Please help a beginner reloader!


May 11, 2008, 02:09 AM
Since the ammo prices have been going up, I have decided I want to start reloading. The only problem is, I'm a complete newb when it comes to it :). Aside from the components of reloading (brass, bullets, etc.) I only know that I will need a press (with shell holder & dies of course). Would a Redding Press Kit be enough to start with (it comes with dies and a shell holder).

I am not really looking to spend over $150 on the whole thing but will be able to move up to say $200 if need be. The caliber I am reloading for is the 7mm-08 remington. I already have brass for this, so all I would need is powder, primers, and bullets correct? I found some powder, primers, and bullets on and it all comes out to $46/100.

Am I missing anything when it comes to this? What would be a better reloader, if the Redding is not a good one. Can you offer any tips when it comes to reloading?

And two important q's:

If I switched out the die and shell holder, would I be able to reload for a different cartridge, like say a .308?

How long would it take to reload 20 cartridges (7mm-08); how about 100 cartridges?

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May 11, 2008, 02:11 AM
Also, how many times can brass be shot and reloaded before it is trashed?

May 11, 2008, 03:22 AM
No one can help?

May 11, 2008, 03:39 AM
Everyone else must be sleeping. Purchase the best quality dies and press you can afford. It is well worth it. If you can't find a good used really cheap, then go for new. Brass can be shot 5, 10, 20 times before it expires. All depends on how tight (new)the chamber is on the gun you are using and how hot the loads are. Cheaper dies and press may not be as consistant when loading or as easy to adjust as a good set. I have bought new and used stuff. In the future will only buy new. Will let the other guy next in the food chain get my used stuff cheap when I no longer need it. As for presses the Rockchucker is worth the money. Sturdy, solid and impossible to wear out. You most likely can find a used on for less than 1/2 the cost of new. Check the sales board here you may find one.

May 11, 2008, 05:29 AM
I started out with an RCBS kit that included a Rockchucker press and lo theses many years later and thousands of reloads later (including for a 458 Lott), I still have and use many components of the kit including the press. I have a Redding T-7 Turrett press as well which I'm very happy with as well but I don't know anything about Redding's other presses. I use some Lee products and like them but in my opinion their presses look a bit chintzy (apologies to you Lee fans).

Once you have your kit, all it will take to reload another cartridge will be another set of dies and maybe another shell holder depending on the cartridge you need to load for. The shell holder for the 308 Win. is the same as for the 7mm/08, the 30/06 and a bunch of other cartridges.

As far as dies are concerned, I have ones made by Pacific, Redding, RCBS, Hornady and Lee. They all work fine but I've come to like Redding dies the best. As for lube, Imperial Sizing Wax is the way to go; the RCBS lube works but makes a sticky mess.

Case life in a 7mm/08 should be very good. I would expect 10 to 15 reloads from them anyway. You discard them if the primer pockets get loose or if, on running a bent wire down the inside of the case, you feel a groove near the head which indicates excess case thinning in that area. Another thing you'll need that probably isn't in the kit is a case trimmer and some way, such as dial caliper or a Lyman case length guage, to measure your cases.

May 11, 2008, 05:52 AM
Well, there's two kinds of reloading (IMO...) -

1. I want to do high volume reloading so I can shoot lots of rounds for the same money as factory. I'm trying to duplicate factory quality, but I'm not into benchrest accuracy.
2. I want to do something special that I can't get from factory ammo. I'm going to be turning case necks and weighing each charge to get benchrest groups.

If you are complaining about the rising costs of ammo (and who isn't), then you might be into the first kind of reloading.

With that said, you are on the right track with a turret press, but if you are trying to load a few hundred rounds, you're looking at a progressive. Check out Dillon's 550B.

Unfortunately, while reloading pistol ammo can be relatively simple, loading bottleneck (rifle) cartridges can be a little more complex. And you don't want to skip steps just to save money.

First off, I wouldn't get a balance beam powder scale. They will drive you nuts. Electronic scales by Dillon or RCBS aren't expensive and they are very accurate (if you use them in a room with no drafts.)

You will need calipers to set your case trimmer. And a cartridge headspace gauge, such as made by Dillon or others. This also checks case OAL to specs after resizing. More importantly, it checks how your die is set up for headspace to the shoulder datum.

You'll need some kind of resizing lube. RCBS is traditional, with a foam pad to apply, but some folks like the spray on stuff.

Get a reloading manual (or two) from someone like Speer or Hornady. You can't reload without data and these books have it. On the other hand, you can get "single caliber" reloading data books for a couple of calibers like .308 and 7mm-08 if that's all you'll ever load.

I'm sure you can get help from the experts on this forum, if you ask a specific question about some technical detail. It might be a little much to expect a detailed answer to "how do I get started" when that's the first thing covered in the reloading manuals.

As to your specific questions,

1. As far as I know, the 7mm-08 and .308 use the same shell holder, as the 7mm-08 is a necked-down .308
2. As you are just getting started, it could take hours to do the first 20. With a progressive press set up correctly, and some experience, you can reload 400 rounds/hour.

May 11, 2008, 09:03 AM
I'm new as well and got the Hornady classic kit for 279.00 at Cabella's on sale. Mine was for my .308.
Here's what I ran into:
1. The 2 set rifle die was 33.95 for the .308
2. AWLAYS!!! let the 1 shot lube dry before inserting cartridge for decapping. (Trust me on this. READ the directions)
3. Gotta go Will finish later. "she-who-must-be-obeyed" just summoned me. :cuss:

May 12, 2008, 08:35 PM
The best thing you can do as a beginner is to buy a good reloading book before you buy anything else. Read the book through a couple of times to get comfortable with the process. Then go buy a second book and do the same. I own the Lyman and Hornady books...the Lyman book is a must. I feel that the Hornady book is only worth the reload data, the step by step info is a little lacking.

May 12, 2008, 08:53 PM
These guys will be in your price range.

lee n. field
May 12, 2008, 10:36 PM
I am not really looking to spend over $150 on the whole thing but will be able to move up to say $200 if need be.

For everything? Lee. That, or get very lucky.

I already have brass for this, so all I would need is powder, primers, and bullets correct?

Die set, shell holder, scale and check weights. Powder measure. Loading blocks, Caliper. Case trimmer. At least one good manual, preferably more. Some way to lube the cases.

If I switched out the die and shell holder, would I be able to reload for a different cartridge, like say a .308?


How long would it take to reload 20 cartridges (7mm-08); how about 100 cartridges?

With everything in place, you knowing what you're doing and working in batches (size all, them prime all, etc.), somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 hours.

May 12, 2008, 11:24 PM
What powder are you planning on using? I reload 7mm-08 and have gotten GREAT results with Varget, CCI primers, Nosler 120 & 140 gr ballistic tips.

I'm not one of those load'em in bulk types. So, I do about 20 - 50 at a time.

For manuals, I use Lee, Speer #13 and Lymans 48th... I also have on hand the one book - One Caliber books for all that I reload, I'll also get the Hodgden yearly's... Have more than one source handy... it pays off in the end... Good luck and happy reloading...

May 12, 2008, 11:34 PM
I'm in the same boat as the OP.

Would suggest a single stage LEE kit, perhaps even the hand kit.
Just reloaded my first 50 rounds with it and it was quite easy.

Get the Lee reloading manual as well. If you shop, you'll get it free with a singlestage press.

May 12, 2008, 11:37 PM
One note:

you do NOT need check weights. A US dime weighs 35.006 grains. Call it 35 for our purposes.

That right there will save you $20

May 12, 2008, 11:50 PM
Well, I was "almost" a beginner again a couple of months ago.. I had learned how to do it when I was a teenager (yeah, that was about 15 years ago), but just recently got back into it, and now that it's on my dime, I decided to do it right.

Get the best equipment that you can afford... Redding, RCBS, Hornady, Dillon, Lyman all make good equipment that should last you a very long time; all stand behind their equipment very well. Lee makes decent equipment too, but I can say from experience that there is a reason it's cheaper. They do stand behind it, but I've broken too many pieces of a simple press I used in my teenage years to really recommend them unless you just can't afford anything else... there are those who use nothing but Lee and are happy with their equipment (my Stepfather still uses his), so you still can't really go wrong there. If you're looking for higher volume ammo production, you're looking for a progressive; Dillon, Hornady, and RCBS make good units (I'm a Hornady LnL Progressive guy, but if they weren't available, I'd probably buy a Dillon). Any of the single stage or turret presses made by any of the top manufacturers will serve you well (Redding is an excellent brand, BTW, just remembered you mentioned them in your post--I like the Hornady single stage or Lyman Turret too).

Dies: All the makers out there make good to excellent quality dies (including Lee)... I like my Hornady dies for pistol, have a set of RCBS for my .30-30, and am planning on buying an RCBS X-Die set for my .300 Weatherby.

You'll also need shellholders (normally comes in the die set, some don't though) for your dies... you can often use 1 shellholder with 2 or more different calibers; the shellholder or press maker will have a cross-reference chart that will tell you what to use with each caliber.

Get a good scale. The electronic ones can be OK (they are fast), but I've seen a number of them wander just a bit more than I care for--if you get one make sure it comes with a check weight, or get some check weights... I'm actually a big fan of using the old-school beam scale. I'd suggest any of the top makers, Lyman, RCBS, or Redding (I suspect Hornady may have discontinued their M scale, which I have, as Midway showed it as discontinued recently) If you are going to be loading a lot of rounds, and don't want to have to weigh each charge out exactly (which is not necessary unless you are going for match-quality accuracy) get a good quality powder measure. Redding, Hornady, Lyman, RCBS all make good standalone powder measures.

Get at least 2 reloading manuals, or a manual and use online data from the powder mfgs. so you can compare mins and maxes. Always start your powder charges at least 5 or 10 percent (opinions vary here) below max and work your way up... never start with a max charge, even if a "friend" says it's fine.. work your way up to it. The reloading manuals will show you how to check for pressure signs to keep you safe.

Get a good set of Calipers... dial is fine (I like my digital ones), decent quality is all that is needed.

With bottleneck cartridges, you will need a case trimmer.. Lyman has worked fine for me, the others should be fine too (they all are somewhat similar in design).

Just realized, too... if you're loading rifle cartridges, lube your cases when resizing... any number of lubes are out there and most work OK... I'm not a fan of the aerosol spray lubes. I have had good success with the Lee "toothpaste" lube and Unique case lube.

And... the components... which you can get according to what your goal is (accuracy, power, hunting, a happy medium of all 3, etc.). My main suggestion there is to never buy "mystery" powder that some joker has in a jug at a gun show with a handmade label... I buy only new cans with the factory seal intact on the can... using the wrong powder can be detrimental to your health. If you can, buy bullets, etc. in bulk to save money... buying powder and primers, while maybe more expensive per box / can locally, will often save you quite a bit with the hazmat fees the online retailers charge.

And... have fun. It's a safe, rewarding hobby, but it does demand total attention to detail (just like shooting)... I don't drink any "adult beverages" 'til after the loading's done. Man.. I went on a little longer than I probably should..

ursus americanas
May 13, 2008, 01:10 PM
One other item for the first timers out there, get yourself a bullet puller and a stuck case extractor. Both these infrequent maladies will happen eventually, and especially with the stuck case extractor, you don't want to be stuck waiting a week for it to arrive to get back to your load development projects!

Also, while yes, theoretically it is cheaper to reload, I personally keep spending more money on new toys, and hence have yet to realize these savings. Maybe you have more self restraint than I, and if so I salute you!

May 13, 2008, 01:23 PM
I recommend : Amazon...$16.50

May 13, 2008, 03:27 PM
Dangit, forgot the bullet puller!

May 13, 2008, 04:10 PM
I have been using most parts from a lee aniversary kit for going on 2 years now. No complaints and I load alot of 30-06. there are better stuff out there, but in your budget, you can either spend all your money on a big stout press or be like me and get a lee aniversary kit and some other "optional" goodies for the price of the other presses. the only thing I did not like in my Lee kit was the chamfer tool, get a L.E. Wilson or equvilent as they are all made by the same company. Now I do prefer my Lee dies to my RCBS dies, they are just easier to use and adjust. I guess my point is that all the major reloading companies make good stuff so buy with confidence. I didn't need a huge press capable of resizing a 50 BMG so I didn't buy one. I did trash my Lee powder scale, but it was completly my fault and Lee replaced it free of charge no questions asked.

May 13, 2008, 04:43 PM
Please read the sticky at the top of this forum.
I believe it may answer 90% of your questions.

+1 for buy a manual FIRST!

Hope this helps.

May 13, 2008, 04:57 PM
With bottleneck cartridges, you will need a case trimmer.. Lyman has worked fine for me, the others should be fine too (they all are somewhat similar in design).

Not quite so...... the Lee case trimmer set-up is considerably simpler, cheaper, and when combined with a 3/8" drill, faster. Not to mention dummy-proof. Combined with Lee case lube and a rag, you can clean the cases at the same time....

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