle of the puller pivot in your hand.  Don't hold the puller in a rigid death grip.  
    Dude, it's a long story, but I'll see if I can speed it up for ya. I was working over seas and when I came home nobody picked me up at the airport. So I rented a car. Then when I got home she was sleeping in another bedroom. When the CaCa hit the fan I went and filed and she went and filed I took about 10 guns out to my parents home. She told me I could come back for the rest of my stuff the next week. When I went to the house the next Monday she was at work and the kids were there but they didn't have a key to my safe room where everything was because she had had the locks changed on everything and I couldn't get crap. When I said I lost the bullet puller, I meant I lost all my reloading stuff, press, dies, powder scale, the whole kabootle. Everything was in the steel lined closet or small room actually and she had changed the lock which kept me from getting to anything. Those are NOT good memories, but there you have it. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't innocent by a long shot (Takes two to tango). But it still hurt. I didn't have time to fight about it because I had to go back overseas to work. I not only lost the reloading stuff, but I lost about 20 guns too.

    Now that's how you lose a bullet puller in a divorce.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
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