Help me with my shopping list - first time reloader


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MrPeter
September 11, 2009, 01:24 PM
Hey there reloading experts! I need your help!

I'm going to pick up my first set of reloading gear next week and wanted a shopping list so I could pick everything up the first time I go, so I figured I would ask here! But of course there's a catch...

1) All equipment must be purchased from Cabela's (because of gift card). I can get components elsewhere though.

2) I have narrowed down the kit to start with to be one of these two:
Lyman T-Mag II Expert Reloading Kit (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?type=product&cmCat=Related_IPL_216337&id=0037524216108a) for $339
-T-Mag II Turret Press
-No. 55 powder measure
-Lyman's Universal Case Trimmer that requires no collets
-1000 XP Electronic Reloading Scale
-calibration weight
- powder pan
-built-in digital readout
-universal priming arm
-primer tray
-auto primer feed
-extra capping pins
I like this option because it seems very well built. I'm worried that it'll be too slow though.

Lee Classic Turret Press Reloading Kit (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20847&id=0044122216337a&navCount=1&podId=0044122&parentId=cat20847&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=XK&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat601233) for $189
-Classic Turret Press
-large and small primer feeders
-Lee Pro Auto-Disc Powder Measure with four measuring discs
-Auto Disc Riser for convenient use of other brands of dies
-Lee Rifle Charging Die for small-capacity rifle cases.
-Lee Safety Scale
I like this option because it's between a single-stage and progressinve. Not as fast and error-prone as a progressive, but not as slow as a single stage once I know what I'm doing.


I want to reload high volumes of PISTOL rounds (44 mag to start). I'm a fairly fast learner, and know how to take my time, but I don't want to start on a slow press, learn my stuff, then immediately need to upgrade to a faster one. I was originally set on the Lee, but the guy at the store said the Lee is utter SH*T because something about plastic bushings, and that I HAVE TO get the Lyman or I'm an idiot.
(To reaffirm, I am NOT LOADING RIFLE ROUNDS! I do VERY LITTLE rifle shooting and all I shoot is steel cased surplus crap anyway, so it's cheap enough for me to not have to reload! I am NOT INTERESTED in reloading RIFLE ROUNDS!)

So the million dollar question is:
Which of these should I buy and what do I need to buy with each of them so I can get started without returning to the store? Please include things that I will want to replace on either of these kits because they suck (say if the Lee powder measure is terrible but the rest of the kit is great.)

Also some info that may be pertinent:
The main reason I reload is to crank out cheap target ammo and to burn time when it's not nice enough out to go shooting or riding my motorcycle. I'm not a hunter, and if I did I would only dabble and be fine with factory hunting loads (maybe thinking of taking a goose this year). Also my .44 magnum is a .44 tracker MEDIUM FRAME revolver (5shot model) I won't be shooting hot loads out of anything at least until I get a .44 levergun.

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billybob44
September 11, 2009, 01:47 PM
Great to see another shooter get started into handloading.:) The FIRST piece of equipment that you need is a Handloading Manual!! Since Lyman equipt. is being considered, I highly rec. the Lyman Handloading Manual. Buy it first, take it home, soak up the info in it, and return to the store with a better understanding of what you are buying, and why. DO NOT be in a hurry to crank off your first .44 loads without an understanding of what each step is and why you are doing it. IMO, I do not use hardly any Lee products-some speciality dies and thats all. I prefer RCBS products, but that's just me. Check out the RCBS line, with a RockChucker press, and see what kind of combo/price. When you read the Lyman Manual pay attention to the highlighted warnings, and safety precautions. They will save a lot of headaches for you down the road. Feel free to PM me, and I will try to answer any questions that you might have!!!:):)

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 01:54 PM
SOME Lee products are utter crap. The Safety Scale is one. If you go with that kit I'd highly recommend going with a good beam scale or very good electronic scale. Avoid any electronic scales selling for less than $50 at the bare minimum.
The Lee Classic Turret on the other hand gets almost universally good reviews. Keep in mind it can be run as auto-indexing, which will speed up the process greatly. The Lee AutoDisk will also speed up pistol loading vs. the off-press Lyman.
Personally I'd go with the Lee kit and then get a decent scale. Depending on your loads, the case trimmer may not see much or any action with pistol rounds.

Also, look into getting the double disk set for the Lee powder measure. It will allow both finer control of charge weights, and larger charge weights than the single disk set. Loading H110 in .45 Colt I couldn't get enough powder for some of my loads using only one disk.

MrPeter
September 11, 2009, 01:56 PM
Can-do on the manual, but I would really prefer to pick it up all at once. I won't touch the equipment until the manual is read, I PROMISE THIS!!!

(there is a slight time constraint because of gift cards + coupon combination I'm hoping to use expire soon :-/)

JCisHe
September 11, 2009, 02:08 PM
I would recommend you start with a single stage and worry about the mass reloading later.

I'd go some sort of cast press package.
Couple of uni load blocks
3 or 4 manuals (lyman, hornady, speer, lee)
funnel
brass
primers
lids
bench
priming system
tumbler
media (corn cob)
primer pocket cleaner
patience

Do one step at a time for probably 2k rounds (at least) before you look into a progressive or turret system.

You will need a single stage anyway to work up loads.

A reloaders first loads are lots of 10 at differing lengths, charges, trying different powders and bullets...

After you find the magic load for your particular weapon comes production. That's when you can use a progressive or turret... trust me, you will want a progressive very soon.

Honestly though, from one reloader to another, go with a single stage first and spend a good 6mo.-year getting used to the process, carefully inspecting everything, and most important of all... learning from your mistakes on SMALL QUANTITIES of reloads.

Don't start with Speer Golddots but start with Berry's plated bullets
Don't start with HOT loads but with target loads and build a good load
Don't load to have masses of cheap ammo; load because it is fun, enjoyable, and a challenge.

You get where I'm going?

This is the best advice I could give you along with one final imperative... FIND SOMEONE TO TRAIN YOU!

Good luck!

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 02:18 PM
While there are other ways to clean your brass, I would recommend getting a tumbler and some polishing media as well. Cabelas has a store brand one for around $50 that works well.
You might one one of these (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20728-cat20849&id=0024109213608a&navCount=6&podId=0024109&parentId=cat20849&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=XK&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat601233&hasJS=true).

Edit: Took too long to hit post, JCisHe beat me to most of that.
The only thing I'd add is that there's no need to start out with a single stage press. A turret press IS a single stage press as long as you don't rotate the turret. Do what he's saying, load single stage/batch style, but you can do that on a turret press.

learning from your mistakes on SMALL QUANTITIES of reloads
+1
3 or 4 manuals (lyman, hornady, speer, lee)
And don't forget that most powder manufacturers have a ton of load data on their websites.

Maj Dad
September 11, 2009, 02:23 PM
I agree with Gryffydd about the Lee products quality-wise. I do use the case trimmers and a couple other small tools (and I do have the Lee Loader I bought in 1970 and still use from time to time), but a lot of it is just too flimsy, bendable and breakable. Many will disagree, and I think that's fine, but starting out you ought to have a certain level of solid quality, and I think you'll be much happier and much better served by the Lyman kit (I would add a good beam balance - I am uneasy around simple electronics when you're throwing magnum loads without verification; call me old fashioned ;) ). The T-Mag is the one thing I would have done differently 40 years ago when I started, but I started with a garage sale set up with all the goodies (Herter's U3, Lyman 55 measure that I still use, and a 505 scale, etc etc). You have the convenience of having all the dies on the press, but the simplicity of a single stage system to learn on. Read that manual from cover to cover, and then re-read before launching. And hang out here - sure would have been nice when I started out to have a superb source of info like THR. I still ask questions, and probably will until I hang it up. Enjoy!
Regards,
Maj Dad

dsv424
September 11, 2009, 02:24 PM
I have the Lee Classic Turret and have been using it for about a year now and absolutely love it. Plus the money you save by getting this press you can put towards more die sets and turrets when you expand to do other calibers. I have no problems with my press and with the auto-indexing it makes it the fastest turret style press you can buy. Changing from one caliber to another is done in a matter of seconds. You would want to purchase the Lee reloading manual as well since a lot of the info in it pertains to Lee presses. Welcome to the addictive world of reloading!:)

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 02:27 PM
Changing from one caliber to another is done in a matter of seconds
That's the other nice thing about the Lee Turret. The turret heads are cheap enough to buy one per caliber so your dies are always adjusted and you can swap between calibers easily. You can do it with the Lyman but the heads are quite a bit more.
While I did say that some of Lee's products suck, their presses generally are NOT on that list.

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 02:28 PM
Here's another item for your list. Bullet puller (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?id=0018720214931a&navCount=13&podId=0018720&parentId=cat20849&masterpathid=&navAction=jump&cmCat=MainCatcat602007-cat20728-cat20849&catalogCode=XK&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat20849&hasJS=true)

Edit, 1 more: ammo boxes (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20728-cat20849&id=0012575210650a&navCount=15&podId=0012575&parentId=&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=XJ&rid=&parentType=&indexId=&cmCat=netcon&cm_ven=netcon&cm_cat=Google&cm_pla=MTM%20site:cabelas.com&cm_ite=netcon&hasJS=true)
You can always recycle factory ammo boxes, but these are more durable and are easier to mark describing their contents.

JCisHe
September 11, 2009, 02:38 PM
Gryff is a man after my own heart...

I say go single stage O type press though because sooner than later you will want to load rifle rounds and a good strong single stage is by far the best way to do to those loads.

There is always a good reason to have a rockchucker or something similar.

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 02:49 PM
I currently only have 2 presses. A Lee Loadmaster, and a Lee Handpress (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?id=0032406215925a&navCount=16&podId=0032406&parentId=cat20847&masterpathid=&navAction=jump&cmCat=netcon&catalogCode=9IS&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat20847&hasJS=true).
I actually started on the Loadmaster of all things :o
But I did so very, very slowly. No case feeder, and operating it like a turret, with only one round going around at a time, pulling the round off after every stage and checking it. It wasn't the best idea I'd ever had, but it worked out in the end. As long as you apply the proper level of care and study you'll be OK. I use my hand press for small lots, depriming etc. I still wish I had a nice bench mounted single stage though. Just every time I think about getting one something else catches my eye. The Hand press is actually kind of nice, as I get to do all those things in the living room instead of the shop.

dagger dog
September 11, 2009, 03:13 PM
MP,

If you have the means go with the Lyman, as far a speed, the Tmag and Lee turret are both in the same hand turned family, I'd give the edge to the Tmag . The T mag is rock solid and can out last the Lee round to round (and Lee is not crap, just entry level equipment, like the difference between Snap-On and Craftsman tools)it will serve its purpose for years beyond the Lee on equal use.

44 Mag is an unusual caliber to load in volume, being for most a hunting round. If you are getting into high volume,( a 1,000 rounds at a setting or more) you might want to look into a progressive set up, and a lot of high volume shooters go with Lee.

I'm sure that Cabelas will order what ever set you decide.

You will need a caliper, to measure your brass, and cartridge overall length, especially if you are shooting any calibers that head space off the case mouth. You will also use it if you get into rifle reloading, and a way to deburr and chamfer your brass, but I beleive that is included in either of the two kits you named, a hand priming tool is a plus if you want to build M.O.A. rifle loads. The previous tip about case cleaning is a valid tip , the tumbler is one thing you will want to own, keeping your reloads clean will extened case and handgun life.

A little word of caution , you are boldy going where others have gone before, and you need to keep tight reins on the wallet, it is an addictive hobby!

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 04:27 PM
e T mag is rock solid and can out last the Lee round to round --- it will serve its purpose for years beyond the Lee on equal use.

While I have no doubt this is true, having looked at both in person, I'd like to hear from someone who has actually worn out a Lee Classic Turret. At what point does the Lee quit and the Lyman keeps working? 100,000 rounds? 500k? More?

If you have the means go with the Lyman, as far a speed, the Tmag and Lee turret are both in the same hand turned family, I'd give the edge to the Tmag .
Are talking reloading output speed? With auto-indexing and the die-mounted powder measure on the Lee there is now way the Lyman come close in that department.

RoostRider
September 11, 2009, 05:01 PM
Geez.... you're going to want sooo many things.... lol.... ask me how I know?...

I don't have any of the press's you are considering (or did that Lyman used to be red?, cause it looks a lot like mine aside from that), but I do have a single stage, a turret, a progressive and even the Lee hand press Gryffrd suggested... they all have their plus's and minus's...

Clearly, the hand press is the slowest, and easiest to screw up, but is also mobile and just fine for mindless tasks like depriming and re-priming.... I quickly moved past that and into the finer press's for actual reloading.. but as noted, it still comes in handy for some things... especially when I have someone who just wants to sit around and chat while I reload (puts them to use).

The Lee Classic Turret looks cheesy to me... the Lyman does not.... and while neither will likely wear out in a couple years worth of reloading, I prefer quality, and the knowledge that my press is going to produce quality reproducible ammo every time.

I think you will find so many helpful do-dads that trying to list them here is difficult at best (you are getting some good input though)...

I also think, that if you take to this you will be moving to a progressive press in a year or so.... so the old press will get relegated to menial tasks and serious quality control rounds.... for top notch rounds on a budget it is hard to beat a strong turret press (a good single stage does though)...

Have you considered a quality single stage? It's nearly as fast once you know how to set dies (they have lock rings too, which keep them real close to 'right on' even through a changeover)... it is good to learn on.... it is cheaper.... and it will serve as that press that produces TOP NOTCH rounds every time once you go progressive for the pistol rounds...

jfh
September 11, 2009, 05:02 PM
All of us offering our advice--rather, our opinion--are speaking from our personal prejudices as much as speaking from objective criteria. For you, the tipoff to what to buy is found in this statement in your opening post:

"...I want to reload high volumes of PISTOL rounds (44 mag to start)...."

The Lee Turrets have the auto-indexing feature that will allow you to load "high volumes"--up to 200 rph--once you've learned to load. While you are learning to load, you can use it as a single stage. That feature alone really does cover the group of us who swear there is no way to start out reloading except on a single stage or a manually-indexing turret.

dsv424 pretty well covered the benefits to the Lee Classic Cast Turret press--and there are no real downsides to it, AFAIK. As for the Lee "quality issues", that's not really an issue--but the Cabela's clerk may well get more commission on a bigger sale, so he recommends the more expensive products. As for longevity--Gryffydd covered that base. So, go with the Lee Classic cast kit.

In many ways, you had really answered your own question with your followup comments about not loading for rifle. Were you planning on starting your reloading career with rifle, then the choice might be reversed, but that isn't what you said.

To refine that Lee list--

1. The scale: I get along just fine with the Lee measure--but I can also believe other scales are better, and I own other scales. Buy a better one, as outlined.

2. Lee Powder Measure: Upgrade this to the Deluxe and / or get the Pro version as well. And, get the adjustable charge bar. I don't think you will need a double disk kit (do MAX loads for .44 mag need it?)--but the ACB allows you to do fine-tuned load development; the disks do not.

3. Calipers Get a basic electronic-readout one.

4. Cleaning gear: A tumbler, as others said.

5. Manuals: The Lee is worthwhile--but also get a Lyman Pistol and Revolver, and I personally like the Speer 14 (latest) for handguns.

Here's a link (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=335512) to one fairly good list of startup hardware needs--read the comments on all posts.
When you adjust your list, post it and we'll be happy to critique it.

Jim H.

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 05:12 PM
don't think you will need a double disk kit (do MAX loads for .44 mag need it?)
When using H110/W296, he'll need it. I couldn't get close to max with 240gr in the .45 Colt (28gr H110). Max for 240 in the 44 mag is only 24 grains of H110, but the 44 will take 31gr for 180gr bullets.
I can't remember off the top of my head exactly what the max H110 throw is with a single disk, but I think it was right around 22-24.

My main gripe with the Lee scale is that .01 gr measurement where you have to slide that thing around and try to read those tiny white lines while not jostling the beam too much. It works well enough, it's just not terribly user friendly. I can weigh so much faster and easier with my Dillon beam scale, which I think is basically the same as the RCBS model.

MrPeter
September 11, 2009, 05:19 PM
Thanks JFH. You have the clearest most objective reply for a newcomer.

You guys have to remember I've never done this before. Listing stuff I 'need' or 'will want' does me little good if I don't know what it's for or how to use it (or why?) I guess I can figure out what I'd need a bullet puller for. Hmm, maybe thats why I was recommended to get the manuals.

Also a note that may be of value is:
The main reason I reload is to crank out cheap target ammo and to burn time when it's not nice enough out to go shooting or riding my motorcycle. I'm not a hunter, and if I did I would only dabble and be fine with factory hunting loads (maybe thinking of taking a goose this year). Also my .44 magnum is a .44 tracker MEDIUM FRAME revolver (5shot model) I won't be shooting hot loads out of anything at least until I get a .44 levergun. I'll update my original post with this info.

I'm feeling more and more comfortable with the Lee...

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 05:39 PM
Hmm, maybe thats why I was recommended to get the manuals.

Pretty much! :) The manuals say it far better and more completely than we can. We can help with your shopping list, and then when as you read the manuals and you have questions not answered there, this is a great resource. Once you have read through the entire instructional portion of a manual or two, you'll have a good idea of what every item is for.
I read and re-read the Lee manual before I got started. I bought it months ahead of any equipment other than the tumbler I used to start cleaning all the factory brass I'd been saving up. The Lee manual is OK (and cheap), but the writing is HORRIBLY biased towards Lee equipment, to the point of being ludicrous. Richard Lee also has a love affair with CCI primers, but that's another story.

jfh
September 11, 2009, 06:48 PM
Consider the following:

1. Since you get the Lee Scale with the kit, you might as well not worry about getting a different one. It is perfectly easy to use once you know the correct technique. Once you have it in hand (literally), we can describe that technique in another thread.

2. Get a manual now. Personally, I recommend The ABCs of Reloading for non-reloader. It's an "overview" type--not a reloading / recipe-type. It'll help you get acquainted with jargon, and describe different topics with enough pictures so that the gear is not confusing.

3. I checked the link at Cabela's--and my guess is that you will end up with the "standard" version of the Pro Auto Disk, not the "Deluxe". That's fine--the "Deluxe" version has the chrome-plated base, and as such should last longer.

4. Further to that--it appears that you will get the riser with the kit--which probably means the Adjustable Charge Bar is not included, and you will have to buy that as an option.

5. Be sure to get the Lee 4-die .44 mag die set, not the 3-die. That will include the #4 / Lee FCD, and you will want some special setup instruction on that--but later, when you are learning to build dummy rounds.

6. Calipers are mandatory.

7. To my way of thinking, cleaning gear is mandatory--e.g., the tumbler and media.

8. One or two 100-count ammo boxes are really good for load development: You can load twenty rounds at one charge level, up it by (for example) two-tenths of a grain, load another twenty, etc., etc.

9. Personally, I like a MAX cart gauge on the bench--but it really is optional.

And on, and on...
Study some more and then you build what you think is your initial purchase list--we'll clean it up.

Jim H.

MrPeter
September 11, 2009, 07:05 PM
Lee Classic Turret Press Reloading Kit (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp;jsessionid=NY4EWSLG2NTUTLAQBBKCCNVMCAEFKIWE?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20847&id=0044122216337a&navCount=1&podId=0044122&parentId=cat20847&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=XK&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat601233&_requestid=95339) for $189.99
Cabela's Case Tumbler Kit (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20728-cat20853&id=0012554212869a&navCount=3&podId=0012554&parentId=cat20853&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=XJ&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat20853&hasJS=true)for $58.99
6" Digital Caliper with Fracional and Decimal readings (http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber=98851)for $19.99 (Is this one good enough? Looks exactly the same as this one (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?id=0037475214967a&type=product&cmCat=SEARCH_all&returnPage=search-results1.jsp&Ntt=calipre&Ntk=Products&sort=all&_D%3AhasJS=+&N=0&_D%3Asort=+&Nty=1&hasJS=true&_DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-box.jsp.form1&_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1))
Lyman Pistol and Revolver handbook (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?id=0018787215758a&type=product&cmCat=SEARCH_all&returnPage=search-results1.jsp&Ntt=reloading+manual&Ntk=Products&sort=all&_D%3AhasJS=+&N=0&_D%3Asort=+&Nty=1&hasJS=true&_DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-box.jsp.form1&_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1) for $14.99
Lee Adjustable Charge Bar (http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/40474-1.html) for $7.89 (still not 100% sure why I need this, but I think I get what it does. Couldn't find it at Cabela's.)
Lee Carbide Dies (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp?id=0012803210545a&type=product&cmCat=SEARCH_all&returnPage=search-results1.jsp&Ntt=lee+dies&Ntk=Products&sort=all&_D%3AhasJS=+&N=0&_D%3Asort=+&Nty=1&hasJS=true&_DARGS=%2Fcabelas%2Fen%2Fcommon%2Fsearch%2Fsearch-box.jsp.form1&_dyncharset=ISO-8859-1#chart) (.44 Mag or .44Mag/Special? Which is the one that includes 4 dies, not 3 as mentioned earlier?) for 25.99.
Lee Pistol Crimp Dies (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp;jsessionid=LXI0AB00VQ4P5LAQBBKCCNVMCAEFKIWE?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20728-cat20847&id=0012803210539a&navCount=3&podId=0012803&parentId=cat20847&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=9IS&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat20847&hasJS=true&_requestid=103937) (FCD die? Also not 100% sure what this is for...)for $15.99

I think I'll stick with the scale it comes with, find out exactly what it is I don't like about it, and use that as a basis for purchasing a better one.

So whats the dillio on the powder measure? Should I replace the whole thing altogether? Is the primer feeder something I need to replace too?
How does my shopping cart look so far? Do I need a primer pocket cleaner...? Recommend one!

(thanks to all those who have responded :D)

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 07:18 PM
I had one of those cheap digital calipers. Mine was marked Frankford Arsenal, but I think they're all made by the same people in China as they're identical other than colors and logos. It died within a month or so (as did my Frankford Arsenal electronic scale). Just personally, I much prefer the dial models. It's not like they're in any way hard to read and you get a lifetime of use with no battery replacements. That's just personal experience and opinion. That Harbor Freight one may well last you a good long time.

I have an adjustable charge bar for my Auto-Disk. I never use it as the double disk set gives me .01gr adjustments for most powders. This is also more repeatable. As long as I use the same disk combination with the same powder I get the same charge every time. The ACB will have to be re-zeroed every time you change charge weights. Again, just personal experience and opinion, evaluate and choose ;) The double disk kit is available from Midway USA (http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productnumber=870920), not sure if Cabelas has it, but it's not on their website.

jfh
September 11, 2009, 07:37 PM
The Powder measure is fine--but if Cabela's will upgrade it to the Deluxe version for $10.00, do it, IMO. (The Deluxse kit, I believe, also includes the ACB in it. )

I'll respectfully disagree with Gryffydd about the merits of the ACB--but I started using an (aftermarket) charge bar very early on (about twenty years ago), and I don't like the disks. (BTW, Gryffydd, I think you have additional decimal place so to speak--I don't think the disks can be accurate to closer than two-tenths of a grain, not two hundredths.) It boils down to different strokes for different folks, so to speak--you'll find out which charging approach you'll like.

The tumbler kit looks fine--again, a personal preference is in the media; I prefer crushed walnut. Not an issue.

I see Cabela's sells you three-die sets, with the 4th / FCD die is sold separately, here (http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20728-cat20847&id=0012803210539a&navCount=3&podId=0012803&parentId=cat20847&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=9IS&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat20847&hasJS=true). Add that on to the list.

Note that there is some controversy about the purpose and use of the FCD. Disregard that for now--for you, the purpose is to learn to seat and crimp in separate steps, and the FCD can be set up just fine to do. (The post-sizing issue is not germane to this thread / discussion.)

About the primer feed--since you are getting a 'general' Classic Cast Turret kit--e.g., it does not include dies--I believe you will be getting it with both Large and Small Primer feeds and primer arms. If it comes with only one, verify yours is a kit with a Large primer. That's the only factor to consider right now.

The caliper looks fine. I share Gryffydd's cynicism about cheap calipers--but at least Cabela's make this caliper an easy item to deal with should you have to return it. There is merit in buying a better caliper, I agree--but the digital readouts are easier for my aging eyes, and that may be where I am biased. If you can appreciate / use better-quality (dial) calipers, by all means get one.

Jim H.

Gryffydd
September 11, 2009, 08:02 PM
You are correct, I did mean tenths, not hundredths! I let my fingers get away from me. :o
I just like being able to write down which combination of disk holes I used to get a desired charge weight. Then the next time I want more of that load I just pop the same combo in, throw a few test charges and I'm off. None of that adjust, test, adjust, test, adjust, test. I know the ACB has .1 grain markings on the knob itself, but I just didn't find it as intuitive or quick. But, obviously others like it, and you may find you prefer it as well. Get both, try both, stick with the one you like. They're both around $10 or less.

With only one disk, it can be difficult to get the exact charge you want. You'll often find the charge you want is right between two of the holes. With the two disks you can pick out just about any given charge with any given powder down to the tenth.

tdt91
September 11, 2009, 08:59 PM
I recently got Lee's manual on line for 13 bucks. Well worth it. Much more info than others from bullet manufactures I have.

RustyFN
September 11, 2009, 09:06 PM
I'm with Jim ( jfh ) and the classic turret. I have been loading on mine for over three years and couldn't be happier. It can be used as a single stage press or an auto-indexing press to turn out higher volume. It is a very solid press and turns out very accurate and consistent ammo. I wouldn't worry about a case trimmer for pistol ammo. I have found the Lee scale to be accurate just not fun to use. You will only need to use it long enough each time to set the charge on the powder measure. It should get you by and you can upgrade that later if you want. I bought a different scale but know some people that love the Lee scale. Also instead of buying the FCD separate you should be able to buy the four die set. Welcome to reloading.

Rusty

billybob44
September 11, 2009, 09:43 PM
I like several do not care for many (MOST) of Lee products. As posted before-it IS the difference between Craftsman/Kobalt/Fuller and Snap-On tools. You will save money on the Lee, but you will not get the quality/warranty, that you will get with Lyman/RCBS/Dillon. I am a GM Master Auto Tech, by trade. I have very few Craftsman tools-mostly Snap-On, some Mac. My first press (Ala 1974) was/is a RCBS RockChucker. Added on a Dillon RL550B, for volume handgun loads in 83/84. I am NOT wealthy, but I don't believe in using cheap tools, to do a job correctly. This also carries over to my hand loading hobby. I really believe if SOME of the Lee Lovers would have started on QUALITY tools, that they would not be pushing Lee products so much now. Look out for the FLAME from the Red Kool-Aid Drinkers!!:fire::cuss:

RustyFN
September 12, 2009, 04:26 PM
I really believe if SOME of the Lee Lovers would have started on QUALITY tools, that they would not be pushing Lee products so much now.
Well I'm not a Lee lover but do think the classic turret is a quality press. I have loaded on a Dillon 550 and don't think it is worth it for me to upgrade to when the CT loads ammo just as good just not quite as fast. The 550 was a nice press but I didn't walk away with the feeling that it is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I'm just curious if you have used a Lee classic turret or if you are just repeating what you have heard from others. You would be amazed how many people like to talk bad about Lee products but have never used one.

floydster
September 12, 2009, 04:40 PM
Rusty, AMEN!!!:D

MrPeter
September 14, 2009, 01:50 PM
Well personally, I shop at HarborFreight a lot, so that tells you what sort of tool guy I am :)

BTW The kit I see there has large and small primer feeds. Not sure what that means yet, but I think it's good enough for me at least for now.

Thanks so much for all the responses! I can't wait to start reading, then reloading!

Gryffydd
September 14, 2009, 01:59 PM
BTW The kit I see there has large and small primer feeds. Not sure what that means yet, but I think it's good enough for me at least for now.

There are two sizes of pistol primers, large and small. .44 Mag uses large pistol primers. Small Pistol primers are used by everything from about .40cal and down.

Gryffydd
September 14, 2009, 02:06 PM
I really believe if SOME of the Lee Lovers would have started on QUALITY tools, that they would not be pushing Lee products so much now. Look out for the FLAME from the Red Kool-Aid Drinkers!
LOL. If there's Koolaid being drunk by anyone, it's typically blue. The people who buy Lee products tend to just be practical people who recognize that they can get the same quality of ammo at 90% of the speed at about 30% of the cost. You'll also notice that people who buy Lee products also tend to realize that some of their stuff sucks and we avoid it. A lot of Dillon guys would probably rather join the Brady Bunch than let anything not blue onto their benches.
My Loadmaster cost me a grand total of about $275 WITH automatic case feed and Auto-Indexing. A comparable (feature wise) Dillon would run me close to a grand. Yes, it would be nicer and it might take less fiddling. But in the end it wouldn't make better ammo, and it wouldn't do it much faster.

ranger335v
September 14, 2009, 02:35 PM
"the guy at the store said the Lee is utter SH*T because something about plastic bushings, and that I HAVE TO get the Lyman or I'm an idiot."

The "guy" at the store is full of his own Sh*t, Lee has a few plastic parts in low stress areas but not bushings. Few shops carry Lee because the mark-up is low, period.

From all the above info you might not get that Lee has three "turret" presses. The better choice is the steel bodied Classic Turret. It is big and strong enough to load ANY conventional rifle round and, with its auto index function, output can approximate a progressive but A much NICER PRICE.

My first press was a Lyman turret, it obviously had to be "faster" than a single stage, right? Wrong. In practice, I find that no manually operated turret press is any faster than any single stage. All the turret offers is a place to store a few dies, which often have to be replaced if/when you change cartridges. It only takes maybe 20 seconds to swap screw-in dies so even with a three or four die set you're only looking at a minute or so added time for a full loading session, so that's a wash. (Ditto for any "quick change" bushing system, just gimmicks and a needless expense with no real advantage.)

Lee's inexpensive turret heads actually make it rational to have a head set up for each caliber. Due to the excellant turret retaining design they can be swapped in a few seconds without tools! That's NOT so for the Lyman or Redding turrets; expensive heads, needs a big wrench plus lots more time. And a possiblity of lost parts when the turret is lifted.

I don't have a Lee Classic Turret. Wish I did, but I do have four other presses so I can't justify adding another!

The Lee and/or Lyman reloading handbooks are the best bets for new loaders. They do try to sell you some equipment but they also have some very well written and well illustrated directions for newbies. And a LOT of good reloading data too!

nulfisin
September 14, 2009, 03:29 PM
In addition to books, it helps to have someone walk you through the process. I didn't have that option, so I got a good reloading DVD. It's critical to be able to visualize everything you are doing.

I personally selected the Lyman T-mag kit, and it's great. The Lyman manual is also a classic. However, the illustrations that come with the actual equipment are mediocre. There are some videos on-line. I bought a DVD for the RCBS press (which is not identical to mine) and watched it to get general visual impressions fixed in my mind. This is very important when you are starting out.

Rugg_Ed
September 14, 2009, 06:23 PM
I would have to agree with JCisHe and Gryffydd on some quality issues with some Lee Products not all but some. Loading manuals the Lyman is a great choice. Consider a balance beam scale Redding, Lyman, my 51 year old Redding still works fine and I don't recall it needing a battery or any power. The old RCBS RockChukar and nearly as old Lyman Turret both are still being used and handle the heavy work just fine.
Enjoy its a Great Satisfaction working out the loads.
Rugg_Ed

Gadzooks Mike
September 14, 2009, 06:46 PM
Alright! There is NOTHING more fun than helping somebody spend their money! Ok, put this on your list - get a set of Lee dippers. I don't care what press you buy, how much you spend on scales or anything else, the guys have it all covered above. But get the dippers. One of the most handy things on the bench. And +1 for what dsv424 says about the Lee. But everyone has their favorite, get what will make you happy. You'll be using it a lot more than you think you will!

JCisHe
September 14, 2009, 06:49 PM
Hey, I didn't say I don't like Lee products. I would kill for a a Lee Cast Turret. That's one fine press. I've used one and I REALLY liked it.

I actually load progressively on a Lee 1000 for all of my pistols. It works rather well... I just go slowly... I enjoy reloading and I care about my weapons... if you catch what I'm saying.

I just want this guy to start single stage and not just crank and crank until he has 4k of bad ammo and doesn't know why. The single stage, whatever you choose, should always be the new loaders first step.

I don't care how smart the person is... that's just the way it is. I personally have a Lyman Orange Crusher but that isn't the best... it's just a nice single stage just like a Rockchucker or even a Lee Classic Cast Single stage... It just has to be the O-ring design.

The thing with "blue" is the fact that you can send it back for a rebuild 45 years down the line for free. That's a nice feature... the question is, "will they still be there in 45 years?

I use Lee, I use Lyman, I use RCBS... I started single stage with a competent reloader teaching me. Any other way is foolish in my opinion. I think I can say that with absolute honesty and certainty because messing up can cost a life, the weapon, a digit, or someone else's eye... a good quality reloader comes after a lot of instruction and careful correction on behalf of another quality reloader.

That's my .02 cents.

Regards...

jfh
September 14, 2009, 06:58 PM
Twenty years ago, when I got back in shooting and got into handguns, my shooting buddy who reloaded walked me through reloading on his Lee 3-die turret press. So, I bought one like it. IIRC the press kit was $39.95--maybe with dies. I learned how to use it--there really were no problems with it, save for the erratic spent primer catching--and, as I expanded my reloading bench, I even bought a second one; then a Pro1000 to feed the 10mms and 45s--and eventually the Load-Master. By this time, I had loaded enough to understand the cheaper design and construction of the Lee presses--but I couldn't see where it impacted the quality of the loaded cartridge, and I really wasn't spending undue time with Lee "quirks."

This was at a time when I could have afforded any press--money was not an issue. I suspect that if my buddy had a Dillon on his bench, I would have bought Dillons. As time passed, and the 650 came out, I looked at it long and hard--and just couldn't justify its price, even in 1996 or so. The Lees worked well enough, fast enough and had enough quality to satisfy me. Although I had to learn the quirks of the Pro1000 and of the Load-Master, it was only with the Load-Master that I had ongoing "trouble."

As for the Dillon 550--IIRC, that cost $198.00 at the time the Lee turret was $60.00. Because of its lack of (even an optional) indexing feature, the press has bemused me. I'm one of those people who strongly believe in auto-indexing for progressives. In light of that, maybe the 550 is a fancy turret--at least in my eyes. However, it is clear that there are scads of 550 users who don't see this the way I do, and for whom the 550 is the best cost-conscious press out there.

In this thread, however, the discussion is not about the quality / design / durability / features of the different brands--it's about the appropriate press for this particular new reloader, MrPeter. Given his parameters, I still have to believe the Lee Classic Cast Turret is the right press for a startup handgun reloader to buy. It spans the range from Single stage on up to an output of nominally 200 rph with its auto-indexing rod, and it does build good ammo.

That flexibility is what makes it important for the cost-conscious novice reloader. For that matter, it can work well for the more experienced user. If my "Standard" Turret from twenty years ago ever wears out, I'll probably upgrade that to the Classic Cast Turret. Were I looking for higher-volume production again, I would consider the Hornady LockNLoad, or the Dillon 650 as well.

Jim H.

Gryffydd
September 14, 2009, 07:00 PM
Just curious, JCisHe, why not use a quality turret as you would a single stage press? I can see how a possibility of lower press rigidity might make a difference loading .30-06 or something, but with straight walled pistol cartridges it seems like it would work just as well. I certainly agree with you that single-stage *style* loading is the way to start. I just can't think of a reason why you can't do that with a turret press.

JCisHe
September 14, 2009, 08:22 PM
Gryff, you know how the story goes... "I'm ready to load steps 1,2,3, and 4" instead of taking the time to master step 1, then step 2, etc...

It's the temptation Gryff... the temptation. Loading quickly + new reloader = trouble.

The single stage solves that problem at least in a linear sense... you know what I mean?

I've just seen new reloaders, myself included, start with good intentions and then make stupid mistakes for the sake of "using the press like it should be used" or some other rationalization.

Perhaps you don't agree and I guess if I were teaching the guy I wouldn't mind but after a few times of "let's use the turret" and me answering "not yet" and the guy not listening (which is bound to happen) I would go right to the single stage anyway.

rfwobbly
September 14, 2009, 08:45 PM
You're really not comparing apples-to-apples, my friend. I believe the T-Mag costs more because you get a whole lot more.

Get the Lee if initial cost is an issue, but please be aware that to get quality loads you'll soon be replacing the Lee's powder dispenser for one more like the Lyman, and replacing the Lee scale with an Ohaus just like comes with the Lyman.

AND on top of all that... the Lyman comes with the Lyman Reloading Manual and a rock-solid Lyman case trimmer. Add up all the extra costs to bring the Lee up to spec and the Lyman is less expensive.

Unfortunately, neither set comes with a worthwhile caliper.


You gets whats you pays for.

Lonely Raven
September 14, 2009, 09:32 PM
Not to thread jack, but since it's mentioned by the OP. Does anyone have any first hand experience with the T-MAG II? How well does it work? How's the deflection of the turret?

Gryffydd
September 15, 2009, 04:18 AM
I believe the T-Mag costs more because you get a whole lot more.
More? Like Auto Indexing and quick change turret heads?
but please be aware that to get quality loads you'll soon be replacing the Lee's powder dispenser for one more like the Lyman
You mean one that you have to remove the brass from the press to charge it? The Auto Disk is good for +/- .1gr with most pistol powders. For pistol reloading that's usually plenty good.
and replacing the Lee scale with an Ohaus just like comes with the Lyman.
This is probably true, as has been said. So there's $50.
AND on top of all that... the Lyman comes with the Lyman Reloading Manual
$20
and a rock-solid Lyman case trimmer.
That he won't need.
Add up all the extra costs to bring the Lee up to spec and the Lyman is less expensive.
How much does it cost to bring the Lyman up to spec and give it auto indexing?
You gets whats you pays for.
And sometimes that's a big ol' lump of cast iron :D

There's nothing wrong with the Lyman set, but that doesn't necessarily make it the right choice for everyone.

Gryffydd
September 15, 2009, 04:24 AM
It's the temptation Gryff... the temptation. Loading quickly + new reloader = trouble.
I don't disagree precisely. I just wasn't sure if you were looking at it from the psychological standpoint or something I hadn't thought of that was a disadvantage of a physical nature of using a turret press that way. I guess it all comes down to the person at the bench.

Steeltown Joe
September 15, 2009, 05:59 AM
MP,
I just started reloading myself this year and found this book very helpful.

ABC's of Reloading, 8th Edition" Book by Bill Chevalier

Starting with the basics, this guide leads the reader through the process of reloading with ease. Perfect for beginners or as a refresher for experienced reloaders, this book discusses the necessary tools and accessories needed to get started as well as step-by-step instructions and safety tips for loading your own metallic cartridges and shotshells. Helpful illustrations guide readers through each step and make the process easy to understand. This book covers all aspects of the hobby, from benchrest techniques to ballistic software, competition and hunting loads and more. Also includes a directory of reloading manufacturers. Includes information on cartridge cases, primers, powders, bullets, equipment and much more.

I also have a friend and shooting mentor that has helped me in every way in both shooting and reloading. My #1 is safety 1st. Take your time ! it's fun not a chore ! Check E-Bay for used reloading equipment. I have found some very good deals there. Bought a Dillon Square Deal B set up for 44 Mag. 44Sp for $245. Just bought Lyman 357/38Sp 3 die set of Carbide dies for $22.50 for my Single Stage. Check it out ! The book can also be found on E-Bay.

Steeltown

Gryffydd
September 15, 2009, 11:40 AM
Perhaps I was a bit harsher than I meant to be...I probably shouldn't post when I'm up with the baby in the middle of the night and am half asleep...
I'll agree that in many ways the Lyman is more expensive because you get more. You just have to make the personal decision on whether those things are worth more to you than the things that the Lee gives you and the Lyman doesn't. As jfh said, we need to look at the OP's stated needs and planned reloading activities and make suggestions based on that. Telling a brand new reloader (who shops at Harbor Freight of all things) :D to buy a Dillon progressive as a first press, or that the Lyman T-Mag II is better for high volume pistol reloading isn't really being attentive and helpful.

Lonely Raven
September 15, 2009, 11:49 AM
I wish more posters (in all forums) paid more attention to the original posters needs and questions.

Well said, Gryffydd.

JCisHe
September 15, 2009, 03:30 PM
Gryff,

Beside that, EVERYONE needs a single stage and it just so happens that it is the smartest way to start out. The OP thinks that he is only going to use it for what he thinks he wants to use it for right now but you and I both know that once you get started things change very quickly.

It's best to do it right from the start, get the needed supplies, and then later on there is less mess to clean up in a lot off ways.

Good luck OP!

dsv424
September 15, 2009, 04:51 PM
I noticed in one of your threads you were contemplating not getting the adjustable charge bar. I would highly recommend that you do because your going to find out that the holes in the discs do not always come out to the value you would expect. Mainly because different powders take up more or less volume in the holes and also Lee tends to err on the light side of what is stated a given hole will give you. I found out the hard way, and it is a lot more hassle to change the discs to get the amount you want as apposed to simple adjusting the charge bar for to value you want. Plus you can use a disc in conjuntion with the charge bar for larger drops. Which would be plenty for .44 caliber cases.

MrPeter
September 15, 2009, 05:29 PM
Alright! There is NOTHING more fun than helping somebody spend their money! Ok, put this on your list - get a set of Lee dippers. I don't care what press you buy, how much you spend on scales or anything else, the guys have it all covered above. But get the dippers. One of the most handy things on the bench. And +1 for what dsv424 says about the Lee. But everyone has their favorite, get what will make you happy. You'll be using it a lot more than you think you will!
Ok, what's a Lee Dipper? :D

Thanks for all the thoughts and discussion on my behalf folks. I appreciate all of your input!

To address rfwobbly's point about the Lyman coming with so much more, I have to say that is part of the reason I started this thread. I understand that the Lyman comes with more, but the press itself didn't seem like it could crank out cases quite as fast, nor was it as easy to change the die-holding discs. I was not sure if the press, the base of the kit, was what I wanted in the first place, and if I got the press I thought I would rather have, if the extras were worth a crap.
As with most kits of most any nature, You buy one main thing that is bundled with accessories for a lower price than you would buy them all separately. However, a lot of the time a good amount of the accessories are such crap that no one buys them separately for full price anyhow. This is why they make the kits: to move some of the inferior product that they wouldn't sell anyway, and people will upgrade anyhow later making the company more $$$, and to make the original main product (the press in this case) seem more appealing.

I mainly wanted to get the best combination of stuff all in one shopping cart so I could make my own more complete kit, and see what needed to be replaced and what was not included to begin with.

It looks like you folks have mostly done for me, and I thank you. My current shopping cart which I will go and pick up this Thursday is in post #21 of this thread, and has been updated as comments and recommendations have come in. If there is anything in that list that isn't needed or should be something else, or if there is something missing from that list, please say so!!!

And lastly, I would like anyone concerned to know that I will be taking my time to read all the books I get and viewing some videos before I even unpack the stuff I get. I understand the gravity of potential consequences if I make a mistake. I will be mastering one step at a time before I go into mass production (which I only plan to do once the weather is less shooter-friendly in these parts), so there is plenty of time for me to practice.

RustyFN
September 15, 2009, 08:32 PM
So whats the dillio on the powder measure? Should I replace the whole thing altogether? Is the primer feeder something I need to replace too?
How does my shopping cart look so far? Do I need a primer pocket cleaner...? Recommend one!

The Lee pro auto disk is a very consistent measure. Some people don't like it because with the disk you are stuck with what it will throw and you can't dial in the exact charge you want. I have always been able to find a good load with the disk. Also the adjustable charge bar will let you dial in any charge you want, just be careful with light loads like 4.5 grains or less. One example is for 9mm I load 124 grain FMJ's with 4.2 grains of Titegroup. The pro auto disk measure will throw 4.2 all day with no variation.

I think the safety prime is great. It will take a little tinkering but once setup it has worked near flawless for me. It will also help you to reach the faster production once you learn and get the hang of reloading.

I think your cart looks good. I don't clean primer pockets in pistol brass. Some times I will for 223 but not always there either. Congratulations and welcome to reloading.

Rusty

jfh
September 15, 2009, 09:16 PM
Rusty's advice about the powder measure is accurate. It works fine, and will work with the four disks included, and the adjustable charge bar. As I mentioned earlier, see if you can upgrade to the "Pro" Autodisk Measure, or the "Deluxe" version--which, IIRC, includes the plated measure base AND the Adjustable Charge bar. If they won't, then don't worry about it and just buy the ACB seperately, as you show.

Typically, you don't need to clean handgun primer pockets, but it is good to have one around. No strong preference.

I think you have covered at least the beginning manuals--You will get the Lee, IIRC, but the first one is The ABCs..., and equally important is the Lyman manual. Since you are starting with handguns, I suggest the Pistol & Revolver version (4th rev / latest), as opposed to the Lyman (49th, I believe is current). A third major-name manual is recommended--for example, I like Speer 14. These three--Lee, Lyman, and Speer will have plenty of load data to work from.

Get a small bottle of spray-on case lube for lubing new cases--they tend to stick in the PTED (Powder-through Expander Die, or #2 die). Note that this is only needed for new cases, strictly speaking.

One last thing I like to have at the bench is a MAX cart gauge. Yes, you can use your cylinder chambers for mostly the same, but having a (Wilson) MAX cart gauge does a bit more, and it can be at the bench whenever you need it.

Finally, do not forget ammo boxes, and a few bins. For load development, I like 100-rd boxes--I will build, for example, 5 sets of 20 rounds each, upping the powder by two-tenths of a grain each time.

The other items that you may want to consider would be the alternate powder scale (a '505') and a set of check weights. Personally, I consider the check weights mandatory; Lee shows how to work without them.

There's a gazillion other accessories you can get, but your list and the few items above will get you started.

Jim H.

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