How do you improve on something that already has “perfect” in its name? To Millennialize Mr. Robinson’s investment advice to Dustin Hoffman’s college-age character in the 1967 movie, The Graduate, “Software, my boy, software.”
We shared the Annealing Made Perfect machine with readers back in 2017. This tabletop annealer is remarkable in several respects: compact and self-contained, storing easily on a shelf; heating via magnetic induction, it has no open flame or heating element; no moving parts; it is very fast, annealing a case in about two seconds; and being computer controlled it anneals cases with absolutely precise case-to-case consistency. The machine anneals so precisely that users reference the AMP website library for the case manufacturer’s lot number of the cartridge case they wish to anneal in order to program their machine. AMP builds this library from the sample cases sent by users to the company in New Zealand; analyzes the sample cases at no charge and informs the user via email the programing code number to enter into the machine to precisely anneal the cases from that lot. The code number then posts to the AMP website library for other users to reference.
Though 21st century technology, any handloader from 1967 would be comfortable with the AMP’s controls.
AZTEC for AMP
New software from AMP, which the company calls AZTEC, eliminates the time consumed by international shipping and individual analysis; with AZTEC, the AMP machine itself analyzes the brass case and generates a program code number for proper annealing. Analysis requires the machine to destroy one “sacrificial” case, but that’s a lot cheaper than international shipping. New Mark II model AMPs come with AZTEC installed; those who own the earlier Mark I model can download AZTEC from the AMP website.
Downloading AZTEC is not free, though AMP still does not charge for analyzing cases sent to their lab in New Zealand. Cost of the software upgrade for Mark I AMP annealers is $195; upon online payment, AMP provides the user instructions on how to download the software via the internet into their AMP machine (a USB cable to connect the AMP to a home computer or laptop is already included with purchase of the machine).
Annealing eases case conversions by making brass necks and shoulders more malleable. (l.-r.) .222 Rem case, after annealing, and after forming to .17-222.
Case Conversions Made Easier
Downloading AZTEC into my laptop to transfer to my Mark I AMP annealer took only a few minutes. My first use of AZTEC was to anneal .222 Remington cases to form into .17-222. The machine’s dot matrix display and three pushbuttons are perhaps a bit 1967-ish by 2020 touch-screen standards, but they are completely adequate for their simple tasks. Following prompts on the display, I inserted the first “sacrificial” Winchester brand .222 case into the machine, which turned the case into toast in about five seconds and advised me to program code “0133” to anneal the Winchester brass. Next, I sacrificed a Sako brand .222 case, and again within five seconds the AMP came up with code “0134” to program for proper annealing of those cases.
Forming .17-222 from .222 Remington is relatively simple, using one form die and a trim die before full-length resizing. Annealing case necks and shoulders before forming softens the brass, making it more malleable; this in turn makes case forming easier and helps extend case life. For those who handload for competition, precise case annealing aids precision shooting in ensuring consistent neck tension on every bullet released down the bore.
Programing AZTEC to precisely anneal a specific case lot requires a sacrificial case, which AZTEC thoroughly toasts to get its program data.
First, as a comparison, I formed several .17-222 cases without annealing, which needed considerable oomph on the press handle. A failure to lubricate cases generously enough required employment of a stuck case remover. After running cases through the AMP annealer using AZTEC’s codes, they formed with significantly less effort and I experienced no more stuck cases (though the latter may be due more to lesson-learned caution to use enough lube). In testing upper-limit pressure loads in these annealed and converted cases to discover highest practical velocity, not a single one suffered a split neck or shoulder through multiple reloadings.
Precision reloading for precision shooting has evolved since 1967, but it comes at some cost. At around $1,395 the Mark II AMP machine with AZTEC installed is a bit pricey, but if your handloading goals include utmost precision or cartridge conversions, the AMP is a high-quality tool worth the money in convenience, speed, safety and repeatable, precise annealing. If you already own the Mark I model AMP, the AZTEC software upgrades your Mark I into a truly independent, standalone device needing no further factory support.