Getting into reloading for match shooting


January 30, 2008, 03:52 AM
After being bitten by the high power bug, it's time to get into reloading for .223 (well reloading at all for that matter).

I'm going to be loading specifically for High Power Service Rifle competition shooting. I'm currently planning on getting a single stage press, and doing my depriming/priming and resizing on it as well. If things work out the way I'd like, I'll be doing a match’s worth (100 rounds) at a time through each step. I figure that'll help with keeping track of everything as well as make changing dies out, etc. less of a pain.

I've pretty much decided on a Lee Classic single stage press. I'm not totally set on that however.

So several questions:

1) Good books, I've seen probably 5 or 6 reloading manuals regularly mentioned here in the reloading forums. Are they all pretty much interchangeable, or is one better for what I'm doing then another?

2) What besides what comes in the basic Lee set do I need? Are there any upgrades that are worth getting, carbide resizing dies etc? I'm not looking for the bare minimum setup, but I'm not looking to spend thousands either.

3) I've got a supply of once fired Winchester brass. Is that going to work, or should I go ahead and invest in another type of brass from the start?

4) Do I need to buy a case tumbler or can I get away by using another method? Can I build my own?

5) Any recommendations on components to use, bullets, primers, powder etc. As I'm new to this the more idiot proof the recommendations are the better.

If anyone's looking to sell a reloading set in .223 for cheap....


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January 30, 2008, 04:32 AM
I would suggest a heavy "O" type press. The big Lee would work. A RCBS kit would suit you better IMHO.

Winchester brass is good. Most shoot Winchester or Lake City but L/C will need to be swaged first time out. The Dillon Super swage is the best. I found I like the feel of swaged pockets over cut ones. RCBS has a good press mounted swage tool. Run away from Federal Brass! I don't care it was Gold Match or not don't use it.

Best bang for the buck is uniforming primer pockets.

You will need to trim from time to time. I suggest a Forster trimer. It's hand cranked but it takes no time.

You will have to Chamfer/de-burr after trimming.

Scale: you are going to need a good scale, Lee won't make it. I used to throw a charge and then trickle on the scale. I fiured out this took too much time so I bought a Lyman DPS 1200. Works good enough but I think I would have gotten the RCBS Chargemaster if I had it to do over again.

You will need some way to check measurements so a caliper is in order.

You will need some way to measure the location of your lands if you load up 80's for 600. I have Stoney point tools which are now made by Outters I believe. The 80's are worth it as they fly nice. I use 77's for 2 and 300 yards.

Dies: I use a Hornaday Match Bushing die. You figure out the size of your bullet/thickness of your brass then get the bushing to fit it. Instuctions come with the die. No need to crimp at all.

Seating die: Lots of people like the Redding ultra match seating die but if you shoot 69's to 80 gr SMK's they will be a compressed load. Redding will not stand up to lots of compressed loads so I would recommend the Forster ultra match in it's place. The Forster is built like a tank by the way.

Do not use Federal primers. I use Remington 7 1/2's. CCI BR's will also work nicely. I keep a brick of the CCI's on hand in case I can't get the Remy's. Might be worth while to check both to see which one works for you the best. I don't see a big change on paper between the two.
I don't care for press mounted primer seating. I have the Lee hand held Auto Prime. In fact I have 2 of them in case 1 breaks. They are cheap enough but do require their own shell holder which are about $3.00.

You will need to have case lube on hand to size the cases. I use RCBS case lube II on a lube pad as it's water soluable.

I like and use Reloader 15 as it burns cleaner than Varget. I suggest using one or the other for powder. I can give you some load data which works for me. High Power shooters all use about the same load because they work and are time tested. Like any load though you will have to work it up in your rifle.

I thumble all my brass before it goes into my dies. I have the big Dillon which for a 100 cases is very much over kill but I have done it, lots. Any of the tumblers will work.

Good luck, reloading is the only way I can afford to shoot matches. If I bring out the 308 or '06 then my wallet gets flatter but it's still way cheaper to reload.

January 30, 2008, 04:36 AM
1. use multiple reloading resources for double checking if nothing else. All powder manufacturers list loadings, but rarely share the exact bullet.

2. Carbide dies are nice, but rarely in rifle calibers.

3. Consistent brass is a help, but I've not noticed the difference yet. Not shooting tacks just yet myself. Submoa in first attempts in 223 and 300WSM. Good enough for hunting, more work when the weather warms.

4. Yes, money well spent. Frankford Arsenal is a good start. Econo-tip, pet store lizard litter for crushed walnut. Nu Finish car wax. Notable savings there. Used dryer softener sheets will capture a lot of crud, extending the life of your media. Cut to 1" squares, about 1 sheet per tumbler load does it. Pull em out and replace them as needed.

5. Match your bullet weight and rifle twist for optimal results.

6. Strongly consider a military primer deswager kit.
7. Redding case lube.
8. OCW research and load development - search topics in this H&R section, I just posted a good link yesterday that explains the process very well.
9. Shoot....a LOT! :D

January 30, 2008, 11:59 AM
I'd recommend a turret press or progressive so you don't have to reset your dies all the time. If you go with the Lee single stage, get some real lockrings for those Lee dies to save yourself some time.

You'll need a case headspace gage to set the sizing die. With locking rings (not those rubber things Lee uses), you'll only need it once, so that might be something you borrow. I've had a Wilson sleeve type one, the RCBS Precision Case Mic and the Stoney Pt one. I like the Stoney Pt best.

You don't really need an OAL/bullet comparitor. You can get pretty much the same outcome with a dummy rd and your 6" steel caliper.

Imperial Case Wax (not Hornady One Shot) for lube.

You'll need a case trimmer. I HIGHLY recommend you get something with a motor or something that can easily be attached to a motor. The Lee Quick trimmer thing will spin in a 1/2" chuck drill. The Possum Hollow one is another one that's cheap and easy. Hand cranks are for deer hunters that shoot 20rds a year. Trimming sucks; I can't emphasize the motor enough.

You might trickle charges for 600yds, but you don't need to. Highpower rings are pretty big and your time is better spent dryfiring than playing with a scale.

January 30, 2008, 02:53 PM
Thanks for the replies, however if I might, I have zero experience and a lot of this is going over my head. I'm doing a lot of reading to catch up, but bear with me for a bit.


January 30, 2008, 03:04 PM
The win brass is great.

I've loaded a zillion rounds with a single stage press, then switched to a turrent Harrell press.

With my free pacific single stage and a lyman scale I made about a million rounds of highpower with RCBS dies. I added the turrent press and a powder thrower and use River Valley Ordnance for brass work. Basically I just assemble bullets. I use a Sinclair hand primer.

You don't need a bunch of reload books, just one. The Speer seems pretty good.

Service rifles are pretty forgiving and it's hard to double-charge since it overflows the case.

26 grains of Varget under a Sierra 68 or Hornady 68 in a Win or LC case with a Win primer or a CCI 450 magnum.

January 30, 2008, 03:30 PM
I would highly recommend that you register at National Match, pose the same question and get answers from those who actually know about loading for High Power.

January 31, 2008, 04:30 AM
Hmm I think I opened a can of worms here. I'm not actually looking at the moment for the most accurate round I can get out of my rifle. Rather what kind of setup do I need to be able to load rounds to shoot in practice or match, that I can then expand out later to go for specific loads tuned to my rifle.


January 31, 2008, 06:00 AM
You can pick up a reloading "kit" and a set of dies and be doing that pretty easily. The ammo you load if you're careful will be of roughly the same quality as Winchester White Box. (IMHO)

When you decide you want to get into the serious stuff you can add techniques and equipment. The only issue I have with the "kits" is that with maybe one exception they come with a press that I feel needs to be upgraded. So, for your stated goals I'd buy a good single stage press (new or used) and the basic equipment (reloading manual, dies/shellholder, scale, chamfer tool, loading block, case trimmer, case tumbler, powder measure) and go from there. You can add the other bits as you go. (I use Birthday's, Christmas, Father's Day, etc as an excuse for the kids to buy me gadgets out of my favorite catalog. :) )

If I was starting out completely from scratch I'd probably spend a little extra money on the press, and scale. (I'd go electronic)

You'll get your biggest savings/bang for buck out of using quality bullets. When I started loading for my AR I bought a bunch of bulk 55 FMJ bullets . . . biggest mistake I made. It really depressed me because I couldn't do as well as the XM193 surplus I had been shooting, at best I could match it. A simple switch to a Sierra MatchKing or Hornady BTHP and I was shooting ike a pro. (off the bench. :) )

Most of the "accuracy" tricks are fairly cheap to do and just take up your time. (debur flash holes, careful trimming, adjusting seating depth for your rifle, etc etc.) For the AR you plan on shooting the seating depth is pretty much a no brainer . .you're going to seat them as long as you can and still get them to function reliabily from an AR Magazine. If you're going to be shooting 80's one at a time or some such then you'll have a bit more work to do.

Just my .02


January 31, 2008, 11:30 AM
Hmm I think I opened a can of worms here. I'm not actually looking at the moment for the most accurate round I can get out of my rifle. Rather what kind of setup do I need to be able to load rounds to shoot in practice or match, that I can then expand out later to go for specific loads tuned to my rifle.


It's pretty much the same setup. You need:
Dies & shellholder
6" calipers
case lube
case trimmer + chamfer/deburr tool
powder measure
Again, I highly recommend you buy or borrow a case gage to set your sizing die.

The same setup will build ammo capable of winning any highpower match.

January 31, 2008, 05:25 PM

I really like shooting M1, M1A and FAL rifles more, but the AR outshoots them. Zediker really knows his stuff. I also suggest you register and hangout at:

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