Friday, September 9, 2016

Introduction to the Lyman 310 tong tool: Part 1

Last June I wrote an article on making a simple powder dipper for a "project" and it wasn't until recently I realized that I never explained the project further. This last year I've been living in a very small space while preparing to move yet again. The project was a complete reloading set up I could fit in a small tool box, I had reviewed a lee whack-a-mole type reloader and this was indeed one option for such a set up however... The room I was staying in was in a house with about 10 other people. The whack-a-mole was not going to work (hint it makes a lot of noise unless you have a heavy block to use under it). The next option I had I came across by accident. Lyman 310 tong tools...something I've seen but never really looked into.  I happened to obtain a set of the tongs with a few dies from an estate purchase I had made earlier in the year. I liked the theory behind the tool and thought it would work out very well for what I had in mind. The room I was staying in was about 10'x6' give or take so not even a true reloading bench was possible. I did however have a small computer desk as a multi function surface...dining table, reloading bench, computer desk, writing desk etc.  This gave me enough space for a powder scale, reloading block and misc accessories.

The 310 tool gets its model number from the combination of the "Ideal #3" tool and the "Ideal #10" tool. I am not going to present much info on the rarity or collectible value of the plethora of iterations these types tools have had since their inception rather this is meant to be a practical introduction to somebody who wants to get one of these unique loading tools for themselves. And some things to watch out for along the road to building your micro reloading kit. Note if you are looking at a die set to purchase you may want to skip to part 2 to gain a understanding of what to look for in purchasing your 310 tong tool dies.

#1.Handles a.k.a tongs, pliers, nutcrackers.....

Two types of "modern" 310 tongs. Large/rifle type on the left, small/pistol type on the right.
First you will need to decide what caliber you will be reloading for as your handle selection will be based on this. Above you can see the Lyman 310 large handle (left) and small handle (right). I desired to load .38spl and .357 magnum so a small handle is what the dies I were to be using required. The handles themselves have some important features that make it a truly versatile tool in it of itself.

First feature you might notice is the shell hook, this spring loaded hook acts as an extractor pulling cases out of the dies once you've performed the desired step (bullet seating, decapping, belling, etc.). The hook is adjustable for engagement using the adjusting screw on the other side of the grip. You will need to tune the hook for proper engagement as too much may scrape and damage brass and too little will slip off the case rims.

Side view of hook and adjustment screw 

Loosen nut, adjust as needed, tighten nut.

The next feature you will notice is the where the case is inserted for the various operations. There should be a  ring present on any "complete" die set you purchase for tong tool use. These rings are the "shell adapters" each one is stamped with a number that correlates with a cartridge, below we see #1 which is for my beloved 38/357 as well as the #2 which is for 30/06 and 45ACP type cases.

#2 adapter for 30/06, .243, 45acp etc.

Side view of shell adapter needed for tong tools

Threaded shell adapters help align the cartridge cases ensuring accurate introduction to the dies.

It is important to note that 310 reloading dies come in 2 types, the tong tool type that can be used with the aforementioned type handles and the reloading press type. The reloading press dies can not be used with the tool handles successfully, you will run into problems. The biggest issue is with the combination re-sizer die or CMR marked die. More info on this issue will be covered in part 2. 

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