50 BMG reloading questions


December 29, 2008, 11:06 AM
I'm looking for some wisdom from some of you 50 BMG gurus. I'm going to be getting into 50 BMG shooting and I have my gun on order and will be here in about March of 2009. I want to stock pile ammo for this caliber but don't want to pay outrageous prices for the ammo. ($5-6 a bullet:barf:) I figured I could start reloading for it at a fraction of that cost. I'm not new to reloading and have been doing it for a while now and load for 5 different calibers. So my 1st question is: Where can I find some good components for reloading the 50 BMG? I'm looking for brass, and bullet heads. I have a local outfit selling 50 bmg brass at $.75 a piece and my local Sportsmans Warehouse sells the primers at $30 for 100. I am most interested in API (armor piercing incendiary) bullet heads, but anything that is decently priced will catch my eye.
Second Question: How does the LEE 50 BMG reloading stuff hold up? Any good? I have lots of LEE stuff and I love it. And do any of you know whether the original aluminum Challenger press can handle reloading the 50 BMG or not? I already know that LEE sells the Classic Cast for that, but it there any structural reason why the Challenger (original not Breach lock) wouldn't be able to handle the 50 BMG?
Thanks guys!

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December 29, 2008, 11:23 AM
Here's a few sites for components:
Unfamiliar with Lee presses but the RCBS AmmoMaster 50 press is barely adequate in my opinion. It does the job but could be built heavier duty. There are a few other sites that sells 50bmg components. Summit Ammunition comes to mind but their site shows "under construction".
Here's a good site for everything 50 bmg:

December 30, 2008, 12:51 AM
methinks if you skimp on the press for that huge case,you'll just be throwing money away.You need MASS AND STRENGTH for rounds that big.

December 30, 2008, 05:10 AM

RG1 is right on for componets for the BMG, all good sources for brass bullets and the like. As for the Lee reloading equipment for the BMG, yes it will definately handle the cartridge and is a good choice IMHO. I use 2 of the Lee BMG kits and have been very happy with them, someone did a survey on FCSA forum for the reloading press's for the BMG and I think the Lee press was the most used, of course you can buy better, Corbin for $1200 comes to mind as the most expensive, but the Lee will do the job just fine, remember to lube your brass good, and if you have any problems just holler, and think of joining FCSA, the $40.00 membership will save you many times that in info and guideance shooting and reloading for the Big 50. Good luck, you are really going to like the BMG.


December 30, 2008, 06:37 PM
+1 for Polygunbag, they seem to have the best prices on bullets and such that I've found.

As for presses. The Lee BMG is great, especially for the price. For our setup we did the lee kit, with a Lyman trimmer + deburring tool, and a CH4D primer pocket swager. That's all we've needed.

December 31, 2008, 08:19 PM
Thanks for all the info guys! I do have a follow up question though. I noticed in several sites that they classify bullet heads as either being "sized" or "not sized". I thought sizing only pertained to the brass casing? The price difference between the sized and non sized is about 2X's the cost. So does anybody know what they mean when they specify "sized"? Thanks guys!

December 31, 2008, 11:14 PM
EHL- Not an expert and I don't use too many pulled bullets, but what your describing is normally pulled bullets from loaded ammunition, Polygunbag and Pats sell pulled bullets from BMG ammo that must be resized before you load, not hard, but another step and another die you must have. If your looking to save money on bullets you can find new 650 Grain military ball ammo all the time, I have purchased 3,000 rds of such from a guy on Gunbroker.com for less than .25 cents and if you want I will try and find out if he still has more. I load the Ball ammo for plinking or if someone wants to just try it at the range, first shot out of my ar50 and usually get a lot of guys that would like to give it a shot, better than plinking or demo with 1.60 apiece Hornady Amax's.

January 1, 2009, 02:01 AM
Pulled 50bmg bullets have raised marks from the fingers that grip the bullet when it is pulled. The pulling of the bullet may also make it slightly out of round. It's a safety issue and highly recommended to resize the bullets in a sizer die before loading or shooting. Lee makes a bullet sizer die as well as
CH4D. Recommended size for the die is 509.5" as 50bmg sized bullets are .510 With the 509.5" die the bullet will pass thru and spring back slightly. You need to use a good lube or the bullet will stick in the die. Also, apply firm pressure and keep the bullet moving thru the die. If you hesitate it can stick in the die. You definitely need to size unsized pulled bullets of any caliber. I resize all 50bmg bullets even if they are sold as "resized" just to be safe. You can tell that the bullets are "resized" though as you can see the raised marks are ironed flat. Just so you know that pulled surplus bullets do have marks from the pulling operation and they are not perfect but I've seen no effects as far as shooting them.

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