You’ll recall from my SHOT Show 2022 coverage that I spent a fair bit of time talking to the gents at Armanov. Armanov is a small business based out of Slovenia that makes a variety of useful reloading equipment, along with some miscellaneous magazine extensions and grips. It appears most of their products are CNC machined from aluminum, which is de rigeur these days.
I purchased the “Ammo Checker Bundle 3-in-1” in 9mm. This is a “hundo gauge”, as the cool kids say, which is a case gauge that lets you check 100 loaded cartridges of 9mm at a time. This may seem excessive to some people, but for the competition shooting crowd who are sometimes reloading 1000+ rounds a month, it’s a fast and easy way to check the quality of your reloads and ensure that they are at least nominally match ready (assuming your powder dropped, anyways).
What did I think? Read on.
Disclaimer of sources of bias: I received this product at 20% off via a coupon that was being freely handed out at SHOT Show. I also kinda like these guys in general… you’ve got to have some real enthusiasm for what you do to show up at SHOT as a small business (which is an expensive endeavor, doubly so if you’re international). That said, this thing was hardly cheap even after the coupon, so I feel like I’m going to be critical if it doesn’t work.
I ordered the ammo checker bundle on Sunday, January 23rd. It came on January 26th. They sent it from Slovenia. While this isn’t a review of their shipper choice, mad props to DHL Express for getting this thing across an ocean faster than I’ve gotten things via USPS Priority from the next state over. What I am trying to say is that even if I got an exceptionally good shipping time, you should not be scared that this is shipping from Europe, and you will probably get it in something resembling a reasonable time frame.
The ammo checker was well packaged for its fantastic journey, and I was even more surprised when I opened the package up. The checker comes in a cute little black case, which also contained the other components of the bundle. It seemed like this case was really only designed for the checker, so one possible area of improvement would be tweaking the foam inside for the bundle. But this is not a big deal as things go.
The ammo checker bundle consists of three things:
- The hundred cartridge ammo checker with its flip cover
- The brass stencil (and pen)
- The OAL uniformer (which is a plastic plate that fits into the bottom of the checker – more on this in a moment)
All of the components really exuded a quality feel. The machining was impeccable, and the anodization was perfect. It was a nice way to kick off my introduction to Armanov. But, looking nice isn’t the point… the real question is, does it work?
To give the checker a fair shake, I pulled 100 loaded cartridges from my buffer pile of loaded ammo. This is ammo that I have not gauged or otherwise checked, and it basically sitting in a bin waiting to be boxed. I then put these cartridges in the case gauge to make sure 1) the checker had been machined correctly and 2) whether my ammo had been loaded correctly.
Before you freak out, I put that primerless cartridge in there to illustrate the utility of the checker in visually verifying primers. I am happy to confirm that the checkers appears to have been machined correctly! All one hundred individual gauges worked as expected… and my ammo seems to be in nominally good shape.
But, this is where the OAL uniformer comes in. This is a plastic piece that slots into the bottom of your checker:
What this does is put the NOSES of your bullets on an even plane, showing any cartridges which have a bullet loaded deeper or more shallow than other cartridges.
In the above picture, you can see all the rounds raised up a bit due to the OAL uniformer. Fortunately for me, every single round was the same height! One other trick you can do with the OAL uniformer – not documented – is use it to do a quick pass on the top of your brass case heads to make sure no primers are sticking up too far. I don’t think it would save you from one that’s just a little high, but it might catch one higher than that.
Anyways, the brass stencil is the next thing I tried. I don’t really bother recovering my brass. 9mm is cheap, and most places I shoot don’t make it easy to recover. But if I was shooting something like 38 Super, I’d be writing my name on every piece of brass in an effort to recover it. The stencil gives you a way to quickly mark brass in order to show it is yours.
A few lines later, you have all of your brass marked quickly and easily.
Once you’re done marking your precious brass, it’s time to get it into a box. The guys at Armanov have a solution for you with the flip top. You place the flip top on top of the checker. You flip it all over. The ammo is now in the flip top.
But you don’t want the ammo in the flip top! You want it in your box! Well, the way the flip top is machined, this is easy, too: grab your box, place it on top of the flip top… and flip again:
When you finally pull away the flip top, you have a box full of ammo:
Not a bad trick, right? I prefer mine nose up, but it’s not a big deal when life is made this much easier.
You can imagine I am very pleased with my purchase. The machining was great, the presentation was great, and even the shipping was great. I’m going to be using this thing a bunch. But… let’s talk pricing.
The bundle is $144.80 (plus $10 shipping to the US), or, for me, it was $115..84 (plus shipping). This is not cheap. Even if we do a closer apples to apples comparison, the Armanov checker is $120 vs the $110 pricing of the (anodized) competitors (Lyman and Shockbottle). You are paying slightly more. That’s a fact.
But, here’s the other thing: the Armanov solution also offers more. The OAL checker option is fairly cheap, and it works really well. You get the flip top, which does aid in somewhat easier transfer to boxes. It also has a much nicer presentation and storage solution.
If you need a “hundo” – and large volume reloaders do – I’d recommend the Armanov. It works perfectly, and it’s made by a fantastic up-and-coming company. I am looking forward to checking out their 223 ammo checker, which seemed to have some unique features all its own.
ETA (1/27/2021): the bundle vanished off the website the day after I wrote this review. Not sure why! The individual components are still for sale at a reasonable price.