I’m not going to write about Chippendale cabinetry; this is a post for manly men and women. The subjects are a portable benchrest that is quite unusual and a reloading bench that is of the first order.
All the portable benchrests I’ve seen and used make at least some effort to be lightweight, compact, and adjustable. This is nice, but the price you pay for these features is tremors, shakes, wobbles, palpitations, gyrations, and vibrations. This stuff does not help you shoot good.
On the other hand, there is the bench made by Stukeys Sturdy Shooting Benches in Powell, WY (pictured above). It is not light. The combined weight of the top and the three legs is close to 70 pounds. (I knew it had arrived at my house because I heard a tremendous crash in my garage. When I got there, I found the box and a note from the UPS driver that said: “If you ever do this to me again I’ll pull your brains out through your nose.” Not to worry; Stukey does a beautiful job of packing; you might pause to admire it before you take the box apart.) The SSSB does not adjust. There is nothing that can loosen, wobble, flex, or quake. If you would like something to compare it to, I suggest the Hoba meteorite in Namibia, which weighs 60 tons. The legs will handle any kind of reasonably flat surface, but if you wish to shoot on the slopes of Mt. Everest you will do well to look for something else.
The SSSB does set up and taken down quickly because it’s extremely simple. And then it is as inert as Congress, no matter what you or your rifle do. It is as steady as any permanent concrete bench I have shot off. I fired a .375 H&H from it and the SSSB did not budge an iota. The bench comes with an optional leg caddy which I highly recommend, since it keeps the massive legs in a tidy bundle. It ain’t cheap, but boy is it solid. You can get it from Brownell’s or from email@example.com.
I believe we’ve established that if you don’t reload, especially in these days of ammo shortages, you need a checkup from the neck up because there’s something the matter with you. But in any event, if you’re just getting into reloading, one of the things that you’ll discover, and fast, is that you need a strong bench on which to mount your press. This is because loading presses are heavy, and the forces you exert on them are considerable, and this kind of strain, applied to the average bench, will tear it to flinders and shards.
Since most people have limited space in which to roll their own ammo, size is a consideration as well. The neatest solution to the problem that my rheumy eyes have seen is the Bald Eagle Reloading Bench, which is sold by Brownell’s. It’s made of laminated birch in butcher block style, measures 54″x 21″, is a yard tall and has an accessory shelf mounted on its legs. It’s very, very solid, and a handsome piece of furniture as well. Drilling into it to install your press is as painful as drilling into your forearm, although less bloody. Some assembly is required, but the directions were written by someone whose first language is English, and everything fits together very quickly and very neatly. It ain’t cheap. So what. To get a look, click here.
While we’re on the subject, you should also spend $41 on the RCBS Accessory Base Plate-2. This is an unattractive metal casting that mounts between your press and your bench. It has pre-drilled holes for RCBS presses, and you can drill your own holes if you have something else. It takes the strain off the top of your bench and puts it on the Base Plate, giving you a much more rigid installation than you would get otherwise. I had one under my Bonanza Co-Ax press for something like 30 years and never even had to tighten the nuts. Go to RCBS.com.