Complete reloading setup from scratch


Bellum Eternus
January 3, 2009, 08:35 PM
So yeah, first post here on the forums, be gentle!

Anyway, I used to reload for all sorts of stuff when I was a kid (center fire handgun/rifle ammo, shotshells) using progressive presses and stuff, but eventually sold everything and got out of shooting for quite a while. All this was literally before the advent of the internet.

Now I'm back to shooting again and moved to a state where I can carry with a minimum of hassle (AZ) and I've been burning up a lot of .45 ACP with my nifty new Kimber Tactical Ultra II.

Anyway, I'm interested to find out what would be the best general setup for a progressive reloader for .45 ACP.

Quite frankly the cost of ammo is just shocking these days compared to what it was back in the late 80s (and I'm really not that old, started shooting when I was pretty young).

Primarily I'm interested in what the best combination of press, dies and accessories will be for loading .45 ACP both economically and effeciently time-wise, as I'm going to be doing some IPDA and IPSC stuff as well.

Having a second run at building a stable of firearms and reloading stuff with the advantage of the internet and 20+ years of technological improvements is just amazing.

I'm looking forward to reading everyone's opinions. :D

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January 3, 2009, 10:05 PM
Dillon will be hard to beat with the qty. you are talking about.
I don't own one but their customer service is suppose to be great with a life time warranty I think.
Enjoy, reloading is still just as much fun as it use to be.

Dean Williams
January 3, 2009, 10:13 PM
I've had a Lee progressive for years, and if you will be satisfied with about 300 rounds per hour, it will do well, and the price is right. If you try to go faster than that with the Lee, you probably won't find it adequate.
I think if you want more than 300 per hour you should look at a Dillon or Hornady. I've not used the Dillon, but have seen them in operation, and they're pretty nice. The only Hornady progressive I've had was a 366 shotshell reloader, which was a good machine for me when I shot trap. Their cartridge progressives usually get good marks. Someone else will have to tell you what they will actually do in rounds per hour.

January 3, 2009, 10:13 PM
I've got a nice Redding powder measure settup just listed in the reloading for sale forum.:D
That being said most of the big names like Dillon or RCBS make good quality presses and the internet will let you find the best prices or good used stuff.

January 3, 2009, 10:16 PM
If you're just looking to reload for one pistol caliber, I don't think you could beat the Dillon Square Deal B for quality, customer service, and volume. I love mine. I bought it to load 45 auto as well, and have a Hornady LNL single stage press for everything else.

Jumping Frog
January 3, 2009, 10:21 PM
Primarily I'm interested in what the best combination of press, dies and accessories will be for loading .45 ACP both economically and effeciently time-wise

I started with a setup to load .45 ACP last winter using the Lee Loadmaster system. Note that I had ZERO reloading equipment, so that cost includes basics like a caliper, a scale, bullet puller, case tumbler, etc.

Here are the parts and prices I ordered:

Lee Primer Pocket Cleaner (90101) $1.79 (never used this -- didn't need it)
Lee Anniversary Pack (Reloader Press and Reloading Manual) (90700) $20.40
Lee Load-Master Progressive Press Kit 45 ACP (90945) $224.52
Lee Universal Depriming and Decapping Die (90292) $7.95
Lee Pro 1000, Load-Master Progressive Press Case Collator (90667) $9.99
Lee Double Disk Kit (90195) $10.47 (not strictly needed, but useful for finer graduations in powder loads)
Lee Auto Disk Adjustable Powder Charge Bar (90792) $6.67 (not strictly needed, but useful)
Graf's Impact Bullet Puller (GR19) $17.99
Cabelas Rotary Media Separator (XJ-214213) $21.99
Cabelas Case Tumbler 110 Volt 3.5S (XJ-212867) $44.99
Lyman Dial Caliper 6" Stainless Steel (7832212) $34.00
Redding #2 Master Magnetic Powder Scale 505 Grain Capacity (02000) $61.40
RCBS Die Locking Ring Wrench (9634) $7.19
Total $484.85

Note the Lee Anniversary Pack is the best deal of the bunch. The Lee Reloading Manual goes for about $13. You get both the manual and their single stage "C"-style press for $20. Even if it is a cheap press, what is not to like about an extra press for $7?

After I got used to .45 ACP, I eventually added dies and other parts to load 9mm, .40 S&W, and .44 Mag.

Setting up and learning how to reload using the Loadmaster was straighforward using the videos and support at

My case was a little different than yours -- I had no idea whether I would enjoy this new hobby or not, so I wasn't interested in going out and buying top of the line stuff to start with. I will say that I average about 300-350 rounds per hour that all go BANG when I need them to. If I hold one of the cartridges in my hand at the range, no-one there is able to tell me which color press fabricated that load.

January 4, 2009, 04:51 PM
Here is a pretty good comparison of Dillon, Hornady and Lee progressive presses:

Hornady has recently upgraded the case ejection system to work with any type of die in the 5th station. They also have the 1000 free bullets offer with the purchase of an LNL AP.


January 4, 2009, 05:38 PM
Dillon is located in Scottsdale, so you can get anything you want very easily. They have a great storefront with all their products on display.

Art Eatman
January 4, 2009, 05:42 PM
I started with Dillon back when the 350 was The Deal. 100 rounds and more an hour really was an improvement over a C- or O-press, for sure. And, quite reliable in operation.

So, I figure that the later stuff probably is even better...

January 4, 2009, 05:52 PM
I load on a Dillon 450, which will be 25 years old this year. Dillon still sends me parts I need, although I've only needed to call on them once or twice. If you plan on sticking to one caliber of pistol, the Square Deal is a winner. If you plan on lots of calibers, a 550 might be in order. Dillon makes a fantastic product.

I tried a single-stage for pistol calibers for a while, and I basically went to the range less because loading was tedious. Now, I can make the 100 rounds I shoot at the range in less time than it takes me to drive to the store to get ammo.

Step 2 is to start casting your own bullets, and REALLY see the price difference!

January 4, 2009, 06:22 PM
Hey Mr. Eternus -

The best reason for you to buy a Dillon is that they are located in AZ and you can drive over and pick it up! They have a store front and you save all the shipping charges that way.... a major cost of ANY reloading press, as you can imagine.

Dillon Precision Products, Inc.
8009 E. Dillons Way
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(480) 948-8009

If you think you might be interested in a Dillon "Square Deal" press, there's a nice guy in another thread thinking of selling his. Just click on the name (Shoen 1200) to the right of the first post in this thread... Click Here (

January 4, 2009, 10:29 PM
I have 3 Dillons (2 x XL650's and 1 X 550B) Sure makes life alot easier.

Take last friday. I got a call from my Dad, He and my brother wanted to shoot on Sunday so he asked me to load up some 9mm for him and my brother. I said sure, just bring over the components (I figure they can pay for the components every once in a while). My brother would bring them over later that night. Since I have about 2000 pcs of brass that were already inspected, I went out to The Cave, loaded the primer tubes, powder and case feeder on my XL650 set up for 9mm.

I loaded 1000 rounds in under 1 and 1/2 hour taking my sweet time and by the time my brother came over with the components, I was just finishing quality control with the case gauge. The new components were restocked in my stash, thank you very much.

I am happy to report that we shot our hearts out, our usual competition was as fierce as ever (My Dad thinks his pistol is the best pistol in the Universe), plus, we came back with almost all the brass we went with. Half of the brass is now being tumbled as I write this. 'Twas a good day.

I will now clean my Berretta but with only 300+ rounds of 9mm loaded with N320 will not take very long to clean.



Bellum Eternus
January 6, 2009, 06:57 PM
Thanks for all the replies! Everyone has really been a big help. I really appreciated Frog's list of supplies and tools, a very concise and well put together list.

I was leaning towards an LNL press and Lee dies (Youtube is just AMAZING these days, you can find a video for just about anything on there it seems), but I'm going to stop by Dillon in Scottsdale and check out their stuff first hand before I commit to anything. Nothing beats some real hands on experience.

Kind of off the subject, but the question of casting your own bullets was brought up. I live in an apartment at the moment (full time student) and I have a patio where I have plenty of ventilation for casting and stuff, but I was wondering about moly-coating cast bullets. Has anyone tried this themselves? If so, what's the best product? How good are home grown moly-coat bullets compared to commercially produced products?

I gotta say, I'm really loving Arizona. $200 tax stamps for suppressors, full auto upper receivers, short rifle barrels, state wide CCW (for cheap), all sorts of manufacturers are local (Ruger, Dillon). It's great. I'm missing the beach less and less!

January 6, 2009, 07:34 PM
I cannot imagine living in AZ and not getting Dillon. I've got a 550. Most excellent. You will not be sorry.

FWIW...I don't want to get into brand versus brand. I'll just say that I had experience with cheaper brands. With the Dillon, once it's set up right you just crank out rounds at an impressive rate.

Here I am at the Mecca of reloading...

January 6, 2009, 07:51 PM
Well, I am definately not a reloading expert, but I just went through the exact same process. I inherited a Dillon Vibratory cleaner, a Dillon Eliminator scale, a Lee Auto Prime, and a few other things. I purchased a Lee Single stage press (one of the 25 dollar ones), a set of Lee carbide dies (.45 acp), a reloading tray, and some ammo boxes. I already owned a set of dial calipers, which is essential also. After loading a few hundred rounds I am now ready to purchase a powder measure. Probably next week. And a bullet puller. I have 20 rounds sitting here that I cant shoot, so the bullet puller is a definite must have.

January 6, 2009, 09:12 PM
If all you plan on reloading is for pistol get a Dillon Square Deal B. If you think you might want to reload pistol and rifle on a progressive go with a 650 with casefeeder, or Hornady L'n'L with casefeeder. Flip a coin to decide which. If it helps any I went with the 650 and haven't looked back.

January 21, 2009, 04:50 PM
Anyone see this?:

I have the Hornady Classic Kit on backorder, but I'm getting tempted by that big RCBS kit. Is the electronic scale/dispenser combo worth it? And can't I just buy some Hornady LNL bushings for use with the RC Supreme press?

January 21, 2009, 06:29 PM$main-Large$

yes sir that is one sweet deal:eek: excellent starter in one package..

took me 25 years to accumulate all them bells and whistles

January 21, 2009, 07:57 PM
I just tried adding it up off of Cabelas site, and looks like about 50 bucks savings buying it all together in the kit. I'm not sure I want to spend that all at once, plus I'd still need to buy a set or two of Hornady LNL bushings.

I do like the idea of getting the RCBS plate and attaching that to my bench to keep things neat, though.

Is there any difference in the spent primer management compared to the Hornady Classic Press? And with the rebate on the Hornady, is it still a better deal to stick to my original order for the Classic LNL kit. Those free bullets do add up...

January 21, 2009, 08:03 PM
You can't go wrong with a Dillon 550. I shoot a lot of different calibers and it keeps me going with pistol and rifle ammo. They have excellent customer service and have the best covers to their catalogs. :evil: You might find a used one out there with conversion kits and goodies to get you started. That's the way I got into reload, basically all the things I needed from someone getting out reloading for a very reasonable price.

Black Dime
January 22, 2009, 02:40 PM
I would not reccomend the Square Deal. The dies are proprietary and are a little expensive. No other dies will fit the tool head. Next up is the 550 (the tool head is indexed manually) then the 650. If the budget will handle it, you will never (well, maybe not never) outgrow a tricked out 650. Easy to crank 600-800 rounds an hour. I have three in operation. 38, 45Colt, and 45acp. Service is "No B.S." service.

January 22, 2009, 08:28 PM
I went the cheap route and got used stuff I have picked up a bunch of my equipment slowly from the classified section of different forums. I just picked up a RCBS Trimmer the other day.

January 22, 2009, 08:36 PM
Here I am at the Mecca of reloading...

Dang! I am REALLY jealous!

January 22, 2009, 10:06 PM
I look forward to the day I can amass 3 presses and all those accessories... its so addicting!!!!

January 26, 2009, 03:45 PM
After factoring in the cost of the free bullets (it'll cost ya around $21-22 for shipping, so not completely free), my LNLAP ended up costing about the same or even a little less than a Lee loadmaster. I live about 90 mi from Grand Island and usually end up there at least once a week on business. Last week I was about 3 blocks from Hornady, so I ran over and got the bullets and visited with one of the tech guys for a little while. So my free bullets were free. They don't have a big fancy store, but you can still buy what ya need. If you end up going blue, I don't blame you one bit. They make some great stuff. Lee makes 2 good progessives too. The loadmaster was my first choice, (I have a pro1000 and like it) until I heard about Hornady's bullet deal. I think it's strictly personal preferance.

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