Reloading ammunition is highly repetitive work that demands complete focus and attention. However, when you reload thousands of times, a mistake is bound to happen. You can easily get distracted during the process and forget to check if the primer tube ran dry. Plus, after loading, you might have a hunch that you forgot to add powder, or maybe you double charged by mistake.
Whenever you have the slightest doubt regarding the bullet’s integrity, it’s crucial to pull it apart as soon as possible. And the easiest way to pull the shell apart is by using a simple bullet puller. Moreover, given how many of them are out there, it seems like finding a good bullet remover is pretty simple, isn’t it? Well, to be honest, no.
Much like it is with every other item you plan to purchase, there are many things you need to consider before choosing your bullet extractor. And today, we are going to take a look at some of the essential features you need to pay attention to choose only the best bullet puller.
What Is and How Does a Bullet Puller Work?
The bullet puller term can be a bit misleading because most people think it is a tool that can remove stuck cartridges. However, the actual utility of a bullet extractor is to remove the bullet from within the cartridge casing. Hence why it’s often referred to as a “bullet remover.”And after you take off the bullet, you can easily discard the power charge.
Have you ever pounded on a ketchup bottle to try and get the liquid inside to flow? In a nutshell, the same principle applies to the kinetic bullet puller. Gravity and kinetic energy will aid you in removing the bullet from the brass casing. You simply slip the bullet puller collet over the cartridge, and afterward, place it bullet-down inside the bullet puller. Once you make sure that the cap is neatly screwed inside, you can thump the bullet puller onto a hard surface.
However, given that plastic is the material of choice for bullet pullers, we strongly suggest you avoid concrete or metal surfaces for this job. Instead, use wood surfaces. It will only take a few strikes, and the bullet cap will detach, causing all the powder to pour out.
Why Do You Need a Bullet Removal Tool?
Don’t take any chances when live rounds are involved. When the primer gets crooked sideways or upside down, you don’t have any other option than to remove it and replace it. Some cases might have cracks or crooked necks that you might not have noticed initially, and that’s precisely the moment a bullet puller becomes a mandatory tool.
It’s also better to perform gunpowder tests every so often. You want to take some random bullets apart and verify that they hold the correct amount of powder. Using a bullet puller for the tasks ensures that all cartridge components will be reusable.
There’s plenty of cartridges lying around at the gun range, and when possible, you should try to decommission them. It’s highly inadvisable to fire unknown cartridges, but nothing stops us from taking a bullet puller to them and holding onto their reusable components.
Are Bullet Pullers Safe?
Yes, bullet pullers are perfectly safe because ignition only occurs when sparks come in contact with the primer. However, the primer will be located within the bullet puller, keeping it secure. On top of that, the only material that might come in contact with the primer will be plastic, and plastic is a poor electricity conductor. If you use the bullet puller according to the manufacturer’s indications, there is simply no chance that ignition will happen. As for collet bullet pullers, there’s no striking involved making them even safer.
Bullet Puller Types
When you want to choose only the best bullet pullers, the first thing you need to consider is what type to go with:
Inertia Bullet Pullers
This bullet extractor type takes advantage of the weight of the bullet and removes it from the case with the help of inertia. Depending on the model, you will either have one adjustable piece or a few different-sized collars. Once the bullet fits snugly within the collar, you simply need to find a wooden surface sturdy enough to take a hit. Take a few swings, and the momentum coupled with the weight of the bullet will cause it to detach from the cartridge and empty inside the tube. The most common inertial bullet pullers on the market can accommodate most calibers. Still, it might be somewhat tricky if you are working with lightweight bullets or very high-caliber ones.
If you are working with pointed bullets, you might want to consider padding inside the bullet hammer puller for when the shell comes apart. And while creating our bullet puller reviews, we’ve found that a foam earplug would be the perfect padding option or, as an alternative, a cotton ball. Also, keep in mind that rounded bullets don’t leave any marks on the plastic container. So you wouldn’t need any padding for them.
Best Inertia Bullet Pullers
Frankford Arsenal Quick-N-EZ Impact Bullet Puller
The bullet puller from Frankford Arsenal does precisely what it sets out to do without having an exorbitant price tag. It comes with three different sized collets able to accommodate calibers from .22 Hornet up to 45-70. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that the whole process goes smoothly. However, you’ll be surprised by how hard you need to smack against a hard surface. Don’t worry that it’s plastic – it will not break.
RCBS Pow’r Pull
Most inertia bullet pullers have roughly the same features. However, what makes RCBS stand out is the fact that they have added an innovative cushion. The cushion will ensure that your bullets and the bullet puller itself won’t get damaged. You’ll notice that we tend to feature RCBS in our bullet puller reviews very frequently, and we also highly recommend their progressive reloading press.
Lyman Magnum Inertia Bullet Puller
Lyman tools offer excellent functionality through well-designed tools. The Magnum Inertia bullet puller is no exception, and the metal shaft is a fantastic addition for those working with high volume. As opposed to the other entries on our list, the Lyman tool only has two collets, but it still gets the job done. Having fewer collets means that you’ll need less swapping while accommodating both small bullets and more significant variants.
Collet Bullet Pullers
When it comes to the collet version of the bullet pullers, you will need a reloading press and the correct collet for your choice of caliber. As we mentioned above, you are using momentum to remove the bullet cap with the inertia bullet pullers. With the collet bullet puller, you will grab the bullet and pull it out. The collet will lower over the shell, and your press will tighten it around. Afterward, simply raise the collet, and release the bullet cap.
Collet bullet pullers are exceptional tools if you need to break down large amounts of ammunition. They are considerably more effective than their inertial counterparts, and they work with most types of presses. Another significant advantage they have over the inertia bullet pullers is that the powder remains in the case. However, if you need to pull apart soft lead bullets, we advise against using a collet bullet puller because it might leave a mark.
Best Collet Bullet Pullers
Hornady Cam-Lock Bullet Puller
Hornady is known to make high-quality reloading gear, and their collet bullet pullers fit in the same category. The Hornady bullet puller can accommodate thirteen different collet sizes from .17 to .458 calibers. It’s important to note that the collets need to be purchased separately, and you will receive the cam lock body, a plunger, and the assembly lever. The tool is ideal if you try to salvage brass from bullets because you won’t leave any dents, and there won’t be any powder spillage.
GRIP-N-PULL Standard Rifle Bullet Puller
This collet bullet puller can accommodate all the rifle calibers. For example, it can pull apart .17 to .30 calibers in just a matter of seconds. Other than that, this bullet extractor is made using 304 stainless steel and comes with a lifetime warranty and a 30-day money full refund possibility. You can find other products from GRIP-N-PULL for all the different bullet calibers, like their large rifle, pistol, and mil-spec collet bullet pullers.
RCBS 9440 Bullet Puller
RCBS has been on the market for almost 60 years, and that says quite a lot about the quality of products they manufacture. The standard ⅞” – 14 threads means that you can use the 9440 bullet puller with most presses. But do keep in mind that the collets need to be purchased separately, and we advise that you buy the ones that fit the bullets you are working with most often. Other than that, this bullet remover is quite impressive if you need to pull apart a high volume of cartridges without ruining the bullets.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Bullet Puller
Compatibility with Calibers
It doesn’t matter if you choose the inertial bullet puller or the collet bullet puller because you need to make sure they accommodate the caliber you are working with most frequently. And usually, inertia bullet pullers work with almost all calibers, while the collet bullet pullers might require you to purchase several collets separately.
You want to make sure that there’s a proper grip on both types of bullet pullers. It’s much more critical for the bullet puller hammer variant because you will need to smack the tool against a hard surface repeatedly. If you purchase an inertial bullet removal tool without a comfortable grip, your hands might suffer the repercussions.
Durability and Safety
Collet bullet pullers are pretty strong and have lifetime warranties, so you don’t need to worry about their durability whatsoever. When it comes to inertia bullet pullers, you want to prioritize tools with metal handles because plastic tends to crack after repeated use. On average, an inertia bullet puller should remain intact for at least a few thousand strikes.
Other than that, both models are very safe and shouldn’t ignite the bullet.
As with most products out there, you must choose a highly reputable brand if you want to benefit from a high-quality, long-lasting tool. The choice is even more relevant when considering that you will smack the device against a hard surface. Therefore, we highly recommend going only with the most reliable and trustworthy brands, such as RCBS, Hornady, Lyman, or Frankford Arsenal.
What Type of Bullet Puller Should You Buy?
It all depends on how many bullets you are trying to break apart and what their calibers are. As a rule of thumb, if you are looking at pulling down more than ten cases per session, you should consider a collet bullet puller. Being efficient and saving time will offset the cost of the tool. However, keep in mind that you will need to purchase various caliber collets that will add up in the long run.
If you aren’t working with high volume, an inertia bullet puller will be ideal for the task. Compared to the collet version, the only caveat is that you need to invest more time in each pulling. If you need to break down only a few bullets or want a tool “just in case,” then an inertial bullet puller would be an ideal option.
And that’s all we wanted to share on the bullet puller! All and all, if you have no experience in this matter, the inertia bullet puller should get the job done without a significant investment. However, if you need to break apart a high volume – consider the collet bullet puller.
With that said, we sincerely hope that our article helped you learn more about how to use bullet puller safely and what brands to prioritize! If you have any questions regarding the best bullet puller 2021 or want to share your experience with using them, feel free to drop us a few lines in the comments below!