Minimum starting equipment, specific question.


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ArmedBear
July 20, 2007, 05:07 PM
I've been reloading shotshells for a while now. I have a powder scale, and a few other things lying around.

I've been thinking about getting a press to reload brass, probably starting with .357.

So what I've been considering is getting an RCBS RC II press, a set of dies and a shell holder.

Besides a funnel, what do I really need?

Is a tumbler really something to get right away?

What about a powder measure, if I'm going to weigh my charges anyway?

A primer dispenser of some sort, or can I just stick the things in by hand?

Or should I just get the starter kit, and have two scales?:)

I know I will want more stuff soon; I just want to start with the minimum, then add on each tool as I really need it, and get the one I really want, not the first or cheapest one I see.

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jmorris
July 20, 2007, 05:54 PM
http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/catalog/browse.cgi?1184967972.3919=/html/catalog/cleeloader.html
That is the least expensive equipment one can buy to reload with <$25 for everything you need except bullets, brass, primers, powder and a gun to shoot with. Oh, and a lot of time as it's also going to take quite a while with this set up.

ArmedBear
July 20, 2007, 05:59 PM
I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said minimum required...:)

I meant "What's on the 'immediate must-have' list, vs. the 'get it when I need it' list?"

I'd like to get a press I can keep indefinitely, and add accessories.

I was thinking about what other tools, besides press and scale, that I really need to start with. I'd rather buy quality, and add quality tools as I go along, than get inferior tools because I buy them all at once and don't have the money to buy all the good stuff up front.

E.g., will I really want to start tumbling my brass right away, or is that not really a big deal? How long does a straight-wall case go before it needs trimming?

I'll buy a good tumbler and a good case trimmer when I need them, but I'd rather buy the good ones later than a cheap one now, if I don't need them right away. That kind of stuff.

I'm thinking:

Press
Dies/holder
Funnel
Scale
Caliper
Basic tools (screwdrivers, allen wrenches, etc. that I already have)

Is there something I'm missing?

While I get consistent volumetric-measured loads from my shotshell reloaders, how useful is an automatic powder measure like a Uniflow, when reloading brass? Can you avoid weighing each load, or do you weigh it anyway?

Thanks again!

kellyj00
July 20, 2007, 06:17 PM
you DEFINITELY want a turret if you're doing more than one caliber (you can mount ALL of your dies and just change a die. Seriously, you can switch between calibers in about 10 seconds. well, after you track down the right brass and bullets and get those out), if you're doing a lot of one caliber, go progressive.

I'd go LEE, for the price they're the best. The Classic Turret press ain't all that much better than the basic turret press, except it does come with a cool little tube that leads all your primers to a bucket when you deprime. Not worth the extra money, I've got a broom and a trash can that cost a lot less.
you're looking at about $65 for this piece.

Get the lee pro auto disk powder measure. It's easy to use and I have yet to find a powder that doesn't meter well in it. It's about $30.

For dies, always get a 4 piece set up if you're getting a 4-hole turret. You only need to set them up once, and you can seperate the bullet seating and crimping processes, this gives you more control over your cartridge. Also, only buy carbide dies...very important. Lee, as far as I know, is the only maker of a 4 die set. Dies are going to be about $30 per caliber.

Now, re the scale. Go digital. Got mine from Midway for $30, and it's incredible. You just turn it on, and set your component on there. Tells you exactly to the 1/10th grain within a second. Also works good as a postal scale, it has 5 different modes from grains to ounces to metric stuff I think. odd. There's nothing wrong with a beam scale, but it takes too darned long. And if it handles 250 grains max, then you can't really weigh in a 45acp bullet very well.... especially if the slug is 230 grain on it's own. The digital that I've got goes up to 750 grain and it runs on watch batteries (supplied)

If you're doing pistol only for now, you can get in cheaper. I don't even own a caliper, but I borrow a friends from time to time. Never really needed it. I don't polish my brass... I don't trim it either, actually maybe I should...nah it's been reloaded quite a few times and I don't really care to. I have a primer pocket reaming tool that I haven't taken out of hte box yet... it was only $2 though.

Oh, you may want to get the lee primer of some sort. Priming on the down stroke is kinda counterintuitive but you do get used to it after a while. I use a safety prime I think, from lee, and it's done very well so far. It was 20 bucks for both large and small primers, but it should last a couple thousand rounds or more. You could always just strap on some gloves and handle the primers yourself, it may be just as easy for ya.

Seriously, without all the bullet stuff itself, you're out probably around $100 for a really nice beginner pistol loader setup. In fact, if you want to PM me, I can walk you through the basics of reloading and all the other gotchas involved in your first loads.

Oh, and no matter what, don't buy a book. They're worthless. I'm gonna get a bunch of flame on this one, but I've got a few sitting around gathering dust that I'd love to sell to ya if you want them....especially this "abc's of reloading" that I only pull out when I want to talk trash on how worthless it is as anything but a history lesson.

I don't care who you are, if you think that LEE doesn't make a good product that'll last a lifetime then you're pulling the lever a hell of a lot harder than I am. It's a good solid press, with a decent warranty.

Werewolf
July 20, 2007, 06:24 PM
1. A turret press - I recommend at least 4 die capable
2. Scale - which you've already got for verifying charges - accurate to .1 gr
3. For pistol - carbide dies
4. A powder dispenser for your turret press that ideally will dispense powder thru your expander die
5. A tumbler to clean brass - a 5 lb bag of pecan shell will last a very long time
6. Calipers that will measure down to the thousandth to measure OAL and case length

That should do you. Lee makes a reasonably good turret press and excellent carbide dies for pistol round reloading. Most bang for the buck IMO.

You can get everything in the list above at midwayusa for a whole lot less moola than you might imagine.

But do the research, ask around someone will chime in about some other manufacturer's turret press.

PotatoJudge
July 20, 2007, 07:45 PM
Get a tumbler, but don't get a case trimmer if you're just doing pistol rounds for now. You can replace lots of stretched pistol brass for the cost of a trimmer. When it comes to rifle reloading, there are good reasons to have a trimmer. Buy accordingly for what you'll load.

Calipers can be cheap, so you might as well drop the $15 (you're not putting together a watch here so they don't have to be great). Good thing is lots of reloading can be measured as "it fits and cycles in my gun," but calipers are nice when things get hinkey.

Buy carbide dies, it's well worth it to not have to mess with case lube and cleaning it off stuff.

Spring for a digital scale, it'll save you lots of time. For moderate power loads you can use a powder scoop and check it against the scale without buying a powder dispenser. For hotter loads, dispensers are nice for consistency though you should still check it against the scale every few charges.

If you're getting a single stage press, get the Lee hand primer. This is one step you can safely do watching tv, and in the middle of the summer it's nice to get inside for some of the work.

RustyFN
July 20, 2007, 09:51 PM
How fast or slow do you want to load. The RC II will load 50 to 75 per hour. The Lee Classic Turret will load around 200 per hour. A set of calipers will come in very handy. I own a Classic Turret and it is a very solid press. It is made of cast iron and steel and made to last a life time. Priming can be done on the press. The brass has to be cleaned before you size them or you will scratch the die and ruin it. The easiest way to do that is a tumbler. They can be found at a good price if you look around.
though if you're putting together standard loads you can just use a powder scoop.
That could be bad juju. A scale is a must. How do you know what the scoop is throwing unless you have a scale to check it on.
Rusty

Hawk
July 20, 2007, 11:00 PM
Welcome to the wooliest corner of the forum! "Legal and Political", "9mm vs .45", "Glock vs 1911 vs XD" will all fade to insignificance in the face of the color wars here. It's a wonder to behold.

While I get consistent volumetric-measured loads from my shotshell reloaders, how useful is an automatic powder measure like a Uniflow, when reloading brass? Can you avoid weighing each load, or do you weigh it anyway?
This is actually a skirmish in the color wars. Overall, volumetric seems to work whether it goes in an arc, slides back and forth or has disks - presumably similar to the "bushings" you and I knew from the other forum.

Unless you're metering corn flakes or cordite, you shouldn't have to weigh each charge.

I'd like to get a press I can keep indefinitely, and add accessories.

I take that as reminiscent of my Dad's advice: "might as well start off with what you're going to wind up with."

A perfunctory "find other posts by ArmedBear" reveals discussions on Cowboy loads, lever rifles with bottleneck cases and the firing of copious amounts of .38 and .357 in the same revolver.

If you're into, or getting into, CAS you'll eventually leap-frog the 4-hole turret - probably sooner than later. Likely a LnL-AP, XL-650 or 1050.

That leaves a single stage for work-up and small lots and most rifle needs. Lee Classic, Hornady LnL Classic, Redding Big Boss, RC2, Lyman Crusher II all good. I wound up with the Redding Big Boss. Might've done the Redding Ultramag had I thought about it. The Forster is a solid choice but was just unique enough I was hesitant to get it as an "only" single stage.

All are adaptable to the Hornady LnL quick-change gizmo except, I think, the Lyman.

Powder Scale: RCBS 1010 or Dillon D-terminator or both.
Loading 30-30 in a '94? - case trimmer for sure.
Dribbler - manual.
Calipers - So far, most of my OALs are derived from the cannelure. Talent and practice is more important than brand with calipers. That said, I have no talent. Remember Starrett? They're still around.
Dies - yup. I've only tried Dillon and Redding. They didn't suck.
Tumbler is a good idea if you gravitate to the progressive or turret, wouldn't hurt with the single.
Media separators - lots of ingenuity in this area in the stickies.

The 4-hole turret, as you've noted, is a pretty popular recommendation but it won't produce like a progressive and is more complicated than a single unless you disconnect certain of the reciprocating and rotating bits. I never saw the charm but it would make a nice compromise product for not a lot of money - didn't seem like that was where you were headed, though.

Besides, it's fun spending other people's money!

PotatoJudge
July 20, 2007, 11:03 PM
What I meant to say was that with a scale and scoop, he can do without a powder dispenser.

I really should have read back over that before posting. Thanks for pointing that out Rusty.

jmorris
July 20, 2007, 11:08 PM
“I meant "What's on the 'immediate must-have' list, vs. the 'get it when I need it' list?"

Immediate must have list would include #1, safety glasses. Everything else depends on what you intend to do, in the long run. If you’re looking at 200 rounds a month you can get by with a single stage and a few hours of your time. If you’re planning on shooting 400 a week you shouldn't waste your money on anything that’s not progressive (and a good one at that, unless your unemployed/student). If you are going after max loads you are going to want a scale and a set of calipers. If your going with light target loads you could set a powder measure (recommended for consistency & will speed things up a bit) to just fill one of the scooper type measures (like the ones that come with Lee dies). You will have a lot of room to work with if you’re using 38 loads in a 357.

Otto
July 20, 2007, 11:59 PM
Or should I just get the starter kit, and have two scales?

Yes. Since you're basically starting from scratch, that's what I would suggest.
http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item.asp?sku=000449357
The only thing extra you'd need is a caliper, a case gauge and of course dies with holders.

However, if you have any inclination of loading more than 800 rounds a month, you should seriously consider a progressive set-up.

Otto
July 21, 2007, 12:13 AM
http://www.leeprecision.com/cgi/cata...leeloader.html
That is the least expensive equipment one can buy to reload with <$25 for everything you need except bullets, brass, primers, powder and a gun to shoot with. Oh, and a lot of time as it's also going to take quite a while with this set up.

Wow, Lee still makes these?

poor_richard
July 21, 2007, 02:29 AM
Iíve been reloading since about December, and think I may have some insight for someone new to metallic reloading.

I have the Lee Hand Press. It works well, and in about 2.5-4 hours I can load about 100-200 rounds of 9mm.

I think the best advice for someone looking to break into reloading for pistol is the Lee Classic Turret Kits offered by either Cabelaís, or Kempfs. For a little over $150+shipping you are ready to start, and you have the option of starting out in single stage until you are ready to progress to the Auto Index (wonít take long for that to happen). My father bought the Classic Turret, and the first night I set it up, I timed myself at 150 rounds in one hour, and that was while taking my time not rushing things, so I can believe the potential for 200 rounds per hour.

If you go with Kempfs, upgrade to the Lever Prime system, and the Pro Auto Disk. My father got this setup from Cabelaís, and I find it a joy to use. Just make sure you get the Auto Disk Riser (Cabelaís includes it in their kit). You wonít need a hand priming tool with the Lever Prime System, and the Pro Auto Disk is much better than the Auto Disk just for the fact that you can turn off the hopper and remove it without spilling powder (Iíve looked at the Uniflow Powder Measure. To empty it, you either have to work the powder dump until itís empty, or turn it upside down). The Pro Auto Disk Speeds up the process, and is pretty consistent, although I would still weigh loads on the scale if I were turning out something that was pushing the envelope.

I can understand the adage that one should start with single stage, but with the Classic Turret I see no need to limit oneself to a single stage. It can work like a single stage (with four stations), and also Auto Index. I just see no sense in getting something that doesnít have as much potential.



Here are some links to the Classic Turret:

http://www.kempfgunshop.com/products/reloading/leeprecision/kits/KempfKit.html

http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?id=0044122216337a&type=product&cmCat=search&returnPage=search-results1.jsp&No=20&noImage=0&Ntt=lee&Ntk=Products&QueryText=lee&Ntx=matchall&N=4887&Nty=1


Here is another link you should look at:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=260245


P.S.

I have reloaded the same brass about three to four times now, and haven't used a tumbler. I would like to get one as I hear it makes inspecting the brass easier, but I don't think it's necessary to get it right away.

the pistolero
July 21, 2007, 09:55 AM
A scale is a must. How do you know what the scoop is throwing unless you have a scale to check it on.

And with that in mind, I would also suggest a powder dispenser. I run with the RCBS Uniflow; it's worked very well with what I've used it for so far. As for a book, I got the Speer Manual No. 13 with my RCBS turret press kit; it has data for just about any cartridge one would want to load (though more can be found at the powder manufacturers' respective websites) and a pretty good primer on the reloading process as well. I've learned a lot here, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that any reloading-related book is a waste of money. I'd say calipers are a must as well, though I am very particular about my ammo; for 10mm, even if the bullet is seated even 0.01" too deep, it goes into the box to be pulled. I don't know much about the dangers of overpressure with bullets seated too deep for lower-pressure rounds, but I still would not chance it. (10mm is all I load right now; .45acp is next.) YMMV, but yeah, I think calipers & scales are a must, as is tumbling your brass if you want to get the most life out of your dies.

ArmedBear
July 21, 2007, 09:56 AM
Thanks for all the advice.

My experience with progressive shotshell reloaders has led me to like single stages. The extra time I spend making perfect competition-ready trap loads on my Sizemaster is offset by the extra time I spend cleaning shot and powder off the floor when I use my progressives. And the shells I get from the progressives have varying charges, creases in the hulls, and other problems that relegate them to practice use only, and even that's frustrating.

Are brass cartridge progressive presses as much of a PITA, or do they work better than the shotshell progressives that I and others I know are moving away from? Do I get superior and more precise cartridges from a single stage, like I do with shotshells?

Also, I'm not totally clear on the turret. Does it serve only to hold all the pre-adjusted dies for quick changes, or does it serve another function, like producing finished cartridges one at a time instead of doing one step on all of them, going back and doing the next step, etc.?

Phil A
July 21, 2007, 10:57 AM
>Also, I'm not totally clear on the turret. Does it serve only to hold all the pre-adjusted dies for quick changes, or does it serve another function, like producing finished cartridges one at a time instead of doing one step on all of them, going back and doing the next step, etc.? <

Yes, the turret holds the preadjusted dies for quick changes but in the case of the 4 die turret, you have the operate the arm 4 times for each finished cartridge. The Lee classic cast turret in my view is a better value that a single stage. For about the same money as well built single stage presses, you get more volume, faster changeover, same level of visibility, and the auto indexing can always be easily disabled and operated like a single stage or a manual indexing turret. It is a strong press and extra turrets are about $9. Check this link for more info. http://www.realguns.com/archives/122.htm - Phil

Chief 101
July 21, 2007, 12:31 PM
I'm thinking:

Press
Dies/holder
Funnel
Scale
Caliper
Basic tools (screwdrivers, allen wrenches, etc. that I already have)

Is there something I'm missing?

You can get quality ammo using what you have listed tho I would add a couple of loading books for loading data and a deburring tool which you may already have mixed in with your tools. Good Cartridges isn't about automation and speed. The best shooters I ever met cook their own ammo one ata time. I have collected all the stuff they sell for reloading but I am only using the basic items you listed. If you want to load any amount you will need a powder dispenser and some sort of block to hold multiple cases on your bench but you don't need to go hog-wild at the reloading store. Just my thoughts. And don't forget to bring your patience. Chief aka Maxx Load

Hawk
July 21, 2007, 03:07 PM
Are brass cartridge progressive presses as much of a PITA, or do they work better than the shotshell progressives that I and others I know are moving away from? Do I get superior and more precise cartridges from a single stage, like I do with shotshells?

The SL-900 has been pretty solid. I do try to keep components consistent. The shotshell adjustments seem more "fiddly" than on the 650 or SDB but I'd be hard pressed to state why, objectively. I haven't felt the need to get a single-stage to supplement the quality of the rounds put out by the 900.

The 900 was my first shotshell progressive so I'm not familiar with the others - how is stuff getting spilled?

BBQJOE
July 21, 2007, 03:41 PM
My first and only press I went with the Lee loadmaster.
I can't really see how it could be improved upon except automating it.
Sure it cost some money, but I will probably never need another press.

ArmedBear
July 21, 2007, 03:55 PM
how is stuff getting spilled?

Oh, lots of ways.

A pellet gets stuck in the turning base, a crimp gets off-kilter a bit and jams while the shot is getting dumped, a primer doesn't drop and I don't see it, a Winchester hull sneaks in among the Remingtons, the wad catches on the hull and tweaks it, etc.

Since I've been loading inside, it only takes a little dumped shot to require a lengthy cleanup. If I had a barn or something...

Target-grade hard shot rolls 25 or more feet on laminate floor, seemingly all by itself, and only stops when it hits something.

Most of the time, it is my fault, like I missed seeing that a primer didn't drop. But if I'm going to have to carefully look at every one of the 6 stations twice every time before I pull the lever, I'd just as soon use a single stage.

Other problems: when the powder bottle gets low, the charges get smaller. That doesn't happen in a single stage, at least if you tap the bottle. Sometimes full charges don't drop, because unlike a single stage, the charge bar reciprocates on a spring instead of sitting in position until you positively move it. Sometimes, if something sticks halfway down, I get a double charge when I pull the lever again.

Are these 650-specific problems? I'm reluctant to buy a better press, if I have these problems with the simplest one. Also, I like the collet sizer in the Sizemaster. It just plain works.

Hawk
July 21, 2007, 05:39 PM
Shot makes a pretty good noise getting vacuumed up from a carpet as well. SM advises that sucking up a primer with the spouse's Dysan will produce a memorable afternoon in more ways than one.

But, the primer gets seated on the backstroke and if one of those 209s goes missing it's fairly obvious. Powder doesn't drop unless there's a shell in place and ditto the shot. For miscellaneous operator induced items (like when verifying powder charge) I keep a "can of air" handy.

There's a die adjustment between STS and AA, at least the old faded-to-pink variety of AA but I've finally gotten to where I've got nothing but STS.

I've never run a MEC 650.

Werewolf
July 21, 2007, 06:19 PM
Are brass cartridge progressive presses as much of a PITA, or do they work better than the shotshell progressives that I and others I know are moving away from? Do I get superior and more precise cartridges from a single stage, like I do with shotshells?With my Lee 4 Hole Turret Press I do get powder leakage. That said it's minimal. Making consistently quality cartridges is easy. I chrono all my loads and can generally keep min/max range in FPS to less than 50 for loads running over 1200 FPS and less than 30 for loads near 1000 FPS or slower. Heck the .45ACP mouse fart load I run has a max FPS range of just 20 FPS from the fastest to the slowest and that's pretty darn good. All came out of the Lee Turret.

The only problem I really have is that primers occasionally get flipped or go in sideways but that's more of a problem with brand new brass. Once it's been shot it's only a problem when I use Federal primers <shrug> so I just don't use Federal primers.

ArmedBear
July 21, 2007, 11:44 PM
Powder doesn't drop unless there's a shell in place and ditto the shot.

Those features would save me a lot of time and mess. The basic model I have doesn't have them.

Perhaps I should get a higher-end progressive shotshell press. The ones I have were thrown in with an O/U 20 I bought from a guy earlier this year.:p

Then again, my Sizemaster was found mounted to a finished board in near-new condition, in someone's garage, for free. It was a better deal, either way.

Hawk
July 22, 2007, 12:59 AM
I started with a progressive but I like to think I march to the tune of a different orchestra. Nothing wrong with starting metallics with a good single stage or turret.

But I wouldn't write off progressives for either shotshells or metallics based on your experiences with the things thus far. One thing about this here (http://www.dillonprecision.com/#/content/p/9/pid/25239/catid/1/SL_900) is that once you've worked with its more traditional powder hopper and big 'ol bucket for shot, you'll never want to pour either through a hole the size of a quarter again.

Caveat: IMHO, if you get the SL-900 you pretty much need the casefeeder. I lasted about a week without it then caved.

Kevin108
July 22, 2007, 02:40 AM
The Lee Classic Loader, a small hammer, and basic supplies are all you really need to get started. It's what I use to reload .45 ACP.

http://www.kevin108.com/gun/bench1.jpg

http://www.kevin108.com/gun/bench2.jpg

http://www.kevin108.com/gun/bench3.jpg

jmorris
July 22, 2007, 08:57 AM
Kevin,
How long does it take you to load with the lee classic once you get going?

poor_richard
July 23, 2007, 02:08 PM
Kevin,
How long does it take you to load with the lee classic once you get going?I am also curious to know how much he can put out in a certain time period. I know the difference between my Hand Loader, and my Dad's Classic Turret is enough to make me opt for the Turret. If I had room for a bench, I would have bought the Classic Cast when they were on sale about a month or so ago.

Werewolf
July 23, 2007, 02:29 PM
I am also curious to know how much he can put out in a certain time period.After setup is complete I can load about 100 rounds per hour with my Lee 4 hole Turret press and be 99.999% sure every round was built right.

I've seen it claimed that 200 rounds/hour is possible with the Lee Turret - that's one round every 18 seconds without stop - but I'd be leary of shootin' 'em. Too easy at that speed to get a double charge, and/or no charge, loads.

At over a 100 rounds per hour rate I go into what I call automatic mode and eventually have a brain fart where I wonder if I missed charging that last round and have to go back and check. A 100 rounds/hour is slow enough that the brain farts are avoided. In almost 5 years of use I've built exactly one squib load out of thousands and thousands of rounds. And though it would be a less serious error, skipping the factory crimp die is even a possibility (I know - I've done that too).

NOTE: At one time many years ago I ran a manufacturing department. Keeping employees out of automatic mode was a big deal because once they got into it if they made an assembly error they kept right on making the same error until busted out of automatic mode. Mindless, repetitious work - which is exactly what reloading is once one gets into the swing of it - can produce some bad results if busting the routine isn't done regularly. The only other way to prevent errors resulting from mind numbingly repetitious tasks is to do them slow enough that one consciously thinks about each and every step before executing it.

Y'all can probably tell from the above that unlike some here who actually enjoy reloading - I don't. Reloading is work. I do it because I'm a cheap SOB who can make better ammo at way less cost to me than the factory.

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