Sporting Clays Magazine
Spolar Power Load Gold Premier
By Tom Roster
Reloading just keeps getting better and easier. Today, shotgunners have available to them better powders, primers, and wads—and more of them.Highly improved reloading tools are also now being marketed.
The Spolar Power Load Gold Premier fully progressive reloading press is without a doubt one of the very best of the new breed of modern presses. And I say that from reloading experience that spans nearly 30 years. In writing reloading columns and features for various magazines, plus having authored reloading manuals both self- published and for various companies, I’m pretty sure I’ve worked with nearly every reloading press ever manufactured in North America.
That’s why it’s fun to write about this super press from Spolar. If you’re after user- friendly ease of operation, the Spolar Power Load Gold Premier is the press for you. If you’re after easily interchangeable tooling setups for various gauges on the same progressive machine, this is the press for you. And if you want all the above with super reliable and simple hydraulic operation, the Spolar, again, is the one.
If you’re a fly fisherman, you’ve come to appreciate the value of machined reel parts over cast parts. Properly machined parts are generally stronger and less resistant to bending and damage over time. Depending upon their design, machined parts also offer better wearing characteristics over time. And if you’re going to have things revolve smoothly, especially at high speed, nothing beats ball bearings.
In reloading tools, long life is important. It is also important that loading tool and die adjustments not work loose. Turret heads holding tooling assemblies and shafts operated by handles or hydraulic units to drive the whole press are constantly turning or rotating. Therefore, in reloading presses, ultimate manufacture would include machined parts wherever possible and ball bearings wherever rotation is involved.
This is precisely what the Gold Premier brings to the shotshell reloading market. This is a tool in which virtually every part is machined. Some parts are machined from steel (mostly the black parts on this press), while to keep weight down, other parts are cast from aluminum (mostly the gold- anodized parts). In a world of shotshell reloading presses largely manufactured with cast parts, the Gold Premier stands by itself as a monument to machining. Simply put, I couldn’t find any parts on this press that weren’t machined.
In reloading tools, while moisture may not be a problem, grit from dust, powder residue, and the dirt remaining on once-fired hulls can wear parts that revolve and rotate. The ultimate solution is to incorporate sealed ball bearings wherever possible on revolving and rotating areas of a reloading press. And that’s what the Gold Premier also does. Sealed ball bearings also give the Spolar press butter-smooth operation.
Perhaps the only thing I don’t enjoy about shotshell reloading is that many presses work out of adjustment from vibration and wear caused by dirt. If you’re going to reload on a progressive press, you can’t afford one station getting out of adjustment, which in turn affects all the other stations. The Spolar press also solves that for you. Because of the above- mentioned features, plus the fact that the machining of all Spolar parts is kept to nearly aircraft spec tolerances (in some cases, they are aircraft spec tolerances), the Spolar press is extremely resistant to wear and parts working loose. Shooters I know who use the Gold Premier indicate it just doesn’t get out of adjustment.
The Spolar Power Load Gold Premier is fully progressive, except that you have to add a wad and a hull with each pull of the handle. Since it has a handle, obviously it features manual operation. But you can also easily hook up the Spolar Power Load Hydraulic unit. If you get goosey about the hydraulic operation, with about a 30-second disconnect, you can reinsert the manual handle on the opposite side and continue your work, fix a problem, or whatever.
If you’re a high-volume reloader, you’ll appreciate the shot hopper that holds a full 25-lb. bag of lead shot and the powder hopper that holds one pound of powder. The automatic primer feed has a 400-primer capacity. In other words, you should be able to load nearly
400 l-oz, lead loads on this press before you need to add any shot or primers. Of course, to ensure the most consistent metering of charges with any press, you’ll top off component levels long before they get nearly empty. But the tool’s high loading capacity is clear.
If you have experience with progressive presses and don’t like that each shell is trapped in each station until it’s recycled all the way to the end, this Spolar press is also for you. With a simple 1” counter rotation of the die retaining plate (accomplished by hand), the die holding each shell at each station can be released. This lets you remove the shell still contained in its die to examine components, fix a problem, add buffer, etc. No more being a slave to a reloading press’ cycling process.
If you want to change powder or shot bushings with the Spolar press, you don’t have to drain the hoppers before doing so. You simply rotate the powder and shot hoppers to an “off” position, and the charge bar can be easily removed to change bushings. Rotating the powder and shot hoppers the opposite direction lets you drain each reservoir to accommodate a different powder or shot size.
On any progressive press, the primer feed assembly is nearly always the most complicated, delicate, and subject to failure. The Gold Premier primer feed assembly is indeed complicated, but it is very disinclined to failure or problems. The reason lies first in the design of the massive primer tray. Second, the tray rests on a very rugged support at a relatively flat angle. This prevents primers from tip- ping over, which is the number-one problem in steeply angled and/or flimsy primer trays.
The Gold Premier does not depend upon gravity or press operation vibrations to move the primers from the tray down the primer feed to the hull. Rather, this tool features an electric vibrator that periodically vibrates the primer tray and primer track to keep the train of primers moving. The primers migrate to the very front of the press, where the operator can see whether a primer is dropped properly into the primer-holding cup for insertion into the hull. This is an extremely important feature both from a safety standpoint and from knowing for certain if a primer has been loaded without having to wait for powder spilling out to tell you it hasn’t. The vibration also maintains consistent compaction of powder and shot in their respective reservoirs, which ensures extremely uniform charging without the need for baffles.
The crimps this tool produces are great. Crimping is accomplished via three stations-crimp starting, crimp finishing, and radius crimping. This achieves all the features of a factory crimp and assures smooth chambering. .
Who principally buys this new Spolar progressive press? According to Carter Spolar, president of Spolar Power Load, the high-volume target shooter has been the principal customer, particularly those shooting skeet. Carter indicates Spolar probably sells more four-gauge sets than anything. Spolar’s customers like the ease of gauge changes without having the expense or hassle of buying several presses or hydraulic units (if they’re using one) or reattaching a single hydraulic unit. Spolar customers also appreciate that the Spolar factory will custom adjust your press and die sets to the exact components you specify that you will be loading for each gauge before shipping. No adjustments are needed unless you change the reloading formula.
You’ll like the Spolar hydraulic unit option. It’s an extremely simple and reliable system that incorporates solenoids rather than mechanical operation. Spolar even sells its hydraulic unit to Ponsness- Warren owners, although P-W does not warrant its presses if used with any hydraulic unit other than a P-W.
At $1,550 retail for the press (one gauge) and $1,195 for the hydraulic unit, this progressive setup isn’t cheap. But it’s worth it. Good machining and high-quality operation, plus the fact that it doesn’t get out of adjustment, make the Spolar Power Load Gold Premier a pleasure to operate.
The only glitches I could find occurred when pushing the handle back too fast. This can cause a primer to flip in the primer cup. Also, if you operate the handle too fast, shot can hop out of the shells. This is caused by operating error, not an inherent problem with the press design. On this press, you do not want spilled powder and shot because of the extremely close machining tolerances, so you need to clean it up.
The press is not yet adaptable to 3" or 3½" 12 gauge or 10 gauge. Spolar has received hardly an inquiry in this regard. They do have 3" 410 bore and 2½" 16 & 12 gauge. When I questioned Carter about the feasibility of loading other shot types on the Spolar, he indicated that bismuth shot would not be a problem, but steel could get a little rugged because it doesn’t want to shear. Additionally, there are no shot bushings available from Spolar (which uses Hornady bushings) specifically set up for steel shot. The same goes for bismuth. In truth, he indicated that until my question, he’d never had any inquiries about loading steel on the press.
The Spolar Power Load Gold Premier is one heck of a fine progressive reloading instrument. In my opinion, it’s also well worth the price. I don’t think any high-volume shooter would be anything but pleased with it. For more information, contact Spolar at or (800) 227-9667; www.spolargold.com
Reprinted with permission from the October 2000 issue of Sporting Clays magazine. For subscription information call (800) 376-2237 or go to: www.sportingclays.net
Shotgun Sports Magazine
An excerpt by C. Scott
"My self-prescribed cure for sore shoulders(s) was... I bought two loaders and one hydraulic pump with a quick-release fitting so I could use one pump for both loaders. If you have never witnessed hydraulic loaders in action, you should. They are a dream to use. I can pump out a perfectly loaded shell about every four seconds. The only motion required is simultaneously inserting a new hull and wad, and then tapping on a foot lever."
An excerpt by Nick Sisley
I've been putting a Spolar Gold Premier .410 through it paces and even a comment like: "This is the finest reloader I've ever seen, with every desirable feature imaginable", would still be an understatement. "The Spolar operates so well because (at least one reason) of its sealed ball bearings and oil-light bushings." "I've reloaded about 1,000 .410's on the Spolar so far and have never had one primer hang-up." "The quality is better than anything you've seen to date."
By Bob Hartman, Publisher and true believer in the SpolarGold reload.
What I seek is a competitive load that I can count on for consistency. I want to know, with out a shadow of doubt, that I have shells which perform the same each and every time. When in the heat of competition, and especially on the shoot-off line, I need, no demand, utmost confidence in the performance of my shell. I choose the reload produced by the SpolarGold. Why? Because when I started shooting SpolarGold reloads my scores went up. And, I noticed that none of my attention was directed to wondering whether or not I had the right shell to get the job done. I sought a soft shooting shell that delivered 1200 FPS, always. After shooting the SpolarGold reloads for several months I had them tested. All of the tests reported between 1200 to 1205 FPS, NOW THAT'S CONSISTENCY! I'm a very happy camper with my SpolarGold, it nailed my objective. Oh, by the way, the SpolarGold is the easiest, fastest, and most maintenance free reloader I've every used.
By Jim Gast
I've waited a couple of days to get back to you on the operation of the new Spolar I just started to use, thinking there would probably be some kind of a problem I couldn't handle etc. I changed the die set over to the 20 ga. to begin with, since this is the most common shell I load. Just finished loading 3000 shells, absolutely the best operating loader I have ever used, and I have gone thru a lot of loaders over the past 35 years, beginning with a Lee hand set, thru Mec, Pacific, PW and others. The attention to detail and follow thru in manufacturing specs for this loader is just outstanding. (Outside of the vendor that makes the 3/8 ports in the 1" manifold head for the hydraulic unit.) As I told Dicksie on the phone, I loaded about 250 shells using the hand lever, just to get a feel for the machine...then hooked up the hydraulics. I loaded the first 100 shells in 7 1/2 minutes, without really working for speed. My main purpose in getting the hydraulic unit was ease of operation and alleviating my tendinitis, but the smooth flow of the loader in hydraulic operation makes loading easy, fast, and kind of fun again! Thanks for porducing such a great machine, and feel free to use me for a reference in the Midwest any time!
By James Rausch
It is the smoothest most trouble free loader I have ever used...
I have loaded over 7000 shells not one bad one. I have had Mec-PW-Dillon. I have not made one adjustment and it loads
a perfect shell.
Thank you Spolar
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