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Co-Ax Single Stage Press Overview

I do quite a bit of 300 Winchester Magnum reloading for my long range precision shooting, back in 2014 I ended up buying a pretty beefy Lee Single Stage Press which works fine for the most part. My take on the market was that most single stage presses were built quite similar and as long as they had enough cast iron and a 7/8 thread for a die they worked fine. At the 2016 SHOT Show I ran into something a quite a bit different, while I've heard about the Forster Co-Ax I haven't gotten to seen it up close and none of my shooting buddies own one, the friendly reps gave us a good overview of the press and what makes it so different from anything else.

The Forster Co-Ax comes in one size fits all platform. It is able to take standard 7/8th in dies and is able to fit a 338 Lupa Magnum case (though I was told be the rep to seat a bullet for the 338 Lupa you do need to put the bullet in sideways as there isn't very much clearance left). The press it self is a very well built piece of engineering, lots of cast iron and 2 guide rods the action is very smooth and rigid. The neat thing with the handle being in the middle is it is ambidextrous out of the box for both left and right hand shooters. And due to the size and design of the lever arm you get a lot of mechanical advantage so FL sizing of large calibers wouldn't be an issue compared to some H type presses. A primer catch extends from the bottom to catch primers that fall though, and is well designed so primers don't go flying around your shop.

Starting at the bottom this press does not use shell holders, but instead a 2 piece jaw system that is spring loaded to hold the casing. The jaws operate with the handle, so in the up position the jaws open letting you to place the casing in, and then close as you start articulating the handle. The spring loaded system let the casing "float" a little so as the casing enters the die it will self center insuring that the casing is perfectly concentric to the die. And the best part is you only need two sets of jaws (S and LS) to cover almost every rifle caliber (the press comes with one).

Now most presses have a threaded hole for a die, and you use a die with a locking ring to index the die position. The Co-Ax takes a different approach, with a precision cut grove at the top of the press, you simply slide in the die, and the press indexes on the lock ring (they recommend a Forster one). This allows the user to quick change dies, and using the lock rings ensure that every die is indexed at the precise right height. Also since the die isn't locked in place, this in combination with the jaw case holder lets the casing index it self into the die ensuring that the case is concentric to the die.

Up on top next to the die holder, there's also a built in priming system. My biggest grip on the usual single stage machines is how they prime, usually though the shell holder/ram with some spring loaded mechanism. The Co-Ax uses a set of jaws you can just to fit any caliber then a ram that is operated by the presses handle to seat the primer. The primer rod has a a base that pushes up against the cartridge head then the rod with the primer goes up to seat the primer. This system ensures the primer is always seated perfectly and due to a very tight tolerance on all the parts eliminates jams and and such.

Overall it's a very nice, precise and compact press for precision loading of rifle ammo. With many convinces built into the design, it seems like a great choice for most precision shooters and why it has a lot of popularity in the community. It has a MSRP of $420 which is out of the budget of some shooters, but a street price of around $299.99 it isn't out the reach.

-- Mark Liu - 02 Feb 2016

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Topic revision: r1 - 03 Feb 2016 - MarkLiu
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