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There comes a time in the reloading world where you find yourself want to "un-do" some cartridges. It could be the result of your getting a bunch of surplus ammo for which you have no desire to shoot but wish to reclaim the bullets. Another possible reason....you realize that you just loaded a couple hundred rounds of your favorite rifle load using the wrong powder. In this case, you want to reclaim everything....brass, powder, and bullets. Regardless of how it came to be that you wish to disassemble a cartridge, rest assured there are a couple of easy methods by which to do it. Let's take a look at them so you can decide which method (or both) is right for you.
Looking like a futuristic hammer, the RCBS kinetic bullet puller could be passed off as just that. I bought this one back in the 70's when I first got into reloading and it is still in use some 30+ years later. Pay no attention to the blue tape. There is a story for that which has nothing to do with this write-up. RCBS now offers a newer version which they call the Pow'r Pull Impact Bullet Puller Kit. It works in the same fashion as the older version but does not use a metal shaft. I've seen mixed reviews online at various big box stores. I've probably pulled less than 100 bullets with mine (never had to pull them because of the wrong powder) so perhaps I've simply not used mine enough to see any shortcomings.
How does it work? The kinetic puller consists of just three parts. The body of the puller is threaded on one end and it is also attached to the handle. The cap of the puller is also threaded and screws onto the body. Beneath the cap sits a three finger collet that holds the case head very firmly once the cap is tightened.
Here is a close-up of the puller with a 7.62x51 NATO cartridge ready to have its bullet removed. Military cartridges are typically much more diffcult to pull when compared to consumer ammo or your own reloads. This is because the bullet is often times coated with a sealant (for water proofing) and breaking that loose can be a challenge.
At this point, the next step is to begin whacking the end of the bullet puller (the other end, not the end with the threaded cap) on a very hard surface. The momentum of the bullet, upon the puller impacting a hard surface, causes the bullet to dislodge from the case. I typically put a couple of rolled up gun cleaning patches in the bottom of the body to act as sort of a cushion when the bullet is released from the case. When the bullet is freed, the cap is completely removed and the case removed from the collet. The bullet and powder can then be removed from the puller body. That's it....reassemble with the next cartridge to pull and repeat until done.
The 2nd method offered by RCBS requires a reloading press. Since this bullet pulling scenario would most likely be done person that is already reloading, I don't see this as being any kind of disadvantage. It is a little more elegant and certainly a lot quieter than the previous method.
The RCBS collet bullet puller die was packaged in a typical RCBS die case. The instructions pamphlet provides modest directions to help separate the bullet from the brass.
Since the collet bullet puller uses a reloading press, you will need a shell holder of the appropriate size for the cartridge you will be using. I'll be pulling a tracer bullet from a 7.62x51 cartridge in the following photos so I'm using a #2 shell holder. A collet is also required that matches the bullet caliber (not supplied with the bullet puller itself). The above photo shows two collets, the one on the left is for .30 caliber while the one on the right is for pulling .22 caliber bullets.
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